Brent Tucker wandered down the wide hall of upper management royalty, toward the silver-spackled door marked Chief Executive Officer - Barbara Perkins. Shuffling slowly didn’t make his destination any less inevitable.
He pawed at the lapels of his shirt, unable to remember a time in his life he’d felt quite this much like melting into a puddle of nerves. Which was unfortunate, really. After all, he worked in a competitive business, where aggression was key to success; as a result, he’d made a few mistakes over his five years with the company. But who hadn’t? All the greats had to take their risks and the knocks that came with it.
But this time, he just may have cooked his goose, without any professional recourse to get out of it. Blowing the McConnell deal the way he did two weeks before was unabashed and foolish in hindsight; there was no one else to blame but himself and his occasionally untethered ambition. It had taken him a long time even to claw his way to his current position, and that took a certain amount of give and take. That, he decided, was what he’d have to tell Perkins.
Ms. Barbara Perkins, the owner of the company and effectively his entire future career, now that he’d been called up to meet her to discuss his recent failing and the resulting consequences of his actions. He’d heard ghost stories of other employees who made similar slip-ups, sometimes not even as serious as his, who’d all been forced into a meeting with the thirty-five-year-old brunette wunderkind of a woman who’d made herself queen of the castle within ten years of working here. Only four years older than Brent, but more successful than he could ever even daydream of achieving. Those employees who came to see her for disciplinary action were evidently often fired, their names never coming up again in industry conversation.
Brent hoped he wasn’t sweating too visibly. He hoped against hope that Ms. Perkins could see reason and the same fate didn’t await him as his predecessors, whatever had become of them. All it took was rationality and a touch of charm, right? Before he could knock on the door, a voice chimed in loudly from beyond.
“It’s open,” Ms. Perkins called. “Come in, Mr. Tucker.”
He swallowed a softball-sized lump in his throat and entered her room. The floor-length windows overlooking the bustled cityscape, not to mention the black-tiled, expansive floor space, made the walk from the door to Ms. Perkins’ desk arduous like nothing else in his life before.
“Maybe I should just… take a seat, ma’am?” Brent asked, hoping to come out of the gate with his assertive side displayed. Though he’d yet to meet the woman one-on-one, he’d heard plenty of rumors that Ms. Perkins didn’t tolerate quitters in any facet of life. Whatever that meant. How many facets could there be?
“I don’t think that will be necessary, Mr. Tucker,” Ms. Perkins declared. The dark-haired tycoon leaned back in her high-arched leather swivel chair behind the mahogany desk. Her manicured index finger gingerly tapped her chin as she studied him with piercing chocolate-hued eyes. “You may recall, we’re only here to see that equal consequences are dealt for the recent lack of professionalism in your record.”
Brent’s shoulders sunk. She didn’t even want him to sit; he was surely fired.
“What you can do instead, Mr. Tucker, is come around to my side of the desk.”
Cocking his eyebrow, the man twiddled his thumbs.
“Over here, to my side of the desk. I’m certain your ears still work, even if your judgment is occasionally impaired when it comes to your job,” Ms. Perkins said. She didn’t need to snap, nor even snarl in her tone; the words stung plenty on their own. Her slender finger pointed imperiously to the floor.
“All right,” Brent sighed, trudging slowly around the desk. What was the harm now? Maybe if he played this right, she at least wouldn’t write him a scathing performance review and blacklist him from the industry for good. “Ms. Perkins, ma’am… I’d just like you to know, I regret the decisions I made which may have cost the company money. I admit that fully. But I’d also like you to know-”
“Your explanations and excuses aren’t necessary at this time, Mr. Tucker,” the woman intoned. She wasn’t even looking at him now, but rather rummaging with the drawer on the side of her desk. “Just stand here beside me. Today, if possible.”
Silenced at last, Brent complied, and came to stand directly in front of his intimidating boss in her thigh-bearing skirt and calf-hugging nude nylons. This woman had the power to make or break his career, right here and now. It was vital he not slip up again in this conversation. Above all, he had to remain level-headed.
It was at the precise moment of this decision that Brent was blinded by a flash of opalescent light from an unseen source in his boss’s hand, which seared his corneas. He gasped, covering his eyes, and stumbled forward. However, rather than falling directly over Ms. Perkins and her chair, he became lost in a tangle of fabric. He wasn’t so much falling as tumbling, his head swimming as he spun through the swishing cloth.
Only upon landing on his back did the man register he was naked. And, as the tents of dark slack-colored fabric were pried away by a pair of enormous French-manicured tree trunks, he understood at last that he hadn’t fallen. He’d merely shrunken, straight down into the tunnel of his own clothes, and was now standing at a tiny fraction of his previous height in front of the looming, reclined visage of the beautiful and terrifying Ms. Perkins, now comparable in size to the very building where she was CEO.
“Holy shit…” Brent breathed. He clutched his cheeks, confirming that was, in fact, not dreaming. Of course, he wasn’t. Clambering to his feet, he only succeeded in tripping backward on the uneven terrain of his discarded pants where they lay in a nest at the feet of his boss. “Holy shit!”