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Memories Beneath the Sand

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Gregory first meets Helen soon after he opens his own independent practice. She comes in on a cloudy day, rain and thunder rumbling in the distance as the sun starts to set, her skirts tattered and swishing around her ankles. He’s surprised when she inquires as to whether or not he needs an assistant and becomes confused after he starts asking after her credentials.

“I know it might sound strange but if you’ll just allow me a few days to show you my skills…” Helen begs, “I’m afraid that you’re the only one who will be able to help me.”

The older man nods and beckons the blonde further in, “I was just closing up for the evening. Would you like to stay for dinner? My wife’s cooking is perfect for a cold and stormy night.”

“I couldn’t impose…”

“I insist.”

“Then who am I to say no?” Helen agrees with a small smile.

By the end of the evening Gregory and Patricia have convinced Helen to stay with them in partial exchange for her assisting in the practice. Patricia offers their guest some of her older dresses and other essentials after realizing that the literal clothes on her back was about all the blonde had with her. They all bid each other good night before Helen retreats to the guest room she’d been bequeathed. She’s surprised to find a running tap in the bathroom but takes advantage and uses it to clean up for the first time in a while.

All she can tell them about her past is that she doesn’t remember anything specifically before waking up in a London gutter three months previously. She’d managed an odd job here and there to get food and clothes but once she’d heard about Gregory and his penchant for the unusual, her plan was to seek him out and get any help she could.

A thorough physical exam doesn’t lend them any helpful clues as to the cause of Helen’s purported amnesia, but Gregory draws blood anyway. He turns around after grabbing some gauze for the needle prick, only to find her arm completely healed save a small drop of blood lingering on her skin, “That’s remarkable.”

He pokes and prods her a little longer before leaving her be to look over his notes. By the end of the week he has no more answers for her than he did the day she showed up besides the fact that she definitely had some abnormalities in her DNA.

After a few months of living with the Magnus’ and helping out in the practice Gregory suggests that Helen try her hand at medical school. He could see that she had great skill and great potential and didn’t want to see it wasted on the small tasks that he had her doing. Helen protests, insisting she couldn’t take advantage of their hospitality and kindness like that. It takes him time to wear her down but by the time the fall semester opens he and Patricia are riding to Oxford with her to get her settled on campus.

The majority of her first year doesn’t go that well. Not that Helen isn’t smart and doesn’t excel at her work and get good grades, but she spends most of the time feeling like an outcast. It seemed that being a woman on campus in her class set meant constantly garnering stares and narrow eyed looks in her classes and while walking around campus. Even the professors would ignore her existence sometimes. Yet in late March she meets a shy young Serbian boy in the local supply shop and by the beginning of the summer session she has made fast friends with a small group of men that seem to have the same curiosity for the strange and unusual that she and Gregory did.

- - - - - -

Hunger. Insatiable hunger.

Running through the woods. Branches and twigs snapping under bare feet.

Jump. Climb. Drop. Crack.

No time to stop. Must keep running.

Helen awakes with a start and a gasping breath, sitting up in bed. She brushes her fingers through her hair and looks around her moonlit bedroom, trying to compose herself. In her recent block of memory she’d never had a dream. Every night was essentially darkness. It couldn’t be a coincidence her first one was mere days after their injection of the source blood. Swallowing hard she tosses her blankets to the side and gets out of bed.

She notices a few feathers drifting in the air and pulls the blanket back to inspect it. There’s a single precise gash in the fabric, exposing the down filling. A curious hum escapes her before she grabs her housecoat and makes her way down to the lab she shared with Gregory. If she wasn’t going to get any more sleep, might as well do some work if they were going to let Nikola out of solitary confinement before the next semester.

- - - - - -

She felt different around Nikola ever since the source blood. There was a pull when they were in proximity of each other and a sorrow when they were apart for too long. Between being away from him and four years of war, Helen’s soul hurt. So when Nikola had proposed plans for a dig in Egypt she’d jumped at the chance.

They were a month in and finally making headway when things changed. Early that morning Helen had pushed her way into a promising tunnel system and hadn’t stopped for a rest since. Nikola was frustrated as he trailed behind her, wanting to stop and read what they were passing by but any time he sat down to do some work she’d dashed off again around another corner. When he does finally catch up to her he couldn’t even reliably say where the hell they were besides buried under the sand of the Egyptian desert.

“Would you just slow down a moment?!” Nikola asks, his tone sharp and snappy. Helen seems to ignore him speaking and he reaches out to grab her attention only to have his own arm grabbed before she jerks him around to look in the same direction that she was. In front of them was an ornate set of doors guarded by two spider web wrapped statues.

Everything they’d laid their eyes on by this point was distinctly Egyptian but suddenly they were in very unfamiliar territory. He’d only seen a few of these symbols in passing over the years, and hadn’t retained the meaning of any of them.

Ash-ka-hara,” Helen drawls in a snake like tone before stepping forward and placing her hand on the seal. The engraving starts to glow under her hand as they can both hear locks start to twist and turn. The light fades as the doors push open of their own volition, revealing an untouched room.

Nikola is speechless and rooted to the spot but Helen tentatively takes a step forward, “This feels familiar…”

“This probably shouldn’t feel familiar to anyone alive on this planet right now,” He chokes out a moment later, but stays hot on her tail as she steps into the room. The doors slam shut behind them and they look at each other to wonder if they were really as royally screwed as it seemed they were.

“I’ve seen it in my dreams,” She tells him as she steps up to a faceless statue that was playing mannequin to an ornate set of female body armor. She runs her fingers over the plates of metal and swaths of leather as her mind starts to feel heavy, “I’ve seen it practically every night since we set up camp…”

“Helen?” Nikola questions as he notices the change in her demeanor.

Ska-nehmakh…” Helen murmurs, any sense of English leaving her as she continues to talk to herself quietly. A few minutes later she pulls away and determinedly strides across the room. She steps onto an empty platform and lets her fingers search the wall for a moment before she once again presses her hand against a seal, gasping as it cuts her palm on contact. She gives it a quick lick out of muscle reaction but by the time the wall starts to fold away it’s healed and hanging limply by her side.

Stone gives way to glass and metal and they find themselves looking at rows and rows of bodies in stasis chambers, all dressed in some form of battle gear.

“What the bloody hell…” Nikola trails off as he steps up next to her, peering into the room that had appeared out of nowhere.

“I remember.”