Kennedy and the girls were all hiding behind a bush halfway up Stockburn Hill. They were tracking a nasty looking demon with horns all down its broad snout and across the top of its head and armour plating across its back and front. It looked like a huge spiky tortoise standing on two legs.
Kennedy had no idea what it was but figured it could be good training for the younger Slayers. Between the three of them they should be able to take it down and if they ran into trouble she'd be on hand to finish it off.
So they had been tracking it since just north of their own property, waiting for the right time to pounce and that had come. Kennedy whispered some last words of advice and encouragement and was ready to deploy the first Slayer, when from the bushes on the other side of the trail a similar demon, although smaller, came crashing out to land in a heap.
The first demon turned to it and made a snuffling noise which was answered by the second demon as it rose to its hind legs. Then both turned to face the bushes on the far side to Kennedy and the girls, who were all watching in . . . surprise?
Their surprise grew when a third spiky tortoise came flying over the bushes to land on the first two and send them sprawling. Before any of the three could get to their feet, Buffy crashed through the bushes and confronted them.
"Hey, it's the Three Demons. I bet you're wondering who's been eating all you're porridge, huh?"
The largest demon had already gotten to his feet, made the snuffling noise at her and lumbered forwards. Actually, Kennedy realized, it looked like it lumbered but it didn't; it was really fast. It seemed that as soon as it started to move it was on her and Buffy had gone into some ninja style kick-kick-punch-kick combo.
The blonde held a vicious looking dagger in one hand and as she whirled around the beast she slashed out over and over again, punching it with her right fist and slashing with the blade in her left. The thing roared in fury as it tried to follow her to hit her, but she was always just a little ahead. Soon it was covered in deep gashes, oozing green blood.
Another of the demons came in for the attack, but without even looking at it Buffy knocked it on its back with a side kick. It was stuck then, helpless on its back. It rocked backwards and forwards but could find no leverage to turn itself over. The more frustrated it got the more its head thrashed around and it wasn't long before its head was stuck fast in the moist earth too. It lay there snuffling in anger and unable to do a thing about it.
Buffy had worn the big one down now and he must have been getting dizzy from trying to pin Buffy with his horns. She took advantage and dropped a kick to its kneecap, Kennedy assumed, before sweeping its legs out from under it. It landed heavily and she wasted no time in slitting its throat with the knife.
She quickly dispatched the incapacitated one and then fell flat on her face, the fresh smell of grass no doubt assaulting her nostrils, as she was charged from behind by the smallest demon.
Kennedy was about to run out and help but something stopped her and she remained crouched behind the bush. She needn't have worried. Before the small beast could take advantage of its position Buffy had rolled to the side and placed a firm kick to where its shell ended and its thigh, she assumed, began. It fell on top of her, its nose horns narrowly missing Buffy's face as she caught the creature by the aforementioned horns, wrapped her legs around the middle of its shell and twisted its head, hard.
All the Slayers heard the loud snap.
Buffy shook the corpse off of her and stood up, brushing her clothes off. She wiped the blade on the grass at her feet and studied the demons for a minute. When she was done she looked around; her eyes were narrowed and she cocked her head as if listening to something. Then, appearing satisfied, she took off at a run up the trail.
Kennedy let out the breath she hadn't realized she was holding and shakily stood up.
She stared at the three demons dead on the trail. It had taken the blonde Slayer less than two minutes to kill all three of them. Kennedy had been leading the others in tracking one of them for the best part of an hour before she'd even thought of taking it on.
Kennedy flipped some toast onto the plate next to Willow's laptop and, grabbing another slice for herself, began buttering it while she chatted.
"So there we were, ready to Slay and then there she was all lethal kicks and puns and blonde hair whipping around all over the place until there was nothing left but blood and guts or dust and ...more dust I guess. I know I've seen her fight with everything she's got, like on the Hellmouth, but this was just a typical Tuesday night massacre of evil." She crunched through some toast, not letting it stem the flow of her progress report. "It was like someone hit all her combo buttons at once and she just let loose."
Willow took a second out from her laptop screen to grin at her girlfriend. "Sounds like someone's got a little hero worship going on."
Kennedy pfft'd that idea, spraying toast crumbs over the screen. Leaning down to wipe them away before Willow let loose herself; she read what was on there.
"Dingoes Ate My Baby . . . Where have I heard that before?"
Willow totally forgot to be pissed off about the soggy crumbs. "Uh ...It's a band, a band from Sunnydale. I had a poster inside my closet. I just saw something about them and figured I'd take a look."
Kennedy scanned the page quickly over Willow's shoulder. "Hmm seems like they're doing alright for themselves. Guess they were smart enough to get out of Sunnydale before the big finish."
"Yeah," Willow agreed nervously. She snapped the lid of the Mac down and, smiling brightly, she steered the chat into easier waters. "So Buffy's back and slaying, huh? That's good news; she was no fun being mopey Buffy all the time."
"Seems that way. We didn't engage with her; we were too worried about getting slayed by accident, but she seemed okay. Pretty damn good actually. It might be nice if next time she left us something to kill too, though. I can't give the girls field exercises if the fields have already been cleared."
"Well I'm just glad she's feeling better." Willow finally began eating her toast while Kennedy downed a carton of orange juice.
Buffy came striding through the back door. "Speak of the devil," the redhead announced.
Buffy dropped her duffel bag to the floor and fell into battle stance. "There's a devil?" The blonde glanced around warily.
Willow laughed, "I was talking about you."
Kennedy just regarded her critically, 'Damn she's on edge.'
"Oh." Buffy retrieved her pack from the floor.
"So, how was L.A.?" Willow asked cheerfully. "Have you been jogging this morning, already?" She glanced at the kitchen clock, it was barely past seven.
"Uh no I just got back. L.A. was . . . there. I'm going to take a shower." She disappeared up the stairs.
"Yeah, that holiday really released her inner ray of sunshine," Kennedy said.
Dawn hurriedly shoveled bacon and eggs into her mouth, aware that Giles didn't like to be kept waiting when it was his turn to drive her to school. He and Xander were already outside admiring the new truck Xander had purchased the day before. She was just swirling the last bite of egg around in her ketchup when Buffy thumped down the back stairs.
"Buffy, hi, when did you get back?" She asked still chewing.
Buffy gave her sister's head a hug on her way to grab the car keys. "An hour ago. Are you ready?"
"Uh what for?" Dawn carried her plate to the sink and rinsed it.
"Uh, school? Ring any bells?" She picked Dawn's book bag up from the middle of the floor and thrust it at her. "You have started?"
Dawn shook her head while she caught up with events. "Uh yeah, yesterday, but it's cool. Giles was going to run me in before he and Xander went to buy wood. You're off the hook."
"I'm never off the hook. You are my hook. Anyway who would you rather be seen arriving with - the lovable, but stuffy and speed challenged British guy or your cool and beautiful older - but not by much - sister?"
Dawn pretended to think about it and Buffy cuffed her on the arm, causing Dawn to clutch at it in an only semi-pantomiming gesture.
"Car now. Before I give your new teachers a reason to think that I'm beating you." Buffy ushered her out of the door.
"Like the reason that you really are beating me?"
"That would be it."
Xander and Giles both called hello to Buffy and seemed eager to talk, if only about the new truck, but the Chosen One cut them off.
"Sorry guys, I'm taking Dawn to school, we'll catch up later okay."
Faith heard the footsteps coming before they even turned onto her landing. She wondered what was going on. It was still before six so no one was out of their cells yet. The regular patrols were every twenty minutes and the last one had been and gone by only ten minutes ago.
She rolled over on the bunk and stared at the grey light of pre-dawn coming through the bars.
"Another day, another . . . well, day I guess," she told her cell.
The footsteps, two sets of them her ears had picked out, stopped outside her cell door and she tensed wondering who it could be.
The lock rattled as a key was used and then it swung inwards letting in the pus yellow light from the landings. Faith sat up; okay so this was new. Early morning visits? Maybe they'd brought her breakfast in bed.
"Prisoner 430019 move to the back of the cell," a gruff voiced guard bellowed.
Faith got up slowly and did as she was bid. "Jeez, Tony what's with all the commotion? I was sleeping ya'know."
Tony the guard flicked a light switch on the outside wall and the cell was illuminated for what it was. It also illuminated a short, blonde girl who was shaking like a new leaf in a spring downpour.
"Yeah well now you're not. It seems you're being given another chance at the whole playing with others thing. Here's your new roomie." He gave the blonde girl a small shove into the room. "Try not to kill this one or get her transferred to the nut wing." The door slammed shut again behind him and the keys jangled in the lock once more.
'Well this is unexpected,' Faith thought as she looked the terrified girl over. 'What the hell are they putting this poor kid in with me for? She's probably only in for a parking fine.' She didn't look more than sixteen.
"He was only joking about me killing my last cell-mate," Faith tried to reassure her. "She's fine, hardly any scarring at all."
The blonde huddled in on herself and began to cry.
Dawn was sitting quietly in the passenger seat waiting to see if her sister would start a conversation. When she continued to drive in silence Dawn took it upon herself.
"Soooo, did you and Faith sort things out? I mean, you were gone a week, so you must have, right?"
"Uh I don't know, things are complicated, what with her being in prison and all that." Buffy didn't take her eyes from the road,
'That in itself is a warning sign,' thought Dawn. 'She never keeps her eyes on the road when she's driving.' She tried a different approach.
"But it must have been good to see her. I'm surprised you bothered to come back yet, we all thought you'd stick around with Angel until the appeal, getting in everyone's way 'cause you couldn't bear to parted from her or something."
The approach obviously wasn't different enough.
"Hardly, Dawn. I've got better things to do with my time than . . ." Buffy took a deep breath off of Dawn's wounded look and forced herself to continue in a softer tone. "It just wasn't necessary. Faith has to concentrate on her appeal and I have responsibilities here - like you." She rested her hand on her sister's arm for a moment before returning it to the wheel.
"Well not that I'm not glad you're back or anything, but it would have been fine to stay away had you wanted to. I'm living in a house chock full o' Slayers. Besides, three weeks isn't that long away and then you'd both have been coming home, right?"
"Nothing's guaranteed, Dawn."
Dawn's face fell again. "But she will get out right?"
Buffy shrugged. "No reason why she should. After all, she is guilty of the crimes she went to prison for. The whole appeal case sounds like it's just the truth twisted up into knots to look prettier than it is. Faith is a murderer, Dawn; just because we're prepared to over look that because she helped save the world doesn't mean a jury will."
"Things didn't go well, did they? In L.A.?" It wasn't really a question.
"They went exactly as I should have expected them to." Buffy swung the car around in front of Dawn's school.
"What's that mean?" Dawn asked, grabbing her bag in preparation for jumping out of the car.
"Faith's not the only idiot." Buffy gave her sister a tense smile. "Have a good day."
The two men had driven to the back of the lumber yard and purchased the wood together. Now they were parked in 'The Mouth' parking lot.
"Right, you go get your shopping and I'll grab us a table. Do you want me to order for you?" Asked Xander as he climbed out of the shiny new truck.
"No thank you, and are you sure we have to eat here today? Can't we just go home and have a sandwich?" Giles pleaded.
"No. Sooner or later you will have to sample the wares of Boudenver. I would have happily gone to Barnies and settled for a bar meal, but you wanted a proper lunch. So voila." He pointed to the wide plate glass window of the diner.
Giles sighed with resignation and followed him out of the truck. This was supposed to be a bonding day for the men of the family so compromise was called for. He wondered for the dozenth time why he'd let himself be talked into this bonding thing in the first place, Xander wasn't so bad, but . . .
Andrew sat up from the bed of the truck with his arms crossed over his chest in a fake vampire pose. For a second he looked at the other two men with a serious expression but then he couldn't help himself and grinned.
"This truck is so awesome. It got a bit windy though." He jumped out of the back. "And I think I've got grit in my eye." He rubbed at it.
Giles shook his head and walked away, leaving them behind with out another word. He crossed the road and went into the supermarket. Except it wasn't really a supermarket so much as a market. Not that that mattered today; for once he wasn't here to fuss over the pitiful selection of teas they had or their lack of anything resembling marmalade.
He sauntered around the general store, pretending to be absorbed in the meager merchandise while he waited for the white haired old man behind the counter to finish with a customer. When he had the Englishman grabbed some packets of pasta - it really was extraordinary how much pasta the house went through - and made his way to the front of the shop.
The shop keeper greeted him with a small smile and took the packages.
"Will that be all sir?"
"Uh yes, thank you." Giles extended his hand politely. "I'm Mr. Giles. My friends and I have recently moved into Setting Sun camp out on East Lake road."
The shop keeper briefly shook his hand and rang up the pasta on an ancient till.
"I know who you are sir." The old man never lost his smile, but Giles was sure the glint in his eye hadn't been there a moment ago.
"Really?" Giles asked leadingly.
"Of course sir. A small town produces a city size level of gossip."
"Ah of course. I suspect you knew what we liked for breakfast before we'd even unpacked our bags," Giles joked while he tried to place the man's accent. He didn't sound altogether American, or English.
"I wouldn't go that far sir, but I imagine I will come to know, if you continue to shop with me." The shop keeper put the pasta into a brown bag and handed it to Giles.
"Setting Sun Camp is a very pretty name," Giles said, beginning his investigation. "Do you happen to know if there's a story behind it?"
"I've learned there's a story behind most things Mr. Giles. Perhaps it's a nice place from which to watch the sunset."
"Ah yes." Giles regrouped. "Uh how about the camp itself? I imagine there's quite a few tales to be told."
"I shouldn't think I know any more about the place than you do sir. I'm an old man and I don't get about like I used to. I sure you'll be happy there though sir, I think you'll find it's exactly what you and your friends have been seeking."
"And what do you think we've been seeking?" Asked Giles, his hackles of suspicion raised again.
"What all folk want - a peaceful life." The shop keeper smiled knowingly although Giles had no idea why. "Have a nice day sir, please come again."
Giles was aware he'd been dismissed, however politely, by the owner of the shop. He decided outstaying his welcome to try and learn what the old boys game was would only make it more difficult to find out. It could also be true, of course, that the old man was just a little strange with his gently condescending smiles and cryptic comments.
With a final smile of his own Giles bid the man goodbye and went to join Xander and Andrew for lunch. It would seem that Alex was wrong about the shop keeper knowing everything; either that or the man knew something he didn't want to share with him.
Willow looked up from her laptop as Buffy came through the back door.
"Dawn safely tucked into the land of the learning?" She asked.
"Uh huh. Thanks for taking her yesterday." Buffy fetched a glass and poured herself some water.
"That's okay. So how was your trip?" Willow asked brightly.
"It was okay."
"Really? Then is the face of thunder because you're back to the usual day-to-day grind or because you're missing Faith already?" Teased Willow.
"I'm not missing Faith," Buffy assured her through gritted teeth.
"Oh." The Witch's face fell. "Why not?"
Buffy didn't answer; she stood over the sink staring out across the back garden.
Willow tapped the table nervously. "I think that's good," she said at length.
"What's good?" Asked Buffy distractedly
"You with the whole not missing Faith thing. She'll be home soon so there's no need to be all pine-y. Best to look to the future and all that."
"Yeah 'cause the future's all rosy," Buffy muttered.
"What's wrong Buffy? Did they not let you see her? Is that why you were gone all week?"
"Oh I saw her." Buffy's tone was still dejected, with a hint of anger.
"She hurt you, didn't she?" Said Willow as she realized Buffy's mood for what it was. "What did she do?"
"She didn't do anything Will. She's in jail she can't do anything."
"So she said something. I knew it! She can't help herself from trying to ruin everything. Well forget her, Buffy. You don't need her anyway; you can do much better than a sk. . ."
"Shut up." Buffy's voice cut off Willow's well meaning rant and the redhead looked hurt, but Buffy didn't turn around to see it.
"Buffy I . . ."
"Just leave it Willow. I don't want to hear your opinion of Faith, I know how it goes."
"I just want to help Buffy," Willow toyed with the keys on her laptop. "It's not that I don't like Faith, I just think you could do way better."
"Maybe I can, maybe I can't," Buffy replied shortly.
"Oh Buffy, of course you can, you just need to start looking. I'm sure there's plenty of women . . . or, or men, in Boudenver just waiting for their lives to be Buffy-enriched."
"Oh and I bet you're just dying to set me up with them. Like you did with Faith." Buffy spun around to face the Wiccan as she spoke.
Willow flinched backwards but it didn't stop her from arguing back.
"You can't blame me for that! . . . even though I do," she muttered as an aside. "You and Faith were dancing in circles around each other for days before I pointed her in the direction of your hotel room. If you want someone to blame for getting hurt again, blame yourself for your crappy taste in people. Or better still, do what you once told me and put the blame where it belongs. Blame Faith for being a cold-hearted bitch." Willow had stood up and the two women were facing each other over the kitchen table.
"Oh yeah, your kind words show me just how much you like Faith," Buffy snapped. "And me for that matter."
"You're being ridiculous Buffy," Willow snapped back. "And I'm sick of it. We're all sick of it. You've spent the last two months driving us all crazy obsessing about Faith, and what for? So the first chance she gets she can break your heart? So you've loved and lost again. So have the rest of us and we're still functioning with a full quota of common sense, so get over it already." She looked at her laptop screen. It was all blurry.
Buffy closed her mouth firmly and turned to leave the kitchen via the back door.
"Where are you going now?" The redhead called after her.
"I'm going to the training barn to train."
"The training barn is just a barn at the moment." Willow said sarcastically. None of the barns had been renovated yet.
"Still better than being in here," Buffy spat back to her, leaving anyway.
Willow made a growling sound in exasperation and slammed the lid of her lap top down. Regretting her force immediately she rubbed its lid soothingly and softly said "Sorry" to it, her most prized possession.
The barn was pretty dark inside, and dusty, so Buffy had left the door open to let in a bit of light to see by. She didn't really need the light but it was letting in a nice fresh breeze that cooled her sticky body.
The bar set into the walls halfway up to the roof was as perfect as Giles had said it would be. Once she'd chased away the spiders and used a stick to dispose of the cobwebs it was perfect for pull ups.
She let go with one arm for a second to wipe the sweat from her brow before resuming. She wasn't bothering to keep count. What was the point when she knew she could do like a thousand of them? She got bored of the counting before she got tired from the exercise.
Figuring she must have done a couple of hundred already though, thanks to the delicious burn in her muscles, she upped her pace as she talked.
"So you see, it's just never gonna work out. She's all 'I'm wicked tough and I don't need anybody to love me' and, okay, before you start I know that was a terrible impersonation of her, but hey it's not like I'm taking this on the stage, and I can't do that.
"If I love somebody, I wanna be loved back, 'cause just what's the point otherwise? If she doesn't like me enough to admit it then I'm just wasting my time, right?" Buffy pulled her head above the bar and held herself there, the muscles on her arms sharply defined.
A pixie, about four inches high, was sitting on the bar watching her. Buffy assumed it was a girl pixie, due to the little grey cloth dress it wore. They hadn't been formally introduced yet; the pixie had just climbed up when Buffy had begun and they'd been chatting ever since. At least Buffy had been; the little one had hardly been able to squeeze a word in edgewise.
Now she cocked her head to one side and rubbed her smooth purple chin thoughtfully, before nodding and smiling. "Yas," she said.
Buffy nodded back and resumed her pull-ups. "See, I don't get it. She says she wanted me from day one, loved me even. She told me she went to the Mayor because he needed her, and cared for her and loved her in a way I was never prepared to. So why is it then, that when I am prepared to give her everything she's ever wanted, she doesn't want it anymore? Y'know for someone who claims to never have had anything back home, she's certainly got the spoiled child thing down. Don't you think?"
The pixie gave a tentative, "Yas."
"Exactly. So you know what? I don't think she was ever hung up on me in the first place. I think I was just a challenge, and because I didn't fall into her lap when she first wanted me to she made it her mission to make me fall for her, period. I mean, she tried hard enough when I was back in high school; I was just too caught up in other, more important stuff to realize. God that must've pissed her off," Buffy chuckled dryly. "That's probably the real reason she went to the Mayor. To get her own back on me 'cause I wouldn't play her silly games. Huh, and Xander thought I was overreacting when I ran off to L.A.; that's nothing compared to toadying to a big snake demon over a little rejection! I mean, she just rejected me and I'm not joining with the forces of darkness, am I? The worst I could be accused of is rejoining the forces of lightness. All that time I was moping around over her I didn't kill a single thing. No wonder I was so frustrated and angry all the time. It's only natural that if you don't get a good Slay in for a while you're just gonna be itching to . . ." Buffy grimaced in disgust. "And now I'm thinking like her as well as about her. She's taken over my life, this was her ultimate goal. She tried it by dragging me over to the dark side but I crawled back out, sanity more or less in tact. She tried it by swapping our bodies and I zapped my way back into my body with my sanity in tatters but not unfixable, but this time, a couple of weeks of forced togetherness and one night of pure, unadulterated . . ."
Buffy stopped her workout for a minute and just hung there, her body was suddenly very warm and it wasn't because of the pull-ups. She grit her teeth to will the memories away, going down that road wouldn't help her resolve any. She began her exercise again. ". . . Let's just say a night with Faith would convert a nun to the pleasures of the flesh. Not that a nun would be pleasuring Faith's flesh in the first place, but you know what I mean."
While Buffy worked in silence for a while, the pixie watched from her seat on the bar. Whenever Buffy looked up she smiled down sweetly at her and Buffy smiled back. It was good to have a friend who didn't set the standards by all her past mistakes.
"The thing is, I still don't know if I've done the right thing. Just walking away like that. I've spent all week thinking about it and I still don't know. Maybe I should have stuck to my guns and did things my way instead of her way. Maybe she needed me to show her how much I care by sticking around whether she liked it or not. Do you think I should have tried that?"
The pretty pixie had been studying her intensely and it seemed to take her a moment to realize that Buffy was waiting for an answer. Nodding her head emphatically to make up for it she gave an assertive, "Yas!"
"Well that's alright for you to say," grumbled the Slayer. "But what was the alternative: To stay and keep visiting until she just refused to see me anymore? Like that would help. No, I'm letting go, I'm being strong. She wants things to end here then end here they will. See how she likes that kettle of fish." Buffy began to swing backwards and forwards on the bar. When her momentum was gathering she allowed her body to arc gracefully upwards and she held herself there, toes pointing to the ceiling. "Wonder who came up with that dumb saying? Who'd make fish tea in a million years," she wondered allowed.
The pixie looked up at her, smiling at the long blonde hair fluttering in the breeze above her. She playfully batted at a few strands. "Fish . . . Kettle . . . Tea," she said happily.
"Oh I get it. Is it one of those sayings that mean absolutely nothing to do with the actual words that make it up, like ...The cat's pyjamas, or it never rains but it pours, . . . or, five by five."
The pixie looked at her blankly.
"I know it's a stupid saying," Buffy pouted, sighing in despair at ever disconnecting herself from the dark Slayer. She smiled down at the pixie. "You're really easy to talk to y'know, and you've helped a lot so thanks. It's good to have someone who just listens and isn't always trying to come up with suggestions that just don't work. I'm Buffy, by the way. What's your name?" She held out a finger for the pixie to shake.
The pixie looked at the out-stretched finger then up into Buffy's upside down face, her brow wrinkled in confusion at what she was supposed to do with it. Playing safe, not wanting to offend this nice Bigger with the pretty hair, she stuck with what she knew.
"Kettle...Yas?" She ventured.
The birds were singing in the trees and the sun shone brightly from above. It was in fact the perfect day for a stroll in the woods. Or in the case of Shaun and Debbie, a hike across a mountain or three.
"This is beautiful, I really wish we'd just dumped the kids at your mum's years ago and done this," Debbie was saying to her husband.
Shaun grinned. "I know what you mean, but I don't think my mum would have felt the same way."
They both laughed, their joined hands swinging loosely between them.
"Ooh look Shaun, there's a cave up there. Must be one of those the hotel men was talking about. You want to explore?"
Shaun stopped and looked up to a ledge just above their heads. Set into the side of the hill was a dark opening, obviously leading to quite a large cave. The tour guide bloke from the hotel had told them there were hundreds of natural caves and tunnels all through the mountains in this area. Quite a few of the hotels had daily tours through sections of them. The ledge they were looking at was easily accessed by a rough steep dirt path winding in from the left.
"Okay," he agreed and together they started to scramble up the path.
Standing on the threshold they realized just how far back it must go. The sunlight only penetrated the first few feet of the gloom.
"Maybe we should have brought torches," Debbie said a little nervously.
"It's okay; we just won't go too far. If we come to any forks in the path we'll turn around and come back."
Chuckling, the young woman nodded and they started into the dark.
After a minute or two of walking in the near absolute dark they could hear a pattering noise from further up the tunnel.
"What's that?" Debbie asked, this time the nervousness coming through loud and clear.
"Dunno, could be water dripping; a natural spring maybe."
"Ooh that would be pretty." The nerves abated a bit with that suggestion.
"Yeah, except it's so dark we wouldn't actually be able to see it," Shaun laughed.
His laugh was cut off by a growl; a close by growl.
"Okay I may have lived my whole life in London and do not have daily contact with natural underground springs, but I know they don't sound like that."
Shaun could hear the tremor in his wife's voice and he tried to keep his own calm as he answered her.
"It's probably a bear. Let's just turn around carefully and go back the way we came."
They both did.
"Where's the way out, Shaun?"
The bright glow of the entrance had been behind them since they started walking. It wasn't now.
If Shaun had an answer he forgot it when the growl came again, sounding more like a roar this time, and it was closer. Shaun swung around in place looking into the total blackness, without the light to guide him he wasn't sure which direction to run in, or which direction the angry bear was coming from.
As the roar came again, echoing through the tunnel, he decided any place was better than just here and he started to run in the direction he was sure was out. He dragged Debbie along behind him.
The heavy sound of footsteps followed them and Shaun felt a harsh tug on his hand followed by an ear-piercing scream from his wife. He felt her hand tugged out of his own and called to her, but she was gone. All he could hear was the footsteps retreating and a noise like something being dragged over the rough rock.
"Debbie? Debs, can you hear me?" Muted roaring came as his reply. Quickly as he could, cursing as he stumbled over the rough path, he followed the route he assumed their attacker had taken, determined to get his wife back or die trying.
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