Patrick curled his fingers around the armrests and straightened his back. The five men sitting on the other side of the table unsettled him – they all wore black suits with grey shirts and sported buzz cuts. He didn’t know what he was expecting, but it wasn’t that – an interview conducted in an underground dungeon by clones with no facial expressions.
If Patrick were a woman, he didn’t think he would have made it that far. First, the ad was very vague about employer information; then, the interview address turned out to be a single-family home. When Patrick arrived there, he was greeted by a sign on the door “Come on in, Patrick. We’re ready for you.” Inside, a man pushed the elevator call button and motioned for Patrick to enter once the metal doors opened. Once on the elevator, Patrick realized that single-story houses don’t usually have elevators, but it was too late – the elevator was moving down, and there was no button for Patrick to push in an attempt to stop it. Instead of letting panic set in, he searched his mind for a reasonable explanation. It’s a safe house! I’m about to interview for one of the 3-letter agencies. Grateful for his wife’s suggestion to wear a tie, he adjusted it as the elevator came to a halt and the doors opened.
Appeal to people’s hearts and change their lives with your writing. The call caught Patrick’s attention when he sat down for lunch the week before and opened the paper he got from the waiter. The restaurant always had their custom newspaper on hand for customers who appreciated a little throwback to the good old times, which was one of the reasons why Patrick was a regular at that establishment.
“Tell us a little bit about your writing. What kind of writing do you enjoy the most, and what drives you to write?” Interviewer #1 asked, looking Patrick straight in the eyes. The others were staring as well.
“Well…” Patrick cleared his throat and swallowed hard. “I’ve been writing all my life. Graduated with a double degree in English lit and journalism – the investigative type from back in the day, not the opinion nonsense that every social media influencer these days thinks they can do.” Patrick checked for reactions but didn’t receive any, which surprised him because the ad specifically said opinion pieces would not be tolerated in that position and that people with social media platforms were discouraged from applying.
Patrick took a deep breath and reminded himself that it was a serious interview for a job that might require handling top secret information. One could not joke with that. “I’ve worked with many traditional publications throughout the years but have recently found my services were no longer needed or saught after.” Patrick tried not to show his bitterness. He had to stay positive if he wanted the job and he NEEDED the job. His landlord was running out of patience, his wife kept asking why her cards kept getting declined, and he could no longer stand saying ‘no’ to all of his son’s requests for even the smallest of toys. “I write to educate people and to move them; to make them feel. Feelings are powerful motivators.”
“In an ideal world, what would you want your writing to achieve?” Buzz cut #2 asked. All five of them still focused on Patrick.
“It’s a cliche, but I want to make this world a better place. I want to touch people’s hearts. I want my writing to thwart evil and help spread goodness.”
Patrick didn’t think any of the interviewers had blinked since he entered the room. On top of that, none of them were taking any notes. That could have meant three things:
1. Patrick had it in the bag – his resume spoke for itself, and the interview was just a formality.
2. There was already someone else selected, and interviewing Patrick was just to tick an HR policy box.
3. The interviewers had really good memory.
“You’re very qualified and seem like a great fit for the job. Would you like to know what it entails?” Clone #3 asked, his lips barely moving.
“It’s confidential.” #4 warned.
Patrick nodded. It was option no. 1 then – he’d have a job again!
“Your job will be to compose ads, letters, notes, and other forms of writing tailor-made for each target after – like a real journalist – you interview and investigate them.”
#3’s explanation wasn’t as clear as Patrick would like it to be, but the parts that were – really spoke to him.
“Take the ad you responded to – It felt as if it were crafted just for you, didn’t it?” #5 chimed in.
“Your predecessor wrote it.”
“He did a great job. Why do you need a replacement?”
“We have on good authority that he is helping spread evil, which is against our cause, so we had to detain him.”
Detain him? What crime did he commit? Patrick wondered. The news only fueled his excitement for the job – he would write, help improve the world, and make money while at it.
“You’re hired!” Interviewer #1 announced, and the entire panel clapped in unison.
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