Multiple Choice, Multiple Guess

Multiple Choice, Multiple Guess

The hotel conference room had a small line of people waiting outside it. Four of the Shorty’s were the first to arrive. They each had decided individually to show up early in order to et a leg up on the others. They didn’t expect that they would all show up exactly as early as each other. They wasted their early arrival bickering with each other.

Next in line was “Starbucks Guy,” the man at Starbucks who interacted with SAVIOR recently. He was behind the bickering Shorty’s and looked a bit confused and unsure. He was still in his uniform, clearly coming here straight from work. Behind him stood a balding, middle-aged man who looked stoned. Next was a robot in some disrepair, and ten weird humanoids who were either aliens or mutants.

Promptly at 5:00 pm a woman walked up into the line. She was in her late 20’s, wearing heels, business attire, a lab coat, glasses, and her hair was in a tight, neat bun.

From inside the conference room Jake eyed the folk in line to see if any of them looked like they were undercover. Snake Person stood near him, preparing the room for the tests they would be giving shortly. Only the woman stood out to Jake clearly as a plant. She was trying way too hard to not be suspicious in a way that made her obviously suspicious. Jake decided she would get the hard test. In fact, all of them except Starbucks Guy would get it.

There were three test difficulties Jake had prepared for this search for his next assistant. A “high school” level of difficulty, a “college” level of difficulty, and a “Shorty” level of difficulty. The “Shorty” test was designed to be the most challenging, as people would need to have actual experience in order to pass.

Jake walked out to introduce himself to everyone in line and talked a bit about Jake Thompson LLC. Then he told them, “This job will consist of many different hats. Some that you will be wearing include: lab analyst, research analyst, and personal assistant. This job will require top secrecy as well as perseverance.” He glanced at the woman in a lab coat to gauge her reaction. She didn’t even bat an eye. Jake continued with the Thomas Edison bull about failing and trying over and over. He ended it with, “We will be conducting the written exam part of the interview, after which you are free to stay until we find the results. At that point several if not all of you will be excused from the process. The lucky few will be chosen for an oral interview. Jake Thompson LLC. holds high standards so there is the possibility none of you are selected with that, please take a seat and leave all personal belongings on that table. Anything else will be deemed cheating and will be instant disqualification.”

After the speech two of the aliens or mutants briefly squelched in response. The Shorty’s entered and went to sit down in the same seat. They got in a small fight with each other before spreading far out, away from each other. The stoned man looked a little confused then just shrugged and sat down in a seat. “Starbucks Guy” was looking at all the really weird things around with a bit of concern, but remembering his personal invitation also took a seat and sat down. The robot left, dejectedly, but all the others found a seat.

The woman in the labcoat, Jake noticed, was wearing high tech glasses capable of recording, sending, and receiving both video and audio. Jake quietly informed Snake Person as the tests were passed out. Everyone got a “Shorty” test except for Starbucks Guy, who received a “High School” one. Snake Person told them to start. Jake sat back and just watched the lab coat woman take the test for a bit, then scrutinized the aliens or mutants to make sure none of them were Bounty Hunters. Snake Person informed Jake that he recognized two of them as aliens which Jake helped in the past with disguise projectors. Now that it was pointed out, Jake did recognize the tech on them.

Satisfied, Jake went back to dealing with the woman in the labcoat. She was intently taking her test. Quietly Jake jury-rigged his radio earpiece to pick up any signals being sent or received. Once he put it back in his ear he could hear a familiar voice talking.

“…like a kid’s test, probably for his stupid clones of my dead brother. The answer to #3 is A, #4 is the square root of Pi, #5… ‘Who are the most annoying women in the universe?’ Ugh, he’s got to be referring to Althea, Asmoria, Aemalia, Aleska, Amara, and… shit, who’s the 6th Empress…? Arcadia. #6…” Jake recognized the woman talking as his estranged granddaughter, Autumn.

Jake walked around the room and stopped at each other person’s desk to look at their tests. He listened to Autumn continue to give answers to the labcoat woman while he examined the others. The Shorty’s were doing… okay. #1 was doing slightly better than the others. They all seemed like they’ll pass with a D, but Shorty #1 may be a D+ or even a C-. Starbucks Guy was concentrating like this was a hard test. He didn’t know many of the answers but he was trying to answer what he could, and putting “I don’t know” for the others.

The stoned man looked completely stumped. He looked over the test twice with a very confused look on his face. Then he started to answer all the questions completely randomly. The other beings weren’t faring much better. Their answers all looked roughly 20% to 50% right, at best.

Once he got to the labcoat woman he stood there and watched her fill out the answers based on what he could continue to hear Autumn tell her. Autumn also coached her on how to act, telling her to make sure she’s not answering too fast and other bits of advice to make it look like she was really thinking about the questions. Jake did notice that a couple answers were actually filled out by her before Autumn could actually give her the answer. They looked correct. One question Autumn gave her the wrong answer to. The woman paused for a moment, lifted up the glasses like she was wiping her eye and quickly marked the right answer. She turned the page before lowering her glasses. Autumn continued her advice. “He’s probably watching all of you. Be careful.”

At the second wrong answer Autumn gives, the woman took the glasses off entirely and set them aside. She began answering the questions on her own, and doing pretty well at it. Jake could hear his granddaughter panic. “Surges? Surges? Amanda! Shit, she’s going on her own.” Then the earpiece went silent.

There was a small commotion in the back as Snake Person threw three of the aliens or mutants out for cheating off each other. Jake used his earpiece to begin talking to Autumn on their frequency. “Hey Autumn if you want you can come in and apply for grandpa’s position. You don’t need a proxy.”

Amanda froze in place, her pencil stopped mid-answer, as she heard what Jake just said. As nonchalantly as she could she slowly picks up the glasses to put them back on. Autumn was speaking in a low voice, as if she was trying not to be overheard, “Yeah? You know that ship sailed years ago. I’m only helping Amanda because that’s all I’m allowed to do now, thanks to what you did and your stupid bill.”

Jake said both into the radio and to the woman in the room, “Amanda, do wish to share your directive?” Jake had his portal gun out in his hands and was fiddling with it behind his back. Everyone except Shorty #1 and Starbucks Guy paused their test in order to pay attention to what was happening.

Over the earpiece Autumn said, “Don’t tell him anything Surges!”

As calm as she could muster, Amanda told him, “I came here to apply to be your assistant. My bosses thought I would need some help. I didn’t. But they thought that.”

Autumn yelled, “Hey!”

Amanda continued. “Triton is interested in what I can learn from you. In turn, what they can learn from you. You would never work with them before and you never gave them an opportunity like this.” Jake got the sense that she was being honest, mostly from how Autumn was reacting to it all.

The stoned guy suddenly blurted out, “Wait, is that what all this is? Oh boy,” he laughed. “I’m in the wrong place! I thought this was my special license renewal!” He crumpled up his test and stood up to walk out.

Jake turned to him. “Sir that license renewal is behind the divider. Follow Snake Person.”

“Oh!” The guy looked confused, then relieved when Snake Person uncamouflaged from the wall.

“Follow me, Human Male.”

Snake Person led the man into another area. One of the aliens or mutants picked up the crumpled test the stoned man left behind and ate it. It got a thoughtful look on its face as it was chewing and quickly began changing its own answers.

Over the radio, Autumn said, “Dammit, I told them this would never work.”

Jake took Amanda’s test, walked away, and returned with a replacement. It was another “Shorty” test, this one marked Version B. “No cheating this time,” Jake said to her. He reached out to take her glasses. Amanda handed him the glasses and took the test. Immediately she began reading it.

“Just let her go already, Grandpa,” Jake heard Autumn say on the radio. “She can’t do this. She doesn’t deserve to have you mess with her like this.”

Jake simply responded, “If you come back and give me a real second chance I’ll fail her right now for you.”

There was silence for a few moments from Autumn. Amanda nervously looked at Jake, having clearly heard what he just said. Finally Autumn spoke up. “I’m not that person anymore. You haven’t been either. Not for a long time. It’s not that easy.” Another pause, then she resignedly said, “Just do whatever. I don’t care.” Static came over the radio as she disconnected.

Jake was already moving on, thinking about how many he could hire. When he didn’t speak or say anything else, Amanda went back to taking the new test. She was doing about as well on this one as she was doing on the other one.

Once the tests were complete, Snake Person graded them. All the aliens or mutants had solid F grades. Somehow, the one who ate the stoner’s test got an F-. Shorty #1 received a C, while the other Shorties received a D-. Shorty #1 smugly made sure they all knew. Starbucks Guy also received a solid F, but Snake Person also noted he maybe deserved an E for effort, and an H for honesty. Amanda had the best grade of all of them with a B+.

Jake didn’t care about the aliens or mutants, but he resolved after today to make the Shorties assistants again, but pay them in room and board only. Starbucks Guy and the woman, Amanda, he intended to hire them both. He had plans.


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