I was sitting in the base library, staring down at a book that I’d been reading through at a pace that surprised me. It was a book on algebra, one of my least favorite subjects from back in high school. Math had always been my least favorite subject, especially when it came to sines, cosines, and trying to find X, Y, or the square root of pi. I’d always thought any kind of math was boring and I’d had a hard time making sense of it, yet now, it was coming to me with much more ease.
“She was right,” I said, thinking of what Hannah told me earlier today about the angels having mental augmentations as well as physical. It had seemed hard to believe at the time, though it was nice to think that the massive migraine I’d suffered had at least given me something for the trouble.
For the last two hours, I’d been at the base library, reading through several books and testing this out. I had proven that I could definitely read faster than before, absorbing and understanding whatever I read more easily as well as remembering it. Reading through the algebra book had helped to prove that, though it had also proven one other thing. I might be able to understand and remember things more easily, but that didn’t mean I found them any more interesting. The whole topic of math still bored me.
“I don’t feel any smarter,” I muttered to myself, though I couldn’t help but wondering what being smart should feel like.
With that, I leaned back and absently ran my fingers through my hair which had been styled only a couple hours ago, right before I’d come to the library. Most of it was still the same brunette color that was natural for angels, but the very tips had been bleached into a blonde color that made my hair stand out a little. I couldn’t help but having mixed feelings about how my hair now looked. On one hand, it looked nice and made me feel good, but on the other hand, it was rather feminine and that made me a little self-conscious as well.
“I can’t believe I’m actually worried about my hair,” I said with a sigh. I was used to having fairly short hair that didn’t require a lot of care and attention, so this was definitely different. I was starting to suspect that this might be one of those changes in perspective that Dani had warned me about.
With a sigh, I shut the book in front of me and then got up to put it and the other books I’d been looking at back on the shelves. I was finished testing out whether I was smarter or not, though I couldn’t say that this really changed anything. Sure, this kind of thing would have been great back in school so I wouldn’t have needed to study much, but I didn’t have any sudden desire to become a scientist or study the mysteries of the universe. And from what I’d seen of my sisters, neither did they.
I left the library and started walking back towards Heaven, though I immediately noticed a guy watching me from the distance. I scowled, suddenly feeling a little paranoid and wondering what he wanted. Then it hit me. I was now an attractive woman so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that guys would watch me, though it still was. I grimaced, not sure what to think of this attention so I did my best to ignore the guy and continue on my way.
Now that I was aware of it, I noticed other people giving me odd looks. Some of them were like that last guy, looks of attraction and interest. However, a couple of them looked wary or even afraid of me, with one guy actually crossing the street to avoid me. I was pretty sure that these people knew what the angels really were and feared possible infection. I snorted in contempt, thinking that if they knew about the angel strain, then they knew I was perfectly safe to be around, at least as long as I took my daily shot and some common sense precautions like not bleeding on anyone.
When I reached Heaven, I let out a sigh of relief, glad to be away from all the odd looks. I wasn’t even sure which made me more uncomfortable, the ones from people who seemed to think I might infect them or the ones who thought I was attractive.
But strangely enough, now that I was back to the safety and security of Heaven, I couldn’t but feeling trapped again as well. I felt a little claustrophobic in spite of how large the building was, but I also felt annoyed by the large empty space. My emotions all contradicted each other and left me feeling a little confused. The only thing I was sure of was that I couldn’t wait until the others got back.
I went back to the main living area and then let out a sigh, realizing that I should have grabbed a couple books while I was at the library so I’d have something to read. “Definitely NOT a genius,” I muttered as I looked for something else to occupy my time.
I considered borrowing a swim suit and going down to the pool, thinking that it would be nice doing a few laps. Swimming was the one athletic activity that I’d always enjoyed, enough so that I’d been on the school swim team back in high school. Of course, I’d only ever won a couple races, but I’d enjoyed swimming nonetheless. Unfortunately, I’d just gotten my hair done and I wasn’t about to ruin it just yet.
“I am being such a girl about this,” I muttered in annoyance, not sure if that was a good thing or not. On one hand, this new concern probably meant that I was starting to adjust, but it also meant that I was losing part of myself and that scared me. I couldn’t help but thinking about what Dani had told me and her advice to just accept the new person I was becoming. I snorted at that. “Easier said than done.”
For a brief moment, I considered grabbing some scissors and just cutting my hair off so I wouldn’t have to deal with this. However, that would be nothing more than a pointless act of rebellion against my new body and the only result would be that I’d ruin my hair. After the trouble I went through to look presentable, I certainly wasn’t going to just throw it away just to make a stupid point.
With a shake of my head, I sat down and turned on the TV in order to distract myself. At first, I just started flipping through channels, though I stopped when I caught a news station that was talking about a demon outbreak. My first impulse was to change the channel so I didn’t have to think about the demons, but then I remembered Angel Squad and their mission so stayed where I was and watched.
“Multiple demons rampaged in…,” the news anchor started, talking about a small town.
My eyes were locked on video they were showing of the rampage, taken from a news helicopter before the military chased them back. It showed a large and muscular creature picking up a car and throwing it…at a woman in lean black armor. I couldn’t tell if this was Rebecca, Nicole, or Dani since she was wearing her helmet, but there was no mistaking the fact that she was one of my sisters.
“Oh shit,” I gasped, watching in horror as the demon attacked my sister. Then she used the rifle she was carrying to blow a number of holes in him until he collapsed to the ground motionless. It was only then that I let out a sigh of relief. I jumped to my feet and yelled, “Get those bastards…”
At this point, the helicopter was forced to move so they didn’t have any more footage of the fight. However, the news anchor talked about how the town had been evacuated and then how half the town had been firebombed in order to ensure the demons had been destroyed. My eyes never left the screen as I watched intently, filled with worry over my friends…my sisters.
“Please be safe,” I quietly pleaded to the TV screen.
My imagination went wild as I thought about my sisters being hurt or killed. Memories of Nicole being sliced open and then laying on the ground bleeding filled my mind, making a knot form in my stomach. I clenched my fists, knowing that I’d never forgive myself if they got hurt and died because they didn’t have anyone to give them the medical attention they needed. Tears were even starting to run down my cheeks as I thought about what could be happening to them right that minute.
The news didn’t give any more information before going onto the next story, and when they eventually returned to this demon outbreak one, all they did was repeat the very same things they’d already shown. I turned off the TV, knowing that I didn’t need to see any more of that. I already worried enough as it was and didn’t need that to fuel more of it.
About an hour later, I startled by the sound of a phone ringing, so much so that I nearly jumped when it began. I quickly looked around for the source and saw a phone attached to the wall. It looked kind of old, due largely to the fact that it had a cord to the handset.
“Hello,” I answered hesitantly.
“Monica,” Hannah’s voice came from the other end. “I’m glad you picked up.”
“Well, it was either that or wait for my secretary to answer for me,” I responded with grin.
Hannah chuckled at that, then told me, “I thought you’d want to know that Angel Squad is almost back. They should be landing in about twenty minutes.”
“Thank you,” I blurted out in relief.
Once I hung up the phone, I immediately left Heaven and started for flight line and helicopter pads. I got there just as three helicopters were descending from the sky. A guard stood there, not saying a word but making it clear that he wouldn’t let me go any further.
I stood back and waited impatiently for the helicopters to land and then for my sisters to emerge. They finally climbed out one of the helicopters, still wearing their lightweight armor though they’d removed their helmets. To my relief, they looked tired but unharmed.
“About time you got back,” I called out to them, immediately catching their attention. The three of them started walking straight towards me.
“Monica,” Nicole exclaimed, grabbing me in a hug. “I love what you did with your hair.”
I blushed at that and responded, “Thanks.”
“It looks great,” Rebecca agreed, grinning as she looked me over. “I see you’ve been busy.”
“A little,” I admitted, feeling self-conscious but pleased that they liked my hair. I’d been a little worried that they’d tell me I looked silly. Then I said, “I saw it on the news…”
Their expressions all darkened and Dani spoke first. “It was a fucking mess. There were six demons… Six.”
“Holy shit,” I blurted out, remembering how terrified I’d been at seeing just one.
“Most of the town was either dead or infected,” Rebecca said grimly, her eyes burning with anger and grief. “I’ve never seen an outbreak that bad.”
I gave her another hug, and then as I pulled away, I stared at her for a moment. The thought of ever facing a single demon again scared the shit out of me and I couldn’t imagine what going against six would be like. However, there was something else that scared me just as bad.
“If you’re still looking for a field medic,” I said, trying to keep my voice steady. “I’d like to submit my resume.”
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