Noxback

This weeks story is very different. I know I’ve said that before but this is nothing like I’ve written previously as it is not Sci-Fi or fantasy. Though, it is absolutely fiction. Set in the present, its a life lesson/comedy (well I find it funny) piece that I would love to tell you more about but think if I did would only succeed in ruining the point of having written it. So, how about I zip it and we get into, Noxback? Yeah, that’s what we’re going to do.

Sebastien Knox, television presenter and media personality will today embark on a ‘journey’ to discover some of his long lost and unknown ancestors as part of a popular programme shown on the TVC station.

For the life of him, the thirty five year old with green eyes and short brown hair perfectly styled, cannot remember the name of the programme. He should be but has had other, far more pressing in his mind, matters to contend with. Still, he’s made sure, as ever, to be immaculately dressed in a dark suit, and be clean shaven.

Seb, as everyone calls him though truth-be-told he hates it, can think of nothing worse than venturing outside of his home, a four bedroom affair out in the rural countryside, with stubble, or worse still a beard. He hasn’t a clue why men grow beards, they’re messy, a pain to care for and far too common for his liking. It’s a trend, a fashion statement, he knows it and like all trends it will fall out of favour at some point. He’ll be pleased when it does, though likes the idea of being in the ‘minority’ with his chiselled chin on full display for everyone to see.

Striding through the revolving glass door of TVC’s office and studio centre he takes in the tasteful décor which in no way alludes to how much money the network station has at its disposal. If it did the foyer; wide, tall and dotted with plush sofas and a couple coffee tables, would be packed to bursting with gaudy statues, freestanding artworks and other bourgeois nonsense. He is overjoyed that it is not.

Gaudy has never been his M.O. In fact, Seb has spent his adult life railing against it. Often calling people out for their, rub it in your face, possessions. And yes, for that many have called him a hypocrite, seeing as he is a man who has chased the highest paycheck anyone has been willing to wave in his face throughout his career.

Yet, none of that is important right now. What is important is the presence of the reception desk, in TVC known as the information desk. Seb has to resist rolling his eyes upon noticing that one for it doesn’t sit well with his opinions at all. So forcing the contempt he feels for the term aside he completes the rest of his walk to the desk. Its solid wood he learns upon arrival. He hasn’t a clue the type or if the desk design has a name and doesn’t rightly care. Interior decoration, corporate or personal, is not really his thing. People have attempted to lure him into such conversations and every time he’s made sure to extricate himself as swiftly as possible, often bluntly stating his disdain as he does. After all, there is no swifter way of ending a part in something unwanted than to be blunt and to the point.

The young man behind the desk greets Seb during the latter stages of his approach, making sure a wide smile is affixed across his bearded face.

“Good morning sir. How can I help you today?”

To be honest Seb wishes the… he hasn’t a clue what their actual title is but he’d use receptionist, wasn’t quite as cheery or high-pitched as he is. And no, his issue with the tone isn’t purely because the man has a beard. Simply, Seb thinks it is too early, a little after six fifteen in the morning, to sound quite as up-beat as this man does while standing behind the desk in semi-formal clothes with a too-white smile, bleached blonde hair which flops about as he moves and a pair of dark brown eyes.

Nothing like making it obvious you aren’t blonde, guy. That is what shoots into Seb’s mind a quarter second prior to him issuing his reply.

“Morning. Sebastien Knox; I’m here for…”

The presenter never gets chance to finish for the receptionist interjects, “Yes Mr Knox, we’ve been expecting you. Welcome. Let me get your badge. And if you could just sign in using the tablet there.”

The blonde guy behind the desk gestures, vaguely, toward the upright seven inch tablet mounted to a metal stand that is in-turn bolted to the desks surface.

The presenter, and guest, eyes the tablet wondering what the issue with an old fashioned book and signing it is. He hasn’t a clue but alas he must conform because there is no other way he’s going to get to where he’s headed if he doesn’t. He knows that for a fact and so begrudgingly sidesteps over to the tablet and taps the screen. In return he is presented with a welcome paragraph that he cannot help but sigh at the presence of, and then begins to read.

“You don’t have to go through that Mr Knox. That’s for non-TV people. You can just hit continue at the bottom, if you like.”

Running his tongue along the tops of his teeth Seb considers asking; then why didn’t you say that before, but he doesn’t. It might be better, he thinks for now, if he bites his tongue. After all, who knows how the blonde receptionist will react.

His brain whirs as if about to recall past events similar to this one but he overrides its decision.

He doesn’t care to consider past events. He is well aware of what happened and how it relates to this and that. All he wants is to get to the set he’ll be working on today, which is why he jabs a finger into the continue option.

There is a pause, the tablet locking as it considers the request. Seb is about to ask if this is normal when suddenly the slate shaped electronic leaps into life and presents him with a series of options. Unable to help himself his eyes roll. The security guard, a woman with short black hair down to her jaw catches his reaction but shows no reaction and leaves the guest and presenter to query, “Which option do I need to press?”

“Oh, well um…” Clearly the receptionists’ knowledge extends no further and so Seb assures, “Its fine. I’ll work it out.” Then under his breath he mutters, “Cause you clearly don’t have a clue.”

“What was that Mr Knox?”

“Nothing; I’m just talking to myself.” The brown haired visitor assures while cursing and wondering how the receptionist caught his sly dig uttered at barely a whisper volume.

A quick scan of the options follows, culminating in a decision by Seb that the third is the one he should pick. He thinks that’s the most appropriate but soon learns he’s chosen poorly as he is asked to enter the name of the contractor who serves as his employer.

Another quick scan of the display sees him locate a back option. Mercifully, there is no resistance or hesitation from the tablet this time, though it does mean he is right back where he started.

Again he scans the options and this time selects the final one. It doesn’t seem like it would be appropriate and yet immediately he learns that it is indeed the one he requires. Shaking his head instinctively he enters his name and then signs the screen with his finger. It looks nothing like his signature but it’ll have to do.

“All signed in, I see. That’s great! And here’s your badge.” The small rectangle of paper clamped between plastic is presented to Seb, who takes it and uses the clip to attach it to the pocket of his suits blazer. He isn’t thrilled that it says visitor in large bold black letters but he can’t argue the fact that a visitor is precisely what he is.

“They’re waiting for you in studio nine. This place is a maze so I’ll get…”

Now it is time for Seb to interject over the receptionist as he assures, “I can find my way.”

A winning smile, forced and insincere, he thrown out which he hopes will make his point. If it doesn’t then he’ll have to spell it out to this blonde man who curiously is not wearing an ID badge himself. The presenter wonders if it’s purposeful or accidental. He’s leaning toward the former, on the part of the individual and not TVC as an employer. Yet, the man has been professional enough that Seb doesn’t have cause to put in a complaint. Though, without knowing his name even if he wanted to it would be almost impossible, unless he described who he was making the complaint against. And for all Seb knows there could be a number of similar looking men working at TVC. It wouldn’t surprise him in the slightest if that were the case.

“I’m sorry Mr Knox we can’t allow you to go unescorted, company policy, I’m sure you understand.”

This time Seb detects a hint of condescension, he ignores it, mildly impressed because he didn’t think the receptionist would have it in him. Still, if the presenter ever learns this man’s name he’ll be sure to get him fired. It’s nothing personal; well it might be a little.

“Marissa, can you escort Mr Knox for me please?”

The receptionist asks having turned toward the nearby security guard who replies with a warm smile, “Course I can. It would be my pleasure. Mr Knox, would you follow me please?”

Immediately Seb decides he prefers this Marissa to the receptionist.

“Of course, lead the way Marissa.” The presenter making sure he sound as happy as larry about the prospect. He even adds one of his award winning, but very forced, smiles as he gestures in a sweeping arc with his arm.

Without further delay, or an opportunity for anymore obstacles to be placed in his path, Seb and Marissa depart heading for the relevant studio.

Seb is very pleased to see the back of the receptionist, but waits until they are definitely out of earshot before querying, “Is an escort really necessary Marissa?”

The presenter learned long ago it is best to ‘overuse’ someone’s name rather than underuse it. Doing that helps to build a bond whereas seldom using it tends to grate, even if not admitted verbally. It makes it sound as though you are going through the motions rather than having a conversation and so Seb makes sure to say someone’s name as often as he thinks it works.

Some people take it too far to the extreme and insert it everywhere. That isn’t overuse, not in his mind, that is repetition because you are either bad with names or, more likely, don’t care but want it to seem as though you do. Something Seb had definitely been guilty of early in his more than decade long career in television. So yes, his current tactics are learned because no, he doesn’t care, he simply knows it’s better to look as though he does.

“I’m afraid it is Mr Knox, TVC policy.” Is the honest friendly reply from Marissa as she leads, by a half step, the way toward studio nine. Yet, her answer has given no more detail than was already provided to him by the receptionist with blonde hair.

“Have any idea as to why that is?”

“Something to do with previous issues but I’m sorry Mr Knox they were prior to me joining and no one wants to elaborate past that, I’m afraid.”

Unhelpful, Seb thinks. Not from Marissa but from TVC themselves. Though he isn’t surprised and can guess what the ‘issues’ might have been. Corporate espionage, of a form; and yes, it happens in television. In fact, it is far more difficult to hold ownership over an idea, a format sure, but not an idea and TV largely revolves around ideas.

Of course, it revolves around formats too, but they can be tweaked and altered just enough that they pass without the possibility of being pulled up as infringing.

He is well aware he could explain that to Marissa but isn’t inclined to. This is idle chatter he’s partaking in. Something to avoid what would otherwise be an awkward, and long, period of silence.

“I see, so how long have you worked here Marissa?”

“Three months in all Mr Knox.” The reply is not surprising to him in the slightest for the dark haired woman still has that new, chirpy, attitude which tends to come with anyone who is fresh into a position. That’ll change once the corporate structure has beaten her down some.

“And how are you finding it?”

“It’s been great so far. I get to see quite a few celebrities, meet people like you…” Seb resists the urge to ask what Marissa means by people like him because it seems she doesn’t think him a celebrity.

She means nothing by it, a voice in his head insists. He isn’t so sure but decides to accept and let it slide, for now. Another hint toward some kind of slight and he won’t.

Freeing himself from his internal debate Seb realises Marissa has finished giving her reply. He didn’t hear the rest of it, but doubts it matters. It’ll have been platitudes and naivety about how wonderful everyone is. He’d like to see if she says the same, and in the same manner, once she’s been doing it for a few years. He doubts the response would be the same then and has to suppress a smile as a result.

“That’s marvellous Marissa…” They turn down yet another corridor. Seb can see one reason as to why he has been given an escort; this place is a rabbit warren. If he’d gone off on his own he absolutely would’ve ended up lost and without a number for the director or a member of his crew there is no telling how long he could spend wandering about aimlessly.

So while he hates to admit it, it does appear as though there was cause for the receptionists’ insistence.

“…and what sort of plans do you have for your future? Remain in security; maybe become a manager, run a own shift, company?”

“Oh I don’t know Mr Knox, I haven’t thought about it. I will but only once my probation is up.”

“And how long will that be?” The presenter queries feeling his patience growing short as he begins to grow weary of this conversation and the lack of ambition from the young woman walking beside him. It’s enough to make his eyes roll; he forces them not to, but does not understand people who make excuses as to why they can’t plan for what they want. If he’d been like that he’d never be where he is today.

“Another couple months but my supervisor seems positive so…”

Oh God, here come the considerations. Seb is regretting asking the question and is thankful when Marissa interrupts herself to advise, “Oh look we’ve arrived.”

She sounds more shocked by that than the presenter thinks she rightly should. Still, what goes through his head at the loudest volume is; thank Christ.

While he counts his blessings Marissa scans her badge to grant access into the studio beyond. She holds the door open for Seb who steps through offering his thanks, though not feeling her presence alongside him he turns and blinks a tad surprised that she has remained on the other side of the threshold.

“It’s been nice to meet you Mr Knox, I hope everything with the programme goes well.” A sincere smile is sat across her face.

Seb suspects as security she isn’t allowed into the studios unless explicitly given permission. Whether true or not it marks a clear end to their dynamic and so he offers, “Thank you Marissa for getting me here and for your company.”

With that Marissa nods, turns and departs, the door left to swing closed as she strides down the corridor heading back the way she came, but alone this time.

Seb meanwhile lets out a sigh. He remains unsure as to whether, now that he is here, doing this programme is the best thing for his career. Alas, he knows he has little options besides this. That is why he turns and then strides deeper into the studio, heading toward some scattered members of the crew who are a little ways into the massive space.

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