The offices of Data Analytic Marketetic Normalisations were always a little quieter over Christmas and the New Year period as various Vice Presidents and Executives took the opportunity to order their underlings to work from home and see their families. The unspoken message – that a Vice President or Executive would either have no family or be much happier to not see them any more than absolutely necessary – filtered down, and only those underlings who grasped that slightly thorny message with both hands and a grimace of good cheer got promoted. At the Executive level it then became known that Jeremy Diseased-Rat, CEO and UGLY (Unofficial God-Like entitY: his own description and choice of acronym) didn’t believe in holidays of any kind at all. There were persistent rumours that he’d somehow succeeded is mortgaging his family and then defaulting on the repayments, but Jeronica knew better than to listen to such rumours. At least until she reached the next level in the organisation.
She tottered along the corridors on fifteen inch heels, provided to her as a thank-you gift by Hermann van der Luft. The Vanderluft brand made office furniture, and she’d led the Data Analytic task force that had created an artificial market demand (a “bubble” as she’d coyly noted in her PowerPoint presentation) and then collapsed it as the market leaders had tried to capitalise on it. Vanderluft, who had publicly stated that they were waiting to see it pan out before taking action, were then ideally placed to take over and assume a commanding position. The thank-you was architectural shoes whose heels could be adjusted anywhere up to twenty-three inches tall and ensured that no-one was taller than Jeronica at any gathering. The height sometimes made her a little nauseous.
There was a woman waiting outside her office. She turned as Jeronica approached, and then her head started to rise, and rise, and rise until she could see Jeronica’s face. Jeronica smiled distantly, and came to a stop directly in front of the woman, whose head tilted finally far enough back that she lost her balance and fell over. Jeronica touched a small control in her pocket, as black and discrete as a car-door fob, and her heels silently descended until they were only nine inches tall and she could fit through her office door. Inside the office the heels ascended again, as Jeronica had had the ceilings raised to accommodate her new height. A cough came from the doorway, where a slightly stunned woman was now standing again.
“Jeroncia?” she said, her voice high-pitched and squeaky. Jeronica winced.
“I know we’ve not been introduced,” she said, “so your use of my name is entirely inappropriate and overly informal. Why are you blocking my door?”
The woman flushed and started to come in.
“No, stop! I didn’t invite you in, I implied that you should go away. Turn around and leave.”
“I’m here to see you. I’m your eleven o’clock.”
“Really?” Jeronica’s tone suggested that she didn’t believe the woman, and her increased height made it very easy for her to look at the woman along the length of her surgically-enhanced nose.
“Yes, really. I would hope that you don’t have many meetings on Christmas Eve, so I thought you might remember.”
Jeronica pulled a smart-phone from her pocket and growled her PA’s name at it. The phone beeped twice and announced that it was calling her. Jeronica never stopped staring at the woman, who shifted her weight nervously from one leg to the other and fidgeted with her cuffs.
“Tayberry,” said a voice from the phone, sounding mechanical and unengaged.
“You have an eleven o’clock with a woman who thinks that information ownership is debatable, a twelve o’clock with Manguy who will be attempting to conceal tapestrisation details regarding global healthcare solutions, a twelve-thirty with Satellista, a twelve-thirty-five with the Swedish delegation, a one-fifteen –“
“Enough,” said Jeronica, and turned the phone off. She blinked at the woman, who was looking a little stunned at the list of meetings. “So, you do have an appointment, and for a surprisingly long time given the facility of your thesis. I think I shall sit down.”
The woman looked around for another chair and discovered that there wasn’t one. Jeronica’s office had one chair, a desk sized for four people, two laptops, a tablet, three smart-phones, a filing cabinet with three locks, a small credenza, a mini-bar, and an elaborate crystal table atop which several industry publications were scattered. “I’m Joanna,” she said, a little helplessly.
“And you believe strange things about data,” said Jeronica. “You’ve come to the right place, I would suggest. We at Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations know an awesome amount about data and how to make it work. What do you want to do with data?”
“I represent the Data Integrity Council of Kingston,” said Joanna. “We are concerned about recent reports that ownership of data is only four-tenths of the law. We have been reviewing social media interactions, and we have looked at over 200 million tweets for example, and we fear that if data integrity is not maintained there could be issues that would cause us, and some of our clients, problems.”
“That’s ridiculous,” said Jeronica. “I can assure you that data ownership is very close to 100% of the law, and when our tapestrisations have panned out to their fullest it will be so close to 100% that the difference will be negligible.”
“That’s reassuring to hear,” said Joanna, “but what proof do you have of this being true?”
“Well,” said Jeronica. “We cannot expose any of our business details to you, but perhaps I can give you an example. Were I to push you out of a window here now, what you would expect to happen?”
Joanna looked rather taken aback. “You’d be arrested and charged with my murder,” she said.
“No,” said Jeronica. Joanna looked shocked now, her face paling and her hand flying to her mouth. “In fact, you would probably just be swept up and taken to the municipal dump, but if anyone were to question where your broken body had come from, there would be no data linking you to our building. Except, maybe if wanted the peripheral publicity, you might have been found to have jumped from the top of it.”
“But people have seen me come in here!” she said.
“No-one of consequence,” said Jeronica. “No-one who can’t be bought, or threatened, or hypnotised.”
“It’s cheap and effective; we use it a lot in second-world countries when we need to create temporary destabilisations.”
“That has to be illegal too!”
“You’re getting very hung up on illegality, Joanna. It’s only illegal if it’s found out. And it can’t be found out if the data isn’t free, can it?”
Jeronica smiled, thinly. “Data isn’t free, no matter what the idiots think, Joanna. Now, let’s talk about what we can do for you and you little Council.”