Shinra Inc. And Black Friday
By: Jason Tandro
Author's Note: A mere month separates us from the end of Shinra Inc. And Season 1. With Season 2 starting, I originally thought of doing a Thanksgiving theme, but decided that the elements required were insufficient for a full story. So instead, I've decided to take my retail experience into play and tell a tale about the busiest shopping day of the year (known as Black Friday, the day after Thanskgiving) and how Shinra Inc. deals with it.
It was five in the morning. Rufus rolled over and heard his alarm clock blaring as the proverbial zero hour hit him. He slammed his fist on the alarm clock and got out of bed.
"Oh boy…" Rufus groaned with an utter absence of enthusiasm.
Rufus pulled on his clothes, and stumbled out the door. There was a flurry of movement. Cashiers and floor managers were running in various directions.
"Come on, come on!" One manager shouted. "Doors open at 6! Let's move! Oh, Mr. President!"
"Relax, relax," Rufus sighed. "It's too early."
"Sir, Reeve is waiting for you on the first floor," The manager nodded.
"Yeah, I know why," Rufus grunted.
Rufus made his way to an elevator that was crammed full of young sales associates, most of them girls. Fortunately, all of them were heading to the first or second floor. When Rufus reached the ground floor, he only walked a few feet before he was assailed by Reeve.
"Mr. President! Are you ready to welcome the shoppers?" Reeve asked.
"Couldn't we have an underling do this?" Rufus whined. "I didn't even know what five in the morning looked like before today. Ignorance is bliss."
"Come on you have a duty to your customers," Reeve chided. "After you give the opening falderal, you still have to manage more than 100 stores in this tower."
"This seems like the kind of thing I normally… what's that word for skiving off work and giving it to somebody less important?" Rufus asked.
"Delegate, I believe sir," Reeve responded coolly.
"Yeah, this seems like the kinda thing I could delegate to you," Rufus nodded.
"Sorry, sir. This will all be over at 11 PM," Reeve replied, taking Rufus's arm like a stubborn child.
"Oh man…." Rufus pouted.
Five minutes til six in the morning, the tension was building on the ground floor. The clerks and sales associates stood in a sort of formation near the entrance doors. One lonely manager stood at the front of the doors preparing to unlock them.
"Oh jeez," he whined. "There's already a line forming. It leads all the way back into Sector 8."
"Easy…" Scarlet panted. "They can smell fear."
Four minutes to go. The ground began to shake, ever so slightly. A murmur echoed from outside.
"My God," Tseng gasped. "The fountain! Look at the fountain!"
The water in the fountain was rippling, and the center font hadn't even been turned on yet.
Three minutes to go. One female associate had to be taken off the floor as she began to hyper-ventilate.
"Get the poor girl some water!" Palmer cried in distress.
Two minutes to go. Rufus was frantically looking through his notecards.
"I hate public speaking, did you know that?" Rufus asked.
"Actually I didn't" Heidegger responded. "It comes with the job, no?"
"That doesn't mean I have to like it," Rufus's voice rose with the end of the sentence out of nerves.
One minute to go. Reno, Rude and Elena each took one shot of liquor.
"It's six in the morning!" Tseng shouted.
"Now may be our last chance," Rude sighed solemnly.
"Drink while the drinking's good mates!" Reno chuckled without any hint of amusement in his voice.
The manager unlocked the door slowly and was pushed aside by a horde of shoppers. They rushed in with a frenzy, knocking down sales associates with unrelenting fervor.
"To hell with this!" Rufus shouted, throwing his notecards in the air and running for the elevator.
"Battle stations!" Heidegger demanded.
The day was a nightmare. Rufus took an early lunch at eleven because he was tired of running back and forth between stores helping with unruly customers, answering questions and helping solve problems. Reeve took it with him, as did Scarlet.
"What a day. And there's still 12 hours to go!" Scarlet complained, sipping on a martini in a private employee café.
This café, while not open to the public, still saw decent business as the employees were not allowed to leave for lunch or dinner today and as such it saw 80% capacity around the clock. The waiter looked as harassed as the sales clerks downstairs.
"Can I get you all something to eat?" The waiter asked, wiping sweat out of his eyes.
"No, somebody who knows how to use an handkerchief can," Reeve shot testily.
Their orders came and the waiter seemed even more irritable than usual for some unfathomable reason.
"The Shinra Tower has never been this packed before," Rufus complained. "There are still 30 days until Christmas, so why is everybody shopping now?"
"I don't know. Nobody ever explained that to me in my economics course," Reeve sighed.
"It's good for us monetarily, but I've become quite accustomed to not working for my money. I'm a weapons designer, not a floor manager," Scarlet whined, taking another sip from her martini.
"We all have to do our part," Reeve nodded officially. "It's only for today."
"Right," Scarlet replied. "Well I'd better get back down to the first floor. Meet you for dinner, say 8 PM?"
"Let's call it 6, I don't think I'll last that long," Reeve said, setting his gil down on the table, his authoritative demeanor now long gone.
Heidegger and Palmer were sitting in the security booth with a bottle of gin and a deck of cards.
"I'm so glad I got us this security gig," Heidegger laughed. "Those idiots running around like rats and we get to stay in here, drink and gamble!"
"And smoke!" said Palmer as he lit up a cigar.
"No, you idiot!" Heidegger shouted.
But the damage was done, the smoke sailed up to the smoke detector and chaos reigned.
Alarm bells resounded through the Shinra Tower. Shoppers were scurrying and panicking.
"It is terrorists?" Reno shouted as he pushed his way through the crowd.
"No! That' the fire alarm!" Rude replied.
"Who started the fire?" Elena asked.
"That's hardly the issue right now!" Tseng barked. "Get the other Turks and lets do some crowd control."
"Crowd control?" Elena whimpered.
"Sir, permission to kill myself," Rude whined.
"Denied! Move your ass!" Tseng shouted.
"I hate this day, I hate this day, I hate this day," Rufus said, covering his head with his coat as the sprinklers activated.
He bumped into Hojo as he rounded a corner on the 67th floor.
"Hojo! Where the hell have you been?" Rufus demanded.
"I was doing an experiment in my lab when some idiot set off a fire alarm. The sound drove my monsters into a panic and now they're running amok on the higher floors!" Hojo cursed.
"You let monsters run loose?!" Rufus shouted.
"It wasn't my idea to start a fire!" Hojo shouted back.
Suddenly a large tentacle wrapped its way around the hallway and Rufus screamed.
"Run, damn it!" Hojo shouted, pulling Rufus along.
5 PM and it was complete pandemonium. Shoppers on various floors were now soaking wet and/or being mauled by escaped monstrosities. By the time maintenance managed to get the first fire alarm to stop blaring, two or three fire-breathing beasts set the 40th and 41st floors ablaze creating a renewed panic.
"Palmer, you had better hope nobody finds out you started all this mayhem!" Heidegger cursed loudly.
"How was I supposed to know?!" Palmer whined.
Heidegger turned abruptly. At first, Palmer thought he was going to hit him, but then when Heidegger ran past him he saw the large dragon-like beast moving towards him.
"Damn it!" Palmer cried, as he followed after Heidegger.
"So, some day so far," Reeve grunted as they sat down for dinner.
"Hojo's managed to corral the monsters with the help of SOLDIER and the Turks. And most of the shoppers have still remained in the building… although that's mostly due to the fact that they are either demanding compensation for their ruined merchandise or waiting to hear if their loved ones are among the dead," Rufus scratched his neck and looked away.
Their dinner was a bland helping of left-over turkey from Thanksgiving and with no heating surfaces in use, lest another fire was started, it was cold.
"Fantastic," Scarlet whined as she bit into the cold meat.
11 PM and the doors finally closed. Rufus was dry now and he turned to Reeve who was holding the final sales numbers.
"How much did we make?" Rufus asked.
"About 5.6 million gil altogether, only… with all the damages we've sustained we're actually in the hole by about 4,000 gil," Reeve groaned.
Palmer walked up to Rufus, laughing.
"Hahah! A job well done my friends. Excellent day of business!"
He lit up another cigar, and the fire alarm went off again.
"My specimens!" Hojo cursed from above. "They're loose again!"
But Rufus didn't hear. He was too busy throttling Palmer.