• Jeff South

Cincinnati Chili: Antique

Now what?

Grover found himself in a new conference room in another part of headquarters engaging in the ancient Corporate ritual of signing paperwork handed to him by an HR representative sitting across from him. Acknowledgment of responsibilities. Offer letter. Non-disclosure agreement. Standard stuff. He was assigned a new security ID badge and a case of business cards with his new job title printed on them: Product Integration Consultant. Fancy. Very Corporatey. Vague.

“What exactly will I be doing?” Grover asked. “What’s the project again?”

“You have had direct contact with an alien species known as Herpezoids.” Dr. Reggie Marsh stood at the Plexiglas wall once again waving at passersby. “And you observed a member of that species ingest a substance that would allow them to take human form.”

“Yes. I did.”

“And you seemed to have handled that with substantial poise.”

“I was pretty freaked out, actually.”

“You know where the Herpezoids are.” She turned back to him. “Our ask is that you facilitate a product deployment to our target demographic, integrate that product into their market, and nurture them into a win-win relationship with us.”

Grover’s confusion must have been evident on his face because the HR representative interceded.

“We want you to make friends with Herpezoids using another batch of the chili,” the rep said. “And then bring one of them to us for research.”

“How will I bring one of them in? They’re huge and not likely to just say yes.”

“With this.” The HR rep reached into their backpack and produced a chrome-plated pistol with a short barrel. “I need to go. I have a hard stop.”

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