I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing here. When I had answered the ad online, I really wasn’t expecting to get the call, but then again I’ve become a pro at selling myself short. Or maybe it was just because I didn’t think it was a legit posting. Seems legit. They gave everyone a white coat and name badge before seating us in this room. This stale, white room. No furniture except black folding chairs and a whiteboard. Minimalist to say the least. It seems more military than federal government. I had always thought the feds lavished themselves with things like two thousand dollar ashtrays made of Italian marble. Well, maybe not for their scientists.
There are fourteen of us. Looking around the room, it’s hard to find anyone like me because we all seem so different. Except that we were all hired for medical research by the U.S. federal government. And we were all brought here, a secret government research facility in Rowan, West Virginia. Tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains, away from the skeptical eyes of the world. Men, women, thin, fat, white, black, Asian…human…vampire. How did I know? Well, some of that is obvious, but with vampires you just know. I have developed a radar over the past ten years, since vampires were accepted into U.S. society and given full rights. Still, sometimes I have been wrong. Nothing worse than being publicly reminded of how foolish making assumptions can make you look.
The door to the left of the whiteboard opens, and a man in a black suit walks through to the center of the room. Now he looks like a fed. Closely cut light brown hair, styled in the most boring way possible. Cleanly shaven without a hint of stubble. Suit completely wrinkle-free and shoes polished so brightly that I could probably see my reflection in them. Yep, definitely a fed.
“Thank all of you for being here today and accepting our offer to work on one of the most important medical research projects of our lifetime. My name is Robert Caulfield. I’m the director of the Federal Office of Human and Vampire Administration.”
Bingo. I guessed another one right.
“As you may know, the U.S. government has been looking for ways to address the criminal element within the vampire community. There are those within the community who continue to kill humans and are rousing a counter-movement to revoke the equal status of vampires in the United States. What FOHVA proposes is to begin research toward a medical solution to prevent any possibility of the counter-movement earning any legitimacy or gaining political backing. If this small group of extremists go mainstream, not only will we see the collapse of ten years of social progress, but vampires will essentially have to go back into hiding.”
I can’t think. It’s hard to process everything that Mr. Caulfield had said. Surely such a lunatic fringe group could not become powerful enough that people would actually support them. Why make vampires go back underground? It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
“Each one of you has been chosen out of thousands of applicants because of your areas of expertise. You will be paired with someone with a complementary background to work as a team to develop a solution to the anti-vampire element. Keep in mind that what we are looking for is prevention. We need to remove the reason why a counter-movement would need to exist by addressing the high rate of human murders committed by vampires. The pair that succeeds in developing a viable option to address our problem will receive a fifty thousand dollar bonus in addition to the regular salary.”
I can literally feel my eyebrows touch my hairline. I’m afraid to look around at the other researchers as I didn’t want to confirm that I was the only one who was reacting like the country bumpkin in the big city, eyes wide and full of wonder and hope.
A woman in a gray business suit walks in and hands Mr. Caulfield a clipboard. “When I call your name and the name of your partner,” he begins, “please pass through the door to my right and you will be given further instructions as well as advised as to which research suite you will be using in the coming months. Any questions?”
The room is dead silent. Either we all understand, are too afraid to ask or haven’t heard anything past “fifty thousand dollar bonus.”
“Very good,” Mr. Caulfield continues, “ and welcome to FOHVA.”
Copyright 2012 J.B. Stilwell