Version .02a2 3/14/2017
Copyright 2017 Hallett
Written by Hallett German
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Other Works by the
Story #1: How I
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Book #1: Automatons for
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with the Wrong Suitcase
Book #1: Brazilian
Book #2: Boston Wedding
Book #3: The Year
Book #4: Encounter at
Command and Control
Ghosts vs. Robots!
In Small Doses 1 (A
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(Best of Short Stories Collection)
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Chapter 0: Introduction
This introduction has
gone through two major iterations. The first version (in story
format) can be found at the end of the book.
The book is grounded in
real-world experience. During the second half of 2016, I managed what
was mostly a one-person six-month project. Early on, I reached a
reluctant conclusion. This effort would have tight deadlines with
little room for error. There was only one thing to do -- to go "all
in." This meant putting in long hours throughout the whole
week and taking very little downtime. It also required putting on
hold the creation of any blogs on writing and delaying the release of
In each phase of the
project, I experienced various mental states outlined in Chapters
When the project was
finished ahead of schedule in five months, I knew that I wanted to
capture my "lessons learned" in a fictional work. The
whole project journey was a kind of personal spiritual pilgrimage
with varying moments of light and darkness. The working title of this
book was The Dark Night of the Soul: A Spiritual Project Manager's
Journal. However, Spiritual Storms better captured the
essence of what I wanted to cover herein.
Chapter 4, I knew something was missing. I wanted this work to have a
different feel than what I was portraying. Once again, I went "all
in" -- the otherworldly alien element was introduced. This also
allowed greater flexibility on what the "lessons" could
cover. (The original Chapter 4 can be found in Chapter 23.)
This work is also
unique in that it was written on the James River (while taking the
Jamestown ferry) as well as on both river banks.
*Chapters 18 and 22
were written in part on the ferry.
19-21 were written on one river bank.
*Chapters 0, 3-11,
22-24 were written on the other river bank.
As with all of my
stories, I worked hard to create a unique, thoughtful, and exciting
experience. Perhaps soon you too, will have a life-challenging
encounter. If so, here is to your success!
Chapter 1: Prologue: The Late Mr. Trevor Lake
A solicitor's life can
be rather dry and meaningless on most days. Oh, how I could bore you
easily for hours on end with pointless tales. These would be all
about the countless days spent poring over unstable piles of folders
filled with voluminous legal documents in small print. As well as
other activities that I perform regularly with great care.
But that has nothing to
do with what you are now reading which I took great pains to oversee
the transition to this public "printing". For what you are
holding in your hand is an incredible tale. It is a thorough
recollection of what appears to be an astounding series of events by
the late Mr. Trevor Lake, certified project manager.
I do know something
about this eccentric yet grounded man. For you see, I was his lawyer,
friend, and main contact to the outside world during the last
thirty-eight and a quarter years of his life. It was my honor and
privilege to serve him during that important time.
Just before I knew him,
he had moved here from parts unknown. On arriving, he retired to a
far from modest house in the affluent part of the city. Although
highly curious, I never asked him why he had such a large home or
what he did with the sizable amount of free time that he had. In
addition, he was reluctant to talk about his past during my few
inquiries about his life. Thus, so many ways, Mr. Lake was a big
mysterious unknown to me. Even today, almost no new information about
him has come to light.
There is an area that I
can talk with greater confidence about and that is his personality.
One of his endearing qualities was that he was generous to a fault.
My dear friend spent many an hour inquiring with great interest on
what was happening in town. He was especially attentive about hearing
more on those with misfortune as their lot. I took care to tell him
all of the relevant details because I knew what would follow -- a
selfless act of financial generosity.
After hearing these
tales of sorrow and strife, my client would ask me anonymously to
perform some deed to improve their lives. Whether it was to pay off
someone's mortgage, get a person out of jail, this saintly man helped
out anonymously again and again. You could then see him smiling and
lighting up after doing this. He would be like a small child being
given a new toy. He genuinely got a kick out of helping others. All
he would ever say at that time was "There is always time to be
of service to your fellow creatures and their Creator. Don't
deliberate. Just help those in need. "And then he would chuckle
to himself and say the name Mike as if that was meaningful and as if
he was reliving some memory.
He was also prone to do
strange things at times. Until he got too weak, he would do a run up,
down, and though the house. It appeared to be very reassuring for him
to do so -- as if it was part of some time-honored ritual. On
completion, he would sit down in his favorite chair. And afterwards,
he would close his eyes completely for what seemed to be an eternity.
One day I asked him what he was doing. "I'm taking the time to
clear out my 'mental trash', those back pages in my minds filled with
regrets, shame, anger, fear, and recall of my time in the shadows",
For those many years,
curiosity about my client was my cruel mistress. She would taunt me
about not having taking advantage of my situation to learn more about
the person in my charge. But I honorably withstood her harsh looks
and mean words tugging at my consciousness.
Until it was too late.
For on one otherwise uneventful cold December day, the precious and
dear Mr. Lake passed on. I had business elsewhere during his last
week. So, there was no chance to bid him farewell. Afterwards, I
heard about some eerie events during that time. Perhaps it was good
that I did not witness them. Some people that lived nearby reported
hearing loud noises. And a few claimed to witness a strange, colorful
array of pulsating and bright lights above and throughout his house
during those final days. But as mentioned before, I was never privy
to seeing such alien and frightening sights.
As executor, I made the
extra effort to carry out the numerous clauses of his will including
the distribution of all his worldly goods. Many a citizen and
organization was pleasantly surprised to see a healthy deposit in
their bank account. It made me feel good to be so useful.
After most of Mr.
Lake's assets were transferred to other parties, there was one task
I was trusted as his
executor to clear out his oversized safety deposit box. This would be
the first time that I was viewing the contents. So, I had no idea
what to expect or how long that this would take. I often pondered
what very private people would want secured from the prying eyes of
their neighbors and friends.
The inevitable day
arrived to open his large safety deposit box. Inside were the usual
items. Packages of securities, deeds, and other former possessions
could be found. But at the very bottom, carefully tucked away from
the securities was a worn oversized manila envelope. Being
adventurous, I pulled apart the already fragile mental clasp.
Excitement was building inside me. I was anxious to know what I would
find inside. What I saw was anti-climactic. I was taken very much
aback to see two yellowing spiral bound steno pads with Mr. Lake's
very clear handwriting still visible. I was greatly puzzled. What was
so very special about these two notebooks? Were they confessions
about some immoral and tasteless act? Without hesitation, I pored
over its contents. There was a title page on each artifact --Tales
from Boot Camp, Notebooks 1 and 2. Mr. Lake never mentioned being
enlisted or drafted by the Armed Forces. But if he did serve in the
military, it would explain his great attention to detail and his
strong adherence to order and discipline.
Having to liquidate the
other outstanding resources in the security box first, I simply took
the notebooks back with me, with the intention to review them at a
later time. But as time went on, I put them aside in my office to
deal with more pressing and routine matters. I always meant to get
back to them. Finally, that day arrived and I didn't even know it!
On that fateful and
unusually quiet day, I recalled a very pleasant memory about spending
time with Mr. Lake. He was discussing about the time that he traveled
to some country for a project. "Every possible thing that could
go wrong did. On start day, I arrived at a large office with a sea of
empty desks. My contact had left the company after a very noisy row
on a very obvious difference of opinion with their manager. The
manager had been transferred the week before to another office. There
was no one that knew if the project was still on or the name of the
current project leader. Part of me wanted to head home. But papers
had been signed and money exchanged. I had to honor my customer.
Something would be done that week no matter what the personal price
was. I thought of those invaluable lessons in boot camp when I had no
means to go forward or backwards. Just attempting to survive in the
chaos of the darkness. Fortunately, I recalled the lesson: 'be
patient and persistent.' And eventually, I found the right door to
knock on and accomplished the purpose of my visit."
When I remembered that
moment, I immediately recalled having taken Mr. Lake's unread
notebooks from his safety deposit box and placing them somewhere.
Chastising myself for not having reviewed them, I pulled my office
completely apart trying to find their location. In the end, they were
found hiding under a pile of timesheets from the previous year. Then,
I took the courage to look at these fragile artifacts once again. As
I read through the pages which were remarkably still legible, a
single note dropped out. All it said was "To be published on
word of my demise." So, that made it very clear that it was
Mr. Lake's intention to publish these "Tales from Boot Camp."
But what to do with
them? Funny, I don't recall any provision on how to handle such a
minor item in his fairly lengthy and well thought-out will. After a
second review of his will, I was surprised that he made me the owner
of everything not explicitly covered. So in essence, the notebooks
were mine to do with as I pleased.
I would try to honor
his wishes. Not sure if these works would find a ready audience, I
took it to a local publisher to get her opinion. She returned word
back quickly. "Did you read it? Do you know what you have here?"
I said no to both questions. She then told me that it was a truly
unique and exciting adventure and a very memorable encounter with
perhaps another alien civilization from another galaxy. She said that
she would publish it gladly. We agreed to give any proceeds (which I
expected little to none) to a children's summer camp. Little did I
know that it would be a raging success.
A short time later, I
traversed the pages of a pre-publication copy of Tales from Boot
Camp. It was an eye opener. This was not the Mr. Trevor Lake that I
knew. The man detailed inside was far from confident and an emotional
mess. I was astounded to read the struggles and humor from a man that
was quite different from my friend of so many years.
Having reached its end,
I am not sure if any of it was real. Or if he was contacted by
creatures from another world. Even after reading this, dear Trevor
remains still very much an enigma where time has not revealed any of
his secrets. In any case, here is an offbeat yarn to read on a cold
winter night about a good man and his unusual initiation where he
possibly encountered a wise and powerful alien species. May God grant
eternal rest my friend's likely tortured soul.
Chapter 2: A Dramatic Hiring Process --
Invitation to adventure
When reaching the end,
it is all supposed to come together and mean something. That twisting
and trackless rollercoaster that is called one's life journey. The
various economic upheavals, downturns, and, prosperous times. All of
those intense emotional periods encountered. The many dreams that
were dashed and those hard-fought victories that were achieved. Those
terrible and difficult setbacks that left one wanting to hide forever
from the world due to feeling so very vulnerable. But after all of
these numberless and dramatic life experiences, where am I, truly?
In recent years, I have
been drifting around while in a trance-like state. Things look hazy
when gazing backward and feel so unclear when thinking about moving
forward. I am in limbo and accept reluctantly being in a stuck state.
One such period of
constant activity, unexpected misdirection. and eventually no
progress has been the last crazy eight years. I cannot remember a
period when I ever worked harder. But in the end, it always has the
same final act. Relieved, I perform another escape act and make a
smooth transition to another company.
So why do I move on?
Well, it is not driven by fear, anger, or any base emotion. I love
the job that I am doing. Most of my colleagues are genuinely sad when
I leave. No, what drives me is this awful, nagging feeling. As if I
am missing out on something important and meaningful. And end up just
failing to find it wherever I go. Always there is this tug at my
brain and heart, listening to this constant inner dialogue while
struggling to be happy. What the heck should I do about this
uncertain feeling of restlessness? Where can I be satisfied, and find
this elusive thing that I am seeking? Will there ever be a time that
I will start moving forward? It is time to end these damn
expectations games. There it is again. The thoughts begin to race
through my head causing immediate dissatisfaction. "If only I
had..." But what is this state of mind or object that I desired?
I was never certain of it. It was there, just over the horizon. My
desired happiness and peace of mind. The next big thing or the only
thing that I truly would need.
Then I did what I
always do to seek some sense of balance. Walk the nine straight
blocks east to the river's edge. Soon I arrived and stared into the
near-darkness. The continuous and ever-changing series of waves
arrived and departed. Birth and death. Motion and stillness. Always
both a process and a moment.
No. This usual elixir
was not working its magic. No answers sprang forth from this typical
watery salve. And all too quickly, those old, unwanted feelings came
storming back. I was bathed in a strong sense of helplessness, being
very much alone, and feeling so very useless. Not able to take these
mental exchanges and mind storms any more, I walked back slowly and
retreated under some comforting covers. Once there, I faced what
would be a long and uneasy sleep.
Sunday arrived soon
enough. Somehow, I made it to this last scheduled break in the action
before returning to work. As was my weekly ritual to occupy the time,
I purchased the oversized weekend news edition. I take my time
reading through all of the sections except the dreaded one. When I
cannot delay the inevitable any more, I dive into the Employment
Section. I can sense the disdain that some might have about doing
this. "Oh, this is so unfashionable! Search for a job online.
There are so much other friendlier ways." But going through the
Help Wanted section is something I fear and am thrilled by. I love
the intrigue and fun of gazing up and down each column trying to
acquire its secrets. I enjoy the thrill of holding that bulky portion
of the paper in my hands.
And while nearing the
end, there it is. Ruling a modest area of the bottom left of page 23.
How could I not be captivated by the lure of the challenge posed in
small print. It said the following:
Lost at sea with
your life and job?
Do you have Project
Looking for a
different and more meaningful existence?
A. Regis West
I was not sure at first
what to make of this. Was it a put-on or real? Maybe it was just a
scam to gather résumés for future jobs or it was some sort of
strange exotic cosmic joke. With nothing left to lose. I wanted to
probe a little deeper into this mystery. That same day, I sent in my
job history and contact information to the specified address. Given
that the ad's font was so small and hard to find, I doubt anyone
would take this job posting seriously or even see it. I have low
expectations that I would ever hear back. Was I so wrong!
A few days later, the
preliminary stages of the interview process began unexpectedly.
Imagine my surprise when receiving a carefully scribed handwritten
note two days after submission.
The adventure starts
Are you our type of
We will find out soon
Tomorrow 10 a.m. come
rain or shine.
Corner of Digby &
Don't be late.
After reading that, my
head was exploding with thoughts driving in a thousand and two
different directions. I started to dive into the meaning of each
sentence of the response:
starts for you!" What the heck does this sentence even mean?
Could it be a misguided nod to the matinee serials of the past? Or
the product of the overactive imagination of some zealous marketer?
Or maybe it is just some words to liven up what will surely be a very
"Are you our
type of employee?" Shaking my head on that one. Is this an
artificially-imposed snobbishness? Like "Oh, we are so darn
exclusive. You need to thank us for being a member. "Really
(Sarcasm dripping off my tongue.) Like this particular job is an
honor and a privilege.
"We will find
out soon enough!" Is this a serious threat or an open
a.m. come rain or shine...Corner of Digby & Coral." What
the heck? I am not even asked if I am available then? Who are these
people? Does my say even count for anything? And why that particular
corner in the whole city? Why not meet in a building, a library, a
restaurant? Something is very off about this whole thing!
late." I sense the implied OR here. Or I miss the one chance
of my lifetime. Or you better obey us. A threat or an opportunity. it
was all so emotionally loaded.
With so little input,
how can you even prepare for an interview like this? Just have to be
rested and open to the likely traps to be set in each moment of the
Chapter 3: A Dramatic Hiring Process -- Testing
can kill ya!
Tomorrow arrived soon
enough and my day of destiny was shouting out my name. It was time to
call in sick from being an unexpected victim to a sudden flu that was
a result of the change of seasons. I kept the exchange short but
vague. That way it could be interpreted as being afflicted by any
temporary and non-life-threatening malady. I checked online about
possible "gotcha" interview questions. Got my clothes
ready. Going with the best suit. Come to think about it, they never
said what to wear. Geez.
I dressed up and headed
out. I arrived with a good twenty minutes to spare. Very soon
thereafter, I realize that I am very out of place, like a penguin
walking through a desert. I look and feel VERY conspicuous wearing a
suit on a street corner surrounded by closed abandoned buildings and
overgrown vacant lots. There is no place to sit down or provide
shelter from the unseasonably hot sun. As mentioned before, I arrived
early. That is the conventional wisdom -- be early and make a good
impression. But am I really emanating confidence and promoting
employability? My brain is starting to be wracked by a crushing
headache. Was it REALLY right to do this interview? What could I even
expect to happen? Was there something that I especially hoped to
gain? Wait a second! Am I even on the right corner? The note did not
say. That would be the worst. Oh, these growing doubts and fears!
Suppose I was on the opposite side of the street when the vehicle
arrived and then all too quickly leaves. And at that moment, traffic
and a walk light hold me up from crossing in time. Then where would I
be? Frustrated and feeling awful about losing my one chance in a real
while for happiness.
I am becoming very lost
in my thought patterns when suddenly arises a circle of rising flames
surrounding me. What just happened? When was this inferno set? And
why? I am quaking with fear all over. "Please help. Help me."
I keep thinking over and over.
At one point, I had the
urge to raise my head and look skyward. By doing so, I could see the
immediate relief to my pressing situation. From above, a line
descended. No, that would not be an accurate picture. A strong line
holding a basket that could comfortably hold two was moving ever
closer towards me. When at last it perfectly landed, I did not
hesitate even a second to move towards it. Having nothing left to
lose, I jumped in. I was thrilled to see that the basket was rising
at a good pace. But to where was I going? For a second time, I looked
up. And was greeted by a surprising sight. For above me was none
other than a flying oversized red convertible. At that point, I knew
that I have long left the coziness of my comfort zone. This was far
too much over my head and for me to deal with. What am I to do next?
What is expected of me? Oh, poor me! I just sat and waited for the
end of this rise.
The basket ascended
smoothly and effortlessly. Once I had all but reached the car, some
incredibly strong hands pulled me in. To say that my feathers were
ruffled is an understatement. Here I was in the back of this enormous
vehicle up above a city that I knew so well. Words started to fail
me. I had expected something far different -- just a simple limousine
with a driver to pick me up at the appointed time. Then once I
climbed in and we resumed moving, my chauffeur would initially be
gracious. After the mandatory amount of polite conversation, they
would be quiet, thus helping me to gather my thoughts. Or to
concentrate on the drive heading to places so unknown...
Instead, I was facing a
very unforeseen and potentially dangerous situation. Here I was
reclining uncomfortably while gliding across the sky in this large
retro-styled convertible with the top completely down. Was I really
okay with this? Would there be problems breathing while up here?
My train of thought was
broken up by the one and only one person sitting across from me. My
impression of her was far from neutral. Her brown hair was trimmed
short and she dressed very conservatively. But I could see the
muscles bulging from her formal business attire. Apparently, my
hostess was a former athlete who was still in great shape. Was she
the one that pulled me so firmly up to the backseat? It had to be.
More incredibly, she
was behind for lack of a better term -- a mini-desk. It was a smaller
desk that fits comfortably in the back seat. While still thinking
about this situation, I glanced up to the front seat. All I could see
was the wheel automatically turning by itself and no driver behind
it. An impended sense of doom was swallowing up my consciousness.
I was gulping for air
when she spoke. The tones emitted were professionally sounding. "Good
Morning. Mister Trevor K. Lake. I hope that we started your day
properly with a small dosage of adventure and a brief moment of
reckless abandon? Good, your head is nodding. So, I take that as a
solid yes? Excellent, I know that you are still taking it all in.
Don't worry, you are off to a great start. You showed up and made
your way fairly smoothly to your ride. You would not believe how many
get so panicked-stricken that they could not even do that simple
task." She gave a cold and dismissive look after saying this.
"I hope you enjoy
our unusual means of transport. Quite rare actually in that only five
of these cars exist. And we bought all of them. The motorized
conveyance that you are now enjoying is a three surface (land, air,
water) self-driving vehicle. Within seconds, it can be switched to an
all-metal top, very convenient when you think about it. The ancient
prophets, rulers, and others ascended to the heavens sometimes atop
of a chariot of flames. This was done to receive a revelation or to
begin what was believed was a life of immortality. However, you are
not rising that far. Still, you experienced a a short climb upwards
"We have a
forty-minute ride to our headquarters. So, there is plenty of time to
answer your understandably large list of questions."
"Let's start with
what is likely to be your topic -- the fire. When did it start? Who
started it? Was I ever in danger? It began precisely twenty seconds
before ten o'clock. We use a setup that makes a very controlled fire
set to any height or intensity that we wish. My confederates
remotely started the fire. You were never in harm's way at any time.
If you panicked, then the flames would have stopped. But while
distressed, you were still thinking of your escape options. That is
what A. Regis West Project Consulting or ARWPC (as we call ourselves
to save time) expect of our employees. Smart. Thinking on their feet.
Detail-oriented. All of us in the area could tell this about you and
more. Yes, I was watching you on a screen that can be raised or
lowered from this desk. "
"Let us take the
next topic. What were we trying to achieve? Quite simple actually, we
ran an experiment placing you in an ambiguous situation. It was all
about what you would do. You were uncertain from where and when we
would show up. You had no idea what side of the street to wait or
what to look for. No details were provided on how to dress. That is
what a good Project Manager does -- deal with the unexpected. In case
you were wondering, any side of the street was correct, we would have
found you. Also, all four corner of the intersection have the same
capabilities for generating test situations with flames and other
surprises that you will never experience. Once again, congratulations
Mr. Lake for getting this far. Only 34.27% of our interviewees
She then reached out
her hand to offer her version of a friendly handshake. From my
perspective, I received a bear grip that I still have nightmares
about. Then there was her wide smile, "You may relax Mr. Lake. I
am the mere greeter. In twenty-eight minutes, you will be on our
campus. The interview takes place there. Care for an iced tea?
"Trying to calm down, I said that I would and this unusual car
traveled onward. What had I gotten myself into? The greeter, the
car, and my drink failed to offer any sure answers.
Chapter 4: A Dramatic Hiring Process -- My
arrival on campus
Maybe I was overcome by
the shock of the whole thing and dosed off. Or I could have been
drugged by the iced tea. Who knows? To this day, I still have no
answers. In time, I was roused roughly from my apparent sound slumber
to see an enormous expanse of land just serving as the entrance to
ARWPC's headquarters. When did we descend and return back to solid
ground? Amused by how awestruck I was, my temporary companion
cheerily stated, "Welcome to our Campus, Mr. Lake."
It would take almost a
long a drive to reach the headquarters' main buildings as it did to
travel from my meeting spot. And what could I say about that
experience? Some things are beyond words and perhaps even beyond time
and space. The whole area seemed like a series of loosely defined
regions. One was a wondrous park. Another was a space filled with
imaginary creatures. A third place was a replica of someone's idea of
heaven or hell. What could I ever speak of the collection of sights
and sounds that I saw and heard along the way? Let me do a weak
retelling of what I thought I viewed during those precious moments
where one location was replaced quickly by another.
An interconnected set
of gardens overflowing with unique blossoming flowers and teeming
with wildlife. I was amazed by all the different creatures that were
allowed to roam freely. Animals from many different climates and
continents. It made any known zoo look ordinary.
We drove through
several narrow and twisting mountain paths, dodged deep holes and
sizable boulders on dirt roads, and traversed barely passable narrow,
twisting bridges that swung dangerously close to a river's or lake's
At times, we could see
the skies filled with what looked like dragons, griffins, phoenixes
and other imaginary creatures that I had only read about or seen in
fantasy videos. It was visually stunning.
In the distance, I
could view an island and its ancient ruins that had a strong sense of
familiarity. Were they some of the wonders of the Ancient World? Or
perhaps Atlantis itself? One came away with a strong sense of
expectation that anything was possible on the Campus. And the
imagination and reality merged together as one. It all felt as
something I had experienced sometime before in my distant past. And
quite strangely, my yearning and emptiness felt gone just being here.
In one place, I could
hear a beautiful heavenly-like choir singing. Listening to them, I
felt inspired and brought to tears of joy. Moments later, I was
listening to the painful and howling strains of a devil's chorus. And
sobbed, hearing their laments of heartbreaking despair.
Each second unfolded to
a different view. Warriors past and present fully engaged with each
other likely to the death, renowned authors reading proudly their own
works, prize-winning scientists demonstrating excitedly their
findings in dynamic lectures, politicians craftily debating each
other anxiously waiting for an opportunity to make the verbal kill,
and more situations that words fail to capture. Was this some
ultimate reality with no past or present? Aaru, Milam Bardo, Elysian
Fields, Valhalla, Heaven, The Pure Land. The Sphere of Ideals. This
place was like a little bit of these and many other imaginary and
venerated places, I was somehow at my ultimate home. A place that
vaguely felt that I had once resided some time long ago.
Finally, I could see
people dressed in various colors on what was a long lawn with endless
walking trails. Some were reading. Others were doing calisthenics,
fire walking, or some unworldly martial arts. Others were dancing to
some tune being carried in their imaginations. At times, I would see
a shimmering of the air and people would suddenly appear or
disappear. On one side, it was bordered by challenging rock faces to
surmount. Another side was... No I am far from able in describing
adequately even just a little of this place. Countless wonder on
The whole thing was so
large that I felt that I was visiting another planet. My interest was
piqued. How enormous was this place? Who maintains this? And how
could they afford it all given such a small employment
advertisement? I was entranced by a growing curiosity filled with
awe and admiration.
In time, we made it
past the well-kept lawns to the headquarters entrance. The all-glass
building was circular, rising up multiple levels like a new Tower of
Babel. It was an incredible sight. The car door was opened by a
smiling well-dressed man who spoke oh so matter-of-factly. "Welcome
Mr. Lake to A. Regis West Project Consulting HQ. Follow me please."
I looked back but my greeter was gone. Perhaps she had shimmered out
at some point after arrival on the Campus. What a curious and amazing
My new host said
nothing as we walked the short distance to the building entrance.
Once inside, I felt lifted of my burdens and relieved to be here. The
lobby was immense. I felt so insignificant against the light-colored
vertical supports rising to who knows where, and the beautiful yet
alien looking sculptures. On the walls were pulsating lights
alternating with various colors and patterns accompanied by a series
of highly unusual sounds. I was more than now convinced that I was
kidnapped by aliens ready to harvest my brain for their starving
offspring. My imagination was overthinking of all of the awful
possibilities that could happen to me when I heard in a firm voice,
"Please sit and wait there."
My guide had indicated
two chairs that were on a small marble-covered "island"
surrounded by steaming, swirling water. Was this another test? I saw
the narrow steppingstones that led from where I was to my meeting
place. Knowing there was no going back and having no other option, I
raced across each step. Hopefully, there were not any other surprises
such as the steps rotated, suddenly raised and lowered, and the like.
Fortunately, none of those things happened and I made it to my
location without incident. Once there, I could see two chairs. As
commanded previously, I sat in one spot. Then a whirring sound began.
Automatically, I was strapped in, no longer able to freely move. The
chair rose off the ground and carried me higher in a zigzagging
pattern. Where was I going? Am I prisoner or was I strapped in for my
own safety? This place generated more questions that it answered.
After zooming around
for what seemed an eternity, I arrived on a "landing platform"
on maybe the tenth or eleventh floor. The straps retracted and I was
free to move once more. A lit arrow on the floor indicated where I
was to go. I headed through the open door and was surrounded and
blinded by a strong blue light. Then it cleared and I could see that
I was in an ultra-modern conference room all made of glass. Which
meant if I looked down, I would see... No, I don't want to think of
it. I sat in one of the transparent chairs that was stronger than it
looked. A few seconds later, I was facing what would likely be my
interviewers. They appeared to shimmer in from nowhere. They were a
man and woman in their twenties or thirties. Both wore some sort of
colorful robes with no apparent pockets. Somehow, I could feel energy
levels emitted by them that was off the charts. I am definitely
getting that "matinee film alien encounter" vibe. What
follows is going to be very interesting and truly unique. If I
survive that is.
Chapter 5: A Dramatic Hiring Process -- My
Lake", my hosts said in eerie unison. They continued on in a
sing-song voice that was creeping me out major big time. "There
is no time to rest. We need to learn more about you to see if you
would be a good fit here. Let's hope for the best, shall we?"
This continued joint
speaking style was far too weird for me to bear. I felt I was
participating in a new-style Greek tragedy and was expecting the
obligatory singing and dancing next. Instead, I was confronted with
an onslaught of questions by the "twins." I felt that this
was not going to be easy at all.
"Why are you
Wow, tough questions
straight out of the gate. Following the safe approach, I stuck to the
facts. "I saw a small help wanted posting in my Sunday paper and
I responded. You need to do a better job in making these ads more
visible by the way."
"Not good enough.
Why are you really here Mr., Lake? Explain to us."
"To help my
customers complete their projects on time, within budget, and
according to specifications."