The minion from Human Resources led Vineet Singh down a dim corridor to the waiting room. At the threshold, Vineet paused. Stark grey walls paired with matching ash-coloured tiles reminded him of the prison cells he’d seen in movies. Some fifteen candidates sat in black chairs around a table, fidgeting with their visitor I-cards or their files. Vineet ran his eyes over the lot, and heaved a sigh of relief. The group was devoid of women. Controlling his urges in the presence of the fairer sex had become difficult.
The sole empty seat in the room languished in a corner under a potted palm tree. The HR assistant, Ashish, waved him towards it. ‘Take a seat. I’ll call you when your turn comes.’
Vineet settled into the rickety chair, and soon realized why it had remained vacant. The long spindly leaves of the plant were drooping over his head. A few tickled the back of his neck. He leaned forward to avoid them.
Vineet worked at a top manufacturing company that employed fifty thousand people worldwide. The work and the environment had held his interest for the last few months, as the headcount of the firm allowed him to blend into the crowd. Then the women pervaded his life, girls of all shapes and sizes, strolling past his cubicle and sharing his table at lunch. How long could he curb his natural instincts?
He glanced up. The man opposite was watching him with his mouth half-open. Why? The possibilities rushed through his mind. Were his eyes looking bloodshot? Had the onlooker glimpsed his canines? He sprung up, leaving his file on the chair, and asked a peon for directions to the restroom.
In the men’s room, he splashed water in his face. As he patted his forehead with a paper towel from the Kimberly-Clarke stand, he studied his image. The whites of his eyes had indeed reddened. A deathly pallor had crept into his complexion.
He binned the towel and returned to his seat.
Twenty minutes later, Ashish announced his name and guided him to the interview room.
Ashish swung the door wide open, resting his fingers on the knob as he motioned to Vineet to pass through. ‘Melanie, this is Vineet Singh. He’s here for the post of Project Engineer.’
Vineet stopped in his tracks.
Melanie smiled as she offered him her hand. ‘Hi, Vineet. Nice to meet you. Please sit down.’
He stepped forward and shook hands with her. She must have been in her mid-thirties, he assessed. She looked smart in her black trousers and peach shirt.
Ashish closed the door and left. Melanie lowered the screen of her laptop and picked up a sheaf of stapled papers that could only have been Vineet’s resume.
‘So, why don’t you start by telling me a little about yourself and your career?’
He spewed his well-rehearsed reply, starting with the small jobs he had held at first, but skipping over a couple which he hadn’t bothered to include in his CV.
She nodded throughout his speech, frowned a couple of times, as though she knew he was missing out vital details.
‘Tell me about the last project you were working on,’ she said, leafing through the pages in her hand.
A familiar sensation stirred in him. He drew in a deep breath, and answered her question. Halfway through, she turned the last page of his resume, and then tucked it away. That’s when he noticed the hollow of her throat, sparkling with the glow from the diamond pendant resting in its centre.
His heart pounded. He turned away. He couldn’t act on his desires, not now, not when his dream job stood within striking distance.
She plodded on, and asked him a technical question.
He placed a thoughtful finger on his chin, as though pondering his response. The light above threw her neckline into sharp relief. He cast a furtive glance at the window behind her. A grown man could easily hoist himself through it.
‘Do you know the answer?’ she asked.
‘Uh, um,’ he said, averting his eyes from her face.
Damn it, he couldn’t do this. He sprang up and pounced on her throat.
They found her twenty minutes later, her face resting on the laptop. Teeth marks grazed the base of her neck. Blood oozed from her jugular vein, on to the keys, seeping through the crevices between them. Ashish edged towards the open window, and peered out. The horizon held no sign of Vineet Singh.
AUTHOR BIO: Gargi Mehra writes fiction and humor pieces in a determined effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. She maintains a web presence at http://gargimehra.wordpress.com/