Kitty Saves the World Page 2

In other words, they didn’t have much. They used words like virus because the concept was descriptive and provided a working model. But people like me were called supernatural for a reason. An ineffable part of the problem remained out of reach.

“All right, I’m going to open the line for calls now. If you have a question for Dr. Shumacher or a comment on this discussion, you know what to do.”

I already had a dozen calls lined up in the queue. Excellent. Even after years of this, I lived in fear of looking at the monitor one day and seeing it blank, empty. If my audience vanished, the show would be done. This was not that day. At heart, people wanted attention, and if they had to call into my quirky fringe show to get it, so be it.

For the first call, I tried to pick one that sounded sane. Or at least balanced. One with a substantive comment, not too far out there. Sometimes I picked well.

“Hello, Martin from Boston, you’re on the air.”

“Oh hi, Kitty, thanks for taking my call. Yeah, I have a question for Dr. Shumacher. She said getting samples was hard. So if I’m a vampire and I want to participate—I guess I’m asking if there are any studies I could sign up for, to help out?”

“Dr. Shumacher?” I prompted.

“Yes, a number of researchers are conducting a variety of studies at any given moment, and they’re often looking for not just vampire and lycanthrope volunteers, but uninfected humans for experimental controls. It should come as no surprise that these communities are often difficult to reach out to, and that’s one of the reasons our options are sometimes limited, so thank you especially for asking. We have a website you can check to find various calls for study volunteers…”

See? I was performing a public service. Contributing to the community. It wasn’t all prurient exploitation.

I picked up the thread. “Thanks, Martin, for putting yourself out there for science. I hope others will check out that website. We’ll put the link on The Midnight Hour site as well.” I looked through the window, and yes, Matt was writing down the reminder, because I would likely forget. I was caught up in the flow of the show, and nothing could stop me. “Next caller, hello, what do you have for me?” This was Nadia from Tucson.

A woman spoke, her voice earnest, searching. “Hello, Kitty, yes—I have a question for both of you, if that’s okay.”

“It’s what we’re here for, ask away.”

“All this talk of science, it seems like it’s missing something. Vampires, werewolves, there’s more to them than just curing an illness, isn’t there? I guess I want to know where the mystery of it all is. The magic.”

I deferred to my guest. “Dr. Shumacher, you want to tackle this one?”

“I’m not sure that ‘science’ and ‘magic’ are such distinct categories as people sometimes make them out to be. I try to keep that in mind when I do my own studies, that this is all part of nature, no matter how strange it seems. I’m studying nature.”

I added, “I’ve heard a lot of variations of the saying that magic is just phenomena that science hasn’t explained yet.”

Shumacher said, “I became a scientist because the natural world fills me with wonder. I think DNA is magical—how does all that information come to be stored in a collection of molecules? How does it come to be expressed? Learning the answers to those questions doesn’t make me any less filled with awe.”

“Yes, exactly,” I said. “I’ve seen a lot of weird things in my time. Ghosts, channeling, fairies, you name it. It doesn’t matter how weird things get, I’m not going to stop asking questions and trying to figure out how things work. Otherwise, we’re sitting alone in our dark caves, waiting for something to come along and eat us.”

Nadia didn’t sound convinced. “Yeah, okay—but what if you never find real answers? What if it really is just magic?”

“As if ‘just’ is a word you can use with magic. It’s ‘just,’ you know, the universe.”

She kept pressing. “Surely there are some questions that will never be answered—why vampires are immortal, why werewolves are controlled by the full moon. It doesn’t make any scientific sense.”

“And it never will, if we stop asking questions,” I said. “Maybe it’s magic, yes, but we still need to figure out how magic works, don’t we? Moving on, before we get too philosophical, my next call comes from Providence. Hello!”

The caller was male, fast talking, and clearly short on patience. “Kitty, longtime listener and all that. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but why do you always fall for these so-called scientific explanations? You know it’s all a smoke screen, don’t you?”

The screener’s comment on this call was “opposing viewpoint.” I had a feeling what that viewpoint was going to be. Doing the show as long as I had, I’d heard just about everything at least once. But I was always willing to be surprised.

“Oh? A smoke screen? Do tell.”

“This isn’t about science, or magic, or anything like that. It’s about who controls our souls!”

Of course it was. Sometimes I thought I’d be better off if I hung up on these calls. Usually, though, I had way more fun letting them run on. Sure, I liked providing altruistic public service when I could. The rest of the time, I wasn’t above ratings-boosting conflict.

“This is a good and evil thing, I assume is what you’re getting at.”

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