Sanctuary

Hello, and welcome to the first chapter of my latest fic. Also, first published multichap!

As of now I'm unsure how often I'll update, but I'll try not to dawdle on the details. I apologise for the slow pacing of this chapter, as it is establishing a number of plot important devices, but I hope to increase the pacing later on. Thank you for giving my fic a shot anyway. You're awesome.

As a warning, there will be same sex pairings present throughout this story, as well as heterosexual ones. If you are not open to gay relationships, then this tale might make you a little ill for reasons I hadn't intended. Also, there will be monster/human relations. That could get a little squicky.

This is a horror story, after all. And I adore me some squick in the right dosage.

Please review, and enjoy.


Chapter 1


Boobs.

Avert my eyes. Clear my throat. Act robotically.

Boobs everywhere.

I try not to notice as I stiffly pass out the water bottles. But try as I might, those uniforms are sizes too small on most of these sweaty, hormonal teenagers, and it's getting me sweaty, too. Doesn't help that they keep hugging each other and slapping one another on the ass.

And I'm helpless; just quietly doing my duty for the team. A team I can't really be a part of since I'm not really the type to run around kicking a ball all day. And I only volunteered to be their water girl due to the meddling of my best friend, who also has big boobs, and is convincing with her big boobs. Ugh, I'm such a loser. And pervert. A loser-pervert. For big boobs.

My bosom buddy, Tabitha, is currently leaning over and smirking at me because she knows.

"Water?" I offer through my teeth. I resist the urge to add 'evil seductress bitch' to that. There's no point; it'd only inflate the girl's ego.

"Why, sure. Thanks, babe." She leisurely stretches, snaking her hand over my lap to the cooler box beside me, ignoring the bottle I'm already offering her for the sake of embarrassing me as much as possible.

I roll my eyes with a groan and retrieve another, shoving it in her outstretched hand, which is doing sexy finger wiggles. "Here. Please stop torturing me."

"Aaw. But it's fun to torture you, and the girls don't mind. We're all practically bi anyway." She smiles sweetly and sits back, tugging at the neck of the bottle between her strong fingers before lifting it to her lips, taking eager chugs of the contents within.

I watch her show off for a moment longer, then turn to study the field. I sit counting the clumps of grass kicked up by spiked shoe soles. "You girls run around like angry rhinoceroses. I thought that mentality was reserved for the guys."

"Sweet little cherub," replies my best friend after her final sip, looping a sweaty arm around my shoulders and tugging me into an affectionate squeeze. She takes advantage of our size difference to slap a quick, wet kiss upon my head. We've known each other so long that such displays of affection in public are perfectly normal for us. "That's only because we're horny. It's like one big mating dance. A dance orgy, you know?"

"Okay. First of all, you're gross right now. Please, get off."

She jokingly huffs and releases me, but still lays her big, hot hand on my lower back.

"Secondly, what you just said makes no sense. Thirdly, does everything have to be dirty with you?" I turn to frown up at her. "Be honest with me."

"Everything?"

"Everything."

She shrugs, taking a quick mouthful of her water. She pulls a face, swishes it around in her chops for a bit, then bends over slightly, skilfully shooting out a frothy stream into the grass between our feet. "Yep."

I shift away from the puddle, utterly disgusted, watching the ooze slowly seep into the soil. "Oh, eew."

"What?"

"You're disgusting, that's what. Now ten earthworms will surely drown to death because of you. Wicked child."

"Yeah, whatever." She elbows me. "Hey, tell me something. Why do you have to be one of those prissy lesbians? I mean, your name's feisty and badass. And you're so adorable, like a pixie. I'd get a kick out of you acting like-"

"An idiot, I know. Not gonna happen." I flick her cheek with a huff. "And I don't look like a pixie! Stop saying that."

"You totally do."

"Do not."

"Do."

I simply glare at her.

"It's so cute, with your fuzzy hair and petite little body…" She lowers her eyes. "Meh, could do with more boobage, but we can't all be perfect, huh? Leave that to me, babe."

"The cheek!" I raise my hand.

"Are you about to abuse me?"

"Yes."

She shakes her head. "That's really wrong, you know."

I slap her across her broad shoulder, my tiny hand making absolutely no impact on the giant whatsoever. On the up side, my efforts do produce a rather satisfying 'thwack' sound.

She gives me a blank face. "Was that it? Did you, uhh, just attack me? Or, sorry; try to? I'm disappointed."

"Silence." I press a finger to her lips. "It is golden."

But she speaks past my finger anyway, her voice steadily rising in pitch. "You should use your pixie powers on me-"

"I said silence!"

"-Like in that cartoon show. Hey, when you harness the powers of friendship, do you miraculously get inappropriately high heels and grow long, sparkling whip-hair?"

I snarl, striking her repeatedly on her shoulder, this time with one of the water bottles. It's cold and full. "Take that, biatch!"

"Ow! Okay, that hurts a bit!" She withdraws, looking around desperately for assistance. "Coach!" she suddenly cries out, freezing me on the spot. "Coach, the water nymph's assaulting me!"

I gape in outrage, then resume beating her with greater fervour.

"Knock it off," growls the familiar voice of the woman we simply call Coach, and a glance reveals the older lady narrowing her eyes at us from her seat at the stands.

I obey, meekly smiling at her whilst Tabitha giggles into my shoulder. "Sorry, ma'am."

Coach smiles tiredly. She's a nice woman. She's lethargic at the moment, having run around like a maniac today to get the new players for the season 'in the mood', and utterly spent, the greying matriarch uses this break as much as her team to catch her breath, chest moving visibly beneath her tracksuit and jostling the silver whistle dangling by string from her bowed neck; her 'Lucky Whistle'. "That's all right. Just limit the flirting, ladies."

"Yeah, limit the flirting," echoes Stacy with a sour face; the preppy bitch of the team. I don't like her. Neither does Tabitha, which alienates the two of us from the popular crowd. Stacy is the alpha female of that pack.

Which reminds me… Ignoring her, I turn to the redheaded Amazon – with boobs as a bonus – seated beside me, currently glaring daggers at the dreaded prep. "Tabby?"

"Yeah, Ray?" She typically forgets her annoyance and turns to grin cheerfully back at me, green eyes all sparkly and affectionate. She loves my pet name for her. So she often refers to me by mine as well, to return the favour. It's a cosy habit. Speaks for how close we've become over the years, especially since my 'coming out' of the 'closet'.

I lean over to butt my forehead lightly against her chin. "Still on for tonight?" Admitting that I'm gay to her was hard. I still haven't told my parents, because I'm scared they'll look at me differently somehow. Still, Tabitha's so supportive, and I love her for that. I love her for many reasons. What would I do without you, Tabby-Cat?

"'Course I am. Wouldn't sell you out, would I?"

"Mmm."

"You okay?" She gazes really deeply into my eyes. She has this weird way of looking at people, penetrating their defences. She's scared homophobes off countless times with a simple heated glare. Her size also helps, I'm sure. "You sound distracted."

I squeeze one of her hands. "I'm fine. Just thinking what an awesome friend you are."

She practically glows. Such a softy, for such an openly perverted moron. "Thanks!"

I nod. Being this close to her reminds me of the complications of being gay. "Sure." Cute dumbass. Why do I have to have a crush on you? It'd be easier if I was crushing on Stacy. I gag relexively.

That's a scary thought.


The walk home is peaceful and carefree. From Tabitha's end.

I'm quietly brooding.

"Did you see how I kicked the ball today? Shit, I was awesome, right?"

"Uh-huh." I chew my lip. I know she meant the bi comment jokingly, but… what if? What if there's a chance…?

"I've gotta tell ya, babe. I think this season is gonna be good."

"Uh-huh." Kick a stone in my path. Watch it bounce along the sidewalk. Sigh. I mean, we've been friends forever, and these feelings haven't gone away. If anything, they've grown. It's crazy.

"Ray?"

"Uh-huh."

"You know, I was thinking of converting to cannibalism. Wanna come over for dinner sometime?"

"Uh-huh." And, sure, it's nice to feel this way about someone, but… I dunno. I mean, I've never even had a girlfriend. Never had a boyfriend, either, when I think about it. I don't even have any real friends. Just… her. Tabby.

"I slept in a tree last night. Upside down, like a bat. Is that a sign of vampirism, do you think?"

"Uh-huh." Maybe it's a sign? Or maybe it's all in my head. Sheesh, I'm pathetic; I think about this stuff every day. It's stupid. She's not gay. Not even a little bit. Nope, it's all my imagination.

"Yo, bitch-cakes!"

I jump with fright, whipping around to face the source of the sudden explosion of noise beside my ear. "Tabby? Wha-?"

"You haven't been listening to me at all this entire time, have you?" Her big hands settle on her muscular hips and she glares down at me with annoyance.

Caught.

Only one thing to do.

I mew quietly, opening my arms.

Her expression softens and with a sympathetic hum she pulls me into a gentle embrace, my face settling in her wonderful boobs because they're basically at head height for me. "Oh, Ray. What's wrong, little pumpkin?"

Why does she have to sound like my mother right now? I groan into the magical bosom of warm darkness. I'm glad she had a shower after practice; otherwise this wouldn't be quite so pleasant. "Mmmf."

"Sorry?"

"Mmmf."

She chuckles, loosening her hold a little and stepping back so I can speak. "Repeat that, honey."

"There's something I… want to tell you." I swallow. There's a big lump in my throat. "I, uh, am scared to say it, though."

"Babe, you can say anything you need to. I promise I'll still be your best friend forever."

I wince.

"Even if it's something crazy, like you, running around the city at night, fighting crime in your underwear and dancing in cornfields under the full moon."

I sniffle and promptly press my face in her chest again, hugging her waist tight. I love you. Oh god, I love you so much it hurts.

"Aw, Ray-"

"Well, would you look at that, girls!"

I feel Tabitha stiffen against me. Oh, no.

"Our resident dykes, having a moment to themselves. How precious!" That whiny voice could only belong to one preppy bitch in this neighbourhood. Stacy; the good, god-fearing slut. And she's brought friends, if those giggles are any indication.

I shake my head. Why her, why now?

Tabitha growls protectively. "Go away."

"Why should we?"

"Not in the mood."

"Aw, but we hardly ever talk anymore. I mean, we're on the same team, right? We could be friends."

"You don't mean that."

"She's so grouchy," comments one of the cronies, Jasmine. "On the rag?"

"Do lesbians even get that?" asks the dumbass of the trio, Gail. Her retarded laughter follows soon after, and sure enough the other two fake-laugh along with her to make the poor thing feel involved.

I try to hide in Tabitha's arms. I'm not strong, or brave, on my own. I'm not the remotest bit intimidating when threatened. So I rely heavily on her toughness on occasions like these. She's my guardian. She protects me from the homophobes. Or, at least they act like homophobes for my benefit, but then make out amongst themselves when drunk and not jamming some guy's cock in their mouths one by one. That's what I heard.

"Hey, girls. Enough. Piss off before I-"

"Oh, now that's a nasty tone! No, sweetie, that won't work at all. Go on. Say you're sorry."

"What?"

"You heard Stacy. Or did your girlfriend's lady juices dry up and block your ears?"

I wince. I can feel Tabitha grind her teeth. She's mad, really mad, and I'm immensely guilty. I hug her a little tighter. I don't like putting her through stuff like this. It's my fault. Somehow my secret got out – that's what you get for confessing in the cafeteria when you think nobody else is listening and you're bubbly on soda – and now my best friend's been labelled, too. But all this time, she's taken the blows. Because I'm such a fucking pussy. Oh, Tabby. I'm sorry!

"Leave us alone."

"Do you own this sidewalk? Funny, I don't see your name anywhere…"

Tabitha lets me go suddenly, then takes my hand firmly in hers and begins to march us away, dragging me in her wake, stumbling after the tall woman, trying to match her long strides. "Bitches."

"Hey! Ahem, excuse me! I don't recall you apologising!"

"Yeah, uh, dyke. Where's your manners, huh?"

"Bet she lost 'em in the poontang pixie."

"Now now, girls. Let's not stoop to their level. We are better than those… things."

I bow my head. My eyes are wet already. Angrily I wipe the moistrure away.

"Ignore those fake Barbie dolls. They're all trash." Tabitha's walking slows once we turn the corner, out of sight. She bristles, baring her teeth at the brick wall adorned with graffiti as we trace it along our familiar route, tugging me close to her side, like she's trying to guard me from the rude words painted in bright, obnoxious neon.

"It must be so hard for you," I whisper, watching her sadly.

"What is?"

"Them, teasing you like that. Because of me. They're your teammates. You play together. I know how much soccer means to you. It's… not fair that I cause this rift between you guys. You'd be better off without me."

Her green eyes snap sideways to meet with mine, furious. "Fuck them. Fuck soccer, if that's the way it is."

"Tabby-"

"I wouldn't dump you for the world. You got me out that rut I was stuck in after the accident, and if I can't play soccer and be with you at the same time because some fucking skanks say so, then I guess I'll just quit the team. Yeah. If that's how it's gotta be, fine."

I flush at the mentioning of her accident. Her father, mowed down by a drunk driver. And the driver was the mayor's son; and Stacy's boyfriend. The boy got off practically scot-free whilst Tabitha's dad spent weeks in a hospital bed, tied to some machines I couldn't possibly describe. She was so messed up after that. I was scared for her.

My best friend huffs, blowing a fiery strand of hair out her face. Squaring her shoulders she mutters darkly, "See what Coach has to say about that. Bet she'll make them change their tune. Humph."

I hug her arm.

She pauses, turns to me, and kisses me lightly atop my head. "Not gonna leave my pretty pixie princess." I feel her lips curl into a sly smile.

"I won't abuse you this one time. But don't push me." I dodge her attempt to ruffle my hairdo. "Hey! It's unmanageable enough as it is, don't make it worse!"

We tussle for a while, good mood restored.

"C'mon, let's get to your house already. I'm hungry. Hope your mom's making those crispy crumbed chicken strips I love so much!"

"You know where those strips will go? Here." I prod her in the hip.

She waves me off with a haughty smirk. "Me, gain weight? Noo! I'll be sexy forever. Right?"

"Right."

"And you, too."

"Totally."

We share a fist bump.


"Oh, hi, girls!"

"Uh-oh, brace yourself."

Seconds later my mother swoops down on us like the tiny dove she is, wrapping her arms around my neck first, depositing a kiss on the tip of my nose before snagging Tabitha, which is funny to watch since the ridiculously tall redhead has to bend down to receive the strangling embrace.

"Hi, Mom!" we say together, then giggle.

"Dad home, yet?"

"No, still at work. I miss him." She releases Tabitha, gleaming with motherly joy. "My darlings, there's fresh juice and snacks in the kitchen. I'm going to put the kettle on if you feel like something hot."

"There's a lot of that around here!" My friend twiddles her eyebrows. It's seriously creepy, because that's my mom she's sweet talking to. Maybe she is a little gay, after all.

Should I feel hopeful?

Not right now, I don't.

"Ugh." I grab Tabitha's arm and drag her away, my mother smiling after us. "Good god, sometimes I wonder why I bother inviting you around here. Thanks, Mom!"

"Shall I bring you some munchies?"

"No, thanks! We'll be down in a bit! I have to discipline the idiot."

"Hey, the idiot's right here." Tabitha rolls her green eyes, letting me pull her upstairs to my room. She starts resisting halfway up. "And you don't invite me. This is practically my second home."

"Okay! See you later, dears!"

"See you, other-mother! Love you lots!"

"I love you too, dear! Play nicely with your almost-sister."

Face red, I wave to Mom and then attempt to finish climbing Mount Everstairs whilst lugging the cackling idiot behind me. "We've got a project to do, so I hope you can be serious for five minutes and actually focus on schoolwork."

"Bah, I'll try. Can't promise anything."

We eventually do reach my room, after a brief match of tug-of-war, which she lets me win after dragging me over the floor a couple of times.

Closing the door behind us, I watch with amusement as she makes herself quite at home on my bed. "Tabby," I say in a warning tone. "You're not going to fall asleep already, are you?"

She mumbles something in my pillow, lying on her stomach, arms and legs liberally spread out.

Grasping my stuffed giraffe whilst nudging my bag to the foot of my bed, I wield Benny like a sword and stab his soft head into her round, firm, shamelessly wiggling bottom. "No. No sleep. That's for later, after we've gotten some semblance of work done."

She reluctantly rolls over and pulls Benny out my hands whilst doing to, hugging my most beloved stuffed animal toy under her chin, looking pitifully up at me.

"It's time to work. Stop that, you misfit." I sit down beside her, pulling my small notebook out the inner pocket of my jacket, paging through the messy scribbles I'd taken throughout my various classes. "Right."

"Slave driver." She shifts onto her knees, leaning over to prop her chip atop my shoulder. From her perch she gazes down at my notes. "How do you read anything you write? It's like hieroglyphics, only inebriated."

A swift smack on the forehead with my trusty little notebook is her punishment. "I understand it perfectly. If you'll start behaving, I'll explain everything to you. Okay?"

"Ouch."

"Good girl."


I wake to a car's siren blaring in the distance, a usual occurrence in the city.

Peering down, the weight of Tabitha's head on my unfortunately flat chest becomes apparent, as well as a warm, wet patch, spread near to her gaping mouth. She drooled on me. Again! "Hurrmph. Idiot."

She snores in reply. It's a wonder how I sleep at all when she's around.

I have to smile at that, though. It's so cute. I like the way she snores. There's something charming about it. And I really don't mind having my boobs drooled on. That loser-pervert thing again.

Some moments pass.

She's like a lion… with style. I thread my fingers through her gorgeous, curly mane as I lie in bed, pinned beneath her, waiting for someone to shut the car up already so I can maybe fall back to sleep and stop being so aware of the thundering heart beating away irately in my ribcage. A sexy lady lion. Rawr.

Her next snore sounds suspiciously like a purr.

The alarm finally stops, and with it comes a fresh and unpleasant realisation.

"Shit." I gotta pee. Nobody sees my angry face. Well, that was pointless. Now, if I can just move her without waking her up…

I sigh and carefully grasp hold of her relaxed shoulders. Slowly, ever so carefully, I begin to roll her off of me until she's lying comfortably on her back. I'm sure to pull up the blankets afterward so she doesn't get cold, tucking them beneath her chin. "There."

She snores contentedly away.

I wipe a crumb off her cheek from the chips she'd scoffed earlier. I wonder how they tasted after brushing her teeth. Silently I slip out of bed, padding to the door, opening it. I step into the hall, look her over one last time, then quietly close it after me and make my way to the bathroom, scratching at my butt all the while and yawning behind a raised hand. My shorts rustle.

The toilet flushes.

I yawn again, drying my soapy hands on the towel. Back to bed. I exit the bathroom, gently pulling the door closed in my wake. Afterwards I stand still for a moment, thinking, Wait. Not yet. I rub my throat. Thirsty.

So I make my way downstairs with a glass of milk in mind. Yeah. Milk. I like milk. Gonna get me some milk. Milk is the dope. Milk comes from boobs. I like boobs. My feet pitter-patter as I pad quietly, and a little clumsily in my partially asleep state, into the kitchen. The tiled floor is icy. I open the fridge. Hello, milk, my old friend.

Glass shatters.

I'm a bit more awake.

I stop, then slowly ease the fridge door shut, the light cutting off. I blink blearily. What was that?

There's an ominous creak on the wooden floorboards. Another creak, then another and another. Someone is definitely in our house.

I cautiously survey my darkened surroundings. Finding myself alone, I pull a knife out its slot in the wooden box situated on the counter, a variety of hilts projecting from various other slots just like it. It's ridiculous; I've grabbed this knife, but I know I could never actually hurt anyone. Still, having a weapon at hand is empowering.

Heroically I stay rooted to my spot on the chilled tiles, knife raised before me and held in both hands, listening to the sounds of exploration. Preying the stranger doesn't come into the kitchen.

There's snort; animalistic.

Not someone.

Something.

Interested, I guardedly sneak my way out the kitchen and press my back to the wall quickly, listening. What is that? A wild pig? In the city? I'm… I'm sure it's just lost, I'll let it out…

There's a snuffling of some sort, and heavy footfalls; too heavy for any pig, I soon realise. The sounds get muffled by carpeting, and I instinctively know the intruder is in the living room.

I realise that I've let my drowsy curiosity get the better of me. I'm wide awake, now. Wait! What was I thinking? Gah. I hold my knife tightly in my trembling fist and drive the other into my forehead, cursing myself for being such a moron. Screw curiosity, this is plain stupid! Should've called Dad. Maybe, if I'm quiet, I can get back upstairs without being noticed and-

A dark figure unexpectedly emerges from around the corner, and I can clearly enough make out its shape it in the dim lighting, a form blacker than black, moving on four long, thickset limbs.

I feel nearly every hair on my body stand erect. Holy shit.

It hasn't noticed me yet. It's sniffing about, interested in something thankfully other than myself.

I choke, frozen where I stand with my back pressed to the chilled wall, my tiny knife so insignificant now that I see the sheer scale of the intruder. The knife, if I were to actually use it, would merely piss it off. A bear. That's gotta be a fucking bear. A bear in my house!

It snorts again.

Okay, stay calm… just, move away slowly… I slide my bare foot across the naked floorboard by an inch.

The animal's head snaps around, turning to face me suddenly. It glares through sinister red slits for eyes, steadily widening. A deep growl soon follows.

My throat feels dry. I cannot move a muscle. I dare not. No… that's not a bear…

It has pointy ears, the tips of which are higher than the top of my father's bald scalp, and he's not a short man. I can tell they're angled toward me, listening to my quickening heart, to my frightened gasps of breath which I cannot still.

I'm so scared. More scared than the time the bullies' boyfriends pulled a knife on me and threatened to cut my throat with it to make room for all their boners to be jammed in at the same time. That was scary.

This is so much scarier.

A tail swats about agitatedly, broad shoulders hunching momentarily as it ducks its head and growls again. Then, rising off of burly, apelike forearms, it eases itself nearly upright, like a human, only far bigger. It's so big it has to stand stooped forward uncomfortably just to fit and maintain this intimidating posture, and it's girth easily blocks the passageway with its sturdy legs set far apart and its muscular arms held aloft, finger like protrusions flexing, scraping the walls on either side.

"Demon-gorilla?" I query the creature for some dumb reason.

It tilts its head.

"No? Okay. I'll be going to bed now if that's fine w-w-with you."

Paws pad closer, bringing the stench of wet fur, earth, leaves, and rotten meat clearly to my nose.

"Please don't…" I shudder, watching a hand extend toward me. "Please d-don't hurt me."

It snarls. It's going to hurt me. I know it in that instant. This is not a friendly meeting. That hand is not planning to shake mine, but more likely, rip it off.

I'm gonna die. I don't wanna die.

That's all that matters right now.

I scream, high and shrill, acting on instinct yet unable to go anywhere. It's just like in the movies. I'm that dumb actress who went down the basement and now screams helplessly at the camera when I should be running or fighting or something useful. Like a real idiot I drop the knife.

It hits the floor with a clatter.

In response the animal takes a casual swipe at my face, shutting me up fast by simply batting me aside; a blow that sends me flying along the wall and crashing into a vase, which topples and smashes, spilling sharp bits of glass, flowers, and water.

I'm lying in the puddle, gasping, when I hear feet thundering downstairs and loud voices, then bellowing, and more screaming. I woke them all, it seems. I'm not sure whether to be happy to have my family and crush here as reinforcements or horrified at what I've done.

"Rachel!"

I'm so tired all of a sudden. My eyes flutter, trying to stay open whist sticky wet stings my cheeks. I reach up with a shaking hand, feeling irregular flesh. My cheek's been torn open in places.

There's a bloodcurdling howl.

A thud, like a body hitting the floor, and the tearing of fabric.

More screams, more shouts, a struggle.

And then a metallic click.

And blackness.


"Honey? Baby, can you hear me? It's Mama."

"Mom?" I frown. I sound really groggy. Is it Monday already?

"Come on, pookie-pie. I'm here, too."

"Dad…" I groan. Opening my eyes takes a great deal of strength, and everything's bright and fuzzy. I blink back the fuzz and search for my parents, finding the pair of them cuddled together at my side, looking relieved. I realise, after shifting my leg out from beneath its twin, that I'm lying in a strange bed. It smells sterile. "What happened?"

"Oh, my baby!" My mother half throws herself over me, offering no explanation or warning. It's a good thing she's small and skinny like I am, or else I'd be really squashed.

"Oomph."

"You're in the hospital," Dad says, grasping my hand lovingly whilst his wife smothers my face with kisses. "Some… thing, animal or demon, I don't know, got in the house while we were sleeping. It attacked you and Tabitha-"

"Tabby!" I wriggle in my mother's arms. "Is she okay? Where is she?"

"Easy, easy, sweetheart. She's in the bed just over there."

I roll over and look. There, sound asleep in the bed beside me, is my Tabitha; peaceful, beautiful, her arm nearest me covered in bandages. "Oh… Tabby…"

"The doctor said she'll be fine. She just needs to sleep. And you, my furry little peach, also need some rest. Proper rest, I mean."

"Dad." I try to soothe my mother, rubbing her shoulders in my hands and hugging her close whilst she sobs gratefully into my neck, watching Tabitha all the while and feeling guiltier than ever before. I endangered all these people. I got someone I love hurt. This is messed up. All over a glass of milk. Never drink milk again.

"Yes, my love?"

"Are you guys okay?"

"We're fine, darling. Just worried so much about you."

"And… what happened to the thing that did this?" I let the venom seep into my voice. 'It' had no business breaking into our home. 'It' had no business frightening my parents. 'It' definitely had no business hurting my Tabitha.

"Got away," Dad mutters murderously. Then, in a far kinder manner, he retakes one of my hands, cupping it in his own and drawing it to his lips, kissing it softly. His moustache is rough and comforting against my knuckles. "I was about to raise my shotgun and blow its mangy head off when something spooked it, I think. Then it was off faster than I could pull the trigger. I wish I was quicker. Always wanted a fur rug. Something to wipe my shoes on…"

"You badass." I chuckle despite myself. I feel just a little better. At least we're all alive, and it's like Dad said.

Everything's going to be okay.


"Rachel?"

I stir in bed, eyes fluttering open far too soon for my liking. It feels like I only just got to sleep, like I convinced my parents to leave the hospital just five minutes ago. The ward is dark. "Hello?"

There's movement in the corner of the room.

I stiffen. My eyes rove to a slender silhouette, slowly drifting toward the foot of my bed.

"I'm glad you're awake."

I look the stranger over a few times, deciding this is definitely a woman. No woman I know. There's something 'off' about her. "Sorry, but who are you, and why are you in my room?" I roll my eyes at myself. "Our room."

"Visiting. I understand you've had a rough night."

"Yeah, kinda. Attacked by a wild animal. Or demon."

"I heard." She nods. I can't really make out any features, but she's tall, not as tall as Tabitha, and with more feminine proportions. She's curvaceous and moves silently, too silently, and she's effortlessly graceful in her motions; like a cat. It's creepy.

"So, Miss…"

"Faith," she says gently. "Call me Faith."

"Okay." I wave. "Hi, Faith. I'm… you already know my name, you just said it."

There's a chuckle, then silence.

"So…" I grip the bedding in my hands, squeezing. How does this lady know who I am? Did I feature in the news or something? And why didn't a nurse wake me to tell me I have a visitor? Isn't that what they do in hospitals? Or… god, I hope she didn't break in, I've had enough of that already. "Can I help you?"

"Not yet," she answers mysteriously, her voice deep and quiet, level and smooth. A sexy voice. "Just checking up on you. Making sure you're safe."

"Oh? That's rather nice of you, seeing as we don't really know each other."

"As of now. But we'll be in touch."

"We will? So this 'visit' is a recurring thing?"

"Indeed."

I consider screaming for help.

"Don't be concerned. I'm a friend. I mean you no harm, Rachel."

I raise a brow. You're creepy. "That's nice to know."

"So, tell me. How do you feel?"

"Fine, I guess. My face hurts."

Suddenly she's in my personal space, touching my nose, then my lips, finding the stitches and tracing them beneath calloused, icy fingertips. "It should. You were mauled. But that's typical of such attacks; consider yourself lucky to be alive right now. Rachel."

I scramble away. Stranger danger! "Whoa, that's no good! Um, Faith? Look, who are you, seriously?"

"Hmm." She slips away, and I'm still unsure of what she looks like. It's like she's so strange the darkness itself is shrouding her identity. "Too soon."

"Too… what?"

She mumbles something, as if speaking to some tiny devil on her shoulder, then sighs. "Look, I have to go. I could only spare a few moments to see you, tragically, and I'm late as it is."

"Gotta be somewhere?" I ask meekly. Wow. I am such a dipshit.

"Pressingly. But as I said, we'll talk again soon. I'll need an audience with your friend, also. Goodbye, Rachel."

"But-"

Faith vanishes.

My eyes widen. "Hello?"

The creepy woman is gone, leaving no trace of her ever having been there in the first place.

Like I dreamt her up.

I rub my eyes and try searching for her again. "Freaky shit…" But I know I didn't imagine her. She touched my face. She was right there, and now, there's nothing but air in the space her body previously occupied, and beyond that, a bare section of wall.

She didn't touch the door. Made no sound.

And her skin was so very cold.


Again, you're awesome. If you could spare a second, please tell me your thoughts.

Otherwise I'm working blind. Be my eyes.

Have a nice day.