2nd look inside ( Trapped in the Valley of Tears)

Cat ope­ned her eyes. Apart from the count­less brui­ses and her torn jacket, she had to admit to herself that she had been damn lucky. Her head alo­ne throb­bed and poun­ded as if it had been worked on with a jack­ham­mer. Care­ful­ly, she tried to sit up, but even this small move­ment made her dizzy.

Damn! She must have got­ten a con­cus­sion. That was what was mis­sing now! If she real­ly had a con­cus­sion, that meant she would have to stay in bed for several days. She cer­tain­ly would­n’t be able to finish the damn work this way, and that meant she could for­get about her Masters.

You fuck­ing son of a bitch, I never would have met you!” she snapped.

What a day!” she heard the deep voice of a man who see­med to come strai­ght from the waterfall.

First Fio­na and now ano­t­her poi­son and bile spewing woman! At this time of year, fema­les have far too much leisu­re! They’d bet­ter get down to the real­ly important things, like having child­ren. That would defi­ni­te­ly take away their enthu­si­asm for such pos­tu­ring and talk.”

Is someo­ne there?“

Cat tried to turn her head in the direc­tion the voice had come from, demons­tra­tively igno­ring the diz­zi­ness for the moment.

Did Gwen­ny send you?”

 In the bil­lowing mists, she could make out the out­line of a man. A man in full High­land cos­tu­me! Plaid, shirt, bon­net and ever­ything else that went with it. He loo­ked like he was about to go to a mas­quer­ade cos­tu­me par­ty, and may­be he was, becau­se after all, she herself had ori­gi­nal­ly wan­ted to go to a par­ty. The stran­ger squat­ted on one of the rocks, sta­ring at the water­fall and mut­te­ring unin­tel­li­gi­ble things to himself.

Hey, you! Did Gwen­ny send you?” she repeated her question.

But the per­son addres­sed did not respond.

Hel­lo! I mean you! You the­re by the water­fall in the green-blue-red plaid.”

At the men­ti­on of the colors of his tar­tan, the man rai­sed his head and loo­ked in her direction.

Was that asto­nish­ment showing on his face? Or was she sim­ply too befudd­led from the fall to pro­per­ly inter­pret his expression?

The young man now rose and moved hesi­tant­ly in her direc­tion. The clo­ser he came, the more clear­ly she could reco­gni­ze him.

He was tall! Real­ly tall! About six feet, if she were to guess. In addi­ti­on extre­me­ly mus­cu­lar, but not fat! Pro­bab­ly an ama­zin­gly deve­lo­ped six-pack was hid­den under his wide shirt! A real natu­re boy evenly!

 Her gaze wan­de­red fur­ther upwards. Pitch-black hair, which was tied in a braid at the nape of the neck, framed an even face. But the most fasci­na­ting thing about him were his dark blue eyes, which spark­led like litt­le blue stars even in the white soup of the fog.

Wow!” she gas­ped, “I need to go to the coun­try more often, at least the­re the men still look like real guys!”

Are you tal­king to me?”

The young man had final­ly reached her and regar­ded her appraisingly.

Who else should I be tal­king to? Do you see anyo­ne else?“

The stran­ger loo­ked around, shook his head and then mut­te­red, “That can’t be” under his breath.

What can’t be?“

The young man igno­red her ques­ti­on and just sta­red at her in com­ple­te bewilderment.

I must say, you are acting extre­me­ly stran­ge!” she then remar­ked. “I don’t under­stand why you won’t help me and just sta­re at me like I’m a dog with two heads!”

His gaze beca­me a shade more pier­cing, which slow­ly dro­ve Cat to white heat. The more he sta­red, the angrier she beca­me. Even her hea­da­che was tem­pora­ri­ly forgotten.

Why did you even bother com­ing here if you have no inten­ti­on of hel­ping me? You might as well have gone to your damn par­ty!” she pres­sed out with a snort as she slow­ly strai­gh­te­ned up. “I’m used to a lot from men, but this takes the cake! I’ve never expe­ri­en­ced anything like this!”

Are you done with your lita­ny now?”

An amu­sed twink­le ent­e­red the stranger’s eyes. “A fury is not­hing against you!”

Furie? You’­re com­pa­ring me to a fury? Would­n’t you be pis­sed if you fell and the one per­son who could help you just stood the­re gaw­king at you like a mons­tro­si­ty from a cham­ber of hor­rors? And how do you talk any­way? Are you one of tho­se role-play­ers who, once they get their cos­tu­me on, are com­ple­te­ly absor­bed in their role?”

The young man rai­sed one of his eye­brows questioningly.

Role­play? Cos­tu­me? And, what the hell does “a mons­tro­si­ty from a cham­ber of hor­rors” mean?”

Enough of this shit! I think it’s good that you’­re total­ly into your role, your cos­tu­me real­ly is the bomb, but in my situa­ti­on you’­re not exact­ly up for games!”

Games? Your situation?“

Was he mental­ly retar­ded? After all, it was obvious what was going on with her.

I slid down the slo­pe and hit my head on one of the rocks.”

Oh, that’s why! I thought you’d sim­ply enjoy insul­ting unsu­spec­ting strangers!“

His amu­sed tone of voice bro­ke the camel’s back.

What is it now? Are you going to help me or not? Appar­ent­ly Gwen­ny did­n’t send you, after all! So while you’­re here, you might as well at least make yourself useful!”

Again he gla­red at her.

For cry­ing out loud! Give me your hand so I can final­ly get up!” The stran­ger remai­ned stan­ding stiff­ly in front of her, making not the sligh­test effort to com­ply with her request. “What a stubborn goat! I think I’ll think twice about ‘going to the coun­try more often’!”

No!“

What, no?”

No, I did not come to help you!”

 Son of a bitch!, the thought fol­lo­wed his state­ment without her input. Were the­re real­ly only sel­fi­sh jerks left on this earth?

I could have gues­sed that! What’s the mat­ter, are you afraid I might soil your expen­si­ve costume?”

It’s not that!” she heard him say soft­ly in respon­se. “I can’t!”

What do you mean, you can’t! Are you kid­ding me? You’­re stan­ding here in front of me, so you might as well help me! What’s the pro­blem there?”

Cat? Cat? Can you hear me?” Gwenny’s voice echoed down to her befo­re her head appeared abo­ve the slope.

Are you all right? Or did you break some­thing? Don’t move! I’ve brought help with me! They’­re com­ing down to you now!”

Except for my head, ever­ything seems OK. If this guy here was­n’t so unplea­sant, I’d be back ups­tairs by now!” she yelled to Gwenny.

What guy?” the girl yelled back.

I’m not being unplea­sant! I’m just unab­le to help you, so to speak!”

Who asked you?”, Cat snap­ped at him in respon­se. “After all, you could­n’t get your mouth open ear­lier. You can get out of here! I don’t need your help anymore!”

Who are you tal­king to”, Gwen­do­li­ne loo­ked down at her in irritation.

With the guy here!

What guy?”

The one stan­ding right next to me, sta­ring at me like I have two heads!

Cat, there’s nobo­dy there!”

Gwen­ny, are you kid­ding me? You can’t miss that guy”

Cai­tr­io­na Camp­bell, appar­ent­ly you did bang your pret­ty skull a litt­le more than you’­re try­ing to fool me into belie­ving. You’­re hal­lu­ci­na­ting, my dear!”

Damn it, Gwen­ny, I’m not hal­lu­ci­na­ting! You must bee seen him too! He …!”

You are a Camp­bell? That exp­lains a lot! Actual­ly I should have noti­ced it much ear­lier,” the stran­ger rude­ly inter­rup­ted her in response.

What do you mean?“

You have unmistaka­ble traits of your clan! Your men are smug cre­tins and your women …”

That’s the last straw! Do I have to be insul­ted by you as well? You …! You …!”

If I were you, I would­n’t say what you think! You might be sorry!”

Are you threa­tening me? What do you think you’­re doing? You …?”

Not at all! It’s just … All the Camp­bell women I’ve known have been man-hating furies!”

I’m not a man-hating …”

You’­re not?” he inter­rup­ted her again. “May I remind you of your say­ing? I belie­ve you men­tio­ned a fuck­ing son of a bitch.” Cat’s words died on her lips.

You heard it?” she final­ly brought out in anguish. “That was …”

I don’t think your son of a bitch can be any worse than the sons of bit­ches in your clan, to whom I owe my situation.”

Cat, stop arguing with your ima­gi­na­ry stran­ger. It’s get­ting embarrassing!”

Cat, will you stop arguing with your ima­gi­na­ry stran­ger? It’s get­ting embarrassing!”

Gwen­ny, I would, but this guy is dri­ving me up the wall. He insults me non-stop! Would you keep quiet about it? I …”

I’m not insul­ting you, I’m just showing you things from my point of view!” Now it was the young man who gla­red angri­ly at her. “Who was to bla­me for the mas­sa­c­re? If this cur­sed mas­sa­c­re had never taken place, I would not be stan­ding befo­re you now. Mor­ga­ne would not have had me in her clut­ches, and I could have spent my exis­tence peace­ful­ly by the side of my clan. But thanks to your treache­ry, not­hing of the sort has hap­pen­ed. No, qui­te the oppo­si­te! Morgane’s game has gone so far that you of all peop­le can see me! After all the­se years, ano­t­her Camp­bell. Vile Camp­bells! Deceit­ful bitch! To hell with you!” With tho­se words, he vanis­hed into thin air befo­re her eyes.

Cat sta­red at the now empty space. How was such a thing pos­si­ble? He had to have disap­peared into the incre­a­singly den­se fog. The­re was no other explanation