The bathroom door stuck. I pulled it a bit harder, praying it would open. It did, but the handle came off and I was left holding it.
"Oh, for god's sake." I groaned. It was six thirty in the morning. I had just gotten up, showered, and dressed. It was my first day at my new job. I was not going to mess this one up like I had all the others. Okay, a job working with computers wasn't the best for an art and Latin student, but it was the money I needed. I was scrimping as much as I could as it was, and I would have to pay my landlord for that handle. I couldn't get sacked again. It wasn't my fault that I was easily distracted. Last time it had been a heron sitting on the windowsill outside my office. Well… I liked ornithology. Anyway, this time I was told I'd be working in a basement. No windows for me to stare out of. And my colleagues… I didn't know their names yet. There were only three at the moment, as far as I knew. I just hoped they would accept my oddness.
Two hours later, I arrived at Reynholm Industries, nervous but excited. My stomach was doing little flips. I looked around the huge reception area, and walked over to the desk. A woman sat behind it doing her nails.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"What?" she replied sharply. I was taken aback, but continued:
"I'm starting here today, in the IT department? Could you show me where the lifts are?"
"Over there." She pointed a pink talon to the right. I thanked her and walked towards them. When an empty lift arrived, I got in. The button for the basement was dirty, rusty, and covered in cobwebs. I rolled my eyes, and pressed it anyway. The lift juddered its way down to the last stop, and I disembarked. There was a corridor ahead of me, and a single door. I knocked on it, and heard a woman's voice from inside saying:
"Look presentable, will you? I know you haven't met a new one for a while, but god! Moss, have you combed your hair?" there was a muffled reply that I didn't understand. The woman continued: "Shut up. Roy, get the door, will you?" There were footsteps, and the door opened.
"Hello." I said brightly. "I guess you're Roy?" A man with dark brown hair and light blue eyes stood at the door.
"Yes." He had an Irish accent. "You are…?"
"McKenna. Nice to meet you. Can I come in?"
"Sure." He seemed a bit grumpy, but I'd met people like him before. I was pretty sure I could charm him. He'd come round. I walked into the room. It was fairly large, with two more doors leading off it. A woman with red hair was adjusting the tie of a man with a black afro and glasses. Roy collapsed into a chair as the woman straightened up.
"Hi there!" she said. "You must be McKenna. I'm Jen, this is Moss, and that's Roy." She walked over to me and shook my hand. "We don't actually have a desk ready for you yet, but we'll find you somewhere soon enough, don't you worry."
"I rarely worry. I don't see the point. Might as well get things done with." I smiled.
"Right… Moss, could you show McKenna around while I go and find her a phone cable?" She walked through the door labelled 'Relationships Manager'. I turned to Moss.
"Umm… there's not much to show really. That's Jen's office; these are our desks; that's our comfy area with sofas and a kettle. And that's the door." He added.
"That sounded like a hint to me." I said.
"Maybe it was."
"Well, I'm good at identifying hints, but terrible at obeying them. Sorry."
"Was worth a try." He mumbled. Roy sat up from the chair where he was slouched.
"Moss, you aren't seriously trying to get rid of her, are you? She's cool, anyone can see that."
"But I'm not! Our personalities will clash. I like things how they are. You, me, Jen and-" Roy shot him a warning look. Moss cleared his throat. There was an awkward silence.
"Well, if you don't want me, I'd be happy to move on. Just find me another job so I actually get some money. I'm not doing well in those stakes." Moss looked at me.
"How badly is that?" he asked.
"I mean I owe my landlord three months' rent, and if I don't pay up by next month, he's going to throw me out. I keep getting the sack from jobs because I get distracted too easily. But you know… mustn't grumble." I picked up my bag, but Roy said:
"No, no, it's fine. Stay." I put my bag back down, and sat on the chair next to his. The awkward silence descended again. Just then, Jen walked back in with a telephone cable and a mouse.
"Okay." She said. "We have a computer over there, and a phone, and some sockets to plug them into. We just need a desk."
"Why, Jen, did you not order the desk first? Surely that would have helped." Moss said.
"I did! The bloody delivery men are late." There was another knock at the door. Jen answered it.
"Hello. Oh, thanks. Just what we needed." She took a package from the man. She shut the door on him, and muttered:
"You're still bloody late though." Then she reverted to cheery businesswoman. "Okay. Why is this box so small?"
"Flat pack." Roy was now on his back on the sofa. I frowned. He didn't notice. I walked across and stood over him. He laughed.
"You're upside down!" he giggled. I sighed. Then I pulled a pleading face.
"Roy…" I said.
"Yes, hello?" he said, suddenly alert and sitting up straight.
"Can you assemble flat pack furniture? Because I'm not very good at it, and I'm sure Moss and Jen want to get back to work." They were currently trying to take off the copious amounts of tape keeping the box closed.
"Oh… Oh, yeah, sure! Yeah, I'm great at stuff like that. Come on, I'll take the challenge, I'll… do… stuff."
"Great, thanks." I went back to Moss and Jen. "It's okay; you can leave it now," I said, "Roy's volunteered to help me."
"Oh, that was very nice of you, Roy." Jen said. "Good luck dealing with the boys, McKenna. I'll go and tell Douglas you're here." She left through the main door.
"Who's Douglas?" I asked Roy as he continued unravelling the tape.
"Douglas is the sex-mad maniac in charge of this company."
"Well, not so much, actually." Moss declared. "He tried to do it with me once. And I'm a man!" I nodded.
"I think I knew that."
"Well, that's why it's so silly, you see, because Douglas is a man too, and he isn't gay, he was just horny!"
"Yep, I gathered that."
"Are you patronising me?"
"Umm… Yeah, a bit."
"Okay." I shook my head as Roy began to unfold the instructions and construct the desk. I watched him work for a while, before stealing his place on the sofa and lying down.
"Hello, IT? Have you tried turning it off and on again? No? Try it. Nothing? Okay, is it plugged in? No? Well, plug it in then, you moron!" Roy put the phone down and shook his head. It was afternoon, my desk was in one piece, and all my electronics were set up. Roy and Moss had become a bit more relaxed around me, and Jen was sitting on the sofa chatting to us.
"So, I'm going for a drink after work with the girls from fourth, do any of you want to come?" She asked.
"Oh, no." Roy said. "No way am I going near your friends ever again. Not after that dinner party."
"Yes, that was pretty horrific." Moss interjected.
"What dinner party?" I asked.
"Oh, it wasn't that bad… was it, Roy?" Jen raised her eyebrows at him.
"It bloody was! It was the most humiliating day of my life!"
"Hello? What dinner party?"
"Basically, Jen had us and… someone else to dinner with her and two of her single friends. Except our someone else got a bit carried away with one of them. It wasn't good to watch. Especially when you're eating jelly." Roy shuddered.
"And to top it all off, I got paired with Jen!" Moss said. Jen threw a cushion at him, but it missed.
"Well…" she said. "When you put it like that… it wasn't great, was it?"
"No. It certainly was not."
"Yeah… I think I'll pass on the drinks, thanks." I said.
"Oh, fine. I'll go on my own. I just hope they don't start asking me about computers again…" she grimaced.
"If they ask you anything, just say that a lot of computers have issues with their user interface." I put in. They all looked at me.
"What? It's the only bit of computer terminology that I know."
"You mean you don't know how to work a computer either?" Moss asked incredulously.
"Well, I can work one, but I can't fix one. Unless it's like 90% of the cases here, and they haven't plugged the damn thing in."
"Well, we'll soon show you how to fix some PCs, won't we Moss?"
"Umm… Yes." Jen pulled a face.
"Yeah, you know what, I think I'll leave you lot to it." she said. "It's ten to five, and it'll take me ten minutes to go up in the lift. Bye!"
"Bye Jen." We chorused. She left, closing the door behind her.
"Thank heaven for that!" Moss exclaimed. "I thought she'd never leave."
"Well, that'd be fair enough, she does work here." Roy muttered.
"What have you two got against Jen?"
"Nothing. She's just… overexcited." Roy said.
"I think you mean overenthusiastic." Moss replied.
"Right, yes, overenthusiastic. Whatever."
"Well, I think I'll head off as well. I'm on overtime tomorrow, though. Are you two? Or Jen?" I asked.
"Jen never does overtime. And I'm not." Moss said.
"Me neither. Sorry."
"Ah, it's okay. I'll keep myself company."
"You sound a bit schizophrenic when you say that."
"Shut up, Moss."
The next day, Jen, Moss and Roy were just leaving when another man walked in. He was fairly short and stocky, and he wore a suit that was clearly way too small.
"Oh, god," Jen whispered, "Reynholm alert, Reynholm alert!"
"Ahoy!" the man said. "Aha, you must be the new girl! I am Douglas Reynholm! Who are you?"
"Ah, McKenna. What does that mean?"
"I don't really know. Fair one or something like that."
"Well, knowing that makes me understand why you are called it. You certainly are very fine." He walked around me, looking pointedly at my bum.
"Um, Mr Reynholm?" Jen asked. "Why did you actually come down here?"
"Oh, um, yes… I am looking for new ideas about the running of this company. As you know, we're going under, and I thought clever people… clever, beautiful people like McKenna here… would be able to help…" he paused, still staring at me. "And none of you are going anywhere until you can." There was silence for a moment. Then I said:
"Mr Reynholm? I have an idea." He looked up, into my eyes this time.
"yes. Go on."
"I think it would help, sir, if instead of trying to hit on me and stare at my arse, you went back upstairs, and did your job properly." He stared at me, this time in shock.
"Alright. And so I shall. And I shall do my job much better. Just for you, dear McKenna!" he flounced out of the door.
"Oh, thank god!" Jen sighed. "McKenna, you're a miracle!"
"It was nothing. I'm used to being treated like that. I've met worse than him."
"You've met worse than Reynholm?" Roy asked, aghast. "I feel for you. I really do. Anyway, we'd better go. Bye!"
"And don't open the Red Door!" Moss called.
"No, definitely don't! it will disturb you!" Jen shouted.
"Bye, Kenna!" Roy said, waving. I blushed. Kenna was what my best friends called me. Not that I had many anymore. Moss, Roy, and Jen were all I had. After my mum and dad had estranged me for going out with a man they'd disapproved of, I was pretty lonely. But I never complained. I knew that it would get me nowhere. So I just lived to the fullest, and stayed as happy as I could.
I sighed and sat down in my chair behind the newly constructed desk. I had nothing to do until someone rang up to say their computer was broken. I wondered for a moment whether I could get YouTube or if it was blocked. I googled it. YouTube. I clicked the link. Yes! It wasn't blocked. I typed in the name of my favourite comedy show, and settled down to watch. I plugged in my earphones for the sound, and pressed play. Ten minutes into the programme, however, I heard a sound from outside the computer. I paused the programme and took out my headphones. It was silent now. But I felt incredibly drawn to the red door at the back of the room. I crept over to it, and touched the doorknob. I felt a pang of guilt. Why was I doing exactly what they told me not to do? I should leave it. I drew back for a moment. But the sound came again. It was like hardware warming up. I put my hand back on the doorknob. Anyway, why should Moss, Roy and Jen tell me what to do? I was an adult too! I had my own free will, and I was going to use it. I turned the doorknob and opened the door. It was totally dark in the room beyond. I picked up my iPod from the desk and used it as a torch to see. My vision was still limited, so I wasn't surprised when I bumped into something. I was more surprised, though, when the something gasped. I gasped too, dropping my iPod. However, the something seemed to catch it, before handing it back to me.
"I think I'm going to scream." I murmured.
"Oh, not another one." The thing said. Then I blacked out.