Jean-François now found himself in such a strange place. The lights were blinking, the floors were greasy, the looks they gave him seemed to cast a shadow of ill omen onto him.
Blending in had always been one of his strengths. Middlish height, no beard, attractive, his trump card being his undeniably good-humoured composure. Today it served him nothing, seeing as the people in the room at the end of the corridor were here to judge him. Would he pass? He might have had a chance, if only he had known the rules to this game.
He went past a stuck-up looking man who seemed to be acting as secretary in this gloomy bunker. Could they not have found a better place for their little reunions?
The secretary glanced at him sternly, then nodded him on. They’d done their research on him. Good.
Jean-François was ushered into an even gloomier room, and the door closed behind him. The room seemed empty, save for a lonely desk with a chair. It reminded him of his mother’s study. The woman had always been orderly to a fault. As a result, her sanctuary had always looked almost empty, save for her towering presence. Jean-François could almost imagine her stepping into this room right now and berate him for not being in complete control of the situation. But she could not. She was gone. Had been gone for a long time now. Had it been two months? It already seemed like decades for Jean-François.
An older man came into the room and didn’t sit down in the chair. He bluntly started the interrogation.
“So, you wish to become one of us?
– I do, said Jean-François.
– How long have you known?
– My whole life.
– You lie.” Jean-François tried to remain composed and to not let himself break into a cold sweat. He needed this.
“- What are you willing to give?” The old man intoned again. He seemed to be almost chanting. His wispy white hair gave him an air of sanctity. No wonder everyone bowed to him wherever he went.  Jean-François intended to earn the same kind of respect before his hair turned white.
– Everything.”
The man nodded, slowly, and clapped his hands once.
“- You have been judged worthy”, the old man said. A nondescript attendant entered the room with a white coat, and dressed Jean-François in it.
“- You will now say the ceremonial words. Do you swear to serve for your whole life, with dignity and poise, salvaging our knowledge from those who would seek to destroy it?” He did.
“- Do you swear to give your whole life to the pursuit of our noble goals?” He did.
“- Do you swear never to complain of the long hours, the skipped midday breaks, the endlessly ringing telephone, the arbitrary criticism and bad mood?” Jean-François hesitated just briefly.
“- I do.”
“- Do you agree to be the recipient of dark secrets, bad manners, strong emotions, false claims, dark thoughts, hopes and miseries?”. Jean-François stood firm.
“- I do.”
“-I do.”
The old man smiled, came close, and gave him a tap on the head.
“- See you on the other side.”
A mysterious door that Jean-François had totally overlooked opened on the other side of the room. He emerged into a staircase and made his way up until he reached another closed door. Behind it, he would find the beginning of his new life. White floors, white rooms, white coats. Hospital life.