Interlude 13 – Straight Ahead

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Mona glanced back at the three girls to make sure they were following, then quickened her pace.

Ugh. This was just what she needed.

She had considered letting the girls go off on their own after they’d been reunited, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to do so. She couldn’t just leave three defenseless girls to get eaten, as tempting the blonde one and especially the brown-haired one were making it.

Maybe she would have felt differently if they weren’t so young. Young enough to make her think of her own kids, though these girls were at least five years older and far less polite. Young people, even the most useless ones, were still full of potential, and if she wrote these girls off as not worth saving, she would be robbing them of that potential. No one deserved that, not even a scruffy brat like that brown-haired girl.

Of course, that meant Mona was stuck with a babysitting job when she had far more important things to do.

“Um, excuse me, ma’am?” said the chatty blonde one. Jen, she’d said her name was.

“What?” said Mona.

“I think I kinda hurt my ankle?”

Oh, great. This one was a whiner.

“What do you want me to do about it?”

“Um, like, maybe slow down? Just a smidge?”

“Walk it off. Quit being a baby.”

“Maybe it would be a good idea to slow down for a bit. I’m sure we’re all pretty tired.”

The redhead, Chelsea, was speaking now. So far, she’d proven to be the most tolerable of the three.

“I’ve fought off creatures ten times my size, suffered far worse injuries, and walked for way longer than this. You’ll be fine. Just keep up.”

“Where are we even going?” said the brown-haired girl. Angelina. The worst one.

Mona had disliked Angelina at first glance, with her disheveled hair and dirty boots, and Angelina had only reinforced that dislike in the few minutes they’d known each other. Mona was tempted to ignore the question, but the girls did have a right to know where she was leading them.

“I’m leading you to my house. I was headed that way anyway, and it should give you a chance to regroup and tell me more about these friends you’re looking for. The sooner you find them, the sooner I can get you out of my hair.”

“Just out of curiosity, can I ask why you’re helping us?” said Jen.

“You’d be as good as dead if I didn’t. I can’t in good conscience leave you to fend for yourselves. Though if you keep bothering me with questions, I might reconsider.”

“When you say your house, does that mean you actually live in this Pit place?” said Jen.

“What did I just say?” said Mona.

“To stop bothering you with quest–oh. Yeah. Sorry. Yes, ma’am. No more questions.”

“I have a question,” said Angelina.

Mona stopped walking and whipped around to glare at her. Angelina seemed to shrink under her gaze. Good.

“My house isn’t much farther now,” Mona continued, answering Jen’s question before Angelina had the chance to speak. “And yes, I do live in this place. Not by choice, obviously. I was sent here against my will, like I’m guessing the three of you were. I can’t help but wonder what three kids like you could have done to piss off someone as powerful as the Clydes.”

“What? Piss off someone as powerful as the Clydes? Do you mean like, Billy and Lily Clyde?” Jen paused. “Wait, did that count as a question?”

“I’ll let it slide,” said Mona. “So you didn’t do anything to piss off the Clydes. At least, not as far as you know. So if CPSI didn’t send you here, how did you end up here?”

“I wasn’t sent here either,” said Angelina. “I came here on my own to find C. And I found her! Yay!”

“I wasn’t talking to you,” said Mona.

Angelina’s statement piqued Mona’s curiosity even more, but she wasn’t about to reward rudeness.

“Um, I came here looking for Chelsea too,” said Jen, “and my boyfriend, Sam, but I obviously still haven’t found him yet.”

“That doesn’t explain how you got here in the first place.”

“Um, it’s a long story.”

“Most things you say seem to be. Try to summarize it.”

“Um, well, long story short, I was supposed to drive my boyfriend home ’cause he can’t drive, but I couldn’t find him anywhere at work. So I was looking for him, right? And it was getting really late, and I was kinda worried, and then I saw this girl who was talking on the phone, and she said she was looking for someone–“

“How is this a ‘long story short’?”

“Right, sorry, so um, basically, she was looking for Chelsea, and this lady named Sarah came up and said she was also looking for Chelsea.”


Could it be…

No. Mona dislodged the thought with a quick shake of her head. It was a ridiculous idea. Sarah was an extremely common name. There was no reason to be sentimental about a coincidence.

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