Lou J Berger lives in Denver with three kids, one sheltie, and a kink-tailed cat with odd habits. This story marks his seventh appearance in Galaxy’s Edge.

Lou J Berger

The recruiter indicated a chair in front of his desk, and I sat down in it. I put my purse on the floor beside me and sat up as straight as I could, knees locked primly, feet flat on the floor.

He read my resume, twirling a pencil in his right hand.

I'd interviewed at three other jobs that week, and this was my fourth. It was a sultry Wednesday afternoon, and traffic sounds from three floors below rolled through a partially open window.

I needed this job.

He broke his silence, frowning at my resume. "We need an assassin who can assimilate quickly, get into a new company and become the perfect employee." He glanced at me, piercing blue eyes boring into my green ones. "You can do this?"

I inclined my head. "I've held quite a few positions over the past ten years or so. You'll note the variety of skillsets."

He read further. "Book sales. Auto mechanic. Steward." He squinted and waved the resume helplessly. "What in the world is a sea baker?"

I sighed. Sometimes you have to spell it out. "I baked tarts, croissants, muffins, and pastries on board a cruise ship. I was pretty good, actually, despite never having gone to culinary school."

He grunted and kept reading.

That had been an interesting job. I kept the troughs full for the passengers, and they wallowed their way from one end to the next, loading up their plates for eighteen hours a day. They never noticed the hired help, never noticed me.

I poisoned six people during my tenure as a ship's pâtissier.

He put the resume down on the desk and steepled his fingers. "You have the chameleon approach, I'll give you that. This role requires you to go into a software company as a C-level executive, with all the right buzzwords and an MBA from Cornell.  You think you can pull that off?"

I cleared my throat, shimmied in my seat for effect, and frowned. "The quarterly expectations have been unsteady over the past two years, but we are implementing a new paradigm with the rollout of our next iteration of the gold software standard, and should have rock-solid numbers in place by release."

A slow grin split his face. "Well. That will do quite nicely."

He stood up and walked around the desk to a filing cabinet set against the near wall, which he unlocked with a key, dangling on the end of a chain he kept around his neck. From inside the top drawer he pulled a small, gunmetal-gray box, which he set carefully on his desk.

"Final test," he said with a little kid's smile. "Inside this box is a loaded Luger. I want you to unlock the box and shoot me in the head before a minute has gone by.”

I uncoiled from my chair and kicked my right foot sharply, flinging my shoe into the corner. Pivoting on my left foot, I slammed my right one into his chest, knocking him backward. I grabbed the box, which was too light to be holding a gun, and lifted it above my head.

The recruiter, sprawled against the wall with the wind knocked out of him, held up a hand in supplication. His eyes were like saucers. "Wait!" he gurgled hoarsely. I brought the box down, hard.

"Stop!" squawked the intercom box on his desk.

I stopped it an inch from his pomaded, black hair. I panted, heart pounding with adrenaline, wondering who keeps an intercom in an interview office.

"Miss Jones, please place the box on the desk. You've passed the test."

I straightened, dropped the box on the desk and smoothed my skirt. I hobbled over to the corner, slipped my toes back into my shoe, and sat.

Twenty seconds had gone by.

An elderly man entered the room, extended a kindly hand, and helped the recruiter to his feet.

I ignored a small stain on the front of the recruiter's pants. He must be new to this game.

After he'd limped out of the room, the elderly man sat in the recruiter's chair. He twinkled at me, and placed a heavy forefinger on my resume.

"How many confirmed kills in all of these roles?"

I gazed at him for a long moment. "Hire me and I'll tell you."

He chuckled. "Okay, the job is yours."

"Almost thirty-eight."

"Impressive. When can you start?"

"I already have."

I shot him between the eyes with a gun I keep in my thigh holster.

"Now it's thirty-eight."


Copyright by © 2017 Lou J Berger





The Editor's Word

The Death of Arthur Owsley
by Stephen Lawson

Tenure Track
by J.P. Sullivan

Rite of Passage
by Jody Lynn Nye

Too Deep Thought
by Edward M. Lerner

Termination Pending
by Rachelle Harp

Hired Gun
by Lou J Berger

“Hello,” Said the Stick
by Michael Swanwick

Disappearing Days
by Leena Likitalo

Karmic Chameleons
by Paul Di Filippo

The Spires of Greme
by Kay Kenyon

This Knotted Dust
by Gregor Hartmann

Late Night at the Wonder Bar
by Gordon Eklund

by Jack McDevitt

Tony Weisskopf
by Joy Ward

Daughter of Elysium (Part 1)
by Joan Slonczewski

by Robert J. Sawyer

Science Column
by Gregory Benford

Recommended Books
by Bill Fawcett & Jody Lynn Nye








Copyright © Arc Manor LLC 2017. All Rights Reserved. Galaxy's Edge is an online magazine published every two months (January, March, May, July, September, November) by Phoenix Pick, the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers.