Two: Morning Tea
Whimsey’s meowing awakened Katrina from vivid nightmares that terrorized her throughout the night. Fatigue hit her hard, a steady throbbing in her head mixed the sterile white light from her lamp lead to what felt like an intense hangover. Katrina swatted Whimsey away as the mockingbirds sang their song, only a light drizzle was left from the storm’s final song.
Groaning, Katrina sluggishly got up from the chair and turned off the lamp. She stumbled to a small linen closet and grabbed a pair of grey slippers to prop on. Minutes later, a clack rang out around the house as Whimsey’s empty tuna can was thrown into the trash bin.
Katrina was quick to pick out a new one; the pop of the can immediately caught the cat’s attention.
Despite the calamity, in the house, a quiet sigh was tossed up as Katrina forgot she had class to attend at ten. The college was only a twenty-minute bike ride, but on the wet pavement - she considered asking a friend for this lecture’s notes.
Katrina thought back to the male sleeping in the guest room; should she be envious of him and his magical appearance overnight, or was it really just a freak coincidence? Unlucky meeting or not, Katrina was still hesitant of him. Katrina chuckled; she had read one murder story too much and was probably overthinking from the lack of sleep. Truth be told she had not had a good night’s sleep since the recent month, and this event certainly was not helping with her sanity.
Tearing herself away from the thoughts, Katrina reached for a cool cup of coffee and sipped on it, getting the familiar bitterness through her mouth.
Footsteps echoed as Katrina warily looked into her bedroom door, half expecting a horrendous-looking beast to randomly pop out. Alas, there was only a cool and dimly lit room to be met with. She was fast to switch on the light and move towards the drawers; within, it contained a rather bare style of clothing. Sweaters with random bonds on them, plain colored t-shirts, leggings, and a few pairs of jeans, nothing that would scream excitement.
Katrina decided on a pair of black leggings and an old gray Queen sweater. Setting her cup down, she changed as a yawn slipped out of her mouth. Cool air hit Katrina’s back as the ac turned on, chills went down her spine goosebumps rose along her arms. A soft curse was spat out into the room, bouncing around the walls.
Katrina calmed herself and moved out of the room, closing the door behind her with a slight slam. Passing through the house’s abandoned rooms, Katrina grabbed her phone and dialed a classmate. She was going to make up an excuse; she had to clear this whole incident up before she confronted Carson.
The phone rang a few times, and it went to voice mail after a minute of waiting.
“Come on Henry, you’re an athlete you should be training now,” Katrina mumbled as she dialed the same number again. This time, on the fifth ring, the line picked up.
“Hello,” a grumpy man answered; Katrina could tell that she had probably just woken him up. It probably was earlier than she anticipated; guilt flooded her system as she had woken him so early.
“Hi Henry, it’s Katrina,” she could hear the slight scratchiness in her voice as she sat down at her far too big kitchen table.
“I have a small favor; can you possibly send me a picture of the notes from today’s lecture? Something important came up last night, and I will not be able to attend this morning.” Katrina heard Henry yawn from the other line; her eyes darted around nervously wondering when he was going to show up.
“Yeah, no problem,” A few garbled words were muttered on the other line after as drowsiness impacted both.
After a few moments, the other line buzzed again, “Hey, Katrina, are you okay?
Katrina glanced around the kitchen taking note of the rising sun that started to peak through the clouds.“I am --- yeah. I am quite stressed out; my dad is struggling with, well, you know.”
She rubbed one eye, unsure whether any possible stray tears that might fall were due to fatigue or untouched emotions. Katrina’s father had been struggling with pancreatic cancer for ages now, and his medical bills were hitting their family hard. The only reason Katrina had told Henry about this is because he actually overheard a conversation between Katrina and her mum, and Henry, being his normal self, was a worried mess.
“Oh I am sorry for asking; I should have known. You know - after all this, maybe you want to meet up at some point? To the study for the upcoming exam, obviously.” Katrina smiled, but it quickly faded away as her ears picked up on heavy footsteps from above her. She knew that the stranger was about to come down, and she knew that she had to end the call.
“That would be lovely, let us plan on this upcoming Friday? Maybe we can go to a cafe after your track practice?” The steps grew louder as the stranger started to walk into the hallway, and then down the stairs. Katrina’s grip on her phone tightened, “Hey listen, Henry, it was a lovely chat - I need to go. My mum is calling, thanks again.”
Katrina saw Carson enter the room and hung up the call. She preferred that he would not hear the conversation between Henry and her.
“Good morning Katrina,” the male yawned as his golden-brown hair fell into his eyes; he looked like he, too, did not have a good night’s rest.
“I suppose that the home phone is working?” Katrina glanced at the male and motioned to the home phone in the back of the kitchen. Carson mumbled a quiet thank you before going to make his call.
“Carson,” Katrina asked as she noted Whimsey hiding under her reading chair. “Would you like breakfast? I can cook omelets or pancakes.” The male smiled at Katrina before nodding his head excitedly,
“Anything would be alright; somehow you figured out that I am hungry.” Carson brought his arm to his eyes, dark bags were noticeable from the lack of sleep. Katrina put on a false grin as she nodded.
“A simple eggs on toast it is.”
Three eggs with lightly buttered toast remained on a plate for Carson. Katrina was tempted to put a bit of cyanide in the eggs, but she decided against that idea; plus, she had no cyanide to use.
The call seemed to be unnecessarily long, but then again, Katrina always seemed to be rather impatient. She attempted to eat her breakfast, but every bite of eggs she ate seemed to make her appetite lessen ever further. She soon found herself throwing out her unfinished breakfast, and then collapsing into her chair to dig into a new book. Whimsey curled herself into Katrina’s lap, but no matter how far Katrina got into her book, she could always hear Carson’s voice in the background. It was garbled, and that only frustrated Katrina more as she lost track of what she was reading.
When she realized that she would have to read the same page for the sixth time, she shut her book shut.
“Bloody fucking hell,” Katrina muttered under her breath; she had no doubt that the call had gone on for at least fifteen minutes.
“Tell them the location, and done. How hard is that?” Katrina grumbled as she pet Whimsey. The cat’s tail flickered from one side to another, but it quickly jumped under the chair as soon as it heard a click of the phone.
Katrina let out an annoyed sigh as she composed herself. Her feet tip-toed into the kitchen, and she found herself seated opposite from where Carson sat down. A cloud of dismay seemed to hang over him. Katrina had to bite her lip to avoid groaning aloud.
“They can not be here for over an hour because there are no stations located near here,” Carson whispered. Katrina, however, could hear the same hesitation she witnessed from the night before,
She did not question it, but another question arose from the top of her head,
“Where is your own personal phone?” Carson’s facial reaction mimicked the suddenness of the question. Most people had a phone in the modern age, even children. So why would a fully grown male not have a cellar phone? “Also, why were you driving through the middle of nowhere Maryland at three or so in the morning? Not to mention in a storm that severe.”
Carson shuffled uncomfortably in his seat as he twiddled his thumbs. Katrina glanced at Carson’s nervous stature and rose an eyebrow in wonder. He went to speak but closed his mouth as any words failed to form in his mouth. Katrina pondered if this man was from some Amish group, where women churned butter and men built weapons from wood and steel. She scoffed quietly at the idea, but still waited patiently for Carson’s response.
“I was actually on my way to visit my Nana; she recently fell ill with severe pneumonia and I needed to travel across the east coast to get to her. I live currently in Fredrick, and she lives in Raleigh.” She noted his eyes flickering from his palms to her. “As for why I do not have a phone, funny story, it actually got stolen when I stopped for gas. Smashed right through my window, they did not steal the car because I came back soon enough.”
Katrina had to stop herself from laughing aloud; that was the most pathetic story she had ever heard. Seeing his grandma, okay, maybe, but his windshield got smashed and they just magically fled afterward? Yeah, right. She calmed herself enough to talk,
“Fair enough, sorry for what happened to your car. I wish your nan well; do you want anything else, tea? I am actually about to prepare some peppermint tea, it is lovely, would you want some?” The male shrugged in agreement; Katrina, on the other hand, noted how Carson seemed relieved. His shoulders were no longer tightened, and his eyes no longer held that darkened tint. She knew it was all a lie.
As Katrina prepared the tea, she thought about the male. How could she not? Horrid story, random appearance in the midst of night, and deceptive behavior, it was a story for disaster. Katrina wasn’t ready to die, not today.
She let out a quiet hum,
“Tea is ready, it is lovely. Personally my favorite.” Katrina grabbed the two cups and walked over; when she sat, he lips met the cup of piping hot tea; it was sweet with the familiar taste of peppermint. It reminded her of a cozy summer night back home; she remembered when she cuddled with her father as snow fell outside.
“Where are you from? Australia, Britain?” The male flashed a small grin as a ghost of a smile appeared on Katrina’s face; a picture of her family appeared in her mind.
“I was born in South Africa. However, I moved to Australia when I was seven because my father had a better job opportunity. I eventually moved back to South Africa after my father got sent back to a new job where our first home remained.” Carson’s intrigue was visible by the smile he wore.
Katrina, too, was a bit happy when thinking about her adolescent days. However, things were just simply not settling in her stomach, something was wrong. The way the man looked at her was unsettling; it was full of unsaid questions and ambivalent emotions.
“Pardon I have to make a call,” Katrina muttered leaving Carson into his own thoughts for a bit. Her footsteps exited the room as she looked at her phone, unsure of what to do. Was it just an excuse to get out of the awkward situation? What in the world was he thinking, surely there was something on his mind that was ominous.
She pulled her phone out and dialed her own number, making sure it would go to voice mail so she could spy on him. As the phone rang she listened intently to the man in the other room.
She heard a soft voice and caught a few, rather odd, words. There were words such as “ravage”, “lycan”, and “Venierra”. Katrina had no idea what any of those words meant when considering her situation, but there was no doubt in her mind that this man was here for a reason, and it wasn’t due to just a mere coincidence.