First Night Shift
May 1st, 2018.
A bike pulls up to an old-looking factory building. A young black man about nineteen years old gets off. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a piece of paper. He tilts his head.
“I think this is it,” he says.
Please state your name.
How did you come to find this job?
“Well, this is my first year at university. I transferred from a local college. This is my first time on my own too. Just a little bit before I began school, I was looking through the paper for a job and then I came across this ad for a night-shift job. The pay and hours sounded reasonable.”
Nathan presses the button at the gate.
“Hello?” he asks. “I’m the new hire for the job. Is anybody there?” He about jumps at the crackling noise from the speaker on the gate.
“Could you repeat that?” a woman’s voice asks on the other end.
“I’m the new hire,” Nathan repeats. “We spoke over the phone three days ago.”
“Which new hire are you?”
“You see, we have two new hires coming tonight. Which one are you?”
The young man waits outside in the silence. “Okay then…” He shoves the address back into his pocket. The speaker crackles again.
“Aw, yes. I remember you now. Come on in,” the woman says. Nathan steps back as the gates opened.
“Cheers!” he shouts before walking through.
Inside is lit with candles and lanterns. Nathan looks around at the empty supposed lobby. The people in the Victorian portraits seem to watch his every move. He feels tempted to wave his hand back and forth to see if their eyes would move. The new guy slowly inches up his hand.
“Relax, they don’t move when you move,” someone speaks up. Nathan whips his head around. A woman in her forties sits as a front desk made of oak wood. She pushes her silver-framed glasses up. Her big frizzy brown hair moves along with her head.
“Nice to meet you, Nathan,” she says. “My name is Holly Wood. No, that is not a joke. That is really my name. Long story, but I digress.” Holly clears her throat.
“I am the receptionist of the team,” she says.
“Hi…” Nathan says.
-Interview Corner: Holly-
Tell us about yourself.
“Well, I’ve lived in Bistrol for over twenty years now. I’ve held down a number of jobs. This one is my latest one. I’ve been with this team for about two years now and I still enjoy it. I’m used to jokes about my name. I think it was my dad’s idea to name me Holly. Mum apparently signed onto the idea as well. I’ve also been married four times. My first husband was a gambler. The second one was a football hooligan. My third marriage was back to the gambler. My third husband was lazy and played on his Xbox all day. I ended up working and providing for us both.”
“We are expecting another newbie tonight,” Holly says. “Gary will take you around the different sections and show you around. You’ll meet with the boss for her to ask further questions on your assessment.”
“Assessment?” Nathan asks.
“To determine what position to put you in,” Holly adds. “I will ring up Gary and let him know you’re here.” She picks up the phone and dials the extension.
“Hello?” Holly asks. “One of the newbies is here. No, the other one isn’t here yet. She’ll be here shortly. Okay. Thank you.” She turns back to Nathan.
“He’ll be up in a minute,” she says.
“Right…” Nathan says. Just then, the speaker crackles on.
“Excuse me,” Holly says. She pushes the call button on her desk.
“Hello?” she asks.
“Uh… hi,” a woman’s voice says. “I’m the new hire for the job. My name is Viv. We spoke on the phone earlier. I’m sorry I’m late. I got a little bit lost.” She laughs over the other end.
“It’s okay, dear,” Holly says. “You’re just in time. Gary’s about to come down and give the other newbie a tour for the assessment. I’m letting you in right now.” She presses another button on her desk.
Minutes later, Holly and Nathan look up. A black woman about the latter’s age stands in the doorway, panting. She pushes her bangs out of her eyes.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” she says. “I got a little bit lost.”
“You’re on time for me,” another voice speaks up. The three of them look up and see a man in grey coveralls walking into the lobby. He slicked back his gelled up black hair.
“So these are the newbies, huh?” the man asks. He looks at Nathan and then at the new woman that joined them seconds earlier.
“Nice to meet you,” he says. “My name is Gary. I will show you around.”
-Interview Corner: Gary-
What exactly do you do around here?
“I train the new people basically. I show them around to the stations and let them see how each one works.”
How long have you done this?
“Three or four years. Some of them stay. Others don’t. I’m not the one who makes the calls. I just guide the newbies until they reach the boss.
“What are your names?” Gary asks.
“Nathan,” Nathan answers.
“Vivian,” the woman says. “But call me Viv.”
“Great,” Gary says. “Shall we get going? Follow me.” Gary walks down the hall. Viv and Nathan follow behind. Holly salutes before returning back to work.
Nathan turns to Viv as they walk down the hall.
“You saw that ad in the paper too?” he asks.
“Yes,” she says.
“Aw yes, the ad,” Gary says. “That’s how I found this job too. We all found this job that way.”
“So, what exactly is this job?” Nathan asks. “They weren’t exactly clear on the details.” Gary chuckles.
“That’s because we can’t explain it in words,” he says.
“Huh?” Nathan asks. The guide turns to the newbies with a gleam in his eye.
“I will just have to show you,” he said. They stop at the first door in the hallway.
Three guys sit at their desks in front of computers. One of them with thick, curly brown turns his head.
“What do we do after we find out who all of these uncaught serial killers were?” he asks. The other two look up.
“Nothing,” a man with red hair answers. “I don’t think you can prosecute a dead guy.”
“I know that,” the curly-haired man says. “But do they just go, boom, next puzzle?”
“I don’t think so,” an Indian man says. The curly-haired man looks up at him.
“Why is that?” he asks.
“Well, there is the argument of it not being real or that the details could be wrong,” the Indian man says. The curly-haired man thinks about this and nods.
“True,” he says. “True.” The Indian resumes typing again. The red head looks up at his curly-haired colleague.
“You think Jack the Ripper is really a demon?” he asks.
“Why?” the curly-haired man asks. The red head shrugs.
“It’s possible,” he says.
“No,” the Indian guy says. The other two looks at him.
“There’s been no evidence,” he says.
“What if there wasn’t any to begin with?” the curly-haired man asks. The Indian man is about to speak when there is a knock on the door. The men clear their throats.
“Enter!” the Indian man shouts. They look up when the door opens. Gary walks in with the newbies.
“Hello gentlemen,” he says.
“Hi,” the men say. Gary turns to the newbies.
“This is the monitor room,” he says. “This one of three rooms that runs security. Meet Robert, Paul, and Asif. They run this room.”
“Hello,” Asif, the Indian guy, says. The other two waves at Nathan and Viv.
-Interview Corner: Asif-
What exactly do you?
“We run security on the building. There are plenty of cameras in every corner. We see everything. Everything!”
He starts laughing.
“So, you just run security in this part of the room?” Nathan asks.
“It’s not just us,” Paul, the red head, says. “There are two more rooms that run the security feeds. This is a big building after all.”
“Okay…” Nathan says.
“We see everything,” Asif says with a gleam in his eye. “Everything!” Gary shivers and clears his throat.
“Right,” he says. Robert, the man with the curly hair, looks over at his coworker, glaring.
“Why do you always do that?” he asks.
“It’s true,” Asif says.
“Okay, moving on,” Gary speaks up.
“Wait… you even have cameras in the bathroom?” Viv asks.
“Yes,” all three men say.
“It’s like I said,” Asif says. “We say everything!” Viv and Nathan look a little freaked out.
“Okay then!” Gary says. “Let’s just get moving.” He pushes the newbies out the door. Robert and Paul look at Asif.
“You’ve got to stop doing that, man,” Paul says. His coworker shrugs.
“That’s what our job is,” he says.
-Interview Corner: Asif-
Why this part of the job?
“I like to watch. My dad worked as a security camera operator. He got me into filming when I was only three. He sat me down in front of a monitor and we watched footage of this jewelry store. There was nothing going on, but I was fascinated at the time. Ever since then, I want to be behind the camera. I have many cameras recording around my flat all of the time. All of the time.”
The camera zooms in closer.
“All of the time!”
Nathan turns to Viv in the hall.
“Did you come here for university?” he asks.
“That and I came out of a bad break-up,” she says. “Caught my boyfriend cheating on me with an older woman. She was like a mentor to me.”
“Oh,” Nathan says. Viv shakes her head.
“It’s all history,” she says. “He was an idiot.”
“I can imagine so.” Nathan turns to Gary. “What about you? Why did you come to Bristol?”
“I am a native,” Gary says. “I haven’t really been anywhere else outside of this town.”
“Are you serious?” Viv asks.
“Yeah,” their guide says.
“Wow,” Nathan says.
-Interview Corner: Gary-
“I never had the need to leave Bristol. What’s so great about London anyway? There’s plenty of things to do around here. Let’s just say I have seen things that most of the people around here would never see because they don’t know where to look.”
What do you mean by that?
“Just exactly what I said. Simple as that.”
“Are the newbies here yet?” a woman with black pigtails asks, pacing around.
“They have arrived,” a woman with blonde hair says. “They are just doing the tour right now.”
“This is a big building,” a redhead with glasses adds. “It’s going to take them practically all night to show them everything.” A strawberry blonde stands in front of the mirror, putting on bright red lipstick.
“What are you doing, Ally?” the woman with black pigtails asks. Ally turns around with her face dolled-up.
“We have to look nice for the newbies,” she says. The blonde-haired woman narrows her eyes at her.
“Look nice for the newbies or the new guy?” she asks.
“There’s a guy?” the woman with black pigtails asks.
“A guy and the girl,” the redhead says.
“That’s tonight?” the woman with pigtails asks.
“Yes,” Ally says. “Are you feeling okay, Violet?” The pigtailed woman rubs her forehead.
“Long day?” Ally asks. Violet nods.
“Boyfriend trouble?” the blonde asks. Violet’s eyes well up with tears. She starts wailing aloud.
“That tosser!” she yells. “He never wants to marry me! I ask and he keeps changing the subject! I want to get married, damn it! I want a pretty wedding! I want to wear a beautiful dress! I want the big cake! Damn it! I want it! I want it! I want it!” She sinks to the floor, crying. The blonde and redhead walk over and rub her shoulders.
“There, there,” the blonde says. “You can always find another man to marry you.”
“But I want to marry him!” Violet cries. “He’s perfect for me! I love him so much! But’s such a wanker! Wanker! Wanker! Wanker!” She begins crying harder. The ladies look up when they hear footsteps in the doorway. They look up to see Gary, Nathan, and Viv staring at them.
“Uh… is this a bad time?” Gary asks. Ally stands up.
“Oh, no, no,” she says. “Vi’s having some boyfriend trouble. Give us a couple minutes and we’ll do this over. Okay?”
“Sure,” Gary says. He turns to Nathan and Viv. “Uh… let’s step out for a moment and then we can resume the tour.” The guide hurries them away from the room.
Gary walks back into the room with the newbies.
“This is the break room,” he says. “We come here to take breaks in here.” This time, only Ally and the other two girls remaining.
“We apologize for that,” she says. “Violet was having boyfriend troubles.”
“He doesn’t want to get married again?” Gary asks.
“Yeah,” the redhead says. She turns her focus to the newbies. “So, what are your names?”
“Nathan,” the male newbie says.
“Viv,” the female newbie says. Ally looks at each one of them back and forth.
“So, which branches are you going to join?” she asks.
“Branches?” Viv asks. Ally clears her throat.
“I am part of the hunter branch,” she says. “So far, I’m the only girl in the A Team.”
“I’m Susan and I run security with the boys down the hall,” the redhead with glasses says, pushing up her glasses.
“I am Nicolette,” the blonde says. “I am a technician. Violet, the girl you saw crying, is also a tech.”
“This is one of the few areas that is neutral ground,” Gary says, holding out his arms. “We come here, get a drink, get a snack, shoot the breeze, and go back to work.”
“Gah!” Nicolette screams.
“What’s the matter?” Gary asks.
“I forgot to check on Meg in the tech room!” she shouts. “Excuse me, I’ll be back!” The blonde takes off running out of the room. Ally turns her attention to the newbies once Nicolette was out of the room.
“Hunter,” she says pointing at Nathan. She moves her finger over to Viv. “Tech girl.” The newbies give her a confused look.
“What are you talking about?” Viv asks. Ally flips back her long strawberry blonde hair.
“What branches you’ll end up in,” she says. “I always do this with the newbies. My predictions are pretty accurate.”
“There you go again,” Gary says. “How can you be sure that they won’t both will end up as hunters or working security.” Ally breaks down into a princess-type laugh.
“Come on, Gary,” she says. “You’ve know my track record. I’ve only been wrong once because the person changed their mind at the last minute.”
“You might be wrong again.”
“We’ll see about that.”
-Interview Corner: Gary-
“She always does this. Ally will always predict where the newbies will end up after the aptitude test. She does it so confidently too.”
He sighs and rolls his eyes.
“It’s so… annoying. So annoying.”
-Interview Corner: Ally-
“I’m usually right. He just can’t handle it. It’s just a little bet thing that’s been going on between us since we first started working together. I don’t know how I do it exactly. I just took a guess one day at this one newbie and ended up right. I’ve been on a streak ever since. The only time I’ve been wrong was when a newbie started out in a branch, but then he changed his mind at the last minute. Other than that, predictions are pretty accurate. It just drives him crazy to admit it.”
Susan makes her way back to the security room.
“Did I miss anything?” she asks.
“The newbies stopped by here,” Paul says.
“Yeah, I’ve met them,” she says. Susan takes her place at her computer. “They should be heading to the gym right now. Next will be the labs and tech rooms. Then the basement, the hunter’s floor, and finally the boss.” Robert looks over at her.
“What did the great Ally say this time?” he asks. Susan moves her mouse to wake up her computer screen.
“Hunter for Nathan. Tech girl for Viv,” she says.
“Think she’s right again this time?” Asif asks.
“You know she is,” Susan says.
“You seem to have so much confidence in that,” Robert says.
“Are you siding with Gary this time?” she asks. He shrugs and shakes his head.
“No,” he says. “It’s just, this is Ally we are talking about here. She seems too cocky about her predictions.”
“You sound like Gary now,” Asif says.
“Do I?” Robert asks.
“Yes,” everyone says.
“Oh,” he says. He goes back to monitor Gary and the newbies heading to the gym.
A man with boxing gloves hits the standing punching bag. He keeps count in his head. He doesn’t allow music. Too distracting in his eyes. The silence helped his domain. But, he wouldn’t be alone today.
Gary and the newbie walk into the gym.
“Hello?” Gary asks. “Tony? Tony? Tony!”
Wham! The man stops and turns around.
“Yo!” Gary says, waving. The man looks the guide and the newbies. The lighting makes the sweat glisten on his body. His black tank top clings to his muscled torso. And his blue eyes. The female newbie whistles. Gary turns to Nathan and Viv.
“This is the gym,” he says. Viv blinks with a puzzled look on her face.
“Why is there a gym here?” she asks.
“We all have to have basic fighting skills here,” Tony says. “Every single one of us.” He took off his right boxing glove.
“Tony Williamson,” he says. “Nice to meet you.”
“Vivian,” the girl newbie says. “But please, call me Viv!”
“I see,” he says. “Did you do track in upper school?”
“Football and dancing,” Viv answers.
“Interesting,” Tony says. “You have the physique for it. I’d put you in the advanced class.” He looks over at Nathan.
“And you are?” he asks.
“Nathan,” the male newbie says.
“Do you run track?” Tony asks.
“Yeah,” Nathan says.
“Excellent,” the coach says. “You both can do advanced training.”
“Tell us all that you do here,” Gary says.
“Ah,” Tony says. “A various host of fighting techniques. Weapons, hand-to-hand, and different fighting styles.”
“And you need all of that to work here?” Nathan asks.
“Yes,” Tony says. “You will need it. How do you think hunters get so good?” Nathan gives him a blank stare.
Her secretary stands by the window.
“Have you told them yet?” she asks.
“Why would I do that?” the boss asks. “They won’t believe me if I told them in the interview. It would be better if they saw it themselves.”
“But how will they take it?” the secretary asks.
“That will be up to them,” the boss says.
Gary leads Nathan and Viv to the golden elevators.
“Up or down?” he asks.
“Up,” Viv says.
“Down,” Nathan says.
“Hm…” Gary says. “Rock, paper, scissors anyone?”
“Are you serious?” Viv asks.
“It’ll go faster,” their guide says. “What do you say?” After three games, Nathan wins.
“Down it is,” Gary says. He hits the down button and the elevator opens. All three get on and Gary hits the down button again.
“Where are we going?” Nathan asks.
“The basement,” the guide says. “There is someone you have to meet before we go upstairs.”
“Who is that?” Viv asks.
“An old buddy of mine,” Gary says. “He and joined at the same time. He’s a great guy.” They ride all the way down to the basement. When the door opens, they all see pitch black in front of them. Gary reaches out and turns on the light.
“Hello?” he asks. “Ash, you down here?” The guide takes a few more steps forward.
“Ash? Ash? Where are you?” he asks.
“I’m back here!” a voice shouts back. Gary turns to the newbies.
“Stay by me, okay?” he whispers in the dark. The guide holds out his hands. Viv takes one hand and Nathan takes the other.
“Good,” Gary says. “Hold on tight, yeah?” The guide leads them through the dimly lit basement. Nathan looks around him.
“What’s down here?” he asks. Viv wrinkles her nose.
“Eww, what is that smell?” she asks, covering her nose with her free hand.
“Demon decomp,” the voice from behind answers.
“Huh?” she asks. A man dressed like a doctor walks out from the shadows. He lifts up his goggles.
“Gary! Gary, how have you been?” the man asks.
“Great! How have you been, Ash?” the guide asks back.
“Good,” Ash says back. He looks over Gary’s shoulder at the newbies. “Nice to meet you, mates. My name is Ash.”
“Tell them what you do here,” Gary says.
“Gladly,” the other man says. “I do the autopsies on all the bodies brought here. Human, demon, vampire, werewolf, zombie, you name it, I do it here and give the reports to the lab and hunters.”
“What?” Nathan asks. “Demons? Vampi…? What?”
“Oh,” Ash says. “The boss didn’t tell you, did she?”
“No…” Viv says.
-Interview Corner: Ash-
“She always does this to the newbies. It’s not done out of malice. She just feels that the newbies won’t believe her if she told them up front.”
Why is that?
“Would you believe somebody if they said that they hunted demons for a living?”
I guess not.
Why did you take this job?
“I am a med student. I have a bit of an interest in autopsies. My old man wanted me to become a doctor. I was just happy to cut open bodies. I can’t exactly explain where or how this fascination comes from. But, I would like to say it was my mum. Both of my parents were doctors after all. You can say that the medical field runs through my blood.”
Everyone looks up when they hear a dog barking.
“Why is there a dog here?” Viv asks. A black and white border collie runs up to Ash and sits down. Her owner reaches down and pets her head.
“This is my best friend and roommate, Molly,” he says. “She’s good at sniffing out demons.”
“They allow your dog here at work?” Nathan asks. “They can do that?”
“Of course,” Ash says. “She part of the team after all.” Molly barks and pants as she was being patted on the head.
Back upstairs in the security room, Asif watches Gary and the newbies interact with Ash.
“Think they figured it out by now?” Robert asks.
“You know they have,” Susan says. “How could they not?”
“Some of them are just that thick,” Paul points out.
“Oh, that’s right,” she says. “Who was that bloke who didn’t know we hunted demons for the longest time and was really shocked when they learned the truth and about quit? Aw, man! We had to convince him to stay.” Robert lowers his head with a red face.
“That was me,” he confesses. The room goes silent.
“Oh,” Susan murmurs. Roberts buries himself back into his computer work. The others go back to work in silence. Asif looks at his team before going back to his own work.
9: 30 p.m.
Nathan, Viv, and Gary head back to the elevator.
“Two more stops before we meet the boss,” Gary says. “How are you liking this place so far?”
“You hunt demons?” Nathan asks.
“Yes,” the guide says. “Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, monsters, zombies, and other creatures that stalk Bristol.”
“Yes,” the guide says.
“But those things aren’t real!” Viv says.
“Oh yes they are,” Gary says. “Come along and I will show you.” Viv and Nathan look at each other. Too late to turn back now.
-Interview Corner: Viv-
What do you think about everything you just learned?
“It’s so weird. Demons? Vampires?”
She puts up her hands and slaps her thighs.
“This is crazy.”
Do you want to quit?
Why is that?
Viv shrugs and shakes her head. “I don’t really know.”
Gary leads the newbies down the hall on the second floor.
“We’re coming to the best part of the tour,” he says. “First, we’re going to the labs. Then, we will meet the tech personnel. After that, will be the hunters. Finally, I will take you to the boss.” Nathan and Viv stare at him.
“Are you okay to continue with this tour?” their guide asks. The newbies don’t speak at first.
“Just nod or speak your head if you have to,” the guide says. Nathan and Viv finally nod their heads.
“Anymore questions?” Gary asks. The newbies do not say a word. The guide claps his hands.
“Great,” he says. He walks down the hall. Nathan and Viv look at each other before following behind.
-Interview Corner: Gary-
“It takes them awhile to get used to it. I know it took me weeks for it all sink in. Once the initial shock wears off, it is up to them what happens next. I am just there to show them around the place before they meet with the boss.”
How do you think these new employees will take it?
“Up to them.”
“Is everything ready?” a woman with long dark blue hair asks.
“Yes ma’am,” Nicolette says.
“Excellent,” the other woman says. She looks over at Violet at her computer. “Have you pulled yourself together?”
“Yes,” the woman with the dark pigtails says. She sniffles as she makes herself smile. The blue-haired woman sighs.
“I want us to look as professional as possible,” she says. “We are the proud members of Tech Team A! We must leave all personal problems at the door. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes!” the girls shout.
“Good, now give it your all!” the blue-haired woman said.
“Yes!” her team shouts back
The touring party comes up to lab #18. Gary walks over to the door.
“Ready for the first cool thing of the night?” he asks. Nathan and Viv say nothing. Their guide chuckles.
“Of course you are,” he says. Gary smiles as he opens the door. A man in white coat looks up, frowning.
“Don’t you ever knock?” he asks.
“Sorry about that,” the guide says. “But we’re in the middle of a tour.” The man in the white coat says and rolls his eyes.
“He’s always doing this. Why can’t he just give the tour when I am not working? I here to study demons, spells, ghosts, and monsters. I do not have time to baby-sit children. He just picks the worst and more annoying times! Can’t he just let me work in place?”
“Come on,” Gary says. “Just quickly tell us about yourself and what you and your team does.” The man in the white coat rolls his eyes.
“Fine,” he groans. He looks so creepy as he forces himself to smile. “My name is Ryan and I am head of the labs here.”
“And what all do you do here?” the guide asks. Ryan rolls his eyes.
“I research demons, spells, ghosts, and monsters,” he says.
“And do you work alone?”
Ryan grits his teeth. “Could you please get out of here and let me do my job?”
“Mate, I’m trying to do my job too. I have to give the newbies here a tour of the place. The sooner you talk to us, the sooner we’ll move onto the next lab.”
“But I have to get back to work. The lab and I are already behind as it is. Just go take your little tour somewhere else and leave me alone! Now, goodbye!” Ryan shoves out the tour party before they have a chance to speak. He slams the door behind them.
“Okay then, not how I wanted it to go,” Gary says. Nathan gives him a strange look.
“Is he always like this?” he asks.
“Nah,” the guide says. “He’s just passionate about his work. Outside of the lab, he’s just an average bloke.” Viv and Nathan don’t look convinced.
“Look,” Gary says. “We’ve known each other since our grade school years. He’s really a cool bloke.” He turns around and sticks his hand up in the air.
“Speaking of which, I have to introduce you to another mate of mine,” the guide says. “She’s a little more chill than Ryan. Come along with me.” The newbies follow behind.
The touring party came up to Lab #38. This time, Gary knocks on the door.
“Kelly!” he shouts. “Are you busy at the moment?”
“No, come in!” a woman’s voice shouts back. The guide perks up as he opens the door. A woman dressed in a long white coat turns around from her computer. She looks about thirty-eight to forty.
“Another tour?” she asks.
“Yeah,” Gary says as he walks in.
“Been to our boss yet?” Kelly asks.
“How did he take it?”
“Like he usually does.”
Gary turns to Nathan and Viv. “These are the newbies. Nathan and Viv. Do you have any quick bit of information you want to give to them before I let you go?”
“Why yes,” Kelly says. She turns her chair around to her audience. “Ryan, the other scientists, and I do the research of everything captured and killed.”
“But you are a scientist?” Viv asks.
“Yes,” the woman in the white coat says.
“But you believe in all of this stuff?” the female newbie asks.
“Yes,” Kelly says. Viv makes a strange face.
“But… how?” she asks. The woman in the white coat chuckles.
“I saw everything for myself,” she says. “I know things are crazy around here. But once you see it, you just can’t pull away from it.” Kelly looks over at Gary.
“Do I have time to show them something?” she asks.
“Sure,” he says.
“Cheers, mate,” Kelly says. “Come over here and look on my computer if you well.” Viv and Nathan walk over for a look. Gary joins them as well.
“This will convince you,” she says. She puts her hand on the mouse and moves it back and forth. The screen wakes up to reveal a 3D image of a fetus-like demons. The skin is red with black holes all over it. The spine is cut open and exposed. Viv tilts her head.
“Is that another head there?” she asks, pointing at the screen.
“Yep,” Kelly says. “This creature was merged with the Cerberus.”
“Like the dog?” Nathan asks.
“Yeah,” Kelly says.
“But how?” he asks.
“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” the scientist says.
“We’ll leave you to it,” Gary says.
“Thanks,” Kelly says. The guide leads the newbies out of the room.
Gary looks at his watch.
“Let’s see,” he says. “The hunters and tech people aren’t ready yet.” He looks up at the newbies.
“Why don’t we take a break in the library?” he asks. “Sound good to you?”
“I guess…” Nathan says.
“Okay,” Viv says.
They walk up to the glass doors further down the hall. The guide smiles as he rests his hand on the glass.
“This is my favorite place,” he says. Gary opens the door. Books on wooden shelves as far as the eye can see. The lighting, just the like the rest of the building, was pretty dim. Just looking at the library feels like the Gothic Victorian Era.
“After you,” Gary says. The newbies look at each before walking into the library. Nathan and Viv sit at one of the tables. Their guide gets lost in the rows and rows of books. The male newbie looks around before turning to Viv.
“What do you think so far?” he whispers.
“I don’t know what to believe,” she says. Nathan looks around for a little bit.
“So… are you staying or are you leaving?” he whispers. Viv looks him in the eye.
“I think I will stay,” she says. “I have to know what we will see next. What about you?” Nathan takes a moment to contemplate this.
“I don’t really know,” he admits. Beep-beep. Beep-beep. Beep-beep. Beep-beep. The newbies look up to see Gary looking at his watch.
“Oh, good timing,” he says. “We’ve got to go.” He stands up from the dark yellow sofa from across the room.
“Break’s over,” the guide says. “I have to take you another place.”
“Where is that?” Nathan asks. Gary break into a huge grin.
“Come along and you will have to see,” he says.
One trip in the elevator later, the touring party comes up to a big white door. Gary turns to the newbies with a grin on his face.
“Be prepared to be wowed,” he says. “Here is part one of the cool. Behold.” The guide opens the door. The woman dark blue hair greets them on the other side.
“Welcome,” she says. Gary clears his throat.
“Hello, Alice,” he mumbles. The blue-haired woman pushes up her glasses.
“Come in,” she says. She moves aside to let the touring party in. Gary leads the newbies into the lab. A team of mostly women sit at their computers. Alice steps forward and claps her hands.
“This is Team A,” she says. “We aide the hunters. We send out the missions, guide them through their headsets, research data we give them, heal them when they take serious hits, and even bury them when they die.”
“We can die here?!” Nathan asks.
“Yes,” Alice says. “Did they not tell you this was a dangerous job?”
“No…” he says. The rest of the girls on the team stand up.
“And this is my team,” the leader says. The newbies spot Violet and Nicolette in the crowd.
“Hi there,” Nicolette says.
“Gary, could you leave the newbies with me for a little while?” Alice asks. “I can’t show them our work properly with you hovering over us.” Her tone tells him not to ask question. Gary gulps.
“Okay,” he says. Nathan and Viv watch him walk away his hands in his pockets.
“Uh…” Viv starts to say.
“Long history with him,” Alice says. “Let’s just leave it at that.” The newbies do not say a word.
Gary leans against the wall and pulls out his cell phone.
-Interview Corner: Gary-
What is it with you and Alice?
Gary sighs and rolls his eyes.
“What is there to say? She and I have known each other for years. Ever since before our school years.”
Why does she scare you?
“It’s kind of dumb to say. I forgot what happened.”
Do you want to talk about it?
“No.” Gary shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.
Moments later, Nathan and Viv step out into the hallway. Gary looks up.
“Ready to go?” he asks.
“Yes,” Nathan says.
“Okay,” the guide says. He looks at his phone.
“The hunters aren’t back yet,” Gary says. “We still have a little bit more time. Why don’t I show you where I work? Sound good to you?” Viv shrugs.
“I guess,” she says.
“Good,” the guide says. “I will show you around to the rest of the labs and tech team. After that, I will show you where I work. Okay then, follow me.” He leads the newbies further down the hall.
The touring party comes towards the end of the hall. Gary stops in front of door #52.
“And here is my office,” he says. The guide opens the door. There isn’t much to look at inside. A corner-shaped desk sits off to one slide while a whole bookcase takes over the wall. The rug is brown and looks like plastic.
“That’s it?” Viv asks.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Gary says. “This is just to fill time until the hunters get back from their current mission.”
“They are working today?” Nathan asks.
“Of course,” the guide says. “The workday never stops for him.”
“Is it going to be the same for me?” he asks. Gary frowns.
“Look, that doesn’t mean that you are going to be a hunter just because Ally said it,” he says.
“But what if I do become one?” he asks.
“Well then, it is what it is,” Gary says.
Susan looks up from her computer.
“You know how the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel gets a bad rep for her house?” she asks. “What if she just wanted a nice, edible house for in case she had guests over? It’s not her fault that two fat little children were trespassing on her property!” The boys look up at her. Susan shrugs.
“Just a thought,” she says.
“I don’t think she was a witch,” Robert says. “I think she was mental. I mean, who has a house made of candy? It would get sticky after being wet from the rain. Plus, all of the bugs eating the house slowly, but surely until it collapses on the old woman.”
“She might have had some magic to protect it or really good homeowners insurance,” Paul says. Asif sits at his computer watching everyone again. Robert shrugs.
“You’re probably right,” he says. He looks at his monitor again.
Ash looks at his watch.
“Oh, it’s about that time, Molly,” he says. The border collie lifts her head and barks. Her owner reaches for the radio and turns it on.
“Good morning, you early morning crawlers of Bistrol!” the DJ shouts through the air. “We’ve got a show for you in these early morning hours! Let’s start out with our program, Letters from the Lonely!”
-Interview Corner: Ash-
“Around this time, I listen to the Letters from the Lonely program. An ex-girlfriend of mine introduced it to me two years ago. They are just people writing in because they are bored, lonely, and/or both. Some of them are really sweet while others are just trashy. Molly and I find it oddly entertaining.”
Is your boss okay with this?
“Of course. It’s all to keep us from going crazy in long hours in the morning.”
Why do you work so long?
“To keep Bistrol safe. Why wouldn’t you work long hours to do that?”
Kelly sits at her computer when her phone rings.
“Yo,” she says.
“Do you have those samples yet?” Ryan asks.
“No, I haven’t,” she says.
“And my I ask why not?” he asks.
“You have me working on the fetus creature, remember?”
“Oh, yeah. How is that coming along?”
Kelly looks at her screen. “I’ve got the report finished. I was just about to send it to you.”
“Good deal. Diana and Jennifer are getting the data from the tech lab from tonight’s hunt,” Ryan says.
“Hey, boss,” she says.
“What?” he asks.
“What do you think of the newbies so far?” the scientist asks. His boss snorts on the other line.
“Frankly, I do not give a shite,” he says.
“But you have to. We need more people on the team. More people equals more for our research.”
“Yeah, whatever. Just get those samples. I want them set before sunrise.”
Kelly rolls her eyes. “Yes, boss.” She sneers at the phone as Ryan hangs up on his end.
“How about a please for a change?” she mutters. Kelly hangs up her phone and goes back to work.
Gary’s phone rings in the hallway.
“Excuse me,” he says. Nathan and Viv watch as he walks down to the other end. The call lasts about three minutes. Gary turns to the newbies, grinning.
“Good news,” he says. “The hunters are back. Let’s go meet them right now.” Nathan and Viv stare at him for a minute.
“So, what exactly do they do again?” Nathan asks. “I just want to be certain with clarity.” Gary smiles and shakes his head.
“Follow me and I will show you,” he says. He walks up to the closed silver elevator. Gary pushes the up button and the party goes inside.
“Saving the best part for last,” he says. “They are so badass that they and the boss get a floor to themselves.”
“Is that right?” Viv asks.
“Oh yeah!” the guide says. “It’s pretty sweet too.” They begin the ride upwards.
A breeze greets them as the doors open. Loud chatter circles their ears. A team of men and women dressed in black trench coats walk out of the other elevator. They have their weapons on their back as they walk down the hall towards the touring party. Gary steps forward with his arms out.
“Guys!” he says. “Welcome back! How was tonight’s mission?” A man with short red hair looks up.
“Gary!” he says. “You brought the newbies.” The man walks up to the party and puts his arms around Viv and Nathan.
“Let’s take a walk, shall we?” he asks. “My name is Charlie. And you are?”
“Viv,” the female newbie says.
“Nathan,” the male newbie says.
“Excellent,” Charlie says. Ally walks up to the party and waves.
“Hello again,” she says. Gary rolls his eyes.
“Let me introduce you to the team,” the red-haired hunter says. “I myself am Charlie. This is my partner, Miranda.” He points over to a woman with dark brown hair to her shoulders in the crowd. Miranda puts up her hand and waves.
“We have thirteen pairs of hunters here,” she says.
“I recently lost mine to a werewolf attack,” another black man says. “We thought that we had it sedated too. Bastard got right back up and ate her through the neck.” Ally claps her hands together.
“Great timing,” she says. “Nathan here is about to join our ranks after the aptitude test. He might partner up with you, Daniel.” Gary groans and slaps his forehead.
“You can’t be too certain about that,” he says.
“My predictions have been accurate before,” she says.
“You could be wrong this time,” Gary says. Charlie clears his throat.
“Moving on,” he says. “Let get on with this tour so that we don’t keep the boss waiting, shall we?”
“Okay…” Viv says, blinking.
“Uh… why are you still touching up?” Nathan asks.
“Don’t ask questions yet,” Charlie says. He leads them down through the hall with the other hunters and Gary. Ally grins at the guide, making him roll his eyes.
A woman with long wavy dark hair walks back to her computer in Tech Lab #20. She shoves her phone into her pocket.
“The kids okay, Mina?” Nicolette asks.
“Yep,” the other woman says. Her phone vibrates in her pocket.
“Excuse me,” she says. Mina pulls out her phone and looks at the screen.
“Your neighbour again?” Nicolette asks.
“Yep,” Mina says.
“What does it say?”
“Nothing much. Just checking in on my well-being like he always does.” Mina types a quick response and shoves her phone back into her pocket. Nicolette tilts her head.
“Why don’t you just hook up with him?” she asks. Mina turns around, rolling her eyes.
“He’s too young for me!” she says. “That bloke’s like a son to me!”
“So?” Nicolette asks. “Haven’t you seen that programme, Age Gap Love?”
“Yeah, but it’s not like that. We’re just friends!” Mina says, flaring her arms around in the air. Her coworker laughs.
“You just need to get laid,” she says. “When was the last time you had a good shag?” Mina rolls her eyes.
“I’m not going to answer that,” she says. Mina turns back to her computer and forces herself back to work. Nicolette shrugs her shoulders.
“Spoil sport,” she says. She goes back to work as well.
At long last, Gary takes the newbies to the boss’ office.
“Well, this is it,” he says. “I finally got you to the boss. Our journey ends here. You won’t see me again until we all leave for the day. You will go in there and take your aptitude test. You will get your results in the mail. Do you have any more questions?” Nathan and Viv shake their heads.
“Good,” Gary says. “I wish you luck.” He turns and walks away. Nathan and Viv look at each other.
“Ready to do this?” he asks.
“Too late to turn back now,” she says.
“Right,” Nathan says. He draws in a breath and opens the large white doors.
A woman dressed in a puffy white dress greets them. She holds a clipboard in her hands. Her pale face and soulless black eyes kind put Nathan off.
“Welcome,” the woman says. “The boss will see you now.” Her voice barely comes above whisper. Judging by her accent, it’s clear that she’s not from here. Italy, maybe?
“Thank you, Nicoliy,” another woman says in the background. “That will be all.” The woman in white bows and steps aside. Up ahead is a woman dressed in black Victorian clothing sitting at her desk.
“Welcome, Nathan, Viv,” she says. “My name is Eurus Williams. We’ve met in the job interviews. How did you enjoy the tour?”
“It was…” Viv says.
“Interesting…” Nathan finishes.
“Very good,” Eurus says. “Please, take a seat.” The newbies sit down in front of her desk. The boss reaches into her desk and pulls out to small stacks of paper.
“We will now begin the aptitude test,” she says. “Read through each question and think carefully about how you want to respond. Each answer will determine which branch you will work for. You will have an hour and thirty minutes to complete it. I wish you the best with your tests.” Eurus hands them the tests and the pens. Nathan and Viv take them and get to work on their tests.
A woman with short red hair knocks on Kelly’s door.
“Enter,” the female scientist says. The woman opens the door and pokes her head in.
“Have you finished the reports?” she asks. Kelly grits her teeth and rolls her eyes.
“What is he setting messengers now?” she asks herself. The scientist turns around with a forced smile on her face.
“I will have the report ready shortly,” she says. “Anything else, Angel?”
“Are you going to have breakfast with the crew this morning?” the other woman asks. Kelly’s mood lightens up.
“I will try to,” she says. “That will depend on if the boss doesn’t weigh me down with work again.”
“Okay,” Angel says. “I will go tell the girls.” She turns and walks away. Kelly turns back to the computer.
-Interview Corner: Kelly-
“He’s too obsessed with his work. Sometimes, we end up working until noon. If he had his way, Ryan would have us working day and night without sleep or food.”
Where do you sleep?
“Where do you think? I can’t remember the last time I saw my flat this week. Sometimes, we have to slip out to see our families and loved ones.”
“We’re all hoping that Ryan will one day get laid. But, that is starting to look like a pipe dream, you know?”
“You don’t have to do that to him, you know?” a man with short dark hair says, looking at his partner, Ally. The strawberry blonde raises her eyebrow at her desk.
“But’s he just much fun to mess with,” she says. “You know how I am, Owen.” The man rolls his eyes.
“Yeah, too well,” Owen says.
“But I do mean what I said about those two newbies,” Ally says. “We will do good and groom Nathan into a fine hunter.”
“I have never doubted your predicts,” he says. “But the way you do them sometimes just comes off as bragging. You are welcome to give them out, but maybe scale back on the boasting?” Ally narrows her eyes at him.
“I guess I do get a little carried away sometimes,” she says. “Maybe I can scale back.”
“Cheers,” Owen says. Ally looks at her clock on her mobile.
“They should be done soon,” she says. The female hunter looks up. “Say, you planning to do anything today?”
“Not really,” her partner says.
“Great,” she says. “There is new little restaurant out in the countryside of Wales. I would love to invite you out for a romantic lunch sometime.”
“I’m sorry, Ally, but I am married,” Owen says. She pushes her hair behind her ear.
“Aw, you know that I always game for couples as well,” she says. “I swing both ways.”
“How long are we going to keep up this joke?”
“You keep letting me do that.”
Owen groans and rolls his eyes.
The work night is winding down. The team starts packing up and heading out into Bistrol as the sun comes up. Nathan walks out to his bike in front of the building.
“Hey!” someone shouts. The newbie turns his head to see Ash and Molly walking towards him.
“Yo!” Ash says, waving.
“Hey there,” Nathan says in low voice.
“How was your test?” the older man asks. The newbie drops his shoulders and sighs.
“Long and hard,” he says. “Some of the questions confused me.” Ash chuckles.
“Yeah, the test is through for each applicant,” he says. “I am had a mental crash when I took the test.” He reaches down and pets Molly on the head.
“You heading home?” Ash asks.
“Yeah,” Nathan says. “I’ve had a long night here.”
“You aren’t done yet,” the mortician says. The newbie gives him a strange look.
“What?” he asks.
“There’s still one more thing left to do,” Ash says. The newbie gives him another odd look.
“Breakfast!” the mortician says.
“Oh…” Nathan says.
The team goes to them five cafés of choice within downtown Bistrol. Nathan ends up at the Big Pig Café. He sits at the table with Mina, Ally, Owen, and Ash. Molly stands outside of the café, tied up and waiting as if guarding the café.
“This is the best part of our day,” Ash says. “The food’s really good here. If would just be better if Molly could come inside too.”
“But what if someone is allergic to dogs?” Ally asks. “You don’t want to be held responsible for if someone has a reaction, do you?” The mortician shrugs.
“Not my problem,” he says. The newbie looks at everyone around the table as they wait for their food.
“How did you all come to work for this team?” Nathan asks. The people at the table look at each other for a moment.
“I saw that ad in the paper,” Ash says.
“Same here,” Owen says.
“Me too,” Mina says.
“Yep,” Ally says.
“Just like that?” Nathan asks.
“Yes,” they reply.
“But, not everyone can see the ad in the paper,” Ash says. “Only a small few can see it and can right to the boss.” The newbie gives him an odd look.
“How does that work?” he asks.
“We don’t know,” Mina says. Her phone buzzes in her pocket. “Excuse me.” She pulls out her phone and reads her text.
“Your neighbor again?” Ally asks.
“No, my son,” the tech woman says. She looks up at Nathan. “I have three children. A son and two daughters.” Owen gives her a sharp look.
“Careful, Mina,” he says. “Those that talk about their family so openly are usually the ones to die first in this line of work.”
“Shut up!” she shouts, throwing her straw paper at him. Owen puts up his arms to shield himself.
“Hey!” he shouts. “It’s true.”
“Jerk!” the tech woman shouts. Nathan can’t help but smile.
-Interview Corner: Nathan-
“This is an interesting crowd. Their line of work still confuses me, but I am intrigued to see how this all plays out.”
Are you going to stay?
“You know something? I think I will stay. Will I become a hunter like Ally says? I have no idea. I will see with my results tomorrow in the mail.”
After breakfast, Nathan rides his bike back to his flat. The long night is finally done. He goes up the stairs and unlocks the door. Once inside, the newbie throws down his bag and locks up. After a long, how shower, Nathan changes into his night clothes and goes to bed.
His classes will begin at ten in the morning.
End of Night One
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