Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 16
Stories
Return to Sender
by James Maxey
Through the Blood
by Mette Ivie Harrison
Odd Jobs
by Josh Vogt
Mudlarks
by Kat Otis
Mean Spirited
by Edmund R. Schubert
Folk of the Fringe Serialization
America
by Orson Scott Card
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Odd Jobs
    by Josh Vogt
Odd Jobs
Artwork by Kevin Wasden

"According to your resume, Mr. Whisk, you spent five years as the Man in the Moon."

"That's right."

"After which, you had a short stint as an Easter Island statue."

"Correct."

"I see you've included a photo of yourself from that time."

"I tried to show my best side, sir."

"Then you applied for a department transfer and wound up as an extraterrestrial transmission beamed from the Cygnus X-1 star system."

"Exactly so."

"But that isn't your present position."

"No, sir."

"Apparently, you're now -- and please correct me if I read this wrong -- 'the calm before the storm.'"

"Spot on."

"Which storm, precisely?"

"Ah. That'd be telling. My work requires a bit of client confidentiality. Can't give folks too much warning."

"Would you at least explain how you go about doing this job?"

"I mostly sit in the corner and keep to myself. And I stay as quiet as possible."

"That explains your whispering."

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Whisk, it seems to me that all the jobs you've held are entirely made-up."

"But I've included contact information for my previous employers."

"I don't think my telephone service reaches outer space, tropical deities or forces of nature."

"You might want to switch providers then, sir."

"Is this some sort of prank, Mr. Whisk?"

"Why would you think that?"

"You've been smiling rather largely this whole time."

"I enjoy what I do, sir."

"Tormenting human resource recruiters?"

"No, sir. Odd jobs. Might say they're my life's calling."

"I'm sorry, but I should end this interview."

"Whatever for?"

"I can't take any of your experience seriously."

"Can't you at least check my references?"

"Mr. Whisk, your references include a ghost haunting the Strombardi castle which perches on the Heights of Ruin, a time traveler stuck in the thirty-second century, and the last living unicorn which you note as, and I quote, 'unseen in these lands, verily, upon 500 years.'"

"Yes, but it should be trotting through the flowered fields of Balesquey tomorrow. If you catch it before it peers into the Pool of Mirrors, I'm sure you'll get a stunning recommendation on my behalf. Besides, it'd do your soul a treat if you got a chance to meet it."

"Why's that?"

"Unicorns are great character witnesses."

"How so?"

"Well, if it lets you come up and pet it, than you're all right."

"And if you aren't 'all right'?"

"Then it gores you to death."

"Ah."

"With its one horn."

"Yes. I figured that part out on my own."

"That's progress, sir."

"Mr. Whisk, you're either fully mad, in which case I don't know why I'm wasting my time, or you've led one of the most remarkable lives I've heard of."

"I would never waste your time, sir."

"Is there at least any way you could prove you are capable of such extraordinary occupations?"

"Please accept a sample of my work."

"Exactly what is this, Mr. Whisk?"

"That jar, sir, contains a piece of the moon's gravity. Consider it a gift. I took the liberty of painting the gravity red so you could actually see it within the glass."

"It's smaller than I would've imagined."

"It always is, sir. But surely you feel its pull."

"Even if I can, what am I supposed to do with this?"

"Anything you wish. Give yourself a little gravitas at the next office party, perhaps. Ah . . . but I wouldn't put it too close to those paperweights."

"I appreciate the warning. Now, let's pretend I take this seriously, even for a moment. I'm still unconvinced you qualify for a position here. Do you understand the expertise this facility requires?"

"Of course."

"Based on what you list here, I should turn you away this instant."

"That would make me extremely sad, sir."

"Why do you want a job here, of all places?"

"The storm I am calming before is about to break, thus putting me out of employment. Even the most transient of us enjoy steady pay."

"Mr. Whisk, our particle accelerator is soon to go into operation as the largest in the world. We have the highest caliber of engineers and physicists already on task."

"I'm aware of that. I thought your holding this interview meant there were opportunities still available."

"We've several slots open on the team, yes, but even our janitorial staff comes from top-ranked graduate programs. I can't think of a single opening that would take advantage of your peculiar, er, background. Neither do you state a specific job for which you're applying."

"I'm adaptable. Though I admit there is one position I'm keen for."

"Do you have a doctorate?"

"Please. Do you know how much time people waste studying to become what they want to be, rather than simply becoming what they want to be? I am a man of action."

"But without the required education, what role could you possibly fill?"

"You have to think outside the box on this one, sir. Actually, it'd be better if you thought inside. Inside the tube, that is."

"Wait. You can't possibly mean . . ."

"I see the gleam of enlightenment in your eye, sir."

"You want to be brought on as . . . a particle? In the accelerator?"

"There you have it."

"I must be mad to consider this, but how would you work as a particle?"

"I can come on for a probationary period of three months, during which I will help establish your research team as one of the top in the nation, if not the world. If you aren't satisfied with my efforts after ninety days, I'll gladly resign."

"You're serious?"

"Entirely. You want axions? Tachyons? A black hole to ignite its dark flame on your monitors? I can do that for you. Do you want to be the first to discover the fundamental particles that compose quarks and leptons? Or Higgs particles by the bottleful? Breakthroughs in antimatter production and handling? I can do that too. You've built this center on the shoulders of intellectual giants. I can make you the giants. You won't regret hiring me, sir, not for one nanosecond. I shall be the light at the end of your accelerator . . . or tunnel, if you prefer traditional imagery."

"A very passionate speech."

"Thank you, sir."

"And you did it entirely while whispering. Impressive."

"I won't deny it took a little bit of practice."

"You do know several of the particles you named are either theoretical, or believed impossible to exist in the known universe?"

"And how much of the universe do we really know, sir? Isn't that the point behind this complex in the first place? Discovery? Exploration? Transformation?"

"Your enthusiasm begins to sway me."

"It's good to know there's at least one reasonable person left in the world."

"I'm actually of a mind to hire you, just to see what will happen. I have one last question, though I'm almost afraid to ask it."

"You'll deprive us both if you don't."

"All right, then. What are you, Mr. Whisk?"

"Oh. That's quite the question, you're right. You've heard the phrase, 'the details will take care of themselves'?"

"Yes. But I've also heard the Devil's in the details."

"If he is, I've yet to meet him. That's what I am, though. A Detail. We fill in the cracks of existence and meddle behind the scenes. We're crop circles and mysterious lights in the sky. We're Bigfoot's hair samples. We're spirit orbs in photographs, blacked-out lines on government files and wormholes that let you go back in time to kill your grandfather. We make sure life stays interesting."

"There are others like you?"

"Quite a few. You'd be surprised how many of the universe's grand mysteries would turn out to be unbearably dull without a little personal attention. Some of us just enjoy taking an active role in what we end up doing."

"I suppose there's always room for a side order of chaos."

"Yes, sir. Wouldn't the world be so boring if we truly understood how everything worked?"

"Mr. Whisk?"

"Yes?"

"You're hired, on one condition."

"Which is . . .?"

"That I don't get gored."

"No promises, sir. Determining the purity of a soul is a bit outside of my expertise."

"You can conjure black holes, but can't convince a unicorn to overlook a few past transgressions?"

"Black holes are much less complicated than immortal souls, sir. But I'm certain you two will get along grandly, seeing you both have histories of judging the worth of others."

"There is a fine line between irony and mockery, Mr. Whisk."

"I know. I once was that line."

"Of course you were."


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