Listen children and you will hear,
A tale of telemarketeers,
With calls that pluice and words that ritch,
They wallow out your greenish pitch.


Silence. A click, then “Hello?”


“Hello, Mr. Ellis?”

Telemarketing. The accent was thick – Indian, British English.


“Mr. Ellis, this is about your computer.”


“Mr. Ellis, when you use your computer to go on internet, you are seeing error messages about virus. Mr. Ellis, these error messages mean your computer infected.”

“That is not true.”

“Yes, Mr. Ellis, I am looking now and I see that you are having these error messages.”


“Mr. Ellis, this is serious problem. Do you have anti-virus program on your computer?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Mr. Ellis, the anti-virus program is not working correctly on your computer. I can help you fix this problem.”

“How can you do that?”

“Mr. Ellis, I can help you replace your anti-virus program with good program.”

“What program is that?”

“Mr. Ellis, it is call Min-Virus. I can help you install now.”

“I don’t know.”

“Mr. Ellis, you use your computer every day, do you not?”


“Mr. Ellis, your computer is very important to you. You must keep clean. You need Min-Virus. I will help you install now. I need only your credit card.”

There was a long pause. Some chatter from others in the support center came through the line.

“Mr. Ellis?”

“Here’s how this will go down, Shri Gupta.”

A moment of silence.

“Excuse me, Mr. Ellis?”

“Shri Gupta, please look at your computer screen and click the ‘Collect Money’ button. Tell me when you have done that.”

After a brief pause, “It is done.”

“Shri Gupta, your computer screen is not showing the credit card form you were expecting. It is showing a very annoying little man. He is wagging his finger and repeating ‘Unh, unh, unh’ over and over. This is true, Shri Gupta?”

“Yes,” quietly, only slightly louder than the annoying mantra itself.

“You see, Shri Gupta, while you were talking to me from the telemarketing offices of Tech Support Online Hyper-Global, or TSOHG, in Gurgaon, Haryana, India, I was doing a bit of investigation. Because the call I traced was made with VOIP technology, I was also able to hack the main server for TSOHG. I gained access to the server. It was actually quite easy; very poor security. I then found some very interesting information.

“Are you still there, Shri Gupta?”

“Yes, Mr. Ellis.”

“It seems that the owner of TSOHG, one Shri Rajesh Baghwan, is forgetful. He is so forgetful that he saved all his account information and access codes on the TSOHG server. He saved all that valuable information in one, unprotected text file. That was very sloppy, and also very convenient, both for him, and for me.

“You see, Shri Gupta, in that file was access information for the main TSOHG bank account. That bank account held a surprising amount of money. All of that money is now in several other bank accounts, most of which are outside of India. The TSOHG account is also closed.

“There was one bank transfer that did remain in India. That transfer was to the account of Sunam Binra, a minor aide to the Chief of the Army Staff.

“The email confirmation has already been delivered to Binra and copied to several newspapers. The confirmation names both the sender and recipient. If he is as smart as I think he is, Binra will immediately check his bank balance. He will see a large increase. Fearing a plot he will then report the incident to his superior, the Chief of Staff. Very soon reporters will call the offices of the Army and ask embarrassing questions. I fear it will mean deep trouble for your boss, Shri Baghwan.

“Everyone will want to know, what was Baghwan doing? Clearly, he was bribing Binra. But, why? State secrets? An assassination attempt?

“Within the hour, you can expect a rather dramatic visit from special forces of the Devanagari.”

In the silence that followed, a single, brief sound, softly strangled, came through.

“Shri Gupta, I recommend that you leave the building as soon as you can. Nothing is left for you there. TSOHG has no more money. You will not receive a paycheck. Soon your telemarketing co-workers will see that same annoying little man on their screens. All work will grind to a halt. If you stay, you could be in danger. The Devanagari will not be gentle, and there could be an accident. Leave now, do not look back, and you will live to find another job. In a few days, you will receive a letter welcoming and thanking you for your new bank account and the large deposit. Think of it as a gift.”

Another long silence followed, though the line remained open.

“Mr. Ellis, thank you.”

“Shri Gupta, you are welcome.”

SF section break

“Telemarketing” word count: 814

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Ray N. Franklin

Owner, SF Writer at Big Leaf, LLC
Ray N. Franklin lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. He has been a software engineer, granola entrepreneur, and internet marketer. Now he edits palindrome anthologies at and writes science fiction. Find him on the Mastodon federation

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