The Greater Good

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
December 2018

By Calci Wolfe


 

 

Lizard Corporation started as a tiny, innocent store in Miss Angelica Plum’s basement when she was only 18 years old.

“Want an invention of your very own? A novelty item to show off to your friends? Come on in!” she shouted, in her loud voice with an accent nobody could identify. Those were the first words she mentioned about her company, back when she was young and innocent and didn’t know the horrible things she would go on to do. She stood outside, twirling a bright, colorful sign advertising her products. With her dark hair in a ponytail tied off with a pink ribbon, too much lipstick, and a skirt so short it would earn her a very long lecture from an old lady, she didn’t look like someone who could turn the world into a wasteland in just seven years. Not at all. This was back when the world was sunny and pure. When the world was full of light and hope. When the sun shone bright in the sky and cast black shadows across the ground. When she was just a kid with an impossible dream.

“This is never going to happen,” “It’s impossible,” “You’re just a kid,” people said, sometimes with a condescending laugh or a wink. But she didn’t listen. Her first customer was an old man by the name of Frederick Lizardworth. He bought a device she had nicknamed “voiceover.” It was practical, it was useful, it was amusing. He was impressed with her. He told her that when you have a dream, you don’t let anyone stand in your way. Mr. Lizardworth told everyone he knew about the remarkable young lady over on the corner of Starling and 34th, and soon, people were coming in great crowds to get a genuine hoverboard or the 100 percent authentic “glove phone.” She made enough money in just one week to open up a real store in an old garage. People came from miles and miles to see her and buy her products. She hired workers, got clients, and sponsored sports teams. She was a local celebrity. Until one day, she wasn’t just local anymore.

Word went overseas, and gossip spread like wildfire. Pretty soon, people were flocking in from other countries just to see her, and soon she opened her first factory and named it “Lizard Corporation,” in honor of Mr. Frederick Lizardworth, the man who got her started. Her dream of a worldwide company was now a reality, and bright-red Lizard Corporation logos began appearing everywhere, plastered across billboards, airplanes, and buses.

After a while, other people sponsored Lizard Corporation and made new stores all over the world, and Miss Plum made more and more money. The factories began spewing smoke into the air, and though some people complained, Miss Plum just said it was “for the greater good.”

The demand for Lizard products grew so high that they began making factory workers go faster and faster, and paid them less and less, the lowest wages they could get away with. There were casualties, there was pollution. In only a few weeks, the complaints began. They came in the mail, pouring out of mailboxes like flocks of birds. In white envelopes with colorful stamps and Angelica Plum, 9924 Lobster Way, Yellowseed, NX, lot 511 scrawled across all of them in a myriad of different handwritings. They looked like pretty white snow as they were dumped into the recycling bin. And the ones that came in person, from the workers themselves, were not treated with any more thought. When an enraged worker, overworked and underpaid, came up to her and demanded a change, Miss Plum just laughed and told them, “It’s for the greater good!” before tossing them a buck or so, then walking away to go count her money.

That’s when billboards started popping up, with the brand-new Lizard Corp slogan: “For the greater good” and Miss Plum’s face showed up in magazines, in newspapers, on TV with the words next to it, reassuring people.

The factories went up everywhere, lining every cityscape in the world. The sky turned black, and the oceans turned brown. Sometimes people worried about it. Sometimes they said it was dangerous. Sometimes they questioned it. But then they saw Miss Plum’s face up on a billboard, or in a news report, with her accent, her warm smile, and her eyes sparkling and full of dreams, they reminded themselves that it was for the greater good. After all, nobody that sweet and innocent could cause something so horrible. So people ignored it. After all, she was just a kid. A kid with a dream that maybe wasn’t so impossible anymore.

And now, only seven years later, Miss Plum has the world under her illusion. She’s smart. She’s rich. She’s powerful. She’s admired. People want to meet her. People want to be her.

People will do anything to defend Lizard Corporation, because without Lizard Corporation,we wouldn’t have glovephones or hoverboards or all these magnificent things. We like to say we’re just buying these things to support Miss Plum, and sometimes it really seems like we’ve even convinced ourselves of that.

In fact, every month Lizard Corporation comes out with a new and improved version of an old product and people just have to buy it. Because buying things is fun. Thrilling. Trendy.

Every time they launch a shiny new product, the blue plastic trash cans lining every alley in the city are piled high with the old, “inferior” products as the looming Lizard Corporation factories start up for the day, spewing their smoke into the already black sky. Cardboard boxes roll out with the new device, and they’re loaded into trucks and distributed all over the world.

Huge mobs of screaming people pour through the gleaming glass doors into the immaculate Lizard Corporation shops, and the telephones in each shop ring furiously with excited consumers on the other side, ordering the new trend. Customers scream, employees scream, and telephones scream, till the whole city echoes with the cacophonous din.

Sometimes people complain of the noise. Of the screaming. But then Miss Plum comes on the news and reminds us of the Lizard Corporation slogan. Reminds us that what we’re doing is okay. Reminds us that a few people suffering is for the greater good.

The Lizard Corporation trucks pollute the streets with their signature red logo, standing out against the gray city. Even at night they run, under the bright nighttime sky, stained with the light of a thousand glowing cities. The trucks swarm through the streets all day every day, rushing to deliver to greedy and impatient customers.

Sometimes the trucks crash because they’re going so fast. Sometimes workers die. Sometimes innocent people die. Either way, nobody tells them to slow down. They can’t. We buy so much. We buy so fast.

Because we don’t really want the products after all; it’s the buying them that’s so thrilling. So we do. We buy and we buy and we buy as the sky gets smokier and the air gets colder and the world gets greedier as Miss Plum and Lizard Corporation continue their sugar-coated reign of terror. And nobody even so much as tries to stop her. Because she’s doing all this for the greater good.

The Greater Good Calci Wolf

Calci Wolfe, 12
Seattle, WA

About the Author

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