Monday, 1 February 2010

Corporate Predator

Sitting at the desk next to the half open picture window, he notices that the sun has moved around a little, and is now reflecting on the screen, making it difficult to pick out some detail at the left edge. He stands up and half draws the curtain, and his wife - who is lying on a recliner next to the pool - hears the movement, puts down her drink, then enters the room and stands behind him. She looks over his shoulder at the moving image on the laptop, and sighs.

"You're not playing those games again, are you? You spend half your life playing those games. Why don't you turn it off and come out and sit with me? It's a beautiful day."

"Honey, I'm not playing a game. This is work. I told you that I had stopped playing those games now, and you had just better believe me. This is how I make my money. This is what pays for this place, the pool and the kid's school. This is what pays for your card, your clothes, our food - everything."

"Well, it looks like a game to me."

"Honey, I need to concentrate now. I'll be out in around 20 minutes."

She sighs again, then slopes outside, back to the recliner and her drink.

On the screen in front of him, the image refreshes itself every quarter second or so, and the figures that move in the red, dusty landscape seem to jerk very slightly with each step. Some crude houses appear, and a crackling command comes quietly from the speakers of his laptop. Then he sees them - a group of 5 men walking unhurriedly between a building and a car. A dog is following them, it's tail wagging.

He asks for authentication, and he receives it. He types in a code on the key board of the laptop, and a small red square flashes in the right hand corner. He types in another code, and a cross-hair gradation appears dead centre of the screen. There is a small peeping sound coming from the speaker now, and the word 'Armed' flashes in the top right corner. Using a small joystick attached to the computor via a USB port, he guides the cross-hair until in is in the centre of the party of people. He recieves a final confirmation from the Commander, and presses the 'return' key, then the button on the joystick. Two seconds later, the image on the screen silently shakes and shudders as the 50 millimetre explosive shells leave the nose of the drone, and he sees a cloud of black dots fly toward the men like a small swarm of bees. The bees seem to be approaching them from the right of his screen, and he puts his hands on his lap and waits.

Three seconds later, 8000 miles away, the ground rips up and through the men and dog as a white flash, followed by a cloud of dust that rises up and above the roof of the small house they had just left.

He types in another code, has a short verbal communication with the Commander, presses the 'return' key twice, then shuts down the laptop and closes the lid. He takes off his shirt, unfolds a recliner and drags it next to his wife by the pool. A fat, Golden Retriever lopes toward him and nuzzles his left arm, almost spilling his drink.

"What time will the kids be home tonight, Honey?"


  1. I have the exact same issue with my husband, computer activities, 'I am working honey' , me coming into the room to find out what is going on and so on. Of course I don't think he is detonating drones over Iraq (!?) rather he is perusing cycling websites.

    Oh well, I guess I have a similar time vortex issue, namely blogging.

    I rather like your site by the way. Hardly any pictures, just words. Excellent.

  2. I was listening to a radio report last night, and stood up half way through it to write this post. The report interviewed a drone operator who carried out raids from a computor in a purpose-built trailer, and communicated with the Pentagon in Washington. The 'pilot' had an English accent, so I guess he was chosen for British radio.

    The scary thing is that the above post is certainly not so far-fetched as to be fantasy, as - in the same way that the Pentagon employs ex hackers to beef up security systems - they are now employing ex game addicts to fly drones.

    I saw a shocking video report about Vietnam in the 60's, which showed the entire crew of a B52 bomber, who were off their heads on LSD, marveling at the pretty patterns that the bombs made as they hit the ground. If they felt detached from the carnage at a distance of 5000 feet, how detached would you say a drone pilot feels at 8000 miles? Very, I would say, especially if he is a non-military man. I have never forgotten that clip, especially as my father was Bomber Command in WW2.

    Yes, I spend too much time blogging too, but I do treat it as some sort of work - or at least displacement activity! Thanks for your approval, Jane. The lack of pictures is a deliberate policy, though I do like pictures.

  3. The thing I found most shocking was the gratuitous use of the word "honey". I'm glad I hadn't just eaten or I would have vomited all over my laptop!

  4. Hello Am. How are you? Yes, the 'Honey' endearment was sort of meant to do that - obviously.