Kasin's Real, I Promise
Author: Kassandra

Chapter 10
The small white rabbit.

Kasin drives us to Lunden Pond, silent the whole way there until we reach our destination. I step out of the car uncertainly and try not to slam my fragile door. Looking around me, my breath is taken away by the stark beauty of the mountainside lake. A thin carpet of green grass covers the large lake around the edges. The trees, just not beginning to grow back laves and flower buds, reach their thin fingers up towards the sun, as if just begging it to warm them. The sunlight streams through all of the beads of water from yesterday’s storm, making everything glitter and glisten like thousands of diamonds.

Kasin grabs my wrist and leads me through the forest, the mountain ascending gradually. After a while my legs start to burn and my breaths quicken slightly, but the environment is stunning. Birds sing gently around me as a small rabbit hops into our path.

“Oh, Kasin, look!” I coo as I freeze in my tracks. The small white rabbit twitches its nose and stares at us with its serene black eyes. “It’s beautiful,” I whisper as a warm smile creeps onto my lips. It’s so amazing to see something so lovely up close. The little rabbit is about ten feet away. It fearlessly hops closer to us, studying us carefully. Slowly, very slowly, I lower myself onto my knees and sit back on my heels. I cautiously put my hand out. To my utter disbelief the rabbit hops even closer to me.

And then a sleek fiery orange fox leaps out of the bushes…

And snags the rabbit’s throat in its teeth.

I gasp sharply and can only watch as the rabbit’s dark blood spills over its pure white coat. It struggles for a while; I watch the horror with wide eyes. At last, the rabbit’s body gives a fatal little lurch and it is immobile in the mouth of the fox, who turns toward Kasin and I. It stares straight at me and, I swear on my own life, winks faintly before it darts off into the bushes.

I sit here still, not sure what to do. That rabbit was just killed in front of me. I watched it die and did nothing. I’m just as bad as the fox whose sharp white teeth ended the poor thing’s life.

Kasin lifts me up by my arms and dusts me off. “Come on, we’re almost there,” he informs me gently.

We continue walking but I don’t let him forget about the rabbit.

“Kasin, that creature is dead because of me. If we would have just kept walking, the rabbit would have bounded away from us like normal rabbits do and it would not have been vulnerable and distracted by me.”

Kasin puts a hand on my back to comfort me. I am not comforted. “But that’s the circle of life, Rose. You live out in the wild, you eat, you get eaten, and the things that eat you get eaten. It’s just nature, you have to accept it.”

“No, you misinterpret me. I accept it, I just don’t like it.”

“Well, maybe there was a reason for that rabbit to die.”

“To feed that fox?”

“Well, maybe, but is it possible that the rabbit was old and about to die anyways? Or maybe it was sick and suffering from tremendous pain inside.”

“And the fox knows this, how?”

“Well, maybe it doesn’t, but maybe it does. You can’t judge, Rose. You never know people’s reasons for killing.”

I look at his grim face, blotchy with sunlight streaming in through the lush evergreen trees above. People’s?

“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” I reply slowly.

We continue walking up the mountain until Kasin leads me off to the left, which eventually cuts off into a fifty-foot ledge. I peer over the side. The only thing I see is a huge bush and flat, hard dirt at the bottom. There is another ledge about fifteen feet away from the one I stand on, both connected by a single rotting, fallen tree. My eyes widen.

“Hell no,” is all I can say as I back away quickly from the ledge, but surprisingly, I bump into Kasin, whose strong arms wrap around my waist and carry me over to the tree once again. I feel like I am staring my own death in the face. I do not have a fear of heights, but a fear of falling. I struggle a great deal but I just tire myself out further.

Finally, I am immobile in the arms of Kasin.

He puts me down gently and walks around in front to face me. I refuse to meet his gaze as he tucks a piece of hair behind my ear and pleads, “Please, Rose? I need you to do this for me. I really do.”

Still looking away from him, I growl, “Why can’t you do it yourself?”

His expression is pained. “It’s just beyond this ledge, I promise.”

What is it that’s so important that includes me risking my life? Exasperated, I roll my eyes and push him roughly out of the way. I approach the tree. I take a deep breath and put one boot on the top of the it. I pause, feeling a strange sense of extreme calmness. I look back at Kasin, who has an odd expression on his face. But it’s gone before I can detect it, for his face morphs quickly into an encouraging smile. I nod back at him and turn around, putting another shoe on the tree.

Step by tentative step, I move ever so slowly across the tree. It groans under my weight. I stiffen, eyes wide to the point of physical pain. I stand still for exactly two straight minutes - I count the seconds - until Kasin calls, “Rose, are you alright? Do you want to come back? We can come back a different day-”

I turn and wave my hand at him, signaling for him to shut up. He winks at me faintly before I turn around. I came this far already, there is no way in hell I am not finishing what I started. All this terror for what? To give up and live through it again a different day? I don’t think so mister, I am finishing this.

A biting cold wind howls through the woods, ripping at the flesh left uncovered, exposed. My teeth chatter softly as I carefully rub my arms to keep them warm. Another step. A crack. I freeze again, this time not even breathing for fear that it will make me move too much. Sixty seconds and I take another step, failing to distinguish the black ice, left from the bitter winter, from the dark brown of the tree bark until my boot slides along it. I smash my knee painfully and I am falling through the air, screaming. I wrench my eyes closed as I wait for the worst.

But the worst never comes. I hit something solid - but not ground solid - and land in something prickly. My long scream still echoes faintly, but then all is as silent and peaceful as it was before.

I open my eyes and see the pale blue sky above me. My body is so gripped by pain that it is numb, my knee especially. How did I survive that fall? I’ve seen people die from twenty feet, if they land on the right spot. Fifty feet should have killed me, but why-

Something groans beneath me.

I pull myself into a sitting position, oblivious to the sharp new stinging that runs across my arms, and turn around.

“Ash? Wha- How did you-”

He groans again, cutting me off. I see we have landed in the huge thorn bush and realize Ash must have broken my fall but then fell backwards. I wouldn’t have landed in the bush myself. I would have died.

I try to get out of the bush, the thorns raking against my skin, and stand up with difficulty. I gasp in pain. Everything hurts. I turn and help Ash out of the vegetation, pushing the limbs away from his equally bruised and battered body. Finally when we are both out of the bush, I ask him, “Ash… How the hell - what the hell are you doing here?”

He rotates his shoulder with an expression of extreme discomfort on his face. He answers, “I… I saw that you needed help. You were falling and…” He lowers his voice and his emerald eyes glow brilliantly in the momentary darkness caused by a passing cloud. The mood created is incredibly ominous. “You were going to die.”

Suddenly Kasin appears next to me. I look up at him, but he studies Ash closely. Ash doesn’t pretend that he can’t see Kasin; we all know he can.

“Rose, we should all be getting home,” Kasin prods.

I turn towards him. “Oh, yeah, that’s right. Well, what about that thing you needed or whatever?”

“No, it’s fine, what’s really important is that you’re okay. I just want to go home now.”

I raise an eyebrow. “I suppose.” I look around. “Ash, where’s your car?”

“Well, in my vision I was walking to this place so I decided to not tweak anything. I walked here, and my timing was perfect.”

I study his handsome face – it doesn’t look as though he’s gotten much rest. He also looks like he’s in a lot of pain. Despite his strange and very rude behavior from yesterday, I offer him a ride home, and to my surprise he doesn’t decline.

 

I slowly lead Kasin and Ash back to my black Honda Civic, which, I remember only now, has two seats, not four. “Oh,” is all I can say. Ash and Kasin stop. “Well, I guess I can just walk home then?” Ash offers.

I turn around. “Well, why don’t I drive the car and Kasin, you aren’t tangible in your true form so you can switch over and Ash will be in the passenger seat. Then I drive Ash home, and then you switch back to your human form and drive us home. Sound good?”

Kasin looks disinterested but shrugs and dissipates before my eyes. I blink. Alright then.

I walk over to the car, pain pulsating in my kneecap and open the door, lowering myself into the seat. Ash joins me and we’re off, driving silently down the sleepy road. Words aren’t needed right now.

 

Once we arrive at Ash’s house, he insists I come inside to clean up. I really can’t refuse, because I feel like crap. We exit the car and go through the front door this time instead of the window in the back, which is wonderful considering the fact that I can barely lift my leg to get onto the front step, never mind hauling my body weight of 136 pounds into a window.

I am graciously greeted by a warm blast of air from the space heater next to the stairs in front of me. It’s supposed to be hot later on, but this morning it’s freezing. Ash walks me over to the kitchen table. He sits me down and walks back into a room. Kasin appears next to me, petting my hair. “What are you doing?” I ask him exasperatedly. “I am getting the thorns out of your hair if I may,” he replies calmly. I let him comb them out and Ash returns with a first-aid kit. I look at Kasin and he looks back at me.

Suddenly, it is as if pain grips him inside and he squeezes his eyes shut, clutching at his chest. When he opens his eyes, I swear they flash black, but it must be my eyes getting overtired because the second I blink they are the same undefined color as usual.

Kasin bares his teeth slightly in, what seems like, anger. “Rose, you’re going to have to wait here. I have some-” another convulsion. “business to take care of.”

And with that, Kasin vanishes into thin air.

I blink. “Uhm. What was that all about?”

Ash shakes his head. “I couldn’t tell you, Rose. Here, let’s take care of that knee of yours; I can see the blood seeping through your jeans.”

I remove my left boot and try to pull up my jeans, but they’re too tight, they don’t roll up past my mid-calf. “Dammit,” I mutter.

Ash isn’t fazed. “I have some sweatpants you could wear; the pant leg will roll up. Come with me.”

I follow Ash up the stairs, slowly but surely, and we head into his room. He rummages through a drawer in his bureau and pulls out a pair of black drawstring sweatpants. He throws them at me and I barely catch them, caught off-guard.

“Here, put these on and I’ll meet you downstairs.”

I nod and he leaves, closing the door gently behind him. I strip off my jeans carefully and refuse to look at my knee. Then, and I don’t know how, I manage to get into the sweatpants while staying off my left leg. It amazes me. I am about to walk out of his room when I spot a door over in the corner that I never saw before. It is partially hidden by a Linkin Park poster, but I see it well enough. A small door it is, fit for a child maybe. I pull on the tiny knob and duck inside. It’s totally dark in here. I run my hands along the wall and thankfully find a light switch. The room is illuminated and I gasp at what I see.

 

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