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Early Morning Alarm by Natalie McKay

An electronic beep filled the silence, it’s tone moderate but growing louder by the second. The beeps were first slow and long but were becoming shorter and more precise along with the increasing sound. Alia moaned under her sheets; curled up into a ball, and tried to stuff her hands into her ears.

Alas the process was futile as the increasing noise hammered away at her waking mind until finally Alia’s hand came out, patted her desk until she felt the alarm clock under her fine fingers. With the annoying object in hand, she clasped down in a fist. The beeping stopped immediately followed by a crunching sound, as plastic caved in upon itself. It was then thrown across the room where it hit the wall with another crunching sound and landed on the hardwood floor with a thud.

Satisfied that the noise had stopped; Alia returned to haven under her sheets, only to be awaken again by a loud knock on the door.

“Alia?” Came the muffled male voice, the low baritone caused her ears to twitch. “You told me to make sure you were up by seven… work, remember?” The door creaked open, the muffled voice became clearer.

Alia moaned again, moving her body twisting and stretching under the sheets. “Thank you, Matthew.” She growled. “Now GET OUT!”

Matthew knew enough of Alia’s temper to quickly retreat and closed the door behind him. It wasn’t until Alia heard his footsteps echo away back into the kitchen that she dared poke her head out from under the sheets. Rolling to her stomach, she leaned back into a kneeling position, her arms stretched out before her head, her face buried into the pillow. She gave the pillow a silent yawn before lifting he head up to face the day.

The blankets fell from her as she raised her torso up, her arms still stretched out into the air as she let out another yawn before scratching an itch by her left ear. Light cream coloured curtains covered the two windows of the corner room, but they didn’t stop the light of the early morning sun completely from entering the room. The rays illuminated the room for what it was, a mess of scattered clothes thrown about in disarray. Under the heaps of both clean and dirty clothes were books, a laptop somewhere and a mass assortment of different items Alia had collected over her lifetime on her different trips around the globe.

Alia rolled off the mattress and onto the cold floor. She didn’t have a bed frame that was common in the western world, she could never get used to sleeping off the ground. Her entire life she had either slept on a pile of straw or the cold hard earth. During her adolescent years Alia was off in the East, and they too slept on mattresses on the floor. It was until her return to the West that she was encountered with the high bed made out of wood. Perhaps it was her paranoia that prevented her from a good nights sleep on one of those common beds, she could never get it out of her mind who or what could be living under her in that large gap between bed and floor. Simply put she felt safer sleeping on the floor.

Finally on her feet, Alia moved to the door and opened it a crack, her golden eyes peering out first before she took a step out. Matthew was in the Kitchen, she could smell the aroma of his cooking. Eggs, bacon, orange juice and toast. A hearty breakfast that made Alia’s mouth water. She stepped out of her room, her years of training allowed her to move as silently as a mouse, if not quieter. She had also lived in this apartment for years and knew which floor boards squeaked and was able to avoid Matthew’s peripheral vision as she slipped down the hallway, pass the opening to the kitchen/living room and with a rush towards the bathroom at the other end of the hall.

With the door shut firmly behind her, Alia started the shower, and began to undress. She had arrived home at such an early hour that she didn’t bother to fully change before falling into her bed. Alia now tore off the white tank top, which wasn’t white anymore, but a dusty cream colour with spatters of dried blood from the griffon encounter, her panties were next to be taken off, thankfully they were not covered in blood. Naked as a newborn, Alia jumped into the hot water streaming through the headpiece. The water washed away the grime, dried blood and sweat she had accumulated, leaving her in much better spirits.

Grabbing the nearest towel, Alia stepped out of the cast iron tub onto the damp tile floor. With a hand she whipped the steam build up on the large mirror and stared heavily at her reflection. There was a bruise forming along her left check bone, a cut along her forehead and she could feel the sore ribs every time she moved. But nothing serious. Her body would mend itself by the end of the day, hopefully before another call for another late night excursion into the seedy underbelly of the New York streets. Matthew was oblivious to it all, not even knowing that his roommate wasn’t even fully human. Alia wanted to keep it that way, it was easier for him.

With the same subtlety as before, Alia crossed the hallway without Matthew noticing. Back in her room, Alia was like a mad woman, doing two things at once. First rummaging through all of her cloths to find those that smelled reasonable clean, that didn’t have tears, holes or blood stains, second finding a brush to hack away at her long silver-grey coloured hair. Her large, pointed, wolf-like ears kept twitching when the brush found a knot. Without her alarm clock, Alia had to judge the time by the sun, and for a first, her boss was insistent that she show up early. Something about a new shipment arriving.

With clean jeans, white blouse and black corset overtop, Alia was ready. All that she required was her charm. Before she found the Charm Master she was forced to dye her hair, wear some form of lenses and a hat to conceal her identity. She had been called many things in the past, she-wolf, daemon, witch. All had the same negative contagion. Even in the twenty-first century some things would never change. At least with the charm, a dark blue jewel hung around her neck, Alia could act as normally as she wanted to. The charm hid her unusual appearance, her hair became black and her eyes a chestnut-brown. Nobody could see her wolf ears, and even her fangs appeared smaller. The illusion the jewel contained were perfect and had cost her almost all of her possessions.

Alia opened the door louder this time, grabbing her boots on the way out to the kitchen. Matthew turned and smiled at her, setting a plate down at the island and proceeding to fill it up with all kinds of food. It took some time but the kid eventually learned Alia’s eating habits which contained a lot of protein. He was a fabulous cook and Alia had to admit the only reason why she kept him around was his cooking, and cleaning. The apartment used to look much like her room, a complete mess, with the sink high with dirty dishes, the fridge filled with outdated food and mould and other living organisms growing in abundance, and the rest of the open concept room covered with clothing, papers, books, artefacts and weapons. Matthew never commented on the weapons that Alia still left lying around at times, but she would find them next to her door after his cleaning, polished and empty of all ammunitions. As long as he doesn’t ask, Alia was happy to let it be.

“You seem cheerful.” The she-wolf said, noticing the bounce in Matthew’s step, as well as a strong whiff of some cologne that he seemed to bathe himself with.

“I have a date tonight.” He replied with a smug look.

“Oh? Is it that bouncer?” Alia asked. Though she tried to maintain her distance from the human roommate as much as possible, she couldn’t avoid him all the time and the two began to hit the bars or clubs when she was feeling up to it.

“The very same. His name is Carl by the way. Latino.”

“Right, right.” Alia said, she was too busy stuffing her face with breakfast to really care about the bouncer’s name. Matthew hadn’t had a solid relationship since he moved in, and part of Alia hoped he wouldn’t so that he could be her butler for the rest of his life.

“What about you? It’s friday night, don’t you have some man hanging off you’re shoulder yet?” Matthew asked. His attempt at prying into Alia’s personal life.

“Just my boss, and he’s a troll.” Alia said, gulping down the milk. Matthew laughed and began humming as he cleaned up. The joke was that Alia’s boss really was a Troll. With a full stomach, Alia grabbed her bag off the couch and headed to the door. “Have fun tonight.” She shouted back at Matthew before she slipped out.