22.4.12

When you're a kid, everyone wants to know what you want to do when you grow up.

I remember being seven, and we had to write a paper for school about what we were going to do when we grew up. I stared at that paper for an hour trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I think I finally settled on writer or something like that. I never really had a plan til my brother died. A week after they took his body away, I decided what I wanted to do: I wanted to fight back against God or the Devil or whoever or whatever had caused my only blood relation in this world to die so horribly. So I started thinking, started researching. I could be a finder, researching and hunting down the undead, but that wasn't fighting the cause, it was treating the symptoms. I thought about becoming a doctor, but after some research I found that there was no treatment, not a single way to even relieve the pain of the people who were dying. That's when I realized what I wanted to do when I grew up: Become a biologist. Study the undead. Find a treatment, find a cure, and, ultimately, find the source.
I continued my schooling by mail, like everyone else who grew up around the same time I did. I worked every day, even the weekends and holidays. I worked from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, and I ended up finishing my basic education two years early. Then I applied for special training with the government. They didn't take me the first three times I applied. I talked to dozens of different people from all over the country. Finally, I came into contact with Harper Nelson, the woman who eventually became my advocate and supervisor. At the time I met her, she was recruiting safety assurance assistants, like Jerry and Daniel.
I told her my plans, and she told me the only way she would help me is if I started at the bottom. So I took the job, moved to Cincinnati, and started training to be a safety assurance assistant.
I worked that job for about six months, every week I applied for special training. Finally, sick of filing my paperwork, Harper called me in on my day off.
"You're annoying." That's what she told me when I came into her office.
"I've just been doing my job, I don't see how that's annoying."
"Every single week, I have to file your application. Do I need to schedule you more hours? How do you have time to fill out that application, with updated information, every single week?"
I didn't know if I should tell her the truth, or make something up. I sided with the truth, "All I do when I go home every night is work on that application and study anything I can find on the origins of PTA online or in the library. It's getting difficult to find new information, though. My access to confidential is basically limited to safety protocol, and after six months of reading, I'm running out of fresh materials."
She sighed, and pulled out her stamp from the drawer in her desk. She inked it and looked at me and asked, "Why do you want this job, Dahlia?"
"Because I want to set this world right. I want to see it how it was supposed to be."
"You'd be the second youngest person to be a PTA biologist. Do you think you'll be worth my time and payroll?"
"I'm old enough to remember going to school with other people. I remember seeing actual faces in crowds, not just masks and suits. I'm only young in the sense that I hope one day to raise kids and tell them about how I worked with the team who brought them a world like that."
Harper stamped the papers in front of her. "Take these to payroll." She handed me a folder. "And take this all the way upstairs, to my boss, Lee Baker."
"Yes ma'am." I turned to walk out the door.
"Dahlia!"
I turned back to Harper. "Yes?"
"Congratulations on your promotion. Make me proud."
I couldn't help but smile. "Yes, ma'am."

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