Amanda awoke from a dreamless slumber. She rubbed her forehead, and pulled the thick quilt around her. She felt Shaun next to her, and shuffled away slightly so that her skin wasn't touching his. His hand was placed on her hip, and he squeezed when he felt her pull away. Amanda looked at his sleeping face. She frowned.
This was already beginning to feel like a mistake.
She felt grubby and disgusting - but more than that, she felt... tainted. More so, than she had before. She had just slept with a man after Daniel's - completely sober. It should have been progress, but Amanda just felt guilty.
She got up, rolled off the bed and picked her clothes off the floor. She took a quick shower in the bathroom adjoined to the bedroom and then scurried out - only half-dried, her hair still dripping wet. She pulled her clothes on in a hurry, the fabric sticking to her moist skin. Darkness still hung over the sky so she couldn't see if her clothes were inside out or back to front.
It didn't matter.
She didn't care.
If she left the small, damp-smelling hostel now, maybe she could get back to the caravan in time so that Rebecca or John might not notice that she was missing.
Amanda shook her head.
“I'm going to have to walk the Earth knowing that I slept with Shaun Hastings,” she muttered, shivering, “Sober.”
As if hearing his name, Shaun stirred and woke, sitting up in bed.
“Amanda? Where are you going?” he asked, scratching his head.
“Back to the caravan, before the others notice we're gone,” Amanda said in a taut tone.
“They won't be up for another few hours,” Shaun protested, getting out of bed and putting a hand on Amanda's shoulder, “The point was to get some rest.”
“I've... 'rested' enough, thanks,” she flinched away from him, “We agreed no-one would know about this.”
Shaun blinked, surprised by her reaction, but shrugged and said, “Alright, you go on ahead,” he said, “I'll catch up later.”
Amanda glared at him, “What?”
“Go if you want to,” Shaun said, yawning, “I'm staying here and getting some sleep. I'll say I went out to get something or do something.”
Amanda scowled, but left the room and then the building without looking back. Her teeth chattered as a chill set in and she walked briskly towards the caravan, slipping inside and shutting the door behind her.
She breathed a sigh of relief and noticed that all her paperwork from the night before lay untouched on the desk. She zipped up her hoodie and looked at the things she had noted down.
“Do the only logical thing you can. Substitute,” she mimicked bitterly, the words tasting sour in her mouth, “Really, Amanda, how much more stupid can you get?”
Just then, a headache began to pound behind her eyes and she shrunk back holding her head.
“Shit...” she said through clenched teeth and voices filled her mind.
“What are you doing, hanging around with these people, with this kind?” it said.
Before she could answer, another voice responded, “I was just...”
“You don't belong with them. Keep well away.”
Amanda looked up and the world tilted at an angle, the colours blurring together and the sounds echoing. Amanda's stomach began to churn and she gagged. She took deep breaths and sat down. Two white figures conversed in front of her.
“I was just messing around, honest.”
“Stay away!” said the first voice, “It's for your own safety.”
They began to fade, and another image flashed before her. Mounted soldiers leapt out of the confusion and Amanda screamed - shielding her face with her arms. She fell to the ground, skidding away. The horses trotted towards her. One of the soldiers dismounted and walked towards her, sword in hand.
“No!” she cried, “No, no, no, no, please!”
The vision vanished and she found herself looking up at John's face, Rebecca standing crouching next to him. Amanda panted, searching for the men, the horse, the knight who was about to kill her; her eyes darting this way and that. The moment passed and Amanda swallowed and sat up. John put out a hand and she took it, getting up with his help. Rebecca helped her into a seat.
“Fuck...” she said, wiping her eyes.
“I'll say,” Rebecca murmured, putting a hand on Amanda's back, “You want a drink?”
Amanda shook her head.
John wandered off, muttering something under his breath, but Rebecca stayed next to Amanda.
“What did you see?” she asked.
“Horse. Big guy with a sword. About to kill me,” Amanda said in a choppy voice.
“You gonna be okay?”
“I don't know...” Amanda sighed and leaned her head back.
She looked back at her notes and bit her lip.
She knew what it meant.
She knew what had to be done.
Whether she would be able to do it, however, was an entirely different matter.