Shinra Inc and Energy Drinks
By: Jason Tandro
Rufus's head slammed against the mahogany desk. In his startled confusion, he swung his hands wildly back towards his head, splashing himself with the cup of Iced Coffee that he'd been drinking before, which sent him into an even thicker spiral of confusion as he shouted every curse he could recall off-hand.
He jumped out of his desk, groping blindly for a towel, but only found the ornamental pillar, which he crashed at about half-speed. His hand hurt, his head hurt, he was cold and wet and all he could do in his confusion was moan in pain and, like a child, babble endlessly:
"I don't know what happened… I don't know what happened..."
"Rufus?" Reeve asked, as he entered the room. "Rufus are you okay?!"
"I was asleep…then I was in pain… sleep brings pain… so much pain… so cold… so very cold…"
"Mr. President!" Reeve shouted, shaking Rufus. "Who did this to you?"
Rufus seemed to slowly regain his composure. He rubbed his wrist and then slowly took off his white jacket.
"Are you alright sir?" Reeve asked.
"I have been so tired. Ever since that damned Graveyard Shift, my body clock has been all messed up!" Rufus complained.
[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. and the Graveyard Shift]
"Well it's no surprise. You're putting in to many hours these days and you have yet to reset yourself. You're running out of steam. In fact I don't think you've taken a personal day since you took the job," Reeve explained.
"Why would I? This job is awesome. Sit in my comfy chair, watch you all kiss my ass and tell me I'm brilliant, take a three martini lunch with my secretary, come back and do two hours of actual work and leave early. What's not to love?" Rufus asked.
"You haven't been leaving early lately. Staying as late as nine some nights, working that overnighter…"
"I get it, I get it. I'll need to find some way to cope with stress. Can't take a day off because I don't feel like working," Rufus explained.
"Admirable, but it wouldn't hurt you to at least give it a thought," Reeve nodded. "Sir, it's 4:30 PM. Why don't you duck out early and enjoy your evening?"
"I'm updating company policy. This is important stuff," Rufus quipped.
"Sir, that's the best reason I've heard for you to leave early," Reeve shuddered. He put his arms on Rufus's shoulders and began pushing him towards the door.
Rufus walked down the streets of Sector 8. Maybe Reeve was right. Maybe an evening off wouldn't hurt him. He walked into a corner-mart to pick up some snacks (because he had grown sick of the off-color Shinra Brand junk food that was sold in the tower).
He picked up a large bag of pork rinds, a two liter bottle of soda, a box of cookies and a pack of beef jerky.
"Good day sir," said the cashier, who looked like the kind of guy who had seen one too many attempts at improving his life by trying to find meaning in a meaningless job. The color seemed to drain from his face the longer Rufus stood, like an oil painting over a campfire. "Will this be all?"
"Uh… maybe you can help me," Rufus said. "I've lost a little bounce in my step, you know. I need something that will give me the energy I had when I was your age."
"You mean Viagra?" The cashier asked.
"What? That's not what I meant at all," Rufus shouted. "What's wrong with you kid?"
"Sir, would you perhaps be interested in our wide selection of Energy Drinks?" The cashier asked, with all the enthusiasm of an improperly anesthetized patient about to get a root canal.
"Energy drinks?" Rufus asked. "What's in them?
"Energy," the cashier explained. "Read the back, I don't know."
"Quality customer service. Just give me your cheapest, I'll try it out," Rufus instructed.
The cashier rang up the order and bagged Rufus's junk food. He added a large 20 ounce can with intimidating red lettering that behind the mind-numbing propaganda seemed to indicate that this was better than coffee and would last longer.
Rufus walked out with his bag of groceries and headed back in the direction of the tower. He pulled out the dark can and eyed it suspiciously.
"How bad can this be?" Rufus asked.
He popped the top and took a large sip. It took all the self-restraint in him to not spit out the swill on the spot.
"Oh god…" Rufus moaned. "Tastes like sewer backup. This better be worth it."
The sound of loud jazz music caught Reeve's attention. He walked down the hall to where Rufus's secretary sat behind the desk, apparently engrossed in a game of Solitaire.
"Is the president available?" Reeve half-shouted.
"Yeah, just go on in," The secretary replied, half-heartedly.
Reeve walked up the stairs to where the music was loudest. But the music wasn't bothering Reeve anymore.
Rufus stood on his desk, dancing to the jazz music in his t-shirt and boxers.
"Sir?!" Reeve shouted.
"I love this song!" Rufus shouted back.
Reeve walked over to the stereo on his file cabinet and pressed stop. From the floor below, he could here the secretary groan: "Thank god."
"And you ruined it…" Rufus pouted.
"Sir, with all due respect, are you out of your goddamn mind?" Reeve asked.
"No!" Rufus shouted, jumping off the desk and landing in front of Reeve. "I am clear as a bell. I discovered liquefied energy, my friend."
Rufus pulled out another red-labeled can and pointed to a trash bin where six others lay.
"Sir, since when do you drink energy drinks?" Reeve asked.
"Since last night… and all through it!" Rufus smiled, the tell-tale signs of sanity mysteriously absent from his wide eyes.
"You haven't gone to bed?!" Reeve demanded.
"Didn't need to! I partied all night and now I'm gonna party all day," Rufus made his way to the stereo.
Reeve put his hand in front of the president. "Sir… you do realize that this is temporary? Energy drinks aren't a replacement for sleep, they just give you a boost. Once the effects wear off, you're going to crash… and crash hard by the looks of it."
"Crash?" Rufus asked, his hands now jittering so hard he couldn't successfully hit the play button.
"When you drink excessive amounts of caffeine and sugar your body runs high for a short period of time, but then it needs to re-calibrate itself and so you have below average levels of energy until you're body readjusts," Reeve explained.
"…Crash…" Rufus whimpered.
2:00 PM rolled around, and Rufus had hit the wall. He groaned in misery as his head began to throb and could barely lift his arms from the desk.
"Sir," Scarlet began as she entered the office.
"What is it…?" Rufus half-groaned, half-cried.
"Oh… uh these just needed your signature… why are you in your underwear, sir?" Scarlet asked.
"I think the real question is why aren't you in yours?" Rufus grinned. This apparently hurt him and he slumped back down on the desk. "Just forge my name. Nobody cares about weapons development anyways…"
"Oh… okay…"Scarlet sighed.
Reeve and Scarlet exchanged glances as he entered.
"Sir, how are you feeling?" Reeve asked.
"Ever been hit by a truck?" Rufus replied coolly.
"I warned you. Now get out of here and go home and get some sleep," Reeve instructed.
"Oohh… what about… whatever I had to do today…" Rufus sighed.
"The only thing you have to do is get some sleep," Reeve ordered. "Go on, get out of here."
Rufus stumbled down the hallway, onto the elevator and down to the 64th floor gym, where the first convenience store was on his way to his room. He strolled in to the store, looking for headache medicine.
"Wow, you look beat, buddy," said the muscular cashier.
"Your powers of deduction are exceptional," Rufus hissed. "Got any aspirin?"
"Sure do, buddy. You've been taking energy drinks, eh?" The cashier asked.
"Do not mention the name of that foul temptress again…" Rufus warned.
"Those things are terrible man. High sugar, high caffeine, all sorts of bad stuff. Gives you a headache and makes you crash," The cashier explained.
"Oh really… what do you use?" Rufus asked.
"These little babies," The cashier said picking up a small 1.5 ounce bottle. "They're called Energy Shots. They're totally different. Instead of pumping you up on sugar and caffeine, they are filled with vitamin B12, which gives you energy and durability. And the best part is, there's no crash afterwards!"
Rufus's eyes lit up like stars. "No crash?"
Reeve walked into the office carrying a stack of paperwork. He didn't hear any loud music, which was a good start.
"Sir, how are you feeling today?"
Rufus was balancing himself on a unicycle while juggling three large materia orbs.
"Ugh…" Reeve grunted. "Did you take more energy drink?"
"No, sir! Energy shot! Totally different." Rufus explained.
"You mean those things that have 8000% of your daily required B-12. You know if you drink too many, your heart is going to explode," Reeve warned.
"What's that?" Rufus asked.
"Just… never mind…" Reeve whined.
Scarlet, Palmer, Heidegger, Hojo and Reeve sat in the conference room waiting for Rufus to arrive.
"Where is the president? He's never late," Heidegger asked.
"He's on a journey of self-discovery," Reeve explained. "Discovering what an ass he is."
At that, the doors blew open and Rufus ran up, jumped onto the table and slid across the freshly waxed surface in his socks, while holding his shoes in his hands. He slid right into his chair at the end and spun it around four times before settling himself.
"You look… energetic, sir," Palmer nodded.
"Energy… this is so much fun guys. I've never been high before, but this must be a similar feeling. So much power…" Rufus smiled. "We are going to start issuing energy shots to all essential personnel. Four of these babies a day and you don't need to sleep, ever!"
"You drank four of them?!" Reeve shouted.
"Well I was getting a little energy off of one, but I felt four was better for me, you know…" Rufus laughed. "And yet, I wonder if there is anything else I could do. I mean the Shots are expensive. What can I do to keep this feeling?"
"We could mainline B12, B6 and Niacin to be flushed into your system regularly over the course of the day," Hojo explained. "Of course, your heart would beat so fast that even the tiniest scare would send you into cardiac arrest."
"I like it! If I'm that energetic, nothing can scare me!" Rufus shouted.
"Oh you have to stop this!" Reeve shouted. "This has gone far enough. Listen, Energy Drinks or Shots, or whatever, are only temporary. Without sleep, you'll go mad and then die."
"Are you questioning my sanity?" Rufus asked. "Bob, can you believe this guy?"
"Bob?" Palmer asked.
"Invisible Bob. He's my best friend. He told me the truth about all this," Rufus explained. "Only those who are touched by God can see him… hehehe… he told me to burn down the tower, but I couldn't do that… oh no I wouldn't… WHY ARE YOU STARING AT ME BOB… oh no, shouting… I need another dose… wait where are you going Bob… come on back Bob… we'll play a game… fire… hehehe… so fire…. Burning burning everything away!!!"
The conference room was silent, and everybody stared at Rufus with the same level of concern with which one regards a man slowly walking up to you with a bloody knife in one hand and a severed head in the other.
"I see it now… you're out to get me aren't you…" Rufus chuckled.
"Rufus…"Reeve said, slowly walking towards him. "Give me the bottle."
"Never… it's mine…get your own…" Rufus hissed. But something inside Rufus clicked, and he regained sanity for a moment. "Okay then… maybe I've crossed over to the bad place…"
"Oh no this is fun. I say, drink more," Hojo explained.
"Reeve…" Rufus said. "I'm going to bed…"
"Good. Come back tomorrow and no more of this energy drink nonsense, okay? Please sir," Reeve chided.
Rufus nodded. "Okay… okay…"
Rufus left the conference room and walked down the hall.
"They're all so stupid, Bob," Rufus grinned, as he lifted the small vial of Energy shot and made his way for the gym.
"Tell me about it," said Bob. "Maybe a little fire would warm your bones… don't you think."
"Yeah… let's go set the drapery on fire…" Rufus smiled.
And he and his friend, walked together… for about five minutes until his chest gave way and he collapsed to the floor, screaming in pain.
"Okay… fine really no energy drink this time," Rufus hissed at a nurse.
"Your heart is beating at 400 beats a minute. Please don't," The nurse explained.
"Oh shut up…"