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The thing with the chicken

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i.

The first time he notices that something is wrong in the world, he sees his assistant hastily closing a tab on her window. He catches the blue colors only in passing and wonders if she thinks he’d fire her for having a Facebook account. For the record, he wouldn’t. Not that a part of him doesn’t like the idea, but he tries to be an adult about this. Facebook is huge these days, and if he only hires people who don’t have a Facebook account he’d probably be stuck with people who don’t know how to do their job. Anyway, not that she’s on Facebook is the weird thing, but that she keeps muttering about chickens the whole day.

It gets weirder when he overhears her in the cafeteria talking to his press secretary. Apparently, Farmville only lets you keep chickens anymore. No cows, no pigs, nothing besides white chickens.

“Huh,” he says and eats his salad.

ii.

He’s in his favorite coffee shop, drinking Chai Latte and ignoring the monsoon rain when he hears the second clue.

“I swear to God,” the barista says to his colleague. “The Niagara Falls! I don’t know if they’re geographically challenged all of a sudden over at Cities of the World, but every time I try to add anything remotely in the Caribbean to the places I’ve visited I get the Niagara Falls -- stupid Facebook app.”

iii.

His little nephew is … well, too little to pay any attention to the family wide moratorium on Facebook. Apparently he’s not too little to have a Facebook account, though. “And you know, they have a Countries visited map, and it’s totally awesome -- Brazil is huuuuuuuuuge in it. Like, really big … and I think Argentina kind of fell off the map. Isn’t that awesome, uncle Edu?”

“Yes, it is awesome, Ado,” he tells his nephew over the phone.

iv.

He’s in the elevator with a bunch of people he doesn’t know and who don’t know him. But the universe probably gets a kick out of torturing him with Facebook nevertheless.

“So I have this Facebook app,” the guy next to him starts to telling the petite blonde, and he’s about to tune them out, when it gets really interesting. “ … fishing, and for whatever reasons I only can fish trout. I had marlins and pikes on my fishing rod before in that game, but all I fish now is trout.” He sighs dramatically. “I think it’s time to quit this app.”

v.

“You’re still having trouble with Farmville?” He asks his assistant when he gets to his office. She turns red, but eventually nods. “Okay,” he says and turns a chair around to sit on it. His assistant shoots a worried look at him. “Tell me, are there any other … oddities Facebook is experiencing lately?”

“Um … ” Her hands itch closer to her cell, she’s probably questioning his sanity and wants to call for help. Or she’s just afraid for her job.

“I won’t fire you for having a Facebook account. I knew that already. Just answer my question.”

“Well … ” She visibly relaxes. “You may want to see that,” she finally says and turns the screen of her computer so he can see it. It’s Facebook’s main page. Only that it doesn’t look like he remembers. There’s an icon now next to the Facebook title, and it looks suspiciously like a strawhat. The sign next to the newsfeed that’s usually a newspaper is now a phoenix and he has a hard time believing that every single person on his assistant’s newsfeed is sorry for something.

“Wow,” he says.

“I … um … I have a plane ticket for you if you feel like you should be somewhere else right now?” She fidgets with an envelope in her hand when he finally manages to tear his eyes away from the screen.

“And my passport?” He asks, still a little dumbfounded.

“In the envelope as well,” she says and smiles at him. “Your driver is waiting for you.”

Slowly, he takes the envelope and stares at it for a few moments. “Thanks.”

“Good luck, sir.”

+ i.

He walks into the Facebook offices and most of the people there look at him like he’s the Second Coming. Some of them even hide behind their desks. Dustin has tears in his eyes when he throws his arms around him and nearly strangles him.

“Thank you, man, thank you,” he rambles. “The world is not an okay place when I’m the only sane person left in these offices. And Mark has gone crazy, and Chris is going crazy because of Mark and all the complaints of Facebook users, and the programmers are going crazy because they can’t uncode what Mark is doing.”

“I know, Dustin,” he says and pats him on the back. And then he stands in Mark’s office and takes the headphones off the head of his former business partner. Mark really looks awful. Like he’s been on a coding-binge for 72 and more hours.

“Leave me the fuck a -- shit.” Mark says and his mouth more or less drops to the floor when he realizes who’s leaning against his desk casually.

“You couldn’t have said I’m sorry like any normal person, could you?” He says with a smile.

“It didn’t seem adequate enough.”

“So you more or less made Facebook unusable instead?”

“Well … ” Mark shrugs.

“I don’t even have a Facebook account anymore.”

“I know, but 500 million people have one. You were bound to cross path with a few pissed off users.”

“Is it still 500 million with all the bugs you coded?”

“I don’t care,” Mark says in earnest. He’s looking down at his fingers.

“Mark, look at me.” So Mark does. “What do you care about?”

Mark takes a deep breath. “You. I care about you.”

It feels good to hear this, to know that Mark would risk Facebook for him. “Okay,” he says slowly. “Then tell your programmers how to undo what you’ve done before we go for a coffee.”

“Really?”

“Really,” he says and covers Mark’s trembling hand with his own.

- fin