The Interview Room

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: The Imaginarium


A cover challenge from Markie Bee. https://www.booksie.com/users/markie-bee-223538

Submitted: September 20, 2018

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Submitted: September 20, 2018

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The Interview Room.

Colin Hodges was bored. Same old jobs, boring, uninteresting, long hours and poorly paid. There had to be something a bit better out there, a bit more challenging. The problem was qualifications, or rather his lack of them. The only other thing that seemed to count for anything was experience, and how could he get that if no one was prepared to give him a chance.

He’d worked in store rooms, he’d delivered pizzas, he’d even worked in restaurants doing, lifting, carrying, washing up. Now, it seemed even for refuse collection you needed to have a degree to be in with a chance. On the verge of giving up even looking for something a bit more interesting, he spotted it, tucked away in the samll ads.

WANTED: Personal Assistant.

Qualifications less important

than an open mind and an ability

to learn. Applicants must be able

to follow orders and to use their

own initiative in doing so.

A Personal Assistant! That certainly sounded like it might be less monotonous than his current job of shuffling around boxes. Was there any point in him even applying though? How many times had he got his hopes up only to have them instantly dashed – answer, too many to count.

But he could think for himself. He was often given instructions of what to do for a day and left alone to get on with it. Would that be classed as using his initiative to get a job done?

Colin decided then and there to call the number. After all, he had nothing more to lose than the cost of a phone call and his own pride, the latter already being at a very low ebb.

The phone call turned out to be very brief. All they wanted was his name, address, and to know if he was available to attend an interview that very night. Of course Colin said yes; it was only after he had put the phone down that he had any qualms. Surely, a position such as Personal Assistant would have loads of applicants. Someone must have cancelled, he told himself. Well, he’d try and ensure that their loss would become his gain.

The address he’d been given was one he was unfamiliar with, in spite of his time delivering pizzas. He called up the map on his computer; it looked like an industrial area. A bit odd a place for an interview for Personal Assistant, Colin thought, but maybe it was to one of the big-time managers. There were a few pretty well known firms with units around there.

What to wear then? Nothing too formal, he reckoned, which was just as well as he owned no suits, ties, or anything of the sort. On the other hand, track pants and hoodies might be just too casual. Colin flicked his way through his wardrobe looking for possibilitys – and coming up with very few. Chinos and a button-down shirt were his final selection.

He’d take a bus to the far side of town, walk the rest of the way. He was feeling jittery with nerves, positive that this could be the big break that he’d been waiting so long for.

He walked through the industrial park, the address on a piece of paper now screwed up in his hand. Not one of the big units, he was now heading further off towards those on the edges, many of which he knew to be empty. Colin was beginning to think that he might be the victim of a practical joke and that no such vacancy existed. There certainly seemed to be no sign of any other applicants waiting in line.

Finally, on the verge of giving up and turning back, Colin spotted it. The front of a car poked out from beside on of the apparently empty units; a big expensive model, the sort that might belong to the kind of man requiring a Personal Assistant. Maybe it was a genuine opportunity after all.

A man stood outside and as Colin got nearer, he asked, “Mr Hodges?”

Yes, that’s right. Colin Hodges. I hope I’m not late.” He held out his hand, only to have it ignored.

Opening the door, the man ushered Colin in front of him, then closed the door. It sounded like he locked it too, but Colin decided that it was just him letting his imagination run away with him.

It was dark inside, until a light flicked on. A bare light bulb cast a harsh light around the room. For a moment Colin found himself having to blink, but then he saw another man, a large, well-dressed one, standing before him.

So, you would like to become my Personal Assistant, Mr....”

Hodges. Colin Hodges.” He stepped forward, again holding out his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mr....”

We won’t worry about introductions just yet, Mr Hodges. First I have a test for you. A kind of.....aptitude one. It will test whether you really have what it takes to join my organization.”

Unnoticed, or thought insignificant until that moment, the man pointed to a chair at the far side of the room. A man was tied firmly to it, a make-shift hood pulled over his head to cover his head.

Colin suddenly felt like he wanted to be very far away. “Um...I don’t think...”

This man,” the big man said, talking over Colin, “has information that I want. Your job is to get it from him. Any way you like. Providing you get the information, you will get the job. If you don’t – well, I guess I’m going to have to find a way of ensuring your silence.”

It was a threat, Colin was sure of that. How the hell had he got himself in to this mess?

He was not a man inclined to violence; in fact, he did not like the sight of blood at all.

Can I just leave? Please? I’ll forget everything.....”

A shake of the head was the only forth-coming reply.

With no choice, Colin approached the chair. “Look, who ever you are, just tell him what he wants to know. He’ll be happy, I’ll be happy, and you’ll be free to go.”

Another shake of the head, but the hooded captive would not have seen it. The ‘free to go’ bit was wrong, then. And he got no response what-so-ever from the captive.

Do you really think that is going to work?” The man was clearly entertained by Colin’s effort. “You will have to put a bit more force behind your questioning.”

He indicated a table. On it was a hammer, and a revolver. Colin shook his head. He couldn’t do it; violence just was not his way.

Perhaps a reminder that it’s him and his answer, or you, is needed.” The man himself, now held a gun, but it was not pointed at the captive, but at Colin.

White-faced and shaking, Colin picked up the gun. The use of a hammer was out of the question so reluctantly he picked up the revolver. The man nodded encouragingly and Colin walked slowly towards the chair.

I’ve got a gun here. If you don’t answer, I’ll have to shoot you.” Even to his own ears, Colin sounded pathetic. He clicked the trigger, held it against the man’s neck. “I’m not joking.” This time his voice came out a bit stronger but the only response was a shake of the hooded head.

We don’t have all night, you know. Show me that you’ve got what we need.” The man was running out of patience and Colin was getting desperate.

Don’t make me do this!” Desperation, he knew was evident, but he could not help that. “Give him the answer that he wants or I will shoot!”

Again there was a shake of the head. Colin, desperate to the point of irrationality, looked for an escape. There was none. Why couldn’t he have been happy with his existence? The gun pointed at himself was ready to be fired too. It was, he realised, a case of shoot or be shot.

Colin moved the gun, shot the man in the chest. There was no bang, no blood; what the hell was happening now?

Sorry, Mr Hodges, but you simply don’t have the mind-set that we are seeking. You have just ‘killed’ my answer.” With that, the man pulled the trigger and Colin fell to the ground. This time there was a bang, and there was definitely a lot of blood.

The big man walked past Colin’s body, careful to keep his shoes clean, and untied the man from the chair. “I don’t know,” he said, “quality employees are so hard to find these days.”


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