Soul-sucking Work

Jane checked the top corner of her phone while she played a game on it. 10:43 a.m. She sat at her desk in the empty reception area and argued with herself about whether to quit or not. On the one hand, getting paid to play mobile games was fun. On the other hand, the lack of purpose made her want to pull her hair out. Throughout the past month, she came into work and clocked in. She tried anything to keep herself busy for eight hours, then she clocked out and headed home. The pay was higher than any job she’d ever held, but the boredom was almost unbearable.

The tinny sound of the bell over the door called Jane’s attention. She looked up from her phone in time to see someone approaching her. A young woman wearing blue jeans and a polo shirt reached Jane’s desk and smiled at her.

“Hi,” she said. Jane sat up straighter in her chair and made eye contact with the stranger.

“Hi.” Jane felt nerves flutter in her stomach. She had no idea what this woman might ask for.

“I’m Anna, I have an appointment with Mrs. Sharp at 11:00.” Jane nodded then pretended to search the desk for something while her brain tried to think up an excuse. She heard a door open behind her. Jane turned to see a short woman with dark hair wearing a black suit step out of the office she knew was empty. The woman walked to Jane and handed her a clipboard.

“Sorry for getting this to you so late, Jane,” she apologized as Jane accepted the clipboard. “Those are today’s appointments, just have them sign in as they arrive.” She turned to face the young woman.

“Anna, good to see you. Head on to the office, I’ll be there in a sec.” Anna nodded and retreated to the office. The woman looked at Jane.

“I apologize for the disorganized start,” she shrugged. “But we’re open now so there’ll be more people coming through here. We can talk more at the end of the day,” the woman moved towards her office. She paused and turned to Jane, “Did you have any important questions?” Jane pointed at the office without taking her eyes off Mrs. Sharp.

“The office was empty when I got here….” she knew it wasn’t a question, but her mind was still trying to catch up. The woman nodded.

“I needed to deal with something before I got here,” she shrugged. Janet shook her head.

“But where’d you come from?” Janet turned and pointed at the front door. A mother and daughter pair were stepping through it. “That’s the only way in.” Mrs. Sharp shook her head and smiled.

“Not for me.” She lifted a hand in the air and made a gesture. A small, football-sized black hole appeared next to her hand. She reached into the hole and pulled out an apple, then waggled her fingers at the hole to make it disappear. Jane stared at Mrs. Sharp with disbelief. In her peripheral vision, she noticed the mother and daughter reached her desk. She handed them the clipboard.

“Sign in, please,” she said. Mrs. Sharp smiled and walked toward her office.

“Congratulations, Jane. You’re full-time now. We’ll talk later,” she said, then closed the door behind her.

“I don’t even know what we do,” Jane mumbled to herself under her breath. The mother wandered to the row of plastic chairs to sit down while the daughter lingered. She heard Jane’s complaint.

“You buy souls here, right? That’s what my mom said. She came to sell her soul,” the girl said.

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