Fiction: Ninjas Wanted – Apply Within (Chapter 3)

Ninjas Wanted – Apply Within

By Tabitha Grace Smith

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

Charles wasn’t sure what he was expecting when he entered the large glass office building. Whatever he was anticipating it wasn’t anything close to this. Yuri ushered him into a richly decorated lobby area. It was all dark woods and red paneling. The faint smell incense hung lightly in the air. It was kind of disconcerting. In the center of the large room was a high, polished, black desk that seemed perfect for a receptionist. To either side of the desk were potted bamboo plants in delicate looking white vases. There were some low benches with gold and red cushions. In one of the far right corners was a large rock waterfall that fell into a fairly large pool with large fake rocks. The whole thing reminded Charles of a tide pool exhibit he had seen at the local aquarium.

“Wait here,” Yuri said to Charles. Before Charles could reply, Yuri had disappeared into one of the side doors. Charles did as he was told and kept looking around the lavish lobby. The sound of the waterfall relaxed him a bit. There’s nothing like water falling to make you relax and feel like you need to pee. He was wondering if he could find a bathroom when a woman came out from another of the many doors that lined the room. She crossed the room and headed toward the receptionist desk.

Perfect, Charles thought. I can ask her about the bathroom. Charles started to walk towards the desk when the woman, without even raising her head called out, “Charles, Yuri told you to wait there.”

Charles froze. He wasn’t entirely sure how to respond. It seemed odd. No more than odd. Charles now wished he had bought one of those “Word of the Day” calendars so he could get a word that was better suited to how this felt. Not knowing exactly what to do, Charles just stood where Yuri had told him for a good five minutes (that felt more like forty). Then, he remembered the Craigslist ad. “Ninjas don’t wait just because they’re told,” he said in a voice that was surprisingly stronger than his own. He blamed it on the need to pee.

“Where’s your bathroom?”

The woman looked up from her desk and pointed a long finger towards the door to her left. Her nails were delicately painted with cherry blossoms in the same shade as her well-tailored pink suit and skirt.

Well, Charles thought to himself as he marched towards the bathroom door, at least this company appears to have money. The ad had made it sound so start-up it hurt, but everything Charles had seen so far spoke the exact opposite. It puzzled him the entire trip to the bathroom and for several minutes after as he went back to the spot that Yuri had told him to wait.

He didn’t have to wait long. Another woman, in a sleek black dress that said professional and beautiful, came in to the lobby through yet another door. “Charles Cook?”

“That’s me,” Charles said. He took a couple steps towards her as she came to meet him.

“Thank you for coming. My name is Janet. Come this way. Can we get you anything?”

“Thanks for having me and no thank you,” Charles said with a smile he hoped looked easy-going.

“I was very impressed by your resume, Mr. Cook,” Janet said as the two made their way towards the door that Janet had emerged from. Her voice had a musical quality to it. It was extremely soothing. Charles liked it. A lot.

“Charles, please.”

Janet nodded her head. Behind the door was a amazingly pretty glass elevator. Charles usually wasn’t one for admiring elevators. After all, elevators were function pieces in large buildings. This one was a glass tube with gold etched Japanese letters (Charles had long had a fascination with Chinese and Japanese and, as a result, knew the difference despite the fact that they both had the same root). There were also beautiful silver etched figures of samurai warriors. As they entered the elevator Charles noticed that there were no numbers for “four” and “nine” on the elevator buttons. Traditionally, bad luck numbers, Charles was not surprised to see their absence. Janet pushed the button for five and Charles decided to just enjoy the ride up the gorgeous glass elevator.

“Our company was founded a long time ago,” Janet said as the elevator traveled up the glass tube. “As you can probably tell we originated in Japan.”

“I love Japan.”

“Have you been?”

“Sadly just once,” Charles said as the elevator started to slow. “Nagoya for my friend’s wedding.”

Janet nodded again. The elevator doors opened up on an impressively large open area. The dark wood theme from the lobby was present here as well. It looked more like a spa though, then an office building. There were treadmills lined along one wall, weight machines along another wall, and what appeared to be yoga mats rolled up neatly on shelves. Along the longest side of the room there was  a rather large hot tub set into a large platform with a series of wooden steps. There were massage tables in modern white and steel. Soft music played throughout the large room giving it a very zen feeling. Charles looked over at Janet, hoping she’d explain.

“We believe our employees should have opportunities,” Janet said simply. “This is the company gym, you might say.”

Charles resisted his natural urge to let out a low whistle. A gym? What kind of place was this? The company gyms he had seen in the past were little more than a room with some exercise equipment. This was like a full-service spa. Curiouser and Curiouser, Charles said to himself. Somehow, he felt as if Alice had nothing on him today.

Janet let him out of the large room and down a hallway of what Charles assumed were offices. She paused in front of one with her name on the door. Janet Chu the small nameplate read. She rested her thumb on the side of the door and there was a small soft sound, almost like a sigh. The door opened. Well, the door retracted is probably the better word. It slid across the door frame and disappeared.

Janet’s office was modest size, but beautifully decorated. The desk took up much of the floor space. It was a richly carved, cherry wood desk. Charles could see dragons, pandas, swords, and more all along the sides of the desk. The top had a little railing along the edge that looked like a pagoda village.

“A gift,” Janet said as she followed Charles’ eyes. “From a very happy Chinese client.”

“It’s amazing,” Charles said. “Very beautiful.”

Janet flushed a bit, showing a bit of pride. “Thank you. Please, take a seat.”

Charles sat in one of the two chairs in front of the desk. They were simply cherry wood to match the desk with dark golden cushions.

“I will be very honest with you,” Janet said as she sat across from him. “We really need a new IT manager. I don’t have to tell you how nearly impossible it is to run a business these days without one.”

Charles nodded.

“We liked your resume and your cover letter. We think you know your stuff. This interview is more about if you can fit in with the company.”

“As you probably noticed on my resume I’ve worked with several different types of companies. I think my ability to adapt to situations and people is really highlighted in the work I’ve done.”

Janet nodded. “Yes, but you must understand, we’re not like any other company.”

Charles resisted the urge to snort. Everyone thinks they’re not like any other company. Oh, we’re so innovative. Oh, we’re so different. The truth is that people in groups are pretty much the same wherever you go. Charles had learned the hard way that a company is a company. There isn’t much difference from company to company other than the percentage of people you hate.

Of course, that’s not something one says on an interview.

“I see.” Charles said.

Janet had a small smile. It was one of those oh, no you really don’t smiles. Somewhere in the pit of Charles’ stomach he felt a butterfly flip.

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One Comment

  1. Posted October 21, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Still many more surprises to come, I suspect.

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