"You're seriously wearing that?"
"What's wrong with it?" You look down at your ensemble. The blue skater dress flares down and out, hiding your knees from view. Your self-examination continues down your legs and to the tan shoes you've donned, and ends at the sleeves of your cardigan.
Your roommate, Joanne, leans against the kitchen counter. "Your cardigan is black. Your shoes are brown. You're going to an interview." She raises her coffee mug to her lips and takes a long, slow sip. There's a bronze lipstick mark on the lip of the cup. "You gotta change one of those, girlie." Though you admit you're prone to exaggeration, you swear Joanne must be some sort of sun goddess. She stands tall, nearly reaching six feet on her own, but the curls of dark brown hair atop her head put her just there. Her bright amber eyes accent the acute freckles dusting her nose and cheeks. You always thought that between you two, she was by far the prettier one, but you digress.
"Kay, the shoes are going." You hurl the pumps off of your feet, throwing them into the ajar doorway of your bedroom. They bounce off of something and onto the floor with a few loud clunks and you sigh, "I'm guessing I need black now?"
"You guessed right." Joanne takes another sip of her coffee while you locate your black wedges. You have to give her credit, though, because they do look better with your outfit. Your purse is black, too, and you grab it just before you open the apartment door.
"Let's hope I don't fuck this up too bad," you snicker with one foot in the hallway.
"_____! You're gonna be fine! At the very least, you look fine. Now go get that internship!" With all the strength she's got (which happens to be quite a bit), Joanne pushes you out the door before you can change your mind about going. You almost did it, too. Ever since you got the call a week ago, you've been at war with your anxiety over it. Yes, your physics professor from last year has ties within the research facility, and he wrote you a fabulous recommendation letter, but you can't help but worry still. What if you don't make a good first impression? What if you're not fit for work at the facility after all? What if you're too nervous and your interviewer brushes you off as just another anxious young adult, thus propelling you backwards into the blur of other anxious young adults?
What if you're overthinking things again? Well, you certainly didn't overthink your decision to get on the bus today, and now you figure you should've. Why in God's name did you get on public transport at 7 a.m. on a Monday? Why did you pick the seat that would inevitably sandwich you between a crying baby and a grouchy white-collar? Why, oh why did you forget your headphones?
You opt to risk blisters on your feet and get off a stop early. The walk to the facility isn't that bad; after all, it's a lovely day and you're in a bustling city. Everything here is intricately wedged together like one of those cute fruit arrangements. The recent overpopulation issue doesn't help much, either. Nevertheless, everything works. Businesses, services, humans, monsters, they all overlap. The breeze suddenly picks up, blowing leaves across the asphalt road. Your lovely day turns colder than your ideal, but you simply pull your cardigan close and your purse closer. You're almost there. Nothing can stop you, not any wind, nor walk, nor anxiety. If someone were to describe the glint in your eye now, they probably would use the word "determined."
The glass doors of the facility slide open, and you step over sparkling marble floors. It's a fairly nice building, built in the last year or so with the influx of monsters coming from the mountain. Though you've always had a thing for antique, vintage styles of decorating, you appreciate the innovative, fresh design of the place.
You don't realize you're gawking until the receptionist fixes you with an arched eyebrow. "May I help you?"
"Oh!" You step across the spacious lobby and to the counter. "I'm here for an interview. The appointment's for 7:45, and if you need a name it's _____ _____."
Karen (according to her nameplate) taps away at the silver laptop in front of her for a second. "You're right. _____ _____, 7:45, in conference room 318. It's a bit early, but I'll call and see if they're ready for you, anyway."
Subconsciously, your teeth dig into your lower lip. "They?"
"Yes, your interview is being conducted by three of the doctors and researchers that will be in your wing with you. That is, if you're hired." Without waiting for so much as a nervous sigh (which you do, in fact, utter), Karen picks up one of two cell phones that sit on her desk. Her red manicured nails dart across the screen several times before she puts the phone to her ear. All you can do is stand idle while she talks.
"Yes, Dr. Archer? Ms. _____ is here for your 7:45. Is everyone present?" There's a pause. Her nails are acrylic. "Shall I send her up now, then?" Another pause while you take deep breaths in an attempt to abate the return of your anxiety. "Will do. Thank you." With a final chirping goodbye, Karen hangs up and her eyes lock with yours. "They're all there."
Suddenly, you can't breathe. "They are? Really? It's ten minutes early." Your knees nearly give way, and sweat threatens to gather in the centers of your palms.
Relentless, Karen gestures to the elevator bank across the lobby. "Go to floor three, and then go straight down the hall from there. 318 is on the right." She's merciless. Can't she tell you're dying on the inside?
"Up three floors, straight down the hall, to 318?"
Up three floors, straight down the hall, to 318. Up three floors, straight down the hall, to 318. You repeat it in your head like a mantra, hoping it will soothe you at least slightly. It does some form of work on you, and eventually you can breathe a bit more. With a sigh of relief, you wipe your hands on your cardigan and will yourself to look your soon-to-be associate in the eye.
She says, "They're waiting on you."
You say, "Thank you." Pivoting smoothly on the marble floor, you stride to the elevator bank. The walls are glass, giving you a generous view of the facility while you go up. You reach floor three quickly and step out with renewed confidence. 318 is easy to find. Judging by the spaces between the doors, you conclude it's a fairly large room. Well, what could you expect from a conference room in a high-end, mass-populated research facility? You take one final deep breath and knock.
Almost immediately, there's an answer. A Korean woman in her early thirties opens the door to the conference room and gives you a small, gentle smile. "_____?"
"That would be me." With a relaxed posture, you go to shake her hand. "It's lovely to be here, thank you for taking the time to do this today."
She introduces herself as Dr. Florence Hyung and motions for you to come in with a flutter of her lab-coat. You find that the only other person in the room (which is, in fact, extensive) is not quite a person at all, but instead a centaur-like monster.
He walks (trots? Is that politically correct?) around the long glass table to shake your hand. "Archer," is all he says, and you take his bluntness with a grain of salt and a dash of it's-just-his-personality. The second both of the doctors motion for you to sit down is the second you realize something is amiss.
"I don't want to intrude," you start with a nervous knitting of your eyebrows, "but I was told I'd be interviewed by three people, and I'm curious to know where the third is, if there is one."
Dr. Hyung turns to Dr. Archer. "Where'd he go? I turned my back to get the door and then-"
"You know how Gaster is. Said something about needing his laptop and disappeared." Archer supplies all he can and finishes with a shrug. You take note of the fact that he's wearing two coats, one for his human half and one for the rest of him. It's not until you're retrieving your file from your purse and passing it across the table that you register exactly what he's said.
"He disappeared?" You look to one of them, then the other, then both, for some sort of answer. Was it simply a poor word choice, or did Archer literally mean... You feel like you're about to get an answer when the door swings open.
"My most sincere apologies," a deep voice behind you says. "I've been waiting on certain test results, and I couldn't afford to miss receiving them while in here." You're only slightly aware that you're shaking from the sudden appearance of the voice. Something in your head tells you its owner is moving, but you don't hear a thing, and you don't dare look around. Your chest is tightening.
Then the voice is right at your ear. "My, my, don't we scare easily?"