It had been a day since I saw the beast, which was able to harm me. The wound had healed so much that if the sight of her talon through my flesh wasn’t burned to my memory, I wouldn’t know it was there.
After the attack, I wandered the streets for a few hours and found my way to a small pub.
The smell as I entered filled my nose to the delight of my stomach. Feeling the weight of my pouch, I knew I had enough money to buy a few pints and a bite to eat. When I sat at a small round table in the corner, I stared at the small morning crowd mulling among the tables. Most of them looked like they were fresh off the late shift at the docks. Except for one young man who seemed well kept.
His hair seemed to shine in the candlelight and he had an air of confidence to him that the other schmucks contained. When the barmaid dropped off my pitcher and hamburger, the young man seemed to smile. I looked away from him, but he came over anyway. Without a word, he sat down and grabbed a French fry off my plate. The urge to smack him passed when he looked at me.
“You want something?” I asked.
He smiled without saying anything and poured himself a glass of my ale, drinking it without a word.
Despite my anger, his joyful attitude to stealing my food had me curious. Once he finished with one glass, he went for another, and I stopped him. With his smile still on his face, I asked again,
He shook his head and tugged against my grip.
“Then get lost. Or lose the hand.”
His grin faltered and he released my pitcher. Feeling his hand quiver within mine made me smile. The first smile I’ve had this morning and it helped quench my anger.
Looking around the pub, I noticed that the crowd had settled in and not a single person seemed to look my way.
“How was she?” The young man said. His green eyes locked on me. The similar type of green the girl’s eyes had. A flash of fear shot though me and my chest clenched at the thought of this being another trap.
“Relax, I’m not like her, not anymore.” The young man said.
Despite his reassurance, I couldn’t keep my fear from flooding my thoughts. The girl seemed so nice before as well, so I promised myself to remain cautious. While taking a bite of my hamburger, I studied the young man.
Being out of the shadows, I noticed that his hair lost some of its sheen and his young face showed signs of dirt around the ears. I smiled despite my nerves, “What do you know about her?”
“That she’s killed close to four hundred people in the U S of A since she came here.” The young man’s smile returned. He seemed to be more comfortable talking about hundreds of deaths instead of anything else.
After finishing my hamburger, I finished my pitcher, without the young man saying anything else to me. Trying to mull over the enormity of what he presented, I came to the conclusion that I would trust him with a short leash. Once something seemed odd, I would kill him, or make a run for it.
“What kind of thing is she?” I said, watching him closely. I expected to see some sort of reaction, but he only turned down to his hands, but his smile remained plastered on his face.
“She’s a demon. Some soulless creature which preys on the scared.” He folded his hands and I caught the attention of the near barmaid.
“Something to drink for my friend.” I said and she nodded as I tossed her a couple dollars.
In the silence while we waited for the beer, I tried to think of a way to questions this man about what he knows. He found me, so he knows more than he has said so far. I would get it out of him, but violence wouldn’t be the way to do that. I’ve seen too much violence to know that it never solves the problem.
The barmaid brought back the beer and slid it in front of the young man. I smiled at her, and she grinned back. She would get a good tip from me today.
The man grabbed the beer and took a sip.
“How do you know this?” I asked after the young man had finished half of his beer.
Turning to me, I noticed the fear had sucked the color from his face. “It’s not safe here. She’s close.”
Taking a quick look around, I didn’t see the girl, but with the thick crowd that had filled the place, it would be hard to tell her apart from the many faces. Even though I couldn’t see her, the man was right. I could feel her presence as well. Maybe the alcohol had something to do with it, but the more I focused on how I felt, the more I could tell she had to be close.
“Come with me.” I grabbed the man’s hand and pulled him out of the chair he sat. Shoving my way through the crowd, I felt a strong desire to get to the door. I needed something, anything to separate the feeling of her, the sickening feeling which grabbed my stomach and wouldn’t let go.
Flying through the door, I tugged the young man after me and into the street. I got a few dirty looks from some men who were trying to enter the pub. I didn’t care and pulled the young man after me.
After putting some distance between me and the pub, I released the young man’s hand. He came stumbling up to me and I slammed him against the nearby wall. Tired of the fear and confusion, I pinned him in front of me. “No more games. Tell me everything I need to know. She must be stopped.”
His eyes rolled inside his head and he slumped to the ground. Picking him up, I threw him against the wall again. My anger had taken over and it clouded my judgment as I stared at the man. “Don’t back out now. Tell me what you know!”
His body went limp in my hands and I had to calm myself before I did something I would regret, like killing him. Looking around, I saw a small crowd had started to gather and I knew if anyone else came, it would be the police. Not wanting another beating, I hoisted the young man on my shoulders and looked at the crowd. “My friend just had too much to drink. Forgive him.”
The nearby old lady smiled and I grinned back as I carried the man to a safe place. My room at the inn.