“If you had told me a year ago what I know now, I would call bullshit.” Herald admitted. “These things are fairy-tales, nothing more.” He sighed. “Although I think Eada would hit me for saying that.”
The Day Everything Changed
The platypus stood there as it happened. His name is Herald Thompson. He watched as the announcement spread over the live international news stations. His solitary nature and lone attitude didn’t lend well to such revelations. He was used to his research, to his test tubes, to his lab. He was out of his element in New York City, especially that day. He told himself that it was a fluke story. He didn’t believe in vampires, but the news that day argued otherwise.
The crowd gawked in the moment. There was a whisper quickly grew to a roar. The street was ablaze with conversation. Most thought it was a joke. That someone was messing with the teleprompter.
The reporter mentioned that last month a man came forward one evening at a construction site in Europe. He said he owned a vast amount of the property. The documents he presented were over four hundred years old. When asked, the man hesitated, and left. A few nights later, he returned. He stated his identity and explained that he was a vampire. When asked for proof, he lifted the side of an excavator with one hand. The group contesting his origins had arranged a special research laboratory in New York City to conduct the necessary tests to determine if he was indeed a real vampire. And to determine if his claims on the property were valid.
On September 1st Herald had been in New York almost a month, setting up an empty lab to start local testing that was to be discussed at the latest possible minute due to a few legal concerns. “There’s no fucking way,” he stared at the large screen broadcasting the news. “They would have told me if it was something like this.” He took a sip of his morning coffee. He was in denial.
He went up town to his apartment. The high rise was offered as a temporary home. It was a generous incentive, even by his standards. The jobs always offered free accommodations, but a loft in the city was insane. There must be a huge working budget.
The chirp of his phone confirmed he had two new messages as he walked in. There were cardboard shipping boxes that lined the walls five levels high. Herald, the master of procrastination. At least outside of work. In three weeks, he had unpacked only three small boxes. Two were clothing, the other was his computer. He didn’t believe in cell phones. He enjoyed the idea of not being available at times. There was a certain quiet to it that pleased him.
The loft spoke worlds to a fashion choice that Herald truly had no interest in. It was modern minimalist with large open rooms that held empty space. The kitchen consisted of flat steel appliances with small red accents on the mahogany cabinets. It made no sense to his uncultured mind. To him, a clean motel six was fine. Most of his regular contracts called for only a few months of work, then he had to move again. He would spend every waking hour at his job anyway. And every night inside. He had reached a Zen level to his antisocial attitude.
Herald is a tall man at six foot one. He’s lengthy and seemingly frail. His thin rectangular metal glasses frame his gaunt face surprisingly well. He is in no way an ugly man, only a moderately attractive and simple one. His deep brown hair is slightly mixed with shades of red and black blended in. He has a white patch of hair on the back of his head slightly to the right. A birthmark of sorts that he always hides from others by wearing a baseball hat in public. He hates baseball. His eyes are a dark brown, simple, yet kind. He was single at the time, and it was apparent by his grooming habits. His five o’clock shadow always perpetually three days old. For pure lack of attention, he didn’t bother keeping a clean shave.
The phone rang. The blue LED panel lit the caller I.D. and informed him that he wasn’t going to like the conversation. Work. Sillian Industries hadn’t bothered him much. If they were calling now, it would seem that things were about to move forward.
“Herald? Are you there?” The feminine voice was out of breath. “Dammit Herald, am I on speaker phone again? You know I hate that phone of yours.”
He tossed his keys into a heavy glass bowl at the other end of the room. It was a daily ritual that usually made a welcome chime that he remembered from college. The bowl was a gift from his first girlfriend, before she dumped him. She had hand blown it during one of her many art classes that didn’t get her a degree. He had kept it out of comfort, never really wanting to throw it away out of habit.
“It’s vampires, Herald,” the woman blared over the speaker phone.
The bowl shattered on impact with the keys.
He watched in dismay as small pieces rolled off the ledge and onto the floor. His jaw dropped. The keys were never enough to damage it in the past. It had fallen before, several times, and from higher distances, and to no effect. Now it was in forty seven pieces now. He said nothing.
“Herald? Herald, did you hear me? I said vampires, we get to work on real vampires!” The woman was ecstatic.
“I heard you Jenna. I saw the big news announcement and a sense of dread over took me.” He walked to the shards of thick glass on the floor. There was a crunch under his foot. Forty eight.
“And you’re not excited about it? God, man, these are vampires we’re talking about here. Aren’t you even curious?”
“I have more pressing issues. I could care less about who the specimen came from. We just run the tests and extract data. It’s not like we’ll ever get to meet any of the donors from the study,” He swept up the debris gently with his hand. “I don’t want to focus on vampires right now.”
“Okay, what the hell happened? Did you break your computer, again? Another over-clocking incident? Is that why you’re so depressed all of a sudden?”
“Mary’s bowl broke.” He sighed.
“About time!” She expressed instant disdain for his choice of sentimentality. “I’ve hated that thing ever since that art reject ripped your heart out and served it to you in the form of a crappy ashtray.”
“It’s not-” Herald was cut off as he reached for an empty box of take out near the window.
“-Bullshit! It’s exactly like that. She held you back. You would have gone to medical school if it wasn’t for her. She made you support her while she got her career in order, then left you in the defect bin.” She told the truth he didn’t want to hear it.
“I would have gone. I just didn’t have the time,” he dusted off his hands.
“Then can you tell me why you haven’t tried again? Why you haven’t picked up the desire you used to rant about ten years ago in graduate school?” She huffed. She knew the answer. But he wasn’t going to admit it no matter how hard she pushed him.
“That’s in the past now. I’m making a good living with this. I like it.” His words convinced no one.
“You need to get laid and find a good woman.”
“I tried that. Remember?”
“Next time don’t hit on a lesbian. Especially one that’s already your friend. My brain’s just not wired in the way you want it to be. All you have to do is find one that is, and you’re golden.” Her advice was a tactic that had failed at the same step in countless attempts, the execution. He never followed through and she hated it.
“So just hook up, knock her up, and then hope she’s a good girl to settle down with. That’s a great plan.” He sighed, thinking about where to place his keys now.
“You can be dense for a genius. You don’t even know what it means to hook up. You should use protection, don’t be an idiot.”
He snapped out of his daze. “You never do.”
“That’s because I don’t have a dick.” She dug for the low blow, “And from the sounds of it, you don’t either.”
“Goodbye Jenna,” He hung up.
“So tomorrow I’ll be working on vampire blood. I wonder if they’ll make us wear garlic in the lab?” He sat down on the floor.
His conversation with Jenna had exhausted him. He removed his dull coat and hung it on the closet door to the empty bedroom. He was tired. He had only taken off his shirt when he heard it again. The phone still had two messages waiting. He made his way back and clicked the irritating flashing button.
There was a beep. “Herald, its Michelle Price, the operations manager at Sillian Industries. By now you’ve already seen the international story. I need you to come in for an official briefing when you get the chance. There have been some additions to your team that I need to go over with you.”
He figured that she would ask something along those lines. She was the type of person that cared more about policy and political correctness than most.
“There’s also been a change in the setup of your lab.”
His knees got weak.
“We’ll discuss everything when you get in tomorrow morning. Let’s say 8:30am?”
He knew she wasn’t going to simply let him walk into the office without a date planned. He was a recluse at the best of times. Though, hearing about unauthorized changes to his lab stoked a fire in him that broiled his mind. This was supposed to be my project, my laboratory. He didn’t like change.
“And Herald, tell Jenna she still has some of her things at my apartment,” she said quickly before the message clicked off.
He had known about Jenna’s affair with Michelle since before he had flown out to New York. She had a way of finding and converting women to her cause. This one just happened to be his next boss. Their relationship lasted all of a month. And somehow, he found himself playing mediator.
He exhaled as he pressed the button again.
The machine beeped. “Herald Thompson,” the voice in the message paused. It was unfamiliar. “Don’t wear any silver to your meeting tomorrow, it will offend.”
The phone clicked, the automated female voice kicked in, “There are no more messages.”
The unknown voice was effeminate, though clearly a man. There was silk to his words, reasoning behind his simple warning. Herald pondered why wearing silver to a staff meeting would have any effect at all. He was at least relieved, the only silver he owned was a sterling cross his mother had given him. It was an attempt to bring him closer to some sort of religion other than science. It hadn’t worked. He had worn it once, and put it away in the same box it came in. It was still heavily packed away in one of the boxes in the living room.
He lurched back to the waiting bed, one of the perks of moving into a furnished loft.