Sharp Unemployment

Jana stared at the magnified picture on her phone with wide eyes.  On her way out of work she accidentally knocked over a box of sinister looking files. She caught glimpses of anatomy diagrams and a few different descriptions of abilities. Though she could not waste time reading them there, she thought fast enough to take pictures for later. Now she sat at her kitchen table trying to make sense of what she was reading. She noticed one phrase repeated often, “Unique Soul”.

I guess that’s what they call us,” she thought. Jana practiced forming a ball of fire in her hand. She concentrated and changed the shape of the flame to a long, thin dagger-like shape. “I like it.” She shook her head and sighed. “I guess I’m giving notice tomorrow,” she decided. Jana felt it would be more suspicious if she quit suddenly. Not only that, she actually enjoyed her job. It was the perfect amount of work to keep her busy without ever overwhelming her. After making the decision, Jana put it out of her mind and enjoyed the rest of her quiet evening alone. She had always been a decisive person, but often wondered where it came from. Both her parents died when she was a child and she could not remember them.

“Morning, Ralph,” Jana said. She walked past the security checkpoint the next morning.

“Morning, Jan,” Ralph completed their familiar exchange. Then he grabbed her arm before she went too far. “The boss lady is in,” he said. “Her assistant specifically asked about you.”

“Me?” her heart skipped a beat. “What about me?” Ralph shrugged.

“Seemed like a review, you know? ‘What kind of person is she? Have you noticed any suspicious behavior?’ That kind of thing.”

SHE KNOWS!” Jana panicked inside but managed to keep her exterior calm. “Thanks for the heads up,” she forced a smile then continued to her desk. Jana felt a heavy, uncomfortable feeling in her stomach when she noticed Melody, a short dark-haired woman, waiting by her desk. She almost turned away to the breakroom, but the woman noticed Jana before she could turn.

“Ms. Stevens, Ms. Sharp would like to see you. Right now,” Melody said curtly.

“Okay,” Jana said. She considered running away then and there, but she still hoped for a small chance that they did not know about her. She did not want to give away her secret if she didn’t have to. Jana followed Melody to the elevator, then stepped in with her. The boss’ office was on the third floor, but the short ride up seemed to take forever. Melody’s stern silence did not help. She felt a wave of relief wash over her when the elevator stopped and the door dinged. Then, Jana remembered where they were going and felt anxious again. Melody stepped out of the elevator and Jana followed.

Jana had never been to the third floor, but she’d heard about it from Ralph and some of the other guards. Despite all the stories about how spartan the boss’ office was she was still surprised. It seemed like the entire third floor was the office. The elevator opened to a spacious, white-tiled loft. Closed white curtains glowed with captured sunlight but nothing decorated the space. A woman sat behind a large wooden desk in the center of the room; she stared at Jana the moment she left the elevator.

“Jana Stevens,” Melody introduced Jana. She walked past her and around the desk to stand next to her boss.

“Ms. Stevens, I like to get to the point. We know about you,” Ms. Sharp said.  Jana felt panic bubbling up inside her. She glanced at the curtains and wondered how flammable they were. “Do you have anything to say in your defense?” Ms. sharp asked. Jana decided there was only one way out. She threw a flaming dagger at her boss’ head and bolted toward the closest window in the same motion. She made it three steps before Melody appeared in front of her with a blue glow emanating from her hands. She held a dagger-shaped flame up in front of Jana and raised an eyebrow as if asking her to explain.

“YOU’RE NOT GOING TO EXPERIMENT ON ME!” Jana yelled and brought her hands together to aim a jet of flames at Melody. The woman caught the flames with a single glowing hand gave Jana a confused look.

“What makes you think we want to experiment on you?” Jana let the flame died down.

“I have powers, I’m a Unique Soul,” she said, suddenly sounding unsure. Melody smirked.

“There’s nothing unique about you,” she said.

“But I’ve seen the files! You experiment on people with powers!” Jana said, wondering if they were trying to trick her. She focused on keeping her hands ‘warm’ in case she needed a quick blast.

“We experiment on voluntary Unique Souls only,” Ms. Sharp said. She stood from her seat and walked toward Jana. “All Unique Souls have powers, but not everyone that has powers,” Ms. Sharp placed a hand on Jana’s shoulder and looked her in the eyes. “is a Unique Soul.”

“Wait. If you’re not going to experiment on me… why am I here?” Jana asked.

“You’re fired,” Ms. Sharp said.

“NO! I thought you were trying to kill me, it was self-defense!” Jana pleaded. She loved her job and now that she knew they did not want to dissect her she wanted to stay. Ms. Sharp nodded.

“Entirely understandable, I’m not holding it against you,” she said. “However, the important question is where exactly did you learn about our classified experiments?”

“I-,” Jana started to explain, but she did not have an excuse ready to go.

“You took pictures of classified documents and uploaded them to your personal cloud.”

“Shit,” Jana grumbled. She forgot about the automatic upload setting on her phone.

“We see every bit of data that flows through this building. You’re fired.”

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