Okay, here is the non-romance version. I can’t even describe what I was thinking. I got map happy and I don’t even know. It basically starts somewhat the same before veering off into – well – the weirdness. Enjoy my wanderings. Oh, and I didn’t even spell-check, it is rough, rough, rough. Sorry, only, not really.
Disclaimer: I do own this concept and story.
Journal 1- Joshua **** de la *****, beginning September 17, 2012
When tomorrow dawns it will be the fifteenth anniversary of my arrival here. The first anniversary I will celebrate as an adult. Thus my journal begins. Personally I find it more than a bit ridiculous that this will be of any use to anyone in the future, certainly not I, but it is the law, the rule, the tradition and so, I write. I sit here in isolation in some small town somewhere in the Midwest, I think it is Kansas but it may be Iowa or South Dakota or Idaho. I have been traveling for weeks now and I am losing track. I am searching but that is not what I want to write about now.
The beginning is supposed to be about reflection on the past. It is so mind numbingly ridiculous to me. Everyone knows it all already but nonetheless I write. Anyone else in a similar situation (though of course not exactly the same) would consider themselves American. Having come here at the age of 3 and been raised in America, going to public school in a large metropolitan area, speaking English at school, at home, everywhere. They would call themselves first generation American and be proud. But I am not just anyone and I did not come here from genocide or poverty in Europe or Africa. I did not escape political or religious persecution in Asia. I came here, like hundreds of others in my clans, through the portal. The portal from Elsewhere. From **********.
We were sent to escape the cataclysm that was occurring. So many children of the four main clans were sent through the portal with only the barest handful of adults. The ratio was something like 1 adult to 75 children. My parents were not one of the adults that came. I was a toddler and alone. My story is not unique. It is not odd. With a ratio like that the odd ones were those who had a close family member like a parent, grown sibling, uncle, or aunt to care for them directly.
I try not to dwell on it. It is the way it is and nothing can change it. There was a lottery of sorts before we left and I lost. I came here alone. Alright, that is being overly maudlin. I came with hundreds of others in my clan, of my blood, of my ***magic***. All but seven of them under the age of 12. But nonetheless, I was alone. There was no one nearer in blood to me than a fourth cousin, practically a stranger. Sometimes growing up, I wished I had been left behind to share the fate of my parents, my older siblings. But they wanted me to live and sent me here. To Earth. To America. To the portal that opened in the woods of Philadelphia.
I do not remember much of what happened that day. I was so young. But I do recall the pain of being in the sun as we emerged from the tree cover, the intense burning feeling from the UV rays filtered through a much weaker ozone layer than home. We were unprepared and we suffered until we discovered sunscreen. I still have a few scars from those early sunburns. Most of us do. The legends would have it that we should have burst into flames for our sins in the light of day. What sins could a toddler have committed that would lead to that horrible of a death? No, it was simply the lack of an adaptation to the strength of the sun here versus where we were from. Before sun protection was invented, yes, those few who came here as explorers or ex-patriots would have needed to remain indoors on all but the most overcast of days, but none burst into flames.
I have heard the stories of the responses that we got from the religious community, the fundamentalists still rage against us and many of the more stringent laws are due to their lobbying. They fear us and use religion and God to oppress us and control us. Many of them to this day, cults and groups, insist that we are demons from Hell and must be destroyed. I cannot count how many times in my travels I have been drenched in holy water or hit with a cross. The only times it bothers me is when it is made of silver because there is truth to that myth. There is something in our DNA that causes a severe allergic reaction to silver. I don’t burn but I do get painful hives and if it is held too long, I have an anaphylactic reaction and my throat swells and I have trouble breathing.
Other legends that they test are mirrors and photography. We show up in them. We have reflections and we are not invisible to technology. I personally like garlic though the smell can be overpowering since our senses are more acute than Earthlings. But I love the taste and it does not harm me. It gives a nice zing to food unless it is drenched in it which causes problems for anyone, not just my people. I sleep in a bed, not a coffin. I don’t sleep in the dirt. If I was buried alive, I would die from lack of air just like any other person. We can hold out breath longer than those of Earth because our lungs are larger and can hold more air and we regulate out breathing somewhat differently but I still breathe. I do not fly with or without wings and I most certainly cannot turn into a bat. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The change in mass alone is insane!
We are not MAGIC! We are not SUPERNATURAL CREATURES! We are NOT soulless DEMONS! If you stick a stake through our hearts, yes, we die! So would any living thing! It does not make us crumble into dust and blow away. We live longer than those from here, typically to about 200 Earth years but we are not IMMORTAL! Arrrgghh! It is aggravating and you would think after fifteen years people would understand but many still don’t. They believe the myths and the legends. They claim that those who say otherwise have been brainwashed by us. That is another myth. We cannot glamor people into thinking things, we cannot read minds, the most we do is read emotions and then only of those we have shared with.
That is the problem there, I suppose. The sharing. The blood thing. We don’t grow fangs and we don’t hunt humans and drain them of their blood to keep ourselves alive. Our canines are more pronounced and pointed than Earthlings but we cannot suck blood through them. We share blood with closest family and our mates. Not soul mates, destined to be together through all eternity, just mates like spouses. And not just anyone we have sex with either, it is more personal than that. It is special. It is making a bond that connects us always. Whether parent to child, sibling to sibling, or mate to mate, it is deeply personal and loving.
It freaks people out. The first time one of us from the portal shared blood and truly mated with an Earthling, and it took, caused an uproar as had never been imagined. The ceremony, the sharing of blood and of bodily fluids during sex, happened to activate or over-ride or bring to the forefront a dormant bit of DNA coding in the former Earthling and they changed over the course of the next month. They became indistinguishable from one of us who was born Elsewhere. The only way to tell the difference was to measure mineral deposits in the bones after death, as was discovered when the backlash claimed the lives of the two bonded in a great fire.
Since then, there have been dozens of conversions. And these conversions have led to the most stringent of the laws. The SEPARATION laws. These laws are ones that are impacting me directly as I write this, in isolation, somewhere in the middle of the United States of America. I am searching, following a trail, hoping that this time I am in time but doubting it more and more each time I am too late. They are clever and they know how to use the laws to keep me behind them and to hide themselves. To hide her, though I believe she does not wish to hide. I hope to find her this time. I think I am close. I may be deluding myself but I think I felt her earlier today. If so, tomorrow may be more to celebrate than the anniversary of my arrival on this planet. It may be my bonding day. I can only hope.
Extra info for prologue – Write in the prologue about blood and drinking and family and puberty.
Increasingly over the past several years, I have found myself desperately missing the most imprtant thing in our lives, in our selves – the blood ritual. The Terran myths of the vampyr are so erroineous but we do indeed drink blood. As children, we require blood from our parents or older relatives to survive and thrive. It contains some type of nutrients and immunogical factors that help us grow corectly. Once we hit puberty, our metabolism changes as the rest of our body does and we no longer have a true NEED for blood, simply the desire that was formed over years of having it. The issue – after coming here to Earth, so many of us had no paretns or near relatives that we couldn’t have things the same. My paretns were left behind when we came through the portal as were over 95 ercent of those who were children. I had no older siblings come through nor any aunts or uncles or older cousins or any close in blood adults. And that was the norm. Chidren with close blood adult relatives were the extreme abnormality at the time. Now, that is becoing less so as those who came through the portal as children are beocomng adults and bonding and having children and families of their own. There are still plenty of un-attached children that need the Homes because the majority (46 percent) of the chuodren who were sent through the portal were under four and three-quarters of that number were under two. So, they are still children. And of course, there are still orphans that need the Homes although that is rare as most are taken in by close blood. However, there are still enough that have no close blood siblings or cousins that if they orphan their children, those chidlren need the Homes.
The situation that these figures caused led to a huge change in our way of life as far as blood goes. Back home, we would be fed at least once a day, often more, once by a mother, once by a father, maybe once by a sibling or grandparent or aunt or uncle. This led to incredibly strong and healthy children once puberty arrived but this was no longer possible once we came to Earth. It was discovered that Terran blood rarely (1 in 80 million) contained the needed factors and nutrients to sustain our children and we were forced to change our ways. They determined that in order to live and not die from lack of nutrients, a ***vampire*** child needed to take blood once every 17 days. And it was determined that rather than the large dose that was given on ***, only a sip of two to three ounces was required for life. So, began the new ritual of blood drinking where the children of the Homes who were below puberty were taken to an adult ***vampire*** every 17 days to sip the blood.
This ceremony was terrible,especially for those who could remember the old way before they came through the portal. I remember flashes of things. Mostly the taste of my parents’ blood. The taste at the ceremony of the blood was not tasty. The blood was filled with the factors needed to keep me alive but because everyone who I drank from was basically a stranger and not a close blood relative it was rather like the difference between drinking *** and ***.
And as I get older and farther from even the sips I got at the cermeony, the more I recall the glorious taste of blood before I came through the portal. I crave such a thing again and yet the likelihood that I will ever meet a ***vampire*** who is my match and can become a donor to me and me to them is small. The odds that I will meet a Terran who is genetically compatible and able to become a ***vampire*** is even less likely but in my dreams I taste that blood and wake in pain at the reality.
Pete opened his mouth, closed it again, then decided to take a chance. “We’ll have your back, J, but what about others. I mean, you’re not the only ***vampire*** at school. What if one of them gets ensnared. Or someone from another school. I mean, if Rebecca didn’t know what she had, then others could be in the same predicament. Don’t you think you should – um – well, you know – tell someone about what happened.”
Kendall groaned and Sara and Ben tossed pillows at him. “Who am I supposed to tell? I’m just one of thirty-six at Home and the three adults aren’t related to me or any of us and they’re all Terrans anyway. They don’t care about this. I don’t have a clan member close to me in blood here, you know that. So, who do I tell? How? I mean -”
Kendall interrupted with a slash of her hand. “I hate that Pete brought it up but he is right. If this happened to someone else and Sara’s conspiracy theory came anywhere close to true you would beat yourself up for not preventing it somehow for years. But if you pass this info up the food chain, as it were, then you’ll have done all that you could and the weight will be off you and on them if something happens. The blood will be on their hands.”
“The council. Write a letter and mark it priority. That’s all you can do without direct connection to a clan member, right?”
“I suppose so. I just -” Joshua’s hands slammed down on his thighs. “this should not be my responsibility. And we should have more adults available who care! Damn it! I hate this!”
“We know, Josh. We know how hard it is for you but you need to find a way to do this. We need to figure it out. You don’t have a direct link to any adult members of the clans -”
“Like 80 percent of us kids. They brought us here and just leave us swinging, on our own, with Terrans who’re more terrified of us than not. Or just indifferent. Man, what was the point, ya know? I mean, yeah, fine, we’re alive but we’re alone. I mean, I’ve got you guys and that is so awesome, so much better than before was. You would think with over thirty of us living in the same house we would bond and be friends and stuff but most of us couldn’t care less about each other. Almost the only one who have any kind of connection are the ones who have siblings or at least close cousins in the same dorm house. I don’t. You all know that. I had siblings, I was told, but they were all older and didn’t come here. And neither did any adult closer than fourth cousins which is being a stranger. So I just write a letter or note to the council and hope that they take it seriously and no one gets hurt or killed because out clan system is so screwed up? I’ll still have blood on my hands if something happens because I know something hinky is going on, Kendall, but I can’t really do anything. I want to but the council is not going to believe some random letter. I don’t even have the codes that would truly mark is as urgent and not just a teenager’s fantasy. It is so frustrating!!”
Sara reached out to him and laid her hand on his forearm. “We know, Joshua. We want to help but we know even less than you. We figured this out. We have to figure out what to do now. We’ll work together to draft the letter and make sure it sounds real and credible. If they ignore it, well, that has nothing to do with us, just them. We know it will start at the bottom but if we’re lucky, maybe it will work its way upwards fast if it is made clear what happened and if they have been keeping an eye on the journals and know the possibilities. And if they do than they will take it seriously.”
“That’s a lot of ifs, Sara. Too damn many ifs. Not that we can do anything about it. We can’t. So, we just write it, make it as adult and serious sounding as we can, send it through channels, and hope to the heavens that it works and we stop whatever is going on. And maybe if we do, they will be so kind as to tell us what happened since we let them get major info. More maybes and ifs.” Joshua exhaled sharply and long, rolling his eyes in his exasperation.
“It’s all we can do, man. We gotta try and we really have nothing to lose. Let’s do this. Just present the info, don’t go all Oliver Stone conspiracy theory, just the facts, ma’am, just the facts,” put in Ben. “No speculation. No fantasies or fancies. Just what we heard and saw and what Joshua did. We should draft a copy now and when Mike gets here after work, he can edit it for us and we’ll send it on its way first thing tomorrow. Or rather, you will, Joshua.”
Joshua nodded. “If we’re going to do this, then lets get it done. To quote a great one: If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.”
“English lit nerd,” coughed Pete. “Shakespeare prat.” they all laughed, happy to be together and to have a plan even if they all feared it wouldn’t work, at least they had hope. And sometimes, hope was all that stood between being able to live with yourself and feeling a complete and utter failure at everything. Hope springs eternal and these teens hoped that they would accomplish enough to be able to look at themselves in the mirror and each other in the face. They knew that if they didn’t at least try, they would never be able to accept themselves or each other if the worst happened and they needed to have each other to lean on.
Why they can’t send e-mail – Add to the scene about writing the letter as they compose it questions about why it is not sent via email, like emailing the general office at the White House.
Joshua and his friends worked hard on the letter, trying to make it perfectly understandable and yet not boring. Mike showed up after they had been working for half and hour and helped them make it better and fixed the grammar. After they had it as perfect as they could, Joshua booted up the printer and sent it to be printed so he could then sign it.
“I have a possibly weird question, Joshua.” said Mike as the letter was printing. “Why are you sending this as a hard copy, through the mail? Wouldn’t it be quicker and more efficient to use e-mail? It would save travel time.”
Joshua smiled wryly. “I wish it would work that way. It would seem like it but the problem is that I have no contact person or department address to send a personal e-mail, nor even a department code that would route it to the correct area. I would have to send it to the general public e-mail address and it would most likely never get to anyone. It would be like sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and expecting it to actually be read by someone who sees him everyday.”
He ran his hand through his hair. “The general council e-mail address gets thousands and thousands of e-mails a day and they get a form letter response based on certain keywords within the body or subject line of the e-mail. If you have a reference number in the subject it is automatically routed based on that or if you actually know someone, they can give you a direct e-mail address. If there are certain threat words within the body it gets forwarded to the council equivalent of the secret service, which is mostly made up of Terrans. They analyze it and if it warrants a visit, they do that but something like this would just get passed along and take forever to get there. They handle direct threats and things like that. So this would get a form letter response or possibly just get trashed from the e-mail or maybe get to who it needs to but it would take a lot longer and it would be a chance that nothing would happen so a hard copy is better. This I send on and it may take a while but it would get to where it needs to go. They don’t throw out any letters that come in the pouches because they are from ***vampires*** or at least the caretakers at the homes.”
“Pouches?” asked Ben.
Joshua nodded. “I’m not sending it general mail through the post office. That would run the same risks as an e-mail. I can put it in the – well, they call it the diplomatic pouch. It isn’t really, I mean, usually that means it is unsearchable and stuff. You know, like diplomatic immunity and all that. But they call it that anyway. It is the direct mail route between the Homes, the main headquarters, and the various offices of the council. It is kept in the office at the Home and a courier comes every few days to pick it up and leave one with communication for the Home. Any of us can put a letter in it and it will get taken to the main Philadelphia office first and they will actually read it fairly quickly. More so than the other methods anyway. At least unless and until I have a direct e-mail address or reference or access code.”
The group nodded their understanding and agreed that was the best way. The letter had finished printing and Mike looked it over. After a minute he nodded and handed it to Joshua who signed it and put it in his backpack.
“Do you need an envelope?” asked Ben.
Joshua shook his head. “No, we have special envelopes we are supposed to use at the Home. No worries. They are kept in the office on a table near the pouch. They are pre-addressed and made of a heavier paper.”
Dear Council and Members,
An odd experience that occurred to me recently prompts me to send this letter to those that may understand what happened and have a chance of fixing it or responding to it before anything larger occurs. On March **, 2012, as I was walking down the hallway of my high school on the way to my locker, I passed a young lady whom I had barely spoken to in the past. I was hurrying and was breathing heavily and deeply. I got about three steps past her and was stopped dead in my tracks. I inhaled very deeply, spun on my heel and approached the young lady. Without even greeting her in any way, I reached out a hand and placed it on her arm and asked her to go out with me that night. When she pulled away and turned me down, I asked about the next night taking a step closer. She backed up and said no again so I followed and asked about the weekend or the next week. She spun on her heel, emphatically denied any interest in me and ran down the hall into a girls’ bathroom. As she got further from me I seemed to think about what had just happened rather than just reacting to it and I became flustered and embarrassed. I hurried to my locker and then outside where I proceeded to analyze what had happened with my friends. The entire situation was very out of character for me. I am a fairly shy person and have never come on so strongly to anyone like that. If it had happened in the past that I asked someone out and they turned me down, I dropped the matter at once and moved on. And I never touch people I don’t know well. My friends forced me to confront the oddities of the situation and get past my embarrassment.
Some notes that my friends brought to my attention about the girl in question:
Rebecca *** has strong beliefs about our race. They are negative beliefs and feelings. During the last school year she gave a written and oral report about the evils of our race, strongly drawing on myths and legends. She has been heard to publicly state that “all bloodsuckers should be staked, not allowed rights.”
That morning, one of my friends overheard Rebecca talking to a friend in class about a new perfume she had gotten from someone the day before. The friend claimed that it didn’t smell very strong and Rebecca said she found it unnoticeable as well but it was supposed to be that way.
One of my friends had read an article about experiments in pheromones that attract our race and warned me about it after this event occurred. I am not saying this is connected although one of the strongest reasons I gave my friends for my actions at the time was she smelled really good.
I hope that this information reaches the correct personages who can deal with it effectively in a timely manner. If this perfume was connected to that article, Rebecca did not seem to know what it was. However, that does not mean that whoever gifted her did not. I worry about the implications of this and what it might mean in a wider context. Please feel free to contact me about this matter at any time.
Joshua de la ****, of the Clan ****
Joshua took his completed letter home with him and placed it in an envelope. Once done, he then placed it entirely in a special pouch in the office of his group home. Once there and out of his hands, he returned to his room to relax before going to bed.
The letter, meanwhile, sat in this special diplomatic pouch for over sixty-three hours before a courier came by the house to pick it up and leave a new one filled with correspondence for those in the Home. This nameless, faceless courier who had blond hair and was Terran, placed the pouch in the trunk of his car in a bin filled with eight other pouches that had been picked up that day. Anotehr bin in the trunk was filled with twenty-nine pouches that were being delivered to various Homes in Northeast Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia, and South Philadelphia where pocuhes would be picked up and join the pouch from Joshua’s Home in that bin.
Joshua’s letter sat in the bin in the trunk for seven hours as the courier journeyed from Northeast Philadelphia where Joshua’s Home was down Harbison Avenue to the Interstate 95 on ramp to the Girard Avenue exit. The courier’s car with the letter inside then travelled up Berks Street to Frankford Avenue, making one stop at a side street along the way and then taking Frankford to wehre it crossed Cecil B Moore Avenue. With several stops along the way, the car with the bin with the pouch with Joshua’s letter inside wended its way to Ridge Avenue. It then followed its regualr path through Mount Airy, Roxborough and Manyunk making several stops before crossing the Schuylkill at Green Lane and taking Route 76 along the river to Snyder Avenue. Then this car filled with bins which were filled with pouches which were filled with letters, including Joshua’s letter, made several more stops as it headed back towards Interstate 95, entering the highway at Packer Avenue and going north. This car completely bypassed Center City Philadelphia because the real estate prices were too high to have any Homes there. When the car reached Woodhaven Road, it exited the highway and took a winding path to the main Phialdelphia office of the council, not far from Franklin Mills Mall.
The nameless, faceless blond courier parked his car and opened the trunk. He put the full bin inside the empty one and carried them both inside the office complex.
The office complex did not give off the feeling of an office complex at all. This was because it was origianlly a large house, actaully four houses, row homes. Several years previously, over a decade, two of the houses had been for sale and the council had purchased them. When examining the two hosues, they decided it would be best if they had the entire row of four houses which were set at the end of a dead end street which was made into a cul-de-sac. They were four free-standing houses, attached only to each other with some land on either side where the cul-de-sac turned. They negotiated with the owners of the other two homes and were able to reach a fair agreement and they sold their homes as well so that the council owned the whole section.
Once owned, the council brought in architects to draw up plans to completely gut the inside fo the houses so they were all one building inside while the exterior was not changed except for the landscaping. There had been a couple of trees on two of the houses front yards and they were cut down, as were several more in the land to the left of the building. That land was cleared and turned into a parking lot large enough for ten cars. It was a tight fit but possible and people were encouraged to commute via carpool or SEPTA or walking. There were four other spots in front of the now unworking garage doors of the houses. The inside of the building was compeltely remodeled and became an office complex with four front entrances. One entrance each on the far right and far left and two nearly touching in the center.
The far right entracne was the public entrancec, or the main entrance, to the offices. It was left unlocked and led to the reception area/security area which was manned 24 hours a day. Those who worked there had codes to get into the other doors and worked in walled office space on the first floor or cubicles on the first or second floor. The basement level was entirely for storage.
The main Philadelphia office complex was quite large, employing sixty-five people, eight of them in building security, but was not the main council headquarters. That was located in Boston. But this office was the second largest in the country and the fifth largest in the world, surpassed by the main headquarters in Boston, Brussels (which handled all of Western Europe), Athens (which was in charge of Eastern Europe and Northern Africa), and Tokyo (which handled all of Asia and the Pacidfic Islands). But Philadelphia and its surroundings held the largest concentration of ***vampires*** in the world. There were a large number of Homes inside the city itself and southern New Jersey and Delaware also held large numbers. The grown families had large populations in Bensalem, Jenkintown, and along the Main Line, mostly in Wayne and Paoli. There were three small regional offices, employing three to five people each, in Jenkintown just off of Old York Road near Township Line Road, Bensalem just off of Street Road near the Philadelphai Park Racetrack, and in Wayne a block from the Regional Rail train station. These were for the convienence of those families that lived in those area to be able to do basic business with the council without having to go all of the way into the city.
The ***vampires*** were technically a semi-autonomous, self-governing group within the countries which they lvied, habing been agreed to in a comprehensive treaty three years after the mass arrival of the children. They agreed to follow the laws of the country in which they resieded, but for where they intersected with the “religious” and social laws of the ***vampires***, which mainly had to do with blood consumption and sexual behaviors. They paid taxes to the countries, property and sales, but not income. The council was considered a non-profit, tax-exempt organizarion. The Terran wmployess were igiven medical benefits and they were paid into the Socal Security fund in the United States, but the ***vampires*** employess were ineligible for Social Security, Medicare, or any other government entitlement program like unemployment or food stamps. The children were eligible to attend public schools in the area in which they lived and were eligible for scholarships to colleges and universities but not to federal tuition aid. There were non-discrimination laws specifically dealing with ***vampires*** in schools, the workplace (since not all worked for the council), and other organizations. Those who took jobs in Terran companies were held to the same tax rate as those who were Terran. They just did not have Social Security and Medicare taxes taken since they would not benefit from them at retirement. Some companies actually courted ***vampires*** since they had such increased strength and longer lives which meant longer working lives. Other companies tried to avoid hiring them or at least make things unpleasant enoguh that they left to try to be able to pay younger workers less than the ***vampires*** who could remain for a long time getting raises and promotions.
The upper floor consisted of two walled offices and about twenty cubicles, half of the floor devoted to the ***vampire*** ***secret service*** and the other half to the political advisory board. EXPLANATION of LATTER
The lower section of the building handled the mail, science offices, BLAH, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. These offices were mainly handled at the desks within the cubicles with only the back wall having six walled offices and he frotn wall having four, mainly set up as conference rooms and exchange areas.
The right most section, most of what was the right most house contained the reception area with the security desk, a coat closet, a waiting room, and four cubilces and a walled office for public meetings with members of the staff. Most of the thigns that needed handling requiring meetings with members of the genral public, whether of Terran or ***vampire*** descent were handled here in this section. There was a long hallway that cut off this section of the complex from the rest and at then end of it on the left were the rest rooms for men and women and on the right, a break room/lunch room, complete with venfing machines for drinks, snacks, and heatable food, a microwave and a sink and dishwasher and full sized refirgerator with a freezer and ice-maker/water dispenser.
There was a small area, basically the size of a closet in the middle of the complex at the front wall between the two middle front doors, separating them. This room was used as a storage area for bins and packing crates.
12480 Barbary Place
The anmeless, faceless blond courier entered throigh the left side center door of the complex carrying the bins in his arms. He walked down the hallway and turned to the right, palcing the empty bin was placed in a room at the front of the building in a stack with several other empties and the courier picked up a specific full one to take back to his car, leaving it in the hallway near the door. He carried the bin with Joshua’s letter past the center cubicles to a walled office near the rear of the hosue which sahred its one wall with the rear wall of the restrooms and put in next to a desk that had two full bins on either side of it. He lifted one of them and placed it on top of the one which he brought and left the room, never to be seen in out story again.
The bin sat next to this desk under the other full bin for two days as the weight atop it grew progressively lighter starting at the end of the first day and growing more so during the second day until at last at the end of that day just minutes before the office would be closed for the night, the bin above was empty and moved off to the side. The pouch with Joshua’s letter was still not on top of the pile, it was under five other pouches but it was that much closer to being opened. The next day the pouches above it were removed one at a timte until at alst, after four hours of the work day the puch from Joshua’s Home was taken and placed on the desk.
It was opened and the pile of letters, seven of them to be precise, were removed. The man whose job it was to examine and sort these letters, often opening them first, was named Dallin ***. He was ***vampire*** and this was his first job after graduating school. He was hoping and expecting it to be a stepping stone to greater things. For now, he spent his days cataloguing mail and sorting it and delivering it to the apporpriate department or person within the building or taking it to the correct bin to be taken to another complex or office. He was tall, just over 6 feet and quite slender. If he had been Terran he may have been a basketball player, but of course ***vampires*** were not permitted to play sports as their automatic physical superiority was unfair to the Terrans. He had dakr blond hair and brown eyes with small specks of black in them.
After half an hour, Dallin reached Joshua’s letter. He opened it and read it through once and then again as he tried to decide where it should go. He pondered the complexities. It did allege a possible threat which would point to the ***secret service*** but then again, it was not solid and may come to nothing if it was junk science so he did not want to waste their time. After several minutes of deep thought, Dallin decided to send it to the science department first so they could vet the likelihood of its truth before it needed to passed to someone who could actually do something about it if it was a real danger. He put the letter back in its envelope and placed them in a pile on the right side of his desk. Several hours later, after Dallin had finished sorting nine more pouches from that bin, he rose from his desk and picked up several piles including Joshua’s pile and put them in bins that were around the room. He then put the bins on a wheeled cart and pushed it out into the main area.
He placed one of the bins, filled with mail that needed to go to other offcies and other cities and internationally in the office next to his. He then continued down the hall, dropping bins at cubicles and offices as he went. When he reached the next to last office he dropped off the bin containing Joahua’s letter in the general science office.
There were two desks in this office, one against either side wall, positioned so that the worker was had their back to the wall in question and was facing the other worker’s desk. One of these desks belonged to Hadrian ***. He was a middle-aged ***vampire*** who came throught he portal already an adult. He had two young children who came through with him but no mate as she had died two years before the exodus of a ***vampire*** disease. His children were now grown and he was working here as a scienctist which he had gotten degrees in before the portal and had since studied more at Temple University in Terran science. He was a specialist in chemistry and physics.
Hadrian was 6 feet three incehs tall and well built with a muscular physique. He had long black hair which reached his shoulders and deep blue eyes, nearly balck in certain light. His skin was very light and he had a moustache and Van Dyke beard.
The second desk belonged to Lara ***. She was also a ***vampire*** although she was still a child, though barely, during the exodus. She was one of the first to become an adult on Earth and she went on to college to major in anatomy, biology and medicine, though more on the research end than as a medical doctor. She specialised in ***vampire*** physiology sicne it was unliekly for many Terrans to trust a ***vampire*** in the area of medicine. She had mated two years before though they had yet to have any children, though they were trying.
Lara was 5 feet 11 inches tall and was slender. Ger figure was curvy but not overly outrageously so. Her long blond hair was typically braided down her back where she could just avoid sitting on it. That would not be the case within a year. Her skin was light and flawless and she rarely wore makeup other than a bit of lip gloss and occaisional eyeshadow on her light blue eyes.
Dallin placed the bin which held Joshua’s letter among many others on the table which was located at the back of the offcie between the desks, grabbing another one which was filled with outgoing mail next to it. He then left the office to continue his rounds.
The bin sat on the table until Hadrian and Lara returned from the daily sciecne BLAH BLAH meeting in conference room 1 at the front of the complex. They met to discuss various projects which the sciecne departemtn was working on at this complex as well as those that were being worked together with other offcies. Hadrain and Lara were the heads of the various science deaprtemtns at this complex and Hadrian was the head of the science dearptemtn on the East Coast of the United States. He could have worked out of the main Headquarters in Boston but he preferred the Philadelphia area since he greatly disliked the cold and the snow and Philadelphia was much more temperate in the winter than New England where Boston was located. Depending on the complexity of the projects being reported on, the meeting could last anywhere from an hour to nearly all day, which is why it always started at 10 in the morning, just in case. Eighteen months ago an incredibly compelx meeting about a very involved project which crossed several offcies and disciplines took all day and then resumed the next morning, finally finisheing the second day around 2 in the afternoon. The average meeting, though, lasted three hours.
On this day, when Josua’s letter sat in their office, the meeting was still going strong at two in the afternoon when Dallin delivered it to them. It sat there, patiently waiting for their attention until the meeting finally ended at three-thirty. They entered their office talking about one of the projects which they hda just heard about and Lara walked to the table and reached into the bin, removing the stack of about fifty lettters and handing half of them to Hadrian. They wwalked to their respective desks, Lara to the left and Hadrian to the right, finsihed tehir conversation and began opening and reading the mail, sorting it into piles depending on whether it should go to someone sepcific or some other departemtn or whether it should go to one of them to determine its validity.
Lara happened to have the half of the stack that included Joshua’s letter and she got to it around four-thirty in the afternoon. She read it and her jaw dropped. She read it over again and then again and then once more. She shook her head as she rose to her feet and crossed the office dropping it unceremoniuosly on Hadrian’s desk. “Read that and tell me we are not going to be in for more marathon department meetings. Please tell me I am seeing boogeymen where there are none. Please tell me this has to be hoax.”
Hadrian glanced at her in confusion when she first dropped the letter on his desk. It was a very unusual move. They each had a pile of letters that would better be dealt with by the other which they swapped at the end of the day when they were done sorting the letters. That Lara had delibertaetly brought this single letter to him when there was still an hour until quitting time was an anomaly. When he heard her words, his forehead wrinkled in concern and he picked up the letter to read what had gotten her so spooked.
“***Curse***!” Hadrian slammed his hand down on his desk. “No. I hope to all the gods that this is a hoax but I doubt it. It sounds too real. Alright, you contact everyone here whose work intersects with this matter and tell them there is an emergency meeting tomorrow at 9. I will contact Boston and get the ones who were studying some of this. Hopefully we can get them here by morning. If not, we will at least conferecne call with video uplink. I think there are a few other teams, one in California I think and at least one in Europe who are dealing with issues along this line though nothing this severe or far along. I’ll find out and get them to either send people here or conferecne with us tomorrow. When you are done contacting everyone here, I need you to check out what information we have on this already. What work along these lines you have done.”
Lara nodded in resignation. “Understood. We’ll be staying late tonight.”
“Yes. We mos definitely will. Don’t tell any of the others what this is about yet though, unless you know they have extremely pertinent information and will stay tonight with us to prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. We need to keep this quiet until we can process it and meet all together or rmors could start a panic and possibly a retaliation against groups and people that are thought to be behind this.”
“I understand. I think at this point it should be just you and I tonight. I’ll contact everyone here and we should be prepared to bring people from upstairs in on this sooner rather than later. Or it could come back to bite us hard in the ASS. After I prepare everyone, I’ll just call my mate and let him know not to expect me until very late, if at all. It might turn out best if we just sack out on the futons in the break room or down in the basement storage area if it is late enough.”
“That is most likely Lara. Even if there was time to drive home, you will most likely be too tired to do so safely. You have a long drive on some dangerous curving roads, you know.”
“Yes. You’re right. After I call Cavin, I’ll get linens and things and set up the futons from storage in the basement for us. That way we won’t disturb security or the janitors who might want to use the break room late. It own’t be the first time people have done that.”
“Quite true. I’ve done it several times myself. And I predict that if this turns out to be wholly true, it will become a regualr occurrence for a great number of people. We may even need to buy more futons or at least air mattresses. This is huge. I mean, potentially, this is incredibly huge. If this is true…”
“I know, Hadrian. Believe me, I understand. I’m the one who brought it to your attention right away. I think we should – or rather – you should have a talk about keeping this quiet with Dillan as well. Tonight before he leaves. He read this and sent it to us. If he hears about the emergency meeting he could put things toghether. He is quite smart. He won’t be in the mail office his whole career. Tell him we need to keep this quiet for a few days until we know what we are dealing with.”
Hadrian grimaced. “Very well. I’ll do that first thing. Boston and California can wait a few minutes. We don’t want this spreading from the mail office to the city. And to touch on what you said earlier, we will bring upstairs in on this as soon as we determine how truly credible it is. We don’t want ot appear like Chicken Little nor do we want to cry wolf. Tomorrow’s meeting should determine credibility and by the end of the day we will let upstairs know whether there is a threat or someone who jumped a gun.”
Hadrian waved Lara back to her desk and he picked up his phone to page Dallin to their office. That was not completely unusual. Before when they had something urgent to go out, they had sent for Dallin to process it right away. Hadrian did not go to the mail offcie because that would be highly unusual. He had never bfore vistied the mail office since he had been placed in the walled offcie which happened whithin months of the completeion of the office complex. If he were to go there now it would start the rumors and panic they were trying to avoid in the first place.
Lara began sending e-mails to the scientists who were working on projects at present or in the past or had specilaties that would intersect with the issues raised in Joshua’s letter. After sending seven of them, she realised that basically the entire deaprtmetn should and would be involved. She rasied her head to bring this up to Hadrian and had just said, “I think everyone is going to need to be there to deal with this.” when Dallin walked in and came to an abrupt halt at hearing that.
Lara bit her lip. “Sorry.”
Hadrian nodded. “Please close the door Dallin.” After he had done so and walked further itno the room his eyes glancing every which way utnil they fell upon Joshua’s letter in a prominet plance on Hadrian’s desk. Hadrian saw his gaze resting upon it and nodded. “That is indeed why we sent for you, Dallin. We know you reda this letter. It worries us. We are dealing with it and having a meeting tomorrow. We don’t want any inofroamtion out there utnil then. It oculd casue major panic and problems for everyone, especially if it is not fully valid information, sciencifically. Do you understand? Keep this quiet.”
Dallin nodded frantically. “I understand. I thought it through before brigning it to you and not upstaris. I know it could be possible nut not necessaily is so I wanted you all to see it and check it out first.”
“That was the inteeligent thing to do, Dallin. So please don’t say anything to anyone about this until we clear it.” As Dallin nodded his understanding, Hadrian handed him an empty envelope. “To excuse your trip here and the page. We’ve had you in for closed door instructions for correpsondences before so that envelope is your alibi.”
Dallin nodded in understanding and took the envelope, holding it in his arms in front of him as if it had something with some weight inside it. “I’ll keep it quiet. I’m lad I chose corrdctly on its sorting. Good luck.” He nodded his head and left the office, closing the door behind him.
Hadrian met Lara’s eyes. “That went better than it might have. You’re right. He is very smart. I’ll have to keep an eye on him. He’s on his way palces, that’s for sure.” Putting Dallin out of his mind for the moment, Hadrian resumed his seat at his desk and picked up his phone, dialing the Boston office science head’s number from memory.
While Hadrian listened to the phone ring, Lara returned to her e-mailing, making it a mass sending to the entire sciecne department and marking it urgent and reply on receipt. This would tell those who read it that they needed to send an acknowledgement so that anyone who did not reply by 7 that night would be getting a phone call. This meeting was too urgent and important for anyone to miss because they didn’t chceck their e-mail before leaving the office at the end of the day and who weren’t workaholic enoufh to check it at home.
Hadrian began talking when his call was answered. “Hello, Sard. It’s Hadrian.” He listened and hummed under his breath to the reply. “Yes, I know it is near the end of the day. I am calling because something fairly big has come up here and we need you to send some people down here tonight so they are here first thing tomorrow.” He took a deep breath as louder sounds could be heard over the line. “I am not going into details on this line, Sardino. We can use video conference and I will be doing so with Europe and probalby California and some others but your people are close enough that thye can either leave soon and get here tonight or leave in the middle of the niht to be here by morning. It is very urgent and important and I don’t care about the short notice. I am going to be working all night on this and I just found out an hour ago. I will pull rank if necessary Sard. I may work here in Philadelphia not in the main headquarters in Boston but I am still your boss. I need at least the head researchers for the departments I am sending you via e-mail. Also, some specific scientists will be on the list as well. If you wish, I would welcome your input but I won’t make your personal attendance mandatory. I am fairly certain this will be incredibly huge and very long term, spread out over so many people …” A subdued mumbling could be heard. Hadrian nodded. “Yes, it is that serious. I am not being a hard ass. I really hope this all turns out to be a tempest in a teacup but I somehow highly doubt it. I think this molehill is larger than Mount Everest. So, check your e-mail and get those people here for a 9am meeting. Tell them not to spread panic but to be prepared for a stay of at least a week. They should come in the left entrance and go to conference room 1.” There was severak minutes of soft mumbling. “Alright. Then I’ll see you tomorrow as well. Drive safely.” With that, Hadrain listened to his colleague’s goodbye and hung up.
“Now I have to repeat that with California. I might actually be able to get them here in person too if they catch a red-eye flight.”
Lara nodded and turned to her computer to bring up more research while Hadrain contacted the otheres who needed to be in the meeting either in erson or over the computer or phone line. As the night wore on, Lara’s computer would acknowledge an e-mail every few minutes and Hadrian’s voice began to get sore as he spoke over and over to offcies around the world. Lara called her mate and told him she wouldn’t be home but would call him later. At 8, Hadrian called for them to take a break, he had finished his calls and she had finished contacting those who did not acknowledge the e-mail and it was time to eat. Hdrian placed Joshua’s letter in his inside pocket and they locked their office door.
The two scientists walked to the break room and decided to order food in since it was less work. They called in an order of Chinese food and Lara went up to reception to tell them to expect it and left them the money to pay. Lara and Hadrian returned to their researching while awaiting their food.
Security called half an hour later and Hadrian went to get their food from the reception desk. Lara met him in the break room where they quickly consumed their General Tso’s Chicken and Moo Goo Gai Pan, spring rolls, and egg drop and wonton soups. They threw their trash away and returned to work., immersinf themselves in the research studies that even remotely dealt with this problem. At just after 2 in the morning, Lara’s head fell forward and lay on the desk, unable to rise as her eyes fell shut. Hadrian’s attention was caught by this and he blearily looked at he clock. “Oh. Well, alright. Lara! Get up. We’re no good for more tonight. Save your work and we’ll head downstairs for some shut-eye before the meeting.”
Lara grunted an acknolwegemnet and stumbled to her feet, her eyes half closed. They locked their office and carefully made their way to the pre-prepared futons in the basement storage area. They each picked one and collasped, toeing off their shoes and pulling blankets over themselves, they promptly fell asleep, their phones already set to alarm in a few hours.
At half past six, Lara’s phone alarm went off, followed just thrity-five seconds later by Hadrian’s alarm. They both got up, their bodies protesting the short amount of sleep but able to function. “Morning, Lara. Let’s get things moving, shall we? I’m going out to my car to get the grment bag I keep in my trunk and get washed up and changed. Then I am heading to Dunkin Donuts for some breakfast and about a gallon of coffee. Can I pick you up something?”
Lara rubbed the sleep from her eyes as she rose from the futon, slipping her shoes back on. “Yeah, I’ll walk out with you. I have a bag in my trunk, too, Hadrian. This isn’t my first trip around this particular block, you know. I’d love a toasted blueberry bagel with cream cheese and an extra large Chai. Make that two cups of Chai. I can keep the other warm until I need it.”
They walked up the staris and proceeded to put their plans into action, getting their clean clothes and shaving kit (for Hadrian) and makeup and hair kit (for Lara), and using them. Hadrian put the letter that started it all in his new suit pocket and got his car keys and wallet and left. He drove the short distacne to the dount shop and ordered Lara’s request, getting himself a cranberry muffin and an extra large hazelnut coffee. He also decided to get two large containers of plain coffee and three dozen donuts for the meeting that would soon be occurring. He loaded everything into his car after drinking a good gulp or two of his coffee and drove carfeully back to the office.
When he got to conferecne room 1, Lara was already there and was changed into a nice blue pantsuit with the same black high heels as the day before. Her hair was pulled back into its customarry braid and she was actually wearing lip gloss, eye shadow, and surprisingly blush. When she saw him raise his eyebrows at her appearance she muttered something about needing the cover after the night’s sleep she didn’t get. She was placing pads of paper and pens and pencils around the large table and had opened up the folding wall between conferecne rooms 1 and 2 and pushed the table together. Hadrian put his food supplies on a side table and got out cups, small paper plates and napkins from a cabinet nearby. He then proceeded to set up the main computer screen and teleconference phone. When he cmpleted this tasks, he hooked up the secondary smart board screen which would accept inout from the computers in the rooma nd those hooked into the video conference if they had the correct software, which he knew they did. This would enable people to jot things on their tablets and send them to be seen by everyone on the board.
By now, it being half past eight, the others started to arrive. First came four scientists from their office who car pooled togheter every moning. They dropped their bags and coats off at their desks and came to the room to help set up. Next came the contingent from Boston. There were eleven scienctists in the group headed by Sardino G**** de la H*****.
Sardino was the head of the science deaprtment at the main council headquarters in Boston. He was in charge of everyone there though he was not, as had been pointed out to him on the phone, the head of the sciences on the East Coast. That was Hadrian. Sardino was very young for his position. He had been one of the youngest adults to come through the portal, only twenty at the time. He was of average height for a ***vampire***, about 6 feet tall and had an average build, not overly muscled or very slender. He hd light brown hair, cut short, with a deliberate cow-lcik sticing up aat he front and medium length sideburns. His liht brown eyes sparkled with the intelligence that had advanced him so far so quickly.
Sardino urged his contingent to claim seats, gather what provisions they required and hook their laptops and tablets up to the office’s wi-fi network. He himself draped his jacket over he back of a chaor near the head of the table and walked to the food, taking two donuts and pouring a cup of coffee, grabbing sugar and creamer and a stirrer afterwards. He strolled back to his seat and concentrated on getting his equipment ready before fixing his coffee to his preferred specifications.
As Sardino and the Boston scientists were getting situated the remainder of the Philadelphia office scientists arrived and calimed spots and food for themselves. Some of them had brought their own provisions, others took happily of those provided by Hadrian.
At three minutes until the hour, five people walked in, led by a man named Marcellino Gr*** de la T****. He was the head scientist from the California offices. He was a middle-aged ***vampire*** who had decided since he lived in Califronia to take on the most Terran stereotypes of that state and live them. He had long, shaggy blond hair, streaked (not by the sun as it appeared but by a hairdreseer) and startlingly bright blue eyes (colored contact lenses over plain dark brown eyes that required no correction). He was tall, 6 feet 7 inches and had muscular shoulders. He was wearing, not a suit, but a Hawaiin shirt with birds of paradise and palm trees on it, a pair of khaki shorts, and sandals. He looked like he belonged not in an offcie but surfing on the beach somewhere.
“Sorry, we’re nearly late, dudes. Traffic is a killer on 95 this morning. It was, like, crazy.”
Hadrian rolled his eyes and sighed. “Glad you could make it Marc. Grab seats, we’re just getting ready to start.” He pointed to the empty spots at the tables. Once everyone was settled and the conferecnes were online and could see and hear, he began.
“Yesterday, a letter was delivered to our office detailing a recent unsettling event that occurred to a local high school ***vampire***.” He pressed a button and the letter which he had scanned into the system appeared on the smart board. The scientists in the room and around the world swiftly read it and jaws dropped, and eyes stared at him in shock. He allowed them a few minutes to digest what was written and resumed speaking.
“I know that research has been done into similar things both among Terrans and ***vampires***. What we need to determine is if this was an anomaly, a hoax of some sort, or a misunderstanding. The science is there for it to be frightfully real. We need to do a threat assessment and figure this out. Lara is going to continue with what we have found over the past twelve hours or so.”
Lara sat forward as Hadrian resumed his seat to her right at the head of the table. “As many of you know, INSERT RESEARCH AND TECNHOBABBLE CONVERSATION AND QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS HERE.
Describe the house/headquarters and its history. It sits in the bin a while. Follow the letter from the bin to the next office in the house/HQ. Then it makes its way into a pouch headed to main HQ in ??? (DC, NY, where?). Then follow it through several more offices/desks until it reaches the correct recipient. Then follow them. It is too late and there have been problems, he person goes to Joshua eventually and recruits him.
That is all. I may return to this idea one day. It was an awesome dream. But, obviously it would need OUTLINING. I am not a pantser.