This story came largely from Katie’s fear of spiders. She freaks out when they’re around. I started to wonder what would happen if she was in a situation that called for calmness and a spider intruded. It’s just a simple interview… Breyon.
A Simple Interview
“Mr Armstrong, good to see you again”, the interviewer stood, extending his arm over the solid oak table, on which lay a thick resume. Denmark Armstrong took the hand and shook it, firm but not hard.
“Please, call me Den.”
The interviewer smiled and nodded, motioning for Den to sit down. He sat carefully, shuffling himself into the cushioned chair. The back of the seat was far too low and Den struggled to find a happy medium between comfort and a professional air of interest. This job was important to him and although this was his second interview he knew full well that a second interview often didn’t mean a damn thing. “So Mr Armstrong”, Den felt his stomach drop, as the interviewer addressed him, ignoring his request to be called Den. He shouldn’t have asked, it was unprofessional. He was nervous and expected to have felt better after starting the meeting but in fact he felt worse. These nerves had been nearly constant since the unpleasantness of the past few months.
“Your last interview went well I see. Mr Foster seemed to like you and let me tell you, your references are more than stellar.” The interviewer had been talking and Den realised he had zoned out. He nodded and smiled. “Well, I’ve been in the business for a while now and I’ve made a lot of contacts.” True, Den had been in the marketing profession for nearly a decade and the contacts he had made had proven themselves to be useful numerous times. “So why is it you’re looking to change location Mr Armstrong?” “Well, it’s a family thing I suppose. My wife has taken a job in New York. It’s always been a dream of ours to live in the city and now we have the chance.” False, Den had been fired for sexual harassment against his secretary. The last in a long line of sexual harassment charges that began with an affair and ended with a large bribe, which masqueraded itself as an out of court settlement. The only reason Den’s past misdemeanours didn’t show up on his record was because of this settlement and although it had saved his career it had cost him the family he spoke so loyally about. His wife had grown tired of finding lipstick on his clothes and smelling perfume on his neck. She had waited for him, hoping that he would change, stop having sex with his endless stream of toned young secretaries, come back to her with the love he had shown her when they were first married. But eventually she had left him, as she threatened to do a million times. In his peripheral vision Den saw a movement. Looking to the corner of the oak table Den watched a spider scuttle behind a paperweight. He ignored it.
“Well it is a wonderful city I must admit”, the interviewer laughed and jotted something down on a notepad. Den felt a slight reprieve from his nerves as he realised the interviewer was moving past the more personal questions. “So, Mr Foster told me you were looking for a placement in the Head Marketing department?” “Yes,” Den watched the spider emerge from the paperweight and crawl towards the interviewers hand. Another spider lifted its thin, black legs over the edge of the fruit bowl, Den continued ignoring the bugs. “I believe my experience lends itself to a department within the marketing section. I have had great success with my four step program which I have outlined in the dossier I gave to Mr Foster-“ The interviewer was nodding and encouraging Den to continue but his throat had dried up and his line of thought had been broken. The spider had climbed onto the interviewers hand and was making its way up towards his shiny cufflinks. Other spiders were appearing as if from nowhere. Den counted six of the eight legged animals roaming about on the desk. They weren’t the biggest spiders he had ever seen but they weren’t small either. Roughly the size of a marble with a translucent yellow abdomen. They looked like blobs of honey moving around on jet black legs. There was no way that the interviewer couldn’t feel the arachnid on his hand.
“Please, Mr Armstrong do continue.” The interviewer urged him to finish his sentence, apparently oblivious to the honey spider walking up his arm. Den reached out to take a drink of water and put the glass to his lips. He had taken a long sip before looking down into the water and seeing a golden orb floating, legs spreadeagled out from the body. He coughed and spluttered out some water before putting the glass down on the table. The interviewer looked concerned. “Mr Armstrong are you alright? You look a little, frazzled” “I’m fine, fine. Thank you.” Den tried his best to keep his eyes off the spiders that were now multiplying at a rapid pace. The table looked as though it was moving. The surface was nearly covered in the spiders, and yet the interviewer simply looked concerned for him. Den wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating or having a breakdown or just dreaming. He tended to stay away from hallucinogens but he had been taking more cocaine since his wife left. Perhaps he had finally eroded his brain away and now it was just playing with him. Or perhaps he needed more cocaine. “I’d like to ask you a few questions regarding your previous experience at Global Transactions if that’s alright?” “Of course, what would you like to know?” Den reigned in his nausea and suppressed a frown as a spider crawled into the interviewers nose and disappeared. “How long did you work there for?” “Four years and three months” Den answered, struggling to keep his eyes off the arachnids teeming over the oblivious interviewers face. Another golden orb disappeared into his nose, another into his ear and one began to lift up the upper lid of his left eye. The interviewer was still and undisturbed by the invasive bugs, simply smiling and nodding. “That’s quite a while. What sort of skills did you acquire during your time there?” Den swallowed a dry lump and took another drink of water. It did nothing to wet his throat. Nevertheless he continued. I need this job, I need. This. Job. “Well, I learnt perseverance for a start. My old boss was a perfectionist and was never happy unless everything was done to his exact liking. I also-“ Den hesitated when the spider that had been lifting the interviewers eyelid flipped itself under and turned into a pink lump on the mans eye. It moved slowly. Den thought of times he had gotten something in his eye, a piece of dirt or sand for example, and knew that the man could not just be ignoring it. He was now truly reconsidering his sanity. Had his cocaine been tampered with the night before? He recalled cutting up three lines the size of pencils on the lid of the toilet cistern and one by one snorting them up his nose. It had felt like normal cocaine, tasted like normal cocaine. It had even had the hangover of normal cocaine. The slight headache and nosebleed he suffered almost as a daily ritual had become a comfort and a necessity rather than a worry. But this was just strange. An extended hallucination like this was not something he had experienced before. He had heard of people getting stuck in a trip. A friend of his had gone off the rails in his late teenage years and the last he had heard of him he was trapped in a demonic apocalypse, leaving him unable to look up to the sky for fear of seeing a tumultuous fiery hell. He was sweating now and the interviewer looked concerned again. “Mr Armstrong are you quite sure you’re alright? You look rather pale” Every time his mouth opened more spiders poured into his mouth like he was a vacuum cleaner and they were dust on the ground. Den wiped his brow and looked at the shiny film of sweat covering his wrist and palm. “Honestly, I’m fine. I have a mild flu and I think it may be getting to me,” Den attempted a light-hearted chuckle but a wheezing gasp was all that came out. “Would you like to reschedule?” The interviewers eyes were impossible to see past the glowing golden bubbles and seething masses of black legs searching for footholds. The animals were tumbling off the mans face and body and his suit was bubbling and writhing about over what Den imagined was more of the arachnids. “Yes, please” Den could no longer cope with what he was seeing and he had to look away. The interviewer sighed and wrote a few scribbled lines in his notepad. “How does Friday the fifteenth sound to you Mr Armstrong?” There was no skin left visible now. The spiders had completely taken over. “Perfect”, It wasn’t perfect at all, but he could have said any date and it would have been accepted. Den was near enough choking. He stood and gave his thanks to the interviewer, turning to leave. “Mr Armstrong, it’s been a pleasure,” The interviewer extended his arm across the table again, dropping batches of twitching spiders over the desk. Den looked down to the mans hand, knowing that he would have to shake it. In his mind, visions of spiders crawling over his body made him feel like retching, but he stopped himself and took the interviewers hand. The black and gold morphing over the man seemed to smile where his mouth used to be and a moving hole formed in the head of the beast. “Take care Mr Armstrong, and I’ll see you on the fifteenth” “Yes, absolutely yes. Thank you again.”
Den felt bugs popping under his hand and a warm liquid soaking his palm. He pulled back his hand resisting the urge to brush away the spiders that were scratching away at his skin. He grit his teeth and turned to walk out of the door, only looking back once as he closed it behind him, seeing the shape of the interviewer sitting down behind his desk.
Den ran to the bathroom desperately flapping at the bugs on his hands, slammed open the door to the first stall and promptly threw up in the toilet. His eyes clenched shut as the pressure around them started bruising. He vomited again and again, seeing spots float behind the red of his eyelids. He sat back against the stall wall and cried. Minutes passed as he propped himself up against the wall. He wanted to vomit but didn’t have anything left in his stomach to come up. He had a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and considered taking one out and lighting it, but he had never smoked a cigarette in a place that specified not to, and he wasn’t about to start now. He put his hand down to the ground to push himself up but stopped. On the lip of the toilet bowl was a golden orb with black legs, scuttling over the edge down the gleaming porcelain. Den peered over the edge into the water where he had just been sick. Instead of vomit, or blood, or bile or anything that could come from a person’s body, the toilet was full of honey spiders. The tears on his face itched and moved. He swatted them, squashing them against his face and arms. His fingernails lifted from their beds and spiders felt their way out. A foul smell filled the stall. He coughed and screamed but no sound came out besides a muffled groan as spiders by the handful spewed from his mouth and nose.
Two minutes passed and Denmark Armstrong was no more. In his place a swarm of golden honey spiders searched their way along the toilet floor, the only remnant of the recently interviewed man.
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