It wasn’t considered polite to call them that anymore, but that’s what they were. Psychic vampires and metamorphic shifters and God-knew-what-else. A bog monster worked three cubicles down from Nick, and it stunk up the place with the stench of rotting vegetables and mold. But Nick couldn’t say anything for fear of being written up as insensitive. He already had one warning from when he’d thrown up watching a giant fly eating its lunch.
Vorkolork, the thing with invisible skin, poked his head over Nick’s partition. Vork’s internal organs, sickly shades of yellow, were visible for all the world to see. He could at least put on a hat to cover that veiny brain of his.
“Can I borrow your stapler?” he asked.
Grunted, Nick handed it to Vork.
“Thanks. You’re a pal.” He might have smiled and winked. There was no way to tell.
All the monsters were just trying to get by, like everyone else. It wasn’t their fault that they smelled weird or were slightly radioactive. He still missed the old days, when the monsters had lived in their part of the world and the humans had lived in theirs. It hadn’t been fair to the monsters, but he didn’t have to worry about slime on his keyboard or accidentally touching the poisonous skin of giant toad in a tight elevator.
Vorkolork’s gruesome hand reached over and dropped the stapler on Nick’s desk. “Some of us are going out after work. You should come?”
Nick nodded in a way that meant nothing.
“It’ll be fun. Hurley’s coming with us.” Vorkolork whispered. “I shouldn’t say anything, but he has a little thing for you. He wanted me to get you to come.”
His interest perked up. He tried to remember Hurley. The name didn’t ring any bells.
Vork said, “I’m not gay, but if I were that guy would totally be my type. Broad shoulders. Great hair. Terrific smile.”
Nick perked up.
“And those wings.” Vorkolork stuck his yellow tongue between slightly off yellow teeth. “You don’t see wings like that every day.”
Nick lowered his head and went back to work.
Nick spent the rest of the afternoon focused on his work, hoping to get out of here before anyone tried to talk him into hanging out. He bolted to the elevator two minutes before quitting time in an attempt to avoid talking to anyone. The doors were nearly closed when a tall man with blue skin and leather wings in an impeccable suit stepped in.
Nick kept his head down.
“Nice weather we’re having,” said Hurley.
“You’re Nick, right?”
Nick nodded again.
Hurley took the hint and shut up. Nick moved to the other side of the elevator and risked a direct glance at Hurley. The blue-skinned angel was gorgeous, but he was still a monster. He probably only wanted to eat Nick’s brains or suck out his life force. But damn, it might be worth it.
The doors opened, and Hurley stepped out. “It was nice meeting you.”
Nick nodded. He was beginning to cramp up in his neck from all the nodding.
He almost changed his mind, but he wasn’t ready for this new world. Maybe in a week or two. Or a year. Maybe never.
So he went home, alone, and ate ice cream for dinner while his neighbors, the shrieking squids, warbled so loud he could barely hear his television.