The Hiring Process

by S. J. Price

The Librarian was not present when the candidate arrived. The retiring assistant, who the young man was applying to replace, opened the door, confirmed the appointment and handed him a hefty book, explaining that he would be given a short time to review its contents before the interview started.

– Follow me.

The ancient, limping, curled like a question mark from scoliosis, led him through a series of ill-lit corridors. The young man, keeping the book secured under his arm, followed a step behind, and wondered if the old assistant was going to make it, he looked so frail. But then he became distracted, not understanding how the compact building that stood alone in an isolated cul-de-sac could be so much larger and complex on the inside. It was a maze. He kept close to the listing old man, knowing that if they became separated there would be no finding his way back. After passing several doorways and making many turns, the assistant stopped at a door that opened noiselessly on it own. It revealed a room, similarly lit as the hallway, where there was only a chair set at a table with a desk lamp and box of tissues in the middle. It seemed like an odd place for an interview.

– Read. He will be with you shortly.

The applicant entered and the door eased shut behind him. Eager to be the one chosen as the next guardian of so many of the universe’s murkier secrets, the young man was not going to waste any time assessing the surroundings. He needed to prep for the interview. He charged to the table, turned on the lamp, sat down and opened the book. Blood appeared on his fingertips with the first page turned. A paper cut. He grabbed a tissue and continued, grateful that none got on the pages. A second page, another cut. A third, a third cut. No blood stained the book. He began to flip frantically. It was blank, but with each page, a fresh cut appeared. Compulsively, he continued to turn the clean, plain pages. There must be some way to read its contents, he thought, panicking as the interview loomed. Blood leaked from his fingers and pooled on the table, trickled off the edge to gather around the chair. He could not stop himself until he collapsed, drained.

The Librarian appeared, stepping forth from a dark corner, and lifted the book from where it lay pristine on the table, closed it and fitted it under his arm.

– We’ll let you know, he muttered, stepping over the pallid, prone, motionless candidate. The door slid open and the librarian departed.