1 Chapter One – Through The Glowing Green Mist

Carrie Hatchett's interviewer, Ms. Bass, had no eyebrows. Or, rather, she had pretend eyebrows. About halfway between the naked ridges where her natural eyebrows once grew and her hairline were two thinly drawn, semi-circular lines. A cloud of bouffant grey hair circled her head.

Carrie watched the pretend eyebrows to see if they moved along with the rest of Ms. Bass' face, but they did not. No expression seemed to register on them. They were independent, only supervising the action going on below. Carrie was sure of it because she watched for several minutes while Ms. Bass' voice droned in her ears.

But then a sharp frown drew the eyebrows down until they were almost within a natural distance of her eyes.

"Ms. Hatchett? Ms. Hatchett? Did you hear what I just said? Are you listening?"

Carrie, startled, forced her gaze down to Ms. Bass' face, and flinched at her stony look. "What? I'm sorry? What did you say?"

"I said, your CV doesn't mention any call centre experience."

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"That's right, I've never worked in a call centre." Carrie fidgeted. The rent on her new flat was expensive. She needed this job. And she wanted it. For once in her life, she was going to be a success. She was determined.

Ms. Bass lowered Carrie's CV to the table. "You are aware the position you're interviewing for is supervisor of a call centre?"

"Yes."

"But you've never worked in a call centre before?"

"No."

"Ms. Hatchett, do you even know what goes on in call centres?"

"People..." Carrie recalled the office cubicles she had passed when she came in, which had been full of people wearing headsets, speaking into microphones, and watching computer screens. "...take calls?" She twisted a ring around her middle finger. She should have done some research before coming to the interview, but she had been busy unpacking and getting Toodles and Rogue settled into their new home.

Ms. Bass sighed and leafed through Carrie's CV. She frowned. "What's Bagua Zhang?"

"It's a martial art. I'm a—"

Waving a hand to silence her, the woman cleared her throat. "So, you've worked in a florist's, been a professional dog walker, spent a summer selling ice-cream and worked as a..." She removed her glasses and squinted, moving the paper away from her face. "A birthday telegram girl?"

"Yes, but the clean kind. You know, teddy bears, rabbits, Disney princesses, that kind of thing. Not the..." Carrie swallowed. "...the other kind." She pulled her skirt closer to her knees.

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