Chapter 17:


Curiosity Killed The Cat

The sounds of the forest continued all around them as they walked. Suddenly she stopped behind Kothur. He looked over to see her reaching by her feet. Through the fallen leaves and dirt, she picked up a piece of silver metal. Her face was full of wonder as she held it up to the light. She started spinning around happily while looking at it. He thought it was funny.

“That’s a casing. There’re tons of them in the shed!” He waved her over. They were pretty close. It was probably from an old target practice. Along the way, she happily collected anymore she found. How silly, he thought.

The shed was built in a small clearing near the edge of the forest. It was built large enough to fit their family of five inside, so there should be plenty of space for two. There were large piles of dirt on the sides in an attempt to bury it a bit underground, though the entire thing was made of cement. A metal roof was added on top to give a lip of shade by the entrance.

He opened the door with a lot of effort. She cautiously walked in with her hands together. He tried to give her a tour even if she couldn’t understand. He felt it was the polite thing to do.

“There’s the rations and water. Here’s a hairbrush, if you want. Um, oh. Here they are.” He pulled down a large box from one of the shelves. It made a loud noise when he set it down. The girl looked over his shoulder. She was really close. Inside were hundreds of clean unused bullets, unlike the ones she found earlier.

“...!” She spoke excitedly as she picked a few up in her hands. She spun around again. He wondered what she meant. Was it her first time seeing them? Did she think they were cool? Maybe they use them as a currency in her country, too? He was just glad he could make her happy. Seeing her smile made him feel wonderful.

They played with them for a while before they heard rain hitting the walls. Kothur opened the door. It must be a sudden summer shower; it looked like it would be over soon. She sat in front of the entrance watching the rain come down. He sat next to her. The rain also brought a cool breeze with it. It was nice.

She rested her head on his shoulder all of a sudden. He felt her hair by his face. His heart started to beat faster. He tried not to move as he felt his muscles tense.

“...” She said something softly.

Kothur was in a bit of a mental panic. What did she mean by that?? Did she need something? Was it something about the rain? Something about him? No, if he thought about it rationally, it was probably just her thanking him. Right?

The rain stopped after a few seconds, just like he predicted. She picked her head up off of him and stretched her arms. He leaned forward to give his back a break. Ah. He wished the rain had lasted a while longer.

The girl crawled forward to the outside. She was drawing something in the dirt with her finger. She turned back and waved him over. Was she trying to tell him something? He looked curiously at the series of circles gradually getting cut in half vertically. She pointed to the full circle and drew a question mark. Hm? It did look familiar. He pondered for a minute. They kind of looked like moon phases.

“Oh, a full moon? That’s tonight, I think.” he said. She looked at him with big eyes. It looked like she had more to say, but didn’t know how to say it. He felt the same. She urgently tapped the picture again, pointed to him, and then to the ground.

“Ok, ok. I get it. I’ll be back tonight.” He nodded. He couldn’t stay out all day without his parents getting worried. He planned to go back home and try to sneak out after everyone went to sleep. He shared a room with his brothers so it might be tricky, but he would try his best.

Later that night, Kothur laid awake in his bed. He waited till around midnight to sneak out. The house was dark and still as he slowly climbed the stairs. He stopped by the kitchen to grab a flashlight. He wondered what she could want during a full moon night. The only things that came to his mind made him embarrassed.

The back door creaked as he opened it. He carefully shut it behind him. It was pitch black outside, but there were many kinds of insect sounds in the air. He made his way to the shed. When he opened the heavy door, he found the girl messing with one of the hunting knives they stored here. He waved to her. She smiled at him and ran out the entrance. She turned around and beckoned him to follow her. His heart beat nervously.

As he followed her with the flashlight guiding them, occasionally she would cut foliage that was in their way. Is that why she brought the knife? There were better knives for that that he could have brought, had he known. Where were they going anyway? They were going quite deep. If he remembered right, there was a river that ran by the forest’s edge.

The gentle sounds of water running quickly grew louder. The river shone white in the full moon’s glow. The girl went up the river’s edge just enough to get her feet wet. She looked at him and held out her hand to him. Her hair was also catching the moon’s glow making her look angelic. He put the flashlight down and walked up to the water. He cautiously took her hand. It was warm.

She closed her eyes and started whispering in her language. Kothur looked at the water around his feet. He noticed a faint bluish glow. Before he had time to think, she put her mouth close to his ear and spoke softly. It made him shiver.

She let go of his hand and held the blade of the knife to her palm. She made a shallow cut and a few drops of blood came out. She gently put the knife in his hands. Kothur’s heart pounded. He stared at the blood on her hand as she smiled at him. It was all so surreal. He felt like he was going crazy. The thought of running crossed his mind, but his legs felt frozen.

His hands trembled slightly under the weight of the blade. Something compelled him to make the same shallow cut across his palm. As he flinched, she reached out to caress his hand. She stared so intently at it. She took his hand that held the knife and positioned it up by her. She smiled and tapped her chest.

Kothur’s heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest. The noise of his pulse pounded in his ear. His hand was shaking. He was terrified and couldn’t move. The sight of her in the moon’s glow enraptured him. Using all of his willpower, he threw the knife and started sprinting behind him. Through his panting, he heard her call out as he traversed the dark forest.