Matthias sat down at his desk the following day to find an email waiting.
It’s that time of year! Yes, it has really been a whole year since your last annual review. Our system shows this meeting is outstanding as of June 24, so a meeting has been scheduled for you at 10 a.m. 02/07/27 in room SC02. If this breaks any imminent deadlines, please let me know and we can reschedule, otherwise, we will see you soon!
Business Integrity Leader – Finance
Natural Robotics, Inc.
He stared at the email, contemplating his next move.
‘Hey, bionicman,’ Dennis arrived at his desk beside Matthias, resting a jacket over the back of his seat. ‘How’s the arm?’
‘I’ll probably have it resurfaced within a few days.’
‘Don’t think this gets you out of that night out.’
‘Poor Dennis, no other children to play with?’ Stacey said, arriving at her desk opposite, balancing her usual coffee.
‘Hey, you can play with me anytime.’
‘Yeah, I’ll pass, thanks,’ she sniffed, taking to her seat.
‘I’ve been called up for my annual review,’ Matthias related.
‘You’ll be fine,’ Dennis shrugged.
‘It’s not my work I’m worried about,’ Matthias replied, self-consciously shifting his arm.
‘Yeah, that will get their attention.’
At 9.51. am Matthias rose from his desk and walked out into the central corridor. At this time of morning, the majority of his coworkers were seated. He passed the occasional colleague deep in animated conversation, but the majority were poring over digital paperwork. With the lack of obstacles, it was a short walk to a pair of teleporters on the opposite side of the hall.
He emerged on an upper level faced with a gloomy, pallid corridor. Domed lights shone about the ceiling, casting little light downwards. He stepped into the second door on the left.
A man in a suit with a white shirt and vibrant blue tie sat at the opposite side of a desk, beaming with white teeth. ‘Matthias! It’s nice to meet you!’ he rose, hand extended. ‘I’m Jay.’
‘Thankyou.’ Matthias offered a smile and gave a curt handshake.
‘Take a seat!’ As Matthias sat down opposite, he continued. ‘Now, you know these things have to be recorded. It’s not my idea of fun, but those are the rules.’
‘Of course.’ Matthias crossed his legs, sitting back, giving the man full eye contact.
‘Well, let’s get to it! It says here that..’ Jay flicked through screens on a modest tablet. ‘Yup.. Your record is clean! We might as well send you back to your desk,’ he laughed. ‘No.. You do have a great work ethic, a couple of employee of the month awards, it says here you turned down a promotion.. why did you do that?’
Matthias imitated clearing his throat. ‘I’m comfortable where I am. I don’t think I would enjoy the attention.’
‘Well, that’s fair enough.’ Jay continued looking further through the tablet.
It was then that Matthias sensed something akin to his hair standing on end, a foreign presence in the air, passing over his body, disturbing his concentration.
‘We can’t all be leaders. You do know that there are other opportunities, different departments? ..Matthias?’
‘Yes,’ Matthias blinked. ‘S..sorry, I’m suddenly not feeling very well.’
‘Do you need to use the bathroom? We can pick this up at another time..’
‘No,’ Matthias shifted his legs, ‘No, it’s fine, please continue.’
‘Okay. I was asking.. You’re not interested in a position elsewhere?’
‘No, I’m happy where I am.’
‘Well, alright then. Your record is exemplary, so if you ever wanted to rise through the ranks..’
Matthias lost focus intentionally, training his senses on identifying this presence in the air. It moved from right to left, front to back, above and behind him. He twitched, resisting the urge to turn and examine the walls.
‘..there isn’t a whole lot to discuss. Now, there was another matter. Yesterday you, as I understand it, plunged your arm into an active teleporter.’
‘It wasn’t active.’
‘Well okay, into the field of a disabled teleporter, am I right?’
‘Yes. There was a woman trapped inside, there was no one around who could save her in time.’
‘Right, because,’ Jay gave a cursory glance to his tablet ‘You have no background in teleportation at all, do you Matthias?A basic business education, no science, nanotech, engineering, nothing that would really qualify you to make that kind of assessment. You work in Finance.’