- As I downed my third bottle of scotch for that night, I wondered where it had all gone so very wrong. Maybe it was my decision to get a useless degree for the sake of it. Maybe I shouldn’t have trusted that man with his ‘once in a lifetime offer’. Whatever the answer was, my choice of vice probably didn’t help me out. It’s not like I was a special case- plenty of young men like me had fallen to similar fates- the only difference was just how hard I fell. As I reached for the bottle to pour another glass, I heard something that I had not expected- and which I had learned to fear; a knock at the door.
- I sat down the bottle and, begrudgingly, got out of my chair. I walked over to the door, making sure not to alert the knocker to my presence. I quietly leaned down, looking through the peephole. While I was expecting the usual salesman, some unlucky man forced by contract into the most hated job in the city, what I saw was much more worrying. Outside of the door stood two men in expensive looking suits, one carrying a briefcase. One of the men glanced at his watch, appearing to grumble, before knocking again with more force,
- “Anyone home?”
- I mentally groaned, wondering what hell I was about to have to deal with. It couldn’t be collection agents- they’d have already kicked down the goddamn door by now. Maybe I had accidently glanced at some website that hosts illegal content- maybe I was being framed. If only this was true- the feds would be much more merciful than if the debt collectors caught up to me. However, as unlikely as this was, I couldn’t think of any other reason for men in black to march up to my door and demand my presence.
- “Open up, we don’t have all the time in the world. And yes, we know you’re in there.”
- Well, it wasn’t like I had a choice now. I lifted myself back up, opening the door and bracing for whatever was about to happen. The two seemed about what you would expect from men with their attire- professional, and serious. The man with the briefcase lightly nodded at me, and began to speak,
- “Hello. Now, let’s get straight to the point, we’re here because we’ve heard of a few problems of yours-”
- Despite the tension in the air, I couldn’t help but interrupt-
- “Oh, whatever the hell it is that I did, I don’t care- just take me away.”
- For a brief second the man frowned at being interrupted- aggravation soon being replaced by confusion as he tried to understand what I meant. After a moment of contemplation, he glanced at his partner and back to me, and I swear I could see a hint of a smile,
- “Now, if you would, please let me finish before speaking. Anyways, as I was saying, we’re here because we’ve heard of a few problems of yours, and we are willing to help you fix them. We’re here to make you an offer, on behalf of the Beaulin corporation. First of all, I would like to clarify I am of course simplifying this for the sake of brevity and your understanding. If you desire to understand the full terms you must simply read the contract. Now, I come to you with an offer- the executives at Beaulin would like to cut you a deal- they are willing to fully pay off your debt, if you agree to work for them under the terms of the contract. If you have any questions before we move on, please see the contract- we are just messengers.”
- The man opens his suitcase, before taking out a stack of papers and a pen. He then closed his briefcase, and extended his hand,
- “I would say to take your time, but we’re actually in quite a hurry, so if you would, please decide quickly.”
- I hastily took the papers and pen, glancing down at the large stack- how was I expected to read this many pages “quickly”? I brought the first page up to my face to at least read some of it- and yet, was still unable. Not only was this contract far too long to read in a short time, but it was also written in whatever collective language people with law degrees use- whatever it was, it sure as hell wasn’t English. I sighed, looking up at the two men- the man with the briefcase was clearly growing impatient, checking his watch after shooting me an urgent look, and the other was as stoic as ever. The man with the briefcase once again spoke up, with a certain finality to the tone of his voice,
- “Well, sir, I’m afraid that we must get going. Now, if you would please hand back over the paperwork, me and my friend can leave, and- ah. I see you’ve changed your mind.”
- As soon as he spoke up, I, in a desperate attempt to not lose what seemed like my only hope, found the blank line and signed my name. As I handed the man the paperwork, I couldn’t help but once again see that slight bit of a smile through the facade of formality- this time, much less playful, and much more devious.
- “Thank you for your time and attention. Now, if you will just follow me, I’d like to take you to your new employer.”
- I nodded, following the two men out of the apartment and to their vehicle- a black van with tinted windows. I entered the back as per their directions, sitting down near the window. The two men sat silently in the front as they started the car and began driving, and as I stared out the almost completely opaque window, I was hardly able to discern our location. I had a lot of time to think about my decisions, and ruminate on whether I made the right choice- instead, however, a few minutes into the ride, I fell asleep. I never could stay awake on long car rides…
- I jumped as I was woken up by a sudden bump- sitting up suddenly in my bed, surprised.
- “We’re about to arrive at our destination. Please, gather yourself.”
- After a brief moment of intense confusion, the memories came flooding back of what I had assumed to be some dream- the agents, payment for my debts, the contract… The van suddenly came to a stop, and the man once again spoke,
- “You should be escorted inside by a few employees. Please exit the vehicle.”
- I happily complied, stepping out onto the ground and gazing up at the location we had arrived at Gelato Cavallo, an ice-cream company. I was just about on the verge of questioning why the hell getting an employee for an ice-cream company was worth this much money, when an employee came up to me,
- “I assume you’re our, ah, special guest? Well, anyways, please, follow me. We need to hurry- we have so much we need to do for your orientation!”
- I followed her to the doors of the facility and through a few hallways, leading me to a medical office, “So! As you’re new, we have a few things we need to do before you can begin your job. If you could please sit down on that bed, and a doctor will assist you right away!”
- I followed her directions- not like I had any other real choice. She left the room, and I sat on the bed for a few minutes, idly contemplating the situation at hand. Soon enough, a doctor and his assistant entered the office,
- “Alright, as you probably know, before you begin your job we need to do a few procedures. My name is Dr. Lawson, and I’ll be in charge of your examination today. Now, before you start objecting, let me assure you that nothing is painful and nothing is outside of the procedure mentioned in your contract- now, first, I’d like you to look at that poster-” He gestured at a poster on the door opposite from me, a series of gradually shrinking rows of letters, “-And read the letters out to me. Does that sound okay to you?”
- I nodded, and began to read out the letters as best as I could. By the fifth row, I was beginning to meet resistance, and I became fully focused on my task. In fact, as I was struggling to make out whether the letter in the middle of the sixth row was a C or a G, I hardly noticed the small prick in my upper arm, and I passed out cold on the bed.
- I opened my eyes once again, mind groggy from the frequent bouts of sleep and apparent drugging. I lay there for a while, relaxing with my eyes closed- wherever I was lying, it was strangely comfy. I yawned and stretched slightly, opening my eyes and bringing up a hand to brush away the strand of orange something that had gotten in the way of my eyes- only to suddenly hit myself in the face with my fist. My… White, weirdly smooth fist. And arm. Goddamnit, they probably put me in some kind of fucking straitjacket. This whole company was probably a front to use people for goddamn human experimentation.
- I got on all fours- this suit was clearly restricting my movement- and began to crawl towards what looked like a mirror on the other side of the… strangely furnished room. I had more important issues to dwell on. I quickly gained a rudimentary grasp of how to “walk” in the suit, crawling over to the mirror and looking into it. However, instead of the human in a ridiculous suit that I expected, I saw some sort of… horse thing? Something that looked practically like it was ripped from a cartoon, or was some sort of plush animal given a living body- everything seemed to be optimised for cuteness.
- I stared at the reflection for a good few minutes, making sure that it was in fact a reflection. Was… Was this what they did to me? Why? D-Did they make their ice cream out of s, or something? Oh, god, I was going to be eaten… O-Or something… I began to tremble, curling up into a ball on the floor- however, my fear was amplified by something even more terrifying- the creak of a door opening.
- I could hardly bear to look up at the man as he walked into the room. He seemed like a titan compared to me, easily five times as tall, and I could do nothing but cower in fear and pray that if there was a god out there, it would make my suffering quick, and make my end painless. The man came to a knee- clearly preparing to reach for me- and looked down at me with his vicious teeth bared. I let out a small squeaking noise, terrified, as he reached down with a hand to grab at me- and rested his hand in my hair, rustling it and lightly chuckling,
- “Silly pony, there’s no need to be afraid.”