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The Nightmare Network by Thomas Ligotti

The Nightmare Network by Thomas Ligotti

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Published by twingle93
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Published by: twingle93 on Mar 10, 2012
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The Nightmare Network Thomas LigottiClassified Ad IA multinational corporation is dreaming. We are an organization of more than 100 thousandsouls (full-time) and are presently seeking individuals willing to trade their personal lot for ashare of our dream. Entry-level positions are now available for self-possessed persons who cansee beyond the bottom line to a bottomless realm of possibilities.Our enterprise is now thriving in a tough, global marketplace and has taken on a life all its own.If you are a committed, focused individual with a hunger to be part of something far greater thanyourself . . . our door is now open. Your life need not be a nightmare of failure and resentment.Join us. Outstanding benefits.An Opening SceneDawn in the rain forest. Sunlight begins flickering through the green luxuriance and appears hereand there as radiant pools upon the soft, dark earth. A tribe of hunter-gatherers lies sleeping neara shallow stream. The camera pans from one inanely tranquil face to another. Thus far no noisesof any kind occur on the soundtrack 
 — 
no rustling in the underbrush, no burbling of the shallowstream, no screeching from the rain forest's animal life. While surveying the sleeping tribe, thecamera moves in for a close-up of one hunter whose face is anything but inanely tranquil.It is not even the face of one who lives in the rain forest.Although the man is practically naked, and a sharpened stick is lying within reach of his sleepingform, his skin is pale and his hair neatly styled. Now his features are becoming contorted, as if heis experiencing a nightmare. He seems to be talking in his sleep, but thus far there are no noisesof any kind on the soundtrack. Finally the silence is broken by the spasmic drone of an alarmclock. The eyes of the hunter suddenly open and stare in panic; his pale skin is running withsweat. The alarm clock continues to sound.Orientation VideoA pretty, dark-haired actress in a business suit is standing amid a maze of desks, talking to thecamera and expertly gesturing. The occupants of the desks are seemingly oblivious to herpresence. At the end of the video the actress smartly crosses her arms over her chest, fixes a sternexpression on her face, and utters the corporate motto which introduced the video as a title('Think Again"). As she continues to stare into the camera the scene around her begins to change:shadows drift about the maze of desks and the faces of all the employees become rotten andcorroded, as if they are being afflicted with leprosy in fast motion. One by one they rise frombehind their desks and succumb to the strange fidgety conniptions of a danse macabre.
 
Under the stress of these fitful, brittle movements their limbs break off and fall to the floor,where the shadows move in to devour them. Noses and ears quickly wither, lips peel back toreveal broken teeth, eyeballs shrivel in their sockets. The pretty, dark-haired actress continues tostare into the camera with a stern expression.Memo from the CEOAs the forces operating in today's marketplace become more shadowy and incomprehensible wemust recommit ourselves every second of every day to a ceaseless striving for that elusive dreamwhich we all share and which none of us can remember, if it ever existed in the first place.And if anyone thinks that, as all the world races toward the same elusive dream, our competitionisn't fully prepared to gnaw off its own genitals to get to the promised land before us and keep itfor themselves . . . think again.From a Supervisor's Notebook . .. And if I were determined to live solely on the flesh of my own staff, with no access to thestaffs of other surviving supervisors or any other personnel, the greatest challenge to presentitself would be maintaining each of them in an edible state, while also regulating myconsumption of these bodies. Perhaps I should try to keep them all alive; in that case I couldsimply restrict myself to ingesting only those elements capable of regeneration, such as blood.Even so, I do dream about their armpits and elbows . . . those of the men as well as the women, Ithink that within the first few days of cannibalistic survival 1 would devour all those tenderwrinkly parts.The HunterThe green doors of an elevator slide open, revealing a man in a dark business suit. He is standingdead center in the framing shot, and his hair is noticeably neat and wellstyled.In his right hand is an automatic pistol with a nickelplated handle. He holds the weapon close tohis side as he steps out of the elevator and begins walking swiftly down one brightly lit hallwayafter another. A series of offices with open doors passes on either side of him. At the end of oneof the hallways he stops before a door that is closed.He removes a security card from the inside pocket of his suit and pushes it into the thin slotbeside the door. There is a soft, droning sound as the man opens the door and walks inside,leaving his security card behind. Beyond the door he moves within a maze of desks, at each of which a man or a woman is seated. The man stops at the center of the maze, which now seems tospin around him like a carousel.Cacophonous music in waltz time begins rising on the soundtrack, becoming louder and faster asit approaches a painful crescendo. The music is then cut off by the sudden report of a single
 
gunshot. The room stops spinning. The man lies dead within the maze of desks, his shatteredskull pouring blood upon the floor. Later the coworkers of this man disclose that for some timehe had complained about hearing barely audible messages on his telephone every time he madeor received a call in the office. Officers of the company merely shake their heads incondescending sympathy. The following day they authorize financing for the installation of anew telephone system.Classified Ad IIMajor Supercorp in the process of expanding its properties and market-base has limited openingsfor Approved Labor in domestic and off-shore sites (real and virtual). We are among the biggestlegitimate multi-monopolies around and our Corporate Persona is one that any AL can adopt ingood conscience. Experience in sensory-deprived conditions preferred. Knowledge of outlaweddialects on the Nightmare Network a plus. Standard survival package of benefits.Prehistoric AL's okay with biologic documentation from transport agency.The FarmersAn unplanted field beneath a gray prehistoric sky. The camera slowly pans from left to right,revealing several figures at various positions in the foreground and background.Each of them is wearily gouging the earth with crude implements typical of the incipient age of agriculture. They are clothed in tunics made from animal hides which are tattered and filthy.Their long hair and weasly beards are matted and lice-ridden. The camera pauses for a long-shotof farmers and field to reinforce the profound tedium of this panorama of Stone Age plantingseason. Almost simultaneously the figures all freeze and then look up from the earth upon whichtheir eyes have been previously fixed. What they have seen is the greenish, glowing dome thatnow hovers over the field and has closed off its perimeter. Some of the farmers begin runningabout in panic-stricken hysterics, while the rest fall to the ground unconscious or dead from theshock of the inexplicable phenomenon which, given their quasi-feral instincts, they perceive asan overpowering menace. Shafts of greenish light begin to shoot out from various points of thedome, seizing upon each of the farmers and levitating them high above the field. Even the deadbodies are captured and carried beyond the inner surface of the dome. The field now standsempty, the primitive farming tools lay abandoned on the ground. Superimposed on this scene thefollowing legend appears: THE NIGHTMARE OF THE PAST BECOMES THE DREAM OFTHE FUTURE. ONEIRICON: ONE WORLD, ONE DREAM.On the Nightmare Network Our names are unknown and our faces are shadows drifting across an infinite blackness. Ourvoices have been stifled to a soft murmur in a madman's ear. We are the proud failures with onlya single joy left to us
 — 
to inflict rampant damage on those who have fed themselves on our

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