Mandy Maloney needs a job. She's had a successful run of flipping burgers at a popular fast food establishment, but the call to higher aspirations and a disapproving mother have finally forced her to flee to the classifieds. Soon she finds herself accepting an unlikely dream job - sales training at a circus supply company with great pay and great benefits, marred only by an aloof, sexist boss and a series of strange surreal events. After befriending her "sane" coworkers, Gary and Violet, Mandy begins to find that things are even stranger, and more sinister than they seem.
It was a clear, crisp January day. She’d been driving around for over an hour looking for the place. None of the Internet map sites had ever heard of the address. She’d spent hours searching them all. She usually left plenty of time to find her way to an interview, giving herself some time to relax and gather her thoughts, but that was not the case today. Less than five minutes to spare. She was feeling rushed and not on top of her game.
“This must be it,” Mandy thought as she turned into the enormous parking lot. It was empty for the most part—only a couple rows near the building were filled with cars. She scoped out the entrance and found the closest spot.
“Wish me luck,” she said with her eyes toward the sky. Mandy had been looking for a job for almost six months. She had never heard of this company, Big Top Supplies, nor had she been able to find any information on it. The classified ad in the paper read:
Large supplier of entertainment equipment
Manager of Sales Training
Stable company with room for advancement
Excellent Benefits, 401K Salary Neg. Send resume to:
Big Top Supplies
P.O. Box 49223
Winter Falls, Florida 33223
She answered every classified ad that even vaguely reflected her skills. All Mandy needed right now was a job, doing anything, anywhere. She couldn’t afford to be picky. When she got the call to come in for an interview, she didn’t think twice. She felt unprepared, but she was desperate. Mandy was just squeaking by. She was working part-time at the local Burger Boy just to keep her head above water. She couldn’t ask her parents for the mortgage money again. It was painful every time she had to ask.
“No one in the family ever stooped so low as to work at a Burger Boy. Why aren’t you more like your sister?” Her sister had married a jerk with money and sat around eating bonbons all day. Why would she want to be like her? Mandy had had to ask for money a few times since she was laid off from what her mother called “that lowly job” as a customer service manager. “So what if the job was outsourced to India?” Mandy was told. “It’s the kind of work those people were meant to do.” Not Mandy. She had been raised “better than that,” or so her mother repeated to her, over and over and over again.
“Please, dear God, let me get this job,” she said as she walked to the front door.
“I’m here to see Larry Adams,” she told the dour-faced receptionist. “My name is Mandy Maloney. I have an appointment.” Mandy looked around the waiting area. Pictures hung on every available inch of wall space. Circus pictures: flame throwers, elephants, clowns, human cannonballs, jugglers, trapeze artists.
“So that’s why the name of the company is Big Top,” she thought. It had never dawned on her that this company was all about the circus. “Well, I guess this ought to be interesting, to say the least.”
As she waited for Larry Adams to appear, she went over in her head her carefully prepared responses to the sure-to-be-asked canned interview questions. They had been on every other interview she had been on in the last six months. Mandy had no reason to believe this interview would be any different.