ASN 5.2 What Is This

by Matt P.

The modern pediatrics wing of Border General Hospital was painted in accordance with the newer philosophy of hospital decorating, that patients should largely not wish for death if only to escape the look—and the smell of the disinfectant. So the room that Walter, Siobhan, and Antigone (Lacey and Monica opting to stay in the hall, rather than try to make the room larger on the inside than the outside) followed Tania’s grumbling to was simple but nice. The walls were painted a soft yellow, and there were obviously fake flowers next to the hospital bed. It gave color to a room that could otherwise be cold and intimidating; but it also stood as a stark contrast to the young woman who lay on the bed, having been changed into a pale yellow hospital gown by someone.

Cleaned of the mud, she was startlingly pale—beyond any cliche about spending time in basements or out of the sun. Even her hair was pale, so pale blond that it was almost indistinguishable from the white of the pillow underneath her head. She was unconscious again, breathing slowly and laboriously, with the beeping of a heart rate monitor going in the background.

As Walter and the group of them came in, Tanya Summers turned to face him, her face screwed up in a very familiar look of annoyance. With Morgan having let her hair go back to its natural fiery color, the two of them looked much more decidedly like the twins they were; Walter suspected the reason no one had ever seen it before was a combination of them not being in public rooms together much and—as much as he hated to admit it—magic. But with them both looking more like what he had been assured was their original look, they had almost identically shaped faces and hair, and were the same height. The only substantial difference was the difference in the shade of their eyes.

“Before you start,” Walter began, trying to cut Tanya off before she could get her full head of steam going.

“I am not stopped by interjections, Detective,” Tanya growled, and advanced on him. “I’ve blown past way more impressive people interrupting me in the past, and I am just getting started now.” She gave him a leonine grin, to which Walter could only purse his lips. “Where in all the blight did you find her? And was she on fire when she you brought her, and you just politely put her out and decided not to tell us to be polite?” She glanced toward the door, where Lacey and Monica were waiting in the hallway. “Or to not freak out the mundanes?”

Walter shook his head. “Having a great respect for the medical profession, and since Morgan would probably have been very pissed at me if I withheld that, I would have told you if she had been on fire. And,” Walter continued, “I would like to point out that Border is pretty damn weird all on its own, and does not need any help. In the woods near our house there was a tunnel near a muddy riverbed,” Walter explained simply. “I didn’t find her, Siobhan did—and someone came out of the tunnel.” He shook his head, remembering the fight. “He was incredibly thin, and he did seem to be…smoldering in the sunlight. But Siobhan found her initially, and slugged it out a little with the man.”

Tanya glared at Walter’s daughter, while Morgan looked up suddenly from where she had been standing near the young woman’s head. Tanya’s eyes quickly flicked over words on the shirt, and snorted. “A little on the nose?” She asked.

“It’s a band t-shirt,” Siobhan explained with a scowl. Meanwhile Morgan strode out toward the younger woman, who was still in her muddy shirt but had been given a chance to clean up slightly. Tanya noticed the “Were you bitten?” She moved over in a hurry, and took her by the arm to begin looking her over. When Siobhan shook her head, a look of relief washed over Morgan’s face as she stepped back. “Alright, let’s stop yelling at each other, or the nurses will come in—and then Tanya will yell at them too. And then they will hate me, and I will be a much less effective doctor.” Everyone looked somewhat curious about that logic chain, but no one seemed to want to gainsay it lest the yelling come back.

“Fine, Icicle, you can tell them what they’ve brought to my city,” Tanya grumbled. And then waved her hand. “Our city.”

Morgan took a very deep breath then, as if tamping down her own angry response—whether at the nickname or the apparent ownership of the city-before continuing more moderately. “Walter, this young lady shouldn’t exist. Yes, I know,” she held up a single finger to silence any protest, “We’ve mentioned that. But it is worth repeating, because what I am telling you is that in seven hundred years of dealing with the supernatural, I do not believe it is possible. Walter, she’s—” Morgan began.

“Vampire,” Antigone and Siobhan interrupted simultaneously, their tones matched perfectly with the implied ‘obviously’. Now it was Morgan’s turn to give a little bit of a scowl. “Come on,” Antigone snorted, grinning. “We figured that out while we were still with the paramedics. What else burns in sunlight.”

“Certain kinds of wraith, several kinds of denizens of Deorchame, and a backahast, if it’s exposed to a tropical climate,” Morgan responded primly. “But yes, I believe you were attacked by a Vampire. And this young woman is the first incomplete vampire I’ve ever seen—her body is rejecting the change, and if she survives the next 24 hours may be one of the most unique individuals in the world.” At that, Morgan looked around. “Aside from several people in this room, and a couple other people currently in Border.”