Creature of Unknown Origin


The morning was consumed by a stiff neck and a twisted back. Ava seemed to fare better,

probably because she’d gotten up sometime in the wee hours of the morning and gone back to bed.

I forced my eyes away from her hunched over form. No matter how hard I commanded them to

focus on the surrounding forest, my eyes kept finding their way back to Ava, her face hidden by

the curtain of her glowing hair and shadow. No matter how hard I tried to concentrate on the bitter

glide of coffee on my tongue or the crisp air sweeping across my face like a slap, the only thing

my mind seemed to register was the way the sun illuminated her hair.

I didn’t dare bother her. Sure, she had offered easy smiles and laughs over breakfast before

we all went our separate ways with Howie and Dr. Richards getting right to work on the machine

in a weird sense of camaraderie and Delia off to who knows where to find this super special part

they desperately needed for their undertaking. I only hoped Delia knew what she was looking for,

because I barely understood what Howie had asked for. Maybe they’d spent too much time together

because when I first met Delia, she was just as in the dark as I still am when it came to Howie’s

technical jargon.

With the three of them occupied by their own worlds, Ava and I were left to do as we

pleased. Th e only problem was, I didn’t know what that was. Despite the easy groove we’d settled

into, even with Dr. Richards’ company, I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t stop thinking. My mind raced

and raced, and no matter how exhausted I was, or how hard I tried to shut it up, more of everything

slammed into me.

That was another problem in and of itself. What was “everything”?

Too much. I knew that with a grave certainty.

My eyes darted back to Ava. Seeing her look up at me and stretch out on the stair made me

ease up again. I should know by now that no one was coming. No threat, no monsters, no U.S.

Park Service ranger.

“ Y ou wanna go for a run?” She asked, her eyes bright. Her pen rapidly tapped the cover of

the notebook she’d lifted from the lab this morning.

“Think you can keep up?” I smirked.

Her lips curled, somewhere between a snarky smile and a threat. “That’s cute.”

I swallowed the last gulp of coffee. It hit the bottom of my stomach with a cartoonish thunk .

Ava stood slowly. “I’ll just put these inside and we’ll be on our way. First one to the ridge wins?”

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