Bud asked me if he could use my study for a moment. I did not trust him.
"Why do you need the study?"
"I just need a place where I can look over the results we have compiled and match it with positions within EARA. It will only take a moment, but I need privacy." I directed him towards the bathroom. What harm could he do there?
I was relieved that this strange ordeal was coming to an end, but also curious about what the results would be. The test was unusual, but the abrupt way it ended seemed to suggest I wasn't the candidate they were looking for. I wondered whether it was because I had suggested attacking the pyschotic professor. Yet, it did make the most sense. The professor was certainly the greater danger to society and killing him would have had more positive results than simply not killing the philanthropist. Who knows how many times the professor would conduct the same experiment in order to achieve a statistically significant sample?
Bud closed the bathroom door. I could only imagine him sitting down on the toilet and consulting his little black computer. I went back into the kitchen, curious about the damage he had caused to my refrigerator. Beside the pickels, olives, and mayonaise, he had somehow also consumed three beers and a small bag of pepperoni.
This seeming trivial fact suddenly brought fully into my consciousness the peculiarity of the situation. My animal insticnts of self-preservation, dulled from years of fantasy role playing games, came alive all at once. A cold chill ran all over me and I realized that Lucifer or some other angel of darkness was at this very minute in my bathroom, plotting how to steal my soul. I may have been agnostic concerning God, but at that moment I believed with total conviction in the Devil.
Peeping over the kitchen bar where the hallway and the bathroom were clearly visible, I waited with an ever mounting fear for that six-panel off-white door to open and for Bud Holligan to step out with horns and a tail. But nothing happened. I looked at the clock on the microwave. I waited for five minutes to pass by. Still nothing. I was sweating. Then a very funny sensation come over me at all at once, the kind of feeling only the Germans or French have a name for, a feeling as if I were not really standing in my kitchen, but in some other place watching through a camera and I found myself walking towards the bathroom. I watched my hand reach out and touch the doorknob. I swung the door open abruptly only to find the bathroom completely empty.
The sudden disapearance brought back with a keener edge the fear that had seized every nerve in my body. My eyes widened and I stepped backward into the hall and into the living area, tripping over the coffee table and landing with a series of dull thuds, half on and half off the low table. I climbed back to my feet. Immediately I ran down the hall, looking in the closets and then in my bedroom and laundry room for this ghost.
Returning to the study and kitchen I continued my search. Looking in the pantry another thought seized me. Had it been my imagination? Was I insane? No, it was not possible. There on the counter were the remnants of Bud's presence. There was something else as well. A small black object with two large buttons, one red and one green. There was also a note. I looked at the object with suspicion, then I picked up the note and read:
Congratulations, Peter, you scored perfectly on the exam, and as such you are officially offered a position with EARA. Whatever you do, don’t press any of the buttons on the blitbox until you’ve finished reading this note and taken time to thoroughly think about the position. We only can employ serious candidates.
First, you probably want to know something about the position you will be embarking on. We are looking for class-1 operatives. What is a class-1 operative? Our personnel guide describes class-1 operatives as “self-motivated, action-oriented people who can lead a team of similarly motivated people into risk-enhanced situations where they are empowered to make decisions under marginal time circumstances.” To me though, being class-1 is all about team, loyalty, and cooperation… and it’s also about having fun. The typical class-1 operative spends only about 8% of his time on the job, the rest is your-time to relax and enjoy the many benefits of working for EARA.
The class-1 operative position offers you the opportunity to travel to exotic places, to meet exciting people and fascinating cultures, and to learn skills that you will use the rest of your life. And, oh boy, will you have stories to tell the grandkids! EARA takes good care of its employees. You’ll never have to worry about healthcare, dental insurance, transportation, or even laundry again! We ask only that you give us your all on a consistent basis, that you show the kind of enthusiasm that we know you’ve got in you, and that you be the leader you were meant to be.
You’ve already shown you have the mind for the work, now we want to know if you have the motivation to join our team. It’s a tough job, certainly not for coffee-sucking, pencil-chewing, desk-types. And it can get hectic. But our own internal research has shown that people who take this position have a 43.4% higher happiness index after five years than those who wuss out.
Congrats! Your Bud,
Bud Holligan, RFF
P.S.: Peter, I just wanted you to know that the blitbox will only stay active for 24 hours. Please make sure that you have made your decision by then. To accept the position, hit the green button. To decline, press the red button. Its that simple.