Welcome to my continuing web serial. If you are just joining us for the first time, a complete chapter list is available by clicking here.
As always, your comments are appreciated. The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange appears as part of #fridayflash and #tuesdayserial, both excellent twitter hashtags where you will discover many exciting writers.
On with the fun….
The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
(In which the Harpies declare war on the Furies and Ms Pinky is out-monstered)
Arriving early at the Exchange in order to prepare for a day of interviews for Alice’s rescue mission, Fiona found herself battling through an unruly throng of applicants who were milling around the entrance.
‘Excuse me please,’ she shouted, pushing a couple of smelly ghouls to one side, ‘coming through!’ She reached the top of the stairs where Neil was trying to keep some zombies from blocking the way in.
‘Morning Neil, having fun?’
‘It’s been like this since half seven,’ said Neil, ‘you did say there was no pay involved for these jobs, didn’t you?’
‘Yes, of course, and what the hell is that smell?’
Neil pointed to the top step.
‘Unicorn shit. I sent it round to the park to finish its business. In the meantime,’ Neil bent down with a dustpan, ‘this will do nicely for mum’s roses.’
Fiona turned to fend off a ragged zombie who was attempting to squeeze between her legs.
‘Oi! Worm food, back off! Go and get some breakfast and come back in an hour.’
The zombie stood up and smiled. Its lower mandible promptly fell out and clattered down the stairs.
‘I guess that means you won’t be eating anything then,’ said Fiona, ‘but you still have to wait with everyone else.’
‘Blimey,’ she said, locking the door behind them, ‘we haven’t been this busy since positive discrimination for monsters started.’
Neil quickly removed the steaming unicorn dung from the reception area and deposited it outside the fire escape.
‘You’re not going to leave that there are you?’ said Fiona, ‘it’s going to be a busy day; you’re bound to forget.’
‘Don’t worry, I’ll get Bertie to remind me. I hope you don’t mind, but I asked him to drop by later. All hands on deck and all that.’
‘The more the merrier,’ said Fiona as she arranged some chairs in reception, ‘Ms Pinky will be here by nine. She’s exhausted, poor monster; Alice stayed asleep for hours and Ms Pinky had to fend off her nightmare army of polyester grannies all night.’
‘Well, at least we can form a proper plan now,’ said Neil, ‘how long did Ms Pinky say we had?’
‘Until Thursday, the next full moon.’
Neil tutted loudly.
‘Well that counts me out.’
‘No it doesn’t.’
‘But I’ll be locked up in my containment cage.’
‘Not this month,’ said Fiona, ‘you’ll be in the rescue party; we need you to stop that werewolf getting to Alice.’
‘What if I get to Alice first?’ he said quietly, ‘you know, in a bad way.’
Fiona placed a hand on his shoulder.
‘You said you thought you could control it, and I trust you.’
Neil nodded and smiled.
‘Thank you, I’ll do my best.’
‘I know you will,’ said Fiona looking at the clock, ‘right, we’d better sort ourselves out; can you start with the animals whilst I interview the undead?’
‘Ok,’ said Neil, ‘what about monsters?’
‘Ms Pinky can deal with them. Oh, I nearly forgot: I asked The Green Man to help out with the admin; I’ve a feeling things are about to get really busy.’
By eleven o’clock, the staff of the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange had between them interviewed fourteen zombies, three gaunt looking vampires, an assortment of ghouls and ghosts, three covens of haggard witches, the unicorn, a griffin and various monsters of indeterminate origin.
Fiona sighed, stretched her arms and headed for her office door; it was time for coffee.
‘What about me?’
Fiona looked around; there was no one in the room.
Fiona walked to where she had heard the voice and immediately felt a chill pass through her.
‘Ouch! You people! Always doing that.’
‘Walking through us.’
‘Poltergeists, of course. The name’s Barry, Barry Dodsworth.’
‘I see,’ said Fiona, sitting back down, ‘any special talents Mr Dodsworth?’
There was no answer for a moment.
Fiona leapt from her chair and screamed.
‘Bloody hell!’ She caught her breath for a second. ‘That was very good! You’re hired. See The Green Man on your way out please.’
Fiona entered the reception where Ms Pinky was interviewing a wiry middle-aged woman.
‘Sorry to interrupt,’ said Fiona, ‘just nipping up to Gino’s. Did you want anything Ms Pinky?’
The monster looked up at Fiona. She had large sagging purple bags under her blood-shot eyes.
‘Quadruple-shot latte then,’ said Fiona.
‘Thank you,’ said Ms Pinky, ‘this is my old friend Mildred, by the way.’
‘Pleased to meet you,’ said Fiona, ‘although you are supposed to be conducting interviews today Ms Pinky.’
‘I am,’ said Ms Pinky indignantly, ‘show her Mildred.’
The small woman leant her head back and opened her mouth. Her jaw appeared to break as both halves continued round until they had turned completely inside out, swallowing her body entirely. Ten inch spikes popped out over the round bundle of flesh, making her look like an alarmed puffer fish.
‘Impressive,’ said Fiona, looking for the woman’s eyes, ‘err, coffee, Mildred?’
Just then, a scuffle broke out in the waiting area; The Green Man was trying to separate two howling groups of wild-looking women, some of whose heads were writhing with serpents.
‘Excuse me ladies,’ said Fiona sternly, ‘we’ll have none of this nonsense in here thank you.’
‘They started it!’ screamed one of the snake-headed Furies, ‘Dog-ugly bitches; always butting in where they’re not wanted.
The Harpies began wailing in unison and rose into the air creating a mini-tornado in the process.
‘Just wait till Zeus hears about this outrage,’ yelled the most cosmetically-challenged of the three.
Fiona placed her hands firmly on her hips.
‘If anyone is talking to Zeus, it will be me. Now, if you don’t all put a sock in it this instant, none of you will be considered for this mission. Kapiche? The only person who should be making that level of noise is me,’ she said, heading for the door, ‘it’s been three hours since my last coffee, and my patience is wearing thin.’