Going for a Hike

Munson Creek Falls 
After all the weirdness that had gone on, after the initial fear, worry, and phone calls to her parents to get reassurance from them, Lila decided that she should go on a hike. She hadn't died yet, she'd met some weirdos, but no one who wanted to rend her flesh from her bones and devour her. At least, not that she knew of. She knew there were regular human weirdos out there, she found herself, at night after everything had settled down, wondering if there was a John Wayne Gacy version of vampires and shifters.

She didn't want to freak herself out in that way, so she packed a bag in the evening and, on her day off the next morning, grabbed it and headed out to the hiking trails. What she needed was a good, long hike to clear her head, get away from the weirdness, and stick her toes in a creek. So she left her apartment, locking up behind herself, checking once again for her items, then headed to the hiking trails.

She arrived shortly after 7 am, the morning sun streaming to slits of fog. She parked, taking note of how few cars there were in the parking lot, and counting herself lucky. She wouldn't be interrupted, she hoped. She donned her backpack, and headed up the trails. She'd taken a few of them before in the short time she'd been there, and had a favorite one already. She didn't want to explore too much more without someone with her, but she'd been slow on making hiking buddies. Despite the gorgeous territory they lived in, she found most people were fairly apathetic about the view they had. Lila had seen bigger trees, but had never seen a water fall before. The novelty of such a thing hadn't worn off, and she set out to stick her feet in the falls.

After about an hour of hiking, she found a nice rock to sit down at, and took off her backpack. She set it next to her, and broke out her water bottle and snacks she had brought along. She'd brought along nuts, jerky, a couple of fresh fruits, and some cheese. She picked out the jerky and the nuts, taking a swig from her water bottle as she looked out at the falls.

 Though there was no worse time to be a shifter, there was no better time to be a cat. Small and relatively unassuming, the chubby, spotted feline passed for a well-fed stray. When humans gossiped about the potential shifters among them, species like ‘lions, tigers, and bears’ were tossed around in an Oz-fueled panic. Never a little thing like him. And though there had been times in which he’d loathed his petite size, now he relished the ironic freedom that came behind the bars of compact bones.

 Still sans truck tires, Calvin had spent the better part of the week in the wilderness. It was a hollow garrison with an inevitable expiration date. The need to return to his human life would come far sooner than any leveling out of the public uproar.

 A pleasant result of said panic? The emptiness of the woods. The tubby tom-cat pattered across a moss-covered log adjacent to a tall, trickling waterfall. What was a tourist magnet months ago now lay forgotten in the midst of instability. A cold mist rose off the water, mixing with the thick morning fog. He would have been content to sit like that, enjoying the falls by his lonesome, but his attention snagged on a particularly sharp and delectable odor. Jerky.

 Skirting around a cluster of boulders, the cat bunched its muscles and leapt up to get a better view. Amber eyes fell on a young woman, surprisingly human, and very much alone. It seemed her self-preservation was as heinous as his was. Sliding off the rock, he jumped once, then twice, landing on her side of the creek. Tail high in the air, he chirped, mewing at her like a house cat begging for food.

Lila's sense of self-preservation absolutely left something to be desired. It was true, she had an inflated sense of safety, never having been assaulted in any way in her life. She kept a hunting knife on her, strapped to her side, but that was it. Anyone else in her family would have had a gun at their hip, along with three knives and a taser, but she left her taser at home, only using it for work. She didn't think a taser would be much use against anything but a human. And with the recent knowledge, she wasn't sure a taser would work on a vampire. A shifter, maybe, but she wasn't even sure of that anymore.

She popped a piece of jerky in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully as she thought about her past experiences in town. Could I afford to move? Probably not... Part of her wanted to stay, to see how things would pan out. Surely if there were supernatural beings here in Oregon, there were some out in the rest of the world? She took a swig of her water, then ate a few nuts.

A chirping caught her attention, surprising her so much she dropped her water bottle.

"Shit!" She looked over to see the source, hoping to god there wasn't some sort of weird, chirping monster around. Instead, she saw a small cat that actually sort of looked like a Bengal. A smile spread on her face.

"Hey, darling!" she said, bewildered and absolutely delighted. "Aren't you pretty! Handsome?" she realized she didn't know if the cat was a boy or girl, but decided it didn't matter. "Cat. You're a cute cat."

One of the things her parents had taught her growing up was never feed strays or wild animals, but it was a house cat that approached her. Surely it was fine? Maybe even someone's lost cat. She began stripping up the jerky in her hand, smiling at the cat.

"You're probably hungry. Here," she scooted over on the rock, setting the food nearby, but out of arm's reach of her initial spot. She scooted back to her spot, then clicked her tongue.

"There you go," she said gently. "Have some. I won't touch you unless you come to me."

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