Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
"So you are getting a little clingy," the same nurse from the day before suggested. Her name was Paula, a short dumpy woman known for being a bit of a gossip.
"Not by choice," Amanda replied as she walked into the ICU.
"You don't want to help her?" Paula asked both frowning and sounding a little disturbed.
"Of course I do," Amanda quickly responded. She hadn't meant to sound so unfeeling. "This is just new to me," she explained.
"You don't have anyone to care for? Friends or family? No one who relies on you?"
Amanda shook her head. "No," she replied. "No one!" She really didn't sound upset about it.
"Isn't that lonely?" Paula asked. She sounded a bit concerned.
"It's safe," Amanda replied.
"Safe for who?" Paula inquired.
"Everyone!" Amanda responded darkly.
Jane looked up as Amanda stepped up to the bed. She both grimaced in pain and smiled at the same moment.
Amanda pulled up a chair and sat beside her. "Hey you," she said trying to sound far less nervous than she was actually feeling. "How are you doing?"
"Painfully," Jane bravely quipped, her single word response perfectly summing up everything as she again tried to smile. She looked terrible with bandages covering most of her body and the side of her head shaved so that the deep wound on her temple could be cleaned and dressed.
"It's understandable," Amanda replied sympathetically. "Your body has been through a lot. Do you want me to have them increase the pain meds?"
"No!" Jane quite quickly and firmly replied while sounding very certain of something for the first time ever. "It makes me feel strange, like I'm not, like I'm not in..." She paused obviously trying to remember the correct word.
"Control?" Amanda suggested.
Jane nodded. "That," she agreed. She was again showing her incredible strength, preferring the pain over something more comfortable.
Amanda smiled. She knew exactly how the young woman felt. She'd once vowed that she would never let anyone control her life ever again. She leant close to the bed. "Have you remembered anything?" she asked.
"No," Jane replied sounding quite frustrated. "Just you and that other man who spoke with me."
"David," Amanda advised.
Jane nodded. She immediately frowned. "I don't like him," she said firmly and again sounding very certain. "He seems very sure of himself."
Amanda smiled. She'd never heard David described in such a manner before, but in his role it was probably a good thing. Maybe Jane hadn't yet forgiven him for the rape kit. "Why did you choose me?" she asked.
"I trust you," Jane explained straightforwardly while looking Amanda directly in the face. "You're different from everyone else."
"Different? Different how?" Amanda asked worriedly. She didn't know why she was. There was no way the young woman could know anything about her. Could she?
"You have a presence the others don't," Jane explained. "I'm sure I've seen it before, somewhere," she added, again sounding frustrated, "but I can't recall where."
"A presence?" Amanda asked. She wasn't sure she knew what that meant.
Jane nodded seriously. "You try to hide it," she explained, "but it's there. It's part of who you are. I can see it in your eyes."
Amanda left Jane to sleep then returned to the ER. She asked the nurse to call her immediately if anything changed. To say that she was a little freaked out would be an understatement. She felt as though her whole world was about to come crashing down around her. It had happened before, two years previously when her comfortable existence had been so suddenly swept away. It had taken her months to learn how to cope and she'd almost given up every single day. It wouldn't be so hard to start again this time.
She found David and the others waiting in one of the triage bays. After all the excitement with the football fans the ER had returned to normal. ER life was like that. One moment it could be complete chaos the next boring as all hell.
David looked up as Amanda stepped round the curtain. "How's Jane?" he asked. He genuinely sounded concerned.
"Well, she doesn't much like you," Amanda replied trying to smile. She was still a bit freaked out. She dropped into a chair at one side then stared at David across the bay. "You get one question," she said.
"Sorry?" David said frowning.
"You wanted to know something about me," Amanda explained. "You get one question." Her brief talk with Jane had made her realise that if she were to lose her memory what would anyone know about her.
All the others turned and looked at David. They seemed just as curious.
"Just one?" he asked.
"You'll answer it honestly?"
"If I can," Amanda replied.
David thought for a long moment. He crossed his arms, sat back in his chair and chewed on a fingernail. Finally he glanced up. "Why did you leave your last hospital?" he asked. "They told me you left suddenly but they wouldn't explain why."
Amanda gently shook her head. She chuckled silently. "Of all the questions it had to be that one," she thought. "I was assaulted by a patient," she explained deliberately while trying to not think about the memory nor how painful it actually was. "I didn't know how to cope. Everything there reminded me of him and what he'd done and how weak I was to let it happen. I ran away. I left everyone and everything I knew behind. I've spoken to no one since."
For a moment everyone sat silently. They all looked a little stunned. It clearly wasn't the happy or mysterious answer they'd all been hoping for.
"What happened to him?" David asked. His tone had changed. He now sounded a little sorry for pressing.
Amanda shook her head. "That's two questions," she reminded. She stood up and stepped into the hall. "Now you know something," she said and she walked away.
Across town in a police forensic lab the swabs from Jane's burns were being tested. For a time the mass spectrometer chewed on the sample. Eventually it spat out the results.
A lab tech picked up the report.
He frowned at it then turned to another tech nearby. "What sort of burn would have no chemical residue from the source?" he asked. He sounded confused.
The second tech shook his head. "I don't know," he replied being as puzzled as the first. "Is that even possible?" he asked.
"The mass spec says it is," the first explained while scratching his head. He had never seen anything like it. There was nothing to say what that source of Jane's burns had been. Fire, chemical, contact or even forced-air burns would all leave some visible evidence behind. Instead there was nothing, absolutely nothing at all.
David found Amanda sitting in the staff break room with her head in her hands. He sat in a chair near the door. "I'm sorry," he said. He really did sound upset.
Amanda looked up and shrugged. "You weren't to know," she replied. "Besides I let you ask the question." She chuckled. "I never expected you'd ask that one though."
David smirked. "You really left everything behind?" he asked.
"I'm sure my fiance wouldn't have been greatly upset," Amanda explained. She wasn't sorry. It was a previous life, one she'd tried very hard to forget. She could barely remember any of it at all.
"You were engaged?"
"He wanted children," Amanda revealed.
"You didn't?" David prompted.
"For a time I did," Amanda replied and actually smiling. She became more sombre and her happy expression quickly faded. "I don't even know if that's possible now," she added.
"He hurt you that badly?" David inquired. He looked horrified.
Amanda slowly looked up and stared. "You have no idea what he did to me," she said.
"I would like to," David suggested.
"No!" Amanda said firmly while shaking her head. "You really wouldn't!"
David sat bolt upright in his chair. He was a little shocked and completely taken aback. He didn't think there was anything that he couldn't cope with.
Amanda's phone beeped. She quickly pulled it out and looked at the display. "It's Jane," she said urgently then she ran from the room.
Both her and David ran across the hall to the ICU. They found a group of doctors and nurses crowded around Jane's bed as she convulsed uncontrollably.
"What happened?" Amanda asked.
"We were giving her some food," Paula replied sounding more than a little upset. "Just something simple," she explained. "She started to choke and vomit then convulse like she's having a fit. None of us could hold her down. I've never seen anything like it."
Amanda at first frowned then stared with her eyes wide, she'd seen this before. In herself! Jane was like her, that's how she'd known that Amanda was different. It was easy to recognise similar traits in another even if they tried to hide them. She felt so stupid. She hadn't even noticed, not that she'd really looked. "Let me through," she said firmly. She forced her way to the side of the bed and stared at Jane as she writhed back and forth.
Jane's eyes were wide with terror.
Amanda leant in close. She gently took Jane's head in her hands and turn it to face her. She had little problem holding the young woman in place. "Look at me," she said. "Look at my eyes. Just my eyes nothing else."
Jane immediately started to relax and her movements became less chaotic.
"That's good," Amanda said, her voice unnaturally calm. "Keep looking at me. Now breathe! Gently! Keep looking at my eyes. Forget about everything else it can't hurt you anymore."
It was almost magical to watch. Jane started to writhe less and less and within moments was laying perfectly still.
Amanda smiled at her. "Hey you," she said. "You gave me and everyone else a bit of a fright."
Jane started to cry then despite her injuries lunged up and hugged Amanda tightly. "I thought I was going to die," she cried.
"I know," Amanda said while hugging Jane in return. "I've been there as well."
She glanced about at all the others who were now looking at her as though she'd just returned someone from the dead. "What's her iron count?" she asked.
"What did you do? What's wrong with her?" one of the unknown doctors asked. He didn't sound disappointed that he hadn't been able to help, rather he seemed annoyed that he'd just been shown up by a lowly nurse.
"It's just a trick to calm someone down," Amanda explained rather bluntly while ignoring his attitude. "Now what's her iron count?"
She didn't want to say that Jane's body had gone into shock from being exposed to something alien it could never handle. All she had done was to distract Jane from thinking about it, to stop her from panicking. Now that she wasn't fighting it her body would quickly recover. Someone had once done the same for her. It really was that simple. If she hadn't been here Amanda knew that Jane might have died. For their kind, for the young and for someone who didn't know how to cope with the changes, it really was possible to be scared to death.
"Her iron is low," Paula advised being the first to answer Amanda's question. She of all of them seemed thankful for what Amanda had just done.
"She needs blood," Amanda advised. "She has severe iron-deficiency anaemia," she explained seriously, trying to make up something that would sound plausible and distract everyone from the more than obvious eating disorder. "A transfusion would help," she said. She looked up at David. "Please?" she sounded desperate.
David nodded. He at least was aware of Jane's strange blood chemistry. "Give her two units of O negative blood," he instructed.
"I'm her doctor not you!" the previous doctor snapped.
"Well, we've just seen how that worked out," David returned.
"How dare to you!"
"Oh please," Amanda chided, "you can work out who has the biggest dick later. Right now you have a patient who needs your help." She smiled to herself. She couldn't have hoped for a better distraction even if she had planned it herself.
"There's no chemical residue at all?" the senior officer asked.
"No," the young lab tech explained. "Nothing?"
"Now that is interesting," the older man suggested. He clearly knew something that the younger man didn't.
"Do you want me to send the report onto the detectives," the younger man inquired.
The officer shook his head. "No," he said, quickly taking the report. "I'll look after this one personally."
Amanda waited by Jane's bed until the blood took affect and the young woman fell into a fitful sleep.
David told Amanda to go home, she was still a little too freaked out to be useful anyway.
She didn't drive directly home, instead she pulled into a small shopping complex with a rather strange all night butcher. When she'd first arrived here Amanda had thought it a little odd for a butcher to be open twenty-four hours, now she understood its real purpose and she relied on it more than anything.
There was a large man sitting behind the counter. He was tall, broad, extremely hairy and Scottish. Had he been wearing any sort of ancient, horned helmet he would have looked like a viking. He wasn't, he didn't, his name was Bob. Amanda liked to call him Bob the butcher. It was corny, completely lame and was certainly something he'd heard many times in the past but he accepted it with good humour and always had a chuckle.
Amanda didn't feel much like joking tonight. "Old man," she said.
"Little one," he replied.
"Can we talk?"
Bob nodded and shook his head toward a door to one side. "Jessica," he boomed in his thick accent, "watch the store."
Jessica was small and thin and nothing like her dad. She was a Goth's Goth, dressed in black, with black hair, black makeup and a dark mood to suit. She was everything she believed a creature of the night should be. Had she been aware she'd already met hundreds of them she might have been disappointed.
Bob found it amusing.
"You're really going to have to tell her one day," Amanda suggested as she followed Bob through the door into the back room.
"What and miss the look of horror on all your faces," Bob joked. He laughed at the very thought of it.
"Yeah," Amanda replied chuckling herself. She at least could see the funny side. "No self respecting vampire would even knowingly dress like that," she said. "We wouldn't want to draw attention to ourselves."
"You're not a vampire," Bob corrected.
Amanda sighed. "I know, I know," she responded, "I am familiar. A vampire wannabe as you like to put it." She spoke as though she was presenting some sort of book report at school. She sounded a little frustrated. Bob had once insisted that she repeat it time and time again until she got it right. He had tried to stress her life could depend on it. Pretending to be something that you weren't could get you killed. "I'm a partially transfigured human," she explained automatically. "I need to drink blood to survive but I don't have fangs, I have some of their strength but not their mind control and I can still go into the sun for short periods. Oh and I only age for one year in every ten."
Bob nodded curtly like a school master. "I say let Jessica have her fun," he said. "The change will hit her soon enough."
There was a small table in the centre of the room. Amanda pulled out a chair and sat down. The whole place smelt of blood and meat. She found the aroma intoxicating. She felt totally at ease. She didn't need to hide who she was in this place. "Is she still a vegan?" she asked with a smile. Amanda had never stopped enjoying the irony of a vegan working in a butchers.
"Humph!" Bob grumped ignoring the question.
Amanda smiled. That was answer enough.
"Do you want a drink?" Bob asked as he poured himself a fresh mug of coffee. "I got something new in today which I'd like you to try."
Amanda shrugged. "Sure," she said.
Bob grabbed another mug then disappeared into the cold room. He returned moments later with the cup brimming with blood.
Amanda sniffed at it warily. "It's not something like rat is it?" she asked screwing up her nose. She may need to drink blood to survive but even she still had her standards. She wouldn't put anything past Bob though. He liked a joke, good or bad.
Bob shook his head. He stood and watched with interest.
Amanda took a sip and let the cool liquid float over tongue. "Tastes rich," she said.
Bob immediately laughed. His booming voice rattling the rafters. "Rich," he said. "Now that's funny!"
"Why?" Amanda asked frowning and now looking sideways at the cup. "What is it?"
"Venison," Bob replied. He sat at the table and took a swig of his coffee.
Amanda laughed. "How can you drink that stuff?" she asked. Even before the change she had found coffee disgusting. Its aroma and taste both bitter and vile.
"I could say the same about you," Bob remarked sitting back in his chair.
"Yeah but I need it to survive," Amanda suggested.
"So do I," Bob replied in all seriousness. "You wouldn't like to see me when I haven't had my coffee."
They sat silently for a moment.
"Do you remember how hopeless you were when I found you?" he asked.
Amanda nodded. She remembered all too well. "I was still trying to eat," she said. "I was choking, convulsing in my car."
"You didn't know you could buy blood," Bob laughed remembering and retelling his own exaggerated version of the story. "You were trying to suck the blood out of a steak."
Amanda smiled. She didn't remember it exactly that way. "If you hadn't found me I'd be dead."
Bob shrugged. "You were a scrawny little thing," he related with a broad smile and between huge gulps of his coffee. "You've come on a bit since then I reckon."
Amanda smiled. She became serious. "I've found someone," she said.
Bob quickly leant forward and placed his mug on the table. "What? Like you?" he asked, his joking tone having vanished completely.
Amanda nodded. "At the hospital," she explained. "She's badly injured and doesn't remember who and what she is. She just walked into the emergency department two nights ago. Freaked everyone out."
"You've got to get her out of there," Bod said seriously. "They'll kill her. Unwittingly probably but definitely if they find out what she is."
"What can I do?" Amanda asked. She really did sound frustrated. "Without authorisation the best I could do is fluff her pillow. Isn't that why The Watch got me the job there? So that I could warn you about these things?"
"Could you look after her?" Bob asked.
Amanda nodded. "Sure," she said. "With blood and the right treatment she'll heal quickly."
"She'll be your responsibility. Anything she does will come back on you."
"I understand," Amanda replied.
Bob sat silently for a moment. He frowned in thought. "Go home," he instructed. "Wait there. I'll make some calls."
"No one will be hurt right?" Amanda asked. She looked a little worried.
"Oh please," Bob said. He sounded insulted. "We're monsters not human."
"We're Fey," Amanda corrected.
"Fey shmaye," Bob retorted. "When did we get so politically correct?"
Amanda smiled. "Thank you," she said. She stood up and looked across table. "I really appreciate this. You know that Jessica and you are the only real family I have."
Bob nodded. "I know," he replied. He frowned once more. "You realise that one day you going to have to enter this world a little more fully. You can't live on the fringes indefinitely."
Amanda shook her head. "You know the reason I can't," she explained. She sounded frightened. "And even if that wasn't an issue he's still out there. If he found me it could happen again."
"You can't be afraid of him forever."
"No," Amanda replied firmly while shaking her head and sounding pretty darn certain. "I'm quite sure that I can."
Bob shook his head in frustration. He growled in the back of his throat. They'd obviously had this discussion too many times in the past. "Go little one," he said. "Wait at home."
Amanda nodded and left. She went straight home as instructed and hid herself inside. It was two in the morning and still completely dark. The inside of the apartment though was another level of blackness again. She turned on a light, threw her keys on the hall table then collapsed on the lounge. For the most part the Fey had looked after her. They'd found her a job and a place to live. She didn't even have to pay rent. Agreeing to be part of The Watch was considered payment enough.
The apartment was quite large, three bedrooms and pleasantly furnished. They'd even blacked out the windows to protect her during the day. It was a palace compared to some of the places she'd stayed in the past.
A short while later an ambulance pulled to a halt in the hospital loading area. The operators unloaded an empty gurney then strode inside. They had all the correct paperwork and were professional, courteous and polite. They even joked and made small talk with the nurses on duty. Within minutes both they and Jane were gone.
Paula was cleaning up the bed when another man stepped into the ICU. He flashed his police badge and asked for the patient known as Jane Doe.
Paula shook her head. "I'm sorry," she said, sounding a little confused, "but she's gone."
"You mean dead?" the man asked. He sounded indifferent, not caring one way or the other.
"No," Paula replied, "transferred to another hospital closer to her family."
Amanda nervously waited and waited. She sat on one end of the couch then the other. She paced the apartment and chewed on her fingernails. She had never enjoyed waiting especially when she had no idea what to expect.
After what seemed an eternity there was a solid knock on the door and she jumped in fright.
She ran down the hall and reefed the door open.
There was an ambulance officer standing on the other side with Jane in his arms. She looked tiny, like a small, fragile, broken doll.
"Delivery ma'am," the officer said with a smile.
Amanda quickly directed him into one of the spare rooms and helped him gently place Jane on the bed. She turned up a blanket and tenderly ran her fingers through Jane's hair.
Jane looked up at her and smiled. "Hey you," she whispered. She looked happier already.
The second officer carried in bags of dressings, medical equipment, bandages as well as quarts of fresh blood.
Bob's donation Amanda guessed.
The ambulance officers turned to leave.
"Wait a minute," Amanda said grabbing one of the officers by the arm. "Don't I have to sign some paperwork or something?" She looked a little confused. In the hospital she could barely go to the bathroom without signing a form.
"Paperwork?" the man inquired. "What paperwork?"
"For the transfer and bringing Jane here," Amanda explained. She didn't understand.
"Transfer? Jane?" the man replied shaking his head and feigning complete ignorance. "I don't know what you mean." He turned to leave. "Good luck," he said. He meant it.
Amanda smiled. She looked at Jane in the bed. "Thanks Bob," she whispered. "I owe you another one. We both do."
The unknown police officer returned to his car. He punched a number into his phone and waited as it connected.
"Well, was it her?" a female voice immediately snapped.
The man didn't react, he'd expected it. "I don't know," he responded plainly. "She's gone."
"Dead?" the woman asked hopefully.
"Transferred," the man replied just as in-passionately. "I'm looking into it."
"Find her," the woman ordered. She sounded angrier than ever. "Kill her and every Fey who knows about her, I don't care how many. She can't be allowed to return. Centuries of planning is at stake."
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