The prompt used: “You had me at ‘hello’.” -Jerry Maguire (quote)
Edicia was not sure whether the hunters she had seen were after her or the deer family she had seen along the way, but she was not taking any chances. She made sure her shoes were secured on her makeshift utility belt and sneaked around the hunters, praying for whatever powers out there not to let their dogs sniff her out. The hard parts of the vegetation and soil alike under the undergrowth hurt her soles as splinters and cuts came on them. Despite of the pain, she pressed her lips together and hurried away; if she got caught, she would be in for far, far more pain.
Once the hunters’ voices died out, Edicia merely pressed forward, determined to cover as much distance as possible. Eventually, her mind focused only on walking ahead, a mental tunnel vision taking over her. The longer she walked, the better for her.
At some point, she stumbled over some roots and found herself at a clearing. She noticed to her horror that she was alone there. A ragged group of people, camped at the clearing, turned to look at her.
She was a goner.
“H-hello,” Edicia whimpered, trying to come up with an excuse to get away from this group. Yet one of them, a man two heads taller than her with broad shoulders and a heavy build that would have no problem crushing her if necessary, stood up and started to walk towards her.
The exhaustion was already setting itself in deep within Edicia now that she had had to stop walking. There was no way she could escape this group, especially not now.
Her body gave her no other choice than just collapsing on the ground.
When she came to, she was lying on a thin mattress, covered by an even thinner blanket. Everything hurt less now, though, and she could have sworn that she felt bandages covering her feet, legs and arms around the cuts she had gotten while walking through the forest.
Even though she wanted to stay on the bed, she needed to find out what was going on and where she was, so she tried to sit up. A strong hand came on her shoulder and pressed her back against the mattress. Edicia turned to look at the hand’s owner and saw that it was the same man from the group. Panic settled back in.
“I-I…” Edicia stuttered. She still did not know what she should say to get away from this.
“Easy now,” the man said, his baritone voice soft. He gave a small smile to the girl. “You had me at ‘hello’. We won’t hurt you.” He took his hand off her shoulder. “You need to rest. I don’t know where you came from or why you were stumbling in the forest barefoot when you have shoes with you, but you’re safe with us. So get some rest, okay?”
Edicia tried to find any sort of deception from the man’s face and eyes, but they betrayed no ill intent. She probably did not have any choice but going along with the story anyway. “Okay.”
“Good,” the man said. He turned to look away and called out, “Natalina.”
Footsteps came to them and a female voice asked, “Yeah?”
“The girl has woken up,” the man told. “I think you’ll frighten her less than me.”
“Probably,” the female voice remarked. “The others actually need your input with where we’ll head next, so go talk with ’em. I’ll look after her.”
“Thank you.” The man stood up and walked away, while a woman sat down at his spot. Edicia looked at her and tried to memorize her face, but she could only remember her messy dark brown hair.
“Just sleep, ‘K, kid? You look pretty ragged, and that’s coming from me,” the woman flicked her hair to showcase her tangled hair. “Haven’t washed this in weeks, so it has gone like eight shades darker from all the dirt.”
Edicia nodded. She did not have any other choice anyway.
Therefore, she closed her eyes and let the sleep come. Whatever happened to her now was beyond her.