I stood in the bathroom, the closed door against my back, as I stared at the cabinet that Lukas had unintentionally left open.
I’d never snooped in here- I’d never thought to. It honestly never occurred to me that there would be things in these cabinets that I might find useful. But as I stared at the small, green box with black lettering, I realized how wrong I’d been.
I crossed to the shower and started it, before going back to the counter, crouching down to take the box in my hands. I stood quickly and moved before I could doubt myself. I took the glass cup on the counter that held my toothbrush, removed the toothbrush, and filled it with water. After examining the box for a moment, I dumped the fine powder into the water and stirred with the plastic end of the toothbrush.
No turning back now. I lifted the cup to my lips and drank it quickly. The gritty powder hadn’t dissolved much in the water and tried to stick to my tongue and the back of my throat, tasting sickly sweet. I pinched my nose as I chugged, swallowing a gag with each gulp of water. When the cup was empty, I quickly rinsed it out, and swallowed down a bout of nausea. I put everything I’d disturbed back where it went, quietly and carefully.
And then, I took my shower.
As I towel dried my hair in the mirror, I glanced down at the now closed cabinet, wondering how long it would take. But I felt nothing, even as I crossed the hall back to my room and got dressed in yet another black shirt that left my chest, neck, and shoulders exposed, along with the soft black pants I’d grown accustomed to wearing. When I went back to the bathroom to drop my towel in the bin, I froze in the doorway.
Lukas stood in the bathroom, staring around suspiciously. When he noticed me on the threshold, he just held his hand out, taking the towel from me. I watched him, holding my breath.
“Markus can’t find his phone,” Lukas told me, noticing that I was still standing there. “Have you seen it here?”
I felt my shoulders drop as I shook my head.
“Oh well,” Lukas muttered, walking past me and down the hall.
I let out the breath I’d been holding, my heart calming down just a bit. The rest of the night, a hollow feeling was spreading inside me, heavy in my chest. Anxiety, I realized. I sat on my bed, my back against the wall, kneading the hem of my shirt restlessly.
That was when I began to feel dizzy. Shortly after the dizziness started, I felt a tickling in my throat. I covered my mouth, trying to muffle the sound as I was overcome with a coughing fit. I brought my hands away and looked down, only a little surprised to see that my hands were now spattered with my blood.
At the sound of footsteps in the hallway, I stood quickly, wiped my hands off on my pillow, then turned it over so that the bloody side faced down. The room tilted and I caught myself, bracing my hand on the wall, just as Markus appeared in the doorway.
After meeting my gaze, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“What are you doing?”
I shook my head. “Nothing.” My heart was already racing- I struggled to calm myself.
Markus stared at me a moment longer, scratching the back of his head. “Whatever - I’ll figure out what you were doing later. Gabriel wants you in the study.”
I nodded and walked past him quickly, trailing my hand along the wall as I went. Each step was a blind guess of where to put my feet in order to stay upright. Miraculously, I made it to the study without falling once.
As usual, the Original was at his desk, sorting paperwork. He looked up when I crossed the threshold, now grasping the shelves as I walked further into the room. He too frowned at me, and I stopped, holding my breath.
“What is it?”
Before I could answer, another coughing fit snuck up the back of my throat. I turned around quickly, raising my arm to my mouth. This time, I coughed into my sleeve, hoping the black color of it would hide any evidence. I felt the splatter of blood soak my shirt in a couple places. When I was done, I wiped my mouth and turned back around, holding my arm behind my back.
The Original froze, and I saw his nostrils flare. When I blinked, he was in front of me. He took the arm I was hiding behind my back, examining it. I watched numbly as he pushed back my sleeve and examined the tiny red smears on my forearm. He then hunched over, biting into my wrist. He took one drag before he straightened up sharply, dropped my wrist and spat onto the floor. I looked down at the blood and saliva on the floor, near my foot.
When I looked back at his face, I found him livid. I shrunk back a bit, then frowned when there were suddenly two of him. After a bit of focus, there was only one of him again, and I realized he had been speaking.
I shook my head wordless, as if to say I hadn’t heard him. My mouth wouldn’t open to speak.
He looked up, over my head and I turned to look as well. Only when I stopped turning, the room did not.
Markus was standing there, something white and red in his hands. My pillow. Lukas appeared next, saw what was going on, then looked at me with a mixture of shock and knowledge. I could tell he’d pieced together what I’d done.
But it was too late. I fell sideways against the bookshelf I’d been holding onto for support and slid to the ground. My legs were folded beneath me at an uncomfortable angle. I braced my hands on the floor in front of me and leaned forward. As I panted, a small mist of blood painted the floor with every exhale.
Gabriel roared something, but I was too far gone to pick out the words. I giggled a little before my eyes closed, and for the first time, I felt a smile spread across my face.