Griffin Stadium place your bets on the limits of a beast's appetite

hello welcome to my novel
12 hours after glide dog, around five in the morning.
(sunrise is at 7 :3)

Exhaustion had made him stop before he made it out of city limits. The fox had intended to keep running until he had found the refuge of wilderness. But he had dived into the heart of a bustling city, half blind and in misery as he navigated the streets. Eventually, he'd had to stop, finding a dumpster behind a restaurant to curl behind. There, he'd shivered and sulked, nursing what wounds of his he could reach. The burn along his flank was the worst of what he could tend to, a long gash like a hooked claw of flame had torn through the flesh. It burned away fur and skin, searing and leaking blood.

There were other places like that, though smaller, all throughout his body. Some along his flank, his shoulders, and largely around the underside of his neck. It was from a necklace made of silver, the chain of which had cruelly pressed against his cheek as he tore the throat of the human out. The burn bisected the right side of his face, while the left side was a crushed pulp.

Perhaps the cruelest thing was how quickly his belly had grown empty again. His fleeing had eaten away at the satiation, and it let him starving once more as he coiled beneath the dumpster.


He woke in no less agony. Only one eye opened as the pain awakened him with unforgiving prods. Harland's lips curled back with a grimace, and he hissed at the pain that ignited along his cheek. The burn was no less ugly than the night before, a Glasgow smile that marred his pale cheek. The left side of his face was a swollen mess. The skin at his cheek and temble were split, but no longer bleeding. The skin was mostly purple, pulled tight and sealed over the eye. He groaned as he turned his face away from where it had been pressing into the pavement, debris sticking to the sensitive skin.

He rose to a seated position, pushing against the dumpster in front of him to grant him some room. As he did, the stretched burn along his ribs screamed in protest, and he hissed a second time as he clutched it. Blearily, he peered down at his naked form. Swollen pink burns littered him, but his neck was a mess of them. Dashed, messy patterns of burned skin where silver had touched. On his collar bone, a shape was seared clearly into the skin, at first appearing to be a T, but a pensive glare at it revealed that it was most of a cross' shape.

Memories were muddy, but present. Hunger, human. Violence. Viscera. He'd fought and won. He'd survived, but just barely. And now he had no idea what time it was, how far from the motel he'd rented he was. Naked and beaten to a pulp, he rose from his squalor and cursed the ground he stood upon. How could he have ended up here? Crumpled behind a dumpster. The world was a sick joke. It toyed with him. But he could play its game.

Harland forced himself into a shiver as he padded away from the dumpster, clutching one arm across his body as the other hand covered what could be considered indecent. He needed help. He was helpless, defenseless, mute. Pitiful. He could fool himself into the idea that he was playing it up, but he hardly needed to at all. He was a disgusting sight to behold. There was no dignity in this. With hardly a plan at all, he rounded the building and shuffled out onto the quiet early morning street, searching for anyone that might be out when the sun had yet to rise, intent on garnering some sort of assistance.

Oh, woe, how much easier it would be if he could speak to anyone at all.
Sienna was often out before the sun was up, she had to pick up various supplies from different places for work and tonight was just one of those sleepless nights so she had been out on a drive after picking up some fresh linens for her massage room; softer towels and blankets from IKEA. She was just driving now, looking for a coffee shop as she went over what was going on today.

Later in the afternoon, she'd have a client and then after it would be quiet so it was good, not a bad day, and then maybe she'd steal a nap. A nap sounded like heaven to her right now but she was pulling over to a coffee shop when she saw a guy who looked like he had been through literal hell. The actual hell?

Parking her jeep, close but not too close, she'd get out and walk around with her hands up to show she wasn't armed; she didn't need to be she could spew fire...kinda? Ok she was still working on that one but she didn't feel too in danger from a man who was covered in blood.

As she got a little closer though, she saw that he was naked as a jaybird though and her face was growing scarlet. Unzipping her coat though she went over to him, "Sir...sir...uhm are you alright sir? What happened? " she asked him, her eyes trying to find his as she offered the thick flannel coat out to him while not looking down. She refused to look down though, nope, so quietly she was begging him to take the coat!
There. A car approaching. He counted himself lucky that it was not a patrol car. While it would have solved a few of his immediate problems; clothing, food, medical attention; it only would have lead to more for him. Especially if the scene he'd left behind him hours ago had unfolded into a search for the culprit, details he hadn't known he'd left swarming their frequencies. No. This was only a girl that was almost entirely the color red. He could not be sure if that was just the blood in his eyes.

She approached him stupidly. A young girl like her should have just kept driving, but he was thankful for her lack of self-preservation. He reached out a shakey had to take the extended coat, feeling shameful as he used it to cover himself more sufficiently. He did not want to think about what he looked like right now. She was prompting for answers, and he cursed Moira's name as he felt as if his tongue swelled to two times it's size as he made to try to croak out anything substantial. All he could do was whimper hoarsely, brows low and eyes sullen as he pointed toward his throat, and chook his head.

If only the girl was a vampire.
Sienna was gad he didn't freak out or go manic on her. He looked bad and that alone made her worry even more, did someone mug him? Or did a vampire attack him? Vampire attack felt much more likely since she had dealt with that more often than naught on things. Many things were running through her mind right now but she was able to keep herself calm and breath in through her nose and out through her mouth so that she didn't scare him.

As he pointed to his throat, she understood that he couldn't talk. Either he was mute or he took some injuries to his vocal cords, it wouldn't matter to her as she reached and if he let her, placed a gentle hand on his arm to start leading to her vehicle.

"That's alright. Ok, I have a first aid kit in my jeep and I'm a nurse, ok? Can I help you? " she asked him, talking slow so that he could read her lips if he needed to but she felt he could hear her just fine. Still, she wanted to take it a bit slow while also get him off the street and prevent him from getting sick from the cold.
She understood. A kind girl, wanting to help. It was his lucky day, he supposed. A nurse, even! Harland nodded, looking absent and pale. Feeling faint, really. The pain was constant, unavoidable, and the hunger was sickening. How cruel to have been so full, only to have to run it off. A cosmic joke.

And it had cost some nosy human his life. Tragic, really. He did feel guilty for it, of course. No one wanted to be a killer. But the man had been meddlesome, had not run when he ought to have. It had been a matter of life or death, and Harland had gone with the most practical option. That was what life demanded. Practicality. You could not burden yourself with the morality of survival.

He let this girl help him on his way to survival. Stepping toward her car, he wondered if she had food inside.
Sienna would relax a little, offering a gentle smile to the man as she brought him right to her car and quickly opened up the door to the backseat. There was a folded up blanket there and a duffle bag at the base of the floor on the other side. She would motion for him to just sit here.

"Let me get my first aid kit, can you point to the spot that hurts the most, please? " she asked him calmly as she would stay right in front of him until he gave an answer. What had done this to him, her eyes were looking around for signs of anyone coming after this poor mute man and she just couldn't stand the thought of someone harming him further.

"You know what...let me get us out of here first and then I'll take care of your injuries, that alright with you? I have gatoraid I can give you to hydrate up a little bit while I take us away from here, " she'd offer. Honestly, she was debating taking him to a clinic but she wasn't sure he'd want that right yet and it really wasn't going to be needed with her ability to heal but she was getting ahead of herself. She needed to get him safe first.
The girl was impressively prepared for situations like this. He wondered if she made a habit out of making herself vulnerable to vagrants. It didn't matter to Harland, he was happy to take advantage of her offer. Settling down, he took it upon himself to pull the blanket from the seat, and bather it around himself gently to better cover him.

What hurt most? His pride. His reputation. But those could not be healed as easily. Worst of all was the burn along his cheek, which was swollen and angry, oozing liquid. He gestured to it, but she was looking away by the time he had decided. She wished to put distance between them and this place. He'd already fled far from where he'd been, but this could not hurt, in case he'd left some kind of trail. Only then did he begin to think of security cameras. Had there been any at the meat shop? Likely. There would be video of the altercation. Perhaps video caught as he roamed the city streets on his way from the motel, leading him to the meat shop. Video of him fleeing, of him cutting through the city, of him arriving here to climb under the dumpster. The world had millions of eyes, and he suddenly felt like all were turned upon him.

Perhaps too eagerly, he nodded in agreement and righted himself in the seat so she could shut the door. No question of where she intended to bring him. If she brought him to a hospital, he would simply refuse. He could flee again, if he had to.
Sienna would fuss a little over him to make sure he was properly covered and warming him before going around and finding one of her gatoraids for him and opening it up some before holding it out to him. She was chewing her lip a bit with worry, letting herself go over her mental to do list of healing for him and how long it was going to take. It would be a knocker of healing for this man and the point to his oozey cheek had her shivering a little; it looked infected.

She would grab her bag from the back after she had made sure that he was safely in her jeep, she would get into the front seat and set the bag on the passenger seat and rummaging through it. She pulled out a medicated gauze pad and would twist to look at him and give him a small smile.

"Hold this against your cheek, ok? Are you ok with coming back to my place? Or do you want me to take you somewhere else? Like a friend or motel?" she would ask and remember that he couldn't speak, she went to her purse and pulled out a pen and notepad to hand to him so that he could tell her in the best way she assumed that he could. Sienna was determined but also wanted him to be comfortable and hopefully willing to accept her help further.
The Gatorade was not his prefered drink, but it was something. It did little to quench the hunger, but it soothed his throat and settled his stomach minutely. He watched her as he drank, wondering why she had yet to call the police. Ready for when she did.

Harland took what was offered, reluctant to touch the source of the sting on his cheek, but compliant for the sake of salvaging his face. He'd concluded, though, that it must have been silver. Silver burned. It killed. He had come very close to death last night.

The rapid fire questions grated his nerves, but he endured. She was helping him, the least he could do was comply to her nervous chatter. Helpfully, she offered a pen and paper. He preferred this more than even sign language. Taking it gratefully, he scrawled in neat, tidy writing that was product of years of harsh conditioning;

Your place.

An answer first, but he did not stop at that.

What city is this?

He added. Then, almost an afterthought,

Thank you.
Sienna needed a brief moment to just collect her thoughts for a second, just organize her brain for a moment and get things right inside it and formulate her plan better for him. She knew what she was going to do but was she going to harbor another person in her home? She knew she would if they wanted that, she didn't care. With that on her mind as well, she would watch him with an empathetic gaze at him placing the gauze against his cheek.

"Alright, I'll take you to my place, you can stay there for as long as you need or want. " she told him. Shed tell Jaoquin about it tomorrow night since it was getting close to dawn and he'd be going to sleep soon.

"We're in Alder Heights, I live in Cheyenne so it'll take maybe thirty or so minutes to get there. " she explained before reading the thank you and giving him a little smile as she made sure the heat was going.

"You're welcome. I'm Sienna by the way, I'm going to drive us there now so if you need something or feel sick just signal, ok? " she would tell him. She was calmer now that she was building a mental game plan and if he wasn't protestant or wrote anything else, she would then turn her car on and just start to drive like normal. Sienna didn't want to draw attention to herself at all nor her passenger, so she wasn't going to speed on home as that would just call attention to them.

It would though, take about an hour of driving to get to her place. Surprise traffic and lights stopping them along the way and making her drum her thumbs against the steering wheel as tried to remain patient until they would pull into her drive and into the garage which would afford them some privacy now.
As long as he needed or wanted. What a thing to offer a stranger. He found he did not trust her. It dampened his smile a touch. Surely, no one could be this kind. Surely, there was some sort of catch.

What choices did he have? They were in Alder Heights, going to Chyenne Point, where his motel was. He could leave now, run. But he was in such pain, and naked, and hungry. He could not very well catch a bus or taxi. This was a free ride at least into the city. He would just have to remain cautious. Alert, and ready to run if it seemed she was drawing him into some kind of trap.

In the end, he could always shift again. Surely she would put up less of a fight than the man had.

Harland nodded, and slumped back into his seat to nurse his gatorade.

At some point during the drive, at a stop light, he slid the paper back toward her. It read,

I am Henry. Can I bother you to stop and get food? I can repay you.
Sienna was focused, her teeth biting her lip a bit as she hoped that she wasn't harboring some fugative or something. She couldn't be, he seemed too hurt and out of sorts to be someone dangerous. Really it was more like he was a victim of an attack more than anything.

At a stoplight, she felt the nudge to her elbow and would take the paper to read.

She learned a couple of things really quickly; that his name was Henry and he was hungry. That was good though.

"Sure, you don't mind McDonalds, do you? " she would ask looking at him now. She figured that would be easier than him writing an answer and also in the parking lot she could check his injuries and his face. That facial injury was worrisome to her. Too close to the brain and could cause some serious infections or worse if she didn't tend to it. It took a moment to shut up the healer part of her brain so that she could rightly focus on him.
He did mind. On a fundamental level. His stomach disagreed with that sentiment. Harland knew he could not be picky, for however disgusted he was at the notion of eating manufactured garbage. He longed for the days of wealth, his home chef, the restaurants he once visited. He would get back there, one day.

For now, he would have to scrape by and take the scraps this girl chose to feed to the stray. Harland nodded agreeably and set himself back in his seat to wait out the rest of the ride.
Sienna would give a nod to that, it was the closest thing to them and open so she would go through the drive-through and order several items for them both. Mostly for her hashbrowns because they were her favorite thing to eat next to french fries; potatoes rocked.

With food in hand, she would give him his and then take to driving them back to her place while he probably munched in the backseat. She was sipping her iced coffee on the way home so that he could be taken care of now.
He ate as if he hadn't in weeks.
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