Continued From HERE...
Tim yanked out a bar stool and collapsed up to the soda counter. Grizzly made a bee-line for the Men's room whistling a Steppenwolf tune.
"Hey buddy, how about a couple cold Cokes for me and The Griz?" Tim said as he sloughed off his steamy hide vest and draped it over the neighboring chair.
"You betcha, mister! Hotter'na raped ape out there, ain't it?" The kid behind the counter proudly announced as though it were the first time he was actually able to use the epithet.
Tim chuckled (mostly to humor the kid) and smacked the counter in approval. As he shook his head relishing the humor, two sweating glasses of Coke were carefully dropped to the veneered surface. The kid nodded, returned to his stocking duties, and laughed a little himself, proud of his little comment.
Grizzly appeared from the saloon-style doors, announced his appearance by erupting with a fierce belch, and resuming his whistled rendition of 'Magic Carpet Ride.' His eyes lit a bit as he saw the glistening glasses of soda and he, too, sidled up to the bar and raised his glass in a mock toast.
Erin absently wiped at the irritating itch of a drip that clung to the lip of her nose. She sniffed up some of the blood, wiped at it again, and never once even thought twice to examine the red liquid stain that smeared across her hand. She inhaled a few times, swooned, coughed a bit, and all the while glared with woozy fascination at the plate-sized disk she held in her grip. She admired --no, she ached at the touch of --the surface; it's roughed chrome... but more like a smooth pewter (nothing was quite as it seemed... nothing), the gleaming steel... but more like the dulled metallic sheen (it seemed to rearrange itself at every touch), and that horrid (beautiful) red eye in the center. It hummed; but it pulsed. It changed; it didn't. It was sickening; it made her gorge rise with every thrum. But it was also, somehow, everything she ever wanted. The amulet sang in her grasp and the song was something between desire and agony.
Tim and Grizzly sat among idle chatter and slowly nursed Coke after Coke. The icy drinks offered them just enough lost humanity after so many miles on the dry, arid road. They spoke on and off to the counter man (who, as it turned out, was named Earl and who was, happily, from right there in town), and they occasionally meandered through the aisles of the store picking out a few items here and there with which to survive the rest of their day-long trek. And though they shed every inhibition, they still clung (however slightly) to their natural skittishness... but nothing could prepare them for the girl who wandered in with a glare in her eyes like a cornered, angry animal.
The store's door whisked open, setting off the sleepy chime, and Erin stood there, not unlike any other day she was scheduled to work... except for the fact that she looked like a trapped beast facing off her predators. Even Earl caught his words in his throat. He'd seen Erin hundreds of times, but never with the ghastly pallor she cast and never with the hyper eyes of something inhuman and feral. All they could do was stare... until Erin leaped...