“Kent Wayne.” The HR rep—Tony—thumps a stack of papers, pushes his glasses up his nose, and folds his hands together on the table between us. “Why do you want to work here?”
I need a paycheck for food and housing so I can I write stories. Writing keeps my soul intact, unlike this hideous construct filled with cubicles and staplers and a giant, passive-aggressive helping of Fuck You.
“I love the culture.” I paste a bright, false smile on my face. “Your company is environmentally conscious and politically progressive. Yet your emphasis on professionalism and task accomplishment has secured a profit for you for the last twenty years.”
“That’s right.” Tony returns my grin, upping the brightness and falseness. “You seem on the level, Kent. We’re looking for young, proactive go-getters that are eager to demonstrate leadership and take on responsibility. At the same time, we need good followers—followership is just as important as leadership.”
I make my head nod up and down. “Everyone needs to stay in their lane. At the same time, we all need to expand our wheelhouse at a healthy rate. What’s best for the company is best for the employee.”
We lock eyes for a high, sharp moment. Now it’s a contest: who can maintain the brightest, falsest smile. My cheeks tremble with effort; red flashes of nerve-shredding pain slice through my brain.
Finally, a single tear leaks down Tony’s right cheek. “AAH!” he gasps, swiping it quickly away. “Obviously, you have what it takes to make it as an office worker.” He slides a job offer across the table, uncaps a pen, and places it next to the offer. “Sign and date at the bottom, please.”
The contract is composed of a single sentence: YOUR ASS IS OURS.
I pick up the pen, my fingers quivering. Why do people celebrate this? This indoctrination into forty-some odd years of slowly wasting away, living for the weekends, saving money a bit at a time into a low-risk retirement account that you can’t touch until you’re sixty-fucking something? Now it’s my turn to cry; twin trails of tears leak down my cheeks.
Tony taps the contract. “Please initial each word, and if you could, make it extra prominent on ‘ass.’ We like to make sure that all our employees know exactly what they’re in for.”
No. No fucking way. I am NOT doing this shit for the rest of my LIFE!
So I open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers. Magic flash.
“What the FUCK IS THIS???” Batman’s unmistakable growl thunders through the conference room.
An instant later, he busts through the ceiling and flings micro-explosives at the high-rise windowpanes. They detonate in a series of poom poom pooms, eliciting screams and yelps from the surrounding office drones—sad, neutered folk who might as well be NPCs. He grabs me around the waist with one arm, fires a grapnel with the other. The claw-tipped line flies out the window and latches onto a bat-glider, which is playing Danny Elfman’s OG score from The Animated Series at full volume. We go soaring out the window into the clear sunny blue.
“You’re too young for that shit, Kent,” he grumbles. “Gonna teach you some face-punching. Gonna teach you some dick-slinging.”
“I’m pretty good at seducing soccer moms,” I offer.
I swear I see him smile, even though it could just be a trick of the light.
“Then maybe you can teach me something as well. Now that you’re a superhero, what do you want to call yourself?”
What else? The answer’s as plain as the giant, upcurved wiener that hangs between my shins.
Now he’s definitely smiling.
Are you having second thoughts about the horrid, brain-draining cubicle-jail that threatens to reduce you into a withered husk? Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle Vol.4 on Kindle here: Vol. 4 on Kindle Echo Omnibus here: Echo Omnibus Echo Vol. 1 & 2 Combined Edition here: Combined Edition Musings, Volume 1 is available here: Musings, Volume 1 If you wanna hear me babble on about anything and everything, and strain my FREAKIN’ BRAIN, then here’s a link to my podcast: Strained Brains! It is on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play! Please give it a listen and a five-star review! Here’s the miscellaneous gear that I use to try and become an uber-human: Optimization! 🙂 🙂 😀
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