I scanned the report, rubbing the sides of my forehead as I read. I was sitting at my desk in my office, trying to get caught up on paperwork. I didn’t know why I ever thought it was a good idea to start not one, but two businesses.
Medusa’s Demolitions pretty much tanked after only a few months, but my Erection company was doing so well I couldn’t keep up. I needed to hire more help, someone that could keep everything running smoothly when my personal life got in the way. The air conditioner kicked on, and I leaned back in my chair, enjoying the blast of cold air.
Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled my business was doing so well. I just didn’t like having to be such a big part of it.
There was a quick knock at the door, then it opened. “Sorry to disturb you, Medusa, but your inspection starts in thirty minutes. You asked for a reminder,” my office manager, Amy, said. She came to stand in front of my desk with Donna, my quality control manager, trailing behind her.
I sighed, glancing at the stack of resumes, wishing I hadn’t put off hiring someone for so long. “Thank you, Amy.”
Before Amy had a chance to respond, Donna cut in. “Medusa, we had a meeting an hour ago. This is the second time you’ve missed our appointment,” she said, sounding irritated.
“Can you shift all my appointments back three hours?” I asked Amy. “Oh, and start setting up interviews. Have them come in as soon as possible, please. Just pick the five that seem the most qualified, and we’ll start with them.” I gestured to the resumes.
Smiling, Amy replied, “Yes, of course.” Her eyes slid to Donna, and I could tell she wasn’t happy the woman had followed her in.
“Amy, can you work with Donna to set another appointment for later today?” I turned to Donna and asked, “If that works for you?”
Donna gave a curt nod and turned on her heel, leaving me alone with Amy. I let out another long sigh and dropped my head in my hands. “You know what? Hire three people.”
Amy gave me a small smile before saying, “We actually need five or six if you plan to keep everything running smoothly without you…even with you here.”
I looked at her guiltily. “I haven’t been doing a great job lately, have I?”
“Don’t worry about it. I even have some candidates in mind. I’ll take care of all of it,” Amy assured me.
I thanked her, apologizing several times for my absentmindedness, before making my way to the lobby and teleporting to the Tennant Towers building.
I stood at the sidewalk and scanned the area. Trees of all kinds dotted the landscape, shading almost the entire property. We left as much of the natural flora as we could, only removing what was necessary to lay the foundation. The effect was stunning.
I found the foreman at his desk in our trailer in the parking lot. I stuck my head in the doorway to let him know I was there. “Hey, Rory. You ready to start?” I asked. He was a little overweight, with auburn hair just starting to show his age.
He nodded as he stood and grabbed two hard hats. “Yeah.” He rubbed his hand over his face.
“Everything okay?” He looked like he was barely holding it together. He had dark circles under his eyes, and his clothes were wrinkled as if he’d dressed in a hurry.
He handed me a hard hat, and I put it on. He was quiet for a moment before answering, “For now. We’ve had one thing after another go wrong with this one.”
I pulled out my phone, quickly scanning the notes from the last site visit. “You’ve been on schedule, but I don’t have the cost report.”
Rory ran his hand through his hair, then motioned for me to walk with him. “Yeah, about that…it’s going to be over budget.”
“Okay. What else?” Sensing Rory’s discomfort, my snakes hissed. I knew whatever he was about to say wasn’t going to be good.
“We have guys refusing to come back. They think the building is cursed or haunted. I don’t even know.”
And there it was. “Did you say cursed?” I asked. I hated that word. It was a new building. It couldn’t be cursed.
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but a lot has gone wrong,” he said with a sigh.
“Not as ridiculous as you might think,” I muttered under my breath. Then, louder, I added, “Show me around and fill me in.”
As we walked, Rory explained some of the things that had his guys freaked out. It seemed like small things that were probably no more than bad luck, so I relaxed.
We made it through the building and to the penthouse without incident. Everything looked good, great actually. I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding. “I’ll get the final paperwork done and sent over tomorrow.”
Rory nodded, looking as relieved as I felt. He pushed the button to call the elevator and said, “I’ll get the final inspection set up with the city.”
“Sounds good.” We stepped into the elevator, and Rory pushed the button for the lobby. As the doors were sliding shut, I realized I didn’t have my files. I stuck my hand out to keep the doors from closing and said, “Keep it open. I just need to grab my bag.”
Suddenly, the elevator dropped. It was only an inch or two, but it had my heart pounding. “Is this thing safe?” I demanded.
Rory’s eyes were huge, but he insisted, “It does that sometimes. It should be fine. Just the building settling.”
I wasn’t sure who he was trying to convince himself or me. I hurried off to look for my messenger bag. I had only gone a few steps when I heard a horrible groaning noise. I turned just in time to see the elevator drop several feet. Rory let out a panicked shout. I rushed back, yelling, “Rory! Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Get me out of here!” Rory shrieked. The doors were still open, and he rushed to climb out. Just as he started to pull himself out, he dropped out of sight.
I jumped back, shocked. My heart hammered as I watched the numbers counting down. I couldn’t risk teleporting into something moving so quickly. I almost cried in relief when it stopped at twelve, then continued down at a slower rate.
Quickly teleporting to the lobby, I waited for the elevator. When the doors finally slid open, Rory rushed out, ignoring me, and headed straight out of the building. I hurried after him, reaching him as he climbed into a lifted Ford truck.
“Where are you going? Are you okay?” I asked, grabbing his arm.
“That’s the last straw. It’s not normal. None of this is normal! Shit like that keeps happening, and when we check it out, we won’t find any problems. This place is cursed. I’m sorry, but I quit,” Rory stated, pulling away from me and slamming his door.
“You don’t have to quit. Take two weeks of paid leave, and then I’ll move you to another site.” Instead of answering, he drove off, spinning the tires as he did. I’d give him some time to cool off and settle down before calling to offer him a bonus to stay on.
There wasn’t much I could say anyway. I didn’t think Rory was right about the building being cursed, but he was close. I knew it was Rose. I never thought she’d come after my businesses, though. Now that I knew she was, I’d have to go over every report to determine who had been affected and offer them compensation.
Contemplating what had just happened with Rory, I thought I might have to add hazard pay too. Maybe therapy.
Long after he disappeared from view, I stood staring after him, lost in my thoughts.