Seven: Birthday Gloom
Katrina woke up in agony, her insides screaming for mercy as the skin on her body felt like molten lava melting away. Her bones trembled with chills while her forehead was soaked in an ocean of sweat. She was quivering so badly that her teeth could be heard chattering from miles away.
Whimsey dawdled over meowing for her morning feast, but Katrina struggled to get up as she was thrown into a violent coughing outburst. However, instead of a dry hacking cough, she saw dark maroon blood fall along her pajamas. She screamed bloody murder, her screeching sounding like a banshee’s lost echos trapped in the valleys of the mountains.
Running to her bathroom, Katrina clicked on the lights while looking at her paling face. She couldn’t hide that she looked beyond awful; she looked like a zombie that had been risen from the dead. Blood ran along her chin and dripped from her nose; her skin looked so deathly pale that it seemed void of any blood.
“Jesus Christ,” she muttered in shock as she grabbed a bath towel and ran the shower. She managed to waddle her way into the kitchen; Whimsey sat patiently as she demanded the finest of meals, tuna from a tin can. Katrina opened the can and sat it down so the cat could gorge herself.
Meanwhile, Katrina considered dialing an ambulance because she wasn’t sure what the hell was going on. She wasn’t ill, it was she was dancing on the line of life and death. That is how horrid she felt.
Checking the clock, Katrina’s eyes grew to the size of saucers as the time read ‘10:45 am’. Glancing from whimsey to the clock, Katrina rushed back to her room and grabbed her phone to see seven missed calls, twenty-three text messages, and four Facebook messages, all from her mom. Shakily, Katrina dialed her mother’s number and awaited the lecture she was about to receive.
After three rings Katrina heard the phone pick up; she held her breath in anticipation.
“Katrina Ilanina Monich, how dare you ignore my messages? Do you know how worried I was? Your father and I, well mainly I, have been trying to contact you for ages. What have you been doing? Goodness gracious you had me worried. We thought you got hurt or abducted in some sort of way, please, don’t do that again. Just pick up next time, it isn’t that hard. I don’t want to ---”
“Mum,” Katrina sighed as she ran a hand through her thinning hair. The headache she awoke with blasted even louder her skull as chills trickled down her spine.“I am fine. I think I am a bit ill is all.”
“Do you think that is a proper reason to ignore me? Was it on bloody purpose?”
“Mum, please!” Katrina snapped as her fingers clenched around her phone case. A shakey breath could be heard on the other line as Katrina’s mom muttered quite a few choice words under her breath.
“You’re right, I overreacted. What I wanted to say, first off, was happy birthday my baby girl. Officially an adult, twenty-one years of age, goodness how time flies. I remember when you were in diapers and there were mornings where you cried for hours on end and your father would moan and groan about you not shutting up.” Katrina chuckled along with her mother as she listened to the soft fall of water in her bathroom.
“Well thank you, mum. I do have a question,” Katrina let out a vicious cough as blood splattered along the carpet in her room. Her throat ached blood, once again, started dripping from her lips.
“Well fire away, darling.”
“Should I go to the hospital? I am, well,” she released a bit of nervous laughter, “coughing up blood.” There was a pause on the other end of the phone as Katrina sat down, a spell of vertigo soon dawning upon her. It was hard for her to believe that she had just blurted something so serious out to her mother, someone who takes every little issue far too seriously. She remembered when she had a cold back in kindergarten, just the common day influenza virus. Her mom rushed her to the hospital claiming she was going to die. Oh, the memories.
“I think it is better to talk to your father before doing anything,” her mother replied in a merciful tone. Katrina froze as she wiped some of the blood off her chin; the only thoughts she held consisted of vile language inappropriate for a young lady, such as herself, to be saying.
“What do you mean, mum? I am coughing up, blood.”
”Yes, I understand that, but ---”
“There should be no but, I think I should be going to the hospital now.”
“Wait a split second, young lady. I am getting your father on the line.” Katrina wanted to protest, every fiber in her body was screaming as she let out a pain-filled whine. Everything hurt, every living cell of hers was stabbed with hundreds of thousands of needles. Hands grasped her head as she dropped the phone on her mattress. Her entire mind was consumed by the sudden wave of nauseating pain.
“Katrina, my love, are you okay?” Katrina’s ears perked up as she managed to sluggishly hit the speaker button, her moans of pain could be heard on the other line clear as day.
“Father, no, I can hardly ---” Katrina stopped speaking as a crude cough was released from her throat. Silence hung in the air as both lines went silent. Katrina wiped off some blood that splattered from her mouth, and her father, on the other line, didn’t make a single sound. She could tell that he was in deep thought; he always remained quiet when he was thinking.
“Katrina, I need to tell you something. I suggest you try to remain as calm as possible as this is a bit bizarre. Let me just start this by saying that I love you very much and what you are going through today is normal.”
”Normal," Katrina blurted as her eyes clenched together, tears starting to spill over. She knew by heart that this was far from normal, this was chaotic, a calamity.
“Katrina, my love, listen to me. What you are experiencing is normal, believe it or not. There is no easy way to say it, but you have a curse, a disease so complex and labyrinthine that science can’t explain it. You have lycanthropy.” Lycanthropy, a disease known as werewolfism. Where men turn to beasts under the influence of the full moon, grotesque monsters that feed off the flesh of human and animal. That’s immediately what Katrina thought.
“How, dad? How does this happen? Why didn’t you tell me, how could you not tell me? Why the fuck am I in the United States if you knew about this thing? What the hell am I suppose to do when my skin is on fire, every muscle in my body is screaming in pain, and I feel like death is right around the corner? How do I deal with that, dad?”
“There was no way for me to know until today, Katrina. I had a hunch, but it would have been nearly impossible for me to diagnose you. Your mum and I have tried everyway possible to foresee this disease; do you remember your allergy testing for certain metals? Gold and silver, more specifically. You tested negative, no skin irritation, no swelling, nothing. Let me ask you one thing, are you wearing any sort of metal right now? Anything with sterling silver or gold?” Katrina glanced from hand to hand, there her eyes spotted the ring from last night. Made of twenty-four karat gold. The area was red and irritated, blisters surrounding the inflicted skin as it bruised over slightly.
“Yes, a ring from --- my boyfriend.”
“Boyfriend? Katrina, you are kidding me, right? You are too young to have a boyfriend, or even be dating. Goodness, my child, you are telling me this now? Wait, before I get distracted, you said he gave you a ring, correct? Do me a favor, take that ring off and just give it five minutes.”
Katrina obliged and slid the ring off her finger, ignoring the stinging that came from touching the mere tough. She placed the item on her nightstand as she now noticed her extremely agitated finger started to lower in swelling. Katrina muttered a very quiet, ‘what the hell,’ before letting out a huff of confusion.
“It’s off, and you’re right. The swelling is going down instantly. So, father, how do I go about this disease? What am I to expect? Do I need to lock myself up and search google for, ‘How to Deal with Lycanthropy for Dummies?’ " Her father chuckled on the other line as Katrina pinched the bridge of her nose in distress. She was joyful to hear his laughter, but the sound only made her migraine even more potent.
“You’re laughing in a time like this, dad? Are you kidding? I am nearly dying over here and ---” she froze for a moment and took in a deep breath. She hadn’t heard her father’s joyous laugh in ages because he had always been too weak from the chemotherapy treatments. “And I am happy to hear it.”
“You just know how to make my day, sweetheart. Just know one thing, I have my connections. Now, at five in the evening, there will be a knock on the door. What I need you to do is follow go with a person; his name is Carson Tsonga.”
Katrina was quiet. At that moment of time, thoughts were passing through her mind like the fast-paced like that of an asteroid shower. Yet, this wasn’t gorgeous or mystical. In fact, she was livid that fate had deceived her once again.
Oh, how she despised fate.
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