Anita woke up in a hospital. The first thing she registered was the smell of anti-septic everything. It seemed to make up her olfactory world. The second thing she registered was the bright light when she finally opened her eyes. Squinting and blinking, Anita winced when she tried to pull herself up. Her hands hurt. Pretty much every part of her hurt.
She looked at her hands. They were raw, red and angry looking. How had they gotten that way? Anita remembered the dead thing, a vampire she would guess. She had almost died. It was frightening.
A thick ball of lead settled I her stomach as she finally registered everything wrong with Sunnydale. Xander, Mom, Dad, and even Uncle Rory were in danger. Things she had denied no longer were held back. Whispers of creatures of the night, monsters, and magic floated around her mind. She shook her head trying to get rid of them. How many people knew but ignored? How much of it had she thought normal?
Magic…Had what she had done magic? That man that one Halloween said she had power. That he could taste it. She shivered involuntarily. Something about that man had been horribly wrong. If she hadn’t been in a cemetery, if the grave dirt hadn’t shifted underfoot and she willed for anything to stop this man what could have happened? Anita tried to recall the feeling that night.
The dead had answered her call then vanished when the man left. She had a connection to the vampire. She could tell when a grave was empty. All of this was related to the dead. What the hell did it mean?
Why the hell had she pretended it didn’t exist when she was so obviously looking for it?
Angry, she struck the metal framing of her bed. Pain shot through her hand. Biting back a curse, she cradled her hand. She winced as the movement jostled an IV drip in her arm. It suddenly dawned on her how much like shit she looked like. Gingerly, she lifted the blanket and saw one of her feet bandaged. Scrapes, scratches, and bruises littered both legs.
She sat up, hoping for a better look. Pain shot through her abdomen. Anita winced and tried to get a look at her stomach. She could vaguely see the bruising from the top of her hospital gown. She was not pulling it open in public. Anita looked around; although nurses and doctors passed her by she hadn’t been addressed.
Call buttons, they had to have those right? After nearly pulling out something that looked important, Anita found the call button. At least she hoped so and that she didn’t suddenly experience her bed folding in half like she’d seen on cartoons. Anita doubted it but the world suddenly seemed less predictable. Nothing happened when she pressed the button. She decided to wait.
It seemed to be an hour later when a nurse came to look at her. The nurse was tired but she looked at her sympathetically. Anita thought she had to really look bad to warrant any sympathy. She was not the kind to receive sympathy from strangers. She had heard them say it was something about her eyes; Anita did not understand the sentiment.
“Miss Harris?” Anita nodded. “How are you feeling?
“Good,” She croaked. Her mouth and throat were dry. “Thirsty,” She licked her lips. It felt like her mouth was stuffed with cotton. She was sore and uncomfortable but surprisingly not in pain. Anita wondered what pain medicine she had received.
“That’s good,” The nurse said brightly, concern in her eyes. She thought Anita was lying. “I’m going to get the doctor and I’ll have someone bring you something to drink.” She said gently.
“Thank you,” Anita said. The nurse gave a practiced smile and left to get the doctor. Anita closed her eyes. She needed to collect her wits. She needed to come up with answers they would ask except she couldn’t.
Anita almost laughed. She felt hysterical. Things were incredible and terrifying and she didn’t know what she wanted to think because so much of the situation was wrong. She took a deep breath. She needed to calm down and think clearly. She was certain the police was going to be involved. Someone had obviously found her unconscious and had called the ambulance.
She opened her eyes. She was sure why she had passed out. She’d never done that before and needed to remember why. Last night was coming back in flashes, things didn’t make sense and she couldn’t recall anything but the beginning of the fight, the struggle to control something she knew was inherently part of her, and the creature disintegrating into ash.
She took a deep breath, wincing as her ribs strained and protested at the movement. She remembered being thrown and crashing into the wall. The crate digging into her foot in a desperate hope that she could have a make shift stake. Her leg. Anita looked at her foot again. She was certain she had been bleeding.
Had she passed out from blood loss? Shock? She didn’t know enough to even make a small guess. She bit back a wave of hysterical laughter that threatened to overcome her. A small part of her wondered if she was crazy.
She could be going crazy and no one was able to tell. She could have killed a man yesterday and imagined him turning to dust.
Before Anita could contemplate her sanity any longer a rather surprised cry broke through her reverie.
“Anita?” She turned and looked at the speaker.
“Tom?” Tom stood before her with a tray laden with a glass and pitcher.
“Oh my God,” He said. “Anita, what happened? When did this happen? Was it right after you left? I-I…” He looked upset.
“Tom,” She tried to stop him from rambling but obviously Tom thought he could have stopped whatever he thought happened to her.
“I knew there was something about your drink. There are other drugs- You could have had a delayed reaction.” Anita licked her dry lips. Tom took notice to that. “God, here, sip this don’t chug it down. You’ll get sick.”
“Thanks,” She said in a clearer voice. Her voice sounded like the frog had vacated but left a behind baggage in her throat. He opened his mouth again. “Tom, there wasn’t anything you could do.” It was the truth. Anita had the horrible feeling that the thing would have killed Tom before she could have stopped it if in any situation involving them after the club. She knew it would have killed him, eaten him
if he had been alone on any given night. She shook her head.
Anita didn’t want to think about things she shouldn’t know about. It was possible all dead things, they possibly being vampires, were all evil. There was extensive mythology about them except half the things she could only think of were from things like that Anne Rice movie. “I don’t think anyone would.”
“You don’t know that Anita,” Tom insisted. “I should have seen you off. You’re younger than me,” Anita’s glare cut him off. “Sorry,”
“Can I have more water?” She asked instead of barking for him to leave or apologize or anything. Anita didn’t need any reminder that she was weak. No, she wasn’t weak. She had killed that thing. She had gone in blind but still won against something that could rip her off.
Tom reluctantly poured her some water. “Look Anita, I know we just met yesterday but this is the first time I’ve encountered anyone I know at the hospital like this.”
Anita reluctantly accepted his apology; it had to be one. “First time in a hospital for this.” She added herself. Suddenly a horrifying thought occurred to her. “Do my parents know?” Tom shrugged. It was then that the doctor came forward.
“Miss Harris?” Anita nodded. Tom gave her a quick glance and reluctantly left. “How are you feeling, Miss Harris?”
“Alright,” She insisted although her leg was beginning to throb.
“You’re lucky anyone found you, Miss Harris. Your injuries could have been seriously infected. I am actually still worried about sepsis, I’ve put you on antibiotics.” Anita nodded. “Do you know what happened to you?” Anita shook her head. The doctor hummed. “It’s not uncommon to experience some slight memory loss in the event of a traumatic experience. The police will be here to talk to you shortly though, if you can remember anything it would be helpful in arresting the person who did this to you.’ The doctor looked at her sympathetically. “If at any point it distresses you, you don’t need to answer. It may come eventually or never, don’t feel guilty for something that isn’t your fault.” Anita nodded absentmindedly. She would lie and need to keep her lies consistent.
“Doctor,” Anita called. “Were my parent’s called?”
“We found your student ID on you, we contacted your school but I don’t know what happened with that. I’ll have one of the nurses call when they can or you can do that if you’re feeling up to it.” Anita nodded. She was quiet for the rest of the examination. The doctor was polite and kind but tired. Anita’s mind was racing trying to decide what she would tell the police and what she would tell her parents when they found out.
Dennon Smith could hardly be called the most moral man or the nicest but when he came across the unconscious body of the pretty young woman he did the right thing and called the police. He never touched her other than to make sure she was still alive. He never took the forty-two dollars in her pocket nor did he think about it. Dennon answered all the police’s questions and had a solid alibi. He gave the police his contact information and left, forgetting about the pretty black haired woman within an hour.
In Sunnydale, California Tony Harris forgot about his newly purchased bottle of beer after he answered the telephone. He yelled for his wife and was glad that Xander was spending more time with the Rosenbergs than them for once. As Tony began speaking to his now sobbing wife, he wondered how he could manage to send one of them over to help her. After the third time of ringing the hospital and receiving no answer, the Harris parents waited and spent the night in a fitful sleep.