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Mack Blackwell had been on his way to the Church of the Builder. Questions and uncertainties he’d wanted to ask about weeks prior finally plucked at this waking mind enough that he thought to ask one of the fathers there about them. Demons, “deep ones” and such; topics that had since fallen under the explaination of “marsh gas”. And then he’d saw her. Huddled, frightful, scarred and bloody of clothes as ever. It was the woman he’d snapped a photo of once. The same woman that a second person’s presence of mind had just earlier today moved them to do the same thing; take her picture and ask questions about her.
It was “odd” to see her just then (coincidence?) when the topic of darkness crossed his mind.
“Well well, what have we here?” The question was more to himself than the beraggled figure before him.
He noticed her jump slightly at the sound of his voice and tried to soften it to sound more friendly,”You don’t remember me do you? How have you been?
She stared silently for a moment before speaking, “We remember. Man with the camera.”
“Yes. That’s right. The man with the camera. You have a new home I see. A different location?”, he asked, wondering at the wisdom of all of this.
“Wouldn’t you rather be inside?”
The figure before him looked as if it thought for a moment and then spoke, “Inside? Inside buildings? People are inside buildings. People don’t like us”, she ended tilting her head slightly, then adding “And sometimes she doesn’t like people. *whispers* ..best not to anger her.”
He noticed the switch between “we/us” and “she”, sure again that she must be some sort of psychotic. “Can I ask who she is?”, he tried to ask evenly, mindful that she might break forward suddenly as psychotics do but hoping to get some identity on her. To what end?, his mind asked. Send her to the asylum?, his thoughts continued, wondering if he would.
“He may ask. He may not receive a satisfactory answer”, she replied.
“I see. Then might I ask who *you* are?”, he asked still forcing himself to speak with her despite the almost nauseating emptiness of her eyes.
“She doesn’t like to be spoken of. Cannot name her”, the woman with the empty eyes answered.
He nodded trying to think how to direct his conversation with her when she spoke just then, “We.. *thinks for a moment* I.. Layla”.
He felt a sort of relief to have some input from her. Her name is Layla. “Very good then, I will not ask of her, only of you.” He paused a moment before venturing, “I thought you might be different from her?”
“She would say so”, the woman replied.
“Yes, I’ll bet she would.”
*giggles ever so slightly* “Nothing like Layla”, she says. “Stupid girl”. *frowns* Layla sets her eyes upon him, staring intently with an expression that asks Why are you here?
He scrambled to keep gathering information and asked, “You’ve managed not to freeze since I saw you last, how is that?”, realizing even as he asked it that it was indeed a good question. Surely if she had been inside she would be now.
…Then his brain led him to remember other things….bits he’d heard about people who healed quickly and did not succumb to injuries in the ways normal people did….and he thought of “other” people he might hand her to……people who wanted to know.
Her answer at once confirmed his train of thought and jarred him back to his attention of her, “We don’t freeze well”.
“Fascinating”, was his only uttered word and at a decible that would have told her he spoke more to himself than to her. He brought himself out of his thoughts, “If there were ever people who *did* want to talk to you , would you?”
She tilted her head slightly, eyeing the man warily.
“What I mean is, perhaps your experience was negative due to lack of information”, he continued.
“People?”, she asked.
“Yes, with people”, he answered her.
“What do people want to talk about?”, she countered.
“You ….to understand you” he told her, helpless to the image of an aproned brain “enhancer” coming into his mind .
Next thing you know I’ll be luring psychotics to her lair. The words crossed his mind without invitation.
“I can think of at least one person who might love to”, he said before the image was gone.
Her expression expression becames even more suspicious, continuing to stare intently at him and finally asking “Why?”
“Well, if for no other reason than that you *don’t* freeze. That interests people”, he told her staying close to the truth.
“She is quite hot-blooded. It is simple”, she answered causing some amount of blood to rush to his face at his first thoughts.
Thinking better of his presumptions and factoring in her probable psysosis, he questioned farther (if uncomfortably), “Is she now, explain the way she is ‘hot-blooded’ if you would?”
The woman tilted her head then, seeming confused as to why one didn’t understand her simple explanations. Set with those empty eyes, she told him, “One does not easily freeze the fires of hell, do they? Temperature is of no consequence.”
And for the second time since he’d seen her the distinct chill ran down his spine. The same chill he’d felt when Jimmy had told him about “the deep ones”. He blinked not having expected it of her just then.
“Speaking too much, she says. Man doesn’t need to know, she says. Rude. Stupid girl.”
“Fires of he- ” he stammered the words unable to complete them. “I see. Well I apologize if I’ve asked too much”, he said and resisted the urge to wipe his upper lip but started to back away from her.
She shrugged, “I dont mind” then dropped down to a melelvolent whisper , *but* She doesn’t like you”.
Her words seems to hiss in the snow prompting him to go.