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Officemates

December 12th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Sarah had heard the office building was haunted before she even took the interview. When she first moved to the city, her parents had visited and they’d gone on a walking ghost tour, where the guide had excitedly told them all about where the spirits lived. It was campy but cute, and she chuckled when she arrived for her first interview and recognized the building. There was even a lighthearted moment during her discussion with the HR person when she was able to make an aside about hoping a ghost didn’t get the job instead of her. The woman laughed, though in retrospect perhaps more uncomfortably than Sarah had realized at the time.

It started with her stapler, of all things. She had been hired and assigned a cubicle in a remote corner of the office space, which was somewhat separated from the others. Still, Sarah was thrilled to be doing anything other than desperately scanning the online job listings and didn’t mind. But on her sixth day of the job, the stapler had moved from the corner of the desk to her keyboard, three feet away. Sarah puzzled over it for a moment, but quickly dismissed it as something the janitor had done on accident, or maybe she had bumped it somehow on her way out. She pushed it back into place only to discover it on the opposite side of her keyboard the following morning.

By her third week, two more staplers had appeared and were shifting all around the desk, regardless of where she put them. It seemed too odd to mention it to her coworkers (maybe they were doing this…hazing the rookie?), so she played along and began moving them around as well, even hiding them. Yet they’d always reappear in new and evermore creative places, still multiplying along the way, until one day she arrived to find them set up to form a three by three grid of squares with two pencils overlapping in an X inside the middle one. Curious, she placed a paper coffee cup in a corner square and went to the restroom. When she returned, there were two more crossed pencils in the square beside the one she had claimed.

And so it went with the tic-tac-toe games for a few days before the Monday morning all the staplers (except the original) disappeared and were replaced with straightened paper clips formed into a grid with red and black binder clips arrayed at either end. The arrangement was clearly a checkers board and Sarah dutifully played along, still assuming this was an elaborate prank. It wasn’t until she had gotten up to retrieve a sheet from the office printer and realized she needed to print something else that she finally understood. A binder clip had been moved within the three seconds she’d been outside her cubicle, an impossibility for anyone other than a ghost.

It was only when Sarah was offered a promotion and told the reasons why that she realized her spiritual competitor had been influencing her output as an employee as well. She had become so consumed with the daily games against an unseen partner that she mostly neglected work at all, yet one day she was called into the manger’s office and offered a promotion. It seemed she had exceeded her job description considerably and saved the company a significant amount of money by some unseen hand. Sarah was a celebrity amongst management, and she played along, but politely declined the offer.

She then returned to her cubicle, eager to continue learning how to play Go.

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