Cressela - Twisted

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【 Chapter Four 】

“The girl’s waking up. Put the bed here, okay? Yeah...”

“You can take it from here, can’t you? Good.”

Amber’s brows furrowed as she woke up in a neutral themed ward of her town’s hospital, two rows of beds opposite each other with girls and boys around her age in them. Footsteps squeaked against the polished white flooring as her bed was wheeled into a room away from the small groups of families and friends chatting tactfully to the teens propped up with crisp white pillows, gifts spread on their nightstands.

Her head was still aching, and her right cheek stung as she shifted on the bed that was quite a lot more comfortable than the one she was on before.

The one she was on... before...

Before. In the house. With the girl. The girl crying blood.

Amber shot up from the bed in a gasp, making the nurse beside her bed jump and rush over to her, gently taking ahold of her shoulders and lowering her back down. Amber winced as the pain in her head throbbed in anger at the sudden movement, and her gaze met the nurses’. She had thick black hair in lots of little braids, tied neatly up in a ponytail, and mocha-brown skin, with dark eyes partially hidden behind her glasses.

“Easy now, hun. You’re still recovering. Speaking of which, how are you feeling?”

Amber sighed and shrugged. “Okay. A bit dizzy - I’ve got a bit of a headache.”

“Hm. And a nasty cut on your cheek. Do you remember what happened? We can’t figure out what could’ve caused that wound, to be honest. The skin around it was burning hot, like something electric had managed to slice the side of your face. But I’m guessing it happened from behind, so...”

“Yeah, I’m not sure what it was,” Amber admitted, then stopped speaking as she thought about what to tell her. That she was attacked in the woods at night? Then there’d be questions of ‘why were you out there that late in the first place?’ and Mazel’s exasperated speeches. Not just that though, but if she explained the experience and who - or what - she had seen, were they really going to believe her? Would they assume it was some kind of hallucination or call her insane? Then it’d be therapy all over again, like what she’d had when she first arrived at this town. Which Amber didn’t see the point in at all, since she was barely toddling when they had to flee.

No. She’d need to be clever about it. No more risks, especially to adults, friendly or not.

“Right. I’m Nurse Belmonte, by the way, but you can call me Jenny. And your name is...?”

“Amber. Amber Obscura.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jenny said with a warm smile. “Well, you were found by a nice older lady just outside Silva Forest, and were displaying signs of...” she paused for a moment, glancing at the clipboard in her lap, “shock, and mild trauma. You’ve been unconscious for most of the night - it’s quarter to seven in the morning now.

You haven’t lost too much blood, thank goodness, since the cut didn’t go in too deep. But you were trembling from the impact when the ambulance came. We’ve put it down as one of the effects of trauma. Question is, what happened there, Amber?”

It’s at times like these where Amber knew she should tread carefully, and only say things that she needed to and were close enough to the truth. She remembered all too clearly what had happened in the forest, and yet she wasn’t certain it was real. It wasn’t human, and it wasn’t an animal. It didn’t belong there. So where did it? In a hallucination?

No. It was real. It kidnapped her, it hurt her. But why didn’t it kill her? It could have easily done it when Amber was struck from behind and unconscious or attempted to go after her when she escaped. But it didn’t. Was it like a game, or did it want her alive? It looked a bit like a girl. Amber shivered and stayed quiet, unsure of how to respond.

“Were you alone?” Jenny asked again, looking Amber up and down briefly. “How old are you, hun?”

“Sixteen,” Amber answered. “I don’t really know what happened. “I went out to clear my head and get some air, went a bit too far because I was lost in thought. I think someone was in the forest too, and so I ran back the way I came. Gave me a bit of a scare, because... well, you know, your imagination goes crazy when it’s dark and you don’t know who’s there.”

“Are you sure that’s all that happened? It is clearly noted that you showed strong signs of trauma.”

“I’m sure,” Amber responded, forcing herself to meet Jenny’s eyes. “Just a bit caught off guard, I suppose.”

Jenny nodded slowly, the believability of the words enough for her. “Okay... I’d advise not to go out so late at night, or at least not so far. But as long as you’re alright. That cut should heal within a week or two. Be careful in future, yeah? Your dad’s coming to get you - he should be here soon.”

Amber’s brows knitted at the last sentence. “My dad?”

“Mhm. Mr Theodore Orthid. He’s very worried about you, Amber, but you’ll be alright.”

“He’s not my dad,” Amber muttered to herself, combing her fingers through her messy auburn locks as she eased herself up. Theo came in moments later, his hair slicked back and work clothes pristine.

“Good god, Amber,” he groaned, shaking his head but smiling slightly. “What’ve you gotten yourself into this time?”

Jenny went to talk to him and showed him the report on her clipboard, and he nodded and sighed, signing a couple of the sheets before she smiled and said goodbye to Amber, informing her that she was free to go. Theodore waited until they were alone, walking back to their house.

“Did you run off into those woods again?”

Amber hesitated, but shrugged and nodded, deciding that it was just better to be honest with that. He was well aware of her adventurous spirit, and he didn’t nag at her as much as Mazel did, realising that it was basically who she was.

“But at that time of the night?” Theo questioned with a roll of his eyes. “You’re lucky you got away with a cut and not a bludgeoning. You know I’m not just being dramatic.”

“No, that’s Mazel’s thing,” Amber murmured, but Theo heard, tutting at the comment and fighting off a smile.

“I’m being serious,” he insisted, pulling out his pager and messaging his secretary distractedly. “I know you’re just you, and exploring or whatever in the forest is what you like doing. It’s fine, honestly, I’m not opposed to it. But you need to start being a bit more responsible, do you see? One of these days, you could get into real trouble, and then what’d you do? That’s the reason Mazel’s worried. She’s not trying to go on at you, she wants you to be safe. And you’re not a child anymore, that’s the thing. You need to understand that.”

“I know,” Amber replied, glancing up at the morning sky before looking back down. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ll try harder. Promise.”

Theo nodded, accepting that for now as he put his pager back in his pocket and got out his keys as they walked up the front porch of their house. “Good. Look, I’ve got to go to work. We’ve got such a tight deadline on a massive project that I’m starting to take the word ‘deadline’ literally. Can you do me a favour and pick up Jackson from school? Mazel’s working until late, and I won’t be back until the early evening.”

“Sure - if I can stay off school today?”

Theodore opened his mouth to protest, but Amber shook her head.

“Come on, the nurse said I had to take it easy, didn’t she? And it’s Friday anyway.”

“Oh, alright. This once. I’ll get my secretary to call them up later.” He opened the door and pushed it open, ushering Amber inside. “There’s food in the fridge, and if you need anything else there’s-”

“Money on the table, I know,” Amber finished his sentence, leaning against the door and wrapping her arms around her middle. Theo hesitated, opening his mouth again to say something.

“Listen, Amber, when I manage to get some time off work, though god knows when that’ll happen, maybe we cou-”

His pager suddenly started vibrating from his pocket, cutting him short, and he rolled his eyes, taking it out and glancing at Amber.

“Answer it, you know you want to. I’ll be fine.”

Theo nodded and patted her on the back in thanks and apology as he read the message, hurrying off back down the porch and unlocking his black Lexus RX and slipping in, starting the engine and zooming out of the space and down the road. Amber watched after him, then went inside, closing the door behind her and going over to the kitchen side of the large main room. She grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and sat at the breakfast bar, letting out a long breath as she tried to collect and order her thoughts.

She didn’t know what had hit her both times from behind, but it felt like the same sort of thing. And a lot like how the nurse had described it. Electric. She ran out of the house because she’d dropped the crowbar when she was-

Amber gasped, her eyes widening as she remembered what she had taken, and opened up the pockets of her cargo pants that she was still wearing. Her torch... her sketchbook...

And the book from the house. Still there, with an old brown cover and thumbed, yellowed pages. Was it a good idea to have taken it? Amber decided that it was.

Marcel came over to Amber eagerly from his basket, rubbing his thick fur against her legs before curling up at her feet. Amber smiled faintly at him before focusing on the book, readying herself a little before slowly opening the first page.

The left page had one word written in a similar ink of the three letters of warning back at the girl’s house in the depths of the forest, and the right had two. Both of them were written in the standard European alphabet, but the words weren’t English.

Katarinas.

Meam Commemorationem.

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