Into the Hollow
She trailed off and I realized I was hunched over in suspense. Dex’s hand was on my thigh, squeezing it lightly. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to comfort me or what. I turned my attention back to Christina and prodded her with my eyes for her to continue.
Her gaze ping-ponged between us quizzically. “Are you guys a couple?”
I snorted, unprepared for that question. “What? No.”
She didn’t look convinced. I gave Dex a disgusted look, and shaking my head, brought the same look over to her. “No. We’re just partners. Why?”
She shrugged. “I can tell he’s touching you under the table.”
“I guess he thinks I’m scared,” I explained slowly and moved an inch away from him.
Meanwhile Dex was smiling openly. “I’m trying to win her over. It only works about half the time.”
I lowered my head toward him. “Oh, this is you trying now?”
He matched my look. “Shall I remove my hand?”
The thing was, I didn’t want him to. I loved the feeling of his hands on me, and would love it more if he moved his hand to my inner thigh and slid it up. But I said, “Yes please.”
“Hand has been removed,” he said in a robotic voice. He took it off and my thigh was left feeling cold.
I tugged down at my sweater sleeves and swallowed. “You should probably ignore us for the time being. Please go on with your story.”
She looked lost in her head for a moment. Man, this girl had the shortest attention span.
“So…yeah,” she started up, finally. “I decided to go back home, you know, my other home. On foot. I could jog it. Anyway, I wasn’t far when I heard branches breaking in the forest. I thought it was Rigby or maybe Bandy, so I stopped. I listened, cuz I wasn’t sure. I mean, there are bears and mountain lions around, even though I swear it wasn’t ether of those. I heard this weird low growl, not like a dog but kind of like if someone was trying to clear their throat hardcore. But it wasn’t my dad. It sounded like bad news. I didn’t want to find out what it was and I was totally about to go when I saw something shift coming around the corner of the cabin. It was so dark but it was low and hunched over like this.”
She got out of her seat and stood in the restaurant, demonstrating. Her knees were bent, her back hunched over, her hands poised beneath her, ready to claw. She looked like a cross between a zombie and a velociraptor.
And considering how much Jurassic Park scared me, that was probably the worst combination on earth.
By now, everyone in the diner was staring at the teen and some were even giving a little laugh. She shot them all haughty looks and sat back down.
“Well that was demented looking,” Dex remarked.
“It was demented looking!” she reiterated. “Jeez. And it was dark, covered in hair, and its eyes were crazy black, like holes. Obviously nothing I should stick around for. So I ran and I made it only a few steps before it knocked me down and clawed at my leg, dragging me backward. I tried to turn around to fight, to get a look at it but before I could, Taffy came screeching out of the woods, like she finally remembered she galloped off without me. The Sasquatch let go of me and took off. Here. Look at what it did.”
Christina stuck her leg out of the booth and was trying to roll up her jeans when the waitress came by with our food and interrupted her.
Even though her story hadn’t really scared me (because how could you be scared of something that wasn’t real), I had lost my appetite. I stuck the bacon in my mouth and pushed my eggs over to Dex, who snatched them up and added a helping of hot sauce.
“So, you called this thing Sasquatch,” I said. “No offense, but this doesn’t sound like Sasquatch. Isn’t he, it, whatever, supposed to be tall and big? I mean, Bigfoot…he has big feet…means that it’s tall.”
“I don’t know, do I look like a monster expert? I’m just saying what I saw.”
“Then you went on the news and told everyone about it, that it was a Sasquatch,” Dex said between chews. “But the doctors said your leg looked like you were scratched up by a mountain lion. Those kind of claws.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Of course I went on the news. People should know it’s out there! And yeah, I’ll show you, they definitely were claws.”
She reached down for her pant leg again but I patted her arm, stopping her.
“That’s OK. We believe you. We’re just trying to get our facts straight before we start filming.”
She blew a loose strand of hair out of her face and crossed her arms in a huff. “Well those are my facts. If you want more, you have to talk to Rigby. He’s the one who has seen this beast thing a bunch of times, and has molds of the footprints. And guess what, what I saw exactly matches what I saw. So explain that.”
Dex put his fork down on the empty plate. “We will explain it. That’s why we’re here.”
Ten minutes went past as Christina went off of the topic of Sasquatch and onto how much she wanted to get out of Snow Crest. Apparently her parents had been saving up for university when she finished her schooling but because of the economy and the rising Canadian dollar, the town and the tourism industry were hit really hard over the last few years. The business was dwindling, but she had no choice but to help out her dad. Despite her headstrong personality, I felt sorry for the girl. She might not have to go to school half the year, but it didn’t sound like she should be working up in the mountains either.
After we paid the bill, we went outside and waited for Rigby to show up. My body still wasn’t used to the cold, and I rubbed my hands together fast, wishing I had brought my gloves out of the duffel bag.
“He should be here,” Christina said absently, looking around. “He’ll be in a green truck. I’m just going to call my mom and see if he’s left the house yet.”
She ran back into the diner to use their phone.
“No cell phone,” I noted, thinking it was odd for a teen.
“No service,” said Dex, showing me his iPhone. He was right. I took my phone out of the pocket and it read the same.
“There was some reception at the motel.”
“Maybe it comes and goes.” He looked around him, at the majestic peaks that soared high above the main street. “So what do you think, kiddo?”
He kept his hands in his pockets and gestured at the diner with his shoulder. “About all that. Christina. What do you think? Is she full of shit or is she telling the truth?”
I wiggled my lips. “Well, I don’t think it’s either, to be honest. I believe something attacked her but the creature she described isn’t a Sasquatch. Even if she said it was 7 feet tall and as hairy as Robin Williams, I still wouldn’t believe it’s a Sasquatch. There’s obviously some animal out there. I mean, look where we are. And it’s the end of winter, times are tough, food is hard to come by. Maybe a mangy bear went after her because it was desperate.”
“Ah, always blame the mangy bear,” he said, amused.
“You believe her?”
“Not really,” he admitted. “Just playing devil’s advocate. I think we need that whole dynamic now if I’m going to be in front of the camera.”
“Are you nervous about that?”
“Do I look nervous?”
No. I thought. You look ridiculously handsome.
He grinned and nodded to himself. “Are you nervous? First time handling the camera and all?”
“Oh, I’ll be fine. I like a challenge.”
“Is that why you like me?”
“Who said I liked you?”
His eyes shone playfully, turning his irises a deep cocoa. “That’s why I like you, you’re a challenge.”
I folded my arms and leaned back on one leg. “Oh, so that’s why…”
“Well, that and your ass.”
My cheeks flamed. “Thanks.”
“And your breasts.”
“And what’s between your-”
“Dex,” I warned, cutting him off.
He grinned and stepped toward me. He took his hand out of his pocket and ran his finger down the length of my nose. “What’s between your gorgeous eyes…your cute little nose.”
I tried not to flinch, knowing I had powdered my nose that morning.
“I have a vague recollection of you comparing me to a sexy bunny once,” I mumbled, scrunching it up.
He raised his brows in mock surprise. “Did I say that? Boy, I sure am a charmer sometimes, it’s a wonder I even used to get laid. Must have been the big dick.”
I glared at him. “You think way too much of your dick.”
“So do you,” he replied with a smile. And God damn it, I wished I hadn’t been staring at his crotch right then.
“Dex!” I barked at him, noting that Christina was running back toward us. “There are children here.”
He opened his mouth to retort something back but thankfully shut it as Christina joined our side.
“There he is,” she said and we turned to see a rusted green cab with black exhaust fumes rumbling around the corner. The truck pulled up next to us and a middle-aged man stuck his head out the window. His cheeks were dusted with pock-marks and a red knit cap was pulled down until it met his bushy brown eyebrows. He had an impressive handlebar mustache which I hoped wouldn’t inspire Dex. His mustache had been barely there lately and I liked it that way. It tickled less when I kissed him.
“I’m Rigby,” the man said in a voice that sounded like his throat was filled with rocks. “Do you guys want to hop in your car and follow us? It’s about an hour drive to the cabin. Do you have chains?”
Dex looked back at the Highlander. “I have snow tires on.”
“That’ll do,” he said. He tapped the side of the door. “Hurry up Christina, we don’t have all day.”
She ran around and popped in the passenger side. Then the truck began to pull away.
“Uh, Dex!” I exclaimed. We exchanged a look and both started running for the Highlander before Rigby’s truck was gone and out of our sight.
We were right about the cell reception being spotty. As our car climbed up the rough mountain roads, ¾ of a mile behind the dusty cloud of Rigby’s truck, the bars on my phone would go from zero to barely anything from one curve to the next.
When it seemed like I had the last chance to do so, I texted Ada telling her the situation. I never heard back and after twenty minutes, as we got further from the town, I knew I wouldn’t get a response until our time hunting Sasquatch was over and we were back in “civilization.”
I spent the car ride getting to know Dex’s camera properly. We were going to be shooting with a hand-held one just because it was easier to manage and not worth a fortune if it accidently got destroyed. That seemed to happen a lot in our expeditions. Even if that did happen, I had a plan. I was sick and tired of losing our footage because our camera had drowned or something. I had found a super tiny Ziploc bag that some earrings had come in and placed the empty case for the SD card in there. If anything dicey were to happen, I’d try and pop out the memory card at the last minute and stick it in the case and bag and shove in my mouth or bra or something.