“Richard, I’d like you to meet Blake Johansson. He’s our new commercial division salesman. He comes to us with 16 years of experience in the sales industry.”
“Hello Blake. I hope you like it here at Allied Industries. We’ve got a pretty good team at the helm. Our previous commercial salesman was tops in his field but everyone has to retire at some point, right? We’ll all miss his quality leadership but I look forward to seeing the new ideas you bring to the table. So. Do you bear…”
“Rich, I’m sorry to cut you off but I need to get Blake in to see the big guy. He asked me to bring him to the office as soon as possible.”
“Ah, sure Jeff. I understand. See ya around, Blake. Nice to meet ya.”
When Blake shook hands with the CEO, he noticed a very odd scar on ‘the big guy’s’ wrist. Wanting to make a good impression, he quickly averted his eyes to avoid drawing more attention to it. The old man either didn’t notice his interest in the curious wound, or was polite enough to pretend he hadn’t been staring at it. The two men discussed at length the company goals and Blake’s strategy to achieve success. Later in the meeting, he had an brief opportunity to glance at the scar with voyeuristic discretion.
Whatever caused the well-healed injury, appeared to be mechanical in nature. There was a strange symmetry to it. Blake scolded himself for fixating on such a superficial and petty thing. With the exception of possessing a morose vocabulary and strange voodoo office decorations, his new boss appeared to be quite likable. It was a promising first encounter and he hoped the CEO came away with a positive impression of him, as well.
Jeff took him around to all the departments and made sure he was introduced to everyone. To his astonishment, he noticed that several of his peers had a similar looking scar in the same area! Any more than two people with the same injury was hard to swallow. Once that number reached a half dozen, the odds of it being a coincidence was astronomical. For incomprehensible reasons, there were a large number of coworkers at the firm with nearly identical scar characteristics to that of the CEO.
His mind swam with a burning desire for an explanation to the baffling mystery but he didn’t dare ask any of them about it. It was far too personal to bring up; and in the back of his mind, he was a little afraid to. Slowly he began to entertain a very bizarre theory. As crazy as it sounded, the paranoid part of his mind kept screaming ‘cult!’ to him. Why else would so many people have identical markings on their wrist?
Once he began down that dark line of reasoning, his subconscious mind sought evidence to validate the crazy idea. The CEO could almost be described as charismatic or messianic. He had a very unusual way of expressing himself and his office was filled with tiki masks but that was hardly justification for assuming he ran a corporate cult. Still, there was the strange business of Richard from accounting blurting out something out before the HR guy cut him off. It seemed innocent enough at the time but with the other mounting evidence, the ‘crazy theory’ didn’t seem so crazy after all. What the hell could: “Do you bear…”, mean? What was the rest of it? Even those three interrupted words sounded like an introduction to a cult.
After a few days, Blake put most of his paranoid suspicions behind him. His plate was full with numerous sales projects and his employer had considerable performance expectations of him. There really wasn’t time to entertain fanciful theories about ‘secret scar cults’. The whole idea was pushed to the back of his mind until Carl from bookkeeping brought him a cup of coffee. From his vantage point, Blake had a direct view of Carl’s own mysterious scar. He elected to just come out and ask. “Say Carl, I don’t mean to be rude but how did you get that strange injury on your wrist?”
While any explanation might have been believable, Carl’s perplexing reaction only helped to reinforce Blake’s looming suspicions. “What injury?”; He replied without betraying a hint of recognition for the obvious wound.
Blake was so startled by the obvious lie that he considered just dropping the whole thing. That level of obfuscation suggested he wasn’t prepared for the consequences which came with the truth; but he pressed on, anyway. “The uh, …the place you have on your right wrist. Is that from surgery or…”
Carl didn’t’ wait for him to finish. “Oh, that. It’s nothing really. One day soon, I suspect that you will also bear the mark.”
Blake was too weirded out to ask for clarification. This time he wisely dropped the subject and went back to work on his afternoon projects. Unfortunately, his thoughts remained haunted by those bizarre words from both Richard and now, Carl. The whole thing smacked of some creepy conspiracy that he wanted no part of. How many of them were involved? Did all of the others at the company know what was going on, or was it just limited to those with the tell-tale sign on their wrists? Interestingly, one of the ‘cult members’ had the strange scar on his left wrist; opposite of all the others he was familiar with. What could that possibly mean? He didn’t think it was possible but that new variable freaked him out even more.
An Internet search failed to offer any answers and despite the creepy overtones, he didn’t feel his life was in any real danger. The pay and fringe benefits of his new employment far outweighed his apprehensions. He had always been a ‘live and let live’ kinda guy but obviously there were limits. If there were any more suspicious details that surfaced, he would probably feel compelled to seek employment elsewhere. As long as it didn’t involve him, it was none of his business. Between rational thought and wild imagination, the truth lied somewhere in between.
Blake sensed that those ‘in the know’ were casually observing him from time to time. It was hard to separate imaginative paranoia from legitimate recognition of their strange behavior in the office ‘scar cult’. There were knowing glances cast his way which suggested a troubling private joke he wasn’t in on. With a project deadline coming up, he prepared to pull a long night at his desk, working out sales strategies. Whatever mischief went on within the ranks of the company, would have to wait to be uncovered. He had work to do.
Ordinarily he wasn’t a heavy coffee drinker but the time was getting late and he needed something to wake him up. He walked down the hall to the employee lounge to brew a fresh pot. After filling up the reservoir and loading a new filter in the basket, he leaned over to put the carafe on the burner. Immediately he recoiled in horror as pain shot through his wrist! A poorly-placed metal fitting for the warmer had burned him in a very familiar way. Despite the considerable discomfort, he had to smile. At last, he also ‘bore the mark’.