Previous Experience (Flash Fiction)

Bob and Catherine reviewed the sheet in front of them and called in the candidate. He was spry, with a brilliant smile and confidence in his eye. They traded firm handshakes and sat around a glass table in the middle of a small conference room sealed off with glass walls. Catherine started with the first round of questions, all standard for each interview, while Bob gave the résumé a closer inspection. A tidbit near the bottom of Brian’s work experience caught his eye.

“Tell me about this,” Bob said, looking at the paper like a menu and tapping it with his finger. “What’s this about writing articles for ‘conservative’ websites?”

Brian smiled almost to the point of blushing. “Well,” he said as he swiveled his chair left and right, “I used to write for a website called this-is-the-end.com.”

“Wasn’t that a movie?” Catherine asked.

“Yes,” said Brian, “it was a movie, but this website has been around well before the movie came out. Anyway, I put conservative website on there because I wanted it to sound professional, obviously, but the website was just pure insanity.”

Bob put the sheet down and looked at Brian. “What do you mean?”

“I wrote articles that were all based on the idea that basically everything is the devil bringing the end of the world and how pretty much everything worships the devil.” Brian stopped swiveling in his seat. The full mention of the truth seemed to sap his energetic personality. It were as though a hint of shame joined him on his side of the table.

Bob tensed. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t try to pry into your personal beliefs.” He began to shuffle the papers in front of him while Catherine scrambled for something to say.

“No, no!” Brian said, happiness appearing on his face once again. “No. I didn’t believe a word of it. I just wrote it. For the website.”

Bob froze, papers half-shuffled in his hand. “What?”

“Yeah,” said Brian. “It was a kind of freelance thing where I wrote the articles for them and sent ’em in.”

Bob and Catherine gave each other a glance, as if checking to see if one was as curious as the other. Their looks caught the attention of a courier passing by in the hall, causing the poor young lad to bump into a woman who was far too pretty to do something so embarrassing in front of.

“Wait,” Bob said. “You wrote it, but didn’t believe it?”

Brian nodded.

Bob’s mouth gaped for a moment. “How does that work?”

Brian looked around the room for inspiration to spark explanation and was left with nothing but glass walls. He drummed his fingers on the table to coax his racing mind. “Ah! So, Valentine’s Day, yeah? That’s the perfect example. I’d write an article talking about how Valentine’s Day is this horrible pagan holiday that exists to defile the Christian mind with thoughts of lust and coveting and all that.”

Bob and Catherine waited in silence and motioned for more.

Brian laughed. “I’d go on Wikipedia, spend ten minutes looking up the most basic historical information possible to make the article sound credible to anyone who had no clue otherwise, toss in some scripture to give the appearance of authority or validation, and send the thing in.”

“And then what?” asked Bob, leaning forward in his seat.

Brian shrugged. “And then they’d pay me.”

Despite her best efforts to maintain her stoic look of constant professionalism, Catherine smiled. “But that’s crazy.”

Brian gave the table a light slap with his hand. “The crazier it was, the better they paid!”

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