Cadence had no idea how long she had been asleep or even how long it had been since her discovery of Elizabeth, but she did know that she wasn't in the hospital where hunters usually went for their wounds. She had woken up a few times since she had returned to the Agency, but she was too delirious to really take it all in. Now, for the first time, her mind was clearer and she took in her surroundings.
The room wasn't white and sterile-looking, as most rooms in the hospital were. There were tools and instruments that didn't look like surgical instruments. The only thing that really seemed normal was the IV dripping into her arm filled with what she could only assume was pain medication, antibiotics, and whatever else was deemed necessary to be given to her intravenously.
She shifted slightly as she tried to sit up some, her side throbbing despite the pain medication. From somewhere in the shadows she thought she heard someone breathing.
"Hello?" She found her voice to be surprisingly scratchy. She must have been out longer than she thought. "Is anyone there?" She stared into the shadows, hoping someone would step out and ease her mind about where she was.
After a few moments of silence, a figure stepped out of the shadows. He was wearing a lab coat, but it wasn't the white lab coats the doctors wore. It was the light gray color the scientists were given. The scientists that experimented on the catches the hunters brought in.
It took Cadence a moment to realize the difference, but when she did she felt her heart all but stop. "What the hell is going on?" Her eyes narrowed at the realization that a scientist was standing in her room.
The man was surprisingly tall, but very skinny and lithe-looking. He had somewhat shaggy-looking hair that reached down just past his chin, and was a mud-color of brown. His brown eyes were framed by thin, wire-framed glasses. Cadence almost didn't see them, but there was a glare from the fluorescent lights above them that reflected off his lenses when he moved.
"Try not to get too worked up, Miss Abner." His voice was calm and flat, almost monotone, as he spoke. "You're here for observation until the next full moon."
"Observation." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. She had to repeat it to herself before she understood what he was saying. "But, why?"
"The werewolf virus that turned Elizabeth is of a different strain than anything we have ever encountered. We need to keep you here to see if our vaccine will keep you from turning or not."
The reality set in slowly as Cadence's eyes moved from the scientist to the instruments behind him. Those instruments, she realized, were in case she turned and became too out of control. There were vials upon vials of what looked like tranquilizers, electrical stun guns, and a number of blades and guns meant to kill her if she got too out of hand.
She shifted carefully, trying not to jostle her shoulder or side. "Before we continue this conversation, do you mind telling me your name, since you already know mine."
The scientist seemed uncomfortable, and Cadence wasn't sure if it was social anxiety or anxiety related to being in the same room as a possibly volatile werewolf.
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other before pushing his glasses back up to the bridge of his nose. "Just call me Doctor."
"Fine, Doctor," she paused, staring him down. "How long until the next full moon?"
"Well, you've been asleep for only a few hours since you were brought in. We did our best to treat your wounds, but until we know if you'll turn or not, we won't continue treatment."
"First of all, you didn't answer my question. Second of all, clearly you don't value my life as much as a real doctor would." Cadence shifted more so that she was sitting up straight and pulled the covers off, letter her left arm hang limply as she stood by her bed. She instantly regretted it, her head feeling light. She nearly stumbled, but the scientist was there to grab her arm and keep her from falling. His touch was surprisingly gentle as he held her right arm, keeping her balanced.
"You should really be back in bed," he said, sounding concerned now.
"I'm sorry, but I've been unconscious for hours. I have to pee." She didn't even bother disguising the frustration in her voice as she stared the scientist down with narrowed eyes. "You can either help me to the bathroom or change linens, which I'm sure they didn't teach you to cope with when you went to school."
He motioned for her to start walking, and made sure that her IV pulled along with her at a decent pace to keep up with her. "You'd be surprised what I learned in school," he muttered, but Cadence didn't feel like talking anymore.
She felt overly exposed in the thin gown they had put her in. Thankfully it closed in the back, but it still felt like she was naked despite that. "Is the next full moon tonight?"
Cadence fell silent at his brief answer. So, tonight would be her night of reckoning. What happened if she changed? If she didn't change, could she go back to a normal life working for the Agency? In the five years she had worked there, she had never heard of anyone having to be observed for this reason. The vaccine was supposed to cover every strain of each virus, and variations had never been encountered. Or at least, she hadn't heard of anyone encountering a different strain of one.
As Cadence took care of her business in the bathroom, she couldn't help but sigh. Great job, you trailblazer. You could become a freak of nature. That was the last thing she wanted, but if she was to become a werewolf, maybe it was better it happened here, within the confines of the Agency's lab. They had the equipment to handle it, and the scientists were well prepared to handle it. Maybe they would even find a cure.
You're being too optimistic. Face it, if you changed into a werewolf, they'd probably kill you before any research got done. The pessimism floated in her mind as she stood in front of the mirror. Her eyes looked hollow, her body held stiffly to keep from hurting herself more. "You can do this…"
A tentative knock came from outside the door to the bathroom. "Miss Abner, are you alright?"
"I'm fine, and call me Cadence. No one has called me Miss Abner since high school."
She shuffled to the door, her right arm, the one that still worked, pulled the IV with her. She opened the door and the scientist extended his hand to help her back to her bed. He helped her climb back into bed and pulled the sheets up around her.
"Try to get some sleep Miss… Cadence." He caught himself and Cadence noticed a brief, embarrassed smile flit across his lips as he corrected himself. "With any luck at all, you'll wake up in the morning and you'll still be human."
Cadence closed her eyes, feeling her limbs heavy. That wasn't a reassuring thought, but she did her best to push it aside. Please don't let me change tonight. Please…