It is not a secret. Each one of us has ever undergone an interview, be it a job application, a membership meeting, a school acceptance one; you name it. Most if not all of the times, we do want to pass that interview. Nevertheless, the interview I am about to tell you about is not one many will want to pass and if you think that is strange; then take a seat for I did want to pass it.
I woke up that day feeling slightly different from other days. I guess you think that I was having butterflies in my stomach; after all, I was hoping to get myself a job in the firm where I was headed. However, no I wasn’t, it just felt different. When your day comes for that interview, you will either know it or not know it, but you will have to present yourself to be interviewed.
Now, in my case it was slightly different as I was the one who called for the interview to be set up. Don’t view me like a powerful person or something, trust me I am just a lowly humble Simple Simon, nothing more but maybe less. I was as slow as tortoise preparing after all I had nothing else to do. I cleaned my house, then wrote a note, and left it on the tabletop explaining to my housemate where I was headed. I did not want her to be worried if I didn’t make it back in time. Of late she has been watchful, encroaching in my personal space.
I remember last week I gave my two other friends my precious collection of MJ paraphernalia and she raised hell on earth. I mean she is the one who always was complaining about the stuff lying around but when I take positive action, she then almost blew the roof off the house. I then in a contrite manner handed her my set of platinum jewellery that cost me quite some greenbacks. Was she grateful? No, she returned them and did not talk to me for a week.
Anyway, I dressed myself in that special Red dress that I love and prepared lunch; for after lunch I was heading to the interview. I tore a silver sachet and seasoned my food with it. After a while, I got up and went to the bathroom to do something that not even my housemate knows about. I know it’s a bad habit but it gives me temporary reprieve from so much. It’s my addiction. A drug that will never pit me against any anti narcotics authorities.
From the medicine cabinet I pulled out a sterile blade and made deep lacerations on my wrist and my thighs. It felt good, seeing the bright red seeping from my skin and flowing down my body. It was like watching my troubles and stress flowing away. I don’t care what certified therapists say, but cutting is very therapeutic to me. I felt a little light-headed so I decided to take a quick nap before I head out.
I breathe out deeply then make my way to the fiery red gate ahead with a sign that says, SHADE & HOLES INTERNATIONAL. The gate opens automatically and I step through, heading down the gravelled footpath winding through a sea of ankle length grey grass. Up ahead looms the silhouette of the multinational, multilingual, multiracial offices. The largest corporation in the world. Forget GM, Coca-Cola, this corporation is known by everyone and it spans across time, I’d say it is the oldest company in history (but yet again, that’s just my view).
It’s funny, but the front office is but a small mansion. I walk up the steps and raise the knocker ready to knock when I hear a growl behind me. I see a pit-bull terrier eyeing me drool sipping from its mouth corners. Normally I hate dogs, am a cat person but considering I am coming for a position here, I better be good. I had done research before coming here so I know what to give it precisely.
I take out a wrapped item from my handbag and throw it the dog. It looks at me then sniffs at the package before tearing at it with its teeth. I then turn my attention to the door and just as I am about to knock, the door opens automatically.
A butler –for lack of a better word appears and looks at me. He scrutinizes me from head to toe and back to head then steps aside. I examine him noticing his well-fitting black tuxedo and Italian leather shoes. He reminds me of a Sicilian Mafioso dressed in black and I expect him to have at least two shoulder holsters. He takes a lantern (electric mind you) then says:
‘Please follow me Miss. The interview room is down this way.’
He guides me down a long dark narrow lobby that is lined with large roof to wall portraits of numerous people some of whom I knew. I identified, Hitler, Mussolini, Emperor Nero, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden then asked him, ‘Are they only dictators here?’
He shook his head and said, ‘There are also ordinary people some of whom you might know others you won’t.’
He stopped in front of a portrait of a European man who had distinctive Balkan features. Even before he pointed, I saw on the corner of a portrait a disfigured and shrivelled hand that was black in colour.
‘That is the person responsible for the acceleration if not the cause of the First World War. Assassinator of Arch Duke Ferdinand.’
He resumed walking and I followed meekly and quietly. We came to a fork and he took the left fork. The air turned colder with every step I took. Another fork and he took the right fork this time round. We walked for some time ignoring countless doors on both sides. The air had turned normal and he stopped outside a metallic door up ahead.
‘Wait in this room and you will be called very soon.’
He pushed the door open and I stepped into the warmly lit room. It was like stepping into gigantic indoor stadium filled with chairs that were not even a fifth occupied. I took a seat next to the door and waited as I watched the other few occupants. One of them a young boy approached me and I was shocked. He sat beside me and smiled up at me.
‘What are you doing here?’ I asked him, ‘Aren’t you a little too young?’
He shook his head and replied, ‘I am here for the same reason as you. We both want to pass the interview. Please don’t ask me why, it is not proper to do that.’
‘How do you know that?’ I ask him.
‘Because this is my fifth interview, this year alone,’ he said nonchalantly. ‘But I am always rejected. But like Winston Churchill once said, “Never, never, never give up. Only give up, when you giving up, gives up.” So I follow that mantra.’
‘He didn’t say that. Only the first part is true,’ I told him. He shook his head and said, ‘He added that later on but it wasn’t documented. Who knows you might meet him later on. By the way what’s your name?’
‘Monique. And yours?’
‘People call me Austin Mokaya; I live in Westlands, Nairobi. Dad is a pilot and mum is the woman who was arrested with murdering her lover three months ago. I’m sure you saw her on TV. Anyway I have to go it’s my turn now.’
I wondered how he knew until I saw the butler nodding at him. As he passed I heard the butler say, ‘Six times the charm maybe.’
No one else approached me and I had a lot of time to think about Austin. I shook my head as I recalled the messy affair that his mother was involved. It captured the headlines for a full week and was broadcasted worldwide as the killing had been like a horror movie. The woman had taped the torturing and killing and someone had got their hands on it and leaked it on the web. That week You Tube traffic had been diverted to one account that gained over 100 million views.
Three other people left before I heard my name being called. I looked up to see a Greek goddess of a woman smile at me. I got up and followed her out of the stadium to the tunnel and down to a door on my left.
The door opened and I entered a simple office furnished with an oak desk and three executive chairs; two on one side and the other opposite them. There was a fireplace having a crackling fire as a log of wood burned in it. A thin dark man was stirring it with a long metallic three-pronged poker. He turned to face me and smiled. That smile can be described in one word, in fact the whole man can be described in one word- Mephistophelean. He was a handsome devil that would make all the girls in the world gaga.
He sat down, the goddess sat beside him, and I felt the juxtaposition of gender, power, life and death in that moment. Their complementary combined beauty would be enough to kill a mortal.
‘Please have a seat. We have received your application and I must say you do really want that position don’t you?’ the goddess asked. I sat down and nodded emphatically so she continued, ‘Why though do you want it?’
‘My life is nothing but a wreck. I don’t like it and I want change,’ I begun but she interrupted and asked, ‘Do you think a three start recommendation is enough?’
She handed me a ruled sheet of paper that had a black star on each line next to every sentence. Three stars on the paper were much darker than the others. I read them then looked up and said, ‘I had to improvise on the spot.’
‘But you had long time to prepare,’ the man said.
‘My roommate is a nosy character. She loves snooping around especially of late. Today was the only day when she was out the whole day—’
‘This is your first time to apply, I see,’ the goddess said, ‘We have a very random selection procedure as you well know. You do know that once join our firm, there is no going back?’
‘I don’t want to go back,’ I told her. ‘Being here is my joy and lifelong dream.’
The man frowned at me and whispered to the goddess. Their “whispervation” continued for quite a while before they looked at me.
‘Outside forces have affected our decision. Usually we love applications such as ours, but at times, we are forced to turn you down. Someone here has been turned down for the sixth time this year alone. I’m afraid though that we have to turn you down due to external forces.’ The goddess said standing up.
The man stood up to and said, ‘Though you may not pass, one day in the near or distant future you will join our timeless company that billions of mankind have passed. From the moment that anyone is born, it is inevitable for him or her to join SHADE & HOLES. You remember that when you go back to the land of the green grass and blue sky. Your guide Charon shall show you out, don’t forget to feed my dog with another sop on your way out.’
‘You are welcome to try again, we await your other application,’ the goddess said and smiled. I gave her a watery smile and followed the materialised butler out of the office. We walked up the tunnel-lobby in silence. I saw a painting flash before my eyes up ahead and I stopped to look at it. It was a dark skin woman displaying a wicked grin and bloody hands.
‘Ah so the famous Demona Mokaya joins the company,’ the butler said. I hadn’t realised he’d stopped. ‘We have special places for the likes of her.’
‘So when will I get my portrait on the wall?’
He looked at me for a moment then said, ‘Am afraid never for you.’ He then continued marching and I followed him.
Finally, we reached the doorway where he let me pass through. I felt sharp pains straight at my heart and tears flowed down my face. I looked back one more time and through my teary face, I read the sign as HADES & SHEOL. It was but an anagram and I had been rejected. I didn’t have time to wonder as another pair of electric bolts shot through my heart. I screamed and fell down blacking out.
I woke up in a sterile white room, and for a moment, I thought maybe I was in heaven, but when I saw my roommate’s face hovering inches above mine, I knew I was back on hell. She had been crying I could tell from the dried tears on her face.
‘Why did you do it?’ she asked me as I sat up on the hospital bed. I looked at her but ignored her. I looked around and noticed the television that was playing at the top corner.
‘Because you are my sister,’ I told her. She looked shocked at me but I didn’t care. ‘You brought me back to my wretched life. Do you think I wanted it? Did it occur to your goody-goody two shoes self that maybe I wanted to die? Of course not, you wanted to be the perfect angel—
‘What did you want me to do? First, I find the note on the table and the rat-poisoned food then I rush to the bathroom and find the empty bottle of warfarin pills and the bloody surgical blade. I rush to your room and find you bleeding, what did you want me to do, let you die?’
‘Yeah I think when someone does a triple foolproof suicide plan it means they really want to die and not to saved.’ I shouted and at that moment, my door opened as three people rushed in. Two of them were my parents and the last my boyfriend.
I looked aghast at my sister, ‘You told them too? Why not go and shout it from the rooftops too?’
My sister was on the point of releasing River Nile but I didn’t give a hoot. I was about to say something when a news item caught my eyes and ears. I shut out the concerned voices of my parents as I listened,
‘— In international news, Desdemona Mokaya the alleged female Kenyan vampire was today found dead in her house. Desdemona had just been released on bail when she was found dead hours later. Her son found her body and called for help that came late for the boy tried to ineffectively end his life. He was found muttering the name Monique as he bled from his slashed wrists—’
Monique smiled her first real smile in months. She now had a purpose; to find this Austin Mokaya and she couldn’t know how, but she knew his home address and as soon as she was released and the inevitable suicide watch lifted, she would search for him.
Sorry SHADE & HOLES or whatever the anagram was but I will not be coming to apply soon, she thought and lay back on her bed. The smile still splashed on her face.