It stinks like a hospital in here, he thought, staring at the brightly lit rows of flourescent globes lining the ceiling. Outside the city looked kind
of blurred, a bit out of context due to the rivulets of rain flowing down the open glass. A clock on the wall ticked loudly, a little before 9pm. The
date underneath read September 11, 2014.
At least it was cool in here. Elsewhere, outside in the night, the humidity and heat oppressed everyone. Especially those who couldn’t afford
electricity. Just like me. Sitting in the dark, reading a book by candle light each night, while these people soak up whats left with air conditioning
set to eleven and endless banks of bright lights....
“James Riley?” The girl who spoke had a tired demeanour to her voice, like calling out endless lists of names was something that could make her
snap and go postal at any minute. The man stiffened, feeling a trickle of sweat run down his back, his heart palpatating. Just relax, he told himself,
you’ve done this a thousand times. You’re a veteran.
“Yes, that’s me.” Always say yes. Never yeah or uh-huh. He had that drilled into him from day one. Interviews 101.
“This way please,” the receptionist replied flatly, eyeing him up and down. He stood to his full height, hoping the sweat he suddenly found
himself enveloped in wouldn’t turn off his future employers. He turned briskly, striding across the tiled floor, his polished shoes making a
clicking sound as he walked, his tie feeling like a constricting snake about his neck as he entered the drab grey doorway.
It was darker inside than he expected, unlike the stale, disinfected hallway. Grey carpet and cool lighting seemed to lead him to the desk at the far
end of the room, where a chair was turned away from him. In all, this room was bigger than most of the apartments he and his kind were crammed into,
and he shuffled his feet nervously as he approached the desk, unsure as whether to stand or sit in one of the many chairs laid out before the desk in
“Have a seat Mr. Riley.” The decision was made for him as he approached quickly, pulling out the seat closest to the desk. The chair swivelled,
revealing an older man, bereft of hair completely, except the thick singular line that creased the top of his grey eyes. James sat uncomfortably,
leaning forward. Always look interested. Don’t slouch. Interviews 101.
“So Mr. Riley. You wish to fill a position here at our corporation?” James nodded eagerly, opening his mouth to reply.
“Why?” The question threw him off guard before he could answer. He paused, searching his overly-stimulated brain for an answer.
“I, well, I could be a valueable asset to this company, on any level-“
“So could the last 600 applicants Mr. Riley. Why do you stand out?”
“Well, ah. I am reliable. I, I have an excellent track record of employment, and a great deal of experience in this type of work. Sir.” At last he
finished a sentence. He felt like he was being shaken down for lunch money rather than interviewed for a job.
“It says in your online posting record you post only occasionally on social media sites. Why is that?” Again, another odd question. James racked
his brain for an answer. So people like you don’t know what I’m up to every second of every day....
“Well sir, I just don’t see the need to post my life story to the world every few seconds.” The suit laughed in response.
“But everyone does!” he roared, “Why should you be any different?”
“I guess I’m just a little more private than some sir,” James almost whispered. This was not going well. Already he could feel himself
trembling, and his sweat was beginning to drown the neck of his shirt. The suit stroked his unshaven chin for a moment, his grey eyes searching out
James like a predator sizing up prey.
“Any family commitments that may hinder your ability to do this job?” He shook his head quickly, thinking of his family. This was going to be hard
to explain to them. But at the end of the day, what did they want? Dad? Or electricity, food and internet?
“No sir. My family will not interfere with my job here.” The words tasted like ash.
“Then luckily for you Mr. Riley, there is a position available. If you are able to start immediately that is?”
“Yes sir,” James replied, leaning forward, “I can start as soon as you need me.” The suit slid across a large stack of papers toward James,
arranged neatly with a paperclip.
“Your shifts will be as such then. Seven days on, fourteen hour shifts, followed by one day off. Then repeated the following week, then seven days
again followed by a two day RDO. Any sickness or failure to show at a shift for any
reason, including family commitments will result in
“Yes sir,” James squeaked.
“Any refusal to adhere to instructions of any kind will result in immediate termination. Any negative words about our corporation will result in
immediate termination and legal action. You will be expected to work an amount of unpaid overtime at your cost to the corporation. Failure to do so
will result in immediate termination. You will buy products from our suppliers and subsiduaries only. Any suspected purchase from another corporation
will result in immediate termination.”
James swallowed hard.
“Lastly, Mr. Riley, any involvement in any union, safety group or anything that does not serve the best interests of the corporation will result in
immediate termination. It will also incur you a blackban of the top ten corporations in this country. In short Mr. Riley, you will be unable to work
anywhere else if you do not adhere to these rules. Understand?” James nodded quickly, his head spinning.
“Yes sir,” he muttered, barely able to contain the bile in his mouth. The suit then smiled, revealing perfect dental work. I guess a $50,000 a
year bonus had it’s perks, James thought.
“Sign here on the last page then, Mr. Riley. I will expect you here at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning sharp. Welcome to the corporation.” He shook
James’s now shaking hand as he slid the signed pile of papers back across the table. A draw opened on the far side of the desk and with a bang like
a firing squad’s blast the papers landed, the draw slammed shut, along with his fate. James picked up his briefcase.
“Thankyou sir. I will be here tomorrow sir.” The suit nodded casually. James turned to leave.
As he made it half way to the door, a voice called out.
“Oh Mr. Riley?” he turned, expecting a sucker punch.
“What political affiliation do you currently have?”
“Um. Sir, as yet, I am undecided,” he stated nervously. The suit grinned.
“Well of course, as an employee, we would expect all our people to understand and support our political platform. It’s what made corporations like
us great after all.” James shuddered. He hoped the suit didn’t see it.
“You can count on me sir,” he said weakly, turning to leave. Suddenly he felt dirty.
The humidity and the rain hit James like a brick wall as he left the gigantic lit building behind him. Even the rain couldn’t wash away the dirty
feeling. At least tomorrow I can get us a few days of electricity he thought, as he walked heavily down the city street. A hot shower would be great.
Looking back at the building behind him, rising up out of the street like some giant alien landing craft, he often wondered how men who had sold their
Now he knew.
edit on 10-9-2012 by 74Templar because: typos