The Familiar Ch. 03byblackfire13©
Chapter 3: Gimmie Shelter
The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul.
- W. B. Yeats
As soon as she had been wrapped in a thin, pastel-blue hospital gown, she gave back the brown felt coat that the harried manger of the hotel had covered her with, when the EMTs had come for her. The woman had rode with her to the hospital, despite Catherine's assurance that she wouldn't want to leave the hotel unwatched, to which the woman had replied that besides her, the only person who was staying in the hotel at the moment was a man who had recently broken up with his wife.
The woman (Margaret, she introduced herself to Catherine) waited with her for the results of the scan for any signs of a concussion from that fall down the stairs. Afterwards, she offered to drive her back to the hotel, but was interrupted by the doctor who had brought news that she was not suffering from a concussion, telling her that they would require her to stay in the hospital over night to make sure she was alright.
"But I'm fine, I don't have a concussion." Catherine said, wearily.
"I understand you're also a bit afraid to go back to your room at the hotel, where you said you, ah, felt a presence. It could do you some good, to get some sleep, in case you were hallucinating what you claim you saw." The doctor, an older man with a wrinkly waddle of fat that shook every time he moved or spoke, said in a voice that came off as offensively patronizing.
"Yes," The manager of the hotel said, looking awkward. "I would like a chance to, uh, look around, see if anybody could have snuck into your room, before you have a chance to come back.."
Catherine had been brought to Springwood, a larger town around seven miles away from Rock Garden, to the nearest hospital, Kirsten Cotton Memorial. Catherine wanted, more than anything, to stress that there had been no person in the bathroom with her, but she recalled the quiet looks of pity that she had gotten from a nurse and Margaret, when she had told them what had caused her to rush down the stairs.
Instead, she nodded in agreement, and gave a weak good-bye to the hotel manager before she left, giving her instructions to tell Danny or any of the workers where she was and that she had left her phone back in her hotel room. As Margaret left, Catherine felt as though she should try to call her mother and tell her what had happened, but as she was lead to the room where she would be kept for the night, she felt as though she could put if off. No doubt she would be at one of her expensive dinners with her two younger (and more successful and beautiful) sisters. No reason to break that up -- and hear the chiding -- earlier than she needed to. Or, at least, before a shower and a nap.
She was given a basic set of shower essentials -- cheap shampoo, some conditioner and a bar of unscented soap -- and was relieved to be left, thankfully, alone with her bruises and scrapes.
As she prepared to go into the shower, she happened to glance down at her hand, which still had that ring she had found, on her finger. Remembering her earlier run-in with the entity, she hurriedly yanked the ring off, setting it on the sink before jumping into the shower.
The warm water both soothed and stung the tender parts of her skin, as she ran the bar of soap over her body, attempting to not soak the bandages that covered her arms, legs and chest before she set about cleaning her hair and face. As she washed, the small voice of fear, the one that had hinted that whatever the entity had been that had touched her and laughed at her had followed her from the Witchwood, spoke up a little louder.
She had just managed to shut that frightening voice up as she turned the water off and grabbed for the towel next to the shower. As she began to wrap herself in the towel, she thought that she could hear a voice coming from the room behind the closed bathroom door. The thought of the entity, so fresh in her mind, came back in full force, as she thought, panicked, over what she could possibly do, with it standing between her and any chance of escape she had.
As she crept closer to the door, however, she quickly realized that what she heard was some sitcom that was on the television in her room. She knew it was a sitcom, after she heard a studio audience laughing at some muffled one-liner.
Relieved that it was only the television, (but not, for a moment, thinking it odd that the television was on, when she had not turned it on earlier herself) Catherine emerged from the bathroom, drying herself off with the rough towel and luxuriating in the warmth following the shower.
After she had finished toweling herself dry, she put the clean hospital gown that she had been given on and climbed back into the bed and, after locating the remote to the fat, box-like aged television on the other side of the room, Catherine began clicking through random stations.
After flicking through a multitude of channels, Catherine finally settled on a channel that was on its commercial break, after having not found much of anything else besides from a channel that dealt exclusively with a local church's pre-recorded sermons and a news station.
The commercial was for some jewelry shop, and it began with a beautiful young woman smiling with vapid happiness as she received a blue ring box from a male model in a large scarf. "This holiday season," began the announcer in a soft voice. "why don't you let her know that she's the One, with a ring?"
Something about the commercial stirred up a slip of fear inside of Catherine. Trying to calm herself down (Oh, come on, jewelry commercials are popular at this time of the year, its not a big deal) she turned the channel back to that church station, hungry for the sound of any noise in the far-too quiet room.
A white-haired old man in thick, wood-patterned glasses, began to yell out to the crowd beneath the pulpit, "...and what we need, now, more than any other time before us, is Christ in our young one's lives. The girls do not need pills or pregnancy tests, as much as the boys do not need condoms! What they all need are rings, rings which signify their purity as much as their promise to love one another for eternity!"
As the crowd began to clap, loudly, in response to what the man had said, Catherine's eyes slid over to the opened bathroom door, as though if she tried hard enough, she could peer through the black darkness in the unlit bathroom and see the glinting purple of that ring.
Biting her lip, she turned the station on the television to what turned out to be Antiques Roadshow.
"-and as you can see here, here and here, what you have is a set of just the most exquisite rings, all made for one woman -- a noble, no doubt -- who had a good deal of money. Now, if you were to sell these at an auction today-"
Catherine shut the television off. She glanced over at the room door, and wondered, if she asked nicely, if a nurse would agree to stay in the room with her, until she slept.
As she pondered a nurse's reaction to her request, the television turned itself back on, this time to a political commercial, which featured a man with a too-white smile speaking to the camera, with an American flag fluttering behind him.
"I was raised in a family that believed in three core values -- three rings, all interconnected, if you will -- Religion, Family and Responsibility. Now -"
Catherine shut the television off and rushed over to the door, flinging the door open and rushing down the hallway that lead to the floor's nurse station. When she reached the station, the sight of her caused a conversation between the three available nurses to stop mid-sentence.
Unable to think of what she should say, Catherine stood in silence, her heart beating hard and heavy in her throat, until one of the nurses, an older woman wearing Scooby-Doo scrubs, told her in a soft voice that there was a button next to her bed, if she needed any assistance.
The same nurse agreed to watch her for awhile as she tried to go back to sleep, and, to Catherine's relief, she agreed to have the television taken out of the room.
Although odd at first, Catherine managed to fall asleep, partly due to the fact that the nurse watched her as she fell asleep.
She woke up some time later, when the sun had set, and the only light that was in the room was the mix of moon light and the lights from the parking lot/entrance way below the windows in the room. Catherine was relieved to feel re-energized, despite her earlier fear and soreness. In fact, she could hardly feel the least bit sore, even though she knew, intellectually, that she had suffered some wounding and from bruises from her fall.
As her eyes adjusted to the room, and she slid her glasses back on her face, she felt a cold dread take her over as she realized that the television was back in the room. She stared at it in disbelief for five seconds before it turned itself back on -- as she knew, instinctively, that it would.
On the television was another jewelry commercial, this time with a woman crouched in front of a Christmas tree, pulling a ring box out of the branches of the tree, opening it and glancing back at the smiling man on the couch with a happy look of disbelief on her face. "Show her how much she means to you, this year," the warm, smooth voice of the narrator said. "show her how beautiful she can look, wearing one of our new diamond rings."
Catherine began to look around, in a panic, for the remote, and as she realized that it was nowhere to be found, the channel changed to another one by itself.
"Oh my gawd," The glassy eyed drunk exclaimed to her equally as drunk friend, who wore a partially ruined bridal headress. "can I wear that ring? No, really, lemme seeee-"
The channel changed again, as Catherine struggled to get out of the bed and run for the door.
"-so this has a lot of power in it, yes?" A strange man wearing tight black clothing and sunglasses droned. "This ring holds a lot of power -- perhaps the power to enhance the Potential of the wearer?"
"Yes," A dumpy-looking woman, who looked very uncomfortable next to the man she was speaking with, said, as Catherine realized, with cold terror, that the only door out of the room was locked. "But only for females. True Potential can only exist in a body that was born female-"
"But that's not true." The man replied smugly. "I use magic all of the time; I am a Warlock."
As Catherine turned to look at the suddenly lit interior of the bathroom, the woman chuckled nervously, then said, "There has only ever been one, maybe two, true Warlocks recorded in the history of the world, and they were not born human-"
And then the television shut off, leaving Catherine in a dark room that had suddenly grown unearthly quiet.
Staring at the bathroom, Catherine felt horrified, as she realized that she was now being left with no choice in the matter. Scared, Catherine walked to the sink in the bathroom and, regretful, slipped the abnormally shining ring on.
A whooshing sound filled her ears, and she had the feeling that she had been suddenly swept into some sort of a small whirlwind that swept her out of the bathroom and into the arms of a tall, broad-shouldered and very naked, man.
Maybe it was his smell -- an smell that was, incidentally, literally intoxicating -- or the large, hot object that belonged to him which pressed against her stomach, but she knew, within moments of him holding her, that the person holding her had to be one of the most masculine men that she had ever heard of or seen, let alone encountered in real life.
And then he spoke, his chin pressed against her messy hair, his voice sounding somehow like a mix between every man's voice that had ever made Catherine shake deep to her core. "Now, it didn't need to be that difficult, did it?"
Catherine tried to speak -- to say anything -- but what came out was an embarrassingly weak squeak.
And then he pulled her away from him, still partially embracing her, to look down at her.
The man's face was beautiful -- a bit paler than would be considered normal, and he had a rather prominent, powerful jawline, but if he had been a model on the cover of some sort of an outer wear magazine, the only thing that would make him seem out of place would be that he seemed almost abnormally handsome. Well, that, and the massive set of ram-like, curled horns that rested above his head that reminded Catherine, bizarrely, of some great and ornate crown.
As he continued to look down at her, his mouth opened in an abnormally large smile that seemed to stretch his mouth past the dimensions that a human mouth should be capable of stretching. His eyes, a brown so dark that they seemed to glint in the vague light that filtered in the room, seemed to glow, for a moment, with a deep red.
"Hello. I believe your name is Catherine Mollinson. You may call me Scratch, if that does not frighten you."
Before he spun her so that she landed, on her back, on the hospital bed, she let out another frightened squeak, and watched in pure shock as he stepped to the side of the bed in one long stride and pulled the laughably weak fabric of the hospital gown from her in one quick, half-hearted rip. He leaned down on top of her, so that he was pressed firmly against her.
"There, now we're on equal footing, so to speak." He said, with a languid lick of his thick tongue on his lips. "And I'd think it'd be fitting to begin our relationship with a sample of what I am best at."
Catherine felt one of those large, rough hands caressing her right leg, sliding upwards in one gentle and yet aggressive movement that sent a hot flush to burning in her stomach and breasts, and then felt herself moan as he lowered his head to smother her neck in hard, heavy kisses, his horns brushing against her head.
"Oh, fuck." She squeaked.
"I wouldn't call it that. Yet." Scratch mumbled against her neck.