The crackling from the fire died down as its fuel was slowly consumed. The stench of burning flesh singed my nostrils and I fought the urge to wretch. I couldn’t believe that Edna was gone.
Suddenly, the incriminating nature of my position struck me. I was in Edna’s house, alone with her burnt corpse laying in the large grate of the fire like a beacon pointing to my guilt. I stood shakily, gripping the couch beside me for balance, but it was too late to leave. Blue and red lights flashed across the windows, but I was still too stunned for panic.
Edna was gone. I stood in the smoke for a moment, unable to remember where I was going.
A heavy pounding at the door pulled my from my dissociative reverie. I stepped carefully toward the foyer and pulled the door open, blinking in the sudden onslaught of daylight. How long had I been here?
“Ma’am,” a police officer began, his hair shining raven-black in the white sun. I raised my gaze slowly, taking in his boots and uniform, his gun belt, his glimmering nameplate reading “M. Emerson,” and, finally, his dark brown eyes peering from his hooded brow.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” M. Emerson asked, extending his hard to me and if he could hold the weight pressing me down.
I bit down on my lip, feeling blood break the surface. “No… No, I don’t think I am.”
Then everything was nothing.
I awoke slowly, taking in the beeps and smell of disinfectant that filled the air around me. I am in a hospital. Muffled voices came closer and clearer, then passed into obscurity again. I heard curtains around me shift and continued to feign sleep. Several pairs of feet filed into the area surrounding my bed. A man’s voice spoke softly, briefing the other individuals on my condition. He had to be the teacher.
After a lot of medical jargon I didn’t fully understand, the man asked, “What makes this woman so unique?” Fabrics rubbed against each other swiftly as each medical student’s hand sprung into the air. A girl spoke, her voice pitched too high to be even remotely soothing. “Her brain activity is significantly higher than we usually see. This could suggest mental illness or a brain injury.”
“Good, Jen. What is the treatment plan?”
Jen spoke again. God, her voice was grating. “She will be kept here for observation and testing.”
“Correct. Jen, move on with the other and see to the next patient. I want to check this woman’s vitals again.”
Curtains shifted again as the pairs of feet made their exits. The man lowered himself into a chair next to me, his knees cracking with the effort.
He sat there for a moment, his steady breathing making it difficult for me to keep my own the same way; it was unnerving. Finally, he spoke, sending chills down my spine. “I know what you are, Jane Doe. Now I get to see what you can do.”