“Do you need help?” I asked, leaning against the doorframe of the medical room.
The Father was kneeling in front of the fridge and startled when I interrupted him. Turning his head to me, he smiled. “No, thank you,” he said and got back to his work. One by one, he took out the different ampoules and vials, checked their labels and made notes every now and then. Sometimes, he put the medicaments back in the fridge. Others he put into a special disposal container. I went over to the patient’s bench and sat down cross-legged. Resting my chin on my hands, I watched the Father taking inventory.
“A short while ago, I remembered something,” he said without looking up. “Sometimes, the mind wanders, when you do things like that,” he said, shaking a vial between his fingers. Again, he wrote down something on a writing pad. Then, he closed the fridge’s door and got up.
“And what did you remember?” I asked, impatiently. I hated it, when he was beating about the bush. Couldn’t he just say what he wanted to say like normal mortal people do? Instead, I watched him putting down his notes and pencil on the fridge. Carefully, he adjusted the pencil as if he wanted to ascertain the cardinal point with it. I rolled my eyes and puckered. Unexpectedly, the Father turned around and saw my face. Quickly, I smiled and waited for his answer.
Slowly, he came over to me. “I remembered the strange incident you told me about, when you had returned from your patrol and found the monsters that waited for you till dawn,” he said. I nodded. I had already forgotten about this, too, but now I remembered how strange it had been back then. “I tried to think about the meaning behind it,” Father Michael added, scratching his chin and stopping in front of the patient’s bench I was sitting on.
“Out with it!” I urged him.
His black eyes looked at me blankly, until a smile lit them up. Laughter lines showed around his eyes. “The fact is that their behavior is very odd,” he said, folding his arms behind his back and walking up and down. “Apart from that, it’s the first time something like that happened. None of your predecessors has ever witnessed that before,” he said, looking at me for a second.
“Do you think the monsters did it before, even when I was gone?” I asked.
Father Michael stopped and shrugged. “I don’t know.” I could see it in his eyes how much he regretted it not to know more. That he wasn’t able to go outside and to help still gnawed at him after all these years.
“Why were they here?” I asked. He looked at me, eyes widened, as if I should know the answer to the question. I could think of only one reason why the monsters waited for me right in front of the portal. I didn’t like the thought and Father Michael didn’t like it, too. He had tears in his eyes, giving the bright spots in them, conjured up by the room’s harsh light, a special gleam. I was spellbound by the sight. I barely noticed my mouth dropping open. Could it be I was drooling?
“I can only imagine that reason,” the Father whispered. Somehow, he had read my mind and exactly knew what I was thinking.
Just then I realized my mouth was full of saliva, threatening to run over. Quickly, I closed my mouth and swallowed, hoping Father Michael hadn’t noticed. I blinked several times and cleared my throat. “It’s nothing new that they want to see me dead,” I said, shrugging.
Father Michael grimaced. “You shouldn’t take it very lightly, Ada.”
“I know!” I snapped back at him. “But what can I do? I cannot hide in here. I didn’t accept that task for it. These critters decided to kill me right in my front garden? Fine! They save me a lot of running.”
You always have to think positive, right?
Father Michael looked at me thoroughly. He was still mistrusting my new strength obviously. In the end, it didn’t matter. Over and over again, we could think about why the monsters had changed their procedure, but we would never find out what was going on in their minds, apart from what was obvious: to catch and to kill me as soon as I leave the church’s protection. But I had no other choice. If I wanted to fight for a better and safer world, and for that I had come back, I had to face the problem.