Snakes and Ladders, Part 1

(by BlackBladder, 18 February 2004)


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SNAKES & LADDERS
by BlackBladder
PART ONE

"Am I doing the right thing?" 

"Can I handle this?"

Gabrielle groaned in frustration, as her reflection did not answer her silent
pleas.  

"Smile you bitch!"   Gabrielle muttered to the reflection.

Watching her reflection mirroring her words instantly made Gabrielle comply.
Her smile and gaze into the glass simmered the thoughts of doubt hovering
over her mind.  Admiring her body also gave her another reason to smile as
she continued to cast concerns out of her mind.  She was stunning for 18
years old.  Tall, slim - she had all the attributes that made her popular at
school.   She ran her hand down her curvy blond hair that reached her
shoulders.  Suddenly, Gabrielle's attention moved towards a shadow cast over
her reflection.

"Don't worry-..we all talk to ourselves on the first day." 

Gabrielle immediately turned around to see a woman smiling broadly.  The
woman extended her hand towards Gabrielle confidently.

"Welcome to Ikair Optical Enterprises.  I am Mrs Noble - but you can call me
Alice.  I presume you are Miss Dolton."   The two women shook hands, the
gesture silencing the concerns running through the blonde student's head.  

"I remember when I first started here - I stood looking at my reflection in
the Awards Cabinet so don't feel embarrassed."  Alice smiled.

Gosh, Alice can read my mind, Gabrielle thought - laughing with the mature
woman in front of her.  

"Well, this is our reception area as you have noticed.  I hope our
receptionists have treated you well so far-" Alice raised her voice jokingly,
staring provocatively towards the Reception staff fidgeting in their chairs
out of boredom.

"The Awards Cabinet proudly displays all the achievements Ikair have made in
the community, as well as with other employers.  Let me give you a tour of
our Head Office"  Alice boasted proudly with Gabrielle listening attentively
- glancing at all the rozettas and cups sitting on the shelves within the
glass unit.

Alice beckoned Gabrielle to follow her as the tour was conducted, showing the
New Start all the elements of the Ikair Empire.  

"-.And this is the brains of our operations - the Open Plan Design Floor.
This is where we prepare all the paperwork, and containers, for all the
products that you saw being designed upstairs in our labs." Alice stated as
Gabrielle gazed in awe around the commotion all around her as people paced
about like soldier ants in a colony.  

This does look good - I could maybe work here after all, Gabrielle thought as
the tour left her in a positive frame of mind.

"So where will I be working, Mrs Noble?" Gabrielle asked, her smile widened.

"If you would like to follow me..." 

Alice led Gabrielle into a small room at the back of the Open Plan Design
Floor.  Once Gabrielle entered, she immediately detected a sharp change in
the environment.  Whilst she detected the frantic nature of the other areas,
the room she now stood within was very quiet.  As she looked around, she
could see only two staff working in silence opposite each other.  Their heads
were down, not even twitching to Alice and Gabrielle's entrance.

"You will be working in the Mailroom - I am the Supervisor.  Let me introduce
you to the staff you will be working beside-"  Alice stated loudly as the
workers turned around on cue to face their latest work colleague.  

Fuck, Gabrielle thought.  The doubts and concerns began bubbling again.  

"Hi, I am Jake."  The male worker shook Gabrielle's hand nervously before
returning sharply to his work schedule - sorting out white envelopes on a
matching desk. 

"And I am Mandy."  The other worker smiled briefly, pushing the frame of her
spectacles back up the bridge of her acne-infested nose.  After Gabrielle
returned a nervous smile to her new colleague, Mandy walked back to her desk
and resumed her work.

They are sad, Gabrielle thought - simply judging by the pale
colour-co-ordinate dress attire they were both wearing.  However, Mandy did
look familiar to Gabrielle but she couldn't place the recognition.

"If you go and work with Mandy, she will show you what to do."  Alice smiled.

Reluctantly, Gabrielle walked over towards Mandy whom was folding letters and
envelopes.  

"You need a hand?" Gabrielle asked, feigning interest.  

Unlike the rest of the departments she viewed, Gabrielle was disappointed
with the Mailroom - it's matching grey colour scheme of tools and desks were
a stark contrast to the rest of the Head Office.

I came here to get a career - not a dead end job!, Gabrielle muttered to
herself.

"If you just watch what I am doing for now."  Mandy replied emotionlessly.   

As Gabrielle sat beside her new colleague, she noticed a faint odour emit
from Mandy's cardigan of cigarette smoke.   

Gabrielle found this puzzling as Alice mentioned in her tour that there was a
No-Smoking on Premises Policy for the whole Head Office.   Gabrielle never
smoked in her life, and had a very negative view of smokers themselves,
failing to understand the allure of the habit.  This odour from her new
colleague did not contribute to Gabrielle's growing negative perception of
Mandy.

"OK you've seen me fold and seal the envelopes and letters--you give it a
bash."  Mandy said nervously-


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