Fish Stocks Limited
and they obeyed. Soon the towering headquarters of the Company loomed above the
surrounding buildings. The headquarters were a peculiar bricolage of different styles
with bits tacked on willy- nilly as the company had grown over the years. The effect
was unspeakably ugly, an architectural obscenity that was thrust at the sky with
questing pseudopodia of brick and mortar, wood and steel. Glass was used in a way
that maximised the light inside to save on candles, which resulted in the whole
structure having a quality which was not only naked but almost eviscerated, showing
the human entrails trapped behind desks within.
“We're here. I have a contact on the fifth floor, by the name of Jacob. He'll get you
a foot on the ladder, so to speak.”
They went in to reception and Stan spoke to a woman on the front desk. She
scribbled a note and put it into a capsule in a pneumatic tube, which then was sucked
upwards with a hiss and a rattle. After half an hour of waiting a man of about thirty
with flushed cheeks and yellow sweat patches under the armpits of his white shirt
came down the stairs into the reception area. He was fat and he smelt.
“Jacob, you big bass steward, how's it going?”
Jacob didn't smile. He eyed Amrbosius' tail with a kind of surprised disgust. “I'm
busy, Stan. What do you want?”
“This man here is a very capable man. I want you to get him a job.”
Jacob groaned. “We're not taking on any new staff. Haven't you heard there's a
pisconomic downturn on at the moment?”
“What's that mean?” asked Ambrosius.
“It means we're running out of fish,” said Stan. “You boys up in the trees might
not have realised it quite yet.”
“Yes, we have,” said Ambrosius. “I was meant to try and stop it.”
Stan raised an eyebrow. “So it really is that bad.”
“Look, you guppies might be able to stand round and chat but I'm pretty rushed at
the minute,” said Jacob. “Give me one good reason why I should give monkey-boy
here a job.”
Ambrosius couldn't help look a little angry. “You say that you turn fish into
“You could say that,” said Jacob.
“Well, I have a way with numbers,” said Ambrosius.
“It's true, he does,” said Stan.
“Lots of people do,” said Jacob. “I'm afraid there's no way we can afford to take
on rookies at the moment, no matter what their skills are.”
Stan ran his hand over the two day's stubble that foliated his chin. “We can prove
to you that Ambrosius will make you money.”
“How?” asked Jacob.
“You let us loose on your trading floor for one hour with our own money, then
we'll show you what we can do.”
“Your own money?”
“You do realise you could lose everything?”
“Okay. I'll arrange it for tomorrow. Be here early, six o'clock in the morning, that
way things will be quieter. If you mess up it's your loss.”