"Dude, I'm telling you, she's not human!"
"It's gotta be a costume - there's no way that's real,"
"I wouldn't do that if I were you..."
"What's she gonna do? Bite me?"
I opened my eyes groggily. Standing above me was Alejandro and another boy. Unlike Alejandro, he was tall and thin as opposed to short and chubby.
The taller boy poked my ear. I flicked it away from his touch, growling low in my throat.
He backed away while Alejandro cried out, "See, I told you! She's a wild animal or something!"
I stretched, arcing my back, my mouth opening in a yawn. I allowed my fangs to slide out.
"Geez Louise!" The older boy yelped, backing into the wall behind him. A picture frame clattered to the floor, the plastic cover cracking.
I stood, rubbing my back on the closet door handle. My leg ached from the bullet still lodged in it. I sat down with a thump on the wooden floor, examining the wound.
"She's hurt," The stranger murmured, moving towards me ever so slowly.
I gave him a slow deep nod, telling him that he was allowed to come near. He inspected the hole in my flesh, his fingers gently brushing the torn skin.
This new boy had green eyes, not unlike my own, with black hair. I winced as he attempted to push his fingers into the wound.
"I think it's a bullet," He whispered, meeting my gaze.
I nodded vigorously. He was correct.
"I'm Nathan," He told me, removing his hand from my thigh.
I formed my name on my lips at last, "Fang,"
Nathan looked back at Alejandro from his crouched position on the floor, "You guys got a first aid kit or something?"
Alejandro nodded, darting away to retrieve the kit.
I studied Nathan, astounded that he seemed more curious of me now than he was fearful. His eyes were examining my body, searching for other wounds. He noticed my bloody scabbing palms, gently uncurling my hands to check them.
“How did you do this?” He asked me, running his fingertips across the wound. I didn’t even feel it; my skin was too numb from pain.
I couldn’t quite say the word ‘barbed’ so I said “Wire,”
He frowned, “Hell of a wire….” He noticed the roughness of the cuts and how jagged they were, “Barbed wire?”
Alejandro returned with tweezers, peroxide and alcohol – actually it was a bottle of beer. I wondered if he wanted me to drink it or pour it on my wound.
Nathan raised an eyebrow, “That’s a first aid kit?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.
Alejandro rolled his eyes, “It’ll work, comprende?”
Nathan took the items from him, “Yeah, thanks,”
He used a wad of tissue soaked in the beer to clean the skin around my wound. I doubted Alejandro’s harebrained scheme to use an alcoholic beverage would suffice for a cleaning agent, but I could not question.
I braced my hands against the floor, my claws digging into the carpeting as Nathan poured the peroxide upon the wound. I screamed in agony as the sharp metal tweezers dived into the hole in my flesh, digging around, probing for the small silver bullet. He closed the tweezers around it, sliding it out of the bloody gory mess that my thigh had become.
Nathan grinned at his prize, “Got it!”
I bent my head, cleaning the blood on my thigh with my tongue.
“Oh god, that’s disgusting,” Alejandro moaned, his eyes screwing shut, hand covering his mouth as though he were afraid that bile would spew forth at the mere sight.
Nathan shrugged nonchalantly, “She looks like a cat, and it’s not surprising that she acts like one as well,”
From that moment on, I looked to Nathan as an equal. Raising my head up, I offered my best grin, praying to whatever god there may be for someone like me, that there wasn’t blood on my fangs.
He returned it wholeheartedly, although somewhat wary of me, still.
I had found hope, and I would cling to it.