Over an hour before Dawn with the park deserted, even the animals were quiet. No joggers could be seen making use of any of the trails. The clear night sky exposed the full moon shining brightly. Its beams illuminated a small woman lying behind a bench. Her pale skin and dark mahogany brown hair glistened, as her breathing grew uneasy. If anyone had happened by, they would have noticed two things about her: her presence in the park at such an hour and her nakedness.
The woman moaned and shifted. She placed a hand to her head and pushed up to a sitting position. Taking a deep breath, she opened her eyes and looked around. Obviously disoriented, she tried to recognize where she was. Finally looking up and gazing upon the moon, she groaned.
“Oh, hell!” She stood quickly and broke into a sprint. She ran faster than most animals, and it only took a few minutes to reach the back of her apartment building. She bit her lip and looked around before jumping up to catch the fire escape ladder. She quickly climbed the two flights to her apartment, where her open window awaited her. Once inside, she closed the window and locked it.
Nada Berch grasped the end of the warm sheet and fanned the air in front of her. The sheet spread out across the bed before slowly lowering to its surface. Nada smoothed it down and then tucked the hem beneath the mattress. She glanced at the clock beside the bed. Its digital readout displayed the time of 1:16 PM.
Nada knew she had to get ready for her shift at the hospital soon, where she worked as an ER nurse. She sighed, as she looked back at the bed. She had always loved the smell of clean sheets. She stretched out on her stomach and buried her face, inhaling deeply. Nada sighed as she rolled over and stared up at the ceiling. Normally, the poster tacked there made her smile, but this time she just stared at it. She had hoped that doing the laundry would keep her mind off the night before, but it hadn’t worked.
“Good morning, Sunshine.” She said with a small amount of sarcasm, knowing it was afternoon and wouldn’t be such a good one. The vampire in the poster wore the same outfit as on the television show named after him. Dressed like her dark mood, he wore a black trench coat over black pants and shirt. She preferred to wear that color as well, though she had more in common with him than that.
Nada groaned and looked away from the ceiling, as she tried to remember the night before. Damn the full moon, she thought. One day she would get caught running around the city naked and never work another day in her life. Nada did not want to spend the rest of her life locked in a cage or worse. Or worse scared her the most.
She sat up and stared down at her pale shapely legs. She was a very small woman at just over five feet in height. Her size was very deceptive; however, since her strength would rival most men. Nada looked at her hands and stretched them out in front of her. She looked from her well-groomed nails around to her palms. She had noticed her missing ring when she woke and wondered where it would eventually be found. Her necklace was missing as well, and Nada’s hand rose to her neck and absently traced her collarbones with her thumb and middle finger. She had already checked her living room for the jewelry before remembering she had worked the night before. Nada took a deep breath and sighed.
Deciding she had wasted enough time, she headed for the kitchen. She pulled open the refrigerator and reached for a container. Her hand stopped less than an inch in front of it, and Nada realized she didn’t want it.
She closed the fridge and leaned against it. She hadn’t seen her kill in the park that morning, but there must have been one. She knew of no other reason why she wouldn’t need the contents of the container. Ordinarily, she always started her day by drinking a cupful. Nada closed her eyes and again tried to remember the night before. What animal had been her victim? She knew it couldn’t be human, since her own morals wouldn’t allow that. After all, she herself was human. At least, she still hoped so. She ignored the voice that said she hadn’t been human the night before.
Still feeling disoriented, she decided a run was called for. She had plenty of time before work, since her shift didn’t start for over an hour. As Nada headed outside, she smiled. A hard run and then a nice long shower were just what she needed.
Nada had almost ten minutes to spare when she checked into her ward at the hospital. After stowing her personal things in her locker, she headed to the restroom. She always found it hard to deal with the first day after a full moon. Normally, they didn’t take her by surprise, but that night she had been distracted. At least she could remember that she had been working. There had been a terrible multiple car crash, and they asked her to stay late to help.
As she stared into the mirror above the sink, Nada’s breathing became irregular. She suddenly remembered she hadn’t felt well that night and had gone to the restroom to splash water on her face. At first she thought the sight of so much blood troubled her, but she looked at her hands cupping the water and understood. Her fingers blurred in front of her eyes, as she changed. Her last human thought was of looking out the window and seeing the full moon, oh how could I forget?
Nada angrily wiped a hand across her face, suddenly feeling stupid. Maybe she belonged in one of those cages that she feared. She forced herself to calm down. She now knew where she had lost her necklace and ring.
She looked around the floor of the restroom and then checked each stall. Nada finally found her ring in the last one, even though she couldn’t remember going into the stall. The last stall also had a window, so she must have moved closer to it. She slid the ring onto her right hand and continued to look for her necklace. Her gaze fell on the trashcan, and she cringed. Her uniform had to be somewhere, also. Had she still been in the state of mind to hide it? She hesitantly walked over to the can, praying that the janitor hadn’t come in yet. After she had taken a deep breath, she opened the lid. She sighed in relief, when she saw all the trash. The restroom must have been cleaned just before she had been there the night before. Nada pushed aside paper towels and tissues then sighed as she saw her nametag staring back at her from the bottom of the can. She grabbed it and pulled. Her white nurse’s uniform and broken necklace came with it. Groaning, she knelt down to pick up the ruined chain and threw it back into the trash. She should stop buying necklaces, since they were too fragile.
Nada made a quick stop at her locker before heading to the main desk. She shoved the crumpled uniform in and slammed the door. She leaned against the locker and took a deep breath. She tried not to think about what would have happened had another woman walked into the restroom during her change. Nada looked away from the ceiling and stared down the hallway. Due to her panic, she would now be late for her shift. Used to Nada relieving her early, Mia would be impatient.
“Hell, girl, what took you so long?” Mia asked as soon as she saw Nada approaching. “I got a hot date that I need to get ready for.”
Nada smiled at her co-worker and looked at her watch. “How hot can it be to start so early?”
“Girl, please, I need several hours to get ready! You know I gotta look cute!” She finished with an exaggerated emphasis on cute, and Nada’s smile got broader as she watched her. Mia, an attractive dark-skinned woman in her mid-twenties, always had an entertaining story to tell. Nada enjoyed her sense of humor and liked to relieve her early; however, she wasn’t currently in the mood for a story. She hoped the day wouldn’t be busy and took a deep breath. If her normal luck held, there would be at least two emergencies. She would just have to concentrate and stop thinking about the previous night.
“Well, you still have plenty of time.” Nada replied with an apologetic smile. “ I had to make a pit stop.”
“What are you, a race car driver?” Mia asked as she signed her last few reports. She chuckled to herself, as she handed the duty roster over to Nada. “Well, it’s all yours, girlfriend. Have fun.” She turned to leave but paused. “You are going with us on Friday, right?”
Nada nodded as she looked over the log. “Yeah, I’ll be there.”
“You better! Don’t make me come get you.” Mia winked and walked off. Nada looked up and watched her with envy. Mia had the luxury of being a normal woman who didn’t have to worry about changing. Nada could no longer say that. She looked at her hand that held the pen and again wondered what had happened during the full moon.
As her hand shook, she couldn’t control the shiver that ran down her spine. She dropped the pen and looked in the direction Mia had gone. It would change in a few hours, but Nada currently had the ward to herself. When the roads got packed due to rush hour, so would the corridors. She knew that if she walked down that corridor and took a left, she would see many people.
Busy no matter the hour, the emergency room was where she had helped out the night before. Since she made sure she wouldn’t be working during the full moon, she should have known better. She had been leaving when she heard the commotion from the ER and took that left, instead of going right to the parking lot. Total mayhem had erupted, and she had been asked to help. She had been able to do just that for almost two hours. Nada sighed as she remembered telling the nurse on duty that she had to leave, since she felt ill. The nurse had smiled and thanked her for all her help. Relieved that she hadn’t just freaked out and ran from the room, Nada wouldn’t have to explain any strange behavior. She had calmly left the ER and headed for the restroom in her ward.
Try as she might, Nada could not remember what happened after she had splashed water on her face and began to change. She only had patches of memory after that. From previous experiences, she knew she would never remember what she did during a full moon. The first few times it happened, she had been terrified. She thought she had lost time and couldn’t understand why she would wake up naked in a strange place. Sometimes, she even woke up in her own living room, but it took several months before she figured it out. By then, she discovered she could change any time she wanted to. Only during the full moon she couldn’t control it.
Nada wondered what animal she had killed the night before. Was it new or one that she had already fed upon? She knew that given enough time, she would realize what animal had been her victim. After all, the poor thing had become a part of her.
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Cover models originally created by Farconville at Freedigitalphotos.net