The New Job

London, 1923.

The young man stood at the foot of the building. He checked the square he'd cut out of the newspaper, some two weeks back. Sure enough, he was at block 109, Pentonville Road. Now, he'd just have to find Office 4, and maybe everything would change. With a slight bit of nervousness, he flipped through the folders in his briefcase. They contained the writings he'd done over the past five years or so. Hopefully they'd be good enough. A few years of grammar class were mostly all that he'd ever gotten, after all.

Pausing for a moment to straighten his tie, he ascended the stairs. They gave a light tap as he made each step up. The second floor revealed a narrow hallway. At its absolute end was his goal; a wooden door with a glass panel. On it were written the words:

Seth Grant
Chief Editor, World Magazine

The floorboards creaked as he came closer to the door, passing by a janitor on the way there. The young man knocked twice on it before firmly opening it, taking off his coat and hat and putting them on the coat-stand. The comely secretary, her hair a canary blond, looked up from her typewriting for a moment.

"Good morning, Mr...?"

The young man produced the square of newspaper from his inner pocket. "John Thunder. I'm here about the opening for the reporter position."

"Ah, yes, Mr. second..." She flipped through a well-used records book and traced lines with her finger until she found what she wanted. "...yes. He'll see you shortly; I do believe he's interviewing another candidate right now."

Johnny's eyes widened. "Another candidate?"

"Yes, sir. I think he's about done soon, though."

He looked up at the inner door, and now some of the ranting and raving from inside was becoming audible.

"...insufferable, unreadable dreck! If you come in with an attitude like this and then feed me this tripe, you can throw out all hope of ever writing for this magazine! Ever! You're so awful that I'd instantly hire the next bloke who walks in! Even if he's a complete gibbering idiot, at least he doesn't have the writing skill of a brain-dead monkey and the enthusiasm of a comatose sloth! Get out of my office!"



The door burst open, revealing a flustered young man, who was desperately trying to pick up the manuscripts he'd brought. He took one look at Johnny, then shook his head forlornly. The secretary, who seemed to be completely unfazed by the scene which had just transpired, leaned her head into the office.

"Mr. Grant, the next candidate-"

The voice boomed out, "Tell him I'll see him in ten minute's time! Furthermore, get me some tea, would you, Miss Blaine?"

She got up as she replied, "Straightaway, sir." Turning to Johnny now, she politely told him, "Have a seat, Mr. Thunder. He'll see you soon."

Johnny, still rather dumbfounded, could barely manage a, "Uhh, very well...miss..." before she left. He sat down on the couch, and idly looked at the pile of magazines on the side-table. Soon after, he found himself idly thumbing through one of them. It was the June 1921 edition, on the war in Ireland. The writer's name eluded him, but the photographs of the war – by one "P. Reed" – dwere incredible, catching in vivid detail the struggles of the man of the ground, of the chaos of the battlefield.

The sounds and sights of Megiddo echoed through his mind again. Even now, he could remember the drone of the Handley-Page bombers as they smashed through the Turkish lines. Shell after shell thundered into the Ottoman position. His own final triumphant charge had followed soon, as scattered, disorganised Turkish forces turned tail when faced with the massive cavalry charge.

It was a polite cough from Ms. Blaine that brought him back to today.

"Mr. Grant will see you now, Mr. Thunder."

Johnny snapped back to reality. "Thank you, Miss."

He scooped up his portfolio, and stepped into the office. A large table separated Johnny from the editor, Mr. Seth Grant. He sported an impressive moustache and an even larger pair of spectacles, pushed up on his forehead to reveal the dimples they had formed on the side of his nose. A lone teacup and a plate which had once housed some scones lay to the right of a mass of papers, many of which were scored by a multitude of marks in red ink.