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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 5

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Cover of Vendetta Dark by Josh Pederson

Josh Pederson, Author

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After what felt like the longest walk of her life, they reached the black door at the end of the hall. It looked ominous, lurking there in the wall like a dark passage into another world. There was something different about it. Unlike the other doors of different colors they’d passed, this one gave her a bad feeling, like her closet did at night when she was a child. There might not be a boogeyman on the other side, but it felt like it was something she should be afraid of. She thought about the photographs, wondering if that’s where they were taken, if that’s where they kept the animals he claimed not to have. If so, what were they doing to them? Breeding them into some sort of cross species hybrid? A chimera, perhaps? This was just the product of an overactive imagination and an unhealthy enjoyment of Japanese cartoons talking, but compared to other conspiracies involving Eden Pharmaceuticals, it wasn’t exactly farfetched. As they approached it and turned, the door swung open. A man with deep brown eyes and a head of gray hair emerged. Like everybody else, he wore a lab coat with the Eden Pharmaceuticals logo on the chest. Cali read his badge and recognized the name.

“Rhys Hastings,” she said.

Hastings looked up, surprised to see both of them standing there. Being somewhat tall and athletically shaped, he stood eye-to-eye with Carmichael but still towered over Cali—who was always shorter than everybody else. Where most of the people she’d come across in this place lowered their eyes when approached by Sebastian Carmichael, Hastings showed no signs of fear or intimidation, which, judging by the look on Carmichael’s face, was something he didn’t much approve of.

“I’m sorry,” said Hastings, tucking the black duffle bag he carried behind his back. “I hope I didn’t startle you.”

Cali shook her head, no.

“Where are you off to in such a hurry?” Carmichael asked. “And what’s in the bag?”

“Clothes,” he replied, “for the funeral.”

“What’s the matter with the locker room?”

“The problem is that it’s a locker room, and I didn’t want my suit to smell like one.”

“My name is Cali Schreiber,” the journalist said, reaching out her hand.

Hasting’s greeted her gesture, smiling but appearing somewhat anxious.

“Ms. Schreiber writes for . . .” before Carmichael could finish his sentence, Rhys did it for him.

“You write for Modern Magazine,” he said, recognizing her name. “I enjoyed that piece you wrote about the standards of modern society. There was a lot of truth to it.”

She felt her cheeks flush. It was always nice to know her work was appreciated, but to know that it was read by somebody as intelligent as Rhys Hastings was a real privilege, and a definite confidence booster. For a moment she stood there, star-struck. Finally, she said, “And I enjoyed your book.”

“You read it?” he asked, surprised. “And you understood it?”

“Well, there were parts of it I didn’t quite understand, but I understood the concept. Do you really think that humans have the potential for adapting beyond their natural state?”

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Josh Pederson, Staff Writer

Josh is a contributor to the Herald and a student at National University in the Undergraduate Journalism program. He is already a published author and...

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Vendetta Dark | Chapter 5