Part Twenty Nine

You Will Find Your Way

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Part Twenty Nine of You Will Find Your Way
Well, Dallas has slept in worse places.

The thing on her back snaps at her neck, but Dallas gets an arm free and rolls over before it has the chance to sink its rows of pointed teeth into her skin and rip out something crucial to her continued existence, like her spine.

She brings her knee to her chest, fits it between her and the thing’s belly and kicks it up and off of her, scrambles to the side and gets her sword back in hand, her fingernails caking with dirt when she scrapes them against the forest floor.

It growls and lunges at her while she flips to her feet, so she flails out of the way, jams her elbow into the ground when she lands on her right side, and pain radiates up her neck for so long her eyes stop working for a terrifying handful of heartbeats.

When it fades, Dallas flexes her fingers and thrust her shaking body at the creature, shoves her shoulder into the soft space under its jaw as she swings her blade through its two massive forelegs.

Blood, or whatever it is that courses through the creature’s veins splatters over the front of her jacket, and Dallas resits the urge to gag at the smell. She kicks the creature to its back, hacks through it until the flames die off and its tail stops its agitated twitching through the fallen leaves scattered around them.

Dallas takes a shaky step back, the tip of her sword drawing a line in the dirt when she drops her arm. She wipes at her forehead, smearing sweat and the slick of whatever is splattered on her skin.

It’s hard, but she manages not to gag again.

She flicks at her jacket, but it’s probably a lost cause.

When she glances over her shoulder, she winces as one of the muscles in her neck twinges, but the blade isn’t glowing anymore, so at least she’s probably done for the night.

“Well,” she narrows her eyes at the body parts strewn in front of her. “What am I supposed to do with this mess?”

Her phone vibrates in her pocket, and Dallas looks down at her hands.

With a roll of her eyes, she swipes them down the front of her already-soiled jeans before she pulls her phone out, finds six missed calls and a series of increasingly frantic texts from Giselle.

She dashes a quick message that she’s going to be a while, looks back down at the body parts and sighs.

Obviously the entire part of the forest is isolated, and it’s not like anyone’s going to stumble upon the creature’s body before it melts away, but—

If Dallas leaves, Murphy’s Law is going to bite her in the backside worse than it already has if she waits it out.

“The things I do,” she murmurs as she drops her sword, sits cross-legged next to it and stares at the thing’s limbs as its skin starts shifting in the tell-tale signal that it’s about to stink up the forest before it dissolves to nothing.

Dawn breaks as Dallas finally makes it home.

She’s tired, sore, smelly, and still covered in muck.

“Oh, so now my body wants to let me sleep,” she grumbles and eases the door open, slips inside before one of their early-rising neighbors can see her in this state and report to Doctor Sweeney that she’s up to shenanigans again.

They never should have come here.

But the second one of those creatures reappeared, Dallas would have been drawn back to Tate anyway.

She sighs, shakes her heavy head again, carefully pushes the door shut behind her and finds Giselle curled up on the couch, her arms crosses tight over her chest and her forehead creased with worry as she dreams.

Dallas toes off her boots and pads into the living room, grasps the corner of the afghan as carefully as she can and spreads it over Giselle’s legs.

Looking down at her, Dallas finds the corner of a wrinkled Post-It poking out from under the couch, and she groans as she kneels down on creaky knees to grab it. It’s filled with tiny notes sketched out in Giselle’s familiar chicken scratch, but Dallas’ eyes burn she’s so tired, so she drops it on the table so Giselle can file it back into her research in the morning.

As she gets back to her feet, Dallas arms go numb and she signs and looks back up at the stairs, but there’s no way she’s going to make it up to her room, or even to Giselle’s bathroom on the second floor.

There is, on the other hand, a clear spot on the floor between the line of the rug and the fireplace and—

“Well, it’s not like I’ve slept in worst places,” she mutters under her breath as she drops to her knees before easing the rest of her body face-first onto the hardwood.

Giselle snorts at the noise of the thud and her quiet grumbling, but she doesn’t wake as she rolls over to face the back of the couch and falls deeper into sleep.

Dallas takes a few deep breaths before she finally, finally does the same.

You Will Find Your Way continues with Part Thirty

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A life-long college sports fan and forever bitter about the country’s east coast biases, Kathryn, the Fake Redhead, graduated from the University of Arizona with a BA in Creative Writing, emphasis in poetry because she felt the fiction studies emphasis was too pretentious. She is currently helping other writers hone their craft while she pursues her dreams of becoming a published novelist.

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