Wendy stirred, opening her eyes, she was blinded by white; squinting, she looked around. Her vision slowly adjusted and she shifted to look down, with a light moan. There was a pulse between her eyes. She was in some kind of hospital room. Where … Was all of that a nightmare?
Groaning, she hoisted herself up with her elbows, sliding back to the headboard as she rubbed between her eyes. She shivered slightly as the blankets dropped below her chest. Rubbing between her eyes, she focused on her surroundings.
There were several empty beds around her in a straight line along the wall, and a large transparent window showed a bustling host of people beyond. They all wore lab coats and were playing with lab equipment and studying tables or laptops. She then noticed the IV in her arm to her right. Was I in an accident?
A middle-aged Asian man entered through a sturdy looking door; he looked a little tired as he approached. Wendy centered on the door as she heard it automatically lock with a strange whizzing sound. She swallowed as he sat on the bed to the left of her.
He sighed as he studied her reaction. “Wendy, feeling better?”
Clearing her throat, she found it fairly dry. “I’m a little thirsty.” She coughed. “Where am I?”
“You’re in a treatment center. We have some things we need to discuss.” He scratched at his receding hairline.
Worry started churning her stomach. “Am I sick? Where’s my mom?”
Clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth a moment, the man breathed through his teeth before expelling another breath. “You aren’t sick, but we need to ask you some questions. Can you answer them for me?” Wendy frowned but nodded. “What do you know about monsters?”
Brow furrowing, Wendy shook her head. “What—do you mean?”
“I mean—you were found being carried off by a werewolf, and we need to know why. We pulled your state records, and it seems like you’re surprisingly active for a teen, you’ve worked several jobs. We’ve talked to a few of your employers, and they all say you work hard. You get decent grades in school and don’t have a fabulous social life—odd for a teen as hardworking as you.”
“I’m—really confused,” Wendy stared down at the plain white shirt they’d likely given her. “I was being … Lori…” Her face went white as the scene flashed before her eyes. She leaned to her right, coughing as vomit shot up her throat. Hacking to the side of the bed, she clutched at her collarbone, trying to get ahold of herself. Tears gathered at the corner of her eyes as she trembled. “Lori’s dead … he—he killed her…”
The man got up and started rubbing her back comfortingly. “Yes—I did look over a report of a girl named Lori. She was killed near the place we found you. Did you know her?”
Wiping at her lips, Wendy didn’t know where to clean her hand; the man held up her blanket. Sweeping it across her mouth and rubbing her hands against it, she tried to clear her throat. “No—we weren’t close—but I knew … I knew Lori … why…” She felt her tears coming back. “Why’d he do that? She was so hurt…”
Breathing a heavy sigh, the man sniffed sharply. “Who knows why monsters do what they do. So—take your time, but—does that mean you were at the scene?”
Wendy’s quakes escalated as she nodded. “I—they—they broke into my home and—took me … is my mom alright?” she asked, terror gripping her as she pressed a fist against her chest.
Sucking on his lower lip with a nod, the man said, “Yes, yes, she’s fine … My name is Doctor Joel Ang. I’m sure your head is reeling with all of those terrible memories, but we need to know why you were there. Why did they take you?”
Wendy went silent as she remembered the scene. Sora … Kari said Eric wanted to eat her. Why is this happening? “Is Sora alright?”
Joel licked his lips. “Yes—hmm—that’s one name that did crop up on our investigation—what do you know about Sora Moore?”
Wendy looked down at her lap, swallowing with difficulty. Sora’s a monster, right? He asked about a werewolf … a werewolf was trying to save me or—or maybe trying to take me somewhere to eat me? A tremor ran down her frame. Sora was with her dad … Why did all of that happen? Eric was that big guy, and he was—like their leader…
“Please, Wendy. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on so we can best help you.”
She tucked her lip under as she glanced at the man. Am I giving up Sora? What if she’s in trouble with these people … who even are they?
“Can—can I talk to my mom?”
The man took a deep breath through his nose. “She isn’t here right now, but we have talked with her, and she’s aware of the situation. We can’t let you leave until we know the full scope of these circumstances, your mother understood that and gave her consent. I know it might take a little bit, but we really need to understand more about that incident. Why were you being taken away from the scene by a werewolf?”
Wendy shifted a little, rubbing her right shoulder uncomfortably. “I … my mom…” I don’t know if I can trust these people … why do they know about monsters? Should I tell them about Sora … I mean, it was a little scary what she did to my mom, but she just wanted to help me … she’s still my friend…
Joel took a deep breath before rubbing his eyes, slowly moving to his temples, whispering, “I didn’t want to … okay, I’m going to show you what kind of situation you’ve landed in.”
“What?” Wendy squeaked, gripping her shoulder.
The man motioned at the glass. One of the women noticed his waves and grabbed a tablet off one of the counters. She briskly walked in and handed it to him, using the card attached to her breast pocket against a magnetic pad to exit the room without a word. He flipped it around and traced a design to unlock it. Playing with the screen for a second, he played a video, holding it up for her to see.
Wendy’s breath caught as she saw her mother. She could see their small kitchen in the background, a few shards of the broken door evident on the floor from when the werewolves had broken in. Her mom was sitting on a chair with two men sitting across from her. Wendy watched the video play with held breath.
“So,” her mother said, “you’re telling me werewolves kidnapped my daughter. That wasn’t some crazy guy in a suit, eh?” She spat on the floor. “Bet it was all that brats fault. I told her to stay away from that rich girl.”
One of the men played with a tablet in front of him. “Are you referring to Sora Moore? We’ve been looking into her recently.”
“Yeah,” her mother sneered. “That’s the girl—oh, monster. Yeah, she’s one too … did some kind of mind control on me and made it so I couldn’t even tell my daughter to clean up her room.” She swore, face twisting in contempt. “You know, she was able to release her magic or whatever you want to call it over the phone … over the,” she licked her lips, shaking her head. “Can you imagine what she could do with powers like that … no wonder she’s rich.”
One of the men was typing across his tablet, likely documenting her words. “So, Sora’s the redhead with fox ears and a tail? Correct.”
“Hmm, I didn’t know about the ears and tail part. She didn’t look like she had some, but I wouldn’t be surprised. So, she’s a fox demon or something?”
“Interesting,” the other man stated as he scratched his nose. “You’re sure you didn’t see a tail or ears?”
Her mom shook her head. “Nope, glad I didn’t. Wish I never see her again … if only my daughter would stay clear of her … who knows, maybe that devil mind-controlled her into liking her.” Wendy stiffened at her mother’s accusation, beginning to breathe rapidly as her heart quickened.
“You’re saying that Sora cares for Wendy?” one of the men asked slowly.
Her mother shrugged. “I mean, I guess. I don’t know why, but all she wanted to talk about was Wendy and how I suck as a mom. Heh, sometimes I wish I never had a kid … it was all Dustin’s idea, and he went and skipped out.” Tears gathered in Wendy’s eyes as her mother continued, “Sometimes I think he had the right idea.”
“Is that right…” one of the men said, brow lifting and glancing over at his partner. “Then, how about this? We have an excellent program for kids and—it’s rare to find kids that have, let’s just say, monster friends. In exchange for us taking care of her, we can offer you a settlement of, hmm, somewhere around four grand a month. There are certain exclusive parties that you’d have access to with this program as well. I mean, your daughter would be enrolled in quite the private program that is handsomely accommodated.”
Snot started dripping down Wendy’s nose as her mother leaned back, humming with interest. “So, Wendy would be able to go off and do whatever with your guys’ program and I’d be free to live my life … with four thousand a month and free parties?”
The man nodded with a pleasant smile. “Yes, and we have seats we can reserve for you on any sort of airline if you so choose, Delta is preferred, though. Just in case you’d like a vacation somewhere; I hear Florence, Italy is nice this time of year.”
“So, what do I need to do to sign us up?” her mom asked with a gleam in her eyes.
“We have the paperwork here, just need your signature. It’s basically an adoption. All those perks and, like you said, you’d be free, and she’d be a part of our very exclusive program. I mean, if you want, I could have you on a plane to Italy within the hour, I’d even throw in a cleaning service so you’d return to a spotless apartment. We’ve already taken care of talking with the owner and smoothed over all the ruckus.”
“Wow, you guys work pretty fast! You’re some kind of secret government monster department or something?”
One of the men smirked with a sharp intake of air. “Let’s keep everything on the need-to-know. Just sign these papers, it’s all legalized and court-sanctioned. A legal adoption, the perks we mentioned are all within the settlement.”
Her mother nodded with a beaming smile. “Give me a pen!” Wendy’s nose burned and her chest shook while she watched her mother sign her life over to strangers.
“Why…” she whimpered. “I did … everything … why…”
Joel shook his head tiredly. “Look, you’ve basically been given over to an adoption agency … that doesn’t let go of their children. There are many avenues for you to take within this program, but you need to cooperate with us. Worst case … you could be given to some cartel for payment on taking responsibility for some terrorist attack a monster committed.”
Wendy’s face paled, and she felt like throwing up again. “I … I don’t … Why is this happening to me? I tried to be good…” Tears leaked down her face as she trembled.
“Just tell us what you know, and maybe we’ll see if we can give you a decent life, but it all depends on your honesty and how you respond to the organization.”
Wendy tried to sniff back her tears, but they wouldn’t stop. She looked down at the floor; she felt cold, her chest hurt. My mom sold me … like I was some golden ticket to riches … I wasn’t even worth that much. Four thousand a month with a few benefits … that’s what I’m worth? Mom … why?
“Welcome to the SPDC.”
It took several minutes for her to collect herself, all future goals she had were smothered. She didn’t know what the future held but knew if she didn’t give these people what they wanted then she’d be sent to live as a slave in some backwater country. Vision unfocused, she asked, “What do I need to do?”
Joel scratched the back of his head with a little irritation. “Ack, I didn’t want to be the one who told you all this … we need you to get to your Vulpes friend, Sora. Once the organization’s research teams found out you had some form of connection to her, you were a target. Tell me what you know about the incident that night, and then we can introduce you to your living space. I won’t sugarcoat it; it’ll seem like a prison. You can’t go out, and you’ll have an armed guard around you. If your friend acts up … you’ll come into play. Perhaps an example would need to be set to show that they’re serious; a finger or toe, depends on her or the person on guard.”
Wendy’s nose started to burn as she broke down into tears again. This is all because I was friends with Sora? Why … How is this fair?