An Extraordinary Vehicle

Pernicious pernicious-kss

Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Pernicious Kiss


6. You can’t fire me, I don’t work here

The Universe was an unholy prankster bitch, and she had twisted my plot, once again.

The whole shuttle ride over to Beta Moon Station, all I could picture was Krash Sideways. His smug face as he held the money over my head. I want to be the boss of you, Pernicious Kiss, he’d simper in his incoherent accent, and I’d open my mouth to tell him where to stuff his bossiness… but then I’d remember the grim facts. Krash Sideways was offering me a job. The only job that anyone would ever offer me again. A life raft, from the wreckage of my current life.

There was nothing to do but hail a light-flyer cab to his office, on the three hundred and thirty-third floor of the tallest building downtown.

The secretary who buzzed me in was swanky, slow-witted, and possibly not carbon-based. I pointed to the door with the gold KS nameplate and demanded to be shown in, but she seemed preoccupied. Fussing with an espresso machine and an assortment of flavored syrup bottles. I rolled my eyes at her and pushed open the door.

“Pernicious.” He whirled around in his office chair, a dramatic move that actually looked cool and left me tongue-tied for a fraction of a second. “I should have known you’d just show up.”

“I’m phone-phobic,” I reminded him. “And passionately anti-email.”

“Anti-everything, as I recall.”

I tried to think up a witty and scathing response, but suddenly I was too busy looking at Krash, noticing all at once how much he’d changed since our last meeting. Krash Sideways wasn’t the man I remembered. He was worse.

On the bridge of his nose, where there had once been fussy horn rims, rested designer shades. Collar popped on his bespoke jacket. He’d obviously run into a bit of cash since our last meeting. Cash that bought flash, and funded Moon Missions, and goddess knows what else. His swagger had a swagger now, and together they’d conceived a baby swagger that was cute enough to melt the average girly girl’s heart into swoon soup.

(For once) it helped that I wasn’t the average girl. I was a blue-haired reptile. I knew exactly how to deal with guys like him. Strike first.

“Let’s get one thing clear from the launch pad,” I said. “I am not working for you.” I mentally high-fived myself on striking just the right hardball tone to get him to up the offer money. This is what’s known as a power play, kids. Don’t try it at home. I am a certified pro.

But he laughed and shuddered. “Don’t worry, I’d never put up with an employee like you.”

“Wait, what?” He wouldn’t? I glanced down at the envelope in my hand, the letter I’d thought about every second since the courier put it in my hand. Was the letter some kind of joke, then? A joke on me? Was I in fact entirely stuck with Galactic Resource Shitheads? I felt strangely let down. “But you’re the one who offered me the job,” I said, sounding not at all scathing or witty but frankly petulant. Like a little kid.

“Pernicious, you can’t seriously think I meant to hire you?” He took a sip of his latte, sighed, and threw the cup over my head into the trash can behind me. “Go home. It was a clerical error. My new assistant has already mailed you a correction.”

“I’m just an error to you?” I felt a lump in my throat. I was not going to fly into rage-tears. Not here, not now. So what if I’d stayed up three nights and flown nine hours, using up my vacation time, in the vain hope that I could still turn my life around. That there was still a chance for me to do something meaningful with my life, like rescue the lost books. Even if I had to answer to someone horrible like Krash. So what if he was telling me no—that he didn’t even want to be my boss? I should have known better than to hope, but sometimes I want to hope so bad that I fall for the Universe’s nastiest tricks.

“Right.” He stood and pointed behind me. “So, the door is—“

“Damn it! You know what your problem is, Krash?” Angry mascara tears were streaming down my face. “You have no idea how much you need me!”

“Excuse me?” He backed up three feet further away from my emotional display.

“My skillset, that is,” I shrieked, not at all sure I was telling the truth but beyond caring. “If Moon Mission 3 has any chance at success, you’re going to need someone aboard with my unique profile of talents.”

“Like what, insanity?”

“Yes, good example!” I banged my fist on his desktop. “You underestimate my insanity. I mean—its value,” I added quickly.

“Pernicious, look,” he said in an oddly reasonable tone. “Even if you were good at talking people into things, you couldn’t talk me into hiring you. Keep in mind, I’ve actually worked with you before.”

That very good point almost stopped me, but I was out of orbit now. Out of control and determined not to leave without a fight. I put my hands on my hips and stared him square in the eyes. “You’re going to have to work with me again,” I declared. “Or else you’ll have to program your plastic assistant to remove me from the building. So, what’s it going to be, ‘Boss?’”

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