Inopportune Opportunity

“Thank you, ma’am,” Perry winked at the cashier and gave her his best smile. The steady, green “90” hovering above her head changed to red and jumped up to 100. “I’m losing my touch,” he thought as he walked away with the small bag of hair products including a fresh box of green dye. He stepped out into the auditorium-sized hall-way of the mall and merged into the flow of shoppers. He ignored the sea of red and green digits hovering above the crowd as he made his way to the food court. The novelty of his ability wore off years ago.

When he first discovered his ability he would check on every number that wasn’t green; he wanted to help people. It took a massive, round, angry man to finally convince Perry that some people did not want help. The giant man’s number flashed a bright red 200 while enjoying a hamburger. Perry dashed across the restaurant out of concern. While the stranger berated Perry for not minding his own business the number climbed even higher.

He apologized to the stranger and paid for his meal just to calm him down, but he never bothered with ‘Reds’ again after that. Perry reached the food court and glanced around at his options. In the field of ‘Greens’ and ‘Reds’ a single black zero hovered over a woman’s head. He did not register it at first, she was sitting between his two finalists, pizza and fried chicken. As his head moved from one to the other he saw the zero but did not register it until several seconds later. He looked back to double check. The owner of the black zero, a pale woman with short dark hair wearing a white business dress, smiled at Perry. Curiosity guided him to her small, single-person table.

“Hi,” Perry gave her a friendly wave. “I’m Perry.  Uh… are you feeling okay?” The woman nodded, but her smile disappeared. Her lips straightened and her face shifted from warm and welcoming to a business-like demeanor. Perry had seen that look in each of his dozens of job interviews.

“I’m fine, Perry. Why do you ask? My name is Dana Sharp, by the way.” Her hands remained clasped together on the table as she introduced herself.

“Oh, no reason,” Perry wracked his mind to find an excuse for his awkwardness. “Sorry to have bothered you, ma’am, the truth is I came to talk to you on a dare. I’ll leave you be now,” he gave her a polite nod and moved to step away. While running the excuse through his mind for plausibility he remembered something his best friend told him.

Perry’s best friend knew more about his ability than Perry himself. He mentioned in passing that it might not work on everyone that crossed his path.

People from other universes aren’t bound by the rules of this universe. You might not get any stats from them,” Mundo’s voice echoed in Perry’s mind. He stopped and turned to face Dana again.

“Are you from around here?” he asked as generally as he could.

“I suppose that depends on how you define…,” Dana gestured at the wide open food court with her hands. “… here. Do you mean the mall, the city, the state, the country, or the Earth?” Perry rushed back to the table-side. He leaned over with one arm on the table.

“You are from a different Earth? I knew it! What’s it like?” Dana nodded to confirm his assumption.

“It’s very busy. So please,” she gestured to the empty seat across from her. “Have a seat. I have other appointments to get to.” Perry sat down without knowing why.

“I’m an appointment?” he asked.

“I know it’s sudden, but what better way to gauge prospective employees than by catching them off-guard?”

“You’re offering me a job?” Perry looked to his sides, up and down the food court. He assumed he’d find cameras filming him for some sort of prank show, but saw none.

“Well, you’re not slow. That’s something,” Dana said. “I run a corporation across multiple universes, and I need someone like you to help vet applicants’ health and honesty.”

“You know what I am?” Perry smacked his forehead. “Duh. Of course, you know. You’re from a different universe.” Dana’s head tilted ever-so-slightly to the right and her eyes narrowed.

“Do YOU know what you are?” she asked. Perry nodded.

“Oh yeah, Mundo explained it all to me. I’m #15, La Pera. Which Unique are you?”

“Thank you for your time, Perry. The offer has been rescinded,” Dana said abrubtly, then stood from her seat and walked away.

“Wait! Why?” Perry jumped from his seat to catch up with her. He reached to grab her arm, but someone grabbed his. It belonged to a short, stocky bald woman. A red skull tattooed on her head grinned at Perry.

“Interview is over,” the short woman said.

“WHY!?” he shouted at Dana as she stepped into a tall, black hole floating in the air.

“Because Ms. Sharp said so,” the short woman replied. She shoved Perry’s arm away then followed Dana into the portal. Then it disappeared.

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