Stories from the Slush Pile: Job Fair

As stories get rejected from various contests and publications, I’ll be posting them here for folks to read. This first one is one of the few stand alone pieces I’ve written, and one of my favorites. — FY

Job Fair

The auditorium of Corinthian Community College buzzed with activity, people of all shapes and sizes vying for space at the interview tables. A large man in an average suit absentmindedly waved away a young woman.

“You’ll hear from us in two to four weeks if we decide an additional interview is needed.” He crumpled her application and threw it over his shoulder into a large pile. “Next!”

“Uh, hi.” The interviewer glanced up at the source of the muffled voice, but couldn’t be bothered for a second look.

“A pleasure. I’m Bob and I’m going to be honest with you. I’d much rather be anywhere but here.”

The noise that came from the applicant seemed to be a combination of polite laugh and nervous cough.

Bob motioned to the chair in front of his booth. “Please, have a seat and tell me what you feel you can bring to our organization.”

“Oh, uhm, I’m… I’m punctual, and polite, and I, uh, I’m a meticulous planner. I love plans.”

Bob smiled indulgently. “I’m afraid planning easy. We need to know if you can produce results. Do you have a portfolio of your work, or any references from previous jobs?”

“Eh. No? Nothing that would apply to this.”

“Hmm. Any other notable skills?”

A pause. “Not really. No. Not like, well…”

The large man pursed his lips in consternation. “Hmm.”

The applicant raised one hand in supplication. “I’ve studied biochemistry, mechanical engineering, bio-agriculture, and entomology. That must be worth something.”

Bob perked up a little. “You work with bugs. Bees, maybe? The PR department could work with that.”

“Oh, nothing so exotic. I work mostly with mosquitos.”

“Oh. Hmm.” The towering interviewer jotted something on his clipboard. “So, be honest, how would you rate your potential?

“My potential?” The applicant shifted nervously. “I’d say fairly high. My five year plan has me… well, I’ll be in a leadership position.”

“With mosquitos?” Bob laughed, not bothering to keep the scorn off his face. “I mean, you might give someone malaria? We are looking for candidates that can advance in this field. I’m going to be honest again. Don’t bother waiting, there won’t be a call for a second interview.”

“I… I see.” The interviewee slumped, looking vaguely defeated. “Is there anyone else I can talk to? A manager perhaps?”

“Here?” Bob involuntarily glanced across the room at a sharp dressed woman talking to a slender man in blue. “No one here. Maybe you should try your luck with a different kind of work. You might find someone with a soft spot for losers.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that. You see, I get nervous during interviews, so I took a tour of the campus, hoping that if I was familiar with it, I’d be more relaxed.” The applicant straightened, pressing a button worked into the edge of their heavily modified beekeeper’s helmet. “I couldn’t help myself, I left a few things behind, just in case.”

The shriek of the fire alarm tore through the auditorium, followed by a sharp hiss as the sprinklers kicked in, coating the other applicants and interviewers in a pinkish liquid.

“Pheromones.” The interviewee answered Bob’s unspoken question. “Specifically designed to drive female mosquitos into a feeding frenzy.”

The twist of a knob on a plastic wrapped belt caused several bags concealed near the ceiling to burst open, filling the air with thick buzzing clouds that descended quickly on the panicking crowd beneath them.

“They’ve been modified a bit. Did you know that genetic manipulation can give certain creatures an immunity to flesh eating bacteria while allowing them to carry it?”

The huge man ignored the question, swatting wildly in terror as the mosquitos feasted on him, rotting patches spreading across his skin from each tiny sting.

“That’s another modification I’m rather proud of. The rate of flesh consumption has been exponentially advanced. What used to take hours, or even days, now only takes a few minutes.”

Bob collapsed to the floor, his flesh sloughing off in chunks. The interviewee detachedly surveyed the carnage in the room. Almost all of the facilitators and other applicants lay curled up in rapidly decaying balls, though a few managed to escape before the spray hit.

The sharply dressed woman and man in blue still stood on the opposite side of the room, though the man was now wreathed in blue flames and the woman shimmered as if she were a mirage.

Seeing that they had been noticed, the pair strolled towards the one job applicant that had not fled or been killed. The woman reached down to pick up the gore splattered clipboard. “The Swarm, is it?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I see you have no previous experience or portfolio?”

“No, I don’t.”

“That makes this,” the woman’s wave encompassed the entire auditorium, “all the more impressive. We’ve recently had a few mid level positions open up. I’m sure someone with your talents will have no problem with upward mobility.”

“I…”

The man cut in. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it. We’ve got great benefits, and most of the heroes have a code against killing. Someone will explain the commission structure tomorrow during your orientation.”

“Tomorrow?” The Swarm asked hesitantly.

“Well, yes,” the woman answered. “Oh, I forgot to ask. Can you start tomorrow? How rude of me. We just assumed….”

“No, tomorrow will be fine,” the new hire replied.

“Wonderful! Welcome to Supervillains Incorporated.”

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