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ODD JOBS: Six Files from the Department of Inhuman Resources

From: TJ Price
To: Undertaker Books
Re: Your request (ODDJOBS project)

To whom it may concern,

Your request for the six following files has been processed. Below, I have included a brief abstract for each report.

At your convenience, please respond to my prior email regarding the strange noises and general disrepair of the archive area, located in the sub-basement level of [REDACTED]. For the past month, both I and my staff have been experiencing phenomena of an unexplained nature, though as a result of this inquiry, one of our staff has suffered quite a setback to their health—both mental and physical.

Shortly after the execution of this request, [REDACTED] was found in the stacks in a rather distressed condition: their hair had turned completely white, they refused to speak, and—most curiously—did not blink, not even once.

When my assistant took [REDACTED] to the area hospital, it was discovered that their pupils, for whatever reason, refused to contract and were stuck in a dilated condition. According to the attending physician, this is apparently a condition termed “mydriasis,” and typically occurs as a result of neurological damage, but [REDACTED] is a healthy, young person, and it is unlikely that they would have suffered a stoke or any other physical reason for this development. After returning from the emergency room, we questioned this employee, but they were incoherent, communicating only in mumbles and mutters. After some time had passed, their words became clearer, but they only repeated one phrase, again and again, senselessly: “punch the clock.”

As a result of this bizarre (and frankly disturbing) situation, the rest of our staff is quite concerned for their general well-being, and most refuse to enter the archive. Two members of my department have already resigned from the company (without putting in their two weeks) and if this continues, I will be the only one left.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this increasingly distressing matter.

TJ Price
Director, Inhuman Resources

JIANG, AI: “Lips Sealed, Steeped in Oil, Mouths Opening Like Pores”

A first-person report in the form of chronological entries from an employee of X OIL Corp., detailing their experiences during their tenure there. Includes possible hallucinatory episodes, as well as damaging evidence re: X OIL (and subsidiaries). Please note that there is made mention of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (attached) that was signed and which was entered into willingly by the employee, despite the presence of predatory language in multiple clauses.

Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer, Ignyte Award winner, Hugo, Astounding, Nebula, Locus, Bram Stoker, and BSFA Award finalist, and an immigrant from Fujian currently residing in Toronto, Ontario. Her work can be found in F&SF, The Dark, Uncanny, The Masters Review,

among others. She is the recipient of Odyssey Workshop’s 2022 Fresh Voices Scholarship and the author of Linghun and I AM AI. The first book of her novella duology, A Palace Near the Wind, is forthcoming 2025 with Titan Books. Find her on X (@AiJiang_), Insta (@ai.jian.g), and online (

GRIMES, IVY: “Rags to Riches”

This strange report seems to detail one employee’s promotions through the ranks at a very odd bookstore. There appears to be a great deal of discussion regarding customer service; proprietary information regarding internal policy and the company’s R&P is also disclosed. This file includes an Employee Performance Evaluation (attached), which provides physical evidence that the events recounted did, in fact, take place, which is concerning for a number of reasons, which you will see upon review.

Ivy Grimes is originally from Birmingham, Alabama, and she currently lives in Virginia. She has an MFA from the University of Alabama. Her stories have appeared in The Baffler, Vastarien, hex, Maudlin House, Cosmic Horror Monthly, Seize the Press, ergot., Potomac Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Grime Time is available from Tales From Between. Her novella Star Shapes was published by Spooky House Press in 2023. Her collection Glass Stories is forthcoming from Grimscribe Press in late 2024.

MCHATTON, ERIK: “These Little Tyrants”

This report details one employee’s trials and tribulations at the hands of the Kairos Corporation, both above and below-ground. It includes details of the employee’s co-workers disappearing from their office, as well as a first-hand account of said employee’s unauthorized investigation into their disappearances. There is no way to tell if the employee’s account is factual, or perhaps based in delusion—if the former, it is troubling, very troubling indeed, and the implications for the rest of us are somewhat disturbing. This file includes a heavily-damaged internal memorandum, perhaps even the one that incites the incidents recounted in this report.

Erik McHatton’s passion for horror literature began in grade school and can be credited to an early fascination with the “Terrific Triples” horror collections of Helen Hoke. He began writing fiction seriously in 2019 and has since been published several times in print and online publications. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of authors like Ligotti, CAS, Bloch, Jackson, Barker, and Cushing. He lives in Kentucky with his beautiful wife and kids, along with dear friends and family; surrounded on all sides.

WINTER, CARSON: “In the Light of Their Bones”

The recent global pandemic (as well as its aftermath) still lingers in the minds of those who suffered from it, experienced it, and continue to feel its effects to this day. This report details a very different kind of communicable illness—one which has yet to make its mark in our world—though I have heard reports of symptoms disclosed in murmurs from sources which will remain anonymous. It is the account of one CleanStart employee as they onboard in the aftermath of this pandemic, as well as their misfortune on the job. This file includes a pre-employment questionnaire, which I have attached.

Carson Winter is an award-winning author, punker, and raw nerve. His fiction has been featured in Apex, Vastarien, and Tales to Terrify, among others. “The Guts of Myth” was published in volume one of Dread Stone Press’ Split Scream series. His novella, Soft Targets, is out now from Tenebrous Press, and his novel The Psychographist was recently released by Apocalypse Party. His second novel, A Spectre is Haunting Greentree, is forthcoming from Tenebrous Press in 2024. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

NOGLE, CHRISTI: “Investigation into a Disappearance”

Concerning the strange vanishing of a professor’s past student, and the subsequent investigation by one Ms. Barczak of [REDACTED] agency. It is unclear if what, if any, of this account is based in reality, as the professor is noted to be in the Arts, and a great deal of the narrative deals with the nature of creativity. Upon research, I cannot find any mention of the university or the professor themselves, though included in the file was a letter from the dean regarding the professor’s absence from their teaching duties. I have attached it to this report for your convenience.

Christi Nogle is the author of the Shirley Jackson Award nominated and Bram Stoker Award® winning First Novel Beulah, from Cemetery Gates Media, and the collections The Best of Our Past, the Worst of Our Future; Promise; and One Eye Opened in That Other Place, from Flame Tree Press. She is co-editor with Willow Dawn Becker of the Bram Stoker Award® nominated anthology Mother: Tales of Love and Terror and co-editor with Ai Jiang of Wilted Pages: An Anthology of Dark Academia. Follow her at and on social media @christinogle

STEPHENS, CALEB: “Future Portraits of the Unhappy Dead”

This report, from a former employee of the electronics store TechZone, details some very disturbing instances of said employee’s invasion into the lives of not only customers, but co-workers as well. Regardless of whether or not this incursion proved instrumental in the discovery of some rather horrifying crimes, it still stands as a violation of TechZone’s R&P regarding customer (and co-worker) privacy. The employee in question is also a recidivist, if the document (attached) denoting the prior infraction of this policy is to be believed.

Caleb Stephens is an award-winning author writing from Denver, Colorado. His novels include The Girls in the Cabin, a psychological thriller available through Joffe Books, and Feeders, a speculative horror thriller available through Timber Ghost Press. His dark fiction collection If Only a Heart and Other Tales of Terror is available through Salt Heart Press and includes the short story “The Wallpaper Man,” which was adapted to film by Falconer Film & Media in 2022. His novel, Soul Couriers is forthcoming from Dark Matter INK in 2025. You can join his mailing list and learn more at and follow him on Instagram @calebstephensauthor.

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