I had been sitting in the waiting room for an hour without being called back when somebody finally came and sat down across from me. I almost didn't want to look at him, or her, or it, for fear of what he/she/it might look like, but I figured it would probably be rude to just ignore them. After taking a minute to steel my nerves, I looked up.
Oh, gaaaw… I thought, trying to keep my face neutral as the skeleton across from me glanced my direction.
“How you doing?" he asked, nodding his skull politely.
“F- fine," I answered, doing my best to sound pleasant. This just went to show that I wasn't nearly as used to weirdness as I had thought. For every wand waving wizard and bomb tossing gremlin, there was a skeleton in a doctor's office to make me wet my pants.
“What you here for?" he asked. His voice was rough, like a chain smoker's. Could skeletons even smoke without lungs, I wondered?
I nodded towards Kimberly, who was still sleeping against my shoulder. “She hit her head. Won't wake up."
The skeleton shook his head. “Poor kid." Then he made a weird grunting noise, and reached up to rub the part of his spine that connected to the base of his skull. I had a feeling that if he'd had a face, he would be wincing.
“You know how they say you can't take it with you when you die?" he asked. “Apparently, arthritis is an exception. Munse is a good doctor, though. He can take care of your daughter."
I almost choked when I heard this. Daughter? My face turned red. I was only seventeen! Kimberly was five! How old did this dead guy think I was?
“Arnold," the receptionist from the pink lagoon called, and the boneman stood up, tipping an imaginary hat to me, and walked off.
“Well, at least he was being a jerk on accident," I grumbled. Even that seemed like a rarity these days.
Now that he was gone, I shifted Kimberly to a more comfortable position and went back to staring at my lap. Victor's words kept repeating themselves in my head over and over, and I couldn't make them stop.
“I did not put you in that pack so you could sit around and be abused. Get your act together!"
What was that supposed to mean? Knowing Victor, I'd assumed that he had just put me in there so I would be abused. But that warning he gave me… could there have been another reason that I'd missed?
“Of course, just telling me would have been way too easy," I muttered, rolling my eyes. He said I wasn't supposed to sit around and be abused, but what else was I supposed to do? D.K. was the alpha, which meant I didn't exactly get a say in it. The only way I could stop him would be to…
My thoughts froze, and I nearly dropped Kimberly in my shock.
I would have to take down D.K.
Before I could think further on it, the receptionist called, “Amber and Kimberly, come on back."
Like a robot, I stood up and carried Kimberly to the door at the front of the room. A nurse was there waiting for us. She, at least, looked somewhat normal— except, I realized when she turned to look the other way, for her pointed ears. Pointed ears were fine, though. Pointed ears I could deal with.
“Is she the patient today?" she asked, motioning toward Kimberly.
I nodded. “She got hit on the head and she won't wake up."
“All right," she said, and held her arms out to take her. I hesitated, clutching her little body even more tightly for a moment.
“Don't worry," the nurse said, “she'll be safe with me."
I took a calming breath and, reluctantly, handed Kimberly over.
“All right, dear," the nurse clucked to the unconscious little girl, “let's get your temperature."
She pulled out a very non-magical looking thermometer and put it into Kimberly's ear. While she waited for it to beep, she turned to me.
“Is this your first time seeing Dr. Munse?"
“What's your species?"
“Werewolves. Both of us."
The thermometer beeped, and the nurse pulled it out. “No fever, that's good. Don't worry, honey. Dr. Munse treats werewolves all the time. He'll fix her right up."
Hearing this, the tight knot of anxiety loosened a little in my chest, making it easier to breathe. The nurse handed Kimberly back to me and led the way down the hallway until we came to a small, empty room.
“Dr. Munse is with another patient," she said, ushering us inside. “He'll be with you shortly."
“Thank you," I said as the door clicked shut behind us. I sat down in a chair by the door, looking around the room. There was a sink on the other end, and a cabinet filled with cotton balls, alcohol, and those popsicle stick things. A bed covered in tissue paper was on my right, and after a moment of thought I got up and laid Kimberly down on it, making sure her head was elevated by the pillow.
“All right, what have we got here?" a new voice asked as the door burst open. I jumped in surprise, spinning around to see a man with neatly combed gray hair and a white coat step inside. He smiled apologetically, setting his clipboard down on the counter. “Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."
“It's okay," I said, brushing a strand of hair behind my ear. “You're Dr. Munse?"
“That's me," he said. “I'm guessing you're Amber, and the one on the bed is Kimberly?"
“Hit her head, right?" he said. “No problem, it's probably just a concussion."
My stomach did a flip. “Just a concussion?" I asked, my voice sounding weaker than I liked.
Instead of answering, Dr. Munse went around me and inspected Kimberly. “She hasn't gone through her first change yet, has she?" He didn't wait for me to reply. He went to the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of alcohol and a cotton swab. I watched him, and realized what was weirding me out so much: Dr. Munse was human.
“First thing is to clean the wound," he said. “Keep it from getting infected."
“She won't heal since she hasn't turned yet, right?" I asked, wringing my hands as he gently dabbed at the purple knot. He must have had a light touch, because Kimberly didn't even stir as he did it.
“Oh, she'll heal," he answered. “It just won't be at an accelerated rate like a more mature werewolf."
“But I—" he ignored me again as he went back to his clipboard and jotted something down on it.
“I'm prescribing her some pain medication," he said. “It'll make her sleepy, but her head won't hurt as much."
He tore the sheet off and handed it to me. I took it from him, my movements slow.
“Just give it to the nurse on your way out," he said. “Also, keep an ice pack pressed against the bump as often as you can. That should make the swelling go down quicker."
He must have seen the way I was staring at him, because he paused for a second and then asked, “Is something wrong?"
I shook my head. “Sorry, it's just… I dunno, this all just seems too normal, you know?"
Dr. Munse laughed as he went back to the counter and retrieved something. “You might be surprised how often I hear that. Not everything has to be solved with magic, though. Sometimes the best solutions are the ones anyone can use. Like pain killers and ice packs."
He turned around, and I sucked in a quick breath when I saw he was holding a syringe.
“I just need to take some blood from her," he said. “Office policy."
I took a cautious step closer to her. “Why?"
“We host a food drive for disabled vampires," he answered. “Werewolf blood isn't their favorite, but it'll work if they don't have anything else."
My eyes opened wide, and I stepped between him and Kimberly. He laughed.
“I'm kidding, I'm kidding! This is just to go into our records, in case you ever have to come back."
“Oh," I said, taking a step backwards, feeling more than a little stupid. “Sorry."
“You're pretty protective of her," he said as he rubbed her arm with alcohol and then stuck the needle in. “It's almost like you have a pup bond with her."
“What's that mean?" I asked as I watched the syringe fill up with Kimberly's blood. He pulled the needle out and applied a bandage.
“It means that you act like you're her mother," he explained. “You're protective of her, you care for her. You're the one who brought her here, instead of her real mother and father."
Yeah, there's a reason for that, I thought as my stomach did another flip inside of me.
“Anyway, would you like me to take some of yours too, for future reference?"
I thought for a minute, and then nodded. Getting shots has always been one of my least favorite things ever, but when I stopped to think about it, a little needle in my arms would probably be the least painful thing to happen to me in months. I held out my arm as Dr. Munse pulled out a new syringe, and didn't even flinch when he jabbed it into the skin.
“All right," he said, pulling it out and slapping a bandage on me. “You're all set! Just hand the prescription to the receptionist, and she'll give you what you need."
“Thanks," I said, picking Kimberly back up. “When do you think she'll wake up?"
“Keep the ice pack pressed against her head to keep the swelling down, and I'd say she should be up in a couple hours."
I shifted Kimberly in my arms so I could do as he said while carrying her.
“Thank you so much," I said again as he held the door open for me. “Really, I mean it."
Dr. Munse shrugged. “Hey, that's what I'm here for. Take care now, all right?"
“I will," I promised.
“Oh," he said, stopping me, “and if you ever have to come back, write a note on your hand about the door first. It'll keep you from forgetting."
“I'll keep that in mind. Thanks."
I brought the piece of paper to the pink monster behind the desk, and she gave me a bottle of pills with instructions to only let Kimberly take one every twelve hours, with plenty of water. And with that, I turned and walked out of the waiting room, up the stairs, and through the door. The dusty old shop was just the way I'd left it, and as the door closed behind me…
Wait a minute, how did I get back here?
NEXT TIME: You hear that, guys? Kimberly is going to LIVE! Well, for the time being, at least… mwahaha. Anyway, Amber still has to figure out what Victor was hinting at in his message. Does he actually expect her to take down D.K.?