We explored a little more of The Lab that day until Paul said it was ok for me to go home. I barely slept that night. The next morning we met again and he continued telling me
every detail he could about the place I would soon posses.
Heisenberg Laboratories Inc. has been around for as long as anyone can remember. You can't find anything to do with it in history books, and you can only find a few websites that briefly mention it. The Lab, along with the majority of its workers, barely exists in the eye of the public.
It is split in to too many sections to count, some of which being 'Tech Medics', animal research, human research, space observations, alien technology, geology, the study of the Elements, and more. Paul himself has never been to all of them.
Almost all of these sections are placed below ground level. The upper floors of the building consist of offices, break rooms and, apparently, apartments.
"I've got one picked out for you if you're interested." He said with a grin. I said I'd think about it.
Each employee is carefully looked over before they are hired. Physical and mental tests are mandatory. The employees usually picked are the ones with the least amount of family members.
"You can never be too careful." We were in Paul's office now, and he was reading a newspaper while talking to me. "We have enemies, Todd, and sometimes they try to get in."
"Why didn't I do any of those tests?" I asked.
"You didn't need to. I already know I can trust you."
The 'enemies' Moore was talking about were actually other research facilities in the area. Some were minor threats, occasionally sending a mean note or two.
"Why would you be worried about other labs?" I asked leaning back in my chair. "I mean its not like their stealing your customers or anything."
Mr. Moore looked up from his newspaper. "I'm getting to that. God you're impatient."
The biggest threat was a lab called Pasteur Labs, named after a scientist who worked on the study of germs.
"If you ask me." Paul scoffed. "They're all germs."
Pasteur Labs worked in a lot of the same areas as Heisenberg Laboratories, and were extremely competitive. According to Moore, however, they were a lot further behind The Lab then they thought they were. The biggest concern from Pasteur was that they occasionally sent their own employees over to see what they could sabotage or steal from The Lab.
"They've been trying for years to find out whats going on over here." Paul flipped the page on his newspaper.
"Uh, sir?" I sat up. "What exactly is going on over here? There's no way you guys could've gotten this far when no one else has."
He smiled a little, not looking at me. "You know what magic is, right?"
I laughed. "Ok, the aliens were a little much, but magic? You gotta be kidding me."
"I'm not talking tooth fairy magic, boy. I'm talking the kind that the Wicked Witch of the West might use. Magic that kills." I stopped laughing.
"Anyways." His face regained its odd cheerfulness. "Another part of my job is to make sure Pasteur doesn't get in here. Its tough alright, but it gets easier once you're used to their tricks. Ah, here we go." He handed me the newspaper. "That guy's name is Albert Campbell. He owns Pasteur and is the biggest asshole I've ever met."
I was starring at a picture of a man who looked to be about forty-or-fifty years old. His grey hair had disappeared from the top of his head, and he had a shit-eating grin that made me want to punch him the first time I met him. Albert, who had a fairly large belly, was holding an award in one hand and shaking the hand of the mayor with his other.
"Don't know why they'd ever give him an award for anything, but he seems to get a lot of them lately." Paul shrugged. "He likes rubbing it in my face. I have to remind myself almost constantly not to hire someone to set his precious house on fire."
"You can do that?" I asked, handing the newspaper back.
"Son, when you're sitting in this chair you can get away without anything short of murder." Except I did eventually get away with that too. But we're not at that part yet.
We continued to talk about different things, mostly about how to avoid the government. They knew we existed, and they knew we had a lot of power in our little laboratory, and, like Pasteur, they were often trying to figure out what it was. Apparently another part of his/my job was to keep the whole 'magic' part secret (along with the part about how we're hiding things from everyone). Moore didn't exactly lie to them, but he didn't exactly tell the truth either.
"Sometimes." Moore began, scratching his chin. "You're gonna have guys that want you to make weapons. I'd try to avoid those people. Sometimes its the government who wants weapons. If you absolutely have to, make them a weapon that does the least amount of damage you can, got it?"
I nodded. That day we spoke for hours in his office, and when it was finally time for me to leave, I could barely stand up. We shook hands, and I took the elevator down to the lobby. When the doors opened I nearly collided with Ms. Coffee-stain Annie.
"Sorry!" We both said at the same time as we tried to avoid each other, me nearly falling over in the process.
Finally, we both regained our balance. Then, we stared at each other in silence. I swear I could hear crickets somewhere. I noticed a name tag on her green work suit that I hadn’t seen before. “Anna Stevenson.” I said aloud, hoping to break the silence.
She nodded, smiling a little. She held up her hand, a ring glittering on one finger. “Soon to be Anna Dawson.” Annie looked me up and down, her green eyes gleaming in recognition. “I know you. You’re-”
“The coffee guy. Yeah.” I smiled nervously.
“I was going to say Paul’s Pet, but that works.” She grinned when she saw my confused face. “You looked like a dog being led by a leash the other day in the lobby.” She explained. “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Todd. Anderson.” We shook hands. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was standing in the doorway of the elevator, keeping the doors from closing. Someone on another floor was probably going to throw a fit in a few minutes.
“Todd… that’s odd. I think I’ve got a call for you. I was just going up to ask Mr. Moore if there was anyone named Todd around here, but never mind I guess.” Annie shrugged and gestured behind her at her desk. “Phone’s over there.”
As we walked towards it and the elevator closed behind me, I asked “who called?”
“Didn’t really get much of a name. He said to tell you ‘Gary’s calling.’”
I groaned. “How did he find me?”
Everyone’s got someone who calls themselves your friend, even though they aren’t. Mine was named Gary. I’d known him since high school (the three years I had stayed there anyway) and disliked him since the moment I’d met him.
Gary was a moocher, a coward and seemed determined to follow me everywhere I went. He also had no family other then his constant-drunk dad, and no home. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him to get lost.
Annie grinned at me, her hand on the cordless red phone. “Want me to tell ‘em you’re busy?”
I sighed and shook my head, taking the phone.
His voice felt like it was grating on my ear. “Hey hey! I knew you were still alive you old son of a gun!” He laughed. I grimaced and fake-laughed with him.
“Yeah… You uh… need something Gary?”
“Word has it you’ve got yourself a hell of a job over there.” Apparently word travels faster then I thought it did. “Didn’t know you were a science guy.”
“Yup, got a pretty good set up over here.” I said, wishing he would just hang up.
“Mind if I swing by your new workplace?”
“Great! I’ll be there around noon or so.” The phone clicked. I sighed, handing it back to a grinning Annie.
“I take it we’re going to have a visitor tomorrow?” She put the phone down and looked at me.
“No problem, I’ll see if I can set up a spot for you guys in one of the break rooms.”
“Really? Thanks.” I said gratefully.
“It’s nothing really.” But it was something. To me anyway. It seemed that, despite everything, I had finally gained a friend. One who wasn’t going to die in a few days anyway.
I waved a quick goodbye and walked out the large glass doors into the night air. It was June, but the breeze brought a slight chill with it. While deciding I was going to buy a jacket the next day, I didn’t notice the car pull up next to me. It was a sleek black mustang, obviously very expensive and gleaming in the moonlight.
It was the sound of a car door slamming that caught my attention. Three people stepped out of the car with what looked to be deliberate slowness. The one on the driver’s side was wearing a black suite and staring at me. The other two appeared not to notice.
Feeling a little creeped out, I turned and started walking in the other direction when the man in the black suite spoke to me.
“You wouldn’t happen to be Todd Anderson, would you?”
I swallowed. For an odd moment I remembered how kids were forbidden by their parents to talk to strangers and wondered whether this rule should be used by adults as well. “Yes.” I choked out and turned around just as his fist collided with my face.
Somehow he had managed to teleport from his previous position. At least, that’s what it looked like. “You son of a bitch.” He sneered at me.
I quickly lost my footing and landed on the sidewalk, tailbone first. I winced in pain, feeling the blood trickling from my nose. It wasn’t broken, but it hurt like hell. “Nice to meet you too.” I gritted my teeth and stared up at him in defiance.
“You got some balls, I’ll give you that. You think you can just walk in here and take over an entire company? I don’t think so.” Pain exploded in my side as he kicked me with his polished shoe. His buddies were standing by the car, silent and watching. “Let me tell you something, right here, right now. If you aren’t gone by tomorrow I swear I’ll make your life hell you little shit stain.”
I coughed, the smell of blood making my head spin. “How so?” I asked, my voice trembling. I was scared, but I was also angry. This guy I didn’t even know had punched me in the face and was threatening me as if he were some badass gang leader. I wanted to attack back, to at least kick this fucker in the balls, but I knew I couldn’t. I hadn't won many fights in my life, and if I tried anything his buddies would probably be on me in a second. It was the fact that I couldn’t do anything that made me hate the man looking down on me even more.
“Let’s just say I know a thing or two when it comes to this sort of thing.” He smiled. “Oh, and if you want to talk some more, just ask for Mr. Dawson.” He gestured at the building. “The girl in there should know who you’re talking about.”
He laughed and turned away from me, walking back to the car. I stood up feeling like my insides had gone through a blender. It wasn’t until I was riding the bus that I realized I had just met Annie’s fiancé.
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