She awoke to see a pair of young eyes staring at her from an uncomfortably close distance. She started awake, before realizing that the eyes belonged to a little girl, probably aged four or five.
“Hi!” said the girl, “I’m Mallory, what’s your name?”
“My name is…Sarah.”
“My best friend is Sarah!” the girl yelled emphatically.
“Mallory!” A voice came from the entrance to the room. “Don’t bother our visitors.”
Kat quickly assured her that it was okay. She had been sleeping long enough anyway. Sergio was also starting to wake.
“Well dinner’s almost ready,” said Jessica. “You can do what you want of course, but you’re welcome to join us.”
At the mention of food, Sergio perked up. Kat was glad to see some color had returned to his face. But he was still weak, so Kat did her best to help him to the table. The little girl, Mallory, was there, as well as a young boy, maybe twelve years old, who introduced himself as Jeremy.
Kat and Sergio sat at the table, feeling a bit awkward as Jessica and Peter helped set out some fruit and the largest casserole Kat had ever seen. It was a good thing too, because Sergio ended up eating a lion’s share.
“So what was it like to fight a mountain lion?” asked the young boy, Jeremy.
The boy’s mother made a face at him for asking such a question, but Kat and Sergio didn’t mind.
“Oh it was absolutely terrifying but exciting at the same time,” said Sergio, who seemed in much higher spirits now that he had some food in his belly. “One moment and you think you’re dead, but then adrenaline kicks in and you’re hacking at the thing with a machete.”
Now Kat gave him a look. The young boy was hanging on every word, however.
“So did you kill it?”
“Um…yeah. Yeah we killed it.”
Peter piped in, “and you still haven’t reported any of this?”
Sergio opened his mouth, then closed it again. Getting too much into the details of why they were being secretive could make their lives a bit more complicated. Besides, Kat didn’t think these people would believe them, considering the quiet life they lived. She shook her head subtly at Sergio. The others didn’t seem to notice.
“We’ll be sure to do that as soon as we can,” said Sergio, finally. “It’s just been a rather stressful twenty-four hours.”
“Oh, of course. Well be sure to let us know if we can help in any way. Do you have a place to stay?”
Kat shook her head. “We’ve been on a sort of extended vacation while we’re…in-between homes.”
Peter glanced at his wife, who nodded, before he turned back to address Kat and Sergio. “Well, you’re welcome to stay here for a few days, or even a few weeks until you both recover.”
“That’s very generous of you.”
“Oh, think nothing of it. Besides, I think Mallory has already taken a liking to your little one there.”
Kat glanced at Alice, now awake in her carseat. The girl, Mallory, had pretty much forgotten her food and was trying her best to play with Alice. The baby wasn’t enjoying it too much, having been strapped into the carseat for too long. She was stretching and starting to cry.
Kat unstrapped Alice and held her for a while, bouncing her up and down. This seemed to calm Alice, especially when she noticed all of the new faces around the table. Her discomfort turned to curiosity, and she took to staring at each of the newcomers for long periods of time. This prompted several chuckles from the family.
They finished their dinner in relative silence, save for Alice’s occasional babbles, followed by Mallory’s frequent exclamations of “She’s so cute!” Kat, on the other hand, was thoughtful. She felt more like trusting this couple, despite their unusual willingness to help. Perhaps they could spend some time here.
Two weeks later, and they were still at the Evans’ house. In that time, they had grown rather close. Kat and Jessica were fast becoming friends, and she found they had a lot in common. While Kat had been a professor of English, Jessica was a self-published writer who mostly stayed at home with the kids, but spent much of her time working on new books. They would talk for long hours about literary technique and their favorite authors. Kat hadn’t talked to anyone on these subjects since she had left the university for maternity leave.
Sergio and Peter got along rather well. Upon learning that the Evans had a broken heater, Sergio offered to fix it for them. With a little support for his leg, it didn’t take him long to find the problem and fix it. It was their best way of giving back for the help that Peter and Jessica had offered them.
Everyone in the family quickly fell in love with Alice, who delighted in the newfound attention. Alice had started crawling, and she seemed to love this freedom. Kat was grateful that the girl had an actual home to explore, rather than the confined spaces of motel after motel. Still, she knew it wouldn’t last forever.
The “bishop” doctor who had helped them earlier, came by once or twice more to check up on Sergio’s leg and Kat’s shoulder. After a while, he admitted that the bite was probably not rabid, and Kat was safe as long as she kept taking the antibiotics.
It was near the start of week three in the Evans’ home, that Kat and Sergio decided they needed to leave. They hadn’t stayed in one place this long since living with Simon, and both were worried about Invergence and their uncanny ability to track them. Thankfully, they had killed the demon that probably tracked them so far, but that didn’t mean that Invergence was out of options.
So both Kat and Sergio began making preparations to go. They began taking quick trips to nearby stores to stock up on a few supplies.
One day, while Sergio was out purchasing a thank-you gift for the Evans, Kat found herself alone with the family. It was the weekend, and everyone was home. Alice was gone with Sergio, leaving Kat chatting alone with the family. She was going to drop the news that they needed to leave. She wasn’t looking forward to the conversation, considering the kindness that these people had shown, and the genuine interest in their wellfare.
That was when a knock sounded at the door. A very loud and steady knock.
Kat froze. She had heard that knock once before, more of a steady banging on the door, as though it came from a beast playing the human.
Jessica, who had been chatting with Kat at the kitchen table, stood up to answer the door. Kat was so flustered by the familiar knock, that she didn’t even notice until Jessica was half-way to the door.
Upon hearing Kat’s voice, the beast outside of the door kicked it inward. The door flew off its hinges and straight into Jessica, who collapsed underneath it.
Don’t stop there! Read the next chapter!