A group of writers in Chichester coming together once a month for inspiration, collaboration and sensation
Amber sat alone in the reception. It didn’t feel like other receptions such as the doctor’s surgery back at home. It felt more like an aircraft hanger, vast, empty. If Amber could choose a word or phrase to describe it she would say minimal. The space felt very daunting to her, it put her on edge.
A woman arrived from the elevator. Amber stood up and grasped the initiative.
“Oh hello! You must be Amber.”
“Yup that’s me.”
“Here’s your pass, I’m afraid you’ll have to show it to the guys at the gate to get through next time. Let’s get going.”
Amber and Judy’s footsteps echoed in the reception. Judy pushed the lift button the doors opened immediately.
“Next stop the Department. After you.”
Amber entered the lift, which had mirrors on both sides. Being the only two in the lift Amber looked at herself in the mirror as her image disappeared into the distance. Judy talked but Amber drifted off, she feigned interest by nodding and smiling. Nodding and smiling.
“You alright Amber?”
“Oh yeah fine thanks.”
The lift dinged. They had arrived
“Here we are.”
The lift doors opened to reveal a hall painted battleship grey with double doors at the end. Nothing else, Amber noticed. Judy swiped a card and pushed the doors open.
“Don’t worry you’ll get your Department ID shortly. We’re very keen on IDs here!” Judy joked. “Okay here we are. Welcome to the Department. This will be your workstation,” Judy pointed to an empty chair and computer. Straight down to business thought Amber. “We’ll get you to log onto the network, it may take a bit but we have your details so you should be fine. This is Tom, you’ll be working with him on the research.” Amber’s neighbour seemed more interested in his monitor.
“Hi, nice to meet you.” Tom raised a hand before he swiveled round in his chair and faced Amber. “If you’re nervous don’t worry about it. A year ago I stood in the same spot you’re standing in now. The staff here are nice and friendly, they helped me a lot when I needed it.”
“Right I better give her the tour, don’t you think Tom?”
“Most certainly.” Tom turned his attention back to the monitor.
Going round the office the Department was everything Amber expected: water cooler, tea and coffee dispenser with everyone’s own quirky mugs, meeting rooms with glass walls and out of the window the City. Before long they had made a lap around the office and were back at Amber’s workstation.
“Right I just have to ask Tom about something so I’ll get you to log onto the system okay?’ Judy turned her attention to Tom.
Sat at her workstation Amber got out a notepad and flicked to her login details, which she punched into the keyboard. The computer was taking far too long logging onto the system. Taking out a newspaper she had bought earlier Amber looked at the pirate doodle she had drawn on it. She smiled.
“We’re going to need you to do a literature review Amber. Since we’re using a qualitative methodology we require you to take into consideration the themes highlighted when we last discussed the research. Could you do that? We ideally require about two hundred and fifty words on at least ten articles. You’ve got the necessary log in details to access the relevant journals?” Tom outlined the day’s work.
“Sure.” Nodded Amber.
“Okay then. Right everyone let’s get going. If you have any questions please just give me a shout.”
Everyone returned to their to workstations. As the computer logged on Amber glanced over and looked out the window. Being on the thirty-seventh floor the window gave a wide view of the City stretched far out into the horizon. A jobs a job, Amber thought. Sure it maybe just another unpaid internship but it could lead to a job. A job, it would mean moving out of her parent’s house, maybe into the City. Hopefully it will stop the funny looks she gets when she tells people she’s unemployed. No, she thought, I’m just being paranoid. I’ll be fine. I’ll get there eventually.
The City however depressed Amber, all those people and no camaraderie, none at all. Millions of people and the only thing holding them together was the physical space of the City. Amber fished out the newspaper she bought earlier and folded it. She fashioned herself a pirate hat, which she placed on her head. Amber leaned back on her chair, she closed her eyes and began thinking of the sea before raising a smile.
“Are you alright Amber?” Tom touched her on the shoulder.
Landing on a deserted tropical isle Amber the Witch Captain of the Caribbean Seas promptly set about ordering her men to their respective tasks. She knew that she could command her men to do any task her mind could dream of from menial tasks to the possibility of using them as lovers when loneliness struck on her ship.
Captain Amber was a tough but fair leader. This respect was hard earned from her quick wits, shrewdness and charisma. She had headed the coup that had earned her the captaincy of the ship, which involved dealing with the last captain with extreme prejudice, a fate richly deserved according to her and her co-conspirators. The share from subsequent treasure and booty was generously distributed amongst her crew. Those who doubted whether a woman could captain a ship weren’t directly dealt with Captain Amber such was the respect shown by the rest of the crew, rebels were promptly dealt with, they were never seen again.
She was also very careful. Compared to others she only had a couple of wounds from various blades rather than the bullet riddled bodies of her pirate brethren. Ignorant and insecure commentators believed that her carefulness was due to lack of bravery and courage and again pointed to the fact she was a woman. Amber didn’t care. Everything must be done to persevere, especially if one’s life is on the line. Those commentators were indeed foolish, they would be dead, gone and forgotten whereas Amber would grow older and wiser with a grand reputation that would make her legend: Captain Amber of the Black Duchess, Queen of the Caribbean Sea.
“We’ve struck treasure!” bellowed one of her crew.
“Is Amber here? I mean there’s today’s newspaper on her workstation as per usual. Anyone?”
“No I haven’t seen her.” Tom chipped in.
“I’ll better have a look around then. For crying out loud.” Judy asked Amber’s neighbours but they didn’t know. Going through the Department Judy glanced into empty meeting rooms…nothing. Surely Amber wasn’t in a meeting? She’s only an intern; the only meetings she should attend are ones with Judy herself. Judy returned to Tom.
“That girl. I mean she was alright for the first two weeks but she really slipped after that.”
“She’s not too bad.” Tom turned round in his chair. “I mean the quality of those literature reviews were up to standard. It’s a shame. Still she’s not as bad as other interns we’ve had. At least she turned up.”
“Hmmm.” Another round thought Judy. She gave up after five minutes. It’s no use. For Christ’s sake.
I guess there’s only the stationary cupboard left. Opening the door Amber jumped out letting out of fierce yell that startled Judy. It was a lot for Judy to take in, Amber was dressed in full pirate regalia, breathing heavy. The stench itself was quite foul. Judy couldn’t place it; it smelt of rancid tobacco and alcohol.
“Amber?! What the hell is going on?” Judy noticed something on the floor. “Are those bottles of alcohol?
“Amber…” Judy noticed the object held in Amber’s hand. “Is that a wea—?”
Amber drove the cutlass deep into Judy. The cutlass wasn’t that effective, it didn’t go straight through as intended. Judy felt the cutlass, which was stuck firmly in her stomach, she groaned as blood slowly soaked her shirt before she fell to the floor. Amber pinned Judy down with her foot as she removed the cutlass, which was removed with difficulty. Judy was alive but bled heavily. Got…to…stay…alive she thought in quiet desperation. A startled hush consumed the office as many stood and peered over their workstations in shock.
“Call a ambulance!” Screamed a woman.
Tom decided something had to be done, he felt closer to Amber than anyone else in the Department. He got up from his workstation and moved closer and closer.
“Amber…Amber calm down…it’ll be alright if you just…put down…the sword.”
“Ah! ‘Tis not a sword landlubber tis but a cutlass! One of the finest I have! I won it after a duel with a Dutchman where I gutted the bastard good an’ proper ah!”
Closer…closer. “Okay…okay just put down the cut—.”
Tom managed to land a fist in Amber’s jaw which sent her splayed onto the floor. He thought that he should keep her pinned to the floor. Fortunately Amber was out cold, unavailable to do anything.
“Bloody hell.” Tom shook his head.