Alien Explorer’s Mate: Sneak Peak

Emily

“Bye, Mrs. Flynn!” I called out as I passed my neighbor in the hallway.

“You look pretty this morning,” she said. “Heading out for a date?” Her bright blue eyes twinkled, the fine mesh of lines crinkling around them with her smile.

“Much more important,” I answered, cringing slightly. The suit dress wasn’t my favorite outfit by a long shot. It wasn’t flattering, or even in a color I liked, but it was all I had that was slightly appropriate for the situation.

“A job interview.”

She shook her head, fluffy white curls bouncing. “I keep telling you, girl, you should be focusing on your art. You do lovely work.”

My cheeks heated. “That’s nice, but my paintings don’t pay the rent.”

I headed down the stairs of the apartment building, my mood tinged more than a little bit by the growing worries that never seemed to leave the back of my mind these days.

The rent was coming due quickly.

And if this interview didn’t work out, I didn’t have anything else in the pipeline.

Despite the slight ringing in my head, and the current chaotic state of my life, I couldn’t help but cross my fingers as I hopped on to the bus.

It was the first interview I’d had in weeks.

I checked the email again. All I really had was the address, but not much detail about the job itself.

Last night I’d blown the last of my fun money on a cheap bottle of red wine.

After far too many of the cat videos I’d used to numb myself from not hearing back from any of the jobs I’d applied for, I’d noticed a little banner on the side of the screen.

Change your life today.

Boy did I need to do that.

I clicked it, half expecting it to be a cheesy sales site or some sort of multi-level marketing scheme.

I wasn’t sure if I’d be any good at selling candles or kitchen equipment to my friends and neighbors.

Especially since I didn’t have many friends, and Mrs. Flynn probably didn’t want to cook that much.

But I was desperate enough I was willing to try.

Last month my roommate had decided she wanted to move in with her boyfriend.

Which was great.

Love was great.

It just would have been a little better if I’d had more notice, and much better if I hadn’t gotten fired the same week.

It’s not like I didn’t see it coming. I was an awful waitress.

Mrs. Flynn thought it would be good for me to focus on my art, get my online store running.

“How is anybody going to see your lovely things if you don’t show them,” she’d said time and time again.

She was sweet, and I appreciated her support.

But sweet grandmothers weren’t going to get me an interview with a gallery manager.

 And there was nobody else I could rely on financially.

I had no real family, no close friends. I certainly wasn’t dating anybody.

Not since the last asshole.

Which was why I was so excited about this stupid survey. I didn’t know what this job was or what it entailed but I didn’t care.

Frankly, the worst job in the world would be life changing right now. At least it would be income.

I’d already sold most of my possessions, as the month dragged on, and none of the other jobs I’d applied for had responded.

Although it was strange… I’d lived in this city for the past five years, but I didn’t recognize the building at the address, even when I’d zoomed all the way in to try to get an idea of what it looked like on street view.

But five years isn’t really that long, right? Maybe I’d just never been down that street.

Hopping off the bus, I checked my directions again.

Just a few more blocks.

As I walked, I worried, wishing I knew a little more about the job. It would have been nice to be able to research and prepare for the interview before it happened.

The survey gave virtually no clue to the kind of work I’d be doing.

All the questions had to do with my personality.

I assumed it was to assess how well I would do in their work environment but I still expected some kind of follow-up description of the job.

When I reached the address listed in my phone, I only grew more confused. Checking and double checking didn’t change the fact that the directions had led me to a very old brick building that looked abandoned.

There was no sign , just a black “204” in large numbers next to the heavy wood door. The black paint was chipping but the numbers were still completely clear and they matched the address I’d been given: 204 Lorento Lane.

Damnit, was this some kind of prank?

Of course it was.

How could I be so stupid?

What kind of job offers are based on a personality survey?

Stupid, or desparate.

It didn’t matter much at this point.

I groaned as I let my body drop to the stone steps that led up to the building, all my positivity and hopefulness faded.

“And now what?” I muttered. “Singing on the streets, in hopes that people will pay me to stop?”

Possible, but whatever the next move was, I wasn’t going to figure it out just sitting here.

I stood up and dusted myself off as I let out a long sigh. Just as I was walking away, I heard the wooden door behind me creak open.

“Emily?” A young woman with sleek black hair asked. “Emily Bell?”

“Uh, yes,” I answered, dumbfounded.

So this interview was real after all?

“We were expecting you, come on in,” she waved me by and I tentatively entered.

“I have to admit, I thought I had the wrong place at first,” I told the woman as I followed her into the building.

“Yes, well, unfortunately we’re a startup and our funds are a little limited. We’ve focused on the interior for now. Thankfully, for the work we do, location isn’t particularly important, so this building suited our needs fine.”

It looked sleeker inside. I stood on a silver tile floor, surrounded by large, buzzing ranks of servers. Several holographic computer screens set up around the room, each displaying something different, fantasy scenes and landscapes in incredible detail.

I never would have imagined that inside this decrepit building would be hiding a high-tech wonderland.

“Wow, you said you’re just starting up?” I asked, gaping. It would be a dream to work in a place this cool!

“Yes, but don’t let that fool you. We’ve been highly successful. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with us.”

She’s sure I wouldn’t be disappointed?

Does that mean I was going to get hired immediately?

My heart pounded in my chest.

Surely, even the lowest paid job in a place like this would pay enough to take care of my money worries.

Maybe I could even get an advance…

“Sit, sit,” She motioned to a black leather couch in the corner of the room. “I just have a few more questions for you.”

“Really? That’s it, just a few more questions?” I asked hopefully.

She looked at me skeptically. “Well,  you’ve already done the bulk of the work. You are familiar with how our company works, right? You did your research before you came?” She glanced at me over her eye glasses seriously.

I didn’t want to cost myself the job opportunity so…. yeah, I lied.

“Oh, yes, tons of research! I’ve got to say, I love everything your company stands for and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

She smiled as if relieved. “Fantastic. You’d be surprised how many women come through that door confused about our operation.”

Did they only hire women?

Wasn’t that illegal or something?

I laughed it off.

“Oh, yeah, not me. I always do my research.”

“Fantastic. Well, I just need to be reminded of your birth date again to confirm your identity.”

“May 16th,” I said happily.

“Great. Can I get a blood sample as well?” She grabbed a small pen-looking device from her pocket.

What? A blood sample to confirm my identity?

That seemed bizarre.

But weren’t there companies in Japan, or maybe South Korea, that treated your blood type kind of like your horoscope?

Maybe a high-tech place like this did the same thing.

I complied and gave my hand to her. There was a sharp sensation on the tip of my forefinger, nothing too painful. She promptly bandaged the bleeding finger and then looked at a tablet as she continued.

“And you said in your survey you have no family ties? Does that mean you aren’t close to your family or are the deceased or…?”

“No, they’re very much alive, but we don’t talk at all. I haven’t seen them since I moved out at eighteen. I’m not even sure where they live now.”

When my parents divorced, they’d both found new partners right away. Even as a teenager, I wondered if they’d been with their new spouses before the divorce.

And then when they had new families, there really wasn’t a place for me.

Easier for me to keep moving, find my own life, since it was pretty clear I was just a reminder of a mistake they’d made.

“Right, very well. That makes this whole process easier,” she continued. “We usually counsel that if you have strong family ties, this may not be a decision you enter into lightly.”

What?

Now I was really confused and desperately wished I actually had done my research. What kind of job requires you to have few family ties?

“Any pets?” She asked.

“No, no pets. I love animals and my roommate had a cat that I spent a lot of time with but she recently moved out.” I was going to miss little Lucy.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said sympathetically before continuing “And you indicated you love travel and are well adapted to it?”

“Oh, yes, love to travel.”

At least, I thought I loved to travel, but I hadn’t had an opportunity to actually test that out considering I didn’t have a lot of time or money to do so.

“Great! And you have no travel restrictions? We can send you somewhere far away?”

Was I going to get to travel in this position? I was grinning from ear to ear.

“Oh, absolutely! I love new places, I’d go anywhere!”

I wondered if this job had any intergalactic travel.

That seemed unlikely for a start up but then again, why else would she ask how far I was willing to travel?

I loved the idea of it. I’d always been intrigued by the alien species that visited our planet.

I’d never even spoken to an alien, never actually seen one in person. Most aliens traveling stuck to the bigger cities for business or tourist activities.

But still, wouldn’t it be amazing to talk with someone about a whole new world?

“Then there is only one thing left for you to do.” She smiled brightly, and I hoped my expression didn’t show how completely lost I was.

“Now, I know it might feel a little unorthodox to choose this way, but I promise there is no wrong answer here. Whoever you choose, I trust you’ll be incredibly happy with any option. So don’t stress, okay?”

I forced a smile as if what she was saying made sense to me. “Sure!”

She grabbed her phone and clicked a few buttons causing three holograms to appear before me.

To my surprise, they were three different alien men, all entirely different from each other.

One had a long fish-like tail with red shimmery scales adorning his body.

Another one was bulky and yellow with four large arms.

The last was a bald man of a blue-teal color, with jagged grey marks adorning his arm and chest. A vest covered most of his torso, but where it opened I could see a flash of purple on his chest.

As the holograms revolved before me, I could see a pair of ridges running down the sides of his head, forming a V at the back of his neck before disappearing into the collar of his vest.

And suddenly, I was very, very curious to see what else was under there.

Woah, Emily, I caught myself.

It’s just a quiz.

Fascinating, and to be honest, a little hot… but I didn’t understand the question at all.

How could this possibly indicate whether or not I’d be a good fit for the job?

It had to be like the random questionnaire I’d taken. It had a lot of silly questions like “if you were a tree, what kind would you be?”

Stuff that was clearly meant to determine my personality.

And she’d assured me no matter what I picked, I’d be happy with my choice.

Perhaps I had already gotten a job and choosing an alien would help decide what type of role I took on within the company?

If that was the case, I wanted to pick carefully.

Which alien best expressed my personality? Definitely not the scaly one, I never had been a big fan of marine animals. Plus I liked the thick, muscular builds of the other two. The four arms were a little off-putting and I did adore the color teal.

“This one,” I pointed at the teal and grey alien.

“Fantastic. Well, we’re about done here, please follow me.”

What did that mean, we were done here?

Had I gotten the job? I desperately wanted to ask but I didn’t want to seem overeager.

She took me into a back room and had me fill out some paperwork on her tablet.

My face flushed as I filled out my information. If I didn’t get the job, there would be no reason to have me fill this out.

When I’d finished, I handed it back to her and she took a sticky black square and placed it behind my ear.

“You are most definitely going to need that, aren’t you?” she smiled.

I am?

She slid a silver bracelet around my wrist and handed me a small suitcase.

“Go ahead and step on that red circular platform over there and you’re ready to go.”

Surely they wouldn’t be sending me off to work already? I hadn’t even learned what my job was!

My feet mechanically moved to the platform as I willed myself to finally ask the question I’d been dying to know: What kind of job was this?

I nearly got the courage to question the woman when, suddenly, a bright yellow light blinded me.

I closed my eyes instinctively and covered them with my hands, dropping the bag. The light quickly went away and I blinked slowly to adjust to seeing the room again.

Except when my vision came back to me, I was no longer in the office.

I was standing in a huge hall, that reminded me of something.

Right.

Old photos of Grand Central Station.

Except, instead of men and women in elegant, old fashioned clothing… I was surrounded by aliens.

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