The Job, Part Three: Meeting the Boss

A serialized story in seven parts

Ken Preston

27 January 2024

An ancient, wizened hand against a black backdrop

How are you enjoying this story? Do you enjoy receiving it in short, serialized parts, or would you prefer to have read the whole thing in one go?

If you've missed the previous parts, you can find Part One here and Part Two here.

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3. Meeting the Boss

‘Come in.’

They stepped inside. A single lamp in the corner illuminated the office, and even that had a drape thrown over it to soften its light. The space was packed with filing cabinets, many of the drawers open and overflowing with documents and files. Even in the poor light, Susan could see the thick layers of dust coating every available surface.

Susan could just make out a hunched figure sitting at a desk, one clawed hand gripping a pen, the other a sheet of paper. It seemed to Susan that even this figure, this person, was covered in layers of dust and cobwebs.

‘The new recruit, Miss Evangeline,’ the little man said.

New recruit? What was this, some kind of religious cult?

‘She’s late.’ The old woman’s voice crackled like crisp autumn leaves rustling in a frigid breeze.

‘She says she’s sorry, Miss Evangeline,’ the little man said.

‘If she’s late again, she’ll get her pay docked, does she understand?’

Pay? What pay? Susan hadn’t even been told yet how much she was being paid, or her hours, holiday entitlement, or even her duties. She thought about saying as much, but one look from the little man told her that might be a bad idea.

‘Oh, she understands, and she says it won’t happen again.’

‘Good, good.’ The old crone lifted a bony hand and dismissed them.

They shuffled silently out of the office and closed the door.

‘Now, I’ll show you your cubicle and you can get to work,’ the little man squeaked, and immediately began walking away.

‘Wait!’ Susan said. Several of the women working in the cubicles turned and shushed her, before turning back to their tasks.

The little man stopped walking and turned impatiently. ‘Yes?’

‘I don’t know anything about this job, about my hours, my pay, what I’m going to be doing, I don’t know anything.’

‘Well, that’s what I’m trying to tell you now, but you’re wasting our time by standing here asking me ridiculous questions and disturbing everybody from their work. Now, follow me.’

And he was off again, bustling through the maze of cubicles, each one containing a woman sat at a desk and bent over some impenetrable task.