Hunting an Abomination
The nurses fuss over me like I’m at death’s door.
In their defence, I was at death’s door for a while there. At least that’s what I’m told. But I’m all better now, and they need to leave me alone so I can get back to work. I stare at the ceiling trying not to scream while my caretakers unwittingly block my escape route. Or maybe it’s completely wittingly. Either way, they’re in the doorway and that’s where I need to be.
I need to be out the door.
Aaron pisses me off at the best of times, but this is fast becoming the worst of times. He knows it’s urgent that I get back in the room—he knows I’ve got work to do. Lives to save, and not just my own. A killer to find. And he promised he’d be here on time. He promised he’d get me out.
In what’s becoming a bad habit, I run the tip of my tongue over my split lip. It stings, and I wince, which I turn makes me hurt more. My head still throbs, but at least it’s not so much a knifing pain anymore. My muscles ache and I feel like somebody’s used my bones for drumsticks. But there’s a fire in my heart that won’t be put out. I’m not just scared now. I’m angry. Oh, and I’m determined to stop this, once and for all.
But to do that, I need the capture chamber.
I need more information.
“Have you got everything you need?” Alice, one of the nurses on shift, asks from right beside me where she has miraculously materialised. For a moment I wonder if she’s of this plane or not. But no, she’s just sneaky and quiet.
No, I’ve got nothing I need, I want to tell her. Instead I smile weakly and murmur, “Yes. Thanks.” Lisa smiles back, brightly enough for ten of us, and pats my hand. Then she returns to her friends in the doorway and resumes their chat.
Sooner or later, the hallway will clear. Sooner or later I will get my chance. It’d be easier if Aaron was here to smooth my path. But I’ll do what I have to do, with or without institutional permission.
There’s a soreness in my heart that doesn’t relate to the fact that somebody just tried to kill me. Or that my friend Lucy is dead. Or that too many others have died already. Yeah, all that sucks. But I can’t help thinking of Mack and the look on his face last time I saw him. Those words we exchanged, when I accused him and he lashed out. I felt guilty the first time, when I suspected him of Lucy’s death. But now I’m not so sure I should have.
I don’t have any good reason to suspect him, I guess. But he was hanging out with Lucy a lot before she died. And he’s been avoiding me lately—maybe he fears what I’ll see if I look in his eyes. Maybe he hates your guts for thinking he murdered his girlfriend, an annoyingly logical voice pipes up in my head. But they spent all their time together. Who else could’ve got close enough to her?
Besides, there’s nobody else I can think of. Nobody else that makes any sense as a suspect at all. I’d go crazy if I didn’t have someone to suspect. As much as it hurts my heart, I can only think Mack.
“You look perturbed,” Alice says, startling me once again.
“Oh, I’m…I’m fine. It’s just…my mentor was supposed to come by.”
“Aaron? Hmm, do you want me to page him?”
I shake my head. “No, it’s okay.” In fact, with each moment that passes I’m liking the idea of doing things without Aaron better and better. He’s always been just a pain in the butt and an embarrassment to the profession. Maybe that’s harsh of me, but it’s also true.
“You want me to call anyone else in?”
No, but I’d love for you all to go away so I can sneak out. How about it? I just shake my head and smile.
“All right. You just buzz us if you need anything.”
And then, as if my prayers have been answered, the nurses clear the doorway and the hallway beyond it. I’m alone, everything is quiet but for the distant murmur of voices, and my skin is suddenly tingling.
You should wait a few minutes, a voice sounds from the other side of my bed. I turn to find Jennifer Myles standing there, gazing toward the room door with a slight frown.
“Where have you been?” I whisper, shifting so I can see her better. “I was looking for you.”
Her eyes move from the doorway to me. In them I see a startling amount of concern. Fear, even.
I know, she says without opening her mouth. That’s why I’ve been gone. Danna, you’ve got to go in there. You’ve got to open the door. But…be careful.
“I will be. I know what I’m doing.”
You can’t control all the variables. And I can’t tell you who—
Her eyes fly to the doorway, she tilts her head, and then she says, Okay, go. NOW.
The urgency in her voice makes me want to fly out of bed, race to the doorway and run off down the hallway. But instead I drag the blankets off me—no mean feat; these nurses sure know how to tuck a girl in tight—and lumber to my feet, then shuffle laboriously to the doorway. By the time I get there I’m almost out of breath. I take a few moments to collect myself, peering left then right. The way is clear. Just go. Quickly. I like to think I’m ignoring her, but really I’m taking her word as gospel and hoping I don’t get myself in some serious trouble.
My head is really starting to throb now. No wonder the nurses told me to stay in bed. But this has to be done, and I’m the only one who knows to do it.
I’m with you, Jennifer murmurs, and though I can’t see her—don’t have the time to look around for her, either—I can feel her presence. She certainly is with me. She’s my guide and my friend and I’m going to reap justice for her.
For Lucy, too.
Sadness wells inside me, and my eyes begin to prickle. I shove the feelings down and blink to clear my vision.
I set my sights on the elevator at the end of the hallway, already anticipating pressing the button for the second floor.
Jennifer and I step into the lift together, and despite the pounding of my heart and the sick feeling in my stomach, I feel a rush of exhilaration.
We’re off to hunt a murderer.
An abomination of nature.