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One Beast to Another



 
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Kayla Holloway

Kayla struggled to balance her life with what she saw as a curse. It was a struggle that forever raged within her. Others would tell her she had a gift but it was hard to see that in her position.

She had gotten into the habit of pushing the envelope, letting herself stay out until the very last moment. Kayla was soaking up as much of that normal life as she could, the fact was she was anything but normal. That night was no exception to her new rule, this time though she’d run late with a client. Kayla knew what the outcome would be and there was nothing she could do to change it now.

She would hold up in her office, explain away the mess in the morning, and just maybe there wouldn’t be any headlines in the morning. She was never that lucky.

The evening wore on and the moon rose further into the sky. Kayla had a sinking feeling in her stomach. This would not be a go well for those who found themselves caught in the path of the wolf. She felt helpless in this, there was nothing she could do about the loss of control she experienced and she’d failed in doing the one thing could have been the saving grace of another.

As if on cue the moon was reaching it’s crest and she heard the first sickening crack of that night.. Then came another as her body began to contort in an inhuman fashion. The tearing of cloth seemed to echo in the eerie silence that had surrounded her that night. The pain was so brutal that about a quarter way through the process she began to slip away. She struggled against it, if she could just stay conscious maybe…no. The effort was futile, it would never end differently.

One last look at the otherworldly orb in the sky and Kayla was gone. In her place there lay a silver furred wolf with those same haunting cerulean hues. The wolf found its footing as she found her way through the building. Out the office door - down the stairs - onto the streets - there she would prowl on the unsuspecting denizens.

The man she chose was a victim of opportunity, sometimes the wolf plotted for weeks and even months picking her victims but this happy accident had put her in position for something a little more spontaneous. For sometime she stalked him through the streets of the neighborhood she’d found him in but the further that they went she noticed something, the scenery beginning to change. Didn’t he know there were things that lurked in the dark? She was one of them. She slinked along behind watching as he followed a path off the road towards a lightly wooded area. The wolf had no preference for where she took her victims, in the woods there would be no one to hear him scream. That was his folly.

Once the two of them were a good distance from the road she allowed herself to draw in closer. Her paws crunched upon the dry leaves that littered the forest floor. He stopped, obviously aware not that he was not alone on his stroll. The wolf stopped too and stood behind him just, those cerulean orbs piercing into his back. He was slow to turn and face her, their eyes meeting for a brief moment before he made an attempt to turn and run. It was too late for him.

The wolf lunged going first for his ankle. Her fangs sank deep into his flesh as she jerked him backwards and he fell with a heavy thud to the ground. He clawed at the ground in an attempt to get away, even found a few small rocks to launch at her as if he could dissuade her from what was already set into motion. Her grip locked on tighter and a howl erupted from his lips. Music to her ears. She began to pull and drag him down a small slope away from the trail to a place where the two of them could have more privacy.

At one point the wolf yanked so hard on his ankle as she was dragging him she could feel it dislocate between her jaws The thick of the woods muted his screams until it was completely muffled from a distance. This was the mistake he’d made, coming to a place that belonged to the beasts and now he would suffer for that. As another scream emitted from his lips it was cut off in mid-vocalization. As her jowls clamped onto his throat the sound of his struggle to maintain his voice to the sound of his esophagus crushing and then the sound of the wolf licking blood from her maw and teeth. As with all the full moons before the wolf feasted without care for the consequences, those were never hers to deal with.

The next morning was something else. In place of the wolf was Kayla, she woke with a start. At first she was dazed by her surroundings, she did not remember coming here. Then as cerulean orbs took in the carnage around her the realization of what had taken place overtook her again. She hadn’t made it home, this was her fault. She stepped towards the remains of what she thought was a man, there wasn’t much left to tell by. Her heart ached for herself, for him, and for the family who would miss him always. Managing to find shreds of clothing that remained from the slaughter she covered herself and set to work cleaning up the mess before her. The wolf’s mess. Her mess. This was the way of it each time.

Kayla had become quite good through the years washing away all signs of the beast beneath. This setting made her job that much easier. She could bury it all as though it never happened, sure an animal might dig the remains up later but it wouldn’t make the headlines it did in the city. She was oddly thankful to that. As she began the task she was interrupted by what she thought was footsteps crunching on the leaves but when she stopped she heard nothing else. A rabbit, a bird, it could have been anything. She thought nothing more of it and continued in her task.
February 17, 2021 01:44 pm

Hollen

Beasts dwelled in forests.

It was almost considered an unconscious acceptance, formed in the minds of children from a young age no matter the frame of time. The forests held deep shadows; people could get lost within them. Creatures of all shapes and sizes lived amongst the trees, some far more dangerous than others. Sometimes, brave humans would also dare to live there, amongst the beauty that the forest could possess. They had accepted the fate of living alongside the animals, the beasts. Some treated the forest with respect, while others abused their place within. There were countless stories of abandoned homes that the forest reclaimed, of human remains found beneath the brambles. People entered forests all of the time, only to never return again. Was it the fault of the beasts inside? That could only be determined by one’s definition of a ‘beast’.

City folk seemed to think of almost any creature as a ‘beast’. The rats that infested the sewers, the birds that defecated on their cars, and even the raccoons that scattered the trash they dumped from the bins. Those who lived on farms claimed that ‘beasts’ were larger animals: cows, horses, steers, and the like. Travelers seemed to be the ones who knew the most of true ‘beasts’. They heard the stories and the traditional tales. They encountered locals who refused to wander too close to the trees once the sun had set. They were the ones who tended to believe those stories that were centered around the true beasts, those of legend and spoken about in stories typically centered around a campfire or in the shadows of candlelight. So, if those beasts existed, was it the fault of the beasts that sometimes people disappeared from the general population after roaming into the forest?

Sometimes. Beasts had to eat, of course.

As a beast herself, Hollen frequented forests. It did not matter which form she occupied; she simply preferred the swaying of trees to the clustering of bodies that drowned sidewalks in a cityscape. People were far too complex for her liking. They were emotional and brash, dishonest and conniving. She only seemed to place herself among them when she was in the mood to hunt. A part of her strategy was to scope her prey, picking her victims out amongst the crowd based on certain traits, certain habits they seemed to possess. Another part of her strategy wasn’t having a pattern at all: sometimes it was random, how she chose a victim. Perhaps she hungered for tougher meat, a thicker hide. Maybe the idea of something supple brought her to salivate and prompted her target. She was a creature without habit when it came to food, for she was trapped in a state of perpetual starvation. It was a symptom of the beast, a mark of what she truly was: a creature of nightmare.

The smell had hit her first. It was metallic, mostly, but was beginning to hint towards rot. Delicious. Even in her human form, Hollen could always scent death. She had smelled it so often that it enveloped her like an old friend. She followed her nose, curious as to what had died, and hopeful that whatever she stumbled upon could be an easy snack. Her worn boots crunched quietly over the earth; she had long since lost her irritation at the sound, considering how her alternate form moved as silently as a shadow amongst the trees. She wore a simple ensemble of dark jeans that clung to her lean legs, a thick lavender sweater, and what a saleswoman had told her was a ‘single breasted trench’ coat. Hollen hadn’t cared what type of the coat it was, simply that it was black, warm, and would help her blend into the streets even with her thick, red hair. She moved amongst the trees with no hesitation, her ocean blue eyes scanning her surroundings as she followed her nose. As she walked, she noticed. She noticed how the birds weren’t singing in the area she was drawing closer to. She noticed a few prey animals – a rabbit, a squirrel – fleeing in the opposite direction. She noticed and knew that she was headed in the right direction.

She slowed her pace as she came upon the scene, peering from behind the line of trees into what some could call a small clearing. It wasn’t large; it wasn’t open. It was the perfect spot for a kill. It was a spot chosen by a practiced predator, where they could feast without too many watching eyes and remain undisturbed by other predators in passing. Smart. Hollen could appreciate that. Brushing an errant strand of hair from her freckled face, her gaze found a woman donned in tattered rags of clothes who seemed to be cleaning up the scene. The woman cocked her head to the side, and confusion knit her brow momentarily. Why in the world would she do something like that? A part of Hollen was disappointed that there seemed to be nothing left for her to snack on, no worthy bits or pieces left behind. The predator who had done this was voracious: Hollen could relate.

“Are you alright?”

She wasn’t sure why she spoke, surprising even herself as she heard the words come out. She emerged from the line of trees and watched with intense curiosity as the strange woman realized she wasn’t alone. A spark of recognition and knowing lit in Hollen’s gaze, but she said nothing. She merely surveyed the scene with an odd sense of calm for someone who was coming up on a slaughter, and then let her eyes settle upon the woman nearby. The beast waited.
February 18, 2021 07:10 pm

Kayla Holloway

Shock. Dismay. A plethora of feelings swept over her as she heard the chirp of a woman’s voice near. ”Are you okay?” It was a fair question, polite, and maybe even curious. There was a momentary rush of panic in her chest as kept at her task. She daren’t stop now. She busied in the task of sweeping dirt over the splatters and specks of blood that dotted the ground in the clearing. Kayla was sure of one thing: she did not look okay. Her appearance went beyond disheveled and the clothing she did have was soaked with blood. She couldn’t explain that away.

She would give it a try though.

After a few moments her cerulean hues drifted towards the woman who’d come emerged from the forest. She tried to make out something in Hollen’s expression that would give a hint just how dire the situation was. Kayla had not dealt with a situation quite like this anymore, though damage control was routine. Someone had to clean up the messes and cover the tracks the wolf left behind. Each time she would make up lies and excuses to cover. However, this she was unprepared for. She hadn’t expected to cross paths with someone here in the woods. It was going to take a lot more than a few pretty words to make this go away.

“I..i’m fine.”

Careful words from a not so careful creature. She gave a nod as though she was trying to affirm that. She shoved long, dark locks away from her face as her blue hues twisted over the clearing. Those words alone wouldn't be enough of an explanation for what had taken place here. She gave careful thought before choosing her next words. “There was an accident.” She gestured to the scene before them. She tried to think quickly. What kind of accident ends up with a man being shredded to bits? A wood chipper would have been a lovely thing right now, but she could not come up with a viable answer. Kayla was not sure what to do.

There she was acting like she wasn’t good at hiding what the wolf had done, she was in fact an expert. There were just two ways out of the situation in which she found herself. There was the option where Kayla simply asked the woman to keep this between the two of them, it wasn’t likely but at this point it was the best option for the two of them because Kayla didn’t want to think what would happen if things went the other way. Inside she could feel the protest of the wolf as she made her decision. She did not listen, she ignored it pushing those feelings way down and stood up straight. She pointlessly brushed the dirt off of her shirt.

“So, I’m fine but as you can see he isn’t. It seems we are at a bit of an impasse.”

She let her cerulean orbs drift to meet those of Hollen so she could gage her reaction to her next words. ”I can’t really be caught in a situation like this by some others, so do you think we could keep this just between us?” There it was, Kayla spoke as the two of them were old friends. The signs that something had happened there that night were clear and it hadn’t sent this woman screaming into the night and for that reason she felt the chance was worth taking. There was enough blood on her hands as it was.
Kayla would have to find the best way out the situation that knew how. This she hoped was it. She didn’t stand there to wait for an answer. She had to make sure all signs of the attack were erased before another stumbled on to the scene. No matter what Hollen’s answer was it was a matter of time before another came across it and it would be another wild card all over again.
February 21, 2021 07:24 pm

Hollen

Hollen was unexpected, she knew that from the way the woman’s body tensed when she had first spoken aloud. When she made her presence known, the woman almost froze mid-task before casually continuing her clean-up as if she was doing nothing odd at all. It did appear a little silly, especially to Hollen, who wasn’t used to cleaning up after herself. Granted – there was usually little to clean up to begin with. The monster was simply used to leaving the blood to soak into the earth and for scavengers to come and retrieve the bits of grit and grime she tended to leave scattered in her wake. They never came while she was feasting. They knew better. Unless she was making a conscious decision to do so, Hollen wasn’t in the habit of sharing her kill, no matter what form she took. Hunger tweaked at the edges of her abdomen and was easily ignored, her interest peaked in the direction of the panicked woman before her.

She hid it well, Hollen could give her that. The only reason she could sense the ‘panic’ was because of how she smelled. Even as a human, it was a sour tinge upon the air that Hollen could pick up on. Her senses were heightened around the remains of the fresh kill; sharp eyes watched the stranger as she lied through her teeth. Another aspect that was completely ignored by Hollen. Predators had to lie all of the time for fear of retribution by those who wouldn’t understand. It was a ridiculous notion, of course – predators had to eat, to survive, to maintain the balance of it all – but their differences were too radical and alien to the general public for them to ever be accepted. The only glimmer of hope for creatures like them was to possess acceptance between one another instead.

“I… I’m fine.”


The disagreement with such a statement sprung to Hollen’s tongue immediately, but she bit it back. That would get her nowhere in this situation. What was this situation? She took a few more steps into the clearly, feeling the crunch of a fine bone beneath her left boot. Her eyes wandered for a moment as the stranger began to explain how there had been an accident. Hollen’s brows rose and a light smile quirked up the edges of her lips. “Quite the accident,” she agreed in a hushed tone. The scene could have been hysterical to someone watching from the outskirts, given how Hollen was reacting to something most would interpret as horrific. Instead, she was clinical as she observed her surroundings and awaited the explanation that wasn’t necessary. Yet, she understood why it was given: the strange woman had been caught red-handed, quite literally, while cleaning up her own crime scene. Well, what others would consider a crime, and what Hollen viewed as simply the need to survive. They were kin, in a way. It had been a long time since Hollen had found kin. None were quite like her, though. She always had to settle for ‘close enough’.

“Oh yes. I’d say he isn’t.”

A laugh escaped this time, a calm sound. Hollen cocked her head to the side and observed the woman fully. Her eyes raked over her form, assessing her. Even to another predator, the look could be taken as being sized up. That was a part of it: Hollen’s monster was sizing up another beast, assessing, and waiting. As a human, Hollen came across rather non-threatening… in most circumstances. However, to those who paid close attention, there was always an edge to her. There was a predatory aura, an animalistic nature that seemed to prickle at the back of people’s necks. It was danger, their instincts trying to warn them while the brains could not possible comprehend what they were seeing as a threat in the form of a lean, redheaded woman. Maybe it was the eyes or her lack of social skills? Maybe it was how ordinary she appeared, able to slip amongst the crowd but stand out when deemed necessary? Hollen didn’t know and she often never took the time to ask.

It was one of those moments as Hollen stared at the strange woman, the silence stretching taut between them. Then, she shifted her hands from her pockets and unbuttoned her coat. One moment it was on her, and the next she had slipped it off, extending her hand to hold it out to the other. “Here, take this. It will do you better than what you’ve currently got,” she explained, raising an eyebrow and cracking an amused little grin. Then, she glanced around and looked towards the trees, staring for another moment before turning her attention back towards the nervous woman.

“Leave the remains. Cover your tracks. The animals will take care of the rest once we’ve gone. The longer we stay, the longer they’ll keep clear of this area.” Hollen waited, her eyes on the woman as she waited for her to take the proferred coat. She had specifically used the term ‘we’ for inclusivity, hoping that it would make the stranger more comfortable with her. Though, based on what she assumed was her own odd behavior, maybe the woman already made her own assumptions about her.

“Do you have a place to go and get clothes? The coat should cover most of you while we leave. We’ll go the way I came; it’ll be safer.”

There wasn’t much of a choice, despite the lack of demand in Hollen’s tone. She seemed to simply assume that the other woman would travel with her. After all – why wouldn’t she?
February 21, 2021 08:06 pm

Kayla Holloway

Blue eyes darted about, Kayla seemed perplexed. She had been caught in a similar situation a few prior and almost immediately the authorities were on the scene. Luck had been on her side and she was able to explain away what had happened. This time was different, she’d been caught in the act and there was no way she could deny it. Yet the woods remained silent. The look in her orbs shifted from confusion to curiosity. It had not occurred to Kayla the the other woman might be some kind of creature herself, she had assumed that Hollen was a human - though a knowledgeable one. Hollen’s reaction to the situation was unexpected but not unwelcome.


She was shocked when the woman removed her coat and held it out to her. For a minute Kayla was unsure what to do. ”“Here, take this. It will do you better than what you’ve currently got,” Kayla didn’t feign offense to those words, of course she was right. She gazed down at the tattered mess that was her clothing was - she couldn’t be sure but Kayla thought her ensemble might be the remains of her victim’s clothing. No. She wasn’t going to think about that right now. She didn’t hesitate when she reached out and took the coat from Hollen. It wouldn't do to be seen in the state she was in wandering through the streets, she was always so careful so that she didn’t end up in compromising situations like the current one.

”Thank you, you’re not wrong about that.”


Kayla’s words were carefully chosen as she attempted to feel out the situation a bit more. Who would blame her? The woman’s laughter assisted in aiding in Kayla’s thoughts. Here she was in the middle of cleaning up and this woman who seems to be alright with the entire situation strolls up out of the woods. That was the definition of suspicious.

”Leave the remains. Cover your tracks. The animals will take care of the rest once we’ve gone.” Hollen’s words set the siren’s off in her head. Inside the wolf was urging Kayla to finish her task, terrible things would happen. Even on days the moon was not full Kayla struggled to maintain control against the wolf, it was dominating within her and she wasn’t always strong enough to fight it off. Right now though she let her gaze wander over the area. Most of the remains were eaten or covered, there were some blood stains on the leaves and shards of bone with bits of flesh clinging to them still were strewn over the ground. Again Hollen was right, but she had never left anything unclean before or for the animals to take care of as it was put to her. Still curiosity baited her and she gave one last sweeping glance before she shrugged. ”Perhaps you’re right. Most of it is gone now anyways.” It wasn’t that she was being compliant with the other woman’s words, it just happened that they made more sense than the thoughts swirling in her own head at the moment. Each time the wolf took over the next day Kayla was foggy and sometimes had trouble processing her own thoughts.


She adjusted the coat on herself and made sure it was fastened in the front, bare feet were not her normal but she hadn’t had time to plan for this little midnight excursion. This would have to do for now. She stood straight and smoothed out her rat’s nest of a mane and gave a slight nod. ”Yes. I have an apartment…” Kayla tried to remember which way she’d come from, she recalled a joggers path. Her cerulean hues swam about the two of them until she spotted the path off to the side. ”I came from that way. Soo...” Again her eyes were darting different ways and at last landed in the direction from which Hollen had come. “You came from that way.”

Kayla stood and made motion to head in the direction Hollen had come. Though she didn’t know this woman she was comfortable enough to slip off into the woods with her. She didn’t feel threatened by the woman but was genuinely intrigued by this odd woman who just accepted without much question the man's death. While she waited though she couldn’t help but ask the question tugging at her. ”Who are you?” There was of course so much more to the question than that but she didn’t want to overwhelm either of them with a barrage of questions right off the rip.
February 23, 2021 12:48 pm

Hollen

She was pleased when the stranger took her coat; it would be far easier to slip back into the city without one of them dressed in bloodied rags. While the appearance could work in their favor, it would draw far too much attention to them. They would be urged to answer questions, have to fend off those who would see if they needed assistance, and all of the other pesky habits that nosy onlookers seemed to take on whenever they caught sight of something out of the ordinary. Were their lives so dim and dull every day that they actively sought out oddities to try and give themselves a pathetic sense of adventure? Hollen was certain that had to be the case, at least for some. There had been many a circumstance when she had been approached by someone who was too curious, too invested in someone they shouldn’t have been. On the off chance that it interrupted Hollen’s hunt, she often found that they made good snacking material before her true meal. If there was one thing that Hollen seemed to lack – other than general sympathy – it was patience. She had no time for questions, for the investigative nature of the nosy. At the end of the day, all they proceeded to do was get in her way and not help her in the slightest, despite if that was their best effort.

She turned her ocean eyes back towards the stranger once she had donned the coat and gave a nod of approval. Yes, that worked much better. She did not respond to the other’s comment, her thanks. Hollen had suggested it because she knew what she was talking about; even with her multiple-year absence, she hadn’t lost her intelligence and instinct. Humans hadn’t seemed to improve on their own in the time she had been… well, wherever she had been. It had been almost too easy to fall back into the routine of her killings, into the thrilling process of the hunt. She blinked slowly as the brunette took in the scene, seemed to process Hollen’s words about what she was to do. There seemed to be some kind of internal warring within the stranger that Hollen wasn’t privy to. She cocked her head to the side and wondered about it briefly. Perhaps she didn’t understand because there was something more human about this woman than Hollen was familiar with? Hollen could certainly pose as a human and integrate into natural society, but she was wholly aware that there was something off about her. She lacked some of her true humanity; it was merely a symptom of being the monster.

“Yes. Whatever made this scene did a fairly good job in cleaning up. It didn’t leave much behind.”

Hollen’s words were sharp, to the point. She didn’t seem bothered by the blatant addressing of whatever the woman happened to be: there was no game to be played. She let her gaze track around the space before landing back on the brunette, an eyebrow cocked up as she waited for more information from her. Or, perhaps the woman would begin to deny what Hollen was alluding to? It would be unnecessary, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Hollen had been in conversations about denial with other shifters. It typically did not take them long to realize that there was no point in lying to her, but it was an aspect of conversation she had grown used to – no matter how boring. Hollen did not see a point in hiding herself from others like her. She may not be initially forthright about what she truly was, but that was beside the point. “Excellent,” she commented, nodding once. At least the stranger had an apartment, hopefully one nearby. Hollen glanced the direction that the other indicated, and shook her head briefly. She turned her body towards the direction she had traveled from and raised her eyebrow once more, bobbing her head in the affirmative.

“Yes, and we should go this way. I didn’t leave anything behind,” she commented, a playful edge to her tone as she quirked the woman a half smile. She waved her hand and began to walk, waiting for her companion to catch up as they started down the path that Hollen had been walking. “I’m Hollen,” she answered simply, as if that would give her all of the information she needed. “And I’m like you… in a way. Who’re you?” She glanced towards the woman at her side with a raised eyebrow, bringing her out of the tree line and onto the walking path proper. Then, she turned to the right and began to walk, her stride comfortable and easy. “This path will lead to a split, and we can head towards the nearest street from there. Then, it will hopefully be a short distance to where you live and we won’t attract attention on the way,” Hollen explained simply, shrugging her shoulders. The movement jostled her sweater and the red hair around her shoulders. “The street isn’t usually too busy around this time,” she continued. “So it should be a fairly easy journey.” At least, that’s what she was hoping, but she seemed confident. One of them had to be.
February 24, 2021 10:05 am

Kayla Holloway

Kayla stared back at the remains of the man another moment before turning away. The grisly scene reminded her that control of the wolf was no more than an illusion and this was the life she seemed doomed to. Though the wolf emerged just three nights a month it lingered beneath the surface at all times - waiting - calculating it’s next move. As Kayla fretted over the chance this man could have people who loved him it basked in the glory of the kill. It found pleasure in the same shame and remorse that caused Kayla to cleanse the scene.

”Yes, it seems it did.” She was absent in her words but let herself be pulled back into the conversation. She needed something to pull her mind from what they left behind. What Hollen hinted at didn’t escape her and she didn’t deny that it was her. The truth was that in some ways the creature who’d done this was her but in other ways it wasn’t. Kayla could not explain it for she could hardly understand it herself. She and the wolf were two entities sharing one body, locked in what to her seemed like an unending struggle. She had accepted long ago that being of one mind with the wolf was impossible.

”That’s … good…” Kayla didn’t ask immediately what she’d meant by ‘not leaving anything behind.’ She was not sure what sort of things people left behind as they wandered the forest. Following strangers off into the woods wasn’t a smart idea or a normal thing for her to do but it seemed that they had established some unspoken agreement when Kayla had accepted the coat. She had to admit that having it would make it much less painstaking since she would blend in more with whatever people might be out at this hour. One should always be thankful for small favors.

For a few moments Kayla followed long wordless. There were questions she wanted to ask but for now refrained. She suspected that many would be answered as they continued

Just a few minutes later those expectations were confirmed. ”Like me?” Those words were really more of a statement than a question. She knew what Hollen meant. Kayla gave a slow nod. The way Hollen was not surprised by what she’d come upon and seemed to know what was going on, it all made sense now. Kayla had met others like herself but she was not used to them being so blatant about it. In her experience most worked their way up to such a reveal and most never revealed their secrets to strangers. This situation seemed different somehow.

”I’m Kayla.” She decided to forgo the usual pleasantries, it seemed they were past that at this point. As they approached the path she fell silent for a moment, as she let her cerulean hues wander. She wasn’t familiar with this area but after a few minutes she managed to get some sense of direction. As they stepped onto the path Kayla continued just a few steps behind Hollen. She’d done well keeping up with the events as they transpired but she was confused on one bit. ”What do you mean sort of?”

Hearing Hollen’s words she nodded. “It should be. Once we reach the street it’s just a ten of fifteen minute walk. Not far at all.” She didn’t think so at least. She didn’t spend much time in this area and Kayla was sure she’d never been on this particular path - not that she recalled anyhow. Once more Kayla fell silent as the two of them continued on the path. She was not sure what to say to the other woman. Of course it all made sense to her now and she’d grown less rigid about things as they were but she remembered that not all beasts were friends. It wasn’t until the two of them were closer to the streets that she would finally speak, “Thanks for that coat, a much more .. dignified .. way to go back.” It was an offhand joke, meant more to lighten the tone than to bring laughter. ”It’s just a few blocks away, closer than I thought.”
March 03, 2021 07:56 pm

Hollen

”Like me?”

Hollen briefly wondered if she had made a mistake. The notion of such a thing bounced laughter around in her mind. The monster that possessed her knew – it could sense that there was something animal about this girl, this Kayla. The only time that Hollen got such a gut feeling, the only time that her hair seemed to prickle along the back of her neck not with fear – but with recognition, was whenever she encountered a shifter. A werewolf. A lycan. They went by many names, but they generally fell into the same category in her mind. They were humans who could shift forms, take on that typical of an animal or something beastly. She mused on these thoughts as they walked, allowing Kayla to take her silence while Hollen kept her own. She felt no discomfort in silence the way that others sometimes did. It was a familiar blanket that wrapped around her; it was the way she traveled amongst the trees, within the shadows, in either form. Silence was safety to her, even when it made most twitch with a need to fill the void. It was silence that Hollen used to her advantage, holding an intimate understanding of how it made others feel and how she could use it against them. A good predator could hunt in more ways than one, after all.

The redhead brushed a strand of errant hair from her face, turning her gaze back towards Kayla as they made their way up the path. The woman was a few steps behind her, giving her a bit of a wide berth, and Hollen couldn’t fault her for doing so. She was a stranger, someone and something unknown. She had already outed herself as another shifter, another creature that Kayla could relate to. Had she done so to try and show the woman a sense of comfort? Perhaps. It wasn’t something she was about to admit to. The question she had anticipated came swiftly, causing Hollen to chuckle softly beneath her breath. It was always a prompt after she left her words vague, never truly revealing her nature to those around her. She shrugged one of her shoulders and turned clear, amused eyes towards her companion. “I can shift forms, but not into something familiar to most.” It wasn’t necessarily the elaboration that she was sure Kayla was looking for – but it was all she was going to get from the redhead at that time.

As Kayla described that they were rather close to her place of residence, Hollen bobbed a nod of understanding and let her feet continue to carry her along the path. They trees were beginning to thin already as they got closer and closer to the nearest road and sidewalk. Hollen could hear cars rumbling past occasionally, but she knew that this street wasn’t necessarily a busy one. It was why she preferred to traverse this forest in particular – though she wasn’t known for being the pickiest when it came to… well, most things. Her ocean blue gaze flicked through the trees as she caught smaller creatures skittering away from the two women, a smirk tipping up one corner of her mouth for the briefest of moments. Then, she gave her attention back to Kayla as the woman broke the silence with a little joke, even if it fell a bit flat. Filling the silence, as most tried to do, and Hollen decided she could humor the conversation to try and keep Kayla more comfortable. The woman was still quite on edge, but she understood why. She could say that – in the past – she would have felt similarly if she had been caught red-handed in the aftermath of a kill. Nowadays, she knew better than to get caught. And if she did, there wasn’t usually anyone left to tell the tale.

“You would have attracted too much attention without it,” she explained, as if it was a simple matter. “Humans may be oblivious to most things, but showing a little skin always catches their attention.” She turned her gaze back to Kayla as they broke the tree line and winked, a ghost of a smile flitting across her lips. The light that stretched across her features highlighted her abundance of freckles as they moved from beneath the shadows of the trees. She paused in her step, waiting for Kayla to begin in the direction of her home. Or, she supposed, to part ways from Hollen altogether. It wasn’t as though she needed an escort. Hollen mused on the thought as she waited, her hands slipping into the back pockets of her jeans.
March 08, 2021 07:51 pm

Kayla Holloway

It was unfortunate that she didn’t find comfort in that fact. Perhaps she should have but her experience with other shifters made Kayla wary of others of a similar nature. More often than she cared to acknowledge they had proven themselves untrustworthy. She tried not to jump to conclusions about things but disaster seemed to follow her wherever she might tread.

Cerulean hues gazed at Hollen for a long second, gauging if she should continue down this path. What was she going to do at this point? She supposed she could go back and finish cleaning up the area. Kayla could take a tedious and uncomfortable situation and make it downright awkward if she chose to. She thought best of it, besides she would be lying if she denied that she was curious about Hollen. Sure others like her seemed to bring disaster whenever she met them (or maybe that was Kayla) but she was always intrigued by others.

“Not into something familiar to most…?”

She echoed Hollen’s words as she wondered aloud, not so much a question directed at the redhead.

Signs of civilization were starting to melt into the scenery surrounding them. Something else that could at least fill the strange silences. Kayla was not sure what to make of Hollen, the one who shifted into unknown things.

Strange ... perhaps.

Intriguing .. maybe.

Walking conundrum … absolutely. (Or was that her?)

Kayla nodded at Hollen’s words. She wasn’t wrong. There had plenty of nights she had managed to avoid the prying eyes of others, though scarcely at times. “No doubt.” This was much later than she’d arrived back to the city in quite some time. There would be more traffic than in the earlier hours of the morning. “Yes, I know too well how… humans can be.” A long sigh rushed over her lips. Pulling the coat a bit tighter around herself she emerged from the trees, her gaze darted across the street as she familiarized herself with where they were. It was just a couple blocks from her apartment.

Once on the pavement she took a couple steps into that direction before stopping and turning back towards Hollen.

”I suspect I should give you back your coat…”

Her gaze wandered around, noting the fair amount of people around now. ”But.. .maybe after I wash it ... “ Kayla knew that the coat was now tainted with an unpleasant scent. She could smell the fragrant musk of liquor, mixed with blood, and perhaps a few other unsavory things. The wolf could at least pick victims a bit less drunk, thought Kayla supposed that made them more compliant. She shook the images out of her head. She didn’t want to think about that.

”Also …” Her voice trailed off for second. How to word it? She was curious though. ”You can tell me about these unknown things… perhaps?”
March 29, 2021 06:44 pm

Hollen

The internal war running rampant through her companion seemed to go unnoticed by Hollen, who walked along the sidewalk path at a leisurely pace. Her hands remained in the back pockets of her jeans as she allowed Kayla to lead the way, a bemused expression fitted onto her face. It wasn’t very often Hollen chose to be social – unless it was an integral part of her hunt – and she was surprised to find that some small part of her was enjoying it. She supposed that could have been a result from her time beyond, where she had been simultaneously alone and surrounded all at once. It took a large portion of her concentration to avoid the shudder that threatened to climb up her spine, and she could do nothing to stop the pinpricks that raced along the nape of her neck. Luckily, her long hair concealed the momentary discomfort she felt from her intrusive memories of Romania.

Hollen knew she was likely to never forget that place.

Her sharp gaze fell upon Kayla as the woman seemed to try and work through the enigma that was Hollen herself. The woman hardly revealed much: she was a shifter, but not a werewolf – which was an assumption she had made about Kayla. She hadn’t made her companion privy to the finer details of her shift, since many weren’t privy to such details. While Hollen felt no discomfort in her other form, in the monster that inhabited her, she knew that the general population of those who shifted from human to something else wouldn’t know what to think of her. Hell, most of the time, she didn’t know what to think of herself! Sometimes, when she woke, she felt as though she was looking down upon herself – floating above her body, transparent and fragile. Sometimes, she was wholly aware of every sensation her body experienced physically. It all seemed to depend on her mental state and what the creature allowed her to feel.

“Quite nasty if you let them go too far,” Hollen murmured with a paired nod of assent. The negativity that washed Kayla’s words was all the hint the redhead required to know that humans had tainted some part of this shifter’s life. Hollen was starting to wonder if all of them possessed similar, shared experiences. The more she mused about it, the more she realized that was potentially not the case. Many shifters lived amongst the humans happily, coinciding with their lifestyles and simply hiding the other half of them away. They lived as secrets, as a shadowed coin or a double-sided blade. It was a farce, something that made Hollen’s nose wrinkle with disgust. Those who had the privilege to know her – well, she supposed ‘privilege’ could easily be the wrong descriptor – would always find her out, eventually. She kept her secret, her monster, from them for their sake. The monster within her was cold and calculating, an apex predator who knew exactly how strong it was and what it needed to do in order to survive.

Even the strongest of monsters could hold haunted gazes. Hollen found the sometimes… hers were the reflections of those who had seen, who had discovered her and found out just how horrifying she could truly be.

Hollen blinked herself back to awareness as Kayla spoke, having turned her attention to the redhead. She tipped her head curiously as she seemed to fidget with the coat and then cocked an eyebrow in surprise. “You’re not wearing much under there. I don’t think you should give it back out here.” Hollen’s mouth quirked slightly, showing just a ghost of amusement. A chuckle paired with her visage as she shrugged a shoulder, seemingly unperturbed by Kayla’s own disgust with herself and her current state. Hollen had been in much worse circumstances than this and far more compromising than Kayla currently displayed in appearance. “I can get another. Just keep it.” Hollen rocked on her heels, fully prepared for a dismissal – perhaps a thanks for her service, though it was entirely unnecessary – and was surprised when Kayla prompted her with another inquiry.

The shifter was curious; Hollen couldn’t blame her.

She mused over the idea for a moment, contemplating and weighing her options. “Are you hungry?” Hollen countered her question, raising an eyebrow. “We could order some food to your place and… talk, I suppose. If you really want to know.” The statement could have been twisted as a joke, played off as if the big ‘secret’ would lead to some kind of lackluster revelation of Hollen’s true nature. But the words were stones falling between them, weighted and severe. If Kayla really wanted to know about her, it certainly wouldn’t happen on a public sidewalk… and it wouldn’t happen without some kind of price.
March 30, 2021 04:40 pm
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Actives (14) Fresh Blood (1) View All
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The Fallen (1) Graveyard
Elizabeth Hawkins, Sir Stephen, Mallory Quarters, MenagerieSteals1, FTSteals1, CnCrasher 2, MenagerieSteals3, FTSteals3, TF Jan RPM, CnCrasher, MenagerieSteals2, FTSteals2, CnCrasher 3, SpitiyuraSteal  Ivory Hollowblood  Adonair 
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