Turned / Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight


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Caitlin woke to burning pain. Her skin felt on fire, and when she tried to open her eyes, a stabbing pain forced them shut. It exploded into her skull.

She kept her eyes closed, and instead used her hands to feel around. She was lying on top of something. It felt soft, yet firm. Uneven. It couldn't be a mattress. She ran her fingers along it. It felt like plastic.

Caitlin opened her eyes, more slowly this time, and peeked down at her hands. Plastic. Black plastic. And that smell. What was it? She turned her head just a little, opened her eyes a little more, and then she realized. She was sprawled out, on her back, on a pile of garbage bags. She craned her neck. She was inside a dumpster.

She sat up with a start. The pain exploded, her neck and head splitting with pain. The stench was unbearable. She looked around, eyes open now, and was horrified. How the hell had she wound up here?

She rubbed her forehead, trying to piece together the events that got her here. She drew a blank. She tried to remember last night. She used all her force of will to summon it back. Slowly, it came...

Her fight with her mother. The subway. Meeting Jonah. Carnegie Hall. The concert. Then....then....

The hunger. The craving. Yes, the craving. Leaving Jonah. Rushing out. Roaming the halls. Then... Blank. Nothing.

Where had she gone? What had she done? And how on Earth had she ended up here? Had Jonah drugged her? Did he have his way with her, then deposit her here?

She didn't think so. She couldn't imagine he was the type. In her last memory, roaming the halls, she was alone. She had left him far behind. No. It couldn't have been him.

Then what?

Caitlin kneeled slowly on the garbage, one of her feet slipping between two bags, as she sank down further into the pit. She yanked her foot out quickly and found some solid ground, plastic bottles crunching loudly.

She looked up and saw that the metal lid to the canister was open. Had she opened it last night and climbed in here? Why would she have done that? She reached up and just barely grabbed hold of the metal bar at the top. She worried she would be strong enough to pull herself up and out.

But she tried, and was amazed to find that she pulled herself out easily: one graceful motion, and she swung her legs over the side, dropped down several feet and landed on the cement. To her surprise, she landed with great agility, the shock barely hurting her at all. What was happening to her?

Just as Caitlin landed on the New York City sidewalk, a well-dressed couple had been walking past. She startled them. They turned and stared, mortified, not seeming to comprehend why a teenage girl would suddenly jump out of a huge garbage dumpster. They gave her the strangest look, then doubled their pace, hurrying to get as far away from her as possible.

Caitlin didn't blame them. She probably would have done the same. She looked down at herself, still dressed in her cocktail attire from last night, her clothing completely soiled and covered in garbage. She stank. She tried her best to wipe it off.

While she was at it, she ran her hands quickly over her body and pockets. No phone. Her mind raced, as she tried to remember if she had taken it from the apartment.

No. She had left it in her apartment, in her bedroom, on the corner of her desk. She had meant to grab it, but had been so flustered by her Mom that she'd left it behind. Shit. She had also left her journal. She needed them both. And she needed a shower, and a change of clothes.

Caitlin looked down at her wrist, but her watch was gone. She must have lost it somewhere during the night. She took a step out of the alley, into the busy sidewalk, and the sunlight hit her directly in the face. Pain radiated through her forehead.

She quickly stepped back into the shade. She couldn't understand what was going on. Thankfully, it was late in the afternoon. Hopefully this hangover, or whatever it was, would pass quickly.

She tried to think. Where could she go? She wanted to call Jonah. It was crazy, because she barely knew him. And after last night, whatever she'd done, she was sure he'd never want to see her again. But, still, he was the first one who came to her mind. She wanted to hear his voice, to be with him. If nothing else, she needed him to fill her in on what had happened. She desperately want to talk to him. She needed her phone.

She would go home one last time, get her phone and her journal, and get out. She prayed her Mom wouldn't be home. Maybe, just this one time, luck would be on her side.

*

Caitlin stood outside her building and looked up apprehensively. It was sunset now, and the light didn't bother her as much. In fact, as night approached, she felt stronger with each passing hour.

She bounded up the five-story walkup with lightning speed, surprising herself. She took the steps three at a time, and her legs weren't even tired. She couldn't fathom what was happening to her body. Whatever it was, she loved it.

Her good mood dimmed as she approached her apartment door. Her heart began to pound, as she wondered if her Mom would be home. How would she react?

But as she reached for the doorknob, she was surprised to see that the door was already open, slightly ajar. Her foreboding increased. Why would it be open?

Caitlin walked tentatively into the apartment, the wood creaking beneath her feet. She slowly stepped through the foyer and into the living room.

As she entered she turned her head - and suddenly raised her hands to her mouth in shock. A horrible wave of nausea hit her. She turned and vomited.

It was her Mom. Lying there, slumped against the floor, eyes open. Dead. Her mother. Dead. But how?

Blood oozed from her neck, and collected in a small puddle on the floor. There was no way she could have done it to herself. She had been killed. Murdered. But how? By who? As much as she hated her Mom, she never would have wanted her to end up like this.

The blood was still fresh, and Caitlin suddenly realized that it must have just happened. The ajar door. Had someone broken in?

She suddenly wheeled, looking all around her, feeling the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Was someone else in the apartment?

As if to answer her silent question, at that very moment, three people, dressed head to toe in black, appeared from the other room. They walked nonchalantly into the living room, heading right for Caitlin. Three men. It was hard to tell how old they were - they looked ageless - maybe, late 20s. They were all well-built. Muscular. Not an ounce of fat on them. Well groomed. And very, very pale.

One of them stepped forward.

Caitlin took a step back in fear. A new sense was coming over her, a feeling of dread. She didn't understand how, but she could sense this person's energy. And it was very, very bad.

"So," the leader said, in a dark, sinister voice. "The chicken comes home to roost."

"Who are you?" Caitlin asked, backing up. She scanned the room for a weapon of some sort. Maybe a pipe, or a bat. She started thinking of exit points. The window behind her. Did it lead to a fire escape?

"Precisely the question we wanted to ask of you," the leader said. "Your human friend had no answers," he said, gesturing at her Mom's body. "Hopefully, you will."

Human? What was this person talking about?

Caitlin took several more steps back. She didn't have much room left to go. She was almost flush against the wall. She remembered now: the window behind her did lead to a fire escape. She remembered sitting on it, her first day in the apartment. It was rusted. And rickety. But it seemed to work.

"That was quite a feed at Carnegie Hall," he said. The three of them slowly approached her, each taking a step forward. "Very dramatic."

Caitlin scanned her memories desperately.

Feed? Try as she could, she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.

"Why intermission?" he asked. "What was the message you were trying to send?"

She was against the wall, and had nowhere left to go. They took another step closer. She felt certain they would kill her if she did not tell them what they wanted.

She thought as hard as she could. Message? Intermission? She recalled roaming the halls, the carpeted hallways, going room to room. Searching. Yes, it was coming back to her. There was an open door. A dressing room. A man inside. He had looked up at her. There had been fear in his eyes. And then...

"You were in our territory," he said, "and you know the rules. You are going to have to answer for this."

They took another step closer.

Crash.

At just that moment, the apartment's front door shattered open, and several uniformed policeman rushed inside, guns drawn.

"Freeze, motherfucker!" a cop screamed.

The three wheeled and stared at the cops.

They then, slowly, walked towards them, completely unafraid.

"I said FREEZE!"

The leader kept walking, and the cop fired. The noise was deafening.

But, amazingly, the leader didn't even stop. He smiled even wider, simply reached out his hand, and caught the bullet in midair. Caitlin was shocked to see that he stopped it in mid-air, in his palm. He then held up his hand, slowly made a fist and crushed it. He opened his hand, and the dust slowly poured out onto the floor.

The cops, too, stared back in shock, mouths open.

The leader grinned even wider, reached out and grabbed the cop's shotgun. He yanked it from him, wound up and struck the cop across the face. The cop went flying backwards, knocking over several of his men.

Caitlin had seen enough.

Without hesitating, she turned, opened the window and climbed through. She jumped onto the fire escape and raced down the rickety, rusted steps.

She ran for all she was worth, twisting and turning. The old fire escape probably hadn't been used in years, and as she rounded a corner, a step gave way. She slipped and screamed, but then caught her balance. The entire fire escape shifted and swayed, but it didn't give completely.

She had descended three flights when she heard the noise. She looked up, and saw the three of them jump onto the fire escape. They started descending, impossibly fast. Much faster than her. She increased her pace.

She reached the first floor, and saw that there was nowhere to go: it was a 15 foot jump down to the sidewalk. She turned her neck, saw that they were coming. She looked back down. No choice. She jumped.

Caitlin braced herself for the impact, and expected it to be bad. But to her surprise, she landed she landed lithely on her feet, like a cat, with hardly any pain. She took off at a sprint, feeling confident she would leave her pursuers, whoever they were, far behind.

As she reached the end of the block, surprised by her incredible speed, she looked back, expecting to see them far away on the horizon.

But she was shocked to see that they were only a few feet behind her. How was that possible?

Before she could finish the thought, she felt bodies on top of her. They were already tackling her down to the ground.

Caitlin summoned all of her newfound strength to fight off her attackers. She elbowed one of them, and was pleasantly surprised to see him go flying several feet. Encouraged, she wheeled over and elbowed the other one, and was again happily surprised to see him go flying in the other direction.

The leader landed squarely on top of her, and began to choke her. He was stronger than the others. She looked up into his large, coal black eyes, and it was like staring into the eyes of a shark. Soulless. It was the look of death.

Caitlin used all her might, every last ounce of her strength, and managed to roll and throw him off of her. She jumped back to her feet, once again in a sprint.

But she hadn't gotten far before she felt herself tackled once again, by the leader. How could he be that fast? She had just thrown him across the alley.

This time, before she could fight back, she felt knuckles across her cheek, and realized he had just backhanded her. Hard. The world spun. She regained consciousness quickly, and prepared to fight back, when suddenly she saw the two others kneeling beside her, pinning her down. The leader extracted a cloth from his pocket.

Before she could react, the cloth was over her nose and mouth.

As she took one last, deep breath, the world spun, turned foggy.

Before the world turned to complete blackness, she could have sworn she heard a dark voice whisper in her ear: "You are ours, now."


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