He supposes every interviewer can sense, at least on some level, that there is something wrong with him. His nails are immaculate, his handshake is politely firm (not the limp, sweaty grip of a subway pervert, nor is it the iron grip of someone who tries to crush his opponent’s bones into dust), his references are all of genuine praise of his efforts in previous places of employ. Well-liked by bosses and colleagues alike, Dylan Hewson is someone you want to work for you. And yet he remains jobless. Three months unemployed, living off his dwindling savings, eating the cheapest of noodles. All because of the Question. That horrible, horrible Question.
Dylan takes a sip of his water to clear his throat. The interviewer (a nerdish, tofu-personality of a man named Jensen. Or was it Jenkins?) looks to him, glancing up from perusing his elegant résumé. “No need to look so worried, Mr.Hewson,” he intones, a voice like a wet mackerel, “you’re doing quite well so far. Your accomplishments speak for themselves.”
It isn’t this portion of the interview that worries me, Dylan thinks to himself. All this Jenkins (Johnston? Jimkins?) has to do is ask any question but The Question and he has got the job. He will no doubt get the job this very day as long as he-
“Now, Mr.Hewson,” bleats the passionless interviewer, “where do you-“
Oh, please, no.
Mein Gott! The Question!
“-in ten years’ time?”
The clocks stop ticking. His heart slows. He tries to suppress vomit. He hears the screams of the dying, the smell of burning flesh assaults his nose. Dylan’s eyes turn opaque as it turns inwards into his skull, seeing nothing but the future.
An abandoned car lot. 2024. Exactly a decade from today. The skies are filled with crows, fat from a steady diet of human flesh.
He turns around to see his son. He looks fifteen or so. Must be. Something feels terribly wrong.
“What is it, Daniel?” the tone of his Future Self sounds worried.
“Daddy, they bit me. One of th…those things bit me.” It is then that Dylan notices the bloodied handkerchief, held up against his son’s porcelain neck.
“It’s true,” replied Ulric, the Norwegian. “By the creek. We were split off from the rest of the group when we got ambushed. I manage to shoot eight of them but this one Kuksuger came up from behind and he…I am so sorry, Hewson. It was on my watch. I failed.”
Dylan turns to his son, his eyes filled with tears. Ulric’s words are like hammers to his ears. “But…but…it can’t be. I…I promised your mother to keep you safe.”
Daniel is crying too. “I DIDN’T MEAN TO, DADDY!” he wails, scaring some nearby birdlife who fly up into the ashen skies. “I t..tried to be careful.”
A hostile quiet embraces the trio who are, for the moment, alone from any other external danger. “I shall do it if you’d like,” offers Ulric, a pained expression on his usually impassive Nordic face, “He will start turning into one of Them soon. We have maybe only minutes until the changes begin. It would not be fair to ask a father to…” He leaves the loathsome words hanging as he loads his ancient shotgun.
“No,” he hears himself say, “I…let me do this, Ulric.”
Ulric nods solemnly. “I shall stay on the parameters then. Keep a lookout. Once again…”
“Don’t. Don’t even say another word.”
Ulric strides off, his footsteps quiet for a person his size.
“Do you think I’ll meet mommy up in Heaven?”
“I have no doubt.”
Dylan places the gun barrel on the forehead of his angelic child.
“What will it be like? What do you think Heaven will be like?”
“Remember that summer we went to Coney Island? You, your mother and me? It’ll be like that everyday. It will smell like popcorn and boundless love.” Dylan Hewson cocks the gun, sighs heavily and-
“…I don’t know. Maybe in some sort of an Upper Management role?” Dylan Hewson replies to Jensen as the interviewer scribbles down notes. It’s too early to tell for sure, but he thinks he’s NAILED this interview.