She looked in the mirror and told that to herself. Part of her daily ritual, a reminder to herself to be better. There was no pinnacle. There was always room for improvement in body and mind, especially in a vocation like this.
She always had to be better. She couldn’t take any chances. She couldn’t let something like emotion get in the way of her work. Too many depended on her.
She said it again, her saliva splattering all over the mirror as she spoke. She said it again because she meant it. Her reflection made her stomach sting, her own face as atrocious a sight as those of the humans.
‘You’re pathetic. You’re disgusting.’
That thing in the mirror was a pathetic, revolting, disgusting creature, she said to herself. She said it inwardly, but she knew that wasn’t enough. It had to be said as loud as possible, and the more it hurt her throat the better.
She was pathetic, as loathsome as the politicians and common criminals and humans. The only difference between them and her was that she actually tried to be better.
Dana pressed her head against the mirror and sighed. Couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence. Couldn’t bring herself to finish the job.
All of a sudden, Dana remembered her family. Her father. The words he had told her about always having a positive attitude and never giving up on one’s dreams. Her sister.
Her sister, Doctor Henrietta Hubbard. A biomedical scientist who decided to expand her horizons, as it were. Once she tested medicine on animals, then she decided to create her own animals. Creating new species was far from frowned-upon in Abnorlia; that was how Dana got her precious Lix with which she performed her duties. Henrietta’s method for creating animals, however, was an unorthodox one: taking the corpses of animals and sewing them up.
It actually worked. All she had to do was sew the bottom half of a Danta onto the top half of a Gupfor, and she had a creature with large fangs that could hop great distances.
Henrietta got greedy though. One of her colleagues was a scientist looking for universes other than theirs and the universe of humans, who had been trying to modify those remote controls the bedhiders used to enter the bedrooms of human children. Henrietta helped with her colleague’s research, but she also went into the universe of humans, abducting their animals. One thing every monster knew about humans was that they had these creatures called dogs, and they couldn’t get enough of them.
So off Henrietta went on creating the perfect dog, going into human pet cemeteries and unearthing what she saw as the best body parts.
She knew full well there was a chance she’d be discovered. She knew full well that actions like this would begin legends and ghost stories. She knew full well there was a chance the humans would kill her like they did so many of her kind. Like her father.
She just really wanted one of those dogs.
It was a dedication to her work Dana found admirable. Still she was told she couldn’t take any chances. Still she was told that, just like the bedhiders, anyone with any contact with the humans had to die.
Dana didn’t do it. She had used a Lix on her sister – one that knocked her unconscious, not a lethal one – and took her somewhere. When Henrietta came to, Dana told her to run. She received a new name, some money from Dana’s last job and a map to the furthest place Dana could think of.
Dana thought that would simply be a one-off occurrence. This was her own flesh and blood, after all, and she thus told herself not to do it again. Yet just the other day she was tasked with killing a bedhider, as well as the child the bedhider was planning to scare.
When she came through the same portal as the bedhider, she remembered her father. Like her sister, he had an interest in the human world. He wasn’t a bedhider but he knew one, and used the bedhider’s device to bring his daughters unusual gifts.
A human saw him. A human shot him. Apparently at the time he was picking roses.
He wasn’t the first to have something like this happen, nor was he the last. Poor Margaret Munchester, dying in the world of humans while out with her son. Her body had been found, but her son was missing.
That she kept in mind as she crawled towards the bedhider, the monster that went into the bedrooms of human children to scare them, to help “build character” or something like that. Whatever it was, it was nothing worth risking the safety of monsters over. In seconds, she fired a lethal Lix at the bedhider and he collapsed.
Dana snatched the bedhider’s device and created a portal back to their world, so she could drag the corpse there. Then she returned to the human’s bedroom, leaving the Lix behind. Humans had to be killed with human things, so in went Dana with a kitchen knife.
She had done this before. She had done it several times and she had never been caught. Last time she did it, a clown got blamed.
Over the human child she lunged, clutching the knife in her hands.
The child smiled at her.
Then Dana froze.
‘You actually froze?’ the present Dana asked her reflection, ‘Just because she liked you? Pathetic.
She needed to talk to someone.
After she fed her precious Lix, with even a little ‘Mummy has to go now’, she left the flat and slithered towards the train station. Before she paid for her tickets, she took a quick look at her identity for the day – Brenda Mumbles.
The train didn’t take long to arrive at her destination, or at least the station closest to her destination. There was still a long slither to follow, but it was worth it.
The old castle in the woods. Just where she told her to go.
‘Hi, sis! Something bothering you? Well, they say stroking a dog relieves stress and I’ve just made a new one!’