Jordan was late for his job interview, and it is because of this that he was able to escape with his life.
There was a power outage during the night, and because he could not afford a generator all his appliances in his apartment shut off for exactly twenty two minutes. His alarm clock rang off twenty two minutes after his usual time, at 11:52 am. He had exactly eight minutes to get to his job interview, or he would be late. So, in a way, Jordan saved himself purely through luck.
He managed to grab some breakfast from McDonald's on his way to the interview, instead of eating at his apartment. He ate while in the lobby waiting for his turn. He knew it wasn't proper etiquette to do this, but he thought of this only after he had bought his food, so he put his half finished sandwich into his pocket – luckily, just before the secretary called him in to his interviewer.
"Mr. Tangorda? Mr. McNicholson is ready to see you now," She said.
He nodded silently and made his way for the door behind the woman. She was quite attractive and he noticed that she was wearing a very tight, figure – hugging suit. Her long legs were able to look pronounced and sophisticated at the same time beneath her miniskirt. As he walked by he tried to sneak a peek at her breasts but he stopped himself before he could because he caught a faint odour emanate from her mouth. He was reminded of the time when he was a child and he found a small raccoon in the middle of the road on his way to school, a tire track painted over its little body. Its guts were squashed all over the pavement, and he had spent several minutes (in typical childlike manner) poking at it with a stick. He had leaned too far and he had caught a whiff of the already decomposing innards under the sun. What he had smelled then he smelled now, from this pretty lady's breath, a faint combination of decaying flesh and old apples – and he hated apples. He almost gagged on his way past the secretary, but managed to produce a smile instead. Before she could react he was past her and closing the interviewer's door behind him.
He turned around and stumbled in surprise. The room he was in was more of a hallway than an office. Far down the room, by squinting he could see an ornate looking wooden desk. There was a picture frame (presumably containing his interviewer's family), and several sheets of paper scattered along the edges of the desk. Off to the side was a grandfather's clock ticking softly away. But besides these few decorations the room was devoid of any personal effects at all. There was no wallpaper or colour to the room – just a dull grey that made Jordan feel as if he was trapped in a very small box, despite the length of the room. The only vibrant colour was the carpet, and its contrast to the bare white floor reminded Jordan of candy canes.
"Good evening, Mr. Tangorda. I presume you are here for the interview?"
Jordan jumped at the sound of the voice. Then he noticed the black leather chair behind the desk, and the elderly man occupying it. He also noticed how the old man was faced away from him, which he found amusing. It reminded him of the James bond movies where James would burst into the evil mastermind's office and the bad man would be sitting in a chair looking out the window, which never made any sense to Jordan as to why he would not be giving all his attention to a potential threat.
The thing was, though, that he old man was not looking out a window. There were no windows in the room at all, in fact. Neither were there any light sources – no lamps, chandeliers, nothing. The room/hall/box seemed to be lit by an ethereal glow of some sort.
The man was simply sitting starting at the wall. Senile, Jordan thought. Out loud he said, "Er…hello, yes I am."
The old man turned round on the chair, the swivel joint squeaking audibly, despite its 'just bought' appearance. He gave Jordan the once - over. "I commend you for taking this interview seriously. This job is considered incredibly important to our company, and very view potentials have managed to get even this far." He leaned forward and held his hand out to Jordan, even though he was way over on the opposite side of the room. "Please, sit down. My name is Mr. Cole." Then he squinted at Jordan in a way that made him feel uncomfortable and smiled. "Would you mind telling me where you got that suit?" He asked, hand still raised toward Jordan. "It gives me a strange feeling of déjà vu. I have a feeling I have seen it before."
Jordan squirmed under the old man's piercing gaze, and he stuck his hands into his pockets. He wasn't sure whether this man was mocking his suit or not. It was very tattered and old, and its matte black colour had long since faded away. It looked very moth - eaten. But it had belonged to his late father's, who had disappeared when Jordan was still a child, and it was the only thing to remember his father by.
He walked to Mr. Cole's outstretched hand. The feeling he was getting off this man was strange. He stuck his hands into his pockets, and then immediately regretted it. He had forgotten that he had placed his half eaten sandwich in his pocket in the lobby, and his right hand was now covered in a mixture of cold congealing egg and sausage.
He cursed silently in his head. And Mr. Cole continued to look at him, a little curiously now as he had stopped halfway across the room, appearing to look slightly dazed.
Not knowing what else to do, Jordan (with his hand still in his pocket) moved forwards again, past the grandfather's clock. If only he had gotten up earlier, this would never have happened. If only Mr. Cole were left handed, Jordan could simply keep his hand, now smeared with egg in his pocket. If only, if only.
He tried to wipe his hand on the inside of his pocket, but the sandwich must have fallen apart when he was moving past the secretary with the bad breath, because the entire lining of the suit pocket was slippery with processed food. He knew that shaking hands in his present state would not do well for his job, so instead Jordan began to shoot down ideas on how he could escape this awkward situation. And then he realized that Mr. Cole had the wrong name.
He was right in front of Mr. Cole (his hand must have been getting tired by now) and then said, "I'm sorry, but I thought I was here to meet a Mr. Nicholson? The secretary said so."
The edges of Mr. Cole curved into a grin. "Yes, Mr. Nicholson has been suffering from the stomach flu lately. A bad bug must have been going around. I am his replacement. Please forgive me for my forgetfulness." And still he held out his hand, and now he looked impatient.
Jordan thought quickly. "I can't shake your hand."
"Why not?" The hand went down by his side, clenched.
"Er...I'm a mysophobe. I'm very cautious of germs."
Mr. Cole sat back. Jordan caught a mixture of emotions on his face, but it had passed to quickly for him to identify it.
"I see. If that is how you feel then we shall continue henceforth without any more delays." He clasped his hands on his lap and looked at Jordan.
"I see here that you have some experience in the culinary crafts." He shook a page at Jordan, and he could see that it was his resume he had made a week or two ago. "Where exactly did you work?"
Again, just like the secretary from outside, Jordan was hit by a wave of foul smelling wind. He felt his nostrils instinctively close up and bile rise up his throat. The contents of his stomach heaved. He briefly remembered a dare he had played upon in college, where he drank an unknown substance at a frat party for twenty bucks. It had turned out to be a combination of pig blood and his colleague's urine. He had thrown up from the smell, and then drank it anyway. He was drunk at the time.
This smell was amazingly similar to the stench coming from Mr. Cole's mouth. Jordan choked back his vomit and said, "I used to work at the Hotel Campra, in the kitchen. I served as an assistant to the chef."
Mr. Cole wrinkled his nose and furrowed his brows. Jordan thought he had realized his breath was worse than dog shit. Then he nodded and said "Good, good. You then took a job at a diner?"
Jordan took pride in himself as a chef. Almost every single job he had acquired involved a kitchen, or food. He had recently been learning exotic foods, which served quite well under the pressure of dinner parties and such. He highly doubted he would want to eat anytime soon, though.
"Yes, a Wendy's."
"You take pride in being a chef. I take it you are learning to cook exotic foods? You look like a man willing to...try new things." He smiled for the umpteenth time, and Jordan held his breath, not from the smell this time (although it was still present in the room) but from shock. It sounded as if Mr. Cole were reading Jordan's mind.
At this moment Jordan made it in his mind that he should get out of this place as soon as possible. The vibes he had picked up from the secretary and this man, this Mr. Cole was beginning to frighten him. He had a feeling that his original interviewer, Mr. Nicholson, was not sick. And why did their breaths smell so bad?
"Yeah. I...I can do that."
"Please understand, Mr. Tangorda, that we are not interested in any particular skill other than basic culinary cooking. You would be surprised to see how many people come in here without the slightest idea to..." He sniffed, as if he had a cold. "Make, say, an egg sausage sandwich."
He felt his body sag unintentionally in his chair. The bad feeling he was getting from the secretary, from the room with no windows and the old man increased to an epic height. "Uh, look, maybe I'm not the right man qualified for this job. I should probably leave-"
"No, no, no!" Mr. Cole cut in. "You are in fact the best man for the job! You did not let me finish. I – we, or our...employees are quite tired of simple dishes. We want someone who can cook. Really cook, you see. Not just spaghetti and meatballs, nothing like that. Our company is longing (Jordan shuddered at the strange use of this word) for something different. We want to see how many different dishes meat can be cooked in. Boiled, braised, fried, baked. Let's just say it's come to our attention that raw meat has become distasteful in modern times." He smiled his old man smile, and Jordan could see how long they were. He stopped feeling nervous and began to feel scared.
"Look, I think we're done here."
"Yes. I think we are, actually." Mr. Cole placed his hands on the desk, and then glared at him. "You don't think you can just get up and waltz out of this room, do you, Mr. Tangorda?"
Jordan felt his forehead break out in a cold sweat, this man was old, but he looked dangerous. And those teeth...
Nevertheless, he tried to muster all the remaining bravado he had left in him. "Are you threatening me?"
"My, my, Jordan. Aren't we a little bit slow in the head?" His nostrils flared and suddenly he wasn't slumped on the desk, no longer was he a dignified old man who could be easily pictured with a pipe in his mouth and a book in his hand. He adopted an alert stance, the way a lion looks before it takes down its prey. "Yes. I am threatening you. Make any move toward that door, and you will be a dead man." And then he opened his mouth.
Jordan gripped the armrests of his chair and leaned back as far away from Mr. Cole as he could. The blast of air that hit him was worse than the other two encounters, and he actually did throw up this time. He managed to twist off to the side and over his shoulder before his throat ruptured and the contents of his stomach poured out. His eyes streamed over and he thought of being in a sauna that has not been cleaned in years. He cast a glance at Mr. Cole and he saw that his mouth had widened to inhuman proportions.
His mouth was larger than his entire head. Jordan had a feeling that Mr. Cole had done this for exactly that reason, to demonstrate what he could and would do to him if he tried to make an escape. What he didn't know is why Mr. Cole had not hurt him yet.
Surprisingly Mr. Cole's teeth were not as long as Jordan had seen. They were slightly longer than the canines of a pit bull, but probably ten times as deadly. He saw that the eyes had taken on a white sheen – in fact the pupils had disappeared and as if they had rolled into the back of Mr. Cole's head. A surprisingly high, shrill shriek was emanating from the back of his throat, and Jordan felt his head swoon.
Slowly, Mr. Cole closed his mouth and stopped shrieking and then he was a respectable looking old man again. Jordan looked down and he realized he had wet himself.
"Wipe your mouth, please."
He noticed he was crying, but he wasn't really feeling anything. Not even shock.
"Wipe your mouth or I will slit your throat."
Jordan raised his arm toward his mouth and drew it across his face.
"Good." Mr. Cole clasped his hands together in the same sophisticated manner, acting as if he had not done what he had just done. "Now, it seems we have a problem here. You are not of us." He spoke matter – of – factly. "I had assumed so, as I have never met someone as ignorant and stupid as you to walk into this room – no, this building, and not suspect something was different."
Jordan could only stare with unseeing eyes.
"I naturally assumed you were one of us. It wouldn't have mattered any way, except for the fact that you had not shaken my hand." He gestured toward Jordan's right hand, the one that had been smeared in his breakfast. "I must say, Mr. Tangorda. You are probably the luckiest man alive. Or, if you were viewing the situation from my side, the most unlucky man in the world."
Finally, Jordan found his voice. "What in God's name are you talking about?" he croaked.
Mr. Cole blinked, and then instantly he was not leaning toward Jordan but shrinking away from him. He took the wooden desk and flipped it over with significant ease. Though he only nudged it, the table flew several feet off the ground and into Jordan. The corner of the desk struck his left leg with an audible crack, and a table leg broke off. So did his. Jordan didn't scream, but instead inhaled sharply as if he had been punched in the gut. He flipped over on his back, still sitting in the chair at a ninety degree angle. His broken leg flopped around uselessly.
And then, he started to scream. It was more horror of the sight at his leg than anything (he would never run again – he was tethered to a cane all the rest of his life). The pain was there too, but not as much.
Mr. Cole was standing over him. "Don't say that here," He said, and he was that demon monster again, looming over Jordan. "Or the next time I will break your other limbs and rip out your fingernails." He crouched down and made that noise in his throat again. That shrieking noise. His corduroy pants tightened and Jordan could see the muscles in Mr. Cole's legs.
He placed his hands on either side of Jordan and opened his mouth. He had Jordan's mouth halfway down in his jaws before Jordan reacted.
Jordan was in a black nightmare. The stench was around him again but luckily he had no more food to throw up. He felt the teeth closing at the space around his upper lip and just below his hairline. The entire top half of his head was about to be severed by this lunatic. He began to yell and jerk his head around, but he ended up puncturing his cheeks and neck.
Mr. Cole dropped him and then straightened up again. Jordan's head hit the ground and he howled in pain. He heard Mr. Cole breathing loudly. "My apologies," he said, almost abashed. "I near lost control of myself there." He sat down on the leather black chair and it creaked beneath his weight.
"You have wonderfully warm blood. And your meat is quite tender. However, I believe you will be of use to us yet, so I decided eating you in our traditional ways would not be acceptable." He crossed his legs and looked at the sobbing Jordan. "I will give you a very straightforward summary of what is going on. Listen closely, because although look it I am not a patient man."
"You're no man, you fuck!"
Mr. Cole made a clucking noise and wagged his finger at Jordan, who was now clutching his leg tenderly. A disturbing curtain of blood was descending from his face where he had been cut by Mr. Cole's teeth. "Oh, but we are, Jordan. We are. You must have heard of us, in the stories you read and the movies you watch." He paused to button his cufflinks on his suit, which had come undone when he had bitten Jordan. "I do not like the term 'vampire.' Nor do I think 'cannibal' is appropriate. We do have powers similar to a vampire, and we do drink blood. We also have taken a liking to the flesh of you people, but we still consider our race human." He snapped his fingers and smiled as if he had gotten a correct question on Jeopardy. "Yes, we are a new race of humans. That is exactly what we are.
"Jordan, we are the New Humans. Eventually you and your race will die out and we will be left to populate the planet. Though I do admit we are more tolerant to the environment this planet will place upon us in the near future, it is quite difficult to repopulate the planet when our reproductive systems have been severely altered. Fortunately, some of the world's top scientists are now New Humans and are working upon a solution. Forgive me. I am rambling." He offered a hand to Jordan but he wiggled away from him.
"Jordan, you are one of the few humans who are immune to the wonderful new Light that lives within the New Humans. I believe it has something to do with the blood type AB negative.
"Oh, don't worry. I can smell your blood, and it smells different from the others. But I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt as I hoped you would have taken this calmly and quietly.
"Had you shaken my hand you would have been dead within the moment, for you still have a pulse. New Humans do not. I would not have hesitated to kill you, but you were lucky enough to prolong your death due to a certain breakfast sandwich." He threw back his leg and laughed. "I'm sorry; I still marvel at the strength and the speed of our race! I used to be afraid the world would end from man's greed, but I think we have a chance at rebirth again. Not you, of course."
Jordan dragged himself to the side of the chair he had been sitting in. He could see the picture frame when he had first walked into the room, but this time he could see the photo that had been taken. It was indeed a picture of Mr. Cole and his family. There was a dignified - looking old woman (probably in her late 50s) smiling at Jordan and a grinning Mr. Cole had his arm around her waist. Below them was presumably their child, a beautiful young woman with long chestnut coloured hair. She was laughing at something, probably a joke that had been said at the time.
What terrified Jordan were the marks next to the faces. There was a big red checkmark beside Mr. Cole, but his wife and daughters were encased in a thick red circle.
He reached out to hold something and his hand came upon the table leg that had fallen off when Mr. Cole threw the desk at him. It had splintered and was now half a table leg. He wondered briefly if the secretary could hear the commotion going on, then concluded that the room was probably soundproofed. To drown out the screams.
"The question is, Mr. Tangorda, what to do with you. I can't make you one of us, and the job that would have made you a lot of money is no longer an option. See, one side effect of being a New Human is actually quite hampering in public. We cannot resist fresh meat. They are to us as cocaine is to a drug addict. We do not think, simply react. However, raw meat, like all raw meat, isn't exactly the best way to be eaten. Germs and dirt can get into the muscle and tendon if we had happened to have hunted this particular meat, and if it is not good for you, it is lethal to New Humans. Ironic, really." He was pacing back and forth now, hands behind his back. "While you would merely get a stomach ache, we will suffer from severely painful cramps, and in most cases, death." He looked at Jordan. "As I told you, we are not vampires, or cannibals. We are strong and we are fast, and we can take quite a few bullets before dying, but there are some weaknesses that we attain upon ascension. This is one of them."
He gestured to Jordan. "We had hoped we could employ you humanely, so you could cook our food before we ate it. Remember, we are not vicious cannibals are vampires. We are just as civilized as you. You could serve us and live in a good home and even keep your family, if you wanted to, the same and unchanged.
"Unfortunately, my impression of you has not been a good one. You seem unreliable and quite deranged, if you must know. I do not like it when people swear in my home. I think it would be best if I just ended your life now." He stopped pacing and moved toward Jordan. "Yes, it is unfortunate. Terribly sorry for you to have come all this way just to die. You would have made a good cook."
He became the monster again and Jordan felt terror seize his heart. He squabbled around and tried to beg for his life. "Please, I'll do it. I'll be good. I'll be a good boy I won't tell no one. Please Please PLEASE-"
And it is here that Jordan was saved by pure luck again; he must have been a good man for karma was on his side today. He raised his hands to protect himself as Mr. Cole (he briefly wondered where Mr. Nicholson was right now) leapt toward him, shrieking all the while. Neither of them had noticed the table leg clutched in Jordan's hand. In blinding speed, Mr. Cole had moved from his position in front of Jordan to in the air, shrieking as he flew towards Jordan (fast enough to leave an afterimage). Jordan lifted his arm to protecting himself, screaming. The broken table leg went up as well, just at the moment Mr. Cole's icy cold hands wrapped around Jordan's neck. The rest of his body followed and a sound similar to dropping a large watermelon off a building was heard. The table leg punctured his chest all the way through that if you were to look at Mr. Cole's back you would see a tiny bump there from where the tip of the leg was protruding trough his clothes.
A viscous white liquid poured out of Mr. Cole's wound and mouth. Where it touched it sizzled and burned. Some of it plopped on Jordan's shoes and he watched them melt into a black puddle. Jordan yelled again and then he fainted.
It was only for a short while, perhaps a couple of minutes. When he came to Mr. Cole's body was still slumped against him but he was not moving. His chest was hitching the way a bawling toddler does when his mother smacks him for swearing.
He stood up on his one good leg, pushing the body off of him. He worried that the bite marks on his face might turn him into one of them, but he had a feeling the bite had to be deep and in a main vein, not small lacerating cuts on his face.
He limped down that long narrow hallway that was actually a room and stopped at the grandfather's clock. It was still ticking away quietly. He moved past it and toward the door.
Jordan knelt and listened by the door, but the secretary must have left for her lunch break. By the time she got back he would be long gone, out of the province, the fucking country if he had to. But he did know one thing.
Jordan knew things now. And although people would find it hard to believe his story, he would tell it anyway. And if they did not listen then he would wait, and watch. He would watch until the Vampires came for them (they were NOT new humans). And then he would kill them. He would try, at the very least.
He opened the door, and then cautiously peeked out. No one there.
He stopped for a moment, and then fiddled around in his pocket. He pulled out the half eaten, cold breakfast sandwich, brushed off some lint, and bit into it. He stepped back for a moment, thinking, and then tossed the rest of the sandwich over his shoulder before walking out the door. He never looked back.