Marked for Death
Part III: Unexpected Visitor
Síthmaith’s spell must have worked because the only thing to happen that night was Amber hogging the blanket. Despite her fears, she hadn’t hurt a hair on my head. Heck, she’d barely moved at all. Even after I woke up, I stayed in bed, just taking in her warmth and smell. I just wanted that moment to stretch forever and the day ahead to fade away, but sadly, she stirred awake.
“Morning.” I whispered to her ear.
“Hey…” She said with a yawn, carefully turning around to face me.
“Still in one piece.”
“I can see that.” She answered with a timid smile.
I quickly pressed my lips against hers for the briefest of kisses.
“Thank you for being there.”
“It’s what I signed up for.”
“I just wish that for once you wouldn’t have to put up with this kind of crap from me.”
“Annabelle, it’s okay. And there’ll be plenty of time for my crap to butt in after today.”
“I didn’t think I’d ever look forward to it, but right now I do.”
We both shared a chuckle before setting foot out of bed, passing through the not so circular protection circle. When we did, I felt a bit of static pass through my spine from the broken spell fizzling away.
“Thirty minutes before the Doc said she’d pick us up.” Amber said, grabbing some clothes and putting them on. I did the same, keeping our backs turned, not even daring to take a peek.
After getting changed, we joined Síthmaith in the kitchen area where she ate breakfast. Although I was hungry, I was under strict order not to eat or drink, so I just watched, which didn’t help really… At least doctor Sij arrived soon enough along with a taxi cab.
“How are you doing?” She asked, coming into the dorm.
“Scared as hell.” I admitted.
“Everything will be alright, Doctor Sung is a professional, top of his field and I’ll be right there to assist him along with a whole team of skilled doctors.” She said, putting a hand on my back and guiding me to the taxi.
The rest of the morning went by a little chaotically once we reached the hospital, as I met a whole bunch of people in succession who would take care of me both during and after the surgery. We went through the prep-op procedures and sometimes in the later morning I found myself in a the catheterization lab, lying on an operating table under some massive scanner thing. Although I’d had to remove any jewelry, Malkie had magic’ed up some invisibility thing on the protective charm. Since it was made of leather and gems, I doubted it’d be a danger…
“Are you ready?” The anaesthetist asked, drawing me back to the moment. She was a young lady with an Irish surname, O’Connel or was it O’Connor?
“Ready as I’ll ever be…” I said with a gulp.
“I’ll put the mask on and I want you to close your eyes and count backward from ten.”
I didn’t really see the point, but I didn’t argue. She gently put the gas mask over my face and I breathed the gasses in, closing my eyes and doing the count.
Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven… Si—
The Shigeo-Kai must’ve been a no show because I awoke sometime later, my head feeling light and my thoughts jumbled. A huge blue thing approached me and I panicked for a moment before my brain decided to get working again.
“Calm down Annabelle.” Doctor Sij said in a soothing voice. “You’re in the recovery room. Everything went as planned.”
I tried to lift myself but she put one of her four fingered hand on my belly.
“It’s best if you remain lying down for a few hours to let the entry site heal. We’ll transfer you to a room where you friends will be there for you in a little while.”
I lied back down and closed my eyes. With the anesthetic’s effect still lingering, I didn’t think of impending doom, or the surgery. In fact, I didn’t of anything really. Just sort of floating in bed until the doctors came to give me a final checkup before sending me to a regular room.
A few minutes later, they wheeled me to a new room. Doctor Sij and Amber joined me through the short trip down a floor and into the new room. Síthmaith was already there along with her cat. Even though it wasn’t exactly hygienic, the staff didn’t even seem to notice them at all.
“How do you feel?” Amber asked once I was in bed again.
“Alright, I guess. It doesn’t hurt.”
“We’ve administered a light analgesic, there will most likely be strong bruising in the next few days, but that’ll be all. Avoid walking as much as possible for the next two days and avoid strenuous exercise for at least a month to let your heart heal. But overall, everything will be alright, there were no complications.”
“That’s great.” Amber said, giving me a light hug.
“Oh, just to be clear, that does include sexual activities.” The Doctor insisted.
“I… but… we… eh…” Amber babbled most likely to defend herself but at that moment she definitely couldn’t word. Instead she turned bright red and looked away.
I tried to say something too but the Doctor raised a hand and I stopped.
“You’ll find no judgement from me, but if you wanted to hide those things from me, you should wash off the other person’s scent.” She said with what I presumed was amusement at our embarrassment. “You have a good evening, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
We were left alone and thankfully dinner came quickly. It was inedible hospital food, but with the time I’d spent in psych wards and how hungry I was, I wolfed it down at record speed.
It wasn’t long after I finished eating that Malkie got up and looked toward the door, as if ready to pounce with its feline body, letting out a short growl.
“Malkie says he hears steps in the corridor, someone’s running toward here.”
Could Malkie and Síthmaith communicate telepathically? Admittedly it would’ve made sense… I didn’t have time to question as the steps stopped in front of the door. We all readied ourselves for whatever was coming, Amber even stepping in front of me to shield me.
The door opened and much to my surprise, it wasn’t one of the Shigeo-Kai or their goons but my own twin sister who came through… She took one look at me and practically charged me.
“Oh my god, you’re okay!”
“Emma? Is that you?” I mumbled as she wrapped her arms around me. She certainly felt real.
“Of course it’s me you dummy.” She said sitting by the bed. “Who else would it be?”
“I’ve had a stressful week…” I muttered. I looked at Síthmaith and gave a small nod toward Emma.
“She’s good.” Síthmaith answered. “Also, she can’t see or hear Malkie and I. Veil and all’ that.”
“Why didn’t you tell us you were getting fricking surgery?” Emma asked, drawing me back to her. “We had to learn from your doctor of all people…”
“I guess I didn’t want to worry you guys anymore than I already have. And beside, it was just a routine thing.”
“Annabelle, come on. You know you’re not some kind of burden to us.”
I just nodded, opting not to voice my feelings on that topic. “Are ma and pa with you?”
“No, it’s just me. But I’m here to stay for a while, even got a trip to Maine, I’ll just get a hotel when we get there.”
“That’s good.” I said with a smile. “By the way, this is my… friend Amber.” I said, pointing toward her. Thankfully Amber didn’t react to what I’d called her.
“Oh hey, sorry for ignoring you. I’m Emma.”
“I get it. Family first.” She answered with a shrug. “I’m Amber, obviously.”
In a way, Emma was just what I needed and what I didn’t need. It was nice to see her, talk and just for a few hours forget about the Shigeo-kai… But at the same time, there was a reason I hadn’t told my family… I couldn’t afford to let them be anywhere near me…
And with that Emma stayed with me, sitting on my bed and telling me all about her past three weeks until visiting hours were over with. After Emma left, it didn’t take long for me to fall asleep. Amber and Síthmaith had snuck back in thanks to her invisibility thing. I was the only one who slept that night, all thanks to the pain meds I was on. Well, Emma most likely slept too, but she didn’t know what was happening. I woke up in the middle of the night, the amulet Abraxas had given me smashing onto my chest like it had done on my way to Ravenhold.
“Annabelle?” Amber asked, jumping up from her chair.
“I’m okay.” I said, clutching the amulet as the second of the three crystal crumbled to dust. “They definitely know I’m here and alive.”
“We’ll be ready for them.”