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Home: The Toast

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Zane Shetler’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

Thanks to your frantically shouting, “You don’t know what you’re dealing with! You can’t play God, man,” I can’t help but feel compelled to give you the royal tour of our facilities. It might not be standard operating procedure, but I haven’t made it as Chief of Monster Containment by doing things by the book. Hell, you’re just some guy who broke into this top-secret lab. I should arrest and detain you, but who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to advise us better than some of these six-figure-earning scientists whose only specialization seems to be in looking alarmed and sweating profusely. Yes, I’m referring to you, Dr. Graham. All right, let’s get those handcuffs off you and get moving. 

First things first. As you can see, the walls in this lab are composed primarily of reinforced concrete and steel. Impenetrable blast-proof everything. Except the doors, that is. They’re made of glass. Strong glass, though sometimes they crack when something slams into them hard enough, but I don’t see why anything would do that since the handles are so easy to use. I mean, anything with the intelligence of a three year old could get from one end of this place to the other in a matter of minutes, and that isn’t even including use of the easy-access ventilation ducts. But don’t worry. The locks are run from a central hub. All electric. Tons of security.

Stand back now while I swipe this keycard and complete the retina scan. Whoo-wee. I love that. It’s like a Pink Floyd concert in your eye. So like I was saying, everything is run from the central hub and you have to follow all of the proper protocol to get anywhere – that is if the power is on. Since we’re located on a fault-line every so often the electricity kicks off, but don’t worry about a thing.  The system automatically unlocks all of the doors when the grid goes down. That way if anything else goes wrong, everyone and everything in the building has access to everywhere else. Safety first.

We’re passing through the café here. It’s nothing much. Folks love to eat all sorts of barely recognizable plant and sea life native to the island, but it affords a great view of the hatchery. You can just sit here munching down on a hearty stew lovingly prepared by our top chef and monster-obstetrician Jenny – Hey there, Jenny! – while watching the newest yield of government-sanctioned breeding pop forth, squirting and skittering across the floor. Aw, those cute little suckers. Now if it were up to me, you’d be allowed to eat in the hatchery itself with the miracle of life and all. But regulations are regulations and we do try to keep the door between the café and the hatchery closed most of the time. Ah, that is delicious, Jenny. Thank you. Want to try? Fair enough. How about the real stuff: the holding tanks for the fully mature monsters? Close your eyes first.

Ta-da. Here we are! So we don’t even mess around with locks on this door since everyone is in and out all of the time, but check out those wires running the perimeter of their enclosure. You’re staring at a matrix of rock-hard, inch and a half thick, high-voltage wire separating you and that carnivorous stare. And I’m telling you, I don’t know who makes these cables, but they deserve a goddamn prize. Those wires are great. When the power fails, they’re so flexible that the monsters get all tangled up in them. It’s hilarious – like a cat in yarn, rolling around, clawing and – Oh shit, goggles. Totally forgot. Here put these on. Sometimes they spit and it corrodes a large portion of the face. No, what got on you doesn’t look too bad. We’ll get you a towel. See the guards all wear the goggles and have towels with them. Perfectly prepared for any eventuality. Plus, check out those guns. Small arms they’re packing. All trained to aim at or around anything that gets out.

Well that about does it. If you want, we can go up above for feeding time now. We got a primo view of the carnage, scientifically speaking that is, from an overlook we pieced together last week out of a faulty cage. I like to think the view is one of the blessings compensating us for the thankless work we do here, plus, we figured, why build a whole entire roof when we’re pretty sure their wings are for display purposes only? They look really great when they get hungry too. All flapping around and jumping higher and higher. Come on. If you can see through the burning, you’re going to love it.

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Zane Shetler lives and teaches in Durham, NC. His articles can be found here.

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