Chapter 7: Changeling
Deidra was surprised to learn that her assignment wasn’t over. Caitlyn said only that she would need help, when she returned. Deidra busied herself straightening up the room and cleaning the bathroom. Vincent dropped off a bologna sandwich, carrot sticks and bottled water for Deidra. She finished her dinner and used her fingers to gather up all of the crumbs. One measly sandwich and a few carrot sticks wasn’t nearly enough to fill her up. Deidra guzzled down the rest of her water, hoping that it would curb her appetite. She finished the bottle and sighed frustratedly. Caitlyn still hadn’t returned. Bored, Deidra decided to take the plate back to the kitchen and do a little exploring. The door was locked. Uneasiness nudged at her stomach.
Why would they lock her in Caitlyn’s room? Deidra hadn’t once attempted to escape. A flash of anger prompted her to pound on the door with her fists, shouting for Vincent. That bastard probably standing in the hall laughing at her! Deidra put her ear to the door. She couldn’t hear anything. What if he didn’t come back for her and something happened to Caitlyn? Deidra would be trapped. A sudden fit of panic had her frantically twisting the knob. She was helpless. A sudden sense of hopelessness pressed down on her and she wilted leaning her forehead against the door. The strength drained out of her and tears sprang to her eyes. What was it about a locked door that intensified the desire for freedom? Deidra suddenly felt tired and sat on the bed. She lay across the foot of the bed, intending to rest her aching back for a few moments.
Exhaustion quickly dragged her down into a deep dreamless slumber. Three hours later, she groggily awoke at the sound of the doorknob turning. Deidra jumped to her feet as the door opened. Caitlyn was returning, propped up by Vincent. She looked ghastly. Deidra recoiled at the sight of Caitlyn’s dead white clammy skin. Caitlyn stumbled and Victor snapped at Deidra.
“Get your ass over here and help me get her into bed!”
Deidra pulled back the covers and they laid Caitlyn down, her head lolling to the side. She was breathing shallowly and beads of sweat stood out on her forehead. Vincent turned to leave and Deidra put a hand on his arm, taking a quick step backwards when he angrily swung towards her.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t ever touch me!”
“I’m sorry…I just…shouldn’t we call a doctor for Caitlyn? She doesn’t look good.”
“They always look like this after entertaining guests. Just attend to her.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
Vincent smirked spitefully and turned to leave. Not wishing to get struck, Deidra resisted the urge to try to stop him from closing the door. She fought back a second wave of tears as his skeleton key turned in the lock. Caitlyn began coughing and Deidra rushed to her bedside. What was she supposed to do for her? Deidra wrung her hands helplessly. The dry, hacking cough eventually subsided. Deidra was heaving a sigh of relief, when one of Caitlyn’s pallid hands suddenly gripped her wrist.
“I’m thirsty,” she rasped.
Deidra scurried to the bathroom, relieved to be free of Caitlyn’s hot, sweaty grasp. She didn’t like the strange look in her glassy eyes. For a fleeting moment, Deidra had thought Caitlyn was going to sink her teeth into her. She found a glass on the sink, turned on the tap and filled it with cold water. Deidra made her way back over to the bed with it. She helped Caitlyn sit up and turned to hand her the water. Caitlyn grabbed her hand, before she could back away, forcing her to hold the cup as she drank.
A predatory look seeped into her eyes and Deidra reflexively yanked her hand free, spilling water on the blanket. Caitlyn took no notice, flopping back against the pillow exhausted by the effort expended to sit up. Deidra looked on in horrified disbelief. Was this what Caitlyn considered a promotion? If this was this all there was to look forward to, then Deidra would rather stay in the dungeon and do grunt work. She had no intention of allowing vampires feed off of her, until she either died or turned into one of them. Caitlyn’s raspy voice startled Deidra out of her preoccupation.
“The light hurts my eyes.”
Deidra switched off the overhead light, plunging the room into semidarkness. A window on the opposite side of the bed provided the only illumination. Deidra didn’t want to sit near Caitlyn, so she perched on the vanity table stool at the foot of the bed. Time seemed to crawl. Caitlyn’s breathing eventually quieted and she drifted off to sleep. Deidra turned and lay her head down on the vanity table. Nervous energy kept sleep at bay for most of the night. Deidra’s thoughts drifted among increasingly dark places in her mind, gradually sinking into unconsciousness.
Deidra dreamt she was back in the park with Heather and her crew on the ill-fated night of her capture. As before, they passed her the hand rolled cigarette. The dream version of Deidra had a sudden premonition of danger. She looked down at the cigarette and recoiled in horror as it suddenly sprouted the head of a snake. which reared back and struck.
Fear jolted Deidra awake, with the sound of hissing echoing in her sleep-addled brain. Her head came up off of the table and she sat gazing blearily at her reflection in the vanity mirror. It took Deidra a few moments to realize that Caitlyn was sitting up in bed. Deidra turned and stood at the foot of the bed, prepared to fetch another glass of water. She leaned forward and froze, suddenly realizing the moonlight spilling across the bed was not the source of the ember like glow of Caitlyn’s eyes.
Deidra felt like a deer in headlights, wanting to bolt but unable to move. Caitlyn’s pallid skin was bright in the darkness. Deidra stood transfixed by horror, as Caitlyn began crawling towards her. She moved so quickly, Deidra’s eyes couldn’t track her in the dark. All at once, Caitlyn was in her face. Deidra let out a strangled cry, and jumped away from Caitlyn’s clawing hands. The vanity stool smacked into the backs of Deidra’s knees. She lost her balance and fell over it onto the floor.
Caitlyn hissed and leapt off of the bed. Deidra clumsily crab-walked backwards, until her back hit the wall. Caitlyn landed on all fours and grabbed her leg. Deidra frantically kicked, managing to land a solid blow to her chest. Thrown off balance, Caitlyn lost her grip.
Deidra quickly turned and crawled into the bathroom. Caitlyn snarled her frustration, leaping to her feet and surging towards Deidra. There was scarcely time to kick the bathroom door shut and engage the lock on the handle. Deidra sat shakily on the lip of the tub and tried to catch her breath. The banging of Caitlyn hurling her body against the door sent Deidra’s heart into her throat. Surely Vincent would come back and check on them any minute now. Didn’t he hear that commotion? Why wasn’t anyone else coming to investigate? Deidra recalled the vindictive look Vincent had given her and realized that she was on her own.