I’d been thinking about life a while ago. At first I thought “Jeez man, that’s really a dying-old-man thought”, but I ended up going through with it anyway.
I was pretty happy with what I’d done up until then, I’ve seen so many amazing places, met so many people all over the world, and found so many secrets, stories, myths that turned out to be truth… I remember how I sat on my windowsill at home, smiling at the thought of all those mysteries I had followed and uncovered over time. It was a rather rare occasion, me being in my own house, since I was travelling all the time in search for new things to discover. I just can’t contain my curiosity.
Sometimes I felt like an addict, chasing some kind of drug-like state of happiness whenever I was out exploring and researching, but at least this was a healthier way of life than injecting stuff in your bloodstream to keep yourself sane. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself every time I reach the hospital to get patched up after a particularly… turbulent exploring trip.
Anyway, I’m losing track of my train of thought. Might be the adrenaline messing with my brain.
So I’d been thinking about how I lived my life up to that point, until another question popped up. How do I want my life to end? Pretty morbid to ask yourself a question like that, but I think a lot of people have thought about their own death at least once. I wondered, what would be a fulfilling end?
Would I prefer dying here, at home, in my own bed? It’d be peaceful, yeah, but I’d be alone. Though, I wasn’t sure if I’d prefer having my life come to an end in the middle of a group of people either. Like, to just drop dead on a busy market somewhere in India? That’d be kinda weird.
I decided that I wanted to die being happy. No matter where, just while doing something I love. Back then I thought that dying on one of my missions could be… satisfying, sort of. I’d probably be happy knowing I was doing what I adored doing the most, and that maybe, just maybe, people would remember me for the incredible journeys I’d been on. It would happen on a mission years and years from now, when I would’ve seen so much of the world I almost knew it like the back of my hand.
While I was sitting there, slowly taking sips from my hot chocolate, I never thought it could happen on the next trip I would take, of course. But yet here I am, making my way through the thick foliage of the rainforest, running for my goddamn life.
I can feel my heartbeat reverberating through my skull, my feet carrying me as fast as they can and my worn-out bag hitting my right hip with every step I take. The constant travelling, climbing and running I’d done caused me to be very fit naturally, but even with that advantage I can’t be sure I would outrun them. I don’t even know how many of them are after me, but I do know that they’re bad news and that I really don’t want to be any nearer to them than I already am.
This… gang, or something was running after me, I’d noticed them following me around in the village, before I went out in the forest. Only a couple of hours ago I left the town to go and look for the mythical ‘Jewels of Catilcheleon’, which were believed to hold mysterious, magical powers. It’s not the first time I have to deal with people trying to steal my findings, but none of the previous ones were as determined as these guys.
Sweat is starting to run down from my hairline over my forehead, and makes my glasses slowly slip from my nose. Pushing them up quickly I pass tree after tree, green leaves only a blur in my peripheral view as I rush past them with my eyes set on the slowly brightening part of the jungle in front of me. The edge of this part of the forest lays right in front of me, and if I’m not mistaken that should be the side next to the village. There I should be able to lose these dudes and hide somewhere until it’s safe, then get the first plane away from here. It’s such a shame I didn’t get more time to properly search the site, there could’ve been so much more to discover… For now though I’m happy that I found one of the pieces that were described in the legends, the double necklace.
I had to wring myself in and out of a plane wreck to get to it, and then there was that really tiny underground temple underneath it to search through, but it was worth it after all. The heavy artefact hit my leg in rhythmic thumps, hidden from the view under the notebooks I always carry in my bag. It probably slows me down just a bit, but I refuse to give this up to those assholes. They probably want to sell this for lots of money, and I’m not gonna let that happen. I need to find out about its origin, its stories, whether it actually has special abilities or not, and I’ll protect it from people like them at all cost.
The edge is getting closer and closer with every step, the sunlight infiltrating more through the thinning layer of leaves above me. Only a meter or 20 left… With all of the energy I have left I push my feet against the damp forest floor, dirt flying up behind me as I jump over the remains of a fallen tree. The adrenaline rush has been keeping me going forward all the way from the plane crash site to here, I just hope it can keep doing that until I reach a safe hiding place. Just 5 meters left…
Focusing all my strength in my legs I leap forward through the treeline, crying out in relief when I feel the sun shine on my skin without getting blocked off by the branches in the rainforest.
My relief didn’t last long. To be more precise, it lasted until I noticed that my feet took way too long to hit solid ground again. I look around and see that the rainforest behind me bleeds into an area with far less trees and a rocky, dusty surface, one that’s probably best described as ‘a pretty steep hillside’.
I stumble and do some kind of awkward somersault forward, landing flat on my back and sliding on for a couple of meters with small clouds of dust forming around me. My right hand reaches for my bag instinctively, and luckily the necklace is still in there. Scrambling to my feet I hear one of the guys from the gang shout to the others, and I decide to keep going, even though this isn’t where I’d hoped to end up. The village must’ve been on another side of the forest…
Ignoring the pain in my back and left leg I ran down the hill, trying to keep my balance as best as I can. My fall has given those criminals time to catch up, so now I have to regain some of the distance I’d created between me and them. I dodge a couple of trees and dare to jump onto a small flat ledge, my feet sliding on the dusty surface before they push me forward again.
It’s becoming harder and harder for me to breathe, my lungs aching to take in more oxygen to keep my body going, but there was no time for that. All I have time for is running, and staying out of the hands of the people closing in on me.
With my elbows resting on my knees I watch the river flow to the right, running through the narrow valley next to this stupid hill. The past two days I’ve tried to keep my hopes up, to stay positive and loyal to those I loved. “They’ll come back” I told myself. “You’ll see, soon enough they’re gonna come back for you, and then we can all go home again.”
I lean back against the bark of this damned tree on this damned hill, feeling the sun burn down on my face. “They’re not coming back” I silently spoke to the sky. “They just…”
It hurts to even think about it, but it’s the truth nevertheless. With slightly trembling fingers I stroke the rope lying partly on my chest, one side of it tied around the tree behind me, the other side coiling around my collar and tied around my neck.
“They just left me here to die.”
I’ve seen a movie once, where at the end the couple departs on a vacation with their dog, but before they actually leave they abandon the dog. They tied him to a lamppost by the road and drove off. It was a pretty sad movie, but I forgot about it soon enough and went on with my life. Now though, I know how that dog must’ve felt.
I take my hands off the rope and push it off my chest, the bell on my collar jingling when I brush against it with my hand. Instead I start plucking on the long sleeves of my shirt, pulling the fabric with my index finger and thumb, but soon I get bored of that as well.
Yawning shortly I let my legs, arms and tail stretch out for a bit, and I try to clear my throat. Never in my life have I been so thirsty, I would do anything to get something to drink, but I’d probably never even get the chance. That dog from the movie had been just slightly luckier than I am now, at least he got put in a place where people pass by from time to time…
Despite the tiredness that washed over me from time to time I refuse to sleep, and even if I wanted to I probably wouldn’t fall asleep anyway. I’m just scared that if I let go and fall asleep here, I wouldn’t wake up again. Instead, I’d decided to stay awake, always ready for whenever something would happen around here. Though, that meant that I had lots of time to think, and that only made my mood worse and worse.
Countless times already I thought “I was so certain, that I was more to them than just a pet.” I know that I’m not fully human, yeah, but I’m not just an animal either. If they only wanted ‘just a pet’, why didn’t they adopt a regular cat then, instead of me? I’ve always been so nice to them, I could talk to them, they could talk to me and I would listen…
Remembering all those good times I feel my ears go down, lying flat against my head. They probably don’t feel the same way about me like I feel about them, why else would they leave me here in the middle of nowhere? They were probably on their way home already, relaxing on the long flight back with a cold drink.
A drink… That’s all I want at the moment. And someone to come and save me, if that’s possible.
Suddenly I hear something. Automatically my ears perk up and I look around, trying to find the source of the sound. It almost seemed like shouting, coming from above. My eyes widen. Could it be that there’s someone here? I keep scanning the rocky hillside, searching for a sign of life, until I can make out a figure coming down towards me. Unbelievable! There’s actually someone else here! They can get me loose from this tree and then I can finally get away…
I keep my eyes on the figure, but frown when I get a better look. It looks like a guy, sprinting down the hill at great speed. Why is he running? He’s rushing right to where I am, though it doesn’t seem like he’s seen me.
He has some kind of long sleeved shirt tied around his waist that’s fluttering behind him, his pants are torn at the knees and he’s carrying a bag over his shoulder that’s swinging from side to side because of his haste. As I squint my eyes I see a strange kind of rope necklace dangling over his chest, with some kind of glass charm or something on it, and that he has a large bandage wrapped around his left shoulder and upper arm. Throwing glances to somewhere further up the hill he’s finding a way down, just barely missing the trees on his path. I want to call out to him, first of all to make him aware that I’m here and secondly to warn him, as he’s heading right for the tree I’m tied to.
“H-Hey!” I manage to force out, but it sounds more like a hoarse whisper and he doesn’t react to it at all. Just when he whips his gaze back towards where he’s running he loses his footing and slips, hitting the tree at full speed.
His glasses fly off his face and he seems out of it for a moment, before he sits up and frantically looks around, hands tightly gripping the bag by his side. His gaze lands on me and he jerks back in surprise. He seems so scared of something, I really feel for him, but this is still my only chance of getting loose.
“Can you pl-ease h-help me?” I plead, tugging on the cord. “I’m s-stuck here…”
He looks up, then to me and back up again, as if contemplating whether or not to help me. I keep looking him in the eyes, trying to express my desperation. If he doesn’t help me, then I’m doomed.
The impact knocks all of the remaining air out of my lungs, and I come to a complete stop against the tree. Everything goes black for a moment, the ground seems to wobble underneath me, but I gotta keep going. I can’t stop now. When my vision returns I notice that my glasses are gone, my surroundings way too blurry to be normal, but I do see the slight movement to my left.
I lock eyes with someone sitting at the other side of the tree. A figure stares back at me, until my gaze shifts a little bit upwards. Are those… cat ears? What the hell? They keep looking at me with sad, green eyes, but I don’t really know if I should say something, or if I even have the time to do so.
“Can you pl-ease h-help me? I’m s-stuck here…” The figure speaks quietly, their voice gravelly and filled with despair. They have their hands held around a rope, and only now I see how they’re bound to the tree I’m still half lying against, the rope secured around their throat.
The poor thing can’t get away, and if I leave them here they might die, but… I look up the hill to see the men coming closer very fast, and back at the cat-like figure. I really don’t have time for this! If the gang catches up with me I’m a goner, and I’m not ready for that yet. Not by far.
I scuttle to my feet as fast as I can and ready myself for the sprint down the last part of the hill, until I hear a soft cough coming from the figure by the tree. They sit turned to the side again, face buried in their arms and their knees pulled up to their chest, as if they’ve accepted the fact that they won’t ever get freed from that tree. My heart sinks even deeper, and despite my time running out very quickly I reach for the knife on my belt.
With three quick slashes I cut through the rope, and the ends fall to the ground. The figure jolts up and looks me in the eyes, disbelief and gratitude written on their features. I flash a quick smile before turning around and dashing away towards the river.
The moment I feel the rope softly hit my side I look up, right into the eyes of the guy. He’s holding a knife in his hand, and I promptly realise what he just did. Though, before I can even try to say thanks he turns away and starts running again. He didn’t even pick his glasses up before he left! I carefully pick them up and turn them around in my hands, seeing how they were cracked on one side. Just when I lift the fragile object closer to my face I hear other footsteps coming down, this time though it sounds like there’s more than one person coming towards me.
Almost immediately after I noticed the noises there are other men running to the river, I count five of them, but they either don’t see me or don’t care about me being here. They rush past me at a high speed, when one of them starts shouting directions at the others.
“He’s heading downstream! He’s trying to get to the village!”
I can see the guy who saved me running along the riverbank, following the stream towards the town I’ve stayed in with my owners before all this happened. Are they trying to catch him?
My eyes widen when I realise what I caused. He was trying to get away from these mean-looking men, they were the thing he was so afraid of, and now they’re catching up on him because he stopped to help me. Who knows what they’re gonna do to him when they get him… I need to do something! This dude saved my life and put himself in danger because of it, I have to help him any way I can…
As soon as those sinister guys were out of sight I stand up, just slightly wobbly on my feet, and rush down to the river. I fall to my knees by the side of the water and drink greedily, the cool liquid soothing my sore throat after so long without it. Though, I don’t stay long, I still have to help this mysterious guy get away from whatever his stalkers have in store for him. With newfound energy I start running by the riverside, following the tracks of the group towards the town.
The sun is starting to go down, I can barely feel my feet anymore and I’m totally out of breath, but I keep running. I reached the village just moments ago, zipping through the streets and narrow alleyways to keep these dudes off of me. Despite all my efforts they’re getting closer and closer, two of them are just barely 10 meters behind me, but I still refuse to surrender myself.
Turning a sharp corner I sprint past the small earth-coloured houses, silently grateful for the lack of people on the streets, and try to remember where the entrance to the tunnels under the village was. Down there I’d probably be able to lose them somewhere and hide until they leave, the only problem is that I can’t recall where the way in is… Once more I curse the loss of my glasses, the lack of detail in my surroundings making it a lot harder to determine what route to take.
My footsteps echo through the alley, accompanied by the muffled clanking of the necklace in my bag and the sound of me panting heavily. I try to focus on the buildings around me, in search of anything I recall from my rather short stay here, but all of the orange and brown tints just melt together in the corners of my eyes.
A glimpse of a blue and purple banner to my right grabs my attention, isn’t that where the village’s well is? Glad I finally have an orientation point I take the turn right towards it, keeping my eyes on the colourful banner. Sliding slightly on the dusty path I take another turn and barely avoid a stack of baskets against the wall, but in result I end up tripping over my own feet.
I stumble and try to keep running, but this alley has stuff stacked everywhere. Large bags, baskets, a couple of barrels and stacks of boxes litter the already cramped passageway, and in a matter of seconds I run into a low stack of wooden crates. I land on my side, a searing pain spreading from my right ankle, and I instinctively curl up in the pile of crates.
Clenching my teeth I keep in a scream of pain, and let out a shuddering breath instead. Everything seems to come together. The exhaustion, the ache in my back, the stinging in my lungs, the feeling of the rough wooden surface of the crates on my skin… It all comes crashing down on me and keeps me trapped lying here. All my hope on getting away fades when I hear several sets of footsteps come to a stop near me, and I can just see the morphed shapes of the world around me before I black out.
I walk through the darkening streets of the village without really knowing where to go. I didn’t explore the whole town while we were here, so now I can’t even tell where I am anymore. Still I keep looking for the guy with the bag, listening for his footsteps and even trying to smell the air to see if I could find him via his scent trail.
This might’ve been a dumb idea. How am I supposed to find someone in this town when I don’t even know where he was heading to? Despite those thoughts popping up constantly I don’t stop walking, even with the light becoming scarcer with the minute. Not that I’d have any difficulties seeing in the dark, but I can feel my body protesting against the lack of sleep.
The rope swings behind me, the other end still tied around my neck. It’s a constant reminder of the reason why I need to find that guy, with every step I take it brushes against my back. Getting it off me is a worry for later, finding him is my priority. Finding a place to stay would probably be the third thing to do, then… I kinda forgot that I’m here alone now, without a home or something like that. A feeling of dread takes over for a second, as I think back of my house far away from here. Well, I guess that that’s not even my house anymore, now…
Letting out a long yawn I take a right turn towards the bridge, but stop dead in my tracks when I pick up a sound. My ears go up and I turn my head to the source of the sound. A number of voices sound through the street, very quietly yet still audible to me. I hide in a doorway behind a large vase, just peeking over it to see who’s talking, and I cheer internally when I recognise the men making their way through the street. Those were the guys following him! Finally I have a trail!
My joy melts away quickly though, when I look closer and see how the two men in the middle of the group are dragging a figure along with them, holding his upper arms tightly. That’s definitely him, that’s my saviour right there. I recognise the hair that’s sticking up everywhere and the strange cord necklace swinging from side to side, only his bag seems to be missing. His hands are tied behind his back and it looks like his feet are bound as well, but he’s trying to struggle and fight the strong hold on his arms.
The group moves on to the bridge, stopping right by the side of it. They form some kind of small arc behind their captive, and one of them leisurely walks to face him. Are they… I hope with everything I have that I’m wrong, but it looks like they’re going to kill him here. I’ve seen enough movies at home to see where this could go, and every scenario playing through my head was worse than the previous one.
The two guys holding him lift him a bit higher, forcing him to look up at the one standing in front of him. That’s probably their leader, then… I listen closely to pick up as much from the conversation as I can.
“… outrun us… now you… your end here… bag… treasure is… for… thanks again to…”
The man talks too silent to clearly understand all of it, but it doesn’t sound good for his victim. Before I can even try to decipher what those snippets of information could mean the leader waves his hand, and the two men throw the mysterious hero in the river. I almost shout out, and clasp my hands over my mouth in shock. A short cry sounds through the splash of the water, but soon it gets cut off and silence replaces all of the noise. Am I too late? Is there even anything I can do anymore?
Of course there is! He saved me even when he didn’t have the time to spare, now I need to save him.
As the group starts walking away from me I silently run to the side of the river, a couple of meters from where they were standing. The dark water glistens in the last rays of sunlight, and I can still see the ripples marking the spot where he hit the surface. I try not to pay too much attention to the bubbles showing up on the surface, and focus on getting to him instead. Careful not to make any sound I sit down on the stone edge and let myself sink in the water, the hairs on my arms and tail rising up at the cold, wet touch on my skin. I take a breath and submerge myself fully, swimming down and towards the place he got thrown in.
The water’s murky an turbid, even with my augmented eyesight I almost can’t see my own hands in front of me when I push myself forward. I keep kicking my legs forcefully nevertheless, going deeper and deeper down in search of the guy who saved my life. My lungs slowly start to ache, begging me to go back up and breathe, but I ignore the feeling.
Just a few seconds later I spot the glint of something, and with one more swing of my arms and legs I can see the mystery guy. His necklace drifts in front of him, softly glimmering in the water.
I reach out to him and grab his tank top, pulling him towards me so I can take a hold of his torso. His eyes are closed, obscured from the view every time his longish hair floats in the way, and tiny bubbles are escaping his lips to travel up to the surface. I hold him close to my side and start swimming up towards the faint light above us, thankful that he’s not very heavy. My lungs are burning, my legs are beginning to feel numb, and I’m starting to feel like we’re not gonna make it up in time. Right when I start seeing black spots fill my vision I breach the surface, gasping for air and reaching out for the stone riverbank with my free hand.
Still coughing I push him out of the water on his back before hoisting myself onto the dusty stones, immediately collapsing besides him. A dull headache starts to spread as I finally regain control over my breathing, thumping along with the beating of my heart. After a couple more deep breaths I manage to sit up next to him, holding my head in one hand. Is he… Is he still alive?
I put my ear to his chest, relieved to hear a faint but fairly steady heartbeat. He doesn’t seem to be breathing too well, though… I panic slightly, what am I supposed to do? I have no idea how to help someone who drowned, but I don’t know if I can find someone else who knows how to handle this…
Suddenly I have to think about another movie I’ve seen a while ago, where a crew of pirates saves a lady from the water. They pushed on her chest so she could get all the water out of her, and then she was fine again. Maybe I can… try that?
Carefully I push the necklace aside, which turned out to be a small glass bottle on a long string around his neck, and lay two hands on his chest. I don’t want to hurt him or anything, so I put just a bit of pressure to try and see if it helps. No reaction comes from him, and I dare to push harder, getting more desperate to save him with each passing second.
At a particularly strong push he convulses and gets into a harsh coughing fit, hacking up water every time he tenses up. Shocked at the sudden outburst I jerk my hands back and watch him with fear in my eyes. He turns to lie on his left side, still coughing but slowly getting more time in between to breathe in some air.
I give him a moment to come to his senses and sit silently next to him, pushing the wet, greyish-brown strands of hair out of my eyes. After a little while he calmed down, laying on the riverbank with his back towards me. I can see how his hands are still tied together, clutched into fists behind his back. It seems like he hasn’t noticed me yet, so I decide to make him aware of my presence.
“Are you okay?” I ask gently, but it still makes him jump a little, and he quickly turns to face me.
“Wha- Who are y-” He starts off, before squinting his eyes. “Wait, are you…”
I smile slightly when he recognises me, nodding my head in confirmation.
“Yeah, it’s me. I uh… I tried to follow you after you ran off because I had a feeling you were in trouble with those guys…” I admit, kinda embarrassed that I didn’t get to him in time.
“Holy shit… You saved my life… I c-can never thank you enough for that.” He says quietly, seemingly only now understanding what just happened.
“Well, you don’t need to thank me.” I reply. “You saved me first, and now I returned that favour, kind of… You owe me nothing at all!”
“Heh, I guess you have a point there, but still. I only had to cut through a rope to help you, you had to dive after me to save my sorry ass from drowning. I feel like I got away with a much easier ‘rescue mission’ than you did!”
We both laugh, probably more because of the shock than because of his little joke, but neither of us cares. Giggling lightly he tries to wriggle in place and sit upright, but doesn’t seem to succeed with his wrist secured behind his back.
“Umm… Do you still have that knife somewhere?” I ask, internally scolding myself for not asking that sooner.
“I think so, yeah. It’s on my belt on my left side, under the shirt.”
It doesn’t take me long to free his arms and legs, and soon he’s sitting upright besides me. As I reach out to hand him his knife back he interrupts me.
“Wait, shouldn’t we get that rope off of you properly as well? That can’t be comfortable…”
“Oh, okay, that’s fine.” I agree. I almost forgot the rope was even there, but I guess it’s better to get it off as soon as possible. “Just, uh, could you do it? I can’t really see what I’m doing when it’s around my neck like this.”
“No problem, I’ll get it. Should I take off that collar too?”
“N-No, you can leave the collar… Just the rope is good.” I answer him. Even though I’m not really ‘assigned’ to someone anymore, I don’t want to get rid of my collar yet. I’m so used to it by now, and it still holds some good memories from my home, so I want to keep wearing it for now. He probably thinks it’s weird, though…
He smiles softly, probably noticing my attachment to the collar, but he doesn’t shame me for it. “That’s alright, I’ll be careful not to damage it.”
Slowly he slides the knife along the cord, skilfully avoiding the leather, and eventually I feel it drop onto my shoulders. I fix my collar, turning it so the little bell was on the front again, while he secures his knife to his belt.
“Hey, uh, by the way, I should probably give you these too.” I say, and reach into my back pocket. He looks a bit questioningly at me, until I show him his glasses. He puts them on immediately, despite the fact that they have a crack in them on the right side.
“Oh god! Thanks a lot, this is much better…” He smiles brightly, and slowly starts to get up on his feet. “You’re a true lifesaver, err…”
“Koda.” I help him out. Weird to think that we didn’t even know each other’s name all this time, but on the other side, it’s not like we’ve had a lot of time to introduce ourselves either.
“Sanbourne.” He replies, and holds a hand out to help me stand up. “Nice to meet you, Koda.”
“Nice to meet you too, Sanbourne!” I laugh, and shake his hand after I got up from the ground. Sanbourne, huh. Somewhat of a weird name. Well, according to me it is, but it does fit him, actually.
“So… I think we shouldn’t hang around here for too long…” He begins, and he’s got a good point. Those criminals are gone now, but they could come back here any time.
“Yeah, good idea.” I agree. “Do you have a place we can go to?”
“Uh, not really… You?”
“Nope, unfortunately not. I actually lived pretty far away from here.”
“Me too. I guess that means we’ll have to improvise for now, and then head home after…” He mutters. “I could get us to the airport eventually, and then we’ll find out which plane you have to take, and-”
“Well…” I interject hesitantly. “That could be a problem. I don’t think I’m welcome anymore in my house…”
I can tell Sanbourne wants to start asking questions, but suddenly he seems to realise what happened to me. Maybe he’s seen the movie with that dog as well…
“I understand, so that… That means you have no place to go?”
I only nod, not really ready yet to tell him all about the details of how I got left behind.
“That’s okay, we’ll work that out when the time comes. For now though, we’re still here, and still pretty far away from the nearest airport too, so we’ll just have to see what we do when we get there. But you can rest assured, I won’t leave you here. So, well, if you don’t mind, you can stay with me for now… And then later we’ll figure out the rest, is that okay?”
I don’t reply immediately, trying to wrap my head around this first. Is he being serious? He’s offering to stay with me until I can find a home? Without me even noticing I’d started swaying my tail from side to side, and I don’t have to think twice before I actually answer him.
“Y-Yeah! That’s more than okay!” I say, a huge smile on my face. “If you’re sure that it’s no burden, of course, I’d hate to cause a hassle or something.”
“It’s no burden at all! It’ll be fun to have someone with me for a change, actually!” He assures me, and matches my smile. “Come on now, let’s try and see if there’s anywhere we can stay the night. Maybe the hotel I checked out of earlier today is still open…”
“Tight plan!” I give him a thumbs up and start walking alongside him. We move slowly, both exhausted from this hellish day, and he appears to have hurt his ankle so I keep my pace low enough so he can keep up. Limping slightly he guides us towards a tiny hotel with colourful curtains behind the windows, the one he stayed in before he left to the forest.
The man from the hotel was really nice, he let us stay for free, seeing we had nothing to pay him after what happened today. As soon as Sanbourne opens the door to our little chamber I drop onto one of the two beds in the room, letting myself fall face first onto the plush mattress and pillows. The red and yellow sheets on it are so damn soft, and they even smell like fresh lilies… All of my muscles felt so tense, but now that I’m lying here I can feel them slowly relaxing.
“Oh man… This feels like heaven.” I groan into the pillow before rolling onto my side, and Sanbourne chuckles softly.
“I know, right? I feel like I could sleep for days now…”
“Let’s just do that… That sounds nice…” I mumble, already half asleep by now.
“We’ll see about that.” He replies jokingly, muttering something about cats and sleeping under his breath, before laying down on his bed and staring at the ceiling.
“Hey, uhh…” I start, suddenly reminded of something. “I’m sorry about your bag, by the way, did they take it from you?”
My question seems to take him by surprise, almost as if he’d forgotten about it.
“Oh, yeah, they have it now. Don’t worry about it though, Koda, that’s not your fault…”
Raising an eyebrow I think back of what I’d seen earlier this day. I remember how he clutched the bag in his hands when he fell on the hill, how the gang leader mentioned it by the riverside, and I can’t help but being really curious about it.
“What was in it? Was it something special? Something valuable?”
A faint smile appears on his face, his eyes still locked on the ceiling.
“Nah, it’s nothing really important, nothing that can’t be missed. I’m just happy to be still alive.”
His answer confuses me a bit, since his behaviour before seems to contradict what he just said, but I can’t bring up the energy to discuss it further. Curling up some more on the mattress I feel my whole body relax, for the first time in days. I can barely hear Sanbourne wishing me a good night before my eyes fall shut, and I get pulled into a dreamless night’s rest.