Google’s Castle Above Heaven

Janitor Reports Finding Strange Document in Trash at Tech’s Happiest Company

And before we could realize, Google had wrapped itself around us completely. At every level, it crushed inward. Google country and state. Google entertainment, politics. Google ideas and blood and constipation. The cell was Google. The atom. 

That August afternoon, I got in the passenger seat of what was left of a toothpaste-colored Chevrolet Cavalier convertible, and braced myself. 

“Is, uh, everything OK?” I asked the blonde-haired man swerving us through heavy traffic, the way one would if reality itself were being lopped off behind them by some deranged cosmic Italian butcher. Of course, I had not yet taken the same quantity of high-grade Ketamine to realize such truths. That would come later. 

I was strapped to two thousand pounds of metal beside this man, Hans Brunswick, careening down the streets and side-streets of Flatbush, because he had once been employed by Google as a janitor. As my only reporting connection to what some were calling “the castle above heaven,” I would take what I could get. 

“Here’s fine,” I said when my eye caught something familiar. A good dive named Bar Chord was just up ahead.

We sat quietly for over thirty minutes in a booth at the back—the ketamine I snorted on the drive finally making its way to all my best glands—before Hans started talking about his excommunication. 

“I was trapped in that place for over six years. Every day I wish I could go back.”

Maybe I hadn’t heard right. I asked him to clarify. 

“Once you’re inside,” he said, “it’s terrifying and wonderful. You realize just how far humanity has reached.”

“Do you hear that?” I asked, noticing something small and black shoot past the window, screaming. Possibly a soul to hell, or a bird.

Hans continued as if he hadn’t heard my question. “That there are beings beyond enlightened at the top of Google. They can be reached under perfect conditions. Their toes can be kissed. Everything can be given to you, if you just follow the rules.”

Maybe it was a cultural difference I would never truly understand, but the shit he was saying sure sounded off to me. As a reporter, though, I had to try to pull together some sort of coherence. 

“How?” I asked, looking down at carvings in the tabletop. TB + JD = 4EVA. Look ahead. Concentrate, you miserable bastard! “What, uh, rules again?” 

He took a piece of crumpled paper from his pocket and spread it flat over the table. In Google’s signature palate, the words “don’t be evil” loomed above a microscopically-typed wall of memo.

“Seems easy enough,” I said reading the heading, taking a drink of my over-watered Wild Turkey. “‘Don’t be evil.’” I repeated the mantra. 

“There are stipulations,” he said pointing to the copy block below. “In here, evil is to be defined by the ones above. However they see fit at the time. At Google, evil changes day-to-day, minute-to-minute. And with every change comes the necessary procedures and paperwork.” He looked over his shoulder suspiciously. “Once I found this memo in the garbage, a whole new world opened up to me. I took it to my superior, who took it to his. All these actions went against the current procedures, but I did not know it then. By the end of it, I was not anymore in the secret training centers of Brooklyn, underneath the crypts of Greenwood. I had been taken to sit in a sterile meeting room located in the main New York campus of Manhattan. My mistake had got me noticed, as any mistake in bureaucracy so idiosyncratic causes the machinery to falter. Corrections needed to be made and accounted for. I had messed up so badly by looking at the document, drastic measures were to be taken. And so, I was granted audience with those who I should have never seen, those who had the power to deal with drastic measures.”

“Almost like failing up,” I said staring at my hand as if it were an animal I’d never seen. Dissociation was creeping in. “What happened? When you met the powerful guys?” 

“I was lashed with endless questions as to why I had allowed myself to hold up their correct and virtuous process. Why I bothered the ones above me by breaking from procedure. Why I had not filled out the necessary paperwork beforehand to view such a memo.”

“But how would you know?” Again, I had to clarify. “And you’re saying this is all a good thing? You liked it?”

“This place here we’re allowed to live in,” he tapped his knuckle against the table, “is a chaotic chamber created to keep us unfocused. But in there, in the labyrinth they’ve designed on 8th Ave. with its endless rules and customs constantly shifting under your feet, you can have a singular mission. You must focus to survive. Don’t be evil. Think of only that, and everything else melts away.”

I tired to think of it. “Yea, could be nice—if you had the right supplies. Like a vacation in a way.”

“A vacation from the horrors of thinking. That lasts forever.”

As we drank and snorted, he continued to explain to me the sacred pact of Google employees. That hiding yourself, in any form, was forbidden. You had to bare it all, all the time. Your morals, your fetishes. Brain scan results you received upon looking at domestic violence, or monster truck rallies. All was splayed out to be judged. 

He told me that what ideology actually dominates, changed at random. Google did this so no one ever knew which side was the right side to lean on. A paranoia. Distraction. So the ones above could be alone with their important work of remaking America. 

As the drugs gripped us harder, Hans began to rattle off strings of words that made even less sense. (I only write them here now, so that people much more intelligent may read and decipher them. Maybe one of you can find a link.) 

He talked about gangs of humanoid powerlifters. Mandatory teeth tattoos. Adrenochrome juice bars and the subterranean hippie ghouls that ran said juice bars. Burning Man. Burning dogs. Bat pussy face creams from Korea. Decimating positivity. Positivity shoved down inside you until the light burnt through your mind and your guts and singed your pubic hair, bald and clean. Amphetamine computers. All you must eat buffets. 

By the time my mind emerged from the K-hole, Hans was sweating like a beast, accosting some poor bartender. Grabbing his wrist, he told the young man wearing an Ichi the Killer t-shirt, that the homunculi inside the screens we’d created had already hypnotized us. They’d tricked us into volunteering to step into tunnels of metaphysical molds that slowly deviated, little by little, as we moved through them reconstructing our bones and our skin. We’d be changed to fit a hole in reality we’d never noticed before, perfectly falling through it like a filed ball in a pachinko machine. Then, we’d be trapped inside the screen. We’d have swapped realities. Sure, we’d have made it to the castle above, but it would be revealed to us then as nothing but a panopticon!

Before I left, I checked Hans’ eyes one last time, but they were already dead-black. Hans was the man who’d been rewired just right to crave the deletion of ego. And new models based on him were being spit out all the time. Made to raise the castle higher. Bigger. I couldn’t say I totally understood then, or do now. Maybe to appreciate Google—it’s cannibalistic mind-labyrinth—you needed to be a telepath or a tarot reader. I couldn’t see a great castle above, guiding humanity towards something better. When I looked up, there in the bar that day, all I saw was a fraying yellowed poster of Pamela Anderson from Barb Wire tacked to the ceiling. 

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