The Duplicate Affair

Georgia examined her cuticles critically. There was a loose bit of skin at the top of her index finger. She knew that if she tried to pull it off she would end up bleeding all over her interview suit and possibly her interviewer when they went to shake her hand, but it just looked so… messy.  She contemplated chewing it off. A shadow falling over her interrupted her ruminations.

“You alright, there?” A woman’s voice made her look up. She was slim and athletic, wearing a business suit and a curious, slightly amused expression.

“Um, yes, thank you…” Georgia managed, though her mouth was incredibly dry. Interviews made her nervous.

“What time did they tell you to be here?” the woman asked. There was an abruptness to her tone that was off putting.

“Ten…” Georgia managed.

The woman turned and looked at the clock on the wall along the whitewashed corridor. It was ten twenty-five. “It’s a power game.” She pulled a packet of gum out of her pocket and offered it. “Chew, you’ll sound less nervous. Don’t show weakness, it’s what they want. Do you know why you’re here?”

“Admin,” Georgia took a square of gum and began to chew. She felt calmer as her mouth became more lubricated. She smiled. This did help. “I had a letter saying they’d found my C.V. online and wanted to interview me. It seemed odd, I hadn’t updated my C.V. on any job sites since graduation, but I searched, and I mean, it seems legit here…” she suddenly felt awkward. It was a proper building. She’d been met by a receptionist and shown to this seat in this corridor. This odd, abrupt woman clearly worked here. That was a stupid thing to say.

“What do you do at the moment?” the woman asked. She clearly didn’t think there was anything odd in what Georgia had just said.

“I’ve just been made redundant, actually,” Georgia admitted. “I was doing admin and social media management for a charity, but you know austerity, it hits the charities first…”

“How long after did you get the letter?”

“Within a week, actually,” Georgia admitted. These questions were making her incredibly suspicious. What the hell was this company, anyway. The website had said “Solutions based management” – she’d assumed content management, but now… “I’d wanted to take some time out, maybe just rest, but I thought it was best not to turn down…” she trailed off.

“Pay’s good, isn’t it?” The woman observed.

“Helen,” a short rotund man appeared from one of the doors along the corridor. The shirt of his business suit gaped at the gut, and the strain on the buttons every time he breathed was obvious. Georgia was glad she was wearing her glasses, or else a button leaping for freedom might have taken her eye out.

“Leonard,” the woman acknowledged equally curtly.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?”

“Not at present. I’m waiting for Kris to come back to me on the eccles cake thing.”

“That was a hint.”

“I know, I chose to ignore it.”

“Right you are. Um…” he held out a sweaty hand to Georgina. “Leonard Porter, sorry to keep you waiting.”

“He’s not,” Helen smiled.

“That’s alright,” Georgia fought against the smirk that was trying to appear on her face as she took his clammy hand. “I’m Georgia, thank you for seeing me.”

“This way, please,” he indicated that she should walk in front of him through the open doorway of the room he’d come from.

“Don’t let them intimidate you,” Helen called after her. “If he didn’t want you, you wouldn’t be here.”

Leonard was visibly flustered when he shut the door to the interview room. Actually, it looked more like an interrogation room, a single, metal table in the middle, one chair on the side, and one at either end. There was a woman in her late fifties standing in the corner of the room. She had on an ill fitting suit and black horn rimmed glasses that made her look like a suspicious librarian. Georgia half expected to be shushed.

“Please, have a seat,” Leonard indicated the table and chairs.

Georgia chose the chair on the end. This seemed to pass the first test and Leonard and the woman nodded approvingly to one another before taking their respective seats.

“So, you know we’re interested in you,” he said, resting his podgy hands on the tabletop. “We wouldn’t have asked you here if we weren’t, so we’re going to tell you a little bit about what we do, then let you ask some questions, sound alright?”

Georgia nodded.

“So, as you probably know, we find out of the box solutions to problems. Our main contracts are government, but we do have freelance contracts too. Don’t worry, we’re very careful to ensure the two don’t overlap.” He laughed uncertainly. “The main reason we want you is analysis,” he continued. “You wouldn’t be in the field, you’d be analysing data and reporting to Moira,” he indicated the woman.

“But, I work with social media management,” Georgia began awkwardly. She didn’t even know if she wanted the job, or exactly what the job was…

“But you play FUXXLE.” Moira spoke for the first time.

“Yes…” Georgia blinked.

“We developed that app to help us search out potential candidates. Your problem solving abilities are off the charts. You almost cleared it. Our top people can’t even do that.”

“You developed…”

“Well, I can see this is all a bit much for you,” Leonard said cheerily. “Let’s call it a day on this one. Go home, have a think, and if you want to know more, come back here at 10am tomorrow, we’ll talk some more.” He held out his hand for her to shake.

“Um, OK?” Georgia shook his hand weakly.

“Thanks for coming in.”

“No problem…”

Moira shook her hand too. “I’ll show you to the front door.”
“Thanks.”

If you would like to support me whilst I write this story, you can by buying me a coffee!

The Duplicate Affair

Written by C H Clepitt

Copyright Claire Evans 2019.

This is a work of fiction. All persons, places and events are products of the author’s imagination. Any similarities to persons, living or deceased, places of business or residence or actual events is purely coincidental.

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