“Do you remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” I shook my head slowly and mutely, which caused Diane to frown slightly “You didn’t watch it or you don’t remember it?”
I shook my head again, less slowly “Never heard of it.”
One of her perfectly plucked eyebrows raised slightly “You never heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That’s a little strange, it was a very popular show, kind of a cultural touchstone for a lot of people. I think Joss Wheden is on the list so it’s not available anymore, what about one of the knock offs, Sissy the Ghoulie Hunter or Beatrice the Monster Poker? You ever see either of those?”
I felt like I might fall over from dizziness “What?”
She waved her hand “Nevermind. The point is that you’re one the chosen.”
“Uh, I was raised Episcopalian, I mean I don’t go to church anymore but . . .”
She shook her head back at me, her curls bouncing saucily “No, I . . . uh, look, you have special powers, supernatural abilities. I was told those powers usually they manifest when you’re a kid, and then usually that kid goes nuts because they see monsters all over the place and no one believes them. You can see us in our true forms. What did you see?”
I looked towards the door, where Duke was waiting in a conference room working himself up into a frenzy that I was taking so long “I saw Duke . . . he’s a vampire?”
She gave me a friendly tap on the shoulder “Bingo girly, Duke is totes a vampire. So are his alleged dad and his alleged cousin, pretty much all the managers here are vampires the lot of them. They’re not really related, not blood related, well they are literally blood related, because vampire, but when they were not vampires they weren’t, uh, related related. They’re vampires of the same line, but they weren’t . . . you know, uh human relatives. Doesn’t matter, you’ve got the gift or the second sight or the shining whatever you want to call. You might want to take the bus for a while, until you get used to it when you see a monster when you’re driving you could get in a bad accident. Eyes on the road right? Anyway, back to work.”
Then she walked away. Like what had happened was no big deal. Just another day at the office. I wandered out of the restroom. I must have looked like a mental patient or a jilted bride with my make-up smeared across my face. Instead of going back to the conference room I went to my desk. Not because I was afraid of Duke, because I wasn’t thinking. I was on auto-pilot. It was like an out of body experience. I walked back to my desk and sat down, but I wasn’t doing it, it was just happening.
Fred popped his head over the cube wall, his voice heavy with concern “Are you alright? What did Duke say? You didn’t get fired did you? I will kill myself if I have to work here without you to talk to. I’ll quit too if you got fired. Ela, what did he say?”
Fred kept talking but I wasn’t listening. It was Fred, but it wasn’t Fred. His head looked like a dried prune that had been set on fire and then stomped a few times. It didn’t look like he had been burned for real, I worked with someone in a previous job who had been badly burned by boiling cooking oil, a burn doesn’t look like what you think; but his face looked like what people think a bad burn is going to look like. It was only scary because it was Fred, and that’s not what Fred is supposed to look like, on its own it was just weird.
My voice was barely a whisper “What are you?”
He did a dumb growly voice “I’m Batman.”
He frowned in worry “Michael Keaton, Batman, remember that movie from the nineties? What happened in there? He didn’t grab your tits did he? You’re scaring me Ela, talk to me.”
I couldn’t help by laugh, one single sea lion bark “I’m scaring you?”
He looked like he was about to say something, then his eyes went wide. His eyes were the same. His face was a pizza that had been shaken in the box and then dumped on the floor, but his eyes were still his eyes. He still had Fred eyes.
“Oh shit, you can see me can’t you?” I nodded dumbly and he looked side to side like a nervous teenager stealing beer “Oh shit . . . oh shit . . . oh . . . shit.
Duke was hanging out the door of the conference room like a vampiric orangutan “Ela what are you doing? We’re not done in here!”
Fred stood up and came around like he was trying to block me from Duke’s line of sight “Uh, we need a minute here Duke, Ela’s having . . . uh, you know . . .” he cleared his throat theatrically “feminine problems. Uh huh, you know . . . uh . . . down . . . uh . . . there.”
Duke swayed back like he was trying to avoid a wild roundhouse punch “Oh . . . . uh . . . . we’ll talk about this later.”
He left the conference room and instead of going back to his cube he all but ran out of the building. Like it had just been announced that there was a deadly infectious disease going around. Fred’s reached out his hand and just left it hovering there awkwardly like he didn’t know if he should pat me on the head or what he should do with it.
“Uh . . . so . . . I’ve never done this before.”
I looked at him, really looked “That’s what she said.”
He managed a weak smile “Ten years ago called, they want their joke back.”
“Thirty years ago called, they want their blank called bit back.”