Author : Beck Dacus

The week was ending. I was typing up my summary report, excited to enter the weekend and chill at the house with my girlfriend for a couple days. My spreadsheet was half-done when Bertin came up to my desk and “checked on me.”

“How’s it going?” he asked casually. He looked over at my spreadsheet, pretending to be interested. “You know, I already finished mine. And– need I say it?– it’s spotless. I think I’m due for a promotion in a week or two, whether or not I ‘keep up the good work,’ as they say.”

Normally, I would’ve given him a half-hearted “Wonderful,” but I wasn’t in the mood to say even that much. I was not about to ruin my end-of-the-week stretch by getting into a conversation with him. Met with no response, he just changed the subject. I guess he figured he’d get more out of me if he went to something personal.

“So, your girlfriend’s pretty hot, huh?”

I looked at this freak, wide-eyed.

“Yeah, I saw you two at the store the other day. She’s smokin’. A good catch. I’m sorry you got her before I did.” He laughed at his own joke. I remembered that I was supposed to smile, and managed an approximation.

“Man… if you guys ever break it off, just gimme a call. She was wearing a skirt when I saw her, and all I could think about was the wonders under it. You know what I mean?”

“Oh yeah,” I said, standing up. “I know what you mean.” I rolled up my sleeves and curled my fingers into my palms.

“Hey man, calm down. I was just–”

Too late. In a split second, my hand was around the back of his head, and I thrust his skull into the edge of my cubicle as hard as I could. A horizontal line of blood formed on his forehead, and as a I let go, he fell to the ground, unconscious. The funny thing was that no one in the office reacted. I had barely enough time to get confused by this, and to regret my huge mistake, when the sim ended.

Somebody lifted the headset from my scalp, revealing the small testing room to me. I started to remember my situation as they removed the straps from my wrists and ankles. “Uh oh. Shit, no! Please let me redo it! Come on, it was an accident, it won’t happen again–”

“Actually,” the interviewer said, “yes it will. Trust me. That’s why we don’t give redos, Mr. Adderman. This test elicits responses straight from the subconscious, and your long-term memory is suppressed the whole time. You can’t trick this system.”

“I don’t wanna trick–”

“I’m sorry, sir, but you’ve failed. I regret to inform you that I must decline your application, and in fact, because your response was so violent, I will need to report you to the authorities for a mental examination.”

“No! I need this job! And I can’t get a black mark on my record!”

“Sorry, there’s nothing I can do. I’m oath-bound to do this. Better luck next time.”