The Recruiter (Speakeasy #160)

The Crowd ("in" or "out"?)
The Crowd (“in” or “out”?)

“Tell me if you’re game.”

Francine looked into the crowd, gauging the reaction. The sea of bobbleheads wearing the corporate uniform of dark suits and red power accents (ties, hankies peeking out of suit pockets, high heels, scarves…) Hooked. She smiled to herself, but her face held the impassioned veneer of a fire-and-brimstone preacher.

“To elevate, you must excavate!”

The head nods slowed.

“You must dig deep. Shed your preconceptions and embrace the MicroManage, Inc. way.” She paused, right hand raised in a clenched fist. “You’ll make more money than you ever imagined as your creative ideas are molded and channeled through the corporate hierarchy.” Francine scanned for skeptics. “Power and success cultivated from countless hours of effort aren’t for everyone. If you’re not up for the challenge, no one will judge you for leaving.”

Francine scowled as seven people, heads bowed, headed for exits. Security guards led them out of the room.

“Now that the weak-minded have forfeited their opportunity, I’ll ask again: are you game?”

“Yes,” a smattering of murmurs answered.

She shook her head. “Come on people, this is your chance to become part of the fastest growing corporation in North America- the world!” She counted to three to time her pause for maximum effect, just as she’d been trained. “Are you ready to seize the biggest opportunity of your lives?” She thrust fistfuls of hundred dollar bills toward the prospective corporate drones.

“Yes!” The recruits squealed, tripping over each other to grab the money.

For entertainment value only, she tossed more bills into the melee. The frenzy reminded her of the fish in her aquarium at feeding time. “Marcus will be here shortly to lead you to your final destination.”


“Marvelous presentation, Francine!” Andrew Norman said, clapping as he made his way around the over-sized mahogany desk. “Your brainwashing skills get better and better.”

She held a hand up. “I prefer motivational recruiting. I simply tap into their natural desires.”

“Whatever you call it, it’s brilliant.”

Francine smiled. “Thank you, Andrew. I appreciate your admiration.”

“You manage to find the best recruits.”

“Only seven this time.” She shook her head. “They are dwindling.”

“We pay you handsomely and are confident you’ll continue to provide superior staffing.” Andrew poured a scotch at the minibar beside the desk. “Would you like a drink?”

“No, thank you.” She cleared her throat. “I fear the quarry will run dry soon. Creative thinkers motivated by curiosity are being overrun by the greed-driven. You know, as it becomes more difficult to find candidates, I’ll be forced to increase my fees.”

Andrew chuckled. “As the Lord told Gideon, ‘there are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there’.”

“I don’t understand.”

He set his glass on a sandstone coaster with a clank. “Come with me.” He led her by the elbow outside his office and down a long corridor.

“Where are we going?”

“It’s time you see more of our operation, so you better understand our needs.”

They reached mirrored glass doors and Andrew swiped his badge. He held the door open. “Ladies first.”

After Francine stepped inside, he let the door close behind her. It locked with an echoed click. She peered at the faces around her and realized she stood among the rejected recruits. She tugged at the door, but it didn’t give. “Come on, Andrew. This isn’t funny!”

Water seeped through her peep toe shoe. She looked down, shocked to see nearly an inch of water on the floor. Then, she noticed streams of water feeding in from all four mirrored walls. She took her shoe off and hit the glass several times with the spiked heel. Not even a chip.

By the time the water reached her ankles, she recognized the significance of Andrew’s biblical quote. In waist-high water, she grew bitter at the unfair judgment against her; she didn’t belong with the greedy, mindless drones.

Finally, Francine looked beyond her despair and noticed a skinny door on the other side of the room. She sloshed her way toward it, weaving around the crowd tapping their smart phone screens held above rising water. She twisted the knob on the door and her heart rate surged when the knob turned. Unlocked! She tugged, but the door wouldn’t budge; the water level provided too much resistance.

A pit in her stomach churned. The room had been a test, and she’d thinned herself out.


This is my response to the Speakeasy prompt, which is write a piece in 750 words or less (mine is 743) (1) using “Tell me if you’re game.” as the first sentence, AND (2) make some kind of reference to a photo prompt of construction machinery (possibly a digger?)  I admit, I’m not up on the terminology of construction equipment, so if I’m totally off, feel free to laugh.  I’m used to it.

The challenge is open to anyone, so if your curious, inspired, or both- click the badge below to check out the guidelines for yourself!

58 thoughts on “The Recruiter (Speakeasy #160)

  1. suzicate May 5, 2014 / 9:52 AM

    Wow, your creativity never ceases to amaze me!

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 10:10 AM

      Thanks, SuziCate! This one was a little ‘out there’ so I had no idea how it would be received 🙂

  2. nrhatch May 5, 2014 / 1:28 PM

    Interesting write, Janna. Very twisted. It doesn’t surprise me that only 7 passed muster by leaving the presentation.

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 1:32 PM

      Haha… “interesting” is code for, “what the heck?” right? 🙂 I’d like to think more people would leave, but sometimes the world doesn’t give me much hope. Thanks for taking time to read this, Nancy (it’s on the longer side, so sometimes people skip those! )

      • nrhatch May 5, 2014 / 1:39 PM

        Nope, interesting as code for interesting. I like how the people who left in shame were really the targets of the recuiting efforts.

        And loved:

        “Your brainwashing skills get better and better.”

        She held a hand up. “I prefer motivational recruiting. I simply tap into their natural desires.”

        • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 1:41 PM

          I was just giving you a hard time, Nancy (mostly because I don’t know where this story came from!) I thought I could shrug off the sheeple corporate types, but maybe I can’t 🙂

        • nrhatch May 5, 2014 / 1:45 PM

          It’s takes time. I no longer have nightmares about being “locked” in a courtroom battle with other attorneys. 😉

        • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 1:47 PM

          Haha… that really would be a nightmare, Nancy 🙂

  3. Debbie May 5, 2014 / 1:39 PM

    Yikes! This is out there, Janna, but I suppose under the right circumstances it *could* happen. What a scary thought! Death by drowning doesn’t sound like a good way to go (especially when it’s a slow death).

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 1:45 PM

      Haha, yeah, it is weird, Debbie. The thing is, if they’d have thought to look for a way out before the water got so high, they could’ve opened that door. So, in a way, they drowned by choice (or rather, lack of initiative.) I think this supports evolutionary theories – survival of the fittest 🙂

  4. Eric Alagan May 5, 2014 / 4:14 PM

    One of your best stories, I reckon – thoroughly enjoyed it, Janna.

    Francine said it – creativity and greed – and she didn’t realise which side of the fence she was on and neither did she notice that about Andrew Norman.

    Well done indeed,

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 9:19 PM

      Wow, thanks, Eric! I’m glad you enjoyed the story. It’s funny – we often are quick to notice things in others that we are blind to in ourselves 🙂

  5. diannegray May 5, 2014 / 4:34 PM

    Good grief – this is amazing. I could have sat here and read this all day! Well done (is there a novel on the way?) 😀

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 9:28 PM

      Oh, thanks, Dianne! I’m really glad you liked the story that well. I have no idea how I finished the one novel several years ago… now, I can’t seem to finish anything longer than 1,000 words 😦

  6. Carol Ann Hoel May 5, 2014 / 5:03 PM

    If that were a nightmare, I’d be grateful to wake up! Wow! You know how to write thrillers. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 9:30 PM

      Haha, I think I’d want to wake up, too! (Or at least have the presence of mind to search for a door 🙂 ) Thanks for reading, Carol Ann!

  7. Madhura May 5, 2014 / 8:49 PM

    I really love your story and the way you presented it, but I love the message in it more.. Very well presented! 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 5, 2014 / 9:31 PM

      Thanks, Madhura! I’m so glad you stopped by to read the story and enjoyed it 🙂

  8. Bastet May 5, 2014 / 10:16 PM

    Oh dear…got to the door too late! What a great hair-raising tale you’ve written! Another great one Janna!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:13 AM

      Thanks, Bastet! I guess it’s a good idea to not just accept our circumstances 😉

      • Bastet May 7, 2014 / 9:30 PM

        Yep…a bit of initiative can be rather a good idea.

  9. Jennifer G. Knoblock May 6, 2014 / 6:04 AM

    Great Shirley Jackson-ish realistic-science-fictiony tale. I went a little pessimistic with the prompt, myself.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:14 AM

      Thanks for reading, Jennifer! I liked your take on the prompt- excavating a decaying relationship, I think many of us have been there at some point.

  10. shirleyjdietz May 6, 2014 / 10:02 AM

    The biblical account of Gideon is a rich model for so many reasons and I like the culturally relevant use you made of it.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:17 AM

      Thanks, Shirley! Sometimes it’s fun to relate biblical references to current events… I happened to stumble upon this one 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:17 AM

      Thanks, Kathy! My mind is a disturbing place sometimes (most of the time?)

  11. Gene Brode, Jr. May 6, 2014 / 9:07 PM

    I loved it! I came up with one only to realize that it involved a married couple. I’m too busy this week anyhow. Good luck!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:18 AM

      It’s frustrating when that happens… the family-free restriction does make things a little more difficult. Hope you’ll try again next week, Gene! Thanks for stopping by to read my story, by the way 🙂

  12. Imelda May 7, 2014 / 7:51 AM

    This is a disturbing tale. Your imagination does take us everywhere. In a few paragraphs, you create those unique situations and characters. They are all different from another and remarkably drawn.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 8:31 AM

      Thanks so much for reading, Imelda! This one was a bit more sci-fi than I normally do, but I got the idea of job interview meets Survivor and couldn’t resist 🙂

  13. Silverleaf May 7, 2014 / 10:39 AM

    This was gripping and fun. I liked the dark humour/irony in it…at least, I found it to be darkly humorous, in a moral sort of way. Maybe I’m twisted? Anyway, very creative and very enjoyable.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 10:45 PM

      If you’re twisted, so am I, Silverleaf 🙂 I wrote it to be ironic (and it is darkly humorous in a way). Thanks for taking time to read it!

  14. Christina May 7, 2014 / 11:43 AM

    awesome piece, as always. i loved your take on the prompts.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 10:49 PM

      Thanks, Christina – I’m glad you liked the story!

  15. peggyshope May 7, 2014 / 12:32 PM

    Wow, this was clever. Corporate greed at it’s best.

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 10:50 PM

      Greed does seem to be rampant these days. Glad you stopped by to read the story, Peggy!

  16. EditMoi May 7, 2014 / 3:03 PM

    Great job, Janna! I had no idea that you had a twisted side. I particularly liked the “tapping into their natural desires” part. And the Bible reference. Awesome!

    • jannatwrites May 7, 2014 / 10:51 PM

      Haha, my twisted side does come out once in a while 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing what you liked in the story, EditMoi.

  17. Michael May 8, 2014 / 6:38 AM

    I’m pretty sure killing off your recruiter violates some sort of corporations law…I took a corporate law class last semester and I think they mentioned that. 😀 Nice job! The Gideon reference was quite appropriate.

    • jannatwrites May 8, 2014 / 10:51 PM

      Haha, your comment cracked me up, Michael! Arizona is an ‘at will’ state, so employment can be terminated for any reason… this just takes ‘termination’ a step further 🙂

  18. mbarkersimpson May 8, 2014 / 6:47 AM

    Great work, as always, and a unique take on the prompt. I particularly liked the irony and the fact it was unexpected. Very enjoyable.

    • jannatwrites May 8, 2014 / 10:52 PM

      Thanks for reading, Mel. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story!

  19. Suzanne May 8, 2014 / 7:34 AM

    Creepy! But so good, right down to that killer last line. 🙂

    • jannatwrites May 8, 2014 / 10:55 PM

      Thanks, Suzanne! It’s an extreme way to weed out employees that don’t fit the company’s profile.

  20. EagleAye May 8, 2014 / 5:28 PM

    Wow. Remind me never to apply for a job there! I guess she had outlived her usefulness. That’s a seriously cutthroat company there. Great story, Janna!

    • jannatwrites May 8, 2014 / 10:57 PM

      Haha, I wouldn’t think it would be fun to work for a place called “MicroManage, Inc.!” Talk about “sink or swim”.

      Okay, I’ll stop now 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your comment, EagleAye!

  21. agjorgenson May 8, 2014 / 7:43 PM

    Well done, the writing became transparent as I was drawn into the story!

    • jannatwrites May 8, 2014 / 10:59 PM

      Thanks, Allen! I appreciate you taking time to read it 🙂

  22. Tessa May 9, 2014 / 6:38 PM

    I had no idea where that was going at first. I would be one of those in that room LOL!

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:05 AM

      Haha, I could see me forgetting to look for a way out, too. I’m not sure I do that well under extreme pressure! Thanks for reading, Tessa!

  23. Leigh W. Smith May 11, 2014 / 8:29 AM

    I didn’t expect the twist about the seven who left, but zeroed in on the security guard aspect when I re-read. I love stories that not only have me excitedly racing along to read what comes next, but also ones that force me to think and re-think what’s going on. Funny thing, but even at small (nonprofit) companies, your creativity can be molded and channeled when it is run by an overbearing micromanager, I think I’ve heard so anyway :). Compelling work of magic realism/fantasy here, Janna.

    • jannatwrites May 13, 2014 / 8:07 AM

      Creativity can be stifled at any company. The most frustrating are the ones that ask for your ideas because they want to improve… then you find out, they lied (or at least stretched the truth like spandex bike shorts!) Been there, done that. Thanks for reading (more than once) and sharing your thoughtful comment, Leigh! I read it the other day but wanted to respond when I could take time to attempt a thought-out comment 🙂

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