The clock on the wall has a neon plastic coating and a clear glass plate over the hands themselves; it’s loud ticking an audible notice of how out of place it is in this office. I’m guessing battery powered, about 60 years old and presumably very expensive, presumably bought from a museum or a private collector. It’s a bit ironic, how we spend so much on technology that’s technically inferior to what we have now.
Sometimes "Irony" dominates most of the purchase.
I should have worn a suit; I really should have worn a suit. I’ve opted for what could be considered as ‘smart-casual’, as much as I dislike that phrase.
A suit adds levity and class, it says ‘I am presentable and should be hired’ or ‘I have the ability to rent a suit as if that somehow affects my overall working capacity’.
"You've spent the first twelve minutes of this interview swearing profusely and hitting on my receptionist with misogynistic insults...but damn those are some neat lapels"
The man behind the desk, Mr Phoenix is head of the ‘applicant review’ scheme of this company, Solus intergalactic, the second largest interstellar management company on earth. Or third...actually it might be fourth. Well the main thing is they send vehicles and people into space, so they’re at least better than British Rail.
Actually...British rail don’t really have any need to send trains into space, it would be a pointless endeavour.
He’s taking far too long with my CV, hopefully he’s impressed. Maybe my font choice has caught his eye. That’s right, I printed on BOTH SIDES of the paper. I’m not your regular average Schmuck looking for work.
After a few minutes he looks up, links his hands and gives a warm yet quasi-fake smile.
“So with regards to the actual location, what sort of area in space would you like to be?” This is the first time I’ve heard him speak, a faint Birmingham accent that space still hasn’t managed to make him lose.
“Somewhere quite out of our solar system, not ‘rural’ in the sense of the word, but a tad unexplored thoroughly. Yeah, I’d like to go somewhere a bit ‘distant’ if that’s possible” I hear myself speak, attempting to sound professional via unnecessary elaboration.
He rifles through some files in front of him, he smiles a satisfied grin and pulls an a4 sheet out, peppered with graphs and text, I can’t see it clearly but there’s an image so dark it’s bled onto the back.
“We’ve got one here that’s located in a galaxy ‘far, far away’” He says without a hint of irony.
“Don’t patronise me sir”
“No...That’s what it says here”
He passes me the sheet; it does. Right down to the repetition of ‘far’, as if ‘far’ in itself conveys any meaning other than ‘FAR’, actually the use of one ‘far’ isn’t even needed, I’m pretty sure it’s overshadowed by the vastness conveyed by fucking ‘GALAXY’. I don’t tell him this but instead point to an image of a dark circle on the sheet.
Also the term 'Space' seems a bit underwhelming, all things considered.
“What planet is this?” I ask, genuinely intrigued.
“The thing is, it’s not on a planet. It’s funny because loads of people confuse it for a small one, or a moon, it’s a space station, called get this...The ‘Death Star!’ Awesome, right?” He rolls back on his chair and laughs theatrically, awkwardly this isn’t fake.
“It’s called the Death Star?” I pronounce every word as slow as possible to emphasise my reserve with this situation.
“I’m sure that’s just creative exaggeration, for appearance and marketing purposes, sort of like Burger King. I mean, there’s not really a king is there? ”
I’m slightly uncomfortable with his reaction to this settlement being described ‘creatively’ as a star that caters in fucking DEATH But, my curiosity has been piqued, and truth be told I’d like the work. The fact I’ve even snagged an interview is ridiculous, and at such a youngish age I shouldn’t be too testy.
“And what jobs are going?”
“Oh plenty! Security, weapons manufacturing, defence maintenance, fighter pilots, medical, interrogator, translator, spying, sabotage and cafeteria work” Well, let it not be said it isn’t diverse.
“A lot of those are...” The correct word fails me “...fighty’”
“Fighty?” His eyes widen slightly.
“Yes...fighty, in that they denote fighting is involved” It’s hard not to come across as cynical here.
“Well it is called the Death Star haha!”
“I thought you said that was just a whimsical marketing strategy”
“It is....partially, but it’s mainly because it can blow the shit out of planets.” Well those are very unprofessional colloquialisms he’s just thrown at me.
“Have you heard of Aldeeraan?” He’s elaborating, this worries me.
“No point bothering now then! Haha!” I was right to be worried; I should fake a laugh but my moral compass only allows me to pull off a grimace passing for an awkward smile. Thankfully he continues talking, allowing me to get my thoughts together, if I say anything now it would probably result in me being asked to leave.
“So anyway, have you ever been into space before?” The hands become linked again and he leans forward, an expression that, once again, might not be entirely interested.
“I went on one of the Virgin passenger flights about a year ago; we orbited Mars for about an hour...there was a cafe on board. I had a coke and took some photos of the Olympus Mons...it was my screensaver for about a month. Actually, I should have had a coke zero!” I perk up with the fake intensity of an overzealous priest trying to relate to some agnostic youths, hopefully he got my joke.
“Why a coke Zero?” He did not get my joke.
“Because of...zero...zero gravity. What with it being...space”
“But you didn’t go onto the actual planet?”
I hesitate for a second, the thought of ‘beefing up’ my CV by lying is a common occurrence, but lying about visiting a location, another planet even, isn’t something I couldn’t adequately pull off.
“No” An uneasy silence “But I’ve heard it’s nice.”
“We built a theme park there. You should visit it.” He says this just short of winking
“Why? What makes it different from any other theme park on Earth?”
“It’s on Mars. The novelty value alone is simply extravagant.”
“Well if that’s the case, you could have saved money and built a Post Office or HMV. I’m sure the actual building or purpose it serves is irrelevant, as long as it is ON MARS” Against my better judgement I continue this tirade “And anyway. A theme park on Mars may be all peaches and gravy, but I could just as easily visit...Alton Towers, without firstly having to pay for interstellar travel and secondly I wouldn’t have to wear a protective suit due to the atmosphere being so volatile it would genuinely cause me to explode from the inside, like a ghastly flesh-puppet piñata” I may have come across like a pedantic, argumentative lout, BUT it shows that I’ve done my research and know my facts, so hopefully that will smooth over the fact I’ve shit all over the fact he pissed away millions on an unprofitable, dangerous and not to mention, highly impractical behemoth of faceless corporate idiocy.
"I see, well that's certainly a strong opinion you have."
"I don't mean any offense by it Sir"
“Have you seen Total Recall?” A wry smile curls itself around the lower half of his face.
“The Schwarzenegger film with the gunfights and elaborately convoluted plot? Yeah I’ve seen that, it’s pretty aweso-“
“It’s nothing like that” He interrupts me, completely blunt faced and stoic.
“Then...why compare it to that in the first place?”
“Well you see” He leans back, eyes wandering as his chair forces out an irritating, straining leathery squeal “We don’t want our employees setting their sights too high and getting, well, stars in their eyes. So we subtly crush the enthusiasm out of them in the screening process.
Upon closer inspection, the fact it's nothing like this is probably for the best.
“Oh” I don’t even reply, it’s just me saying a vowel, appropriately without any enthusiasm.
“Just like that! You seem very reliable, now all I need now is for you to answer some quick questions and we’ll be done”
“But you’ve hardly asked me any questions”
“Oh, we just have one of the androids go over your CV and filter out the bullshit, creativity and intelligence. I mean I could do that but it would take like...what? 20 minutes? That’s just ridiculous”
“Oh Right” The man has a point, I’d rather have my future in technology be judged by...technology itself. Like some ‘Highlander’ fate nonsense, hard to believe that was voted the greatest film of the past century...my mind’s wandering, questions, he has questions!
“Right, firstly, what university did you graduate from?”
“The southern London technology college”
“Oh interesting, which part of the south?”
“Well it’s technically...underground, so it kind of is ‘south’. It’s a very misleading name, but an efficient learning environment”
“Underground?! Screw the rest of the questions. That’s bloody interesting stuff, I like you already.”
“Oh...thank you” Apparently, learning engineering near the earth’s core is a viable working trait.
He gets up and shakes my hand, If I’m going to speak I may as well now, I honestly don’t want to be a webmaster for some planet destroying...space...fortress.
“Not to be up front or ungrateful sir, but this...dead...star-“
“Yes that, would it be possible if I...didn’t get sent there?”
“Oh, any reasons why not?” Apprehension, I need a lie. A lie that won’t be hunted down.
“Religious reasons, my religion...means I can’t be there. I can go into space, just not areas of space whereby planets are blown up...by moon sized instruments of terror”
“Well, we’ll call you soon, happy to have you as part of the team, hopefully” Don’t wink....and we’re safe. He leads me to the door and I exit as he closes it abruptly.
Above all, I think...that went well.