En route to Grove City
Amy filled Rathdrum in as she drove, telling him everything she’d seen, but avoided discussing her suspicions. Rathdrum could draw his own assumptions from her descriptions, she didn’t need to cloud his thinking with what ifs. When she concluded her tale, he sucked in his breath and shook his head.
“So we have a seemingly magical sword that makes anyone who touches it with their bare flesh feel as if they are on fire and has, in at least one case, thrown a person across the room, some sort of anthropomorphic lion who appears out of thin air and subsequently transforms into a human girl, a robed apparition with freaky fire powers who tried to cover up said transformation, and a woman who materializes out of nowhere and warns you that the girl is in danger. Yeah, we’ve definitely walked into a big old shitfest. Goddamn, and I was hoping this one would be an open-and-closed case.”
“Has it occurred to you that this woman might not be on the level? What if she’s in league with our robed friend?” He asked after a brief pause.
Rathdrum didn’t go into specifics, but she could read between the lines. If this woman was lying, she might be leading them into some kind of trap, but what purpose would that serve? Why appear to her at all? She must have known they would be visiting the girl at some point. Whether her spectral visitor was trustworthy was immaterial at this point. If the girl was in danger, they couldn’t afford to let the phantom get to her before they did.
Amy turned to her subordinate and perhaps he saw something in her eyes. He released a long breath of air and jerked his head back and forth. “We’re going to be taking a little field trip, aren’t we?”
Amy nodded, lips pressed together in a tight frown.
“And here I was going to suggest we call it quits for the day and pick things up tomorrow,” Rathdrum muttered with a shake of his head.
Amy glanced up at the sky, the sun still blazed overhead, but dusk would soon be upon them. Under ordinary circumstances she would have been all too happy to retire to her hotel room, but all her instincts were screaming at her that something was amiss. If they didn’t get to the girl soon, they might never have the chance to speak to her.
“Get the state mental hospital in Grove City on the horn, notify them we intend to pay the girl a visit.”
“Should I inform Shanderly? He said he would like to be there when we interrogated her,” he glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes.
“Uh, we talked when you were in the hospital,” he added.
Amy neither wanted nor required the deputy’s help, but there was something to be said for cooperating with the locals. At the very least, it might keep Chief Avery off her ass.
“Notify them both, just try to keep the deputy out of the way if you can. From what I read in their reports his last encounter with the girl was less than friendly.”
Moments later, Rathdrum had the mental hospital on the line and Amy pulled their rental onto I-15. Though the agent didn’t show it, she could not escape the sense that somethingwas about to go very wrong and it filled her with dread.
Kruhl lay curled in a ball upon her bed, numb and tired from her ordeals. These people were mad, she had determined as much after her first session with Dr. Harrison. He seemed intent on learning everything about her, but shed doubt on whatever she told him as if he believed her entire life story was a lie, and try as she might she could not understand what was the purpose of the stiff sheets of white parchment with the black stains. Utter nonsense all of it, and yet she sensed there was a motive to the strange man’s actions.
She sat upright, stretching her arms out and glowered at the intruder that had taken up residency in her crotch and shuddered. She felt it again, that simple biological need. It didn’t seem so different, but the very fact she needed to sit down to relieve herself made the act unbareable. She closed her eyes, and cupped her face before at last forcing her eyelids back open, slipped out of bed, and stood before the metal basin attached to the base of the sink.
They called the infernal thing a toilet and she scowled at it, before slipping her pants and panties around her ankles, shuffled around so she was facing away from it and seated herself shivering as her butt cheeks touch the cold metal seat. Another of her tormentors, a tall woman dressed all in white, seemed amused that Kruhl did not know how to use the device and had instructed her with a smile stretched across her long face.
Oh, how she hated the woman in white. If it had been just that one instance she might have been able to put the wretched hag out of mind, but after coming awake in this prison, the doctor, and the loathsome female walked in on her naked, weeping, and exposed. Angered by the intrusion and seeing her chance to escape, she lurched for the door the moment she locked eyes with the man, but she had been unsuccessful. The woman, lightning quick, despite her size lurched forward, slammed all of her body weight into Kruhl and pinned her to the ground.
Escape would have been futile, Kruhl reminded herself. Much of what she’d seen was foreign to her, but she recognized the barred door at the end of the corridor for what it was, a security barrier. They had not permitted her pass through it, instead they led her into another room, forced her into a chair and strapped her in place. That had been the first time she’d encountered the woman, and the others had been no less humiliating.
She put thoughts of the woman in white out of her head and peered down at her privates. She had tried ignoring them, pretending that they were not there, but it seemed counter-productive. This was her lot in life it seemed, to be trapped in this body, tormented by strangers and left to rot away in these walls for the rest of her life.
Urination as a human female wasn’t so different, she experienced the same pressure and released it with the same little push, but there was no way to aim. When she finished up, she wiped her nether regions with a square piece of the cloth the woman in white had called toilet paper and washed her hands in the sink.
When she hunched over to retrieve her pants, she slipped them back up her waist, but paused lips pressed closely in a frown when her eyes locked on her vulva. She dropped them, her heart pounding in her ears as a hand slid down, almost of its own volition, and slipped an index and middle finger inside the cavity between her legs. She shivered at the sensations that arose.
She pulled her finger free, bracing herself against the sink and bit her lip. Cold shivers worked their way down her spine and she stood there panting glancing at the bed, cheeks burning as she considered what she might do with this new found understanding. She never needed to pleasure herself on her own world. Even as a boy on the cusp of manhood there had never been a shortage of willing females, but in this new place she was isolated and often left to her own devices.
She had far too much time to think and wallow in her own self pity. At least this way she might distract herself. She stepped out of the trousers, leaving them in a heap on the ground, and slipped into bed, fingers working their magic. When she clenched her eyes shut a moan slid out of her mouth.[Kruhl] The voice spoke out of the open air.
Her eyes snapped back open as a black ichor resolved itself in the air before her. It twisted and contorted, shrieks and howls rang through the air and she shrank back pressing herself against the wall. A cowled head resolved itself before her, the inside as black as the deepest pit.[I’m coming for you] Cold laughter reverberated through her mind and Kruhl clenched her eyes shut, shielding her face with her hands expecting the creature to attack.
When it did not, she risked a quick glance. The apparition had disappeared and she propped her back against the wall a cold chill working its way through her whole body.
She stared into the empty air, shuddering at the prospect of an attack, but if that was its intent no assault came. Kruhl remained there naked from the waist down frozen in terror, all too aware just how vulnerable she was in her new form.