Please vote for the piece you think is most deserving

Poll closed Feb 6, 2008.
  1. ValianceInEnd - The Interview

    6 vote(s)
  2. Mordecai - Man In The Houglass

    5 vote(s)

    1 vote(s)
  4. Cogito - Crosswalk

    5 vote(s)
  5. Leaka - Killer Interview (Under Word Limit)

    0 vote(s)
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  1. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England

    Voting Short Story Contest (17) - Theme: Job Interview

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jan 30, 2008.

    Short Story Contest (17) Voting: Theme Job Interview

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned.

    Voting will end 6th February 2008. It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not strictly in accordance with the theme will still be entered into the voting - it is for you to decide if the story still merits your vote - consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
  2. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    ValianceInEnd - The Interview

    The Interview
    [961 Words]

    The intercom buzzed on, “Mr. Burns, Mr. Nalline is here to see you,” projected the small device.

    A fat finger pressed the outward button, “Yeah, sure. Send him in,” muttered the owner of the finger. He was a semi-large man in his mid-fifties with slicked back gray hair. A lavish black suit clung to his sweaty skin as he eased back in his leather chair.

    The door handle turned and let in a young, well-built man in his twenties. Timidly, he took in the surroundings of the large office, wrinkling his noise from the foul smell of cigarette smoke which hung thick in the hair. Closing the door, he shuffled forward with his eyes fixed on the older man.

    “Have a seat Mr. Nalline,” said the man pointing at one of the chairs in front of his oak desk. Mr. Nalline eased himself into the chair and set down his jacket and small portfolio. The larger man leaned back with his hands crossed over his belly, taking in the sight of Mr. Nalline for a few seconds before he abruptly popped forward.

    “So, Mr. Nalline, I see that you’ve found a calling to join the Milch Co. Family,” stated John Bradley Milch II, “Let’s have a look-see at that portfolio of yours,” said Mr. Milch in small half-smile. Handing over the greasy folder, Mr. Milch snapped it up and began sifting through it, his eyes running back-and-forth over the words.

    “You see Andy… if I may call you that?” inquired Mr. Milch to which Andy gave a small nod, “You see Andy, Milch Co. has no room for idiots and the like, so if you’re an idiot, I suggest you get the f**k out of here before anything goes to hell.”

    Andy stared in astonishment at the very serious looking Mr. Milch, sweat seeming to pour from fountains in his body. Mr. Milch’s stern face bore deep into him before it suddenly transformed. The old man burst out into a fit of laughter which lasted for several minutes until the tears rolled out from his drooped eyes. Recovering from this strange spectacle, Mr. Milch folded his hands on his desk and said, “I’m sorry, I just love to open up a conversation with a joke at the other’s expense. Please don’t be offended, but your face was absolutely hysterical!”

    Andy continued to stare at him for quite sometime, until his face cracked into a smile as well and he managed to say, “No, no sir. I’m quite used to it.”

    “That’s right you better f***ing be!” yelled Mr. Milch, again angrily. Andy again stiffened up and nervously looked around until Mr. Milch followed his previous pattern of beginning to laugh uncontrollably. After a second fit, which didn’t quite last as long as the first, Mr. Milch said, “All right, all right, enough of that m’ boy. Didn’t mean to induce you to such a cruel joke, just couldn’t help it. Moving along, I see that you have some of the right qualifications for the business world.”

    “Um, yes, I majored in business and got a masters at UCCLA,” stammered Andy.

    Mr. Milch fiddled around with the papers for a bit, and looked up at Andy, “So you think you’re qualified for a job like this, eh?” which Andy replied with a brief yes, “Do you know what Milch Co. really does? Do you know what the f*** we really do?”

    “Why yes, you… you’re an insurance company, ri-right?” muttered Andy, beyond confusion.

    “Yes, yes we are, to the public eye that is. Do you really want to know just what kind of s*** goes on around here?” Andy gave him an earnest which screamed yes to Mr. Milch, “Milch Co. is a top secret organization that has an army of employed mercenaries and assassins in every country in the world. If something big needs to happen or somebody needs someone else gone, we use our “influence” to take care of the job.”

    Andy squinted at Mr. Milch, expecting another sudden burst of laughter to come flowing out. Nothing happened for over a minute as Mr. Milch intensely eyed him, “Is-is this a joke?”

    “No Andy, I’m afraid I’m not kidding. We’ve killed thousands for others’ agendas to make money. It’s a brutal business, but it’s the necessary kind that keeps the income flowing. We hire a few “actual” employees that consult customers to keep a low-profile, but the truth is exactly what I just told you.”

    Nervously fidgeting, Andy asked, “So-so why’d you want me to come here? I have nothing to offer. Are-are you gonna kill me for knowing this?”
    Mr. Milch began rummaging through a drawer on his side of the desk, occasionally looking up, “I’ve killed a lot of people Andy. I may not have been the one to have done it, but I indirectly pulled the trigger on every life. It’s my burden, and it’s so hard to bear.”

    He pulled from the drawer a sheet of paper with text all over it. Passing it across, he pointed at an indented line on the bottom, “Please sign right there. It states that I completely pass responsibility to for the company directly to you.” Dumbfounded, Andy signed the line.

    “Well Andy,” said Mr. Milch, suddenly producing a pistol from the drawer, “Godspeed my friend,” after which he stuck the pistol to the side of his head and pulled the trigger. Blood stained his ’67 Corvette calendar hanging on the wall as Mr. Milch’s lifeless body heaved to the ground.

    The intercom came on again, “Mr. Milch, Mr. Cananderia from Sweden on the phone for you.”

    Andy reached over and pressed the outward button, “Um, I don’t think Mr. Milch is going to be able to take the call…”
  3. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Mordecai - Man In The Hourglass

    "Man In The Hourglass"
    Words - 1617

    The brumal weather of January rubbed across Michael Tomlin’s face like a slow and gentle brushstroke. He laid there in the sand of Westcott Beach, soaked, and breathing at a speed he couldn’t even comprehend. The ocean was cold that morning, and he couldn’t believe he fell asleep so close to the water’s edge. “I must’ve drunk too much again.” He considered to himself, noticing a half empty bottle of Scotch directly next to him. The tide was heading back out now, but was still awfully close to where he still laid, shaking like a tree in the wind. “I have to get up.” He thought, spitting out the sand that found a new home inside his mouth overnight. Finally, he got up.

    Michael’s life had been like this for the past six or seven years. His wife, Mindy, took everything from him; the house, the children, the dog. She even found some way to get his car repossessed. Mindy was a big shot lawyer out of Buffalo who meant the world to Michael. She once said that if Michael were to ever cheat on her, she would take away his life. And that’s exactly what had happened. He tried to fight all of this in court, but his corrupt past finally came back to bite him in the ass. His days with Mindy were always good. He would wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and have some good old fashioned sex before sleep. Now, his days are nothing but nightmares. He would wake up, sometimes in worse conditions than this particular day. Then, he would walk the streets of suburbia Buffalo scrounging for food, getting harassed by anyone that set eyes on this modern day “bum”. Sleep came surprisingly fast for him. When he was drunk, that is. He realized that he could be comfortable anywhere, if the time was right. He’s fallen fast asleep on public benches, sidewalks, staircases of homes he didn’t know, and in this case, public beaches. He couldn’t think his life could be any worse.

    That is why today wasn’t like any other day. Michael Tomlin would finally commit himself to getting a new job, if he could dry himself off in time. He planned to go straight for the big time, a job where everyone would respect him and what he does. He had a plan, although unsure if it would work. He had to try at least. If Michael walked into the office building of Westcott Electronics wearing what he was wearing, smelling like a bag of rotten apples, he would almost immediately be kicked out. This is what he feared the most.

    After about twenty minutes of consciousness, he finally came to his feet. Brushing the sand off of his coat and torn jeans, he picked up the half empty bottle of Scotch, and was on his way. When Michael arrived at the end of the beach, he found a medium sized paper bag laying there in the sand. “This is perfect.” Michael thought, slipping the Scotch securely into the bag. Fifteen or sixteen swigs later, the bottle was empty, and Michael couldn’t have felt more at peace.

    At around one o’clock in the afternoon, Michael Tomlin sat on a crowded city bus with his head against the window, passed out. People around him just watched him sleep in disgust. Drool was pouring out of his mouth like a fountain. Sweat was seeping deeply into his already soaked clothes, bringing off a horrid smell not a soul would go near. He was only asleep for a little over fifteen minutes before he was awoke by a nudge on his arm.

    “Wake up.” Some voice repeated over and over again, driving him berserk. “Wake up and get the hell off of my bus.”

    Michael opened his eyes, and then quickly got up. The bus driver had his left index finger pointed towards the front door, and had Michael’s empty bottle of Scotch in the other. “Give me my, my bottle.” Michael said, slurring his words. Right after he said that, the driver literally grabbed him and threw him off of the bus. He assumed there was no tolerance of alcohol on board, and that’s why the guy was such an asshole.

    Surprisingly enough, the driver wasn’t such an asshole as he thought. He at least let Michael get to his destination before throwing him into the streets. He was thrilled to see that he was laying there on the pavement, facing towards Westcott Electronics. At this point, even after being thrown off of a bus, he couldn’t have been any happier.

    Westcott Electronics sat on the busy end of High St. in downtown Buffalo. It was always rush hour here, no matter what time of day it had been. The building was huge, and full of offices where he had dreamed of working. The front door was one of those spinning doors that were often found in cities, something that he would have fun would as a kid. Michael’s mother would be on one side of the glass, and Michael would be on the other side giggling, pretending that he was getting away from her. “That was so long ago.” Michael thought, bringing back memories that he did not need to be reminded of. His childhood memories have become vague, mostly due to the alcohol, he sometimes thought. But for some reason, when he looked at that door, he remembered that day with his mom. It was a short but distant memory that he hasn’t thought about in over twenty years. It almost brought a tear to his eye.

    After several minutes reminiscing about his childhood, Michael finally made it to his feet, and made his way towards the front door. All of this in a noticeable, drunken staggers. As soon as he first set his hand on the handle of the door, a smile grew upon his face. “This is all for you, ma’. I’m finally going to do something with my life. After all of those times of suffering, this is for you.” He said to himself, losing the smile slowly with every word that came out.

    As he finally made his way through the “memory door”, he noticed a large desk with a young woman sitting behind it. “Hello, my name is Michael Tomlin.” He stated, placing his soak and wet arms on to the top of the desk. “I’m here for a job interview.”

    “Ok, hold on one second please.” The young woman replied, grasping her nose without Michael noticing. She reached for the phone and pressed the button closest to the end. “Mr. Tomlin, a man is here saying he has a job interview today.”

    “Wow, we have the same last name, that’s a coincidence.” Michael pointed out, smiling as if this was the happiest day of his life. He couldn’t make out the rest of the words she was saying to him, but he was still hoping for the best.

    “Ok, sir. I understand.” After hanging up the phone, the young woman pressed another button and guided her attention to the computer screen.

    “Well?” Michael asked, confused. “Can I go up?”

    “Oh yes, I’m sorry. Just take the elevator to the fifth floor.” She said, pointing down the hall.

    “Thank you very much. By the way, you are a very beautiful woman.” He implied, still smiling.

    “Thank you, sir. Have a good day, and good luck.”

    Nearly running to the elevator in excitement, Michael almost tripped over a chair. But a tall man in a black suit broke his fall. After he caught a hold of himself, he focused exactly on who this man was. He was a security guard, and Michael could’ve never been more scared.

    “You smell buddy, how much have you had to drink?”

    And in the split second it takes for the muscles in your eye to contract a single blink; Michael was thrown back out into the street. He laid there, grasping the handle of the “memory door” while the Nile River rushed out of his eyes. Being thrown into the street twice quickly sobered him up in no time, and he realized how pathetic he was. “Why did I tell them that was my name?” He said to himself, confused. “My name is not Michael Tomlin.” And his name was not Michael Tomlin. He did not have a name. Alls he knew was that the manager of Westcott Electronics name was Michael Tomlin, and he had become supremely infatuated with this man. He wished he had his job. He wished he had his life, his kids, his wife, even his car. He wished he was Michael Tomlin. So in his mind, he became Michael Tomlin. This was the only way for him to cope with his everyday illness. The illness of being a nobody. There is no other illness known to man that is worse than being nothing. His conscious was gone after today. “My conscious has been gone for years now.” He said to himself. “She took everything from me. And this is what happens.” This man never got to his job interview today; he didn’t even make it back to the beach where he’s been spending the past six months of his life at. This man was found face down on the sidewalk on the corner of High St. and Miller Ave. He had suffered from a mild heart attack, and no one that passed by cared to take notice. Isn’t it funny how or society works? Even for the ones that need help from our society the most.

    This shattered soul was just another spec of sand trapped in the hourglass.
  4. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England



    This is a true story of mine and took place at a personnel agency. I never did get a call-back; I even said I was a 'team player'! I was, however, lucky to land something shortly thereafter. I still smile when I recollect sitting in that waiting room pretending to have a conversation with myself on my cell!
    I take a seat in the outside waiting room, pretending to have a chat on my cell phone (which in actuality ran out of minutes months ago). This appears, I consider to the snotty receptionist that I am an in demand individual, possibly communicating with other companies. A one-sided discussion on a phone that is not in service is tricky to master, so I switch to fiddling with a variety of mini-screens, totally mystified by these and realized never knew existed.

    Suddenly, my name is called, and feels as if I’m going to slaughter. This is it; I proceed while clutching my resume and a page of references. I enter a huge room with a long board room table. These are difficult moments, and advised by others to envision the interviewers sitting in their underwear. Interesting thought.

    Observe male: Armani suit (not sure authentic), buffed black shoes, yellow silk tie, cheap tie clip and hair that resembles Pee Wee Herman. He rises to shake my hand and it’s a chilly, limp hand shake. Not impressive.

    Observe female: icy stares, dark rimmed glasses, navy business suit, high-heeled shoes, slim with hair-straightened type hair.

    The male motions me to be seated, and attempts to warm up the conversation with a joke. I give a shortened laugh (forced). The female peers above the rim of her glasses, and studies my resume, beginning the interrogation hoping for a slip-up. Now…I pause. Here comes possibly the most redundant question in interview history (well, maybe not history) but…Are You A ‘Team Player’? I deem this a stupid question, I mean why would I answer “NO”; I’m not a ‘team player’. That would likely stun them – probably never heard a “NO” before. If I was thirsty for a job, why would I say “NO”. The interview would likely come to an end, possibly stating “well, we’ll be in touch” – translation: “sorry buddy, see you around”. Corny thing this ‘team player’ stuff. I wonder if the female is a true ‘team player’, or just said she was when she was had her interview?

    That was a few years ago while in search of for a job, but scouring the ads just yesterday for fun, I was startled at the number of ads asking for ‘team player’ as a requirement. Also requested: can you “multi-task?” and “thrive to make this a #1 company?” or “self-starter” (I’m a little puzzled by that one). Why would one say “no” to any of these?

    My dream statement during this whole job seeking/interview process: I would love to state on the cover letter (included with the resume) when applying for a position, asking if I was a ‘team player’ and me replying: “Actually, No, I am not a team player, never was, never will be and never want to be”. Don’t imagine they would proceed further, would they?
  5. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Cogito - Crosswalk

    1174 words

    She screamed. The crowd froze at the piercing shriek, and dozens of startled faces her way. A moment later, seeing nothing more horrific than a pretty young redhead staring down a shabby huddled figure, they continued on their separate missions.

    Lynette Sheridan willed herself to breathe. Her heart struggled to escape, but her chest refused to open to release it.

    She had thought she was being mugged. The wild-eyed man had tumbled out of the alley, arms outstretched. But he didn’t grab her after all, but sprawled on the sidewalk, apparently unconscious.

    He looked – odd. His clothing fit well enough, but looked out of place, even in the cultural potpourri of New York City. Lynette began to back away. Don’t get involved, she thought. After all, he attacked me. She stopped and pulled out her cell phone to call 911. He didn’t attack me, she realized. He was reaching out to me for help.

    She recoiled as his hand brushed her wrist. The phone clattered to the sidewalk.

    “I am sorry. Did I frighten you? I meant nothing of the sort.” He spoke with an accent she could not place. But there was something about him that quieted her fears.

    “You caught me by surprise. Are you all right? What happened to you?”

    He looked confused. “I – I am not certain. I do not feel injury. But I do not know how I am here.”

    To her surprise, she extended her hand to help him to his feet. She knew nothing about him, so why was did she feel compelled to trust him? He picked up her cell phone and looked at it curiously before handing it back to her. Then he swayed slightly, and seemed unsteady on his feet.

    She looked around, and saw a Starbucks a few doors down. “Let me get you a coffee.” She brought him into the coffee shop and led him to a small table, as the previous customer tucked a newspaper under his arm and hurried out. She told the stranger she’d be right back, and stepped to the counter to place an order for two Italian Roast Grandes, then returned to the table.

    “I’m Lynette. What’s your name?” she asked.

    Again, he looked confused. “I do not know. What has happened to me?”

    She stared. “You don’t remember anything? Not even who you are?” Lynette had never really believed in amnesia. She had thought of it as a worn out cliché, suitable only for daytime dramas, but the man across from her seemed utterly bewildered. “Maybe you have a wallet in your pocket, some kind of ID.”

    He nodded. “That is a good thought.” He stuck his hands into several pockets, but came up with nothing. “I do not seem to have a wallet or an ID,” he said.

    A plump, surly-looking Latino woman brought two steaming coffees to the table. Lynette paid her, and the woman hurried away. The stranger looked at the beverage doubtfully, and took a cautious sip. “It is very hot.” Lynette began to wonder if he had ever tasted coffee before, but said nothing.

    “How does your head feel? Do you have a headache or anything?”

    He shook his head. “No, my head has no pain. But I remember nothing.”

    She continued to find clues to his identity as they finished their coffee, but had to admit to herself that she had gotten nowhere. “You sure you don’t want me to call an ambulance or anything? What will you do? Obviously you don’t have a place to stay, or money for food, or anything.”

    He smiled. “You are very kind. Perhaps you can show me where you found me, in the hope that will reveal something about me?”

    She nodded. “It’s worth a try. We’re not far at all.” They stood, and she led the way back.

    Lynette looked around, and then pointed. “That’s the alley. You flew out of there as if you had been thrown.”

    He smiled sadly. “You have been very good to me. I am very sorry.” He abruptly snatched her purse and sped into the alley.

    “Hey! Oh no, you don’t!” She ran after him, fury building like a gasoline fire. Ahead, the alley ended with a dumpster against a dirty brick wall.

    He scrambled onto the dumpster lid. Lynette was right behind him, and reached for his ankle as he leapt straight up and vainished.

    Lynette gasped and blinked. He had seemed to vanish into himself, like smoke sucked into a tiny hole. She climbed atop the dumpster and jumped as he had done, but landed back on the dumpster with a dull thud that echoed mockingly back at her.


    Svon landed on the padding let himself fall into a controlled roll. He had wondered about the floor pads, but he understood fully now. He regained his feet. Mr. Tellik was standing before him, waiting.

    Svon handed over the purse. “The landing was rougher than I had expected, but I believe I have demonstrated what I can do. Inside this bag is at least one device that appears to be a personal communicator. That alone should keep the scientists excited for some time.”

    Aron Tellik examined the contents of the bag. Even the closure was interesting, a pair of rough fabric patches that gripped one another until separating with a ripping sound. In addition to the communicator, there was a flat rectangle with simple controls and a wire that led to what appeared to be earpieces. There were several other objects that looked promising, too.

    “There is no knowing whether we can learn anything about these devices. We may not have the technology to even understand them. Tell me about the world you visited.”
    Svon nodded. “Obviously, they are more advanced technologically, at least in some ways. They seemed more concerned with security than we are. I saw many men with uniforms and weapons. Doors had one or more locking devices and there were cage bars protecting many windows.”

    “It sounds like a very cold and suspicious reality.”

    Svon thought of Lynette. “Not entirely. But I do not think I would wish to live in that world.”

    Tellik smiled. “Most of the parallel worlds we go to are much less advanced, but you handled yourself well in what sounds like a difficult variant.” He extended his hand. “Congratulations. I am pleased to welcome you as a Collection Specialist for the Crosswalk Agency. Now, if you follow me, I will introduce you to the rest of our field team, and go into a bit more detail about our operations.

    “To begin with, one reason we keep field visits short is the spread factor. The longer an agent spends in an alternate reality, the more our own reality tends to spread out into its own variants…”

    As they left the Jump Room, Svon continued to see Lynette’s hurt look in his thoughts. Every job has regrettable aspects, he thought. He only hoped he would not always have to deceive good people for the sake of progress
  6. Gannon

    Gannon Contributor Contributor

    Jan 15, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Manchester, England
    Leaka - Killer Interview (Under Word Limit)

    Killer Interview

    To an outsider it looked like an ordinary chop shop for bikes. Steell gray garage and hissing sounds from the machines. A man in a leather vest and blue jeans stood in front. He had always loved automobile parts and he had tooken a mechanical class when he was in high school.
    He had recently noticed this place and noticed the bright red Now Hiring sign.

    He fixed his black hair and nervously sighed. He walked into and nothing seem that out of the ordinary. Part machines. Men in cheap blue jeans and bikes every where.
    The tools of the trade being used on every piece.
    A skinny pale man walked up to him. He wore blue jeans and a black t-shirt. His shirt seemed to be covered in oil.

    "Who are you?" the man said.
    "Ken Kloo," he replied.
    "Why are you here?"
    "To get hired um..."
    The man began to laugh hard. And his friends joined in. Ken Kloo didn't exactly understand what was so funny. The man looked at him with an expression that said he wouldn't last here. Ken became very irrtiated at this man behavior.
    "The name is Zen I'm the manager," the man said.
    "You think I'm not cut out for this, but I am see look I have taken a mech class..."
    Ken began to tak out his papers.

    Zen smirked and knocked the folder out of his hands.
    "I don't want to look at that garbage," Zen said, "There are three rules in this shop if you don't want to get killed quickly...One you never ever under any circumstance sho me junk I don't care about, Two better watch your mouth, and Three you respect me and my fellows."
    "What are you talking about?" Ken asked.
    "You haven't noticed it Flatjack Ken," Zen said.
    "Noticed what...Flatjack you know thats very rude," ken said.
    "This is the part shop of Americas Butcher and Executioner Club,"
    "You mean.."
    "Finally got it don't you...boys I'm done with this hunk piece of crap,"
    The men got up with their tools.
    "Boy you better run," they said together.
    The tools began to scream louder then him.
    They never found Ken Kloo after that fateful interview. Ken Kloo never was found dead in that part shop.
    It was just an ordinary part shop.
  7. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Best of luck, everyone!

    Gannon, you might want to drop a voting reminder thread in the Lounge - they have been very effective in getting participation in the voting phase.
  8. Mordecai

    Mordecai New Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    Likes Received:
    New Jersey
    Congrats, ValienceInEnd!
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