Saturday, October 20, 2012

Blueprints of an Hidden World: Murray-Harker International

Murray-Harker International, Inc. is a global organization named for its founders, Mina Murray and Jonathon Harker, the principal characters from Bram Stoker's "Dracula" -- a book published as fiction for the sake of protecting fact. The concept behind a world in which MHI is a real organization provides a far different perspective from other stories or series' involving vampires.  Many of the vampires with MHI are doctors, lawyers, artists or patrons of the arts and members of society at its finest. Such professionals blend in with society, their secret secured through dealings with confidential governmental organizations.  Others within MHI are professionals in darker fields, such as espionage and the military. What happens behind closed doors on MHI grounds remains hands-off to governmental agencies, whether in the U.S. or beyond.  Such agencies are duty-bound to protect MHI's secrets.  In exchange, MHI protects (or simply does not feed off of) an area's citizens.  Most of the Earth's population has no knowledge of the existence of real 'creatures of the night.'
MHI is indicative of a vampire culture that is extremely rich and diverse, aspects of which allow for stories that are similarly diverse and could be told in a variety of media, whether in print or electronic reading materials, in video games or on movie screens. The genres in which stories can be told are variable as well, enabling a broader reach to a wide range of demographics. Stories relating to MHI, Inc. have franchise potential, enabling multiple authors to address the concept from a variety of genres and cross-genres to appeal to a variety of audiences; examples could include eroticism, paranormal romance, pure horror, and even military horror.
MHI, Inc.

MHI (Murray-Harker International), Inc. is a global conglomerate dating back to 1900 that currently includes operations covering everything from independent military contractors to philanthropic enterprises.  MHI's leaders literally have friends in high places; they are involved in global politics and have a hand in global policy setting and peacekeeping initiatives. 

The Murray-Harker Institute

The Murray-Harker Institute is an affiliate organization falling under the corporate umbrella of MHI. The focus of the institute itself is human health and well-being.  Some of the institute's international branch operations specialize in holistic healing; others treat patients through psychology and psychiatry. The Michigan Manor, located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the northern part of the state, offers voluntary in-patient psychiatric care in a resort-like setting. Patients are neither 'committed' nor confined, and there is an overall air of peace and serenity.

 There is, however, a darker, hidden side to both MHI as a corporation and the Institute itself. The leaders of these operations are not human. All board and high-level staff positions are filled by vampires; and the underlying purpose of each and every organization is to provide employees with an unlimited supply of human blood. In some cases -- but certainly not all -- that blood supply is provided by willing volunteers.

The Institute's Recruiting Methods

Why would anyone voluntarily subject themselves to being bled by vampires?  To regularly supplementing a vampire’s “food” supply?  All it takes is an observant recruiter, a little psychology and an irresistible sales pitch aimed specifically to a single individual’s immediate needs.

What follows is an example of a recruitment “spam” email from Murray-Harker Institute to a candidate recommended by an in-the-field recruiter:

Someone close to you is concerned for your well being and believes the Murray-Harker Institute Online can help.

  • Are you troubled by strange dreams? 
  • Do you wake up confused and tired? 

If your answer is 'yes,' we encourage you to contact us. 

Unlike other online resources, we do not simply look for universal symbols in your dreams.  We help you to discover what your own body is trying to tell you, and why.*

For hundreds less than you would pay to visit a local clinic, you can work directly with one of our board certified psychiatrists and psychologists.  The Murray-Harker Institute Online also offers what no clinic can: complete anonymity.  Unless access is expressly requested by your counselor and granted in writing by you, no one besides your account coordinator will ever know who you are.  Further, your account coordinator will never have access to your counseling communications. 

Give us a try.  With our 100% satisfaction guarantee, you have nothing to lose but what you've already lost: a good night's sleep.

*Note: Dreams are sometimes the result of medical conditions that cannot be appropriately diagnosed or treated via the services provided here.  If our online resources are unable to provide you with satisfactory results, you may be advised to make an appointment for an in-home visit, or to take advantage of the wide range of services offered at one of the institute’s resort-like locations.

Sweet dreams!

If they're not sweet now, we'll help you sweeten them!

Emma's Apple (info from 2010)

Emma's Apple (working title) is a novel in progress to be told in approximately 75,000 words that introduces both MHI and the Murray-Harker Institute.

Emma Andersen is a pretty, young 30-something who had considered herself an up-and-coming automotive industry executive.  When she falls victim to industry-wide downsizing, she loses her sense of self -- and gains the notice of an MHI recruiter, Abigail Lawrence.

Abigail discovers Emma through Abigail's own life-link to a regular customer of the coffee shop where Emma has found employment.  The customer, a middle school teacher and part-time on-line horror writer named Jeremy Walker is falling in love with Emma.  Jeremy knows nothing about his link to Abigail, brought about by her recruitment of Jeremy's mother before his birth.  Abigail herself is ignorant of Jeremy's link with Emma, brought about by his falling in love.  These two secret facts set all three characters on a dangerous path when an institute physician, himself a vampire, plots a scheme of revenge against the current director of the Michigan Manor. (2012, October, Note: This key plot element will change with a pending complete rewrite of the novel, through which Jeremy will become the primary character.)

Story Text Excerpts Offering Descriptions of Key Characters:

"Fledglings": A newly turned vampire is an animal, unstoppable and insatiable.  Hunger is a constant, as is rage.  Fed by a sense of invincibility, a new vampire will attack without cause, and will meet any threat, however small, with all the savagery of a demon.

            In time, most can learn to control such impulses.  Many can even settle into a cautious existence within the realm of humankind -- those who can keep their superiority in check.  However, there are some instincts few will ever control.  When threatened, the beast is loosed.

"… It is physically, biologically impossible to stop them now.  They are hungry, ravenous even.  Imagine that you have spent days without food, no food at all, and then someone tells you there is a plate of filet mignon waiting for you just the other side of that hill behind you.  I assure you, Gunnery Sergeant Andersen, you would either ignore or tear apart anyone who said 'oops.  Sorry.  We made a mistake; that filet is not meant to be eaten.'"

"We're talking about people, not steak."

"In your eyes, perhaps, Gunnery Sergeant.  But not in theirs.  Do not forget what they are.  Fledglings are nothing like this." Mr. Assad swept his hands across his own body.  "When first bled, we are, for all practical purposes, beasts.  It takes years to get the primal instincts under control, sometimes decades.  We can guide them to a particular--cut of steak, if you will.  And in doing so we can both protect the community at large and aid your military.  But we can never, never turn them back once that steak is in their sights."

"… you are now part of a very elite group.  There are only a handful of people in all the armed forces who have any knowledge, or even any inkling of knowledge about Red Bird and teams such as Assad's.  By being made a part of that group, your allegiance goes first to them and then to the Corps -- as does mine and anyone else who has been indoctrinated.  There is no turning back from this knowledge, and under no circumstance can it ever be leaked to the world at large.  MHI will go to any length to see to it that never happens, and the United States government will not intervene."

Gunnery Sergeant Eric Andersen: (Human) Eric Andersen was as commanding in appearance as Emma was compelling.  Despite the Marine's shaved head, Jeremy felt confident Emma's brother could serve as a poster boy for ancient Vikings.  There was nothing soft about him.  His eyes, the same rich, royal blue as Emma's, were void of the trust so integral to his sister's character, and where her gaze radiated warmth, his projected ice; Andersen might well have been carved out of a block of it.  From the glacial edges of his square jaw to the razor-cut slit of his mouth, his visage alone gave Jeremy the inclination to shiver.  All in all, there was a wild ferocity about Emma's brother, one that made Jeremy grateful to discover their goals were not in opposition.  

Mr. Assad: (Vampire) The darker-skinned gentleman before him smiled casually and shrugged thick shoulders loosely covered in a white silk shirt

….  Known only as Mr. Assad, he reminded Andersen of a cross between Omar Sharif and Hal Linden's Barney Miller, with jet black hair and intrusive brown eyes that could turn black in an instant.

"I am sorry." Assad let his smile slip away, making it appear as though the apology might be sincere.  "But the sun has already set on our plans, both literally and metaphorically.  Once awakened, it is simply not possible to pull our teams back."

Colonel Parker

Emma Andersen: (Human) She had already seen enough of her own disheveled, poorly cut hair to make her sick to her stomach -- god how she missed her stylist at the spa.  The darkness of the coffee served as a painful reminder that she'd had to revert back to dishwater blonde now that she could no longer afford proper highlights. 

… After ten years she had made it into management only to discover the company had become 'vertically challenged,' having too many leaders and not enough funds to cover them all.  Despite the current trends favoring women in management roles, Emma had not survived the third round of layoffs.  Now, nearly a year later, she was out of both funds and options.  The only thing she could count on was her job at the coffee shop; and she was not even sure she could count on that.  More and more, she felt as though she were counting backwards.  After all, the coffee shop did nothing to ease her debts and had her working for a boss who seemed to take pleasure in her fall from grace.

… Her own skin was pale, her hair equally so…  [her eyes are a] rich, royal blue.

Dr. 126983, aka Dr. George "Ben" Bennington Brown: (Vampire) He was dark, darker even than the night, born of shadows. 

… the doctor's full, tender lips,… sleepy, heavy-lidded fa├žade

… Her blonde strands seemed luminescent against the black shadows in his palm….

Jeremy Walker, aka J.W. Locke: (Human) He had adopted his mother's attitude toward comfortable dress, and even now, in his early thirties, considered jeans to be standard attire for nearly any occasion.  His hair, too, reflected her influence. Anything past the lower edge of his shoulder blades was just too much to control.  Unlike his mother's fine, black silk, his was thick and unruly.

… Ponytail at his back

… Bright, hazel eyes.

Richard "Rick" Wallace Karpinski: (Human) Four inches shorter than Jeremy and already balding though he was barely thirty, Rick tried to compensate with a dark, well-groomed mustache that failed to hide a seemingly permanent grin.  Even his emerald eyes had a constant sparkle. 

Abigail Lawrence: (Vampire) Her hair was a wild, unnatural combination of purple and orange, her skin was pale and her lips blood red against milky white teeth as she flashed him an inviting smile.

Dr. Trevor Cassidy: (Vampire) He whispered, his voice sounding odd, unfamiliar.  There was a lilt she had not noticed before, the hint of a Texas drawl….

… Sandy-haired Texan

… Pale under the moonlight, his hair the color of the sand beneath her. 

… Thin lips

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