It’s way too cold. I opened my eyes and sat up. The hell? It was dark, but not so dark that I couldn’t see that I was in a hospital room. If that wasn’t enough, there was all those chemicals that made hospitals smell like nowhere else in the world.
I brought my hands up to cover my shoulders, then started rubbing fast to warm myself up. “Jesus fuck, why do they keep it so cold?”
Moments later, my skin started to warm up to a nice, comfortable temperature. <My apologies, Mistress.>
“The fuck?!” I jumped to my feet. Somehow, the jump took me almost halfway across the room. The tug and sharp pain in my arm made me turn to face the bed, where an IV needle was laying on the floor, along with a spatter of blood. “Shit!”
Great, now everyone will remember me as the dumb bitch who bled to death in a hospital. I reached for my arm, but there wasn’t any pain. This is so, so wrong.
Terrified of what I’d find, I stared at the hand which covered where I should have been bleeding, but wasn’t. My hand shook as I forced it to move away from the spot the needle tore out of my arm, showing light green instead of my mocha skin tone.
This can’t be real, it can’t. The green blended with the skin around it, and had the same shade as my normal skin, almost like I was wearing glasses with a splotch of green tint on them. I poked the spot, rubbed around it, and it was just like my normal skin, but green. I wasn’t even sore where the needle was. “Okay, what’s going on here.”
<I healed you, Mistress.> An English man’s voice came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. <Or, I helped some. Your power includes minor regeneration.>
Power? Mistress? In an eyeblink, I was in a swamp, horrible pain ran through me.
Three monsters faced me down, full of righteous fury. They wounded me, drained my strength, but they suffered for the act. They were wounded, they were vulnerable, they could still be beaten. One of them was more than half dead, and she was the chain which bound the three as one. If she broke, the others would be moments behind. Then the one in front brought down his sword, cutting me apart.
I snapped back to the hospital where I was on my knees crying. The tears dripping to the ground were lime green, like some sort of shitty kid’s drink.
I could still feel the pain through my neck, shoulder and arm from the blade that cut me in half. Domenic did that, he killed me… he killed her, the former, the…
“The Greenwitch Endures.” Even as I said it, the pink under my fingernails started to turn green.
<Yes, Mistress.> The voice in my head was soothing, gentle, and concerned; I knew somehow that it was there to help.
<So, none of that talk with you was a dream, huh?> I pushed myself to me feet, stronger than I’d ever imagined I could be. It’s insane how much power I have, now. <So, any idea what my powers are? And, uh, who are you? Are you like a ghost or something?>
<I believe I was called Wata, when the Former Mistresses had reason to call me anything at all. what I am is… hard to describe.> I knew it had an answer, it just didn’t want to tell me. Just as I knew it had no choice but do what I wanted. <My First Mistress made me to keep her strong and healthy, and that’s what I’ve done for every Mistress since. Removed diseases and poisons, helped heal their wounds, made them as strong as they could be.>
<That sounds pretty badass.> I knew I was a lot stronger than before, enough to beat the shit out of any of my ex boyfriends, but that wasn’t my real power. I knew if it came down to punches, those bitches latched on to my brother would destroy me. <So now I’ve got a British doctor inside me? Careful what you wish for, right?>
<If it makes you uncomfortable, Mistress, I could change my voice.> The voice in my head did just that. <I could sound like a woman. Or just like you, if you prefer to pretend I’m imaginary.>
It sounded more like a little girl’s voice in my head than a woman’s. Not having a dude did make me feel better, but the little girl voice was just as messed up as a guy’s, if for a different reason.
<Oh, yeah, forgot you could do that.> I hadn’t stood up yet, hadn’t stopped staring at my hands while talking to my new not-imaginary friend. The green under my fingernails had begun to spread over my hands. It was already to the point where I wouldn’t be able to hide it without being suspicious, and it would only get worse. <But I think we need to get out of here before someone sees what’s happening to me. You got any ideas? Maybe those powers I’m supposed to have?>
<I’m afraid I don’t know, Mistress.> He sounded like Orlando Bloom, again. <Aside self-healing, all Mistresses get different abilities. Yours should be whatever’s best at killing the one who killed the Former Mistress.>
Domenic. I’ve got a power that will let me kill my brother, that’s fuckin’ brilliant. It couldn’t be that Felicia bitch. I shuddered as hints of memories came to me. Dammit, Domenic, what the fuck is wrong with you? More tears fell.
<Mistress. If you want to escape, we should do it now.>
Yeah, the sooner the better. <How do you know that?>
<I can smell them.> Well, that’s not creepy at all. <There are smokers amongst the nurses, which makes them easy to track. If you’re quick you shouldn’t have a hard time sneaking past them.>
<And I bet that means unlocked side doors!> I jumped halfway to the door in a single bound. <Holy shit, how strong am I? I bet I could just punch my way outta here!>
<Strong enough to beat up a bunch of doctors, I’m sure,> The voice in my head said. <However, Mistress, I cannot make you bulletproof. Until you know what your powers are, it may be best to sneak rather than fight out.>
<I wasn’t actually gonna do it.> The voice in my head has a stick up his ass. <Hey, from now on, I’m gonna call you Walter. And, uh, I guess when we find your girl-voice, we’ll call that one Wanda or something. I dunno.>
<Why Walter, Mistress?>
<Because you talk like a butler, and since all the best superheroes have butlers, I’m gonna make the most of it.> Oh, the look on Domenic’s face when I tell him I have a butler living inside me. <And Walter sounds like the name of the most badass butler ever. Which I’m gonna need to escape.>
<As you wish, Mistress.> Walter was good at listening to orders, at least. <You want to go left. The smell of fresh air comes from that direction.>
<You’re the best, Walter.> I ducked out of the hospital room into the hall, which was empty except for one of those push-carts. Damn, bet I could lift, like, five grand of drugs before they catch my ass. Nah, they got cameras all over this bitch and all the good shit’s gotta be locked up.
My walk to down the hall was interupted when one of the security guys saw… nah, that didn’t happen. With Walter giving directions, I made it from the hall to the stairs and out a side door without anyone even seeing me, except some dude in a wheelchair that I’m sure was either gay or blind, because he didn’t give me a second glance. Turns out, it was harder to ditch class than walk out of a hospital.
I ducked around a corner once out the door, then ducked into one of those corners that nobody could see me from unless they walked straight into me. I waited while a car went by, then walked away as fast as I could without looking suspicious.
Okay, now the hard part’s gonna be getting home. I was safe enough here; they didn’t put hospitals in the scary part of town, but no way was walking through my neighborhood gonna be safe.
“Ayyy, mamacita!” A car slowed down in the street, and the car behind screeched as the driver hit the brakes, swerved, and slammed the horn. The guy who shouted at me didn’t seem to care. He did a u-turn in the street, then pulled up next to me. “You lookin’ for a doctor, chica?”
Doctor? The ‘chica’ part wasn’t new; I was light-skinned enough to get mistaken as Mexican all the time, and hot enough that most men didn’t care what I was. I glanced down, and then it all came together; I was still in a hospital gown.
Now, for those who don’t know, hospital gowns ain’t the kinda thing you wear to church, and to top it off they were sized for skinny white girls. The way my ass was hanging out, everyone on the street had to think I was either a hooker or an escaped mental patient. Neither said much for this guy’s tastes.
<Hey, Walter, if he tries to mess with me, could I break his arm?>
<With my help you could rip his arm off, Mistress.>
<Tempting.> I turned toward the car. “Ay, Papi!” I’m sure it sounded dumb to anyone who spoke Spanish, but he wasn’t about to care about what came out of my mouth. I put my best sway in my step, then leaned onto his car. Then I reached in the open window, popped the lock, and hopped in.
He looked a bit surprised; I wasn’t a ho, but I knew a few, and they said they never got in the car before they made a deal. Something about how Johns had more power after they got you in the seat; I kept that advice in mind on my dates ever since. As the guy started to drive off, I wondered to myself how pros could do shit this shady. Sex for money was one thing, but if I didn’t have powers, this guy could just do whatever he wanted and dump me in an alley. That shit didn’t even make the news half the time.
“You in a hurry to party, girl?” Now that I got a look at him, he wasn’t half bad looking; a bit of girlie face, but I could be seen in public with him without hiding behind my purse. Car wasn’t bad, either; if he’d asked me out on a normal date, I’d have gone for it. Aside from the wedding ring, that was a deal-breaker for me.
Wait a second. <Hey, Walter, did you give me night vision, or is that one of my powers?>
<That is one of my improvements, Mistress. Think of it this way: that means you didn’t waste your power on something you’d have had, anyway.>
<I like how you think.> I smiled for the John. “Well, I was thinking what I need real bad right now is a ride.” I gave him a moment to imagine he just hit the fucking jackpot, then used the one power almost all Imbued had; I made my eyes glow. I felt kinda bad when fear knocked that smile right off his face, but the green glinting off the gold wedding band kept me from feeling too bad. I put on my best pout, because this was funny as fuck. “You can help me, right?”
“Yeah, sure, I can help!” Poor bastard looked like he was thinking about jumping out of the car without slowing down. Now it was his turn to worry about getting dumped in an alley somewhere. “So, where you need to go? Ma’am?”
Oh yeah, that’s the shit right there. I leaned back in my seat. <I can get used to this.> “Don’t worry, it’s not too far away.” I wasn’t stupid, I knew better than to let him drop me off in front of my house, but there was a stash Ty set up in case he had to lay low which would have clothes I could steal.
My new chauffeur followed directions like a champ. He pulled into a side street in one of the shady parts of town, trembling and glancing around like he was expecting six guys to come out and steal his car at any moment. Wouldn’t have been the first time it happened in this hood. “Uh, here we are, is that all?”
I smiled and licked my lips. “What, you don’t want a thank-you kiss?” Where the hell did that come from? Some weird part of my mind told me it was important, whatever it was. <Hey, Walter, I think my power has something to do with making out with people.>
“N-no, that’s okay, I’m just happy to know you’re safe.” John scooted just a bit further over in his seat.
I figured in about twenty seconds he’d jump out of the car and leave it with me. Hilarious as it woulda been, I didn’t feel like going to the pen for carjacking, and the dude had suffered enough. “Thanks. And, hey, if you ever need a favor, be sure to hit me up.”
<I don’t know, Mistress,> Walter said. It felt like he was thinking, but I couldn’t be sure. <All my Former Mistresses had some sort of power over living things, perhaps that’s how all Greenwitches work?>
I got out of the car, and before I even had a chance to close the door he was peeling out of the lot. I watched him almost nail a light pole on his way out. “Must be in a hurry to get home to his wife.”
<So, power over living things that works by kissing them.> I looked down at myself. <Well, if I’m one of those weird sex-demons, at least I got the tits for it. Dunno if I want to name myself after them, though, the sucky-whatever?>
<I think you mean Succubus, Mistress.>
<Yeah, that. Let’s hope that ain’t my power.> I didn’t bother to ask how Walter knew these things. <So, hey, why don’t we try out Wanda for a while? You can do British sounding chicks, too, right?>
<I believe so, Mistress.> Wanda sounded like she came out of some British movie, as stuck up as Walter. I let it slide because it’s not like I knew shit about sounding classy. <What would you like to talk about?>
<How about guys? You got a type?> It was a dumb question, sure, but I felt like it would be rude to ignore him, her, it, whatever.
<No, Mistress, I don’t think a ‘type’ is something I can have. To me, there is only The Mistress, and everything else. Only The Mistress matters.>
That’s super creepy, but at least my superpowered imaginary friend doesn’t hate me. <I like ’em chiseled, myself. Like, not too jacked, that’s just gross, but hard is yum. And not them pretty boys, either. Give me someone who looks like he can take a punch without having to change his tampon.>
<Perhaps… perhaps I do have a type, Mistress.> Wanda went silent for a minute or so. <I think Former Mistress left more of herself behind in me than she realized. I… I suppose I like sensual voices, Sinatra is way up there. Yes, and tall. One Past Mistress met Abraham Lincoln. As you put it, ‘yum’.>
My imaginary friend met Abraham Lincoln. And has the hots for him. There ain’t enough straitjackets in the world. <Uh. Let’s go with dudes I don’t gotta dig up.>
<Well, your brother’s cute.>
What. <Okay, nope!> The fuck? <Bring Walter back!>
<Did I say something wrong, Mistress?>
<No, you didn’t say anything for the last two minutes, that’s what I’m choosing to remember. Now let’s talk about anything else ever while I get to repressing. You got any more Sinatra songs in my head? Or brain bleach, I could go for brain bleach right now.>
<This was one of Former Mistress’s favorites, I think.> I felt a strange tingle in the back of my head, then the singing began. <~And now the purple dusk of twilight time ~ Steals across the meadows of my heart~>
Now that Wanda said it, I could see how someone who liked Sinatra’s voice would like Domenic’s. Nobody would mistake one for the other, but if Domenic learned to carry a tune, I could see him making it as an impersonator. His voice wasn’t bad at all for jazz. Except the part where he couldn’t dance, didn’t know an instrument, was scared of talking in front of people, and had no idea how to sing. If you ignored all that, he had a shot as a jazz singer.
The stash was right where Ty left it, taped up in the corner vent of a building that was once a laundromat, but now a place for crackheads to give each other crotchrot. All it had was a shirt, pants and socks; Ty’s cheap ass didn’t even leave a twenty or a burner phone so I could get a taxi. The walk home wasn’t too bad, helped by Walter knowing where all the bad smells were, and which alleys had people in them for whatever reason.
I got home late, but without anyone stopping me, which was the best I could hope for. I stopped in the driveway of my house. Domenic wasn’t home yet, but that was no surprise.
He murdered her. She was helpless, he threatened her, and when she refused he cut her apart. I shuddered, then gripped my shoulders in my hands.
I will never be able to look at him again without seeing his sword coming down at me.
It wouldn’t be long before they got here, so I went for the garage rather than the house. We needed to talk, and it had to happen right away.
First thing was first; the green color of my skin was spreading, and somehow I knew it would not stop. All the memories from those who got this power before me had green skin, and I wasn’t far behind them. Two days, three tops, and only my teeth would still be white.
Well, at least I finally have an excuse to drop out of school that Dom can’t argue with.
I heard the distinct thrumming of Dom’s truck in the distance, and put together the pitch in my head. I couldn’t let anyone see me, not while I was still transforming, which meant two or three days hiding. After, no one would recognize me anymore, and I’d be in the clear. When the cops came, then Nanna would know what I’d become, and there wasn’t shit I could do unless I got crazy illusion or shapeshifting powers. Somehow, I knew neither of those were my power. Whatever else came, my life as Beatrice Hinton was over.
I stared at the door, waiting for them. I felt a tug on my arms; I hadn’t realized I was trembling, until Walter made it stop. <I’m here for you always, Mistress. No matter what you need.>
<Thank you. Don’t let me cry, either.> I can’t be Beatrice anymore, but I know someone who can.
“I think my favorite was this pregnant chick, begged me not not to kill her baby. Don’t know how anyone that good at eating pussy ever got pregnant. After, I ripped it out of her stomach. Kept my promise. Well, it was still alive when we left, anyway.”
The only thing that kept me from collapsing and throwing up was Walter holding me together from the inside. I’m turning my life over to that monster, trusting it to sleep in my bed, and hug my Nanna, and… and… Fuck you, Domenic. Fuck. You.
With Walter to steady my hands, my breathing, my every motion, I sat down in Domenic’s computer chair and reached for his sunglasses. Dom never had much chance as a musician, but his sister could have been a brilliant actress.