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The Universe began in chaos. Matter exploded outward, clumped together, tumbled off, and over a timescale nearly unfathomable formed the space we all live in. Through all of that, order formed, and order was the thing that kept the universe from falling into the anarchy of creation. In the grand scheme of things, there was no form of order more stern and heroic in its unwavering necessity for precision than the human invention of the Internship Application.
This particular internship Application was being filled out on an old maglev monorail that was old when other trains people called old were still sucking on their pacifiers on the assembly lines. The form was in the hands of a girl with black hair tied back in a pony tail in a blue skirt and suitjacket who gave off the distinct impression she'd worn a different copy of the same outfit yesterday. She shoved her glasses towards her nose, and tried to follow along with the instructions:
Welcome to your application to Project Atlantis, a subsidiary of Anubis Corp. Simply complete this short questionnaire of 270 questions, as well as your personal information, four recommendations, and a cover letter, and you'll be all set to-
She sighed. 270 Questions? She wasn't above putting in a little elbow grease, but the number seemed a bit excessive. She tapped in by rote her personal info, as well as the contact info for her recommendations, and began the long questionnaire. Whatever they needed to feel safe and secure, she supposed.
1. What would your reaction be if you found yourself unexpectedly drowning and being crushed by unsurvivable pressure?
Graelyn wasn't sure what she was expecting on the application, but it wasn't that. She held the tablet up to her mouth, and bit it lightly, as though the infantile gesture would help her think. It did, apparently, as she quickly tapped in the answer, “Die.” May as well be practical about this.
“Everyone on the ground now!” the man said, standing up, while he and several other men and women pulled out railgun-rifles. Graelyn looked up at them, as the rest of the compartment got to the ground. She looked at the time in the corner of the screen: 3:45. The application was due at 8 and she had to answer 269 questions. She groaned, and slumped down out of her seat onto the floor, trying to get back to her application as the people with weapons did whatever it was they were doing.
2. Consider the hypothetical situation where you meet yourself from another reality-- what would your first reaction be?
This was a tougher question, certainly not a one word one, but also not one that she'd need to spend a lot of time on. The revolutionaries casually went through the train, occasionally rifling through people's bag's, until they stopped at her.
“You, where's your bag?” Graelyn pointed to her purse, which was still up on the bench, and went back to her application. Graelyn supposed she wouldn't do anything rash, if she met herself. She'd probably just compare notes. She filled the blank in and moved onto the next question. “No devices.” The man said, leveling his gun at her. “Sorry, this is really important.”
“I don't want you reporting us.”
“You've already been reported by the automated camera system, calm down.” She said trying to focus. It wasn't like this was the first time she'd been in a hostage situation, she did live in the city after all. The man grimaced, and spitefully dumped her purse out on the seat, for which a woman who seemed to be in charge yelled at him, and made him apologize. Graelyn accepted the apology and tried to get on with the application. She breezed through a few questions, as the man rifled through the pile of her lip gloss, hair ties, sanitary pads, and tissues. “Nothing here ma'am,” he yelled and moved onto the next occupant, finally. She kept going, finally she was really in the zone on this!
24. A farmer has a chicken, a fox, and a bag of seed he needs to get across a river-
Easy. She'd memorized that puzzle.
25. If you were-
“You seem awfully calm.” The leading woman said. She'd walked up to her, rifle held patiently, a bandolier of ammo and grenades striking the light like she'd rehearsed this spot before.
“You guys have held up my train before. I have a lot of work to do.”
“You should care more about what's going on around you.”+
“You should get on with finding whatever you're here for.” She gave a curt laugh, like the kind gruff men make to bad jokes in movies.
“You'd make a good soldier.”
Graelyn ignored that, the woman was just distracting her now. She kept looking at her, and turned away as though disappointed. “Ma'am, we found it!” The man who had bothered her was now holding a balding man in a sportcoat by the elbow, and holding up a datacard in the other hand. “Good work, lets move out.”
“You'll never get away with this!” The balding man cried, “Centro has eyes everywhere. We'll find you!”
“You haven't yet!” Said the woman with a gleam in her eye, and punched the emergency release button for the door. The revolutionaries jumped out in perfect order, their feet and backs lighting up as they began a controlled flight downwards onto a rooftop. An older woman got up, and shut the door. For some reason there was applause, and Graelyn briefly took the time to put her things back in her purse. She looked down at the tablet, and was struck by how close she had nearly been to something totally different. She could have tried to foil the plotters somehow, she was clever, they might have just shot her, but it would have been memorable. The woman in charge, with a little talk in a different direction, might have offered to let her go with them. She could be in some dank basement learning how to assemble a railgun blindfolded, or glide through the air with an energy pack. There were so many possibilities, and she had chosen to finish filling out this internship application. It seemed heavy, like it was made of the plaques on buildings, or was secretly some monument.
She turned to the next question.
* * * * *
Graelyn Scythes got back to her one-room apartment, took off her blazer, skirt, and tie, picked up her cat Mr. Sprinkles who was desperately wanting some cuddling, reheated some old stir fry, and sat down on the couch. Only a hundred questions to go. She stroked Mr. Sprinkles, who purred deeply into her lap, grounding her, his soft fur felt nice on her bare legs.
171. Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the communist party?
Graelyn laughed, and checked no, but her face grew still. She didn't give a damn about the communists, but she suddenly wondered if she'd be able to believe in anything like that. She rubbed the cat behind the ears.
“I'd make a bad soldier Mr. Sprinkles.”
The revolutionaries had gotten something important she'd never know about. She never saw them again. Maybe they were shot dead. Maybe they made some secret victory. Rain started hitting the window pane, and she at least knew they would likely be wet. Mr. Sprinkles adjusted himself, making it very hard to move between the questions and picking at the stir fry. She resigned herself to the situation, as she had done through most of the day, and focused on the internship application.
“I'd make a bad soldier.”