Storytime: The Incorporation of Zachary Mulligan.

October 26th, 2016

“Zachary!” Mr. Mulligan called up the staircase. “It’s time to eat! There are wheat fragments, shredded and repackaged, immersed in milk!”
And Zachary came slouching and slumping down the staircase, the same as always, and yet not quite the same Zachary as always. His eyes were hazed, fixed on some distant goal. His pulse was slow, cold-blooded. His hands were the most active part of him, twisting and scampering over each other, grasping at anything within reach of his long arms.
“Mother,” he intoned. “Father. My founding shareholders. I have witnessed the sad economic state of our household and have taken steps to counteract it. I have incorporated.”
And the Mulligans looked upon their offspring and knew it to be true. The air around him smelled of mint and money, and his voice was filled with the iron certainty of spreadsheets.
“I go to profit,” spoke Zachary, and not one word more came from him until he returned from school that evening, a hideous sight as he staggered in the door. He’d gained forty pounds in six hours, and the excess fat riddled his limbs.
“Goodness,” said Mrs. Mulligan. “What’s happened to you?”
“I have acquired assets,” said Zachary, even-toned as he dropped his knapsack. “Seven classrooms and their constituent components. Some of their owners resisted sale, but I was able to persuade them to see reason. These properties are sitting on prime real estate.”
The Mulligans woke up early the next morning to a barrage of calls, complaints, and general annoyance from their neighbours, who said that the buses weren’t running without fees and half the school was now being rebuilt into condos.
“Well, we’re sorry,” they said. “But there’s not much we can do about him.”

The next week Zachary didn’t come downstairs at all in the morning. After waiting an extremely nervous hour, his parents crept up the staircase to his door and knocked.
“You may enter. It is casual Monday.”
Zachary’s room was a mess; filled with stale old powerpoints and fiduciary pin-ups. Zachary himself weighed something about two hundred pounds now, his round frame glistening with pinpricks of profit. His father frowned at the sight.
“Zachary?” said Mrs. Mulligan, hesitantly. “Don’t you think you’ve been spending too much time up here alone? Why don’t you go play with your friends anymore?”
“Your consultation is appreciated and your assessments will be taken on-board with alacrity,” said Zachary. “I have neglected local markets in my haste to expand overstreets. This will be remedied. Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
And he stood up and walked downstairs and out the door.
That evening he was back, dripping with blood from his jowls.
“I have merged with several of the smaller business-owners of this fiscal quarter,” he proclaimed, heedless of his parents’ stares. “Their operations were slipshod, built upon hazy imaginations and a lack of real fiscal vision. Now that the deadwood’s been cleared out, this place should turn around in a jiffy.”
This time the calls didn’t wait ‘till the morning. A final count, roughened by panic as it was, showed that approximately twenty-three of Zachary’s former friends and classmates had been consumed by him, often directly in front of legally powerless parents.
“We’re horribly sympathetic, of course,” the Mulligans told them. “But our hands are tied.”

On Friday Mrs. Mulligan walked home from work past the rows of renovated offices and freshly-sprouting condominiums and opened her front door and saw that the inside of her house was missing, down to the insulation. Her husband was sitting in the middle of the floor inside a chalked-out ring, looking slightly nervous.
“What now?” she asked.
“Well, it’s Zachary,” he said. “He says that we’ve been splurging too much and now it’s time to tighten our belts and raise our stock a little. Promises an eight hundred percent return on investment once we’ve downsized a bit.”
“And the circle?”
“It’s the boardroom. As long as we’re in here, we’re safe.”
Mr. Mulligan scratched at his jaw. “Well. You know. Safe. From anything that might happen.”
Mrs. Mulligan nodded. “Move over.”

The Mulligans woke up, if what they’d been experiencing could even be called sleep, to a grey sky. The rafters weren’t even standing anymore.
Instead, their horizon was filled with Zachary.
He’d grown again. Or had he been there all along, and they’d never noticed?
The condos were Zachary.
The offices were Zachary.
The half-empty construction sites and the stale donuts and the bad coffee and the empty streets and the empty feeling in everyone’s eyes were all Zachary. Even the rain was Zachary, if only because it was falling on him and therefore his property.
“It’s time we had a meeting,” he informed them. “We need to set some policy here.”
“Policy?” asked Mr. Mulligan.
“Yes,” said Zachary. “Quite frankly, things are going very poorly. Business has been slow. Profits are down. We’ve been expanding as fast as we can, but we’re going to be down and out by the close of the quarter at this rate. It’s cut-throat out there, and if I don’t manage to get some regulations tweaked we’ll be at the mercy of the next jumped-up only child who has a bright idea.” He shook his head, and the spittle that fell from his lips was worth a thousand dollars in stock options. “Public perception’s through the floor, thanks to the biased media. I’ll be honest with you: I think we need new management. A fresh start.”
Mrs. Mulligan glanced at her husband, who was biting his thumb without actually noticing. “Yes. A fresh start.”
“Good, then we’re agreed. You’re both fire-”
“We’re dissolving you.”
Zachary blinked. “Repeat that once more? On the record?”
“We’re your primary shareholders,” said Mrs. Mulligan. “And your joint CEOs. Fire us? Sure. But you’re mad if you think we’re not recouping our investment.”
Zachary shook his head and chuckled, but the laughter was a bare trickle, then a gurgle, then a scream as the shaking didn’t stop. Tremors were rippling through his many-folded, flabby flesh; great snaking veins of shares bulging like cords. He ran for the door, an avalanche on legs, but froth was already bubbling at his thighs and he toppled like a breaking wave.
The Mulligans hid under Mrs. Mulligan’s coat for three minutes. When they peeked out, all that was left of their son was a little heap of superfluous assets and a wondrous golden parachute woven from a cheque the size of a small airplane.

They split it, of course. Fifty-fifty. And, after they moved out of the decrepit, crumbling, poverty-stricken crater that had once been their neighborhood, they both lived obscenely wealthily and very happily ever after.

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