It was a dark and stormy morning when Calvin ventured down the hallway to his manager’s office. The doors and desks along the way were all decorated for Halloween, a sight that usually made him happy, but today just added to the prickling anxiety all over his body. It had been a sleepless few nights, so he knew he had to get this off his chest before it became all-consuming.
Once he arrived at his manager Greta’s open door, he knocked sheepishly beside the smiling skeleton decoration hanging from it.
“Come in!” Greta said from inside, swiveling around in her chair to face the doorway. “Calvin, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Calvin froze for a moment but managed to make his way to the seat in front of Greta’s desk. “I,” he paused and plucked a miniature candy bar from the bowl on the desk, opening it with shaky hands. “Something is weird with one of the families I’m moving.”
Greta’s smiling face fell slightly. “Calvin, we can’t talk about our families like that,” she said in a tone that a kindergarten teacher might use with one of their students. “This is the most stressful time for them, and we have to be kind.”
“No, no,” Calvin said, nearly choking on the chocolate in his mouth. He swallowed, then continued, “They are super nice. It’s just…something is off.”
“Okay,” Greta said skeptically. “Like?”
Calvin gulped, then began, “Well, for starters, the transferee always has our Zoom calls in the dark. I can barely see her even if I have my screen on its brightest resolution. The only thing I can ever see is the sharp canine teeth. And, the weirdest part is they’re moving to Svalbard – you know, the place that has darkness for three months. She said it was a special request. She said she would be much happier and healthier there.”
Greta cocked her head. “So? Maybe she gets migraines? Or maybe she wants to see the Northern Lights? ‘Hand-raiser’ relocations are on the rise!”
Calvin shook his head, wiping his sweaty palms on his khakis. “There’s also this…box.”
Greta bit back a smirk. “Box?”
“Filled with dirt,” Calvin said, his voice barely above a whisper. “We had to have a special agricultural test done on the soil, and it costs thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket crating. It’s,” he stumbled over his words, “it looks like it’s big enough to fit a person.”
Greta paused, watching Calvin closely. “Is everything okay at home, Calvin? You know you can talk to me about anything. I’m here to help.”
Calvin shook his head. “I knew this was a mistake, but it’s not just her,” he wrung his hands nervously. “The husband is,” he paused. “I think the husband is a werewolf.”
Greta’s peel of laughter made Calvin jump. “Wow, Happy Halloween, Calvin. Best prank ever! But if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish a—”
“I’m serious, Greta,” Calvin interrupted. “They are paying for a special pet shipment with a chartered private plane due to their ‘dog’s’ temperamental issues. Also, when I sent the Pet Relocation partner the pictures, they said they’d never seen a dog that big in their lives. They’ve done thousands and thousands of moves, Greta! No commercial airline would fly him. And weirdest of all, he has the exact same eyes as the transferee’s husband.”
Greta sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Okay, Calvin, I think we should get you some time off work. I am more than happy to cover for you.”
“I’m fine, seriously. But I’m not making this up. There’s also their teenage son. He’s …” Calvin swallowed, knowing he had to continue even if Greta didn’t believe him. “He’s got bolts in his neck, and he’s … green.”
Greta seemingly lost her sense of humor now. “Okay … “
“He’s been on a few calls, and he only ever grunts. But he’s insanely smart. Our Education Consultant partner said the school told them they’ve never had test scores this high. Not only is he in a gifted program, but he’s also taking college courses at 15,” Calvin said breathlessly.
Greta paused before speaking again, “Calvin, we shouldn’t talk about anyone’s appearance, seriously. This is bordering on very inappropriate, and I’m worried about you. This is not like you at all.”
“I knew you would have a hard time believing me,” Calvin sighed. “They sent me their passports, and they’re saved in the file. You see for yourself.”
Greta’s jaw clenched as she turned back toward her computer, listening as Calvin gave her the information that she needed to view the relocation in the system. She spent a few extra moments clicking through to where the passports were stored.
“Oh,” she said as she clicked again, squinted, and moved her head closer to the screen. “Oh!”
“I haven’t even told you about the baby yet,” Calvin said, standing and pacing back and forth. “She’s adorable, but the lights flicker every time she’s on-screen, and her eyes change colors. I swear I even saw her floating once, just for a few seconds.”
Greta was silent, staring at the photos on her screen. Finally, she turned back to look at Calvin. “Would you mind closing my door?”
“Every so often we see something like this in our job, Calvin. This is a very special circumstance and a very gifted family that we’re relocating for our client,” Greta said, voice barely above a whisper. “We’re doing our best and so are they, so we continue for the sake of everyone’s peace and sanity. But …” she paused, looked back at the screen, then turned her head toward Calvin. “I believe you, and until something happens that we truly can’t handle, we just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Calvin sighed a breath of relief. “Wait, you’ve seen this before?”
Greta closed out of the family’s file and gave Calvin a soft smile. “I’ve seen a lot in my day. You said this family’s super nice, right? So, we’re going to move forward like we would with any family. Excellent service, friendly emails, and helpful solutions. Looks like you’ve already worked through the logistics on a couple of their things, so as far as I see it, you’re killing it.” She grimaced. “Sorry, poor choice of words right now.”
Calvin laughed, feeling a little lighter than when he’d walked in here.
“We’re here to create solutions no matter what,” Greta continued, holding out the candy bowl to Calvin again. “Take a break and come back to it with a level head.”
Calvin took the candy and smiled. “Thanks, Greta.”
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