Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Tanya rested her head on the table sideways, watching the needle slip through the flesh in the crook of her elbow. Dr. Tetler attached a line and hung a clear bag on the I.V. stand beside her.

“We’ll let the saline run for a minute before we proceed.” The Doctor smiled at her, a practiced expression he failed to make convincing.

Tanya looked to the ceiling as a cooling sensation crawled up her arm. She was tired; not being able to sleep well on the streets, she looked forward to the promised bed and regular meals, even for a little while.

“Alright, we’ll begin now. You may feel a burning sensation, which is normal.” The Doctor’s voice faded into the background as she watched him hang another bag, this one with a distinctive orange and black striped logo on it. “This should start binding fairly quickly.”

It wasn’t a burning sensation so much as liquid fire racing into her body. Flames coursed through her, from her arm into her chest where she was sure it would erupt as a molten volcano out of her pounding heart. Her mouth stretched wide, screaming until her voice was so hoarse all she could do was growl, air pulled and pushed through vocal chords she knew must be burnt black as coal.

The pain crescendoed, spiking in her toes and fingers, an exquisite throbbing that echoed the pounding of her heart. She flexed hard against the strapping that held her, her head bouncing against the table, the entire frame shaking as a tray of instruments clattered to the floor.

The Doctor moved hesitantly towards the door, spellbound by the spectacle before him.

Once the bag drained completely, the fire subsided. She breathed, pain and fatigue falling away, replaced by a sense of euphoria. Opening her eyes and finding the light almost unbearably bright, she narrowed them to slits. She could hear her own heart drumming, blood coursing through her newly tuned body. She breathed deeper, felt the oxygen flood her bloodstream.

Flexing again, she felt a new and keen awareness of every muscle fiber, every ounce of available strength.

Another heart beat nearby, accelerated by a fear so strong she could smell it.

Tanya turned again, noticing the needle still protruding from her arm and reached across to pull it out, freeing one arm and tearing the restraint from the table in the process without apparent effort. As the needle dropped, she pulled herself fetal, the other restraining straps giving way like damp paper. Rolling sideways off the table she landed in a low crouch, knees fully bent, arms easy at her side;  a coil spring aching to discharge.

Tetler reached behind him without looking, brailing the table top for the tranquilizers he knew should be within easy reach.

Tanya could smell betrayal.

The Doctor’s hand closed on an auto-injector as Tanya exploded from her crouch. Legs extending fully, she launched at him, arms forward, hands extending like blades. The force of the impact drove him backwards into the door, hypo spraying harmlessly into space as her fingertips penetrated his chest just beneath the collar bone and curled into his ribcage. Falling backwards, she pulled him, screaming, on top of her and as they fell, she twisted one hundred and eighty degrees at the waist, throwing him to the floor and landing on top of him.

His fear flooded her senses, the smell of a taste she found irresistible. She silenced his screaming, tearing out his throat with her teeth.

“Funny,” she thought, as his blood soaked her gown, the chorded muscle of her body rippling bare through the open back, “I don’t feel the slightest bit tired anymore.”

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