Men & Monsters

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“How’re you doing this morning, Fred?” Asked a short, portly man as he walked past.

“I’m still here, aren’t I?” Fred MacDonald replied as he waited on his coffee to heat up in the microwave. Sniffing the inside of his suit jacket, the man winced back at the pungent smell of whiskey from the night before. He was a tall man, with reddish-brown hair kept at a relatively medium, albeit disheveled, length. An ever apparent 5 o’clock shadow along his square chin seemed to compliment his long nights with the bottle. In his black suit and white-collared shirt, he moved forward once the microwave pinged loudly and took his coffee up with a cautious hand. By now, the agent’s hands had grown weary of whatever Fred threw into the microwave. Thankfully this day proved to be a relief.

“You know you’re not supposed to microwave Styrofoam. Supposedly gives you cancer.” Said a woman in a white lab coat. Fred had just now noticed her when he turned, hopeful he hadn’t given a startled jump.

“How do you do that every time?” He shook his head at her when he took a sip from the piping hot cup. “Jesus Christ!” The woman smirked as she returned to reading her magazine at the nearby table. Wiping his lip, he grumbled and groaned when he left the break room and walked down a long hallway. Scientists in white lab coats dotted the hall, with the occasional individual in clothes identical to Fred’s passing by. He was stopped almost immediately by an eager scientist, one with thick glasses and his breath reeking of coffee. “Hey watch it.”

“Mr. MacDonald! They told me I’d find you here!” Fred cocked an eyebrow. Had these two met before? “I’m Dr. Xing. The heads back at the Committee told me to find you. We’ve located it.” The scientist spoke anxiously as a bead of sweat rolled down his weathered brow.

“Located what?”

“The anomaly. I-i-it’s what my department has been looking into for over twenty years! We don’t understand them. There are spots like this all over the world, but the thing is, they just pop out of nowhere and disappear without a trace and no way of knowing where one will turn up next. This one seems to be growing in the Black Forest, and is the first one to show patterns in its arrival. Meaning, we can finally study it!”

“The Black Forest? That’s appropriate.” The scientist obviously had little time for Fred’s brand of humor.

“I’ll let the Committee know you’ve been informed. Be quick! We don’t know how long this pattern will keep up.”

“What do you mean by anomaly? Jesus, don't tell me I'm off to fight a werewolf or some other walking cliche.”

“It’s a strange electrical current appearing and disappearing into thin air. It almost looks like a cloud of mist or fog, from what our heat signatures show us. It seems to come and go mostly in the late evening and early morning, then vanishes until it cools down again. We don’t understand it at all. Hopefully you can get the Committee to send some funding for research.” Fred tried his hand at another sip at his coffee. Damn it, he thought; still just as hot. Wiping his lip again, he nodded.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m on it. Black Forest, huh? Got it. I guess I’m heading to Freiburg.”

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