Chapter Two: Fangs, Blood and Guts

Embrace II: Rise of Cleopatra

Chapter One: Do You Believe in Vampires?

The Hospital in St. Charles Street was quiet. The first floor was almost empty and the only thing that could be heard was the murmured voices or three people in white hospital jackets, looking at a metal clipboard. The glass doors on the emergency provided an airy entrance, and some comic relief to whoever didn't see in front of them and cracked their noses on the strong glass.

A doctor with red hair and a pretty face looked up at her much older husband and smiled.

The first floor was about to get a shock.

The glass doors broke, making the redhead with a nametag that read Dr. Annie Reed, scream and drop the clipboard. The husband, with the same nametag, with the exception of the first name, which was neatly printed as John, held on to his wife's arm, already assessing the situation. The other doctor moved closer, his shiny head reflecting the fluorescent light that blinked for ten seconds. The shattering of the glass echoed in the hallway and the glass lay on the light blue floor and threw light onto the walls and ceiling. Annie pressed her hand to her heart and felt it pounding. Her back was stiff from the shock and she edged closer to the other doctor whose name was Michael Cutter.

The darkness outside the doors seemed to leer at them. They were unable to make out what was on the sidewalk, but they heard the snapping of twigs and a slow grunt.

Annie gasped.

A body fell like a rag doll on the glass.

A girl, with a dark brown hair lay face down; her clothes were soaked in blood as was her hair. The floor was turning red from the endless flow that came from underneath her.

Annie rushed forward, all thoughts of her safety gone. She was a doctor at heart and when she saw the wounded girl, her instincts kicked in and she strode forward, stepping carefully on the glass as she approached the girl. Her steady hands rolled the girl over onto her back. She sized up everything in a matter of milliseconds.

"Get her to the RE and get maintenance down here. Christ, she should be dead, get me a stretcher." Annie felt the girl's slim neck and felt a quiet flutter.

The first floor no longer resembled the quiet room it had been a minute ago. It was filled with nurses who brought a stretcher, and three men who cleaned up the glass. Annie and her husband lifted the girl onto the stretcher and rushed her into a room. Her corset was torn open, revealing a wound in the stomach that would have killed her. Annie felt at her neck, still feeling the weak pulse and then her chest were her heart was quiet.

This strange phenomenon had her mind reeling with questions, but she had to patch the girl up first. Annie cleaned off the wound as best and she could and ordered her into the operating room.

As Annie cleaned the wound the girl up she noticed the girl's beauty. Her face was strong and sharp. It wasn't the face of a child, but that of a budding woman. The girl's eyes were big and her mouth was full and pink. During the operation, Annie had to dig into the wound, only find that her stomach was untouched and everything was clean. So she was puzzled at the reason why there was a hole in the front and in the back until she found a scar that matched the ripped clothing. Annie's finger traced the long thin scar and though of a long knifeā€¦ if it wasn't for the fact that the wound was healed already. The girl should be dead, and to have such irregular heart should have killed her. But she was breathing, and Annie watched as they pumped blood into her.

When she was done Annie leaned back.

"BP six over forty, respiration two per minutes, heartbeat about twelve."

Annie blinked at the green line on the monitor that displayed the heartbeat, and watched it spike up, then after a while spike up again.

It just wasn't possible.

She yelled for the crash equipment when the line went red and stayed flat. She grabbed the paddles and squeezed come conductor fluid on them.

"200. Clear!" Annie called in a clear voice, and pressed the paddles to the girl's chest. Her back arched, the line spiked but it went flat again.

"300," Annie called again and this time the girl's back arched, and her eyes snapped open, and she screamed. Annie jumped back, and nearly dropped the paddles. The girl bucked and thrashed, her hands fisted and released spasmodically. Annie's eyes kept flickering to the monitor and her mind registered the unbelievableā€¦ and impossible numbers. Annie watched in horror as her heartbeat reached six hundred and then dropped dramatically to that of a normal human. The girl let out a final wail before going limp on the stretcher.

Annie approached the still girl and saw that her breathing was shallow, and sounded as if her lungs hadn't been used for a long time. Her heartbeat was regular, and her blood pressure was normal. The line went flat for the longest two seconds in Annie's life, then spiked again. That happened four times, until Annie was able to regain her breath.

"Put her in a room, with the usual stuff, but I want her observed," Annie ordered then walked out of the room, still disbelieving what she just saw. In the hall, she held the bridge of her nose between two fingers with her eyes closed. That pose signaled stress, and John came forward, concerned.

"You lost her?" He asked, looking over her shoulder at the girl. The orderlies were stripping her of her bloody clothes to slip a green gown on her.

"About six times. She's something else," Annie said and watched as a nurse rolled the girl into a room just down the hall. "Did you find anything on her?"

John shook his head."Nope. She had no identification, no nothing apart from her leather and that 'V' tattoo on her shoulder blade, that looks as if it was made a couple of hours ago. That and she had a necklace with two golden keys." John said, looking at the girl's clipboard. The name field was blank, as was the age. "We tried to get her age, but our machines kept saying her blood was four-thousand years old."

"Annie!" The nurse came out the girl's room with a panicked look on her face. Annie was already rushing forward and stopped at the doorway of the girl's room.

Some machinery was strewn around and the girl was huddled in the corner watching her, her eyes wide and her pupils dilated. She was shaking. Annie was aware that she girl's blood had indicated that it was clean of drugs or any other poison and she smiled reassuringly.

"It's all right, you're at a hospital." Annie came forward and the girl shrank back, her eyes wary, and Annie suddenly noted how sharp her nails were. She was dressed in a hospital gown, and her hair was still bloody. "What's your name?" Annie asked while John pulled the equipment upright and hooked everything up again.

"I- I don't remember." The girl looked confused and the panic faded from her eyes.

"It's all right, we're the good guys. Do you know how old you are?" Annie asked, softy, encouragingly, the way a mother would speak to her children.

The girl shook her head but didn't shrink back when Annie approached her and put her hand on her forehead. Her temperature was normal. "You need rest." Annie said and led the girl to the bed.

"We need a name," John said and Annie glanced at the girl who had heard.

"Cleopatra. Cleo for short," the girl said and smiled.

"That's not your name." Jonah frowned at the girl.

"It could be," Cleo shot back and John gave her a quick smile and wroteCleopatra' in his sharp handwriting.

Annie nodded. She studied the girl more and produced the golden keys. They craftsman on them was impeccable; every detail was perfect down to the small 'G' and 'T' on them.

"They're yours," John said when Annie handed them to Cleo who took them hesitantly. She stared at the keys and saw something flash through her mind. A pair of golden eyes before the image vanished and she was left in the blackness of her identity.

"Annie!" Cleo called and waved. She was leaving the hospital, and she was dressed in her leather clothing but with a white button-up shirt, since the corset had been ruined. Cleo frowned when she handled the corset and saw the holes, and then at the scar on her stomach and back. She also wondered about her hair. It was stained blood red, and as much as she'd scrubbed, the red didn't come off, and when Annie said that wasn't hair dye, Cleo gave up.

Annie had been nice enough to get the girl an apartment, close to the hospital and a job as a waitress. Unusual for Annie, since she never mingled socially with her patients, but the girl was different. That was three days ago, Annie had visited Cleo on a daily basis and on the symptoms field in her files Annie wrote "Amnesia" and filed the folder in her own family's files.

The girl did not remember anything. She appeared to have no family, no friends and when Annie mentioned how she was thrown in the hospital, Cleo's eyes widened, and strange fear came into her eyes. During those three days Cleo had spent in recover, Cleo had spoken to Annie about ideas where she could have come from and about the tattoo while Annie measured her blood sugar, since she was diabetic. Annie saw the number, smiled and set her equipment into her purse while Cleo watched and explained.

Cleo strode out of the hospital with the golden keys around her neck. She walked three blocks down St. Charles Avenue to the small brick building, opened the metal gate, and opened the door that led to a dim stairway and a hallway.

Her apartment was on the stop floor with the balcony, which means that during Mardi Gras she'd have put up with neighbors screaming and throwing toilet paper up here. She walked up the steps, content with her progress and the worry of who she was still bothered her. Cleo frowned when she thought about her life. She had known people, she was sure, the 'V' tattoo meant something, so did the leather, and the red in her hair.

She touched her hair gingerly. She had gotten it cut, so it came to her shoulders and the rest of her hair was layered so she had bangs.

She stopped at her door and stared at the piece of paper that was taped on it. She looked left and right and saw nothing but the bamboo plant next to the mirror ten feet away. With steady hands she opened the paper and saw the words in spiky writing, "Do you believe in Vampires?"