The clock on my nightstand told me it was two minutes past midnight when a sharp rap came at my door. It didn't wake me, since I had been far too worried to sleep. I'd spent the past six hours lying motionless on my bed, wishing I could just sink down into it and disappear.
“What?" I demanded, sitting up just as the door swung open. Dex walked in, followed by Edgar.
“Hi, Amber!" the kid said, a huge smile lighting up his face the moment he saw me- just as creepy as ever.
I turned to Dex, ignoring Edgar's greeting. “What do you want?"
“The board has made a decision," he said. “I'm here to fill you in on the situation."
I scowled at him, refusing to get up off the bed. “What's there to tell me? They're going to lock me in a cage and torture me for the rest of my life."
“No they won't!" Edgar declared heroically, stepping in front of Dex so that I was looking at him instead. He drew his scepter, and the green gem at its tip lit up. “I won't let them!"
“Sit down, Ed," Dex ordered him, pushing him aside, and then turned back to me. “No, not necessarily. They still haven't decided about that, yet."
“Then why are you here?" I asked.
Dex made his way to the wall, where he assumed his natural pose, leaning casually on it. “That little girl that got killed a couple days ago…"
Immediately, my heart sank into my stomach again. I had too much on my mind to worry about already- I didn't need Kimberly on my conscience too!
“She may not be dead."
I looked up at this, hardly daring to believe my ears. “What are you talking about?" I demanded. “Of course she's dead!"
Dex shook his head. “Maybe, maybe not. If you're the one who got to her, then I'm betting on the latter."
“But…" I stammered, finally standing up. “But the newspaper said she was!"
“The newspaper doesn't know about werewolves," Dex reminded me.
I froze, and couldn't take my eyes off of him. When I finally spoke, it was in a small, frightened whisper.
“You mean I turned her into a werewolf?"
Dex shrugged and said again, “Maybe, maybe not. The only way we'll be able to know is if we go find her."
I grabbed the bedpost to keep from falling down, my head still reeling with shock. “We're all going?" I asked. “Right now?"
“Yep," Dex confirmed, and then made his way to the dresser on my far wall. Opening the drawers, he pulled out a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, socks, and a pair of tennis shoes. “Get dressed. We need to leave as soon as possible."
I glanced from him to Edgar, who still sat at my table, his eyes never leaving me. Luckily, Dex got the message.
“Come on, Ed. We'll wait for her outside." To me, he said, “Make sure you're ready. It's possible we might run into some of Hendricks' goons tonight."
“Aww man," Edgar whined as he made for the door, not even bothering to hide how disappointed he was that he wouldn't get to see me undress. The door shut behind them, and I immediately stripped. I sighed in relief as I peeled the sweaty, rank pajamas off my body and threw them into the corner. If housekeeping was good enough to clean up after me if I wrecked the room, they could pick up a few pieces of dirty laundry. The new clothes, I wasn't at all surprised to find, were exactly the right size. I stopped for a moment, wishing I could take a shower, but then pulled the shirt over my head and knocked on the door. It swung open immediately, revealing Dex waiting on the other side.
“Wow!" Edgar exclaimed, trying to push his way past Dex to see me better. “Amber, you look great!"
“Stuff a sock in it, Ed," the shaggy blonde wizard ordered as I came into the hallway with them. “She's too old for you."
Edgar stopped in his tracks as we made our way to the elevator, his face turning red- though I'm not sure if it was in anger or embarrassment. “Excuse me, I am way older than both of you!"
“Wait, what?" I asked, turning back to look at him.
“Nothing," Dex answered for him, steering me back towards the elevator. “Absolutely nothing."
He pressed the button, and leaned against the wall again. As we waited, I finally asked, “So, what makes you think Kimberly isn't dead?"
“Werewolves have amazing healing abilities," he answered. “And they're usually at their strongest when they first get bitten. Did you never stop to wonder why the wounds you got when you were attacked went away so fast?"
I glanced at him, and then unconsciously looked down at my arms. When I had first woken up in the hospital, they had been covered in claw marks and bite wounds. A day later, though, they were all gone. They hadn't even left a single scar behind. The doctors were clueless as to how it happened, and had ended up writing it off as a miracle.
“I'll admit," Dex spoke up again, “she's in bad condition. But if she was bitten by a werewolf, then she'll most likely come back. Her vital signs are probably so low that they're practically undetectable, and the doctors don't know what to look for, but I'm willing to bet she's still alive."
I've turned a little girl into a werewolf, I thought, a clammy feeling running up my arms. I mauled her like an animal, and I turned her into a werewolf.
Seeing the look on my face, Dex added, “We don't know for sure if it was you that bit her, though. For all we know, it might have actually been a stray dog."
“You don't believe it though, do you?" I asked quietly.
Dex looked like he was about to answer, but then was saved when the elevator door dinged and slid open.
“All right, let's go," he said, and we loaded ourselves into it. Edgar had been silent since Dex had mentioned his age.
“Victor isn't coming?" I asked as Dex punched one of the buttons.
“Do you want him to?" he shot back.
“No," I admitted without hesitation, “I don't."
The doors opened again a moment later, and I stepped out into a hallway lined on both sides with doors as far as the eye could see. The only person there besides us was a little man sitting at a desk with a large book and a quill. He didn't say anything as Dex walked up to him and pulled a badge out of his jacket. With a quick nod, the man jotted something down into the book.
“All right," Dex said as he led me and Edgar further down the hallway, “this is the Corridor of Doors."
“I know that," Edgar snapped irritably.
“Which is why I'm saying this for Amber's sake, not yours." He turned to look only at me. “For every door on earth, there is a door in this hallway to match it. It's a simple enough concept: if we walk through a door here, we end up wherever its matching door leads."
I looked past him at the hallway that stretched further than I could see until it faded into darkness.
“Every door on earth?" I echoed skeptically. “Do you have any idea how many doors that would be?"
Dex shrugged. “Did I forget to mention just how big this place is?"
Without any further explanation, he turned and made his way down the corridor. I followed, with Edgar right behind me. Every door had a number engraved on it, and lots of them looked different. Some were made of thick, sturdy wood, like you would go through to get into a house. Others were thinner and shorter, like a bedroom door. I spied a couple that were nothing more than thick rugs that hung down like curtains.
“Here we are," Dex said, stopping in his tracks. The number on the door was 50872.
“Where will that take us?" I asked.
“It's the backdoor to the burger joint in your town," he answered. “Are you ready?"
“I'm ready!" Edgar exclaimed, coming to stand in front of the door. Dex rolled his eyes and turned to me.
“What are we about to do?" I asked cautiously, eyeing the door like it was going to jump out and attack me.
“Our sources tell us she's at the funeral home next door to the burger shack. It's pretty simple: we go in, and get her out."
“And then what?" I asked.
“We bring her back here with us."
“What about her parents?" I persisted.
“Her parents think she's dead," Dex responded.
I felt my face grow hot, and I knew if I had any fur that it would be bristling. “So we're just going to steal her body away before they can even have a funeral? That's horrible!"
Dex shrugged. “It's either that, or let her be buried alive."
I hesitated, but then nodded, a grim feeling settling into my stomach. Dex turned back to the door and fished out his keys.
“Oh, I should probably tell you," he said while searching for the right one. “If she really is a werewolf now, the reason she hasn't woken up is because she hasn't been out in the moon."
“What does that have to do with it?" I asked.
“Do you remember when you woke up after your attack?" he asked. “It was probably in the hospital, in the middle of the night, just as the moon came to shine in your window."
I looked at him, and then at the floor, hoping he didn't see the shudder that ran across my body. He was right- so right that I almost believed he had been there watching.
“The moon is like an ON switch for werewolves," he explained. “Your wolf feeds off of it like plants feed off sunlight. When someone first gets turned, their bodies go into a comatose state until the moonlight touches them. That awakens the wolf, and the person as well. It doesn't even have to be a full moon."
“Then why hasn't Kimberly woken up yet?" I asked.
“Because the police pronounced her dead when the sun was up. They probably took her straight to the morgue. She probably hasn't been anywhere near a window since she was found."
He finally found the right key, and put it into the lock. “A werewolf can't survive without moonlight. If they go too long without it, they'll become moon starved and die."
With that cheerful thought, he turned the key and pushed the door open…
NEXT TIME: Well, that can't be good. Is Kimberly a werewolf? Or is she dead? How will Amber cope either way?