Check All The Boxes
March 19, 2019
Abdenium Recruitment Form Page 1
Pay careful attention to all the questions on these pages. Check all the boxes at the end of the form. You will not be called for an interview if you do not check all the boxes. By moving forward you agree to these terms.
Standard, she thought. Her fingernail, neatly trimmed did not hover but flicked the screen impatiently. A tingle of anticipation made her heart thump just a bit faster at the thought of the interview. She was going to get a real job this time. One that wouldn't end in a few days or a week. She'd send money home, to her parents. For once.
Question 1: What is your name?
The microphone symbol lit up and she took advantage of the shortcut. It wasn't privileged information.
The form filled out her name with the correct symphonic accent. The one her childhood instructor had gotten wrong. She remembered. Soft giggles from all around her as the children laughed at her inability to make the teacher understand how her name was pronounced. The teacher getting more and more impatient every time Chur corrected her. Fourteen years later the sting of the slap stayed with her.
Question 2: Where do you live?
Was the temptation to say "A shithole" too much? That ugly little hovel stacked up against a dirt brick sex bot shop, with its walls of discarded metal. Sleeping wrapped to a wall when the slaughterhouse got too full and animal shit trickled down the street and through the cracks in the walls. Where the ashes from the forgeries drifted down sometimes, burning uncovered skin because they hadn't cooled. But no.
"Barum Market Alley, Seret."
Question 3: What is your skillset?
Dismay. Just one? Was she really only allowed to put down one skillset? The tingle of anticipation dulled just slightly. She shuttered her inner eyelid in thought. The rumble of machinery? Grease covering the tips of her nails. Or the feel of slick copper wire as she wove her way through server bays like a graceful dancer laying the pathways for the massive data roads. She was surely no stranger to more menial tasks. Her arms, thick with muscles flipping stir-fry pans all day. But she hated menial tasks.
Behind her someone opened a door and a breeze from the outside caressed her neck. Yes. Here it was. The wind. The steady chug of rotored wings in the air. How long she'd worked for that license. Yes. That was it.
Question 4: Describe your color.
For a long moment, Chur just blinked. The screen beeped impatiently and she punched the microphone icon a little too hard. The reminder faded. For a moment, for just one, she almost got up to throw the screen back into the face of the receptionist at the desk. She'd done it before. Her family had gone hungry sometimes because she had done it. She remembered telling her parents she was coming here today. The falling expressions.
Her father lived when joining the Corps was not optional. They took him at ten years old. They hadn't released him until he was fifty-five. Even after the ruling had come down they had kept him. And then, he was cast aside when his skillset was no longer useful. The machines he had so pridefully kept in excellent condition were dismantled for scrap. Release was too kind a word really. He was torn from his job and shoved out a gate. He was only an orange after all. His child had developed a true loathing for the color coded system. It was no different than many Millenial children born. In droves they threw application screens back at their prospective employers. It was a new movement, but one gaining traction. She couldn't just….fail now.
Chur rose to her feet and took a few steps forward. She stopped. People sitting around her glanced up before going back to their own forms. The receptionist rotated a stalk up to eyeball her, but Chur shook her head and turned back to her seat. The cold plastic felt so good.
And that was all she really wanted wasn't it? She wanted to be cooled, fed, busy. ...right?
Chur laid the screen on her lap and looked at the palms of her hands. She flexed her long four fingers with their six creases. Her fingers folded into fists. The fists that had taught many other children lessons the teacher did not. Like keep your invasive questions to yourself.
She could say white. White wasn't even a color. It was nothing. Just a bunch of jumbled phases. Would it be acceptable? She was, in the whole scheme, nothing, wasn't she? But that was the point. She wasn't! She was trying to be more. She wasn't nothing! Heat suffused the skin of her face and she sucked in a deep breath of cool air. She'd never make a diplomat, that was for sure.
She felt the receptionists eye on her again. She began to feel as if, this wasn't just a question. It was a test. She trembled. Tests had always been the hardest. She was slow. Slow and steady, and she got there, but had paid a price for her slowness. Suddenly a smile tugged at her face. She was slow everywhere but in the air.
Confidently, she typed her answer onto the screen's surface. Either it would be good enough, or it would not.
Question 5: Are you immunized?
They didn't have to ask what she was immunized against. There was only one disease everyone was terrified of. Ich spread like fire through poor communities.
Review your answers and turn this form in to the receptionist.
Carefully, she completed the form and returned to the receptionist. A Trelahei Administrator stood behind her, waiting patiently. The receptionist took the screen with one hand, downloaded her answers and tossed the screen in a pile with others, cleared for the next applicant. Another hand busily flicked through her answers on her own screen. A third hand beckoned, motioning to the administrator. The set of brightly painted lips spoke.
"This is Argus. He will be your interviewer today. Give him your full attention."
The administrator stepped forward and reached for a different screen the receptionist offered with a fourth hand.
"Did she check all the boxes?"
The receptionist stared hard at Chur, and she nodded approvingly.
"She sure did."