I'm a huge fan of Poppy & Lost Souls? in particular. Pardon OC please, she's more of an inanimate object after the first couple chapters anyway. :grin:

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Taking In Strays

The figure walked calmly along the highway, mid-thigh skirt swaying slightly with her movements. The tall grass in the roadside ditch was still in the flaccid evening. The thick air hung heavy with the taunt of rain that would not come. Clouds made the dusk darker, sky bleeding into the distant hills of Central Florida's grazing land.

The headlights of an approaching Chevy illuminated her back. It sped by as she kept walking, the two entities ignoring one other. Disinterested eyes made out the bumper stickers that faded into the half light and she hitched a wife-beater clad shoulder, adjusting the mini-backpack covered in patches and buttons.

Her only necessary possessions resided in that pack: her poetry-filled notebooks and sketch pad, pages smudged and dog-eared, a pen and pencil, as well as a wallet made of duct tape and stuffed with bills and little scraps of paper with quotations on them. There was also a book, Wormwood, which was near to falling apart, spine disintegrating and pages dog-eared. The book had been given to her by a friend and she'd found the short stories an acceptable way to waste her time. She carried this assortment with her everywhere in her ratty, velveteen patchwork bag.

She'd been sitting in the mall's food court, waiting for her friends to finish shopping, when it occurred to her to leave – to just leave. So she'd stood from the table, walked to the double glass doors, and crossed the sweltering asphalt of the parking lot. When she'd reached the street, she'd kept walking. There was nothing better to do.

The young night seemed to sigh, cuing the crickets' first songs. A lonely star dotted the monotonous deep blue of the sky, unnoticed by the girl, just as the soft slap of her converses on the pavement went unnoticed, and the hum of another approaching engine.

Something made her turn for this one, acknowledging the vans approach, a prickling sensation, as if the vehicle were reaching out to touch her, to caress or possibly engulf her. The fields of stark light did not rush past this time. The black van slowed and a head and elbow stuck out at her from the passenger window. He was unremarkable in the gloom, but for the young grin plastered on his face. An eerie green luminance silhouetted his head, and exposed his similarly grinning companion behind the wheel.

She stopped and faced the van, surprised when it continued to roll a few feet before the side door was flung open along its tracks. A somber yet thrillingly exquisite face stared out at her.

In a moment she knew. These three who stopped for a lone girl on an empty road in the sticks and peered at her hungrily from within their large, black, empty van weren't normal. And they wouldn't claim just the normal payment from a pretty girl on the side of the road. The one in the back gave her a kind smile, his bright green eyes softening and shining in the twilight.

"You need a ride?" his mouth hardly seemed to move, but his voice was smooth and his words clear. She knew, but she decided it didn't matter. She knew, but she said yes anyway.

The eyes and smile did not falter as a pale hand was offered to help her into the van. She stepped up carefully and allowed herself to be guided by the hand to a mattress in the corner while her eyes adjusted. The green light came from a homemade lava lamp between the front seats, powered by an unknown source. The door slammed shut and she looked around at the stained and bumper sticker-clad interior. Green Eyes approached the mattress on his knees, slick black hair reflecting the dull light. Just as he passed in front of her the van lurched forward, sending him directly on top of her. A sharp-nailed hand caught at her arm, his body thrown against hers, his head falling just above her breasts. She allowed gravity to take her down onto the slightly fragrant mattress beneath them. There was a quick, deep intake of breath before he quickly pushed up and growled toward the front, "Twig, you jackass!" The answering hysterical cackle proved his accusation.

Green Eyes settled against the wall, glowering at the backs of the seats. After a moment he turned his attention back to the girl, smiling his ensnaring smile at her. "Ignore them. They're just a couple of young punks." She nodded in understanding and watched him. His hands were smooth and pale, fingers long and graceful, his nails sharp and painted in some dark shade, indecipherable in the dim light. The clothes were nondescript except for being all black. She remembered the pressure of his warm body heavy atop her, his warm breath on her skin, and thought that she might just enjoy what surely lay ahead.