the road to hell (a Broken World story)
Like everyone involved in the road repair game, Lenny had been eagerly awaiting the bid package from the California Department of Transportation. It was a monster. Within the hundreds of pages of legal documents were literally tens of millions of dollars in work to be had for him and his employees.
The trick was to find the opportunities where he could be most competitive without running the risk of taking on more than he could chew.
He also had to watch out for the fine print. Caltran, as the California Department of Transportation is known, goes into more specifics and has more guidelines than most of the other state agencies and lately Lenny had noticed a small uptick in occult references as well. “The devil is in the details” he would often say. Ever since NDOT, the Nevada Department of Transportation, had started requiring potential vendors to complete every document in their submittal with the phrase “Hail Satan” Lenny knew that he had to be stay on his toes.
When the RFP (request for proposal) finally arrived at his desk he spent the entire evening reading it over. The next morning he had a long list of questions and he realized that, for the first time in the thirty years he’d been in business, he was going to have to take a trip to their offices to get them answered. Far too many questions for a phone call. He was going to have to sit down with someone face to face.
He was not looking forward to it.
When he arrived at the nondescript building he felt a growing sense of dread. A feeling that only grew as he pushed open the front doors and walked into the dimply-lit lobby. When he had tried to find pictures of the inside of the Caltran facility online he’d had no success and now he knew why. Above the entranceway to the offices hung a large sign stating “Abandon all recording devices ye that enter here.”
He obliged and dropped his cell phone into the little basket provided before stepping inside.
There was nobody at the reception desk so he had a few minutes to look around the room. A few paintings, on what appeared to be velvet, hung on the walls. There were a couple of well-worn couches with a glass table in front of them. On the table was a large book called Mailboxes of Europe and a few brochures. In one corner sat a large plant badly in need of some water and in the other, hung on a large hook, was a human torso.
The torso caused Lenny to do a double take.
He was not expecting the torso.
Underneath the torso was stained red.
“Can I help you?” asked a voice behind him. He turned to find nobody there.
“I’m on the counter” said the voice. Lenny looked closer and on the reception desk sat a fly.
“I had some questions about road repair RFP” he was able to get out.
“I see. Have a seat and I will try to find a human for you to speak with” and with that the fly buzzed off.
Lenny sat down and, needing to distract himself from the torso, picked up one of the brochures. Entitled Doing Business With Caltran it gave the following advice to vendors; Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to win the bid.
“I’ll keep that in mind” Lenny said to nobody and his attention returned to the torso. There was no head and it appeared that all of the limbs had been torn off as opposed to cut off. Tatters of flesh and tendons hung from each arm and leg socket as a testimonial to this observation. Occasionally a drop of blood would fall to the carpeting below.
So…” Lenny thought to himself. “Mailboxes of Europe huh.” He picked up the book and began to flip through it.