I thought I was just applying for a job. By the time I realised what strings were attached, it was too late.
Most people hate their jobs. Most people don’t dream about being a corporate desk jockey. The 9-5 grind can wear anyone down. After five years watching others climb the ladder without a single pay rise, I’d had enough.
I’ll admit: I wasn’t exactly discerning with where I submitted my CV. At the time, I was so bored and unhappy that I was willing to try anything. I’d been very ambitious in my choice of degree when I was at University, but getting a job in my field of study hadn’t exactly panned out. I had no illusions about where I worked next. As long as it paid well and my new colleagues weren’t a bunch of jerks, I could handle it.
Maybe I came off as a bit desperate, because the job interviews I had went nowhere. I submitted my CV to recruiters and got nothing back but radio silence. I’d become a bit resigned to the fact that perhaps I really was ‘unemployable’ when I received the following email:
Our organisation is always looking for intelligent people. We need hard-workers who aren’t afraid to be challenged, and who can adapt quickly. Based on your CV and work history, we believe that you may be a strong candidate for a role within our organisation.
Recruitment with our organisation is appreciably straightforward. Should you wish to proceed with your application, you will be asked to report to a testing facility. The tests will help us form an understanding of your psychological profile, physical fitness and other aptitudes. Due to the nature of what work the organisation performs, it is not possible to provide a full role description via email. Rest assured, however, that our valued employees receive competitive remuneration, excellent training and opportunities for promotion.
Please reply to this email at your earliest convenience with a preferred testing time and date.
Recruitment and Resourcing
I’ll admit: I was intrigued. Who wouldn’t be? Sure, the fact that I had no clue what the ‘organisation’ was or what they did gave me pause. For all I knew, they were traffickers, scammers or gangsters. Replying back to the email seemed the height of stupidity – but I did it anyway.
Almost as soon as I pressed ‘SEND’, I received another email back, this one simply containing an address and an explicit warning not to reveal the address, or my application, to anyone. The email warned that if I actually did try to spill the beans, the deal was off and there might be consequences.
Maybe it was that warning that made the defiant spark in me come alive, or maybe it was because by then I was already scared. Even so – I decided I was going to try and record what went on with the recruitment.
I can’t give away too many details about the building where the testing took place. It was on a street I had visited many times, yet I had never seen the testing facility there in my life. I arrived to the interview a few minutes early, as might be expected, and walked up and down the street several times to find the entrance.
For some reason, I kept walking past it. It was only when the clock ticked over to the precise time that I spotted the building. Don’t ask me why this is; I have no idea. The building itself was cold, sparse and seemed to be larger on the inside than the outside. The patterns on the wallpaper made my head hurt, as did the invigilator. I can’t describe her face. In fact, I can’t remember much about her at all. It’s a bit as if my mind can’t process the information, like I’m trying to recall details from a dream.
Some of the testing involved psychological assessment, and this was done via a computer. That’s the only reason I was able to make a recording, using screen capture software I’d loaded onto a USB. The other tests were different. I can’t remember much of them either, only the sense of being terrified and blind in a confined space. They’re not exactly pleasant memories. I have no idea how the recruitment process ended. One minute, I was in the dark, and in the next, I was back in my home, sick and sweating.
It’s been a few weeks since then. I had written off the incident, or more precisely, I had been trying to forget that it had ever happened. But in the past few days, I’ve been having terrible nightmares. I’ve been seeing dark shapes out of the corner of my eye. I have a powerful urge to return to the recruitment facility. It’s like a voice in my head that won’t shut up, no matter what I try. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but every day it feels like more and more of myself slips away into the dark.
I don’t want to go back there. I regret ever applying for that stupid job. I’m leaving this here so that there is some record of what happened to me, and so that others can learn from my mistake. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.