Welcome to Fantasy Corp.!
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT. The little G3 carrying my pals and me was bumping up and down like a bad tech stock. "We're gonna have to take a tiny detour," said the pilot. I felt us descending into the maelstrom, and far below, twinkling in the night, I saw a little runway strip bordered by lights.

"That doesn't look like St. Louis," I observed to the flight attendant. Her face was pale and drawn, and her platter of smoked fish with all the fixin's jittered in her hand. I looked down again at what now appeared to be a small island in a man-made lake.

When we were on the ground, the door opened and a well-dressed guy in a gray, four-button suit entered the cabin. I thought I knew him from somewhere ... some dog-and-pony show presented by Yankee Group in the 1980s, maybe. He looked a bit older than I had remembered, a bit more Atkins, but much the same. "Will you follow me, please?" he inquired.

Outside the weather was strangely quiescent, almost as if a plastic dome had closed above us to keep out God's thunder and rain. Black limos were waiting on the tarmac, drivers positioned at their open doors. They looked familiar too. If I didn't know better, I would have said they were members of our New Media Development team from the mid-1990s. "Is that you, Ed?" I asked one of them. He winked at me. "No," he said. We drove in silence and got somewhere.

"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen." We turned to find a diminutive, hairless man addressing us with a smile on his hungry countenance. That's right. It was Dick Grasso. "Come into our boardroom, where all will be explained," said the former chairman of the NYSE. At the head of the table was ... could it be? Yes, it was Michael Ovitz, his chair perched just little bit higher than all the others. "What are you lookin' at?" he growled. Wow, I thought. The guy's still got game.

"Sit down, folks," said Grasso. "What you've got here are, quite simply, the greatest business executives in the world who don't at this moment have a position equal to their abilities. The government has declared each of us a national resource too essential to be wasted, and has formed this secret corporate presence to help keep American interests strong both at home and abroad."

"Wow," I said, looking around. What a scary group! I particularly didn't really like the way Steve Case was glaring at us.

"We have the funding," said a sleek, pudgy fellow with a beard, who I realized after a moment was Al Gore.

"We have the greatest collection of underemployed game changers ever assembled--and we're going to make the world sorry it was ever born!" said Ovitz, rising to his full height and gesticulating with a letter opener.

"Let's get to it," said Chainsaw Al Dunlap. "Tell them what we want, Howell."

"As head of Communications, I can say we've been looking at the way things are going for you guys," said Howell Raines, former executive editor of the New York Times. "We want you to join us."

"There's free cable in every office," said Michael Fuchs, formerly of HBO.

"And the snacks are excellent!" piped Scott Livengood, ultra-fresh out of Krispy Kreme.

That frightened me. Everybody around the table had been relieved of their duties. Did they know something about us that we didn't?

"Believe me, after a few hours away from the daily grind, you'll start to appreciate the strategic opportunities to produce value for shareholders across the board," said a thin woman entering the room.

"Ah, here she is!" said Ovitz. "Our newest member! You know Carly, don't you?" They all gathered around Ms. Fiorina.

"She'll be picking up the tab for dinner tonight!" said Jerry Levin, former CEO of AOL Time Warner, who had been meditating over by a plastic palm. "She can afford it!"

"Well," said Grasso, "so can we all!"

At which the entire group cracked up. Then followed an orgy of backslapping that gave us a chance to get out of there.

As we ran across the runway, an attractive if haggard woman in a pressed trench coat met us at the gangway. "Can I hitch a ride?" she asked in a husky baritone.

"Sure, Martha," we said to Ms. Stewart.

"I'm getting out of here, you know," she said, making herself comfortable and pulling up a plate of gravlax and crème fraiche. "Does this thing work up here?" she said, punching a Burbank number into her cellphone.

And so we went, and I'm glad. While Fantasy Corp. might be a cushy place to be, I'm happy to say that the guys and I aren't successful enough to be fired at that level just yet. Nice to know it's there, though.

STANLEY BING's new book, Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the REAL Art of War (HarperBusiness), is available at finer bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at stanleybing@aol.com.