Marissa tilted her head as she regarded the stranger standing across the room. The dark-skinned woman looked exhausted, and there were dark circles under her brown eyes. Her jet-black hair was cut short and hidden under an equally dark cap. The woman held her hands to her mouth, her face covered in shock and concern.
“Are you okay?” She asked, and Marissa looked down at the bedsheets. She was in some sort of hospital gown. Well, duh, she appeared to be in a hospital after all. The machine beside her beeped to a steady rhythm. She realized then that she was still hooked up to the damn thing.
Then, she began disconnecting herself from the life support system. There were so many damn tubes. What the hell was she even in here for? She slipped her legs over the bed, wincing from the subtle movement. “I’m…sore?” The confusion was because she didn’t understand why or how.
Her eyes spied paraphernalia from the facility. Seems, she was in the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital. The emblem had the words “Virgin Islands” on it. She was in the Caribbean.
“That should be expected, considering all that’s–”
“Wait.” She cut the woman off, and help up her hand. “Who exactly are you?”
Again, the woman was staring at her with a bewildered expression. “What? This isn’t funny Marissa,” Anger. Her emotions switched, confusion replaced in seconds.
Judging from her reaction, she figured that she had to be this Marissa, but, she didn’t remember. Was that her name? Why was she in a hospital? Who was this woman?
“You keep saying that name, but…” Seeing the woman’s irritation she tried a different approach. “I’m just really confused right now. I wake up in this room,” and she waved her arms around, “And you keep calling me a name that I don’t recognize and I’m hurting everywhere, and I’m just not sure what’s going on.”
She slid off the bed officially, and the woman rushed over to her aid when she slipped. She steadied herself on her, and then carefully pushed her away. “I’m fine. I just want to use the bathroom…Miss…?”
Through gritted teeth, the woman answered “Not miss. Melanie. Your sister.”
“Right. Sister. Melanie. Got it. Where’s the bathroom?”
Her “sister” pointed in the direction of the room and she made her way there. As she walked away, she noticed in the corner of her eye that Melanie took out a phone and started making a phone call.
Inside the bathroom, the gears in her brain worked on an escape. She didn’t know where she was, who she was, and who the hell that was out there. What she did know, was that she was hurt and she trusted her gut–which felt extremely uncomfortable around that woman. She noted her wrist had a white band wrapped around it. There was a birth date on it, but no name.
She splashed some water on her face, trying to calm down to think.
Then she froze.
She took in her appearance. Straight, dark brown hair cut in an asymmetrical bob framed her face. She lifted her arms to touch her face as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. Her fingers lingered near her eyes. One bright hazel eye stared back at her, the other was glowing, gold slit irises.
What the fuck?
She prodded her face, not sure what exactly she was looking at. Then she touched the mirror, wondering if maybe it was an illusion. After examining it for a moment, she found no signs of it being tampered with, but that didn’t explain what she was looking at.
A pounding at the door startled her out of her trance.
“Marissa? Are you okay?”
It was Melanie. Shit.
“Listen,” Melanie called from the other side of the door. “I know you’re probably confused, but if you come out I can explain everything.”
The woman was talking, but Marissa was trying to find a way out. Sadly, the bathroom only had one of those and it was the same way she got in. What? No windows? How absurd.
“I’m not going to hurt you if that’s what you’re wondering. Just come out,” Melanie pleaded.
Not seeing any other options, she exited the bathroom and found Melanie sitting on a chair, casually blocking the exit. Her eyes glanced around the room quickly, searching. Window by the bed. She could fit through it. How far was the jump?
“Even for someone like you, a jump like that would be a death sentence,” Melanie answered, knowing exactly what she was thinking. “Not a mind reader, but I know your kind has a thing about windows.” She answered again.
She could be bluffing. Marissa rushed towards the window and slid it open. She had one leg on the window sill, while her arms steadied her on both sides. She looked down and swallowed hard. Not a jump she was trying to make. She growled, then defeatedly took a seat on the bed, and folded her arms across her chest.
“You really don’t know who I am?” Melanie asked. She rubbed her temples as soothing her headache.
“Look, lady, I don’t even know who, or better yet what, the fuck I am. I’m sporting two different damn eyes,” She pointed at her multicolored irises. “And you mentioned ‘my kind,’ so please get me up to speed,” Marissa chided. Her body was also starting to feel tired. Maybe she needed more rest.
Melanie blinked, stunned by the contrite way Marissa spoke her. “You’re definitely not yourself. Between taking this so calmly and being so…straightforward, that’s not you.”
“Great to know. Care to elaborate for me sis?” she snarled.
Taking a good look at her, she noticed Melanie was dressed from head to toe in black combat gear. A gun was casually peeking out from her ensemble. She wondered what other toys were lurking on her and who exactly they were meant to be used on. She felt the hairs on her neck stand then, and a throb of pain in her skull. She closed her eyes from the pain and held her head just as an image of herself having a gun pointed at her flashed by quickly, then disappeared.
“Hey, are you okay?” Melanie was on her feet, but Marissa quickly waved her off.
Soon enough the pain subsided. More so, after that little vision, she trusted this Melanie person even less. And she was so tired of hearing ‘are you okay?’ “It was just a headache…You had an explanation for me remember? Why am I here?”
Melanie hesitated for a moment, before finally getting to the point.
“Long story short, you were caught in an explosion meant to kill a group of feline monsters, and I brought you to this hospital to recover,” Melanie said.
“Right…” What bullshit nightmare is this? “Feline…monsters…”
“That eye you’re sporting isn’t exactly a prop.”
She had her there. She prodded at the thing and for a moment even tried to pluck it. It sure as shit was real.
“So, I’m a ‘feline monster?’” she asked.
“But you’re not.”
“Yet you’re my sister?”
Marissa narrowed her eyes. “Give me the long version then because the short version isn’t adding up.”
Melanie groaned, obviously not wanting to get into specifics. She took a deep breath and then rattled it all out.
“Our father had an affair with a ‘felid’–that’s what you’re called–that he was supposed to kill because he’s a hunter–that’s what I am–then you were born, and he tried to kill you recently because shit got complicated,” She was rubbing her temples now while she spoke. “My name is Melanie Coldwell. Your name is Marissa Coldwell, but that’s probably going to change because as far as the world is concerned Marissa Coldwell is dead.”
Marissa’s headache worsened the more Melanie spoke.
“I can’t kill you because you’re my sister and didn’t ask for this shit. Felids are trying to kill you for some reason too, and you got caught in an explosion after your friends betrayed you while you were trying to rescue your boyfriend who was killed by them also, and I found you and smuggled you out of the mainland and into the Caribbean where your mother, who abandoned you, rules during what is the start of a possible human-shifter war,” Melanie rambled out quickly.
Marissa’s mouth opened, then closed. She blinked and opened her mouth again. “I have to be dead. Or maybe you’re a psychopath. Is this an asylum?” She chuckled nervously.
Melanie stayed deadly silent.
“You’re serious?” Again, silence, but she received a nod. “That just sounds like everyone wants me dead!” She was on her feet, seething with anger, and suddenly that drop out the window didn’t sound so bad.
“That doesn’t have to be the case,” Melanie stood up. Marissa tensed and backed up. “The Felids want you dead no matter what. We, however, are willing to negotiate.”
“We? Who are we? Negotiate?”
“Let me fix that, if you work with me, you can live as a hunter with no problems. In exchange, you just have to help us get rid of those problems.”
“So, you’re asking me to kill other Felids. And your other buddies are just going to go along with this idea all willy nilly? And how can I be sure that you’re not just tricking me and using me?”
Suddenly the door sprang open and men dressed similarly to Melanie filled the room. A pale, graying old man in a suit stepped through the big bodies with a cane that she was sure he didn’t damn well need.
“Tricking you no, using you, well, yes,” He answered simply then turned to Melanie. “Sorry, you were just taking too long.”
Melanie kept quiet, then shrank into the crowd of men.
“Hello darling, great to mee–”
“Who, the fuck are you now?”
He laughed at her audacity then got straight to the point.
“George. George Thomas. An old family acquaintance. But what your sister was trying to you tell is this, either you help us get rid of your nuisances or you can die in this room right now because you’re dead once you leave here regardless.”