I rubbed my aching eyes as I waited. The wall clock was ticking loudly as the minutes passed, and each tick ricocheted around my head painfully. Marie had stood after a while and started cleaning her fur. I tried not to glare at her for the annoying tongue noises. She usually did that in private.
“You would think they’d have multiple doctors or something,” Marie murmured as she cleaned her foot. “Especially in this part of town.”
“Maybe they’re all sick,” I offered lamely. I’m pretty sure this is what death feels like. I closed my eyes against the harsh overhead lights and tried to tune out the sounds of the waiting room.
A paw on my good arm startled me from my doze. I didn’t even remember passing out, but I wasn’t surprised it happened. I looked over to find Marie watching me as she removed her paw. She blinked slowly before turning to the hallway behind the receptionist desk where a nurse stood with an expectant look on her face. She brushed the loose part of her long brown hair over her shoulder. When she looked down the hall I could see it was in a half ponytail.
She called my name, for probably not the first time, and I nodded as I struggled to my feet. I should not have sat down. Ugh. I looked up from my shuffling steps to see the nurse glaring at Marie on my trail.
“She’s coming with me,” I declared and the nurse’s olive green eyes went to my face. She stared at me for a moment before nodding slightly and turning. I followed her slowly down the long hall, past numerous closed doors. Her scrubs were a mix of various reptiles. Most of them I knew, there were a few that I had no guesses on. She motioned me into room 23 but kept walking. I went to the tall examination bed and eased myself up on it as Marie took the empty chair in the corner opposite the door.
My head swam from walking. My eyes drifted closed again, so when the nurse returned I jumped. As I fought the pain of being startled, the nurse set to work taking my blood pressure and all the things I wish they would skip so they could just heal me. A groan from another room sounded and I looked towards the door worriedly. Was that the lobby girl? The nurse kicked out with her foot and closed the door with a heavy thud before turning her attention back to me.
“I’m going to clean you up before the healer comes in,” she announced. I nodded, just ready to be done with the day. “Have you taken any medication in the last 24 hours?” she asked as she opened a cupboard above the sink. Numerous bottles, all identical in shape but varying in color, were stuffed into the cabinets. She selected a red and blue bottle as I shook my head, which I immediately regretted. She tsked and sat at the computer. “Tell me what happened,” she commanded and I obliged while focusing on her fingers flying across the keyboard.
By the time the nurse left the room, my whole body was on fire. Not literally, but man the cleaning had burned. Looking at my arm though, it looked even worse without the solid coating of stinking Maw blood. Marie was grumping from her chair in the corner because the nurse had cleaned her up too. Well mostly.
“I was fine,” she groaned.
“You were sitting in a puddle of blood,” I replied.
“Not really. It was small.”
The door opened to emit the healer then and cut off my retort. He wasn’t what I was expecting from previous healer visits. Middle aged but fit, he wore dark green scrubs that showed cats, which I found interesting since they didn’t exist in this realm any more. His short brown hair was slicked back and he wore thick glasses that showed grey eyes when he looked up.
“Hi. So I hear you had some issues today.”
“A few,” I replied, lifting my burned hand in a wave. His eyebrows rose slightly as he took in the visible wounds on me. Then his gaze shifted to Marie in the corner and his mouth dropped open.
“Is that…is that a Faeline?” he whispered with his grey gaze glued to her. She stared at him a moment then looked to me.
“Yeah. Marie the healer. Healer, Marie,” I introduced them.
“I’m Chade,” he said as he set his clipboard down on the bed and walked over to kneel in front of her chair. I looked down at the clipboard and cocked my head to the side before lifting the pages to reveal a large bite shaped chunk missing from it. Well that’s awesome.
“I have never seen one in person. I’ve read about them religiously. They’re such a fascinating species,” he whispered as he stared at her. He lifted his hand and slowly approached her head. It was so hard not to giggle.
“She uh, doesn’t like to be pet really,” I offered before he got bit. He stilled his hand and let it drop before nodding.
“What happened to her beautiful face?” he asked, turning to me. I saw Marie shift her front feet before she surprised us both and replied.
“That dumbass got himself attacked and I saved him,” she said smoothly. The laugh that escaped my throat was way louder than I intended as he fell backwards onto his butt. He stared at her with wide eyes as she hopped off the chair. She walked towards his head before licking his cheek once.
“Mace, I like this one. Can I keep him?” she said as he stared dumbstruck.
“No, Marie. He needs to stay here. He needs to fix me, preferably soon,” I said. She tsked and returned to her chair as he struggled to recover.
“She…she …talks? You have a talking Faeline?” he said, though his gaze never left her.
“Well we kinda have each other,” I said before narrowing my eyes. “Don’t they all talk?”
He shook his head and sat back up.
“No. Only a few select lines did. Most were used as guardians. That is absolutely amazing. I didn’t know there still were speaking ones in the world.”
“Yeah she’s one of a kind.” I winked at her but she just ignored me.
“So many believe these lines died out…” He was still watching her, as if she would magically transform.
“Well she didn’t. Anyway, I’m kinda in agony here.”
He looked over at me for a moment before his gaze focused and he pushed himself to his feet. ”Of course, I’m so sorry.” He went to the sink and washed his hands before searching through the cupboard above. I couldn’t read any of the labels but I hoped it was for something to numb the pain. He gathered bandages as well before turning to me. He handed me a small white cup of a light blue liquid that was definitely not water.
“Drink this, and then I’m going to start with your burn.”
I downed the berry flavored drink then gave him my hand. He squeezed some of the dark green gel from the similarly colored bottle onto my palm. I hissed at the icy feeling as he began to spread it around. By the time the gel covered my entire upturned hand, the pain of the burn was a dull ache. He left that sitting on the table while he washed his hands again and retrieved a brown bottle from the cupboard. He sat down on my other side and gave me a look.
“This will hurt?” I asked and he nodded. I took a steadying breath and offered my shredded arm.
“HOLY HELL!” I yelled as dark orange ooze dripped from the bottle and he slathered it across my entire forearm. It was an achievement that I was able to stay sitting. Marie had jumped off her chair to the table and sat beside me, offering silent comfort.
Once I got over the agony of him touching me I opened my eyes to find him suturing some of the teeth marks. I couldn’t feel it at all. The pain was there, but I suspected that was from the bone-deep bites. He worked intently, though I saw him glance at Marie several time. I closed my eyes because watching him was making my stomach churn. By the time the orange goo started to wear off, he was finishing up.
“So you’ll need to come back in in a couple weeks so I can make sure there is no infection and such,” he said as he stood to clean up. I looked down at my sutured arm and sighed. Marie walked around me to inspect them before sitting down and looking up.
“Well the scars will be bad ass,” she said and I glared at her. Chade smiled at her before addressing the burn. He washed the hand and applied another, thicker ointment and bandaged it. After he was completely finished with the various cuts and scrapes I had, he gave me medicine for my head. I appreciated that he didn’t bug me about what happened. Saying it once was enough. Well twice. You told Lobby Girl too.
I started thinking about her as my gaze roamed the room and settled on the clock. Wow two hours flew by! I narrowed my gaze at the ticking hands.
“Is that clock correct?” I asked. Chade looked up from the clipboard he was scrawling across and followed my gaze before nodding.
“Yes it is. Why?”
“I’ve been here for two full hours already?”
“Yeah. Good thing the rest of my day has been clear.” He returned his attention to his notes and I looked at Marie, who was curled up on the table. She must be completely exhausted. We aren’t even close to home either.
I slid from the table and stood on shaky legs. I hadn’t eaten all day. I was so sore. The goo was wearing off of my body parts and steady throbbing took its place. I closed my eyes at the hollow feeling.
“If you want to head to the small kitchen in back, Helda will feed you while I tend to Marie,” Chade offered softly. I opened my eyes to stare at him. He seems sincere but I don’t trust him.
“I’m fine. I’ll wait.” I moved to the chair and sat as Marie lifted her head to stare at Chade.
“No funny business, handsome,” she purred and I rolled my eyes. He smiled and gently reached out for her. When she stood, she left a bloody splotch on the paper that covers the table. I watched tiredly as he inspected her before he rummaged around the cabinet for a couple different white bottles. One of the ointments took her nose swelling away. The nurse hadn’t washed her as thoroughly so between that and her current bleeding, she had matted clumps of fur in several spots. Chade rubbed a black gel into those and when he rinsed them the mats melted away with the water.
As he worked he chatted softly with her. It was weird to see someone else talking to Marie. I couldn’t remember many doing that before. He told her he had always adored cats, and especially Faelines.
“Do you know much history of the Faelines, Mace?” he asked and I opened my heavy eyelids. He was suturing the big cut on her side. When did she get that again?
“Well I know it all,” he said as he turned to me. “I know that they were bred into existence. Coveted for their ingenuity and fierceness. Only those that were exceedingly loyal and smart survived.”
He turned back to Marie, who had her eyes closed and dug her claws into the table. “They slowly decimated the feline population until none lived in the monster realm.”
“But when the Sages split the realms, didn’t they make it so ordinary creatures could cross without issue?” I asked. My brain was fairly fuddled and I hoped I didn’t sound like a dumbass.
“They did, yes. But the cats just never returned. No one knows why.”
“Probably because we’re superior and would slay them,” Marie mumbled. I smirked at her. Always the glorious warrior.
Chade finished with her side and did one more inspection before announcing she was good to go. She stood and stretched slightly before sitting again and looking towards me. I nodded and tried to stand, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. I’m so freakin’ tired. I looked up when Chade appeared in front of me, his scarred hand outstretched. I took it and he easily hauled me to my feet. He offered to carry Marie as well, but she politely refused. Marie. Polite. HA.
Chade helped us to the lobby where reptile nurse was sitting at the front desk. He asked her to call us a car, which I tried to turn down, but he insisted. The phone began to ring somewhere down the long hallway and he excused himself to answer it, but not before thanking us for giving him a chance to meet Marie. She purred at him while I held back an eye roll.
As I was easing into a chair in view of the door, a familiar voice called out from behind me. I jumped and turned to find Lobby Girl smiling shyly at me. Why is she still here? I thought as she stood, throwing a green khaki shoulder bag on as she approached. She sat beside me, opposite of Marie.
“I’m sorry. I hope it isn’t weird that I waited for you. It’s just…” She paused and turned her amber gaze to my face. She’s pretty…for a possible spider. “You are so intriguing. I really want to know more. Can you tell me?”
“Of course!” My mouth said before my brain could register it happening. I tried to backtrack but she reached over and offered her hand.
“It’s lovely to meet you Muhmace,” she said with a smile. I snorted on accident and tried to recover as smoothly as I could. STOP doing that!
“No, sorry. Just Mace.” A low growl from beside me made me add onto my introduction. “Oh and Marie.”
“Hello Marie.” Morrigan leaned around me to smile at Marie, and as she did so a thin, black corded necklace fell from inside her shirt to reveal a beautifully carved raven in flight. I realized the area my eyes were focused and snapped my gaze back to Morrigan’s face.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well.” I offered her a smile as the car pulled up to the door.
Faeline- fay line
Araneae – air an A
Hasselti- Hass el tee
Monere- Mon err ahh
Chade- Ch aid
Morrigan- m ohr ih g in
I plan to pick this back up in the future and flesh it out into a solid novel. I think Mace’s backstory and future will surprise you. Thanks for following along!