Chapter 9: The Collector
He flipped frantically through his journal. There had to be something on her in there. A page caught his eye and his heart leapt, but it was a false alarm. He kept flipping.
The young woman sitting next to him was quiet. In fact, she was eerily silent. It was almost as if she was waiting for him to realize that he had nothing on her. She just stared off into the trees, a sombre gleam to her brown eyes.
"Damn it!" the young man exclaimed. He snapped the cow-pattern journal shut.
The woman hadn't flinched.
"I swear I've seen you before. I mean, before the park," he told her.
She didn't look at him. "I doubt it," she replied.
"So why can't I get you out of my head?" he asked.
To this, the woman actually smiled. The young man's mouth opened in horror.
That actually came out of my mouth.
Say something to cover it up!
But the man's tongue felt like a wad of cotton.
C'mon, stupid! Don't be the stereotype now!
But she's so hot. Ugh, tactful.
"If you have nothing further to add," she said, breaking into the man's thoughts, "I'd like to kill this thing before it kills anyone else."
She stood, shouldered her bow and quiver, and dusted her pants of leaves. When he hadn't moved, she rolled her eyes and began to pick her way out the forest.
The pair continued in silence for nearly twenty minutes. They'd gone over the plan once about an hour ago; neither of them had any need to repeat it. Their meet-up had been just as concise: get out of the car, shake hands, get back in the car, follow woman, park, walk into woods, devise plan. Simple. It was something the young man could appreciate.
He scratched the top of his head through his snapback. Even the way they'd met seemed like fate (that could be going a bit far but it was too convenient not to notice.)
It was two days ago. The young man was sitting in his usual spot in the park, once again jotting things down in his journal. He liked keeping a journal. Although he could argue that his handwriting was atrocious, his notes reminded him of all the adventures he'd gotten roped into over the years. He had been a willing participant for ninety percent of the time, but even the ten percent that he hadn't been was nice to look back on.
A particular note was begging for his attention. But... He couldn't find it. Just like a few days before, with that other thing he'd tried to find. And he still hadn't located it (or even the name of what "it" was).
He was beyond frustrated.
Then, a shadow covered the pages. He didn't look up. It was probably the clouds anyway. So he kept flipping. And there! His pointer finger jabbed at the entry dated October 2011.
He bent low over the page to read.
These brass knuckles are cool. I have to figure out what they do because they've got to do something. The symbols are proof of that. I've just got to dig a little deeper, that's all.
A snort came from above him. He looked up to find a silhouette of a woman leaning over him.
"C'mon," she said, "that was funny."
"Excuse me?" he said, shutting the journal and turning to face her.
She was short, probably shoulder-height. Her hair was dark and spiked so that even messy it was cute. It looked dyed some color but he couldn't be sure.
"Sorry," she replied."I've been following you for a few days and decided to say hi."
No way she followed me, he thought.
She noticed when his eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You covered your bases well enough. I'm just better."
"Oh, that's all?"
He held back a snort of his own. "So why'd you follow me?" he asked her.
She walked around the bench and sat next to him. "You're good at what you do. I need help with something, and I hear you're a good shot. You help me and you'll get something in return," she said.
"And what exactly am I good at?" Oh, god, please say you're like me. Please. It would make things way cooler.
"Relics. You're a good thief."
Score! "Actually," he corrected, "I prefer 'collector.'"
"So do you---"
"Look." She stood and crossed her arms. "I don't care about relics, even if they're powerful. I just need some back up."
"Even if they're powerful?" Those were the best ones in his opinion. He'd do practically anything to get his hands on something like that.
The woman nodded. "We'll keep this simple," she began. "Meet me at the liquor store down the road in two days. You'll follow me from there and we can plan."
He watched as she walked back to her car. Man, the girl had a nice ass.
"See you later, Dan," she called out over her shoulder.
Dan's eyebrows got lost in his floofy hairline.