It was Friday night, all around the city, people were stumbling home after yet another night out. In a tiny out of the way pub, five very drunk university students were sitting around a cramped table. In front of them were far too many empty bottles of beer.
The five of us had just finished our exams for the year, and summer vacation was near. Lily was leaning against me, drunk and constantly giggling. Mary and Adam, the only real couple at the table, were cuddling up against each other, while Patrick was drinking another beer and smiling at me far more frequently than I wanted him to. As I finished my current beer, I could feel my self control nearing it's limit.
"I'm tired... I think I'll be going home now."
Carefully setting Lily upright, I stretch as much as the cramped table allows, trying to get some feeling back into my body after ages of sitting still.
The question came from Mary, who had somehow managed to disentangle herself from Adam. She smiled broadly and winked at Patrick, who was fidgeting with his beer and looking extremely nervous. Patrick never had been the brave one, especially not in situations like this, despite the fact that he was otherwise reliable as a rock, and smart enough to get through uni without too much effort. He was nice, somewhat cute and a damned big problem for me to deal with. Adam was beginning to send small encouraging signals as well, I began to feel caught in a conspiracy, only Lily wouldn't have joined in, partly because she knew me better, and partly because she couldn't touch alcohol without ending up completely smashed. Suppressing a sigh, I began to get up from the table.
"Yeah, I haven't slept properly for days, and if I drink anymore, I'll have a horrible headache tomorrow."
It was partly true, I really hadn't slept well the last week, far too much to do and far too little time had kept me from my bed, and if I drank anymore, I probably would have a headache, although for different reasons than just drinking, which wasn't my problem.
"Want me to walk you home?"
This time it was Patrick, he had somehow breached whatever line had prevented him from acting. The look on his face was disturbingly intense, as if this was an all or nothing moment. I've discovered pity to be a powerful force, this time as well, and I could feel I needed to work this out soon, to avoid any more hurt feelings than necessary. I managed to get up a weak smile.
"Thanks, Patrick, you don't need to if you'd rather stay here a while more though."
Formalities, a question with a predetermined answer.
"No, it's no problem, I should be getting home myself anyway."
Weak smile, slight dragging on feet, the poor guy is out in the deep, without knowing how to swim, and I know how it is going to end.
"Well, see you another time then."
Mary giggles and leans up against Adam, Lily stretches and looks like she's trying to get the world back into focus. She looked up at me.
It hit me oddly, that farewell, as if it was somehow different from the others. I stood confused for a brief moment, the air around me flickered once, before I noticed what was happening and regained my focus. However I could not shake that odd feeling. I stretched again, trying to make the feeling go away.
"So, you ready to go Patrick?"
We walked through the door to the bar, and out onto the city streets. It was dark, but the stars were up, visible in spite of the glaring orange light from the streetlights. I could feel a cool breeze on my skin, normally something comfortable, but strangely biting this time, as if it went in deep and touched something else, something hidden. All of a sudden I felt like crying, as if I was saying some final farewell to something, or perhaps someone. The feeling of something ending and the resulting emptiness in your soul, waiting for something to fill it. It shook me, in a strangely uncomfortable way. Again, I could feel the air flickering, a second, two seconds. I took a deep breath and cleared my mind. Patrick was standing a little ahead, looking at me, worried. It felt like he wanted to protect me, comfort me. It made me feel weak, that some man wanted to protect me. It made me feel angry.
He winced visibly, the sting in my voice was too powerful, it dripped venom. I took another deep breath, trying to get my increasingly rampant emotions under control again. Donning the blank face, my last resort. Slowly my inner storm subsided, forced to a calm by sheer stubborn willpower. I could still feel it boiling though, deep down. We walked a couple of streets in silence as I tried to get myself under control again. At last I visibly calmed down and looked at Patrick with a faint apologetic smile. He noticed and returned a half smile himself.
"Uh, Kate, I've got something I want to talk about, uh, if you don't mind?"
I looked up in surprise, the poor shy Patrick had more backbone than I'd thought, I was impressed, slightly.
My interest was genuine, I wanted to see how far he could go before I had to step in, I wanted to see how much he could actually do on his own. Part of me felt somehow disgusted with my behaviour, it felt like he was merely some test subject in an elaborate experiment of mine. It didn't stop my curiosity though.
"I, uh, listen... ah, damn, I'm in deep now, no getting out."
He took a couple of deep breaths, then looked straight at me.
"Kate, I've... I've fallen in love with you."
He exhaled, as if he hadn't been breathing for the last couple of seconds.
"There, I said it, alright..."
Another couple of deep breaths.
"What happens now?"
You get rejected, utterly, in a way that leaves no hope for you to ever 'win' me. The thought flashed through my mind, as it had done before, and unfortunately, probably would again. This was the hard part.
"Patrick... It won't work."
I stopped walking. Patrick looked at me, slightly confused and increasingly unhappy.
"I like you Patrick, you're nice, you're one of my very good friends, but I don't love you, and I am not going to, ever."
Patrick got an almost pleading look in his eye, it was so pathetic I cringed away inside. He was going to be not just unhappy, but desolate because of this, because of me. His voice was wavering.
I stood silent for a moment, trying to pin down exactly why I couldn't fall in love with him, and picking a reason I could tell him. He couldn't hear the truth, because if he knew it, I wouldn't have a reason anymore.
"Because... I don't want a relationship, I can't have a relationship, I... I have a problem, a private problem, that prevents me from having a relationship, with anyone."
I regretted my words the instant I spoke them, I was telling too much, because I liked Patrick too much. I didn't want him to be unhappy because of me, I wanted to give him a reason that would satisfy him, and let him leave... content, instead of unhappy. Not being able to help the people you like is a horrible feeling.
"Why? Tell me about your problem, please, I might be able to help..."
Despair shone from his eyes, his words were sincere, he wanted to help me.
"No, there is nothing more to be said, except that I am very sorry, goodnight Patrick."
On that I turned away and began walking home.
Lewis had been going home when he met the thug. A big man with muscles like a bodybuilder and enough scars that any thought of resistance immediately fled from his mind. The alley he had been going through as a shortcut was dark and empty aside from himself and the thug, further reducing his options for escape. As he had been taking all this information in, the thug had promptly grabbed hold of him and punched him once in the stomach, making him bend over in pain. The thug had then begun to search him for valuables. This was when the girl had come into the alley. She had been walking in, seemingly completely oblivious to her surroundings, as if she was in very deep thought.
The girl looked up, first in confusion, then in a strange mingling of horror and anger. The thug punched Lewis in the stomach again, then threw him into the wall before launching himself against the girl. The world was darkening for Lewis as he looked helplessly at the thug drawing his knife and grabbing hold of the girl. Then suddenly, the air flickered around the girl, and something seemed to grow out her back. The thug released his grip and walked back a few steps, and where there had been a girl, now was something else, with glowing red eyes and wings out her back, staring as a predator might stare at it's prey. Then everything went dark.
I could smell the blood, sweet and tantalising. My prey was whimpering before me, his feeble attempts to fight back slowly losing the last of their power. I carefully picked up his knife as I walked towards him, savouring my victory. Putting the blade between two of my fingers, I began to bend the metal, until it was completely misshapen. Then I threw it away and grabbed hold of his neck with one hand. My claws biting into his flesh released a small trickle of blood as I lifted him up into the air. Then I threw him into the wall, grinning at the sound of his bones breaking. The pain seemed to be too much for him, and he collapsed, unconscious. I slowly walked towards him, my mouth watering, I was hungry. As I knelt down and prepared to feast, a voice seared through my mind. Don't. With a snarl, I pulled away, and let the voice come into power again, let myself hide away. The air around me flickered and I fell to my knees.
"I am Kate Rivers, a human woman."
My gasping statement felt as untrue as it was. Truth did not matter to me, however. I tried to burn the words into my mind, tried to convince myself that it was the truth, so much that it became the truth. I slowly got to my feet and looked around. Two men were lying unconscious near me. I walked slowly towards the original victim. He looked hurt, and he looked like he had pressed himself up against the wall, as if afraid of something, which suggested he had been conscious for longer than made me happy. I needed to know how much he had seen, the statements of one thug might be refutable, but if both assailant and victim described me as the same being, things might go bad. Besides, he seemed to be hurt. In retrospect, I should probably just have left both of them there. Instead I lifted the guy up in a fireman's carry and instantly realised I wasn't strong enough to drag him all the way home like this. Cursing softly, I began to concentrate. The air flickered slightly. My shadow distorted, as if there was more of me than one could see. With sudden strength, I began to walk towards my home, blinking every so often, to clear away the slowly intensifying red haze. It seemed this was going to be a long night.
Lewis woke on a little mound of pillows in a room he had never seen before. It was mostly empty, aside from the pillows, there was a low table, barely thirty centimetres above the floor, and bookcases covering the walls, except for the few places with doors or windows. There were books everywhere, the table was littered with them, small piles were stacked besides the bookcases. Then he noticed the tear on some of the pillows, like claw marks. Suddenly red eyes stared hungrily from every dark corner in the room. Lewis suppressed an urge to scream and slowly began looking for escape. He found a phone among the books littering the table. Slowly picking it up, he dialled the police.
"This is police headquarters, how may I help you?"
"Someone kidnapped me, I'm not sure who, but the last I remember was being mugged in an alley. There was a woman, I think she's dangerous."
"Hold on, try to describe your situation."
Among the greatest achievements of human civilisation are hot baths and books. After getting home and examining the victim, whose name appeared to be Lewis, judging by his IDs, for injuries, I went to have a quick shower. Partly because I needed to think, and partly because I noticed there were small splotches of other peoples blood on me and my clothes. Things weren't going well, my little mess up with Patrick was going to have a lot of fallout to clean up, my other friends would press Patrick for details, and Patrick being Patrick would tell them without a second thought. Then they would gang up on me, trying to get me to tell them about my 'problem', in the sincere belief they might help. Maybe Lily wouldn't, I suspected she had an inkling of what was going on, and preferred not to think about it too much. They'd be unhappy and angry that I hadn't confided in them, be upset and unhappy when I continued to refuse, and if I didn't figure out a way to smooth things out, a lot of faith in me as a person would be lost. All because I over spoke. Then my second and more immediate problem, the man lying unconscious in my living room. I was beginning to suspect I had done something quite stupid in taking him home, instead of just leaving as fast as I could, especially considering how light his injuries were. If I had fled, I might just have turned into another urban legend, but now I was going to be real, which meant I had to convince him his eyes lied to him. He looked vaguely like a rather old student, which meant I had a good chance of using his image of the real world against him, appealing to his sense of logic and convincing him that something like me just couldn't exist, which would make me human. It was possible, and if I could talk him down, it might just end like that, without getting anyone else involved. Although considering how might night had been going so far, I wasn't really hopeful. Sighing, I turned off the water and began putting on clean clothes. I could feel a headache coming up, which meant I needed to let go and sleep, the consequence of all the emotional chaos and mental acrobatics. This wasn't an option yet, unfortunately. Having finished drying myself and putting on clothes I walked into my living room to check on Lewis the mugging victim. To my surprise, he was up and awake, albeit somehow curled up into a ball among my pillows. I like pillows, much more comfortable than chairs, especially with wings.
"You're awake, great."
I gave him a small smile as I went over and grabbed a couple of pillows for me to sit on. Every step I took towards him seemed to make him jump in fright. My hopes of this going smoothly were going down the drains.
"What's the matter with you? You're jumpy as hell."
The man slowly uncurled from his crouched position.
"What... What did you do to that other guy?"
Damn, tough question. Tell him I broke the other guys arm without breaking a sweat? Not smart. How to lie while still being credible?
"I beat him up, I'm pretty good at self defence."
True, or a truth anyway, no one could dispute my ability to defend myself, I could even get my friends to testify, although they might be slightly surprised as well.
"Did you call the police?"
Double damn, this really wasn't heading in the right direction. The police were trouble, I don't deal well with investigations, too many lies, I don't like lying.
"Ah, no, I actually kind of forgot about that, I'm not really good at thinking clear under stress."
The man frowned slightly, he seemed to be gaining a bit of confidence, although he still looked jumpy.
"What about an ambulance?"
It was about this time I realised, I should have left this far too clever for his own good prick in that alley and just gone home. This was bad.
"Eh, no, I know some first aid, and you didn't seem too badly hurt, so I just, kinda took you here, because that was the first thing that occurred to me. I can get you a cab or something if you want."
He took a deep breath, as if deciding on something.
"I called the police, they're on their way."
For a moment I just stared, trying to disbelieve what I had heard. He had called the police. My carefully assembled and maintained house of cards was on the verge of tumbling down. This was going to be tough, very tough. I took a deep breath.
Suddenly he was looking a lot more afraid. I stared at him.
"You think I am going to eat you or something? I'm not a monster, buddy, I'm a person and I was nice enough to pick you up and carry you all the way to my home, I am not going to get all fired up just because you phoned the goddamn police."
For a brief moment the guy looked in total shock, then he suddenly tried to say seven different things at once. I cut him short.
"Forget it, I'm going to sleep until the police arrive. I'll be locking the door to my bedroom, knock when I have to wake up. You should be able to find the kitchen and bathroom on your own, now goodnight."
I got up from where I had been sitting and walked straight into my bedroom, Lewis or whatever his name was, kept looking almost stupidly after me, as if this was the last thing he had expected this night. I closed and locked the door quickly and stripped naked. After what seemed ages, I finally let go completely. The air flickered and the weak light in my bedroom distorted for a few seconds. Around me the world seemed to ripple, as if restructuring itself after the sudden change. As the final ripples died down, I collapsed on my bed and slept the sleep that only the truly exhausted can sleep.
Lewis was stared dumbly at the door for a few more seconds, then he shook his head and tried to get his thoughts in order. The woman's words had seared themselves into his mind. Had she almost blankly admitted that what he saw in that alley was true? Was it just a figure of speech? It had to be the latter, nothing like what he had seen existed, could exist. It was impossible. He slowly got up from the pillow mound. The room was not the room of a monster, it was the room of a person, a room where someone lived. Had he really feared that he had been kidnapped by some beast, intending to eat him for dinner? It seemed absurd, even if she was a monster, why would she eat him, instead of just going into the local supermarket or butcher and buying her meat? He had just jumped to a conclusion based on some rather vague information. He'd have to apologise to her, try to make it up somehow. Still, there was something odd about her, she had been far too annoyed that he had phoned the police, and he still couldn't shake the image of the red eyes in that alley. Something had happened there, and he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know what it was anymore. He walked slowly through the room, scanning the bookcases for titles he knew. There were a few, but most of them by far were completely unknown to him, unsurprisingly, considering how many books there were. They all looked read. He slowly walked out of the room. Entering a small hallway, the first thing he noticed was an odd painting, depicting a tall black haired woman, resembling Kate slightly except looking far older and more mature, staring out of the painting, behind her a shadowy form seemed to be solidifying as the woman began to dissolve around the edges of her shape, as if she was disappearing and the shadow taking her place. Lewis walked carefully up to the painting, it was not made by any artist he had ever heard of, yet the technique and depth was almost extraordinary, especially the woman's eyes. Whenever he looked at her eyes, the painting seemed to be more real than ever, as if the woman really was looking out of the painting and was trying to decide whether to step out of it or just remain. Her expression seemed to be one of mild curiosity, however the more he looked at her, the more terrified he felt. Suddenly he wasn't standing in the hallway, but lying slumped in the alley, where some being with terrible red eyes was coming closer, however this time, he could see more, he could see a young black haired woman, with shadows trailing her, as if the world wasn't quite real where she walked, she looked him in the eyes... Panting, he found himself returned to the apartment, the vision or whatever it was, gone and everything back to normal, or as normal as could be considering the circumstances. He sat there for a while until he managed to convince himself that the vision wasn't real, that it was just a product of his tired mind running on adrenaline to keep itself going. Slowly getting back to his feet, he spotted a door and stepped through it. Glancing back towards the painting, he could have sworn the eyes were looking at him. He nervously closed the door and looked around. He had stepped into small kitchen, clearly made for only one person. A rather large and worn cookbook was placed next to the fridge. There were all sorts of spices, even some rather odd and foreign ones he hadn't heard about before. The fridge had dozens of little notes attached. Curiosity overpowering good behaviour, he began to read them. Most of them were tiny reminders of odd little things, others were notes about papers to write and assignments to complete, typical university student things. Finally there was a calender, a rather big one for the entire school year. It seemed pretty normal, except for the fact that every fourth weekend was crossed out, consistently through the year. Lewis was beginning to feel uneasy again. There was something decidedly odd about this place, from the woman's behaviour, to the painting in the hallway. With a slight pang of fear and guilt, he open the fridge. Again what he saw seemed normal enough, except there seemed to be more meat than usual. He carefully looked at some of it. It came from a local butcher, nothing suspicious about that, except that she had to have quite a bit of money to buy so much food, especially meat. Cursing himself for an overactive imagination, he closed the fridge and got up again. Looking around, it became apparent that the only exit was back through the hallway. After taking a couple of deep breaths, Lewis stepped through. The hallway was silent, still and incredibly unnerving. Doing his best to avoid looking at the picture, he tried to take in the rest of his surroundings, before he felt compelled to leave in a hurry. There were four doors, one leading to the kitchen, one to the living room, one that looked like a front door and one half opened, leading into a dark room. The rest of the hallway was sparsely furnished, much like the rest of the house, lots of space everywhere. A coat rack and small corner with a couple of shoes lying in a heap, the painting and a tiny table underneath it, with a few odds and ends lying around, among them a key chain, likely for the front door. There were also a few other keys in the chain, some of them clearly made for indoor use. There were small labels on all of them. Front door, Bathroom, Building, Bedroom... Lewis paused for a moment weighing the key in his hand, before putting it carefully back on the little table. Then he slowly walked towards the dark room. Turning on the light, he saw a perfectly ordinary bathroom. There was a toilet, a shower, a basket for dirty clothes and various minor items, such as toothpaste. The only odd thing was that, again, it was rather large and spacious for a student apartment in the city. Sighing slightly, he went back to the living room. There was something odd about the whole place, he could feel it, however aside from the painting, there wasn't anything he could pin down. Looking cautiously towards the bedroom door, he sat down on a pillow. Then, with a yawn, he let himself collapse into the pillows.
I woke to a series of hard knocks on my bedroom door, it sounded like they had been going for a while. I got wobbling to my feet and snarled slightly at the door. My head was aching, I needed more sleep, more time without overloading my mind. There wasn't any. Ignoring the knocks, I dug down deep into my mind, into the icy hard core of my will and changed. Around me the world rippled, as reality was bending itself once again. My mind burned. I fell to my knees, whimpering slightly. Slowly the pain faded, until it was merely a dull throbbing in the back of my head. Standing up with careful and deliberate movements, I began to search for clothes.
"I'm awake goddammit!"
My shout silenced the knocking. A bit of wandering around my room revealed some clean and mostly clean clothes, which I put on in a hurry. Once done, I shambled out of my bedroom. Lewis was standing by the door, looking pretty nervous and generally uncomfortable. A surly pair of police officers were standing in the hallway door, clearly unhappy to have left whatever comforts they had just come from. I nodded politely at them and Lewis.
"So, need me for anything, or can I go back to sleep?"
One of the police officers looked ready to just let me go and get away, but the other one sighed slightly and looked at me apologetically.
"Sorry, miss, but I think it would be best if you just came with us to the station."
"Then lets get this over with."
I began walking out of my home, one of the police officers went with me.
"How did you get in?"
"The young man over there opened the door."
"Huh? I left my key out here? Damn, I must be more sleepy than I thought."
My key chain had keys for all parts of my home, including my bedroom, I just had to hope Lewis hadn't done something stupid, but he was still here after all, which suggested he hadn't seen anything he shouldn't. It was reassuring that he hadn't done so, even if only slightly so. I got out my coat, rarely used, but to have done otherwise might have been suspicous to Lewis, and just generally weird. It tends to get at least slightly cold in the middle of the night. Lewis and the other policeman began moving as well. Picking up my keys, I went out of my apartment and waited for my unexpected guests to clear out as well. Once they had all done so, I closed and locked the door.
"Lead the way."
One of the policemen began walking down the apartment stairs and out to a police car outside. Lewis was looking around, slightly mystified.
"You carried me up to your apartment right?"
The question was unexpected, but not truly odd, however this did not help me, considering my frame of mind.
"Yeah, I did."
My reply was short, with an edge of finality and dismissal, Lewis winced visibly, I almost began to feel sorry for the guy, almost.
"You must be pretty strong then."
Damn, another uncovered angle, too many odd things had happened, and Lewis was clearly trying to piece them together, the clever bastard.
"Yeah, I am."
Again, short, final and dismissive. As long as the police didn't begin to look too hard at things, everything should be fine, or as fine as things could possibly be. We got out of the building. Apparently the police had had some difficulty in getting a parking spot in this part of town, so we had to walk a little while further. The two officers began chatting quietly, Lewis was looking thoughtful and occasionally glanced nervously at me. I tried for the most part to get through the whole ordeal without fanning the flames of my headache. No easy task, even for me, or perhaps especially for me. We arrived at the police car with no further interruptions or random events, seemingly designed to let me slide into an ever more annoying, tiring and dangerous situation. Perhaps my night was looking up, although I felt doubtful. The police officers let me and lewis get in the back and we began to drive. I let myself half doze off, trying to collect myself for the inevitable tide of questions that would come when we arrived at the station.
The word jarred me out of my peaceful half sleep and back into the real world. Lewis was sitting beside me, looking at me with a strange mixture of fear, regret and curiosity. He both sounded and looked like he was apologetic. At the moment, I couldn't care less however.
I closed my eyes and sunk back into seat. My mind began to drift away, entering a trance of sorts. The silence from my withdrawal into myself lasted until we arrived at the station. Lewis woke me with a quick shake and got out of the door. The two policemen were waiting just outside it. We were in a quite large parking cellar, with a lot of police cars. There clearly weren't that many policemen out at night, at least compared to how many could have been. They closed the car door and began leading Lewis and me out of the parking cellar. We got to a door opposite where I guessed we had come in, and went up a flight of stairs. Everything looked old but in good condition regardless of its age. Remembering vaguely something about budget cuts for the police I couldn't say I was really surprised, but it was still slightly disconcerting to think that the police had to save money to do their work as they had a few years ago. One thing is talking about how societies work, another is seeing it in action. We were taken along a couple of hallways, past tired police officers and secretaries working on coffee and not much else, to a room roughly the size of my living room, with a large round table and a bunch of chairs in the middle. The policemen indicated that we should sit. I lowered myself carefully on the chair, before letting myself half collapse on it. My mind was in pain, it seared through my very being. I began to do some breathing exercise as the policemen sat down opposite me and Lewis.
The policeman who spoke was sitting directly in front of me, he did not look particularily happy, and as he leafed through some papers, he seemed to be increasingly disturbed. After a rather lenghty pause, he looked at me again.
"I'd like to hear your version of this story, miss?"
"Alright, Kate, I'm Brent and this is Edward, so, your story."
I took a deep breath and tried to order my mind.
"I was going home from a night out with my friends from the University, I'm a student, when I went through this alley I usually use as a shortcut, and found Lewis being beat up by some thug."
The other policeman began scribbling a lot of things down. I took another deep breath.
I nodded, trying to hide my annoyance.
"Well, the thug attacked me, likely suspecting I would be an easy victim, I used this to my advantage and knocked him out as fast as I could, in panic, I picked up Lewis and hurried home as fast as possible, after which Lewis phoned you and we ended up here."
The policeman nodded carefully.
"That sounds pretty correct, however I would like to know why you didn't call us or the hospital."
Cursed question, however this time I was ready for it. Without missing a beat I answered.
"I was too panicked and high on adrenaline at the time to think clearly, my first thought was get home, so I went with that, I also know quite a bit of first aid, so I could see that Lewis was fine, nothing worse than a couple of sore spots, although I fear they're rather big sore spots."
The policeman nodded again, then he took out a piece of paper from his stack.
"We had someone pick up the thug, he's in the hospital right now with several bones broken and various small wounds that seem like claw marks, although nobody know of any creatures in the town with claws like this."
So they had found him, bad luck that, it was going to make things even more complicated, fortunately the policemen looked at least as uncomfortable with the situation as I was.
"Well, that couldn't have been me, sure I might break somebody's arm if I got in a perfect attack, but I certainly didn't manage that today and I absolutely couldn't break several of his bones, I don't have claws either, so it must have been something else."
The policeman looked doubtful, but clearly willing not to pursue this train of thought further, stuff like this just shouldn't happen in his little world it seemed.
"One last thing, when the man woke, before he was injected with painkillers, he screamed something along the lines of 'demon girl' several times, clearly terrified."
This was not good, not with Lewis here, he had to suspect something, he couldn't just let things slide anymore, there was too much information that fit together in exactly the way I didn't want it to.
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
I kept myself from glancing over at Lewis, focused exclusively on the police officer. I couldn't afford to lose my calm. The policeman nodded again and the other one wrote down a few more things.
"Thank you, misses Rivers, would you mind leaving the room? Theres a waiting area just beyond that door, we might have a few more questions for you later."
I nodded and got up, as I did so, I looked at Lewis. He had a tense, determined look, as if he had just made a difficult decision and decided to stick with it through anything. It was not a good sign. I walked out the door and into the waiting area. There were a lot of those not really comfortable chairs that for some reason are so typical in waiting areas, along with a large number of pointless magazines about celebrity gossip or beautification, neither was something I needed or wanted to read about, not much reason for me to get beauty makeovers, one of the few perks of being able to distort reality at will and staying physically at your peak for at least one human lifetime. I sat down on the floor and began to meditate, hoping to keep my still growing headache at bay, at least for a little while. I let myself slip away into myself, letting everything fall from my mind, except the very core. I let myself slip deeper and deeper into the great huge sea. I could feel the 'real' world fading away around me, slipping away, turning liquid and running away. I fell into the darkness, becoming a tiny point of light, only a tiny thread linking me with my body. I had reached... somewhere... the place where my mind was always calm, the center. Darkness streched out in all directions. I let myself slip away there, bit by bit, soothed by the stillness. The pain was slowly fading, not fast, but it was fading. I began to explore again. Around me, the darkness acquired substance, and changed. The darkness bent, warped itself, turning into something else. Suddenly there was water beneath me, a great red light above me, and a heaven as dark as the darkest night. I looked into the water, my face was there reflected in the still water, yet still somehow distorted, shattered. It was beginning to drift apart, and suddenly I noticed that it was not my 'real' face, but the face of my human self. Cold and empty, the fire in the eyes gone, leaving only utter cold. It was the face of control, of lies and secrecy, my most needed and hated face. The ice princess. I turned away, not wanting to look at it anymore, my desire to explore suddenly gone. The world warped again, back to the darkness. Yet for some reason, even that was not calming anymore, only lonely, as lonely as my life seemed to be. I withdrew from my mind, it was too unsettling. It had not been like the other times. Normally I had seen events, the faces of others, the dancing lights of emotions, not just desolation. I had never before truly seen myself. I was afraid I still hadn't. I sat up in the waiting room, looked at the clock. It had not been long, roughly ten minutes had passed since I sat down. I felt cold. Trying to warm myself, I sat down in one of the chairs and curled together. It did not seem to help, it was another kind of cold.
Lewis had been thinking hard during the 'interrogation' of the woman, who apparently was called Kate. Everything fit together, slightly. She had to be something else, despite the fact that she shouldn't be able to, it went against every rule the natural sciences had made for the universe, she fit perfectly, but she couldn't fit in the world. She was also a very good liar. He face was completely calm, almost icy, throughout the entire session. It was almost frightening how calm she seemed. Except that she seemed to twitch slightly after certain questions and kept breathing in a strangely rythmic pattern. It was as if she was just on the edge of total control and if she let go, she'd crash completely. When she left, it seemed as if she was on the verge of exploding, yet still kept her cool. If she really was what he thought she was, then she had avoided exposure for years, had kept down and let the world believe she wasn't there, avoided doing anything overly suspicious, eaten meat from the butcher to keep whatever urges she might have down, although that bit was still conjecture. She had forced herself to fit in human society, and it had worked as long as you kept away close scrutiny. That was at least a bit impressive. The policemen sat back and talked for a little bit. Then the one who had talked to Kate looked at him.
"Alright, mr. Lewis, we want to hear your story, the complete one this time."
"I was going home from my part time job, when I was assaulted by the thug, I was getting beaten on when ms. Rivers came walking in. The thug hit me so I lost consciousness and I woke up in ms. Rivers apartment. Afraid and unsure where I was, I phoned the police, as that seemed to be the safest thing to do, the rest was mostly time spent waiting for you."
The policeman stared at him.
"That was all you saw, nothing that matches the other reports?"
Lewis shook his head.
"Demons don't exist, couldn't exist, it wouldn't work, I'm a biologist and things like that just don't evolve."
It was hard to lie, but fortunately this was a lie that Lewis still believed, at least on some level he still did. However his slight wavering seemed to unsettle the police officers, who likely had wanted him to say something along those lines.
"So it couldn't exist, and neither ms. Kate nor you ever saw anything, alright, we'll just have to do some investigative work to find out what happened to that guy."
Lewis relaxed slightly.
"Alright, we'll probably not need much more from you just now, although you'll be called back to the station again sometime soon, to get the last bits of this mess cleaned up, now if you'll just go out into the waiting room, we'll find out if theres anything more we need from you."
Lewis nodded and left, slightly more hurried than might have been wise. Outside, Kate was sitting in a chair, curled up. She looked up at him when he came out, then just went back to looking into the floor. Lewis sat down in front of her. After a long uncomfortable silence, he spoke.
"I want to know the truth, later."
She looked up. Staring at him, her eyes seemed to burn, glinting red.
"What makes you think I lied?"
Her answer had an edge, something that suggested he was right, but that he better not try his luck.
"How nice for you."
She was baiting him, he wasn't sure if she intended to, but he could feel she wanted a fight, she looked ready to rip him in two if he gave her an excuse.
"I kept your secret."
She raised an eyebrow.
"Well done, you kept a secret you weren't supposed to know, especially seeing as there aren't any secrets."
"If thats how you want to deal with this, fine, it won't make me stop bugging you."
She fumed, he was touching her off, badly.
"What makes you think you deserve to know anything about my nonexistant secrets?"
He consider that for a moment.
"Nothing, I just want to know."
She stared at him, almost surprised.
"You just want to know, and expect me to tell you something I hypothetically haven't even told my friends because of that?"
"Sounds about right, haven't really got any better arguments."
She stared a bit more, then began to giggle.
"Damn you, you evil, evil man, if I had any secrets to tell you, I almost would, just because of your sheer audacity, have you no shame?"
He smiled at her, a bit awkwardly.
"So, going to tell me?"
"Like hell I am, any secret I may have are mine, but if you're serious about your persistence, I'd rather have you bug me in an orderly fashion."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean, I'll allow you to batter your head against the wall in a nice cafe or something, your treat, rather than giving me annoying phonecalls or knocking on my door."
"Victory for me then!"
She looked at him in amazement.
"Damn, you're persistent."
She yawned, the air flickered slightly. In a split second she had returned from whatever odd frame of mind she had been in when she talked with him to the icy face she had used with the officers. She was rubbing her temple absentmindedly as she focused on something not present in the room.
She looked at him in confusion before nodding.
"Want me to ask someone for something to get rid of the pain?"
She shook her head.
"Not that kind of headache."
He looked at her closely, she had begun some sort of meditaiton. He sat back.
Lewis had been far nicer and far more persistent than I had expected, it looked like my problems had been minimized at least, so long as I had a chance to do some proper damage control, clear up my affairs and my home, to prevent anyone from noticing the oddities. Lewis was another problem entirely, figuring out how to deal with him would probably take a great deal longer, who knew, I might even tell him. It was a tempting thought, that someone else outside my nearest family would know what I really was. It wasn't until I thought of that, that I really could feel how much I wanted to be done with the secrecy, maybe I should just go and proclaim that other kinds of beings existed, prove it with myself and change my life completely. It was so tempting, so very tempting, but always there was the little voice that told me it would be foolish, that I would suffer horribly for doing something that stupid. However how long could I continue my masqurade? It had been badly damaged in just one careless night, who knew what might happen another night? I had to do something soon, find some solution. It was as I sat there thinking that the man in the black suit came, he looked as if he came right out of some special agency movie. With him were two other men, looking suspiciously ready for trouble. He walked directly into the room where the two police officers were sitting. Something deep inside me began screaming trouble. Things looked like they were on the verge of taking another plunge. After a little while, the two officers came out, looking somewhat flustered and a little angry.
"He wants the two of you to go in there, he's taking over the investigation."
The two of them walked away without another word, small black clouds over their heads. I grit my teeth, things were really looking bad now, there was no reason someone important should come, except if they knew something. I walked in, Lewis came behind me, his confusion evident. Inside the man in the black suit had sat down and was looking through the papers and comparing them with something on a computer. His two goons or whatever they were stood by the door, looking slightly more menacing than seemed wise. I snarled slightly at them. I was rewarded with the satisfying look of primal fear that flashed over their faces. Suddenly they had gone from menacing to twitchy. I sat down angrily in front of the man in the suit.
He looked up calmly from his papers.
"Certain events have neccessitated that I take over this investigation, and therefore I would like to ask the two of you a few questions, if you don't mind?"
I stared at him, unsure if he really just sounded that pompous out of habit, or in the faint hope of trying to impress his surroundings. It may not have been entirely fair, but it was around then I decided I didn't like him.
"I do mind, in fact, I mind a lot, I want to go home and sleep dammit."
I stared at him, trying to see if I could strangle him with my mind. It didn't work. At least, not entirely, but he did pull a bit at his suit as if it was pressed uncomfortably close into his neck.
"That is... unfortunate, as I cannot let you go just yet, but if you aid me in this, we can finish faster."
I seethed, I could feel he knew something, he was trying to play me into revealing something substantial, I could let him, but if he didn't get what he wanted by talking, he might do something else, and I was getting really tired.
"Ask your damn questions then, but I've already told the officers everything."
He looked at me interestedly, or at least, he tried to fake it, he oozed nervousity, and seemed to avoid my eyes as much as possible. I was beginning to let my mask slip, I could scent his reactions, my eyes, my movements, everything about me was turning predatory, deadly, fearsome. It was very, very bad.
"Well, what do you know about the wounds of the thug?"
"Nothing, dammit, just as I told the two officers, I have no idea what could have caused them."
The man nodded slightly.
"Are you sure?"
"Yes! Dammit, if I thought otherwise I would have answered otherwise."
"Very well, your name is Kate Rivers correct?"
I nodded stiffly.
"I have your file here, when you were fifteen years old, something happened at your school correct?"
I nodded again, this was turning out to be worse than I had thought.
"One day, a boy disappeared completely, the police searched for him an entire week, before finding what remained of him, burnt to a crisp in an alleyway near your home, coincidentally, he had last been seen following you towards your home. The entire investigation ended shortly thereafter, as it was impossible to find anything, perhaps short of a flamethrower, that might have killed the poor boy in such a way, and there were no signs of someone carrying a flamethrower in the entire neighbor hood. Additionally, the boy had been know to be part of a group bullying you."
At that moment, I hated this man in the suit more than anything else on the entire damn planet, except perhaps myself. I wanted him to die for digging up that memory, I was on the verge of snapping and just ripping his head off, until I thought of Lily. I took a deep breath.
"What does that have to do with this?"
The man shuffled some papers before looking at me again.
He looked at Lewis for a moment before continuing.
"You see, we've made a rather remarkable discovery, at the crimescene there were three people, we found DNA samples for two of them, corresponding to the thug and mr. Lewis here, but we could not find one of you ms. Rivers, instead we found something quite incredible, a string of DNA that did not follow any know rules, rather, it seemed to make them up as it went along. Really, the only way we could see it even was a string of DNA, was the fact that it occassionally turned into human DNA, but most of the time, it was some strange hydridized thing, that should not be able to exist on Earth."
The man shoved his papers aside.
"We believe that you are not human."
I stared at him, then I began laughing. The man in the suit looked very shaken by this, as if something as human as this was not something I should be able to do.
"What a load of bull."
I stared at him, caught his eyes and held his gaze locked to mine.
"I am Kate Rivers, a sociology student of the nearby University, I have lived all my life as such and aside from something that looks like a technical malfunction and one of the worst conspiracy theories ever, there is no indication that I am at all, not human, and I would appreciate it if you did not throw around such pointless accusations. There are no sentient species on Earth that are not human, period."
The man in the suit looked unsure and began checkking various things on his computer. I leaned back and glanced over at Lewis, who looked at me in amazement. The man looked back.
"Mr. Lewis, if you have any comments, please notify me, your assistance in this case may be vital."
"I wasn't conscious when most of this happened, and everything looked pretty normal in her home."
I looked at the man in the suit.
"There, your only evidence is a clearly traumatized thug, and a case that happened nine years ago, now can we go?"
He shook his head.
"My superiors require you to go to a medical facility for scanning, we want to make absolutely sure you are human before we can let you do anything."
I stared at him.
"Have you ever heard of human rights?"
"I have indeed, but you, after all, are not a human being, at least not until proven otherwise, therefore you have no choice in the matter."
I could feel I was going into shock, this was simply too absurd, they could not do this, they should not be able to do this, it was against every rule I knew, they had cheated, skipped the evidence gathering, skipped everything and were going straight to the nightmare scenario.
"You are willing to just take me away to some lab on the vague assumption that I am not human, despite the fact that it is just about as illegal as it can get?"
He ignored my protest.
"Please go quietly, we have the authorization to use tranquilizers."
The two goons drew weapons of some sort and began to move towards me, I was sitting, dumbly trying to figure out what had just happened. I could suddenly feel Lewis hand on my arm.
"If you do this, I'll report you all."
The man smiled.
"To whom, I wonder? And with what evidence?"
Lewis became quiet. The two men each took hold of my shoulders. They began to pull me out of the chair, I did not resist. Lewis stood up.
"Please sit down mr. Lewis, this is all for the best."
"Like hell it is."
Before anyone could react, Lewis punched one of the goons dragging me in the face as hard as he could. The scream of pain jarred me out of my stupor. I could feel Lewis grabbing hold of my arm.
Desperately, he began dragging me away, I stumbled along a bit, but the other goon still had hold of my shoulder.
"You aren't going anywhere."
He held out the pistol and pointed it threateningly at me.
"This is powerful stuff, better stop now."
I stopped up, Lewis kept pulling at me.
As I uttered that one word, I let go of my mask, the world rippled, distorted. The goon pulled back in fear as I stared at him with burning red eyes. I reached out and shoved him. He fell over, into the floor hard. There was a nasty cracking sound. A sting hit my other arm, a tiny tranquilizer dart had hit me. I looked over at the guy Lewis had hit, he was panting hard and holding his gun unsteadily, it seemed like a wonder he had hit me at all.
I pulled the dart out and flicked it away. Before I left the room, I looked at the stunned man sitting near his computer.
"You will regret starting this, I promise you, I will pay you back for this."
Lewis was looking at me, with a mixture of awe and fear. That was when I felt the first pang of hunger, I twitched, my tail lashed out, as I suppressed the urge to massacre everybody and feed. Through clenched teeth I managed talk to Lewis.
"Get on my back, now."
I pushed myself out of the door, behind me I could hear someone calling in reinforcements, armed reinforcements. Lewis went over to me and put his hands on my shoulders, clearly unsure what I wanted him to do. Grunting in annoyance, I grabbed hold of his legs and pulled him up, making him piggyback me. Ignoring the discomfort this caused to my wings, I began to run. My vision was turning red, predatory instincts were taking over again. I snarled.
"Ungh, too many people, too little sleep, too damn hungry."
Lewis was suddenly beginning to sweat with fear. I stormed down a bunch of hallways, my primary goal being finding an exit, any exit. Everywhere around me, people stopped what they were doing and looked at me in disbelief. Whenever I encountered a door, I kicked it down, breaking through the building as fast as possible. At one point, I heard a gunshot.
"Damn! You're too soft, stuff like that will kill you!"
I stopped up to get Lewis into a more comfortable position. Hoping nobody was shooting at us. It was pretty empty at that point, however there seemed to be a lot of comotion down the next hallway. Having no better idea, I charged. I came out on the main hallway, leading into the big foyer of the station. The exit I was looking for was nearby. Closer however, was a couple of policemen with guns drawn. They were shaking, clearly afraid of me and not in control of the situation.
"Get out of my way!"
Immediately after the shout, I charged. They moved aside as fast as they could, just jumping to follow the order without thinking. I dashed out of the door they had been guarding and out into the foyer. Where to my displeasure, awaited a fully geared SWAT team, weapons drawn and pointed at me. I stopped up, they were clearly ready to shoot, whoever had started this did not intend for me to escape. It was a big room, with a good bit to the ceiling, there were windows up there too. I began to hatch a plan.
"Stand down and cease resistance!"
Some fool with a megaphone were shouting things at me now, I fought back the red tide again.
"Lewis, I'm putting you down now, when I shout, grab hold of me and don't let go, no matter what, until I say so."
Lewis nodded weakly as I put him down and turned around to face him, spreading my wings out wide. Around me, reality rippled again and my headache intensified, the red began to return with a vengeance. I roared. Lewis grabbed hold of my shoulders, I pulled him in close and jumped into the air. Beneath me, a barrage of bullets were hitting the wall and several people were shouting in frustration. Lewis was in close, I could smell him, all of him, it was horrible and wonderful at one and the same time, my mouth began to water. I pressed him in even closer, felt an odd pressure on my chest and Lewis scent suddenly changed slightly, something else was added to the exhileration and terror, something I couldn't really put my finger on. My mind was turning muddy. I flew upwards and outwards, I hit the window around the time of the second barrage of bullets, pushing myself further out. I came out into the night air, the stars were shining down on me and I began to fly upwards again. Up to freedom. It was getting harder to fly, something was weighing me down. I pressed myself upwards again, up above the rooftops. My energy was running out, I had to land. A last flap upwards and I began to glide, seeking a good place to land. I found a rooftop that seemed mostly flat. Landing there, I half collapsed, until a wheezing Lewis pushed me aside. I rolled over and looked up at the night sky, trying to calm down and get the red haze away. Beside me Lewis seemed to be doing the same. Slowly I sat up.
"So, saw the truth anyway, huh?"
Lewis had rolled over on the side and was looking at me. I stared at him and he winced away.
"Yeah, you did."
"I guess this is my fault."
I stared at him again.
"Like hell it is, it's my fault for being stupid enough to pick you up and not just leave you with that other guy."
He looked at me awkwardly.
"Ironic, isn't it? The most humane act I could think of ends up being the one that starts the hunt for the nonhumans, which sort of tells you something about humanity, doesn't it?"
Lewis looked like he would have shuffled his feet and looked ashamed if he could, as it was, he just looked ashamed.
"This is a hell of a mess."
"Indeed it is, in one night, my entire life has just been crushed under someones bootheel, we're fugitives on the run from justice now, did you know that? If we go home, they'll get us, they're going to lock down our bank accounts, start monitoring the transportation systems, if they didn't already, look for papertrails, everything."
It was my own private nightmare being realized, just because of one damn event.
"Oh god, they're going to get my friends, they're going to get hold of dad, everybody who was involved in my life is going to be hunted down by those people."
The shock of this was almost unbearable, I just laid back and stared, trying to make out the implications of the nights events, my future looking bleaker by the second.
"Those people... They're going to pay for this, I swear, they're going to pay dearly for this."
My anger was bubbling up, all my pent up emotion almost solidifying. I rose up, standing on the rooftop, balancing carefully, and roared into the night.
"This is the end of Kate Rivers, the human student, now begins something new."
I clenched my teeth.
"And blood will run in the streets as long as the hunt continues."
Beside me, Lewis was sitting, looking at me in terror and awe.