Abigail barely made it into her apartment before she collapsed on the couch. Maintaining her composure in public was more physically challenging than she expected. Stretching out, she braced herself for the transformation she knew was coming.
During the experimental phase, when she practiced the shape-shifting techniques she learned while Quentin was dormant, morphing back to her natural state was quick. Since going through the changing process more often, it was as if her body was forgetting who she was. One day, she feared she wouldn’t be able to return to Abigail.
Drenched in sweat, and her very skin aching, she forced herself to take a hot shower. She could still smell the morgue stench in her hair.
Later, wrapped in blankets and propped up on pillows, Abigail sipped a hot cup of black tea. A notebook laid flat across her lap, several pages covered in her tight, neat, handwriting. Working through formulas for longer transformations and different personas, Abigail tucked her pen behind her ear, and switched on her television.
Hoping for some mindless diversions, instead she got a news report on the accident that morning that brought Quentin back within her grasp. The newly deceased, a homeless man who often stayed in the Washington Bridge tent city, had walked into the path of a late-model sedan driven by Casper Benson, a 72-year-old retired accountant.
Benson was listed at St. Michael’s Hospital in guarded condition after suffering a heart attack following the accident. The victim, identified as Liam Dolan, was pronounced dead at the hospital. According to police, no charges were expected to be filed against Benson.
Turning up the volume on the set, Abigail listen as the reporter gave more statistics on vehicle versus pedestrian accidents, then segued to the main anchor who offered commentary on the increasing homeless numbers in the outlying area.
Det. Barlowe’s card was on her nightstand. Pulling her phone out of the front pocket of a pair of pants lying across the end of her bed, Abigail dialed his number.
“Det. Barlowe?” Abigail flipped the card between her fingers. “I’m sorry if I’m calling too late.”
“Thank you, I appreciate your concern. I wish you could have met him before his illness.”
“I would like to talk with you about Liam,” she said. “Dr. Aldridge said there were some, err, inconsistencies in his accident report.”
“Yes, 2 o’clock tomorrow in your office would be perfect.” Abigail smiled at the ease of it.
Ending her call, she moved the notebook and burrowed into her blankets. She fell asleep dreaming of luring Barlowe into her chamber of secrets.