Marcus Odwan was finishing up his last tour for the day at New York’s American Museum of Natural History. It was only a part-time gig he did to help pay for his grad schooling at NYU. His Bachelor degree was in archeology and he was shooting for his Master’s degree in contemporary avian connection to dinosaurs. That is, Marcus was of the school of thought that some of the dinosaurs had evolved (or devolved, depending on who you talked to) into birds rather than going into extinction.
When the last of his tourists finally left the doors to the famed museum it was already after 5:00 pm. It was a Saturday and he still had to grade some of his students’ essays by Monday morning…some weekend!
“Hey, Mark,” Larry, one of the Natural Museum’s guards, called out to Marcus as he walked by the circulation desk with a handful of essays, on his way to his office in the Museum’s basement, “looks like another all-nighter for you!”
“Yeah…I’ve got about fifty more of these essays to get through.”
“So, you really think birds are leftovers from dinosaurs, huh?”
Marcus stopped just feet away from the circulation desk. He never walked away from a chance for him to tell the public of his views on “living fossils,” as he often called birds.
“Ever really took the time to look at some of the displays here, Larry?”
“Ever noticed the skeletal formation of birds and then compared them to dinosaurs’ fossils? How they tend to share the same bone structures in their heads, in their hind legs, or their tail bones?” He knew he didn’t have time to breakdown scientifically the similarities to the guard, so visuals were enough.
“Yeah, I’ve noticed all those things before. But I got to tell you, Mark, sometimes I agree with this friend of mine…”
“About what,” Marcus asked curiously as he set his pile of essays on the corner of the circulation desk.
Suddenly, Larry seemed to become apprehensive as he looked around to make sure no one else could hear him. He rolled his chair up closer to the young archeologist.
“My friend, Bobbie, she has this reputation for being a bit whacko, but sometimes she makes sense. She told me that dinosaur fossils are nothing but fake skeletons that are constructed and implanted in the earth all around the world, just so museums can make money.”
“What…!” Marcus had to remember to whisper. “Larry, I’ve gone on archeological expeditions in the U.S. and Africa…trust me, the fossils are quite real!”
“My turn to ask a question,” the guard said, yet whispering. “You know about special effects these days, both in the movies and in theme parks, right?”
Marcus waited to hear more from Larry, but Larry just looked at Marcus with his brows arched, then shifted his eyes dramatically to indicate the Museum.
“Oh, come on, Larry! I didn’t think you were of the conspiratorial sort. Like I said, I’ve helped dig up dinosaur bones and even some ancient human fossils. What about human fossils, Larry…does Bobbie have an answer for that, too?”
Larry shook his head and leaned back in his chair. “Look, Mark, I didn’t mean to offend your profession. I’m just saying that if you were in a business that depended on drawing people in to look at some fantastic creatures, and you needed something so remarkable that would make them want to spend their money by the millions each year…” Larry let his sentence taper and shrugged his shoulders.
With that, Marcus told the young guard to have a nice weekend.
Marcus looked at the clock on his office wall: 1:50am. Crap! That’s too late for anyone to hang around any museum. He gathered all his students’ essays and put them in his bag and left his office. He started for the elevator until he noticed a light behind a door to a section of the Natural Museum he had never been to before. Marcus could not resist going over to see what the room was and who was working there so late on a weekend…besides himself, of course.
After Marcus knocked on the door a middle-aged man wearing a face-mask opened it.
“What do you want,” the man behind the door said rudely, his eyes looking past Marcus and venturing all over the basement, as if making sure no one else was there.
“Hi, I—I’m Marcus Odwan…I’m a grad student from New York University.”
“Oh, are you here for that position,” the man said with a bit more hospitality in his voice.
“The one in our Creative Department. You work here I assume, because only existing employees can apply for it.”
“Of course I do,” Marcus said; feeling offended.
“Then I’m surprised you don’t know,” the man said, taking off his mask.
The man let Marcus into the lab area. To Marcus’s total disbelief, it was a workshop. Not a workshop of ceramic figurines or artwork, but of some structures that looked strangely familiar.
“Marcus,” the man said to him, “if you’re not interested in the fabrication job, I have to ask you to fill out a non-disclosure form. As you can see, we got to keep this under wraps. Let me get it from my boss.” The man then turned to yell at a woman in an office. “Hey, Bobbie, we need another one of those forms!”