After a bit of a vacation, in which I said, "Fuck writing, I's tired and turkeyed out," I return with the next Dark Side interlude.
The Dark Side - Part the Seventh - February 11th, 2009
Nadia awoke in the hospital. The memories of her attack the night before were distant, but they were there, like a fading dream. But this dream was a nightmare that she would never wake up from.
Part of her insisted it was a dream. She held onto that belief for as long as she could, but the growing pain beneath the bedsheets, a sensation of a thousand tiny daggers working their way up from her ankle, would not let her hold onto that pleasant illusion.
It began to dawn on her that she was not in her room, and she soon recognised the local hospital. She had spent a few days in there when she had her tonsils removed. Nadia wondered in her dazed state of she was even in the same room.
She tried to clear the haze from her mind, figuring they must have given her some sort of painkillers, at the very least, for what she had gone through. For all the good it was doing her, as every movement of her leg made those daggers surrounding it dig ever deeper.
It wasn't long, but it felt like forever as her brain swam around in whatever chemicals it was enjoying. An eventual nurse came to check in on the patient.
To this day, Nadia has tried to remember the face of the first person she had seen upon awakening that day, the day after her birthday, the day after she met the wolf, but she had never succeeded. She felt horrible for it, and she was never sure if it was the drugs, the pain, or just the uncaring nature of a teenager that made her unable to remember that face.
She answered the questions asked of her, giving her name, the date, where she was, her parents
The nurse left the room and Nadia resumed staring at the ceiling. She was unsure how much time had passed, but it felt like she blinked her eyes, and when she opened them again, her parents were there, assaulting her with hugs.
She made valiant attempts to push them away, but it was to no avail. She was too weakened to do little more than struggle inside their embraces.
When she grew tired of pushing them away, she felt a growing feeling inside her, a feeling that culminated in her yelling at the pair of them, yelling so loud that they both jumped back in fear.
Nadia did not know what had come over her, not yet anyways. She stared at her parents in anger, seeing them in a whole new light, seeing them as a threat. When she saw her father looking at her, fear clear within his eyes, it shook her back to herself, and she pulled the blankets up against her chin, trying to crawl back into the pillows behind her head.
She just lay there, repeating sorry over and over again, until her mother came back to her daughter first, tugging the blankets away, and taking Nadia's hand. It calmed the young girl down enough, and her parents did not try to smother her anymore.
The doctor visited next, pulling the blankets away from Cole's leg. She tried to crane her neck so she could see it as well, but it was bandaged tight and the wounds hidden from view. Part of Nadia was disappointed that she didn't get to see any of the gory details.
He was kind and quiet, with no hair atop his head. He seemed young though, or at least no older than her father. If she didn't see he had eyebrows, or bits of stubble upon his cheeks and neck, she would have been worried he was some hairless alien in disguise, gathering data on human subjects under the perfect guise of one of our doctors...
But that was the drugs talking again.
He asked her to move her foot, wiggle her toes, and prodded at the bandage in such a way that she almost didn't even feel it. He was making sure to be as gentle as possible but still finding out the information he needed. He helped her swing her legs off the side of the bed, and her feet dangled high above the floor.
Nadia was directed to ease off the bed onto her good leg first, and then put weight upon her other leg, and she did so. It was easy enough to land upon her right foot, the bare flesh slapping against the cold tile like a fish upon a counter.
The difficulty came when she placed her other foot down, and put weight upon it. Those daggers she felt moved straight up and leapt past her whole body and dug into her brain. After the brief flash though, it was quick to subside. As long as she kept most of her weight on her good leg, she found she was even able to stand more or less like a normal person.
Everyone else in the room saw just how difficult it was though, but the doctor agreed it was normal. They made her walk a little around the room, and they could see the girl wince with every step, but she soldiered on.
"I think if she takes it easy and doesn't walk around too much on that leg, she should be okay to go home today. Let her stay home from school the rest of the week, and she can go back Monday."
Nadia pouted and groaned, "Do I have to?"
Everyone laughed, and things seemed normal, as arrangements were made to get Nadia home as soon as possible. They made future appointments to deal with a series of rabies shots to follow up on from the bite, more a precaution than any real fears of infection.
Nadia was glad to be going home, and even more glad that she did not have to walk out of the hospital. She would have to be on her feet soon enough, but anything that delayed that piece of inevitable was welcome right now.
The girl hobbled from the wheelchair once they were outside, and made her way to her parents' car. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in front of the televison and being pampered. Nadia wished she could get used to this treatment, but knew it was good for a week at the most.
As the day droned on, Nadia was unawares that night was drawing closer. But as it did so, she felt an increasing warmth throughout her body, spreading from the wound in her leg. She did not notice it until she was quite warm, and did not draw any connection with the attack at first. If anyone had touched her, they would have suspected she had a fever from a possible infection.
She called to her dad to turn the furnace down, or something, but he had already done that, thanks to the unseasonably warm February weather.
Nadia shrugged it off, but remained uncomfortable on the couch. The growing unease soon became too much to bear, and she made her way towards the bathroom.
She did not make it very far, however, before her body was wracked with pain, even worse than what she had felt that morning, or even the night before when the wolf bit her.
The heat she felt continued to get worse, but that was the least of her problems as the pain threatened to make her fall to her knees.
She almost gave in as she passed through a doorless archway between the living room and dining room. She grabbed the wall, and felt some of it give way under her fingernails. When Nadia pulled her hand back, she saw coarse hair dotting the back of her palm, that almost looked like her own hair, but not quite as bright and shiny, almost like she had forgotten to wash it after rolling in some dirt.
That wasn't the worst of it though, as she saw what had once been her fingernails had shifted position, grown, and changed, becoming long, dark, and claw like at the tips of her fingers. That was what had dug long scars into the wall, she guessed when she saw bits of plaster still flaking away from them.
Her parents came over to see what the commotion was, just as Nadia's head felt like it could no longer be contained by her flesh, or even her skull. It was more than a headache, more than a migraine, it felt like her very head was going to break into pieces from the pressure building inside.
She could feel her teeth and nose pushing against her face, an alien sensation to beat them all, like every inch of bone was trying to escape to freedom somehow.
Joshua and Abigail Cole watched as their daughter struggled forward, not quite sure what to do. Abby reached out and grabbed her daughter's shoulder, and could tell something, no everything, was wrong with it. The flesh beneath it was squirming in ways that flesh never should. If she didn't know better, she would have sworn she had grabbed a waterbed's mattress.
Nadia swatted away her parent's hand and growled something incoherent. It wasn't that she was babbling, but just that whatever was happening to her made it harder and harder to speak. and the words could not be formed right no matter how hard she tried.
She struggled forward, pushing towards the doorway that led into the backyard. Her hands were becoming harder and harder to use in ways she was used to, but she managed to work the knobw and stumble out into the cool desert air.
The change in temperature was a brief relief for Nadia, but the respite was short-lived as the heat inside her continued unabated. She could no longer fight against it, and she fell down onto her hands and knees. In that instant, everything felt right again, like she was supposed to be down on all fours.
Josh hurried out into the night to and help his daughter, but once she was down on her hands and knees, and she began to run, there was no hope of catching her. He was perplexed at how she was even running like that, like an animal, with so little effort, but he didn't care about the hows, he only cared that his daughter would return in one piece.
With the wind in her hair (Fur? her mind thought before she could stop it), it felt like everything was forgotten. The faster she ran, the freer she felt, the more right everything felt.
The pain seemed to subside as everything settled down, and things felt right. But that was when she began to rebel. She knew this was not right, this was wrong, she should not be running like this, feeling like this. Nadia tried to stop, but she couldn't. The more she struggled, the more she felt like her freedom was a ruse, a trap that was closing around her. It was like she was no longer in control of her own body. And was it even her body any longer? Nadia was not so sure.
Nadia continued to fight, but things faded away, and she knew she was nothing more than a tiny passenger inside this form, actions would be taken with or without her consent. The creature she now found herself trapped inside was more than willing to play along until its former host began struggling, and then it decided to show the human who was in charge.
She/they heard a howl not far from where they were. Was that a wolf? Was she a wolf? She somehow knew she was. The wolf turned towards the howl and ran towards it, but it did not have to run far.
It came face to face with another wolf. Another wolf that Nadia recognised. Did this new wolf recognise it as well? It didn't seem to, but Nadia could not be sure. It wasn't like her body was telling her anything anymore.
The two wolves circled each other, sizing each other up. They sniffed the air, yet kept their distance for the time being. Nadia thought the other wolf looked pleased.
Pleased? How does a wolf look pleased?
The wolf that had bitten her inched closer, somehow managing a toothy grin. Nadia screamed at her captor, trying to warn it of the other, but to little effect.
Her attacker came right up to the new wolf, and pressed its nose against what Nadia still considered to be her neck. The cold touch of this creature, this thing that was so disgusting to Nadia made her scream so loud that it was not contained within her prison, but the wolf itself howled in an echo of the human it had once been.
Somehow she had gotten through to the wolf, and it recognised the threat of the other. Nadia felt herself growling, making the other pause, and back away, confused. It growled back, angry that another wolf dared to oppose it.
The other wolf stepped forward once more, and Nadia felt one of her paws swing out and attack, swiping at the creature in blind panic. All she knew was that she heard it howl in pain, and both Nadia and her other self were surprised they had landed a blow.
Unsure what had just happened to it, the wolf gave pause, lost in confusion for a moment. The dark, honey coloured wolf that was once Nadia took the opportunity to run as fast and as far as it could. It did not know if it would be pursued, and never found out if it was, all the wolf wanted was escape.
Nadia faded away after that, unable to hold onto that small fragment of her humanity any longer. The next thing she knew was the warmth of the morning sun upon her naked back. She was outside, and alone, and very confused.
She was relieved to see she was at least in a familiar neighbourhood, albeit not very close to home. Nadia did not relish the idea, but when she saw some sheets hanging out that someone had forgotten, and her current state of undress, she swiped one of them and wrapped up tight, before making her way home. She looked like some strange bride with the white sheet wrapped up around her chest, and trailing behind her like a train.
By the time she got home, and she had received many a strange glance from people, her bare feet were sore, she was tired, and...and that was when she realised her leg didn't hurt. She brushed away the sheet, parting it much like a dress slit up the side, and all that remained of her bite, the bandages long since torn away, were a few red marks.
Nadia stumbled up the walkway to the front door, and her parents were waiting inside at the small table inside the kitchen where they drank coffee every morning. They had spent the entire night doing just that, worried sick over their daughter's disappearance.
All she wanted to do was head upstairs and put on real clothes again, but her mom and dad sat her down despite her protests. They wanted to know what had happened.
Nadia did not have all the answers, and much of it was unclear once she passed out, but she did know some of it.
"Pour us some fresh mugs, because I have a bit of a story to tell you..."