Year One: Duquesa Bay
Chapter Seven

"A New Day"

Santa Conchita Hospital

    In the early morning hours, Erika awakens from her nap in the hospital basement and, still disguised in surgical scrubs, sneaks into a medical supply room.

Erika: (Rummaging through a cabinet) I have got to order more of these supplies so I won't have to keep doing this

    She finds a bag containing the right amount of saline, potassium, and other minerals she needs and opens an IV line on herself. As she monitors the drip, she immediately feels better and notices the fins and scales receding.

Erika: (Sighing) About time!

    As the blonde woman runs her fingers through her hair while continuing to receive the nutrients in the other arm, she ponders the events of last night.

Erika in the Hospital (by Alex Amezcua)

Erika: I don't understand - my behavior pattern has deviated drastically - why did I bother to save that McBride girl and why didn't I just kill that pain in the ass Fiore?

    Erika sits cross-legged on the floor and begins to meditate as the last of the solution enters her vein. Suddenly, Dr. Stephanie Gates Martel, an elegant woman with a bent nose, enters the room.

Dr. Stephanie: (Calling back to a nurse) Room 346 needs an EKG, I'll get some...

    She is startled by the site of Erika in the corner.

Dr. Stephanie: Hold on, I'll be right back!

    She calmly closes the door behind her and walks over to the now standing Dr. von Meer.

Dr. Stephanie: (Silent at first) Erika... you have 10 seconds to talk me out of calling security

Erika: I'm sorry, Stephanie, I know how bad this looks but I needed help

Dr. Stephanie: Why didn't you come to the emergency room?

Erika: You know my family would find out if I did that - they don't need to be worried unnecessarily

Dr. Stephanie: (Studying the young woman's face) Should they be worried?

Erika: (Defensive) NO, I went for a swim in the ocean yesterday, pushed myself too much and became dehydrated - I ignored the symptoms because of the spill last night, I had a lot of work to do - this morning, I blacked out for a little bit, knew what was wrong, so I came over here to fix it... end of story

Dr. Stephanie: If you didn't want to go to the emergency room, why didn't you just come see me?

Erika: I thought you'd be too busy

Dr. Stephanie: (Suddenly softening) Honey, I'm never too busy for you - I think of you as one of my own children - for Godsakes, Erika, I delivered you!

    Taking the needle out of her arm, the younger woman smiles at the thought of the often-told family story about the disastrous von Meer & Martel yachting vacation in the South Seas.

Dr. Stephanie: (Taking out her stethoscope) Let me just check you over real quick

Erika: (Hesitant at first but allowing her to do so) I'm better now

Dr. Stephanie: You're still palpitating and your blood pressure is too low, I want you to stay here

Erika: (Pushing away) I'll be fine, I promise to go right home and get some sleep

Dr. Stephanie: I think I know your secret

    Erika freezes and looks back at Dr. Martel.

Dr. Stephanie: Answer me honestly, are you on drugs?

Erika: ABSOLUTELY NOT - you know I've seen too many of my friends and family get burned by them, I am not using, I swear to you, Stephanie!

Dr. Stephanie: (Looking her in the eye) I can always tell when you're lying to me, Erika, I believe you... but, if it's not drugs, what is it? - Griff tells me you're acting so strange lately

Erika: It's nothing a little rest and relaxation won't take care of

Dr. Stephanie: My son can help you there

    Erika gives her a chilly glance.

Dr. Stephanie: Sorry, I had to try... look, I need to get back to my rounds - I don't EVER want to catch you doing this again, do you understand? - just because your family is a major contributor to this hospital doesn't entitle you to break in and steal supplies whenever you want them

Erika: Of course - I will make full remuneration for these supplies

Dr. Stephanie: I'll take care of it - from now on, Erika, if you're in trouble and need help, please come to me immediately... whatever it is

Erika: (Raising an eyebrow) In that case, may I please borrow a dollar for a cup of tea?

Dr. Stephanie: (Sighing and opening her wallet) I'm guessing you don't have money for a cab, either - take my car keys and go home after you get your tea!

Erika: (Taking the money and the keys) Thank you

Dr. Stephanie: (Concerned look) You're welcome

    Inside her hospital room, Morrigan continues to dream about the events of the night when she is disturbed by the ring of the phone next to her.

Morrigan: (Half awake) Huh... hello?

Gracie: Hey Morri, it's Gracie - are you awake?

Morrigan: I'm assuming so

Zach: How are you feeling, M&M?

Morrigan: Zach?

Gracie: I conferenced him in, listen, you are not even going to BELIEVE what I found on those back-up tapes

Morrigan: I'm kind of thinking I will

Hospital HallwayGracie: We're on our way to bust you out and we'll go over it then

Morrigan: That's all well and good but I REALLY need to get my stuff from the rich guy's place and go over to the house I'm renting before the landlord thinks I flaked and gives it to someone else

Gracie: No problem, we'll swing by and do all that later but you have to see this footage!

Zach: Where is this house you're renting?

Morrigan: I have the number in my purse but I know it's on Willowbrook

Zach: OH SHIT

Morrigan: What's wrong with Willowbrook?

Gracie: Let me guess - is your landlord's name Amethyst Hill?

Morrigan: How did you know that?

Zach: SORRY, I'M NOT GOING OVER THERE

Gracie: "Amy" is one of Zach's many ex-girlfriends - she mentioned that she was renting her guest cottage to some sucker from the Midwest

Morrigan: That's nice

Zach: I'M NEVER GOING OVER THERE AGAIN

Gracie: The outside of the place is very nondescript but INSIDE...

Zach: DAMN HANGING DOORWAY BEADS NEARLY KILLED ME

Gracie: It looks like Barney the Dinosaur downed a dozen pitchers of grape juice and exploded all over the walls

Morrigan: (Rubbing her head) Lovely

Zach: AND THE CATS, OH MY GOD, THE CATS

Morrigan: You know what, guys, I need to take a urine specimen, I'll see you both when you get here - BYE

    The petite brunette hangs up the phone and sighs. She rolls over and is surprised by Dr. Stephanie Martel standing over her.

Morrigan: AAHH - sorry, doctor, I didn't see you standing there... I don't really need to take a urine specimen, do I?

Dr. Stephanie: (Looking at a chart) No, Ms. McBride, you're fine - in fact, I just signed your release forms, you're free to leave whenever you want - I just need to see you back here in a week for a routine follow-up

Morrigan: (Shaking her hand) Thank you, Dr. Martel

Dr. Stephanie: I look forward to seeing you on the news... this time, as a reporter!

    Morrigan smiles as she leaves. The phone rings again.

Morrigan: (Answering) Hello? - no, Dad, you two do NOT need to come up here, I'm fine... listen to me... Dad - NO - DAMMIT

    The woman slams down the phone and flops against the bed. Lieutenant Anita Fiore calls to her from the other side of the curtain.

Anita: Pssst

    Morrigan tries to ignore her.

Anita: PSSSSSST

Morrigan: (To herself) Why can't everyone just leave me alone?

Anita: (Throwing back the curtain) HEY, MCBRIDE

Morrigan: MAY I HELP YOU, LIEUTENANT FIORE?

Anita: So, you remember me

Morrigan: How could I forget?

    The chiseled, raven-haired woman is all smiles.

Morrigan: That wasn't a compliment... what do you want?

Anita: Do you know what happened to you last night?

Morrigan: I have a pretty good idea

Anita: So, she saved you, right?

Morrigan: Who?

Anita: You know whom I'm talking about

Morrigan: No, I do NOT

Anita: Listen, you were unconscious when you went into the water... how did you make it to the river bank?

Morrigan: (Seeing flashes of the hand in her head) A guardian angel, I suppose

Anita: I'm supposing it was Aleta Oscura

Morrigan: I'm sorry Lieutenant...

Anita: Please, call me Anita

Morrigan: Anita... despite my two years of Spanish in high school, I only remember a few words - "Aleta" and "Oscura" are not two of them

Anita: (Looking directly at Morrigan) DARK FIN

Morrigan: Excuse me?

Anita: Darkfin, she's the one who saved you - but, the question is, why?

Morrigan: I'm always up for a good story but this isn't making any sense... do you have a concussion?

Anita: Your "Miss Innocent" routine works well on people because of your cute little face but I know you know EXACTLY what I know

Morrigan: I know I'm wishing I had a private room right now!

    An attractive young nurse enters and goes over to Morrigan's side.

"Hello Nurse!"Nurse: Ms. McBride, I have some papers for you to fill out before you leave

Morrigan: (Reluctantly taking them) Thanks

    The nurse saunters over to Anita's bedside and closes the curtain behind her.

Nurse: Don't you have a gig at Muldoon's every Friday night?

Anita: Every other Friday - I do it to make some extra cash

    A perplexed Morrigan listens to the conversation.

Nurse: You're amazing with that guitar, such nimble fingers

Anita: Thanks

Nurse: I love your rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire"

Anita: I'll sing it for you privately sometime

Nurse: (Getting a tub of warm water) I look forward to that - I've always had a thing for musicians

    Morrigan screws up her face in disbelief as she realizes what's happening.

Nurse: (Seductively climbing on the lieutenant's bed) Are you ready for your sponge bath?

Anita: I think you should know that I'm in a committed relationship... we'll be celebrating our third week anniversary tomorrow night... um... ooh, that feels good

Morrigan: (Covering her head with the pillow in vain) I need to get out of here!

    She hops out of bed, throws on a blue paper robe with matching booties, and scoots quickly out the door.

Morrigan: I need some hot chocolate... I need some hot chocolate... I need some hot chocolate

    Standing at the vending machine, Erika inserts the dollar bill and makes her selection only to hear a whirring sound with no results.

Erika: (Banging it) OH, C'MON

    The machine repeats the whirring sound with no results.

Erika: (Leaning her head against it and sighing) I can swim faster than a sailfish and yet I cannot get a CUP... OF... TEA

    The machine whirs again and finally releases a cup, filling it slowly.

Coffee MachineErika: Thank you

    The woman takes the cup and sips it.

Erika: (Scowling) Cold, of course

    As she goes to round the corner, Morrigan slams into her, spilling the contents all over each of them.

Morrigan: (Jumping back) AAAHHHH... wait, it's cold

Erika: (Still scowling) Yes, it is

Morrigan: I'm so sorry, doctor, I wasn't watching where I was going... you see, I nearly died last night saving a dog... I was rescued by something along the lines of Big Foot and El Chupacabra... I have two new best friends who won't leave me alone... I hate the nickname "M&M" although the alternative "Button Nose" is worse... I want to sleep in my own bed - not in a hospital one, not on someone's couch, and not in my car... I am apparently going to live in a funky feline purple palace... my father and his bimbo wife are driving up to see me because they think I can't take care of myself... I really wish I had my mom right now but that's impossible... I don't know if my insurance is going to cover this... all of my stuff is in the driveway of some rich snob... and there's a kinky sponge bath going on in my room!

    Erika stares at her.

Morrigan: (Extending her hand) Hello, I'm Morrigan McBride, nice to meet you

Erika: (Shaking it lightly) Erika von Meer

    Morrigan gets an odd feeling and looks closely at Erika's hand.

Erika: (Quickly pulling it away) If you'll excuse me

Morrigan: Oh my God, it's YOU

    The blood drains from Erika's face.

Morrigan: VON MEER, that's your driveway, I deeply apologize about the snob comment

Erika: (Exhaling) No worries

Morrigan: Why are you dressed like that?

    Erika glares disparagingly at Morrigan's paper booties.

Morrigan: I mean, Gracie told me you had your Ph.D. but she didn't mention you were a doctor doctor

Erika: I am not a medical doctor

Morrigan: Then, why are you dressed like one?

Erika: Always the investigative reporter?

Morrigan: Only when I see something that doesn't make sense

Erika: You'll be busy in this town

Morrigan: Tell me about it

Erika: If you must know, I was here conducting an experiment - unfortunately, it got all over my clothes, similar to the way the tea has now - fortunately, Dr. Martel lent me this outfit until I can go home and change

Morrigan: I like Dr. Martel, she's a nice lady

Erika: Indeed she is, now do you have any more questions or am I free to leave?

    Before Morrigan can find the right words, Erika turns around and starts to walk away.

Erika: (Stopping) Oh, and please remove your belongings out of our driveway before my mother has an aneurysm... thank you

Morrigan: Nice to have met you...

    The green-eyed woman makes sure that the blue-eyed one is out of ear shot.

Morrigan: BITCH OF THE UNIVERSE... God, what is WITH these people in this town? - I'm starting to miss the cows back in Montana!

The Star

    Inside the caverns of the Kiyomis, a procession of cloaked figures gathers in a chamber. They begin a solemn ceremony, ending with the lighting of a star-shaped pictogram on the floor The leader, dressed in the white robe with gold accents addresses the others dressed in solid, royal blue.

Leader: (Reciting) New come the Innocent - Goddess of War and Death. - cleansed in fire and water - SHE will open the ways to power!

    Morrigan's image is flashed on the cave wall.

Leader: The catalyst begins

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