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Monster within

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She jerked awake suddenly - tense and fearful. Her eyes found only darkness though as a howling scream echoed nearby. Trying to relax and breathe, she found herself still gasping and struggling for each breath as she waited tensely for a repeat of the eerie sound. Several moments passed as she tried without success to relax her muscles and breathe deeply. Finally she closed her eyes and tried to ignore what was around her and focus on herself only.

Unfortunately, her mind was just as dark as the outside world. In a panic, she tried to remember something, anything but she continued to draw a blank. Again the animalistic cry pierced the quiet darkness and she cringed until she realized that the sound was coming from her. She snapped her mouth shut with an audible click and froze.

With wide eyes staring into the darkness she could feel her own heartbeat and could even hear the blood rush in her ears. Her feet and hands tingled slightly but then it felt like a blazing fire was spreading through her body, scorching her entire being. Her breaths came hard and fast but the stale air felt heavy, unnatural. She again closed her mouth but this time she bit her bottom lip hard.

As blood filled her mouth, the sharp coppery taste was surprisingly comforting. Closing her eyes once again, she used her tongue to lap up the blood and swallowed several times. Calming down slightly she opened her eyes once more and noticed the small dots of light just in front of her face.

She tried to reach her hands up and encountered the strange fabric barrier in surprise. Getting excited she traced the fabric up to her face and anywhere else she could reach searching for an opening. There was no give though and the fabric covering her and made it difficult to move. In her frustration, she grabbed the fabric and used both hands to rip it viciously. It tore easily under her hands but there was still only darkness.

Glancing around, she extended her hands and felt the cool metal in front of her. She tried to move but the fabric again thwarted her efforts until she snarled and waved a hand over the offensive material which immediately shredded and fell from her body. Moving more easily she traced and found the metal box surrounded her. It wasn't big enough to sit up but she could roll over.

Wriggling onto her stomach, she reached over her head and pushed against the metal but it remained strong. Growling once more, she pounded her hand against it and felt it give with the force of her blow. She relished the second strike that pushed the metal to give way completely. Suddenly a bright light filled her vision and hurt her eyes.

She ducked her head to avoid the light but then blinked and immediately looked up again, squinting and growling as she did. Reaching forward again she pulled her body toward the light and found herself tumbling forward to a hard, cold floor. Strange chemical scents filled her nostrils and she glanced around. Then a new scent - earthy, musky, and warm - came to her and drew her attention.

Moving before she realized it, more blood flowed down her throat as she bit down hard. She stayed in place with her eyes closed until the flow slowed to a trickle. As she released her grip, she pulled back and watched the man in scrubs fall to the floor next to her.

Her mind suddenly cleared as she looked at the dead man in surprise. She didn't remain focused on him though as memories of her life flooded back and filled her with conflicting emotions of joy, pain, anger and fear.

She jumped to her feet and could now recognize that she was in a medical facility. As she turned in a half circle and saw the body bag on a nearby table, she gasped in surprise as she realized that she was in a morgue.

A flash of pain had her grabbing her head and then her chest as she groaned softly. Memories of her last moments filled with blood and violence swirled in her mind. A quick glance down found evidence of her injuries but the blood was dry. Just as quickly as the pain had struck, it receded.

She cautiously stood straight with her hands at her sides but no new pain came. She revisited that final memory but there was still no more pain. Instead the memory became fleeting, inconsequential though as a nearby mirror caught her attention.

Moving forward, she stood in front of the mirror and stared at it. It revealed her reflection and she actually smiled at the scarred, withered skin, blood stained teeth and dark, glowing eyes.

With a roll of her head, the monster disappeared. In its place a lovely young woman returned her stare with bright eyes, flawless pale, golden skin and lustrous reddish brown hair. The blood stains stood out and appeared out of place now but it was the face that she didn't recognize, not anymore.

She had first fought the transition, then she had tried to embrace it and then she had been nearly overwhelmed by despair and guilt of her choices. It was then that she had tried to get him to end it all for her. He hadn't been able to do it though. She had seen the love in his eyes and her heart had ached upon sight of it - memories of better times had brought tears to her eyes.

That ache had only a brief flash though as more memories had returned to her as she stared at him. It had hurt so much more to see him turn from her the first time she had revealed her true nature. The memory of that rejection had angered her again and had brought the snarl to her voice as she had told him good bye.

It was then the pain had hit her - blinding and sharp it had taken her breath and dropped her to ground. Lying in his arms, she had given up and let the darkness claim her.

Grinning at her reflection, she found it ironic that she had awoken in darkness too. There was no darkness around her now but she knew that it was inside her. Like a living, breathing thing the darkness was deep inside her and clawing to get out.

Another roll of her head brought the other image back. She knew this was her true nature now. No shame, no guilt, no confusion, no anger. Those emotions had been buried in the darkness, now only the monster remained.

She felt a curious sense of calm and even power and freedom as she smiled at her reflection before turning away to again look at the room. The dead man warranted no attention and she stepped over him as she made her way toward the door.

Portland held nothing for her and she was ready to leave. Her eyes were open now and she could only imagine just what else she had missed while she had lived in ignorance and in pain and darkness. The world was hers for the taking and she planned to take. The monster was free.


 

Replacing the desk phone receiver with more force than necessary, Nick Burkhardt cursed under his breath at the news. He glanced quickly around the squad room before he leaned forward to his partner who was watching him in concern.

"Juliette's body has disappeared from the morgue…and an intern is dead."