[An article appearing on the front page of the New York Post, April 7, 2018]
If you’d told me at age ten that I would grow up to be a journalist, I would have jumped for joy.
If you’d told me I would grow up to be a demon hunter, I would have laughed in your face.
Today, I am both. This afternoon I dotted the final i’s and crossed the last t’s to become a member of the Contingent, the organization that made a splash last yer by fighting off a zombie horde in Washington, DC, and alerting the world to the existence of the supernatural.
Already, I’ve met fascinating people, and seen things I never would have thought possible. From ghostly department heads to shapeshifting plants, the Contingent is every bit as mysterious and otherworldy as it claims to be. Here’s a quick trip through my first day as a paranormal agent.
We gathered outside Hearst Tower this afternoon for a tour of the Contingent’s new headquarters. (Before you ask: yes, I did go into the Cosmo office; no, I didn’t get Amy Odell’s autograph.) Several people on tour with me seemed to have been Contingent operatives for some time already, while others were as new – though not quite as curious – as I was. We were taken to the seventh floor of the Tower, which houses the Contingent’s call center. That’s right, everybody: there’s a hotline for monster hunters now. Who ya gonna call?
Our tour guide briefly explained the procedure for vetting calls – the Contingent can handle up to a dozen at once. Apparently these folks have been in business for years before going public! Thanks to their experience, they have a huge database of monsters to compare against the calls they get, and can figure out whether something paranormal is happening. Once, our guide confided, somebody called in about hearing strange noises upstairs, but it turned out their neighbors were just, well, a little bit freaky, if you know what I mean.
The Contingent’s call center is a part of the Logistics department. This was headed up by an ex-Marine who, in her own words, was “not paid to be fun.” Super scary, super hot. She also had some kind of tentacle in a jar near her desk- a classified tentacle, according to her.
After the call center, we were taken to the Accounting department. Well, I say department. We were taken to a door with no label and told that accounting lived on the other side.We could hear someone clacking away behind the door, but it had no knob or handle, or apparent way to get in. Only one woman comes in and out of the Accounting department, and nobody knows how her job gets done- only that the paychecks keep coming on time.
Probably the spookiest thing I saw at the Contingent HQ today was the director of Human Resources. Ironically, he didn’t seem to be human at all- he walked right through me as he passed by! We also saw somebody throw a cactus right through his body. It seems that the original founder of the HR department lives on – unlives on? – to lead the department as a ghost. I have to say, I still haven’t entirely recovered from the incident.
One of the returning demon hunters in my group seemed antsy to talk with the ghostly department head. Apparently this person was unhappy about what the Contingent has gone through since their involvement in DC. It seems, dear readers, that something more happened between the demon hunters and the National Guard that day. Hopefully I can learn more from my new co-workers.
We were taken downstairs to research and development. I’m pretty sure something in my contract keeps me from talking about what I saw there, but trust me when I say that it opened up my eyes to a whole new world of secrets. The Contingent researches anything and everything that could help humanity defend itself from the supernatural. Imagine some super-crazy science fiction lab, and then make it about twice as cool- that’s the R&D lab at the Contingent. Perhaps even cooler, though, is the plant in the department head’s office. It’s some kind of shapeshifter- a pine tree one moment, a cactus the next! Even more amazing is that nobody in the Contingent knows what makes it change.
The last place we visited was the shooting range. I saw people firing everything from standard rifles to odd, flesh-melting water canons, and even tossing hatchets with great strength and accuracy. I’m going to have to learn to shoot in order to be a demon hunter. Today, I couldn’t even hit the target.
The Contingent may have gone public about its existence, but this place is still full of secrets. I look forward to learning more about this strange and shadowy organization, as well as polishing my own demon-hunting skills.
Meredith Cohn is a freelance journalist, a cat lover, and now, a demon hunter. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.