Brian’s Brains – Chapter 1 – A meeting with the boss


​Brian Barrymore is not a normal zombie - he doesn't live in the underground sewers surviving on the brains of rats, lizards and (once in a while) living humans. Instead, Brian spends his days working ​​​at the head office of a multinational company​.

​In this ​English B1 (​intermediate) graded reader, we watch as Brian ​tries to live a normal life while keeping his true nature a secret from his workmates.


CHAPTER 1: A meeting with the boss

"Brian, could I have a quick word in private?" said ​Peter ​politely.

Such an innocent question. But everyone knows that it really means you've done something terribly wrong and you're about to get into ​trouble.

"Sure, of course," said Brian as confidently as he could.

Brian had never been called into his manager's office before and was trying hard to seem like he wasn't nervous. Some of his workmates had been asked to go in before so he knew what to expect. The result was always the same. People walked into his office smiling. They came out frowning.

"Just this way," Peter said, pointing past the receptionist desk and towards his office door.

Rachel, the receptionist, gave Brian a weak smile. Her large eyes followed ​​the pair as they ​walked into the room.

As he walked into the office, head down, Brian saw a lot of legs. Two from his boss, four from the desk, eight from the chairs and one from a lamp in the corner of the room.

That's seventeen legs in total, if I add my own, Brian calculated.

​"Please, take a seat", said Brian's manager, pointing to four of the seventeen. "So, how's everything going with you these days, Brian?"

"Pretty good thanks," said Brain, lowering himself into the chair. "​I've had a busy morning speaking ​with clients."

"I see," said Peter, nodding and adjusting the glasses on his nose. "It's good to keep busy."

​He ​continued, "Brian, I wanted to speak to you about your motivation for the job".

"My motivation?", Brian asked.

​"Yes, your motivation," ​Peter replied. "I mean, I've noticed a few things that make me question whether you really want to be working here at all."

"Oh," said Brian.

"​Firstly, there's the way you dress. Now, I know you speak to most clients over the phone, but when people do come to the office, what impression do you think they get of you and our company when they see your shirt is hanging out and not ironed?"

​"Right", said Brian.

"Secondly, there's the way you carry yourself around the office," Brian's manager continued.

"The way I carry myself?", Brian asked.

"Yes. Just take a look ​out there," Brian's manager pointed ​through the glass door of his office. "Can you see ​Beatrice ​out there? Look at how she's walking. ​Head up, confident and smiling. She ​looks like she wants to be here. She looks energetic. She looks ​hungry for success."​​​​​​

Brian looked over his shoulder and saw ​Beatrice walking ​powerfully across the office. ​He's right, she ​​does​ look confident​, ​he thought.

​​​​ ​​​"In ​comparison, look at the way you walk," ​Peter continued. "You walk really slowly. Your shoulders and neck ​bend forward. Your arms hang out in front of you. You don't look like you ​care​ about anything."

​I'm a zombie​, Brian thought. ​It's just how we look.​​​​​​​

Brian thought for a moment, then took a deep breath before replying.

"I guess I ​haven't really thought about all this before. This first month at the company, I've just been trying so hard to understand the job. I feel like I've been learning new things every day and I never stopped to consider those things. But I understand what you're saying. The way we look and ​behave is important. It affects how people think and feel about us. Honestly, I can tell you that I ​do​ care about this job and I'm working really hard to do the best job I can. Even if it doesn't look that way.​​​"

"That's great, Brian. So, what do you think you can do to improve in this area?"

"Well, I'll start by ironing my shirt and tucking it in", Brian answered. "​And I'​m going to make an effort to improve the way I carry myself around the office. Thanks for making me aware of this. It's something I do need to improve and I'm going to work at this right away."

​​​"​Great", said Brian's manager. "Let's speak again in a couple of weeks and see how you're getting on."

Brian walked out of the office with his head up. He passed by the receptionist desk, where Rachel sat smiling warmly at him.

​Now, that wasn't so bad​, ​Brian thought to himself.​​​