And a few weeks later, there was her payout, the last package she’d ever pick up from her secret company mailbox. Wrapped in silver paper, stamped with the standard goodbye message in bold red type:

Thank you for 11 years of service to Barbel. Sorry we had to kick you out for someone newer and better! Remember, tell no one the truth of Barbel!

Whatever. She lifted the package. It was heavy, too heavy to be just the expected bundle of cash. And too squishy.

What now? First they dump her unceremoniously her after 11 years, then they give her some weird squishy thing in her payout package? She should have listened to her mother’s warnings.

She opened the package. Its contents: a dead squid. Hm. Even after 11 years, she hadn’t encountered this symbol before. But it couldn’t be good.

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