Kris was honestly leaning toward leaving. She could logic her way through why leaving was a good and safe idea - and yet, her heart made it difficult, because even if it was the smart choice, it didn’t make it the RIGHT choice for her.
‘I hope I get at least a little appreciation…’ she thought, shaking her head.
Thus, she opted to wait until the cat woman came to. What would come from that, she didn’t know. She’d just have to wait and see, she supposed.
Time slowly trickled by her. Kris remained where she was, only getting up to stretch or walk around to get a look at the area itself. The trees seemed to stretch on endlessly before her, and the air seemed so much… crisper here. She again felt the sensation like she was in some sort of dream instead of reality, yet a brisk pinch to the wrist proved that to be wrong.
After what felt like hours, the cat woman started to stir. Kris remained where she was standing, waiting, watching. She didn’t want to flop down until the woman’s eyes were opened.
This didn’t take long.
The woman groaned, then gradually gathered her bearings. She noticed Kris standing there, frowned, then glanced down at her injured arm and leg. Kris watched her nostrils flare, and the woman recoiled in disgust.
“Ew,” she muttered. “What the hell is that smell? It reeks.”
“Some weird potion… tonic thing,” Kris replied. She finally sat down where she’d been for much of the time. “I bought it from that creepy shop back that way,” she pointed from where she came. “The guy said it would, uh, help.”
The woman snorted. “So the snake sold you some of his poison, did he? No wonder it stinks like rotten ass.” She paused to check her arm, moving it and grimacing, then did the same with her leg. “Well, damn. At least you spared my stomach the torment of making me guzzle that shit down.”
Kris furrowed her brow.
“Oh,” the woman said, meeting Kris’ gaze. “And… thank you.” She clicked her teeth. “Hate swallowing my pride, but, you went out of your way to help my sorry ass. Twice over, it seems.” She let out a sharp breath and bowed her head to Kris. “You have my genuine thanks. Not used to the people I run into these parts being so compassionate. Not that I see very many of them like you.”
Kris blinked. The way she said ‘like you’ didn’t sound the way it should’ve. Yet she shrugged this off. “You’re welcome. I’m Kris, by the way.”
“Kris?” The woman cocked an eyebrow, regarding Kris again. “I see. Name’s Shayla.”
“Shayla,” Kris said. “That’s a pretty name.”
Shayla cracked a smirk. “Used to be, maybe. Not so much anymore.”
Silence fell between the two.
Kris’ lips twitched. “So, uh, you know the people who run that freaky store?”
“Unfortunately,” Shayla replied. She eyed Kris thoughtfully for a moment before continuing, “I’ve met and dealt with all three of them.”
“Are the sisters as… unnerving as Vance is?” Kris asked.
Shayla laughed. “Believe me, Kris - they are far worse. But.” She groaned and began to stagger to her feet, much to Kris’ surprise. “Truth is, they aren’t so bad when you get to know them. Creepy assholes, the lot of ‘em, but they mean well enough, I guess.”
“Careful,” Kris said, jumping up. “Your wounds are--”
“I know,” Shayla said. She leaned against the trunk of the tree once she was up, clutching at her wounded arm with her free hand. She groaned. “Shit, that smarts. Get to smell like garbage while I heal. Guess that’s what I get for being so damn careless.”
She gave a sigh, then regarded Kris. “Thanks again for the help, Kris. Don’t expect you to stick around, though. This place gets a lot less pleasant during the wee hours of the night.” She nodded toward the pathway. “You should be able to get back where you came from without any trouble.”
“What are you going to do?” Kris asked.
“Hobble off to lick my wounds,” Shayla replied with a wry grin. “I’ll survive.”
She turned and began to very stagger away, at a painstakingly slow pace given her injured state.Kris’ lips twitched. She watched Shayla go for a moment before glancing toward the way she’d come - toward the trail that would eventually lead back to her apartment, which she knew would be waiting for her either way. And yet, her stomach knotted at the thought of abandoning Shayla when she was hurt like that.
She clicked her teeth. Today had been a day filled with a lot of harder choices than she expected. Now she needed to make another one. Did she go back and leave Shayla be? Or did she listen to her conscience and stick around for a little while longer?
Written by Hollowpages on 11 February 2020