Welcome to Spirit Hunger, a weekly supernatural romance story.
If you’d like to receive the finished product and updates on my next novel Spirit Elfen, fill in the form at the top of the page and you’re in!
There had been no monkey. The young man in front of her had humored her and Adi was grateful for that. He seemed genuinely concerned and tried to make sure sure she was okay. Whatever. Her heart was still beating fast and her hands felt sweaty. She just wanted to get out of there and think about what had happened.
So when the good-looking young man (she might have been shocked but she wasn’t blind, okay) asked her for coffee, she didn’t hesitate, “I’m sorry, I gotta go.”
Her abruptness was rude, she knew that. It made life easier, kept distractions away so she could concentrate on what was important. Her studies. Her independence. When she looked up, the slight smile had slipped off his face and left behind a mask of indifference. He stepped back and coldly said, “Sure, whatever”. Then he turned and walked away.
Adi watched him leave with an odd sense of disappointment. He was tall, with copper skin, long black hair tied at the back of his head. He looked like a young Keanu Reeves, except taller. Now that she thought of it, she was sure she’d seen him in class before. Usually dressed in wife-beaters and tight jeans.
She half-regretted her outburst. He had looked at her like she mattered and had been angry on her behalf. Adi straightened her shoulders and sniffed. She didn’t need a protector, she was absolutely fine by herself. Then she remembered the fear that had shot through her like a hand grabbing her throat when that – that thing – had looked back at her and grinned.
Adi swallowed. That hadn’t been a monkey. That she was sure of. She slowly made her way to the exit. The young man was gone and again she felt a clench of regret in her stomach. When she opened the door, a chill made her shiver. She looked around campus. Lectures were in full swing after lunch break and there were very few students around.
A slight wind, carrying promise of late snow, made her shiver a little and she wished she’d brought a jacket after all. The temperature had dropped considerably and Adi sped up to try to generate some body heat. She pulled her hoody tighter against the creeping cold and her shoulders rose as she clasped her arms around her. Jeez, one minute the sun shone and birds sang, the next Jack Frost made it very clear that he wasn’t done yet.
When Adi finally got to her building, she couldn’t feel her fingertips. Her nose started running in response to the welcoming warmth in her room. She was only glad that as a senior student, she was given a single. She really didn’t have the patience or inclination to share with another nosy person. And renting off-campus would have taken too much of a chunk of her monthly allowance.
She made a beeline to her electric tea kettle. It wasn’t cheap but worth every dollar. Her mom had always had one back in Germany and when Adi had to leave home, she tracked one down. It was pretty ridiculous how hard it was to find one because apparently Americans didn’t like to heat water fast. Or maybe you didn’t need a gadget for heating water if all you drank was coffee. Either way, today she really appreciated having hot water in a mug and a teabag within a few minutes.
Adi leaned back on the only chair in her sparsely furnished room and warmed her blue-tinged fingers on the hot porcelain. Heaven. Sipping the black brew always calmed her down and helped her think.
First of all, Doepker. The guy was such an ass. Adi knew she was right. Her German was fluent and what she didn’t know, she looked up. Maybe she was a little abrasive at times and she couldn’t remember why she felt the need to poke at the teacher the way she had. Still, his attitude was aggressive and threatening, and she didn’t like it.
And then the monkey or whatever that thing was. Adi’s brows rose on her forehead as she recalled the terror she felt at that moment. It seemed out of context for her. She was a calm, rational person, usually. Well, she was now.
When she was a child into her early teenage years, her psychiatrist had told her parents that what she saw every day, were ‘imaginary friends’. Even as a child she knew that couldn’t be right. They were supposed to be ‘friends’ and what she saw had frightened her. Friends don’t frighten friends, she knew that. Eventually the diagnosis had moved on to more serious conditions and the doctor had told her parents that she was suffering from ‘psychotic episodes’.
Adi had come home one day, distraught and frightened. She must have been 13. On a school trip to downtown Frankfurt, the class arrived at Taunusanlage, one of the stations in the business district. There was a lot of drug and alcohol abuse in those days, and it wasn’t uncommon to see people passed out in the stations where it was warm and sheltered.
The children were forced to step over a man who lay right across the middle of the stairs to street level. Just as Adi straddled the junkie mid-step, his dirty hand shot out and grabbed her ankle. His long fingernails dug into her skin. She muffled a scream with her fist and stared down at him.
She remembered his high-pitched giggle before he dropped back into a stupor. She could still smell the stench of unwashed body and something more sinister, like rotting onions. Her teacher pulled her away from him and made sure she was okay. But when she turned her head to give the guy one final glance, she saw a large cat peering out from underneath his jacket. It wasn’t a little domestic cat either. It looked like a skeletal, mangy puma. Its yellow eyes bore into hers and it hissed, showing broken teeth.
When Adi turned to her classmates and opened her mouth to warn them, she realized that no-one else seemed alarmed in the slightest. So she kept her mouth shut. Fitting in was important even then. And when she looked again, there was no sign of a big cat, just an emaciated smelly junkie sleeping his life away.
It upset her deeply. She wasn’t sure what exactly, being grabbed by the addict, seeing the cat, not seeing the cat, whatever it was, it made her feel on edge. Pair that with teenage hormones and it was no wonder she was upset by the time she got home.
Her mom noticed of course and after much probing and cajoling, Adi told her. She also mentioned the cat and her mom’s reaction scared her even more. Her face showed a series of emotions, running from confused to upset to determined. The next day Adi met her second psychiatrist, Dr. Niederegger.
Dr. Niederegger was good. So good that Adi confessed seeing animals sitting and slouching on people all the time. When he asked her, what kind of animals, she explained, “All kinds, even frogs and insects.”
He wanted to know if they talked to her and she shook her head, her brown bob emphatically moving along. He kept scribbling furiously into a notebook, and the more she talked, the more he scribbled. Eventually her parents were asked into the bright, expensively furnished interrogation room and Adi was asked to wait outside.
What followed was a script for tablets that made her feel drowsy and spaced out as well as many many more meetings with Dr. Niederegger. He was a great listener and smiled at her encouragingly every time she hesitated. Adi didn’t mind speaking to him, but she learned to not talk about what she saw anymore. The drugs seemed to work and eventually, she stopped seeing what others couldn’t. Mind over matter, she thought at the time. Until now.
She got up and with an impatient sigh, dropped her mug into the sink. She had no time for this nonsense. She had done it once and she could do it again. If she ignored her hallucinations, they would go away, just as before. Exams were coming up next month and she needed to pull herself together. She was so close to graduating, seeing animals that weren’t there, was not on her agenda! Then she thought of how concerned her mother had been and her chest clenched. That was the last year before everything changed.
Suddenly she had such a longing to connect with them, with her mom and dad, that she found herself on her knees, pulling a large box from underneath the bed. With shaking fingers, she pulled out a scrapbook that she had created after the accident, full of memories. Her eyes blurred when she saw herself held in her parents’ arms, only a few hours old.
She couldn’t remember of course, but she knew, just by looking at their faces, that she had been loved. And that her parents had loved each other. The next page showed her extended family at their wedding except for her father’s mother who hadn’t approved of the match. There was nothing she could do of course, given that Adi was on her way, but she made her new daughter-in-law’s life hell. Sighing, she wiped her eyes and decided to hit the books. There was no point dwelling on the past and every reason to look towards the future. All she had to do was pass her exams. No pressure then.