Year One: Duquesa Bay
Chapter Seven


    As the Santa Conchita University clock tower chimes midnight, Erika von Meer conceals herself on the beach under a pile of washed up kelp. She gasps for breath as her transformation back from Darkfin remains incomplete

Erika: I... I need... to get...

    Struggling to her feet, she quickly collapses into unconsciousness.

    Inside her hospital room, Morrigan McBride is having flashbacks of the train wreck. Bits and pieces run across her mind as she remembers the force of the explosion knocking her into the river. Under water, she feels someone grabbing a hold of her, rushing towards the surface. Before blacking out, the last thing Morrigan sees is the green hand. The young woman opens her eyes to Gracie and Zach staring back at her.

Gracie: She's awake!

Zach: Hey there, Super Girl!

Morrigan: (Wincing) Coffee breath, guys

Zach: (Backing away) Sorry

Gracie: You scared the living shit out of us, Morri

Morrigan: I did a pretty good job of scaring myself as well

Zach: How are you feeling?

Morrigan: A little woozy - where am I?

Gracie: In "The Butcher Shop" - also known as Bay Valley Medical Center

Morrigan: That's nice

Zach: Don't worry, you have Stephanie Martel as your doc, she's the only decent one here

Gracie: Zach is her biggest fan - ever since he broke his arm roller blading, he's had a huge crush on her

Zach: Not true!

Gracie: Oh?

Zach: She's old enough to be my mom

Gracie: And when has this stopped you before?

Morrigan: (Trying to sit up) GUYS, this is all very interesting but OW

Zach: Sorry, we'll give our full attention back to you now

Morrigan: Thank you - is there anything seriously wrong with me?

Gracie: Besides having no common sense? - just cuts and bruises - they want to keep you overnight for observation

Morrigan: I did what I had to do because it was the right thing to do

Gracie: You sound like an oatmeal commercial, stop it!

Zach: Should we prepare her now?

Morrigan: Prepare me for what?

Gracie: The onslaught outside your door - Turner Gates is waiting to meet you

Morrigan: The station manager?

Gracie: Yes, the great Caesar himself wants to pay you a little visit... thank you for being a hero and jacking up overnight numbers

Morrigan: (Rubbing her head) That's all I need

Gracie: You have the phones ringing off the hook with concerned viewers - the hallway is stacking up with flowers and stuffed animals

Zach: It's giving me frightening flashbacks of my sisters' rooms

Gracie: Do we need to go there?

Zach: No

Gracie: Thought so - anyway, you're a savvy girl, Morri, you know what a self-serving opportunity this is for KCON - the question is... do you wanna play?

Morrigan: The small headache I had before is now turning into a throbbing monster!

Zach: (Thrusting his hands in his pocket) Speaking of monsters, I saw Kylee in the hall with Turner - she flew back on account of you, Lady McBride

Gracie: Yeah, my guess is she'll be doing one of her sickeningly sweet "interview the interviewer" type deals, usually reserved for sweeps

Morrigan: Aren't I blessed

Gracie: AND, since Doc Steffi is Gates' sister, he could order her to give you an enema until you talked

Morrigan: My life keeps getting better with each passing second

Zach: It's totally up to you, M&M - say you're too sick and tell them all to screw off... then give your exclusive interview to yours truly for the Daily Beacon!

Morrigan: HA - I'll tell you what, I will give you an exclusive quote for your story if you go and get me some hot chocolate

Zach: (Smiling) You're a cheap date - if I put marshmallows in it, will you mention my heroics as well?

Morrigan: Depends on how many marshmallows you put in, Mr. Isaacson

Zach: (Clapping his hands once and pointing) Sounds like a deal

    As Zach heads out the door, Morrigan beckons Gracie to her side

Gracie: You know, Morri, he's right, if you don't feel like doing the interview, don't do it

Morrigan: (Serious tone) That's the least of my concerns

Gracie: The doctors checked you out, you're going to be fine

Morrigan: Listen to me, Gracie... I saw the hand!

Gracie: I have no idea what you're talking about

Morrigan: The hand... THE HAND IN MY DREAM - who or whatever this creature is... rescued me

Gracie: Morrigan, Honey, you're tired, you've been through a lot tonight...

Morrigan: (Grabbing the dark-haired woman's shoulders) YOU'VE GOT TO BELIEVE ME

Gracie: SHHHHH, I do, I do - OK, what do you want me to do about it?

Morrigan: Go back to the van, run through the footage, you might have caught something on tape... please

Gracie: (Pulling back) Alright, I'll see what I can find

Morrigan: (Calmer) Thanks, Gracie... you know I'm not completely nuts, right?

Gracie: (Leaving) Yes, I do, now try to get some rest

Morrigan: (Looking at her hospital bed) That shouldn't be too hard


    Inside a utility closet, next to the Neonatal Intensive Care unit, Kylee Shepperton is welcomed back by her boss, Turner Gates.


Turner: (Increasing his rhythm) How many of them were there this time?

Kylee: I haven't cum yet but I'm sure it will be DOZENS of times - you are so the master!

Turner: (Growing angry) How many NETWORK MEN did you do this time, Kylee?

Kylee: (Shifting her position) Why do you ask me that, it only makes you jealous?

Turner: (Thumping her against the wall) I... AM... NOT... JEALOUS - HOW... MANY? - ANSWER... ME

Kylee: Only four and they weren't that good

Turner: Don't be patronizing

Kylee: OK, one was hung like a horse and he fucked me until I passed out - happy now?

    The older man nearly slaps the woman across the face but stops and quickly withdraws from her.

Kylee: (Cool) Don't you even THINK about hitting me, Mr. Gates, or I will make your life a living nightmare - I'm sure your lovely wife and family would enjoy seeing pictures of your dick hanging out of my mouth

Turner: (Pulling up his pants) Did you accomplish everything in New York?

Kylee: (Fixing her skirt and hair) They agreed to all of your terms - one of them will be flying in to "seal the deal" this week

Turner: Fine, meet me in front of McBride's room in five minutes

Kylee: (Watching him leave) Fine

    The shapely woman takes out her hot pink cell phone and dials.

Kylee: Hi, I'm back - I just finished with the Old Goat and I had to deal with four losers this afternoon - I need a REAL man tonight, are you up for me? - great, give me an hour, bye

    As Kylee leaves the room, she walks down the hall and passes Captain Phelps and a drenched Lieutenant Fiore in the emergency room.

Kylee: Well now, if it isn't the Dynamic Duo of Duquesa Bay! - what happened Anita, did your girlfriend try to drown you again?

Anita: (Shivering in a blanket) Shut up, Kylee

Kylee: (Winking) You know you want me - hello Craig, is there a story here?

Craig: Not really, Lieutenant Fiore thought she saw a civilian in the water and attempted a rescue... it turned out to be... ahem, a log

Kylee: (Beaming directly at a scowling Anita) Excuse me, I didn't quite hear that last part?


Kylee: (Over-the-top laughter) I didn't realize you were a tree hugger as well - watch out for splinters!

    Anita starts to go after Kylee but is held back by Craig.

Kylee: (Taking off) Goodnight, Captain

Craig: Ms. Shepperton

Anita: (Sitting back a little dizzy) That PUTA is going to get hers one day, you mark my words!

Craig: Take it easy there - haven't you had enough excitement for one day? - you have a slight concussion

Anita: (Rubbing her head) Don't remind me

    Awakening once more, Erika realizes that she still has not completely changed back to human form. Making sure no one is around, she slips into the sewers, heading towards downtown Santa Conchita.

Erika: I have... no other choice

    As Zach walks towards Morrigan's room with the hot chocolate, he suddenly pauses and sniffs the air.

Zach: I smell sex and watermelon lipgloss... HELLO, KYLEE

Kylee: (Strutting up behind him) Enjoy the smell, Eyes, because it's as close as you'll ever get

Zach: Thank God

Kylee: Liar

    As the two are about to launch into a verbal exchange, Turner comes over.

Turner: (Putting his arm around Kylee) Zachary

Zach: Turner

Turner: That was an amazing little piece you did in yesterday's paper

Zach: (Glancing at the strawberry blonde) You're doing an amazing little piece yourself, Mr. Gates

    Turner just smiles as Kylee looks offended.

Turner: We're about to go in and interview my new star reporter on her ordeal

Zach: (Protective) You might want to ask Morrigan if she's up to it, first

Turner: (Taking the hot chocolate out of Zach's hands) Of course

    The tall man with thinning auburn hair knocks and enters the room simultaneously, as Kylee and Zach follow.

Turner: (Handing her the drink) Ms. McBride, how are you doing? - I'm Turner Gates, the KCON station manager - you gave us all quite the scare earlier

Morrigan: (Extending her hand) Nice to finally meet you, sir, sorry about that

Turner: Hey, don't be - you had viewers glued to their sets - hell of a way to start your first day

Zach: And we both saved a couple of lives

Kylee: Does a dog count?

Zach: I think so!

Turner: That's true - good job, both of you - but I hope you don't think you're getting a bonus so soon, Morgan

Morrigan: MORRIGAN... and I already received my bonus when the man thanked me in the ambulance

    Kylee leans against the wall and rolls her eyes.

Turner: I know, I know - just joking - so, are you up to getting that "thank you" again on tape?

Morrigan: Well, I suppose...

    Before she can finish her sentence, Turner is out the door.

Zach: I'll let you two ladies get acquainted, I need to take a leak

Morrigan: Thanks for the hot chocolate, Zach

Zach: (Hurrying out) Sure thing!

    Pulling out an emery board, the statuesque woman saunters over to the smaller woman's bedside, filing a chipped nail.

Kylee: So, what do you think of Duquesa Bay?

Morrigan: Um, I'm not sure yet, I've only been here a day and I've basically been in my car, Gracie's apartment, and the hospital... oh, and the river is very pretty

Kylee: (Still filing) Hmm

    There is a long moment of silence.

Kylee: I read your resume - over a half-dozen awards - very impressive

Morrigan: Thank you - I understand you were Miss Alabama

Kylee: AND second runner-up to Miss America

Morrigan: Hmm

    The taller woman stops filing and looks directly at Morrigan.

Kylee: Are you interested in the anchor chair?

Morrigan: I'm totally happy being a field reporter - I'm not one for sitting on my backside, reading off of a teleprompter

Kylee: That's nice - and what do you think of Turner?

Morrigan: I think he's my boss, that's it

Kylee: (Half smile) Good answer

    Kylee comes closer to Morrigan's side.

Kylee: You have your territory, I have mine - stay off of mine and we'll get along just fine!

Morrigan: Hey, you made a rhyme!

    Before Kylee can respond, the room suddenly erupts with commotion as Turner returns with a camera crew, the man Morrigan saved, Pete the dog, Zach, and a visibly upset Gracie.

Turner: (Handing Kylee a mike) Let's get rolling - McBride, try to look a little more distressed

    Morrigan gives him an evil glare.

Turner: Perfect!

    After the interview is finished, everyone exits except Gracie and Zach.

Morrigan: What's wrong, Fingers?

Gracie: They're gone

Morrigan: What?

Gracie: Someone stole my tapes

Zach: Are you sure you didn't misplace them?

Gracie: If you say that one more time, Eyes, I'm going to SMASH you - someone stole my fucking tapes - the segment footage is all there but the b-roll, GONE

Morrigan: Unbelievable

Gracie: (Suddenly cheering up) BUT, the good news is that I always make back up copies of everything I shoot and whoever took the originals wasn't aware of that


Gracie: (Patting Morrigan's arm) You get some rest, Missy, and I'll be back in the morning with what I find out

Morrigan: Thanks

    Zach makes a funny face at Morrigan as the two leave the room.

Morrigan: (Rolling on her side) Finally, maybe I can get some sleep

    Seconds later, a nurse enters the room and goes over to the exhausted woman.

Nurse: Ms. McBride, since this is a semiprivate room, we will be wheeling in another patient shortly

Morrigan: Excellent

    The nurse draws the partitioning curtain as Lieutenant Fiore enters with Captain Phelps. Morrigan pretends she is sound asleep as Craig helps Anita settle in.

Anita: I DON'T need to be here - this is ridiculous

Craig: It's just a precaution, relax and get some rest

Anita: RELAX? - I don't think I can ever relax again - she's REAL, Craig, Aleta Oscura is REAL

Craig: (Looking past the curtain to a pseudo sleeping Morrigan) Shh... quiet

Anita: (Whispering) I had her in my grasp - then she slapped away my knife like it was nothing

Craig: Did you land any blows?

Anita: Those scales on her are like a suit of armor - it was like I was punching a linoleum-covered floor, plus she was way stronger than me

Craig: Did she try to communicate with you at all?

Anita: By trying to drown me, I think she was pretty much saying "fuck you, Anita"

Craig: What exactly happened?

Anita: She grabbed me by the neck and held me under water to where I started blacking out, I thought for sure I was a goner - next thing I know, I am being flung across the river, over 15 yards, and end up crashing onto the shore

Craig: (Scratching his mustache) She could have killed you... why didn't she?

Anita: Good question

    On a darkened side street next to the hospital, Erika slinks out of a manhole and carefully makes her way inside the building without being noticed. She goes to the basement laundry and finds some surgical scrubs to wear.

Erika: (Dizzy) I need to rest, first

    Spotting some clean linens, Dr. von Meer wraps herself in a blanket and curls up in the corner.

Erika: Why, dammit, why?

    Deep inside the caverns of the Kiyomi Mountains, a figure cloaked in a hooded, white velvet robe motions to another in a royal blue one.

Figure: (Closing an elaborate wooden chest) It's time to summon the others


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