Drinks machine – Soup

It’s … actually worse than the picture. There’s a disturbing grainy texture to it, and there are clumps of unmixed powder slowly turning on the scarlet surface, like tiny continents slowly consumed by a molten world. It smells almost exactly unlike tomato. You realise you should have gone with your first instincts, and you set it down on one of the tables and pretend you’ve nothing to do with it.

You continue to stand, feeling a bit miserable, a bit uncomfortable, watching the rain lashing down outside, when your attention is attracted by a polite cough behind you. You see a middle-aged man in a regulation jacket and tie, and you assume that this is Mr Metcalf, the manager.

You take a deep breath, determine not to make a mess of this, and lean your briefcase against your leg so that you can shake hands. Metcalf’s grip is warm and strong, exhibiting the sort of confidence you wish you had. What he makes of you has, you suppose, already been decided. That’s how it works for these things – first impressions and all that.

He glances down that table at your abandoned drink. “You didn’t try that, did you?” he asks.

You shrug helplessly. “Perhaps I should’ve chosen something else.”

“I don’t recommend it. Come on, we’ll go up to my office and have a chat.”

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