Short Stories

Overtime

It is Sunday, 7:23 A.M. You just finished a light breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs with bacon. You cooked the eggs too long and the bacon too shortly, so both were rubbery, and yet you didn’t mind. You aren’t that hungry anyways, and it’s best to not be nauseous on your first day at your new job.

It is Sunday, 7:30 A.M. You realize you have just been replaying the events of your breakfast in your head for a solid seven minutes, despite it just happening. You shrug and walk out the door, to your car. No time to lose. It’s best not to be late on your first day at your new job.

You are driving in your car. It’s a 1971 Ford Pinto. Your friends found it an odd choice for a vehicle, but you got it in a yard sale. Yard sales are weird, sometimes. Usually it’s a collection of old toys and photos of the elderly, but this particular yard sale had an entire car lying on the blanket. You could not find the seller anywhere, behind the mounds of old floppy disks and stuffed animals, so you just left twenty dollars on the blanket. A gnarled hand reached out from under the car, grabbed the bill, and retreated back. Five minutes later, it emerged again, this time clutching rusty car keys. You took them, and drove off immediately. This was five days ago. The first thing you drove to was, of course, your job interview.

The job interview was, surprisingly, very relaxed. A lady told you to enter a room, sit down at the desk, and start up the computer. On said computer was a rather long test to fill out. It started off with basic math questions, moved into basic language questions, and finished with a personality test. The questions the personality test asked you ranged from the obvious (“Do you agree with the view that everyone steals from the workplace sometimes?”) to the unnerving (“Would you ever betray the CEO?”).

You snap out of your thoughts as you near the office complex. End of the line. You step out of the car, and walk to the entrance. You stare at the massive sign looming above the revolving doors.You walk through the doors, sealing your fate. You now work for Bluetronics Incorporated. Walking through revolving doors is, in corporate culture, a declaration of allegiance to a company. You and everything that you do should now be devoted to furthering The Corporation’s goals. That’s fine though, you signed a contract stating you are fine with it.

The secretary looks up from her papers, while you stand there, gawking at the marble floor and the pleasant light-blue wallpaper. She coughs, and you excuse yourself for staring. You tell her you are new here, and that you do not actually know where your office is. She says it’s okay. She also says that your office isn’t actually fully outfitted yet. Computer systems aren’t hooked up yet, and the previous employee’s personal artifacts are still on the desk.

She hands you your employee’s card. From now on, everything you need to do will involve this card. She points to the vending machine, humming softly in the corner. She tells you anytime you feel hungry or thirsty, you can use your company scrip to purchase a beverage or a snack. She informs you you will only be paid in company scrip. She informs you that your office should be ready in fifteen minutes. She informs you your company scrip will be stored on your employee’s card. She informs you you are dependent on your employee’s card.

You accept.

You walk over to the vending machine. You immediately notice you only have three options: Translucent bags in the top row labeled “FOOD”, containing gray cubes. Translucent pouches with straws attached in the middle row labeled “DRINK”, containing a liquid of some sort. Small bags of airline peanuts in the bottom row, containing small oversalted peanuts and costing twice as much as the bags of FOOD. You decide to order some DRINK.

The transaction goes smoothly, and you watch as the pouch of DRINK gets dispensed. You stick in the straw, and sip slowly of the beverage. It tastes of salty nothing. You love DRINK. As you sip, you sit down on one of the folding chairs and wait. Eventually you finish your beverage, and are left biting down on the straw. After what seems like hours, the lady tells you you can go upstairs. She tells you The CEO will meet you there in a while, and that you’ll recognize him. She whispers to you that he has these piercing blue eyes that you can just immediately fall in love with if you are not careful. You thank her for the warning.

You walk up the staircase, eventually arriving at the third floor. The office is empty, but all the computers are switched on anyways. You shuffle forwards, looking at the nameplates in the hope of finding your own. Eventually you do.As you sit down at your desk, you hear footsteps behind you. You swivel your chair around dramatically, and are greeted by The CEO. He looks exactly like you expected from the moment you took the job interview: a tall, suit-and-tie clad man with a light stubble and short brown hair. His eyes, a deep green colour, meet yours, and he smiles as he extends his hand towards you. You reach out and shake his hand. He’s exactly like you pictured him.

It’s very unnerving.

You tell him you still do not know what your job position exactly is. He tells you that does not matter. He tells you you should really start working. You note to yourself that he speaks in the tongue of a bat. You swivel back to your computer, and he walks out towards the staircase. He says that you will have to be working overtime today. You start to ask why you should have to work overtime on your first day, but he is already gone.

You stare at the computer screen, and forget the time. You type on the keyboard, and the screen fills up with a jumble of letters that can only be described as Pure Data. Eventually you grow peckish. You stand up from your desk and walk downstairs. The secretary has gone home. You are alone in the building, although you are not sure since The CEO could have stayed behind to work as well.You make the mistake of looking outside, through the glass of the revolving doors. It is morning.

You check your phone. It is Saturday.

You buy a bag of FOOD.

This is your life now.

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