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Cascade Hills 06: Dear lord, kill me, please


Cascade Hills

-Cascade Hills High, Main Hall-


Walking into the halls of Cascade Hills High was both refreshing and also a tad bit surreal for Katherine. It was almost like last week’s incident was just one big nightmare, the mood appeared much brighter and relaxed. Which was quite a counter to how Katherine currently felt. Her feet dragged a bit as she walked the halls, her body feeling a bit sluggish and clunky. Like a puzzle piece that didn’t quite fit in the puzzle.


“Katherine!” Came a familiar voice, vivid and loud, seemingly right into her eardrums.


Katherine nearly leaped out of her skin as she snapped herself in the direction of where the voice came from. Alex’s extremely shocked and slightly concerned face was staring back at her. He had his hands raised in front of him in surrender like she was some frightened animal and with one wrong move, she would bolt or attack him. Her heart which had practically jumped into her throat was slowly starting to get back to its normal speed as she placed a shaky hand over her chest and breathed deeply.


Jesus Katherine. Are you okay? “Alex asked, bending over slightly to get a look at her face.


“Alex, are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” She practically screeched at him.


“Um, sorry Kat but I’ve been calling to you since you walked in. Did you really not hear me?” Alex replied with a slightly confused head tilt.


Katherine shook her head and stood up straight.


“No, I-I guess not. Sorry, I didn’t get the best sleep last night. Been having a bit of trouble sleeping since Saturday.” Katherine said, giving Alex an apologetic smile.


The frown that greeted her was of equal concern and suspicion.


“Did you tell your mom?” Alex asked, his gaze piercing.


“It’s alright Alex, it’s probably just the meds wearing off, promise.” Katherine replied forcing a smile.


“Katherine, I don’t think-”


“Oh hey look there’s Kristen. Hey, Kris over here!” Katherine quickly cut Alex off in light of seeing Kristen down the hall.


Kristen soon joined them however upon getting closer, her gaze was glued to Katherine, looking as if she had grown another head or something. It was both unnerving and a bit annoying.


“Katherine, not to be rude but … you look like crap.” Were the first words to come out of Kristen’s mouth when she stopped in front of them.


“Wow, okay. I believe you mean to say ‘Hi Katherine, how are you doing this fine morning’. And I would respond ‘Great, Kris how’s your life?’” Katherine snapped.


Sarcasm dripped from Katherine’s rather scathing response as she crossed her arms and gives Kristen a rather angry sneer.


“Sorry Kat, it just … you really don’t look too great.”


“Yes, I know. As I told Alex, I had a bit of a rough night and didn’t get a lot of sleep. That’s all, I swear.” Katherine said with a sigh, running a hand over her forehead.


Alex and Kristen shared a look before turning back to Katherine.


“Let’s just go okay? I don’t want to be late for class.” Katherine said.


Alex and Kristen merely nodded. The trio then departed to class however throughout the day Katherine was notably irritable and unfocused. Katherine’s mind was cluttered with thoughts of her dream last night. Her eyes stared down at the floor, as the teacher droned on in the background. At first, she tried hard to ignore the strangeness of the dream but the more, she tried to put it to the back of her mind, the harder it pushed towards the front.


“Maybe it was just me?” She mumbled to herself.


But it seemed to real and extremely vivid. The smells seemed real-


KAT!”


Katherine snapped out of her musing, jumping in her seat a bit before turning back. Alex and Kristen were both staring at her worried from across the café room. Wait..?


“W-when did it become lunchtime?” Katherine asked a little breathy.


Kristen and Alex looked at each other before turning back.


“Katherine…” Kristen said slowly, the worry in her voice growing.


“Kat, we’ve been in the cafeteria for about 20 minutes now…” Alex answered.


Shit!” Katherine hissed out in frustration, dropping her head into her hands with a sigh.


She slowly dragged her hands down her face, rubbing her eyes.


“Katherine, you are not okay so don’t even try to tell me otherwise.” Kristen said sternly.


“I- yeah okay, I think I’m just really tired. Last night was really rough for me. It was weird too, I know I slept the whole night but I’m still dead tired.” Katherine tried to explain.


“What did you dream about?” Kristen asked.


“A forest believe it or not.”


Okay, what happened in said forest? Did you get attacked by Bambi or something?” Alex said jokingly.


“No smartass, I’m not even sure I was really even in the dream. It was in first-person view so I didn’t see anything but the forest racing by. However, I did hear panting, kind of like a dog or a-”


“Wolf?!” Kristen suddenly perked up, her eyes concentrating hard on Katherine.


“Um, yeah sure?” Katherine replied giving Kristen a confused look.


“Besides that have you been feeling strange? Dizziness? Headaches? Oversensitive?” Kristen bullet fired off question after question.


“Whoa whoa, slow down Doc. I’m fine Kris, I swear just a really weird dream.” Katherine said giving her a smile.


Kristen just stared back for a bit before nodding, letting the subject drop.


“But either way, it’ll probably wear off by the time I get home. More importantly, Kris, I need to borrow your notes for the morning classes!”


“Hey, what about my notes? I’m in the classes too!” Alex said with a pout, folding his arms over his chest and raising an eyebrow in question.


“First of all, Alex your handwriting legitimately could pass for three years old. Secondly, You barely take notes and of course, lastly, heaven forbid you do take notes, they are so vague.” Katherine replied.


“Wow rude, firstly my handwriting is beautiful, second I do take notes! And lastly, I summarize.” Alex said in a huff.


“..You know what I’m not even gonna go there.” Katherine said shaking her head.


“So maybe you should go to the nurse?” Kristen suggested taking a bite of her sandwich.


Yeah, maybe I will.” Katherine said with a sigh.


“Um excuse me?”


Everyone at the table turned where the new voice came from. Nathan stood a tad bit awkwardly, looking between the three of them with a small smile. Kristen frowned, however, he gave no visible reaction to that. Alex gave him a small wave while Katherine who has been so disheartened but now perked up immediately.


“Hey Nathan what’s up?” Alex asked rather casually.


“Nothing much just needed to talk to Katherine.” He said looking over at her.


“Ohh.” Alex said with a smirk and wiggling his eyebrows at Katherine.


Shut it.” Katherine said giving Alex a strained smile. “So what do you need to talk to me about?” She said as she turned back to Nathan.


“Well I asked you in class earlier but you never really answered. So my house or yours?”


“WHAT?!” Katherine screeches out accidentally, her voice echoing slightly and her face turning beat red.


For a few seconds, the entire café fell into a hush, everyone turning towards their table. Katherine slumped down into her chair, her blush spreading wildly as she cringed.


“Dear lord, kill me please.” She whispers under her breath.


Soon the café burst back into a loud rambling, Katherine’s antics ignored.


“Um sorry, I guess you must have forgotten our conversation in class?” Nathan said, rubbing his hand on the back of his neck, a healthy blush on his cheeks as well.


“Oh god, I’m so sorry.” Katherine said.


“Hey now, it’s fine Katherine. I was talking about the project? You know the one Ms. Hayes assigned?” Nathan said.


“Oh, OH!” Katherine said. “I’m so sorry Nathan, um your house would probably work best. My mom will be out for the evening and she doesn’t really like me having people over when she’s not there.”


Really? But I’m always over?” Alex said, tilting his head in confusion.


“That’s exactly the point right there, you’re always over Alex, even when you aren’t supposed to be. You’re basically my younger brother so you don’t really count.”


“Oh.” Alex mumbled, a small smile on his face as he returned to eating.


“Anyway is that alright with you Nathan?” Katherine asked turning back to him.


“Yeah that’s no problem at all, will I be coming to pick you up or..?” He said looking between her and Alex.


However before Katherine could answer, Alex interrupted.


“Actually if you could pick her up that would be great. I’ll be super busy tonight so I won’t be able to drop her off.” Alex said.


Nathan nodded to him before both Alex and Nathan turned to Katherine for confirmation.


“Oh um sure.” Katherine said, curling into herself shyly.


“Great I’ll drop by your house later on okay?” Nathan said as he started to move away from their table.


“Great!” Katherine replied, giving him a small wave.


After Nathan returned to his own table, there was a notable change in Katherine. She looked happier and not even a portion sleep-deprived as she once was.


“I thought you weren’t feeling well.” Kristen teased.


“What? Sick? Me? No way! I’m at 150%.” Katherine replied cheerfully.


“Hmm-hm.” Kristen hummed in amusement.


Lunch soon ended and class proceeded as normal this time however Katherine had completely returned to her normal attentive A-rate student self, Alex teased about it as the trio walked out of school however Kristen was oddly silent, throwing Katherine occasional looks in secret. School ended without a problem, Katherine’s strange dream completely thrown to the back of her mind. As soon as she arrived home, she walked up to her room.


“Katherine??” Her mother calls to her as she suddenly darts up the stairs.


“Notimetotalkgottagetready!” Katherine responds without taking even a moment to pause. She then disappears upstairs.


It only took Katherine a few minutes to drop her stuff and began a search through her closet, grabbing any outfits the look nice.


“Katherine? Are you okay? I wasn’t exactly sure if what you were saying when you passed by was English or not.” Olivia said as she leans against her daughter’s door frame, eyebrow raised at Katherine.


“Huh? Oh no, I’m fine.” Katherine said, not really paying attention to her mother as she pressed different shirts to herself in the mirror.


It was silent for a few seconds before her mother spoke again.


“And where exactly are you going missy?” Olivia said, suspicion heavy on her face.


“To Nathan’s for a project,” Katherine answered, pouting a bit as she placed another shirt to herself. “What do you think Mom, strips or no?”


“I thought this was for a project?”


“It is but I can’t dress how I usually dress.”


“….And why is that exactly??”


“I want to look nice for him…” Katherine mumbled.


“Oh sweetheart, you always look beautiful.” Olivia stated with a smile.


“Well, you are my mother so your opinion is a bit bias, mom.” Katherine said with a pout.


“Ah… Okay, that’s true however it’s not a lie. You look beautiful all the time so don’t worry about it, sweetheart.” Olivia stated she walked over to Katherine turning her from the mirror to face her.


“But what if-” Katherine started to say but was cut off by her mother.


“No buts! Have more confidence in yourself baby. And even if things don’t work out with Nathan, there are plenty more fish in the sea.” Olivia said in a soothing tone.


“..Thanks, mom…” Katherine said with a small smile.


And after ten minutes had passed, Nathan arrived at Katharine’s house. With a small greeting to her mother, they went to Nathan’s car. Nathan opened the door for Katherine before entering the car himself.


“So don’t mind my sister, hopefully, she won’t be too noisy.” Nathan said, throwing glances over at Katherine.


“She interesting to say the least.” Katherine said with a chuckle


“Yeah, that’s one way to put it.”


It took about 10 minutes to arrive at Nathan’s house. A beautiful ranch house with a large, heavily wooded backyard.


“Wow, your house is beautiful!” Katherine said as she stepped out of the car.


The house was an average-sized ranch house, a deep mahogany color with brick-paved walkways.


“That would be grandfather’s work, this house has been in the family for years. Used to look really different before. It was a dark green and just a normal concrete walkway. He also expanded the house here and there.” Nathan said as he walked up to the house.


He unlocked the front door, holding it open for Katherine. As soon as she entered, she was hit with warm air which was a great relief from the October chill. The inside of the house was large and filled with a solid sense of home. Perfectly suited for a large family that would have equally large gatherings. Katherine was so distracted with the inner beauty of the house that she didn’t even notice Rose standing in the living room doorway right next to her.


“Oh!” Katherine jumped just a bit as she realized Rose standing there. “Um Hi?”


Rose simply smirks at her, throwing her brother a side glance.


“Rose..”


“Oh don’t mind me, I know when I’m not wanted.” Rose said, her smirk wide and teasing as she disappeared upstairs.


Katherine looked a bit confused at the interaction, she definitely missed something there but couldn’t quite tell what it was.


“Sorry about her. She should leave us alone for the most part. So you can set your computer and stuff in the living room and I’ll be back down in a bit.” Nathan said motioning to the living room before walking upstairs.


Katherine walked into the living room, a decent-sized area. A large couch was placed against the wall adjacent to the doorway with a medium-sized tv resting on a coffee table on the opposite side of it. There were small toys, defiantly for a toddler, scattered around on the floor. As Katherine was setting up, she heard a small growl. She turned slowly to see large chocolate-brown eyes staring back at her. A husky puppy was staring back at her. Its coat was a mix of dark brown and white and it’s short tail was wagging wildly.


“Aw look at you!” She cooed as she beckoned the dog over.


The pup tilted its head at her before wobbling over. Katherine picked up the pup, gently rubbing her hands over its fur. The pup seemed to appreciate the attention as it nuzzled its face into her.


“Hey, Katherine I was wondering if you-” Nathan started to ask as he entered the room only to stop dead upon seeing Katherine with the dog.


“It’s so cute! Is it yours?” Katherine asked excitedly, still heavily distracted by petting its head.


“…No… it’s my mom’s…” Nathan said, his voice, however, had a notable tone of distress building and his face was slightly pale.


Katherine was oblivious to the change as she continued to play with the pup.


“Mom!”Nathan suddenly called.


It took a few calls however soon his mother appeared around the corner.


“Nathan why are you scream-” Karen Foster said before cutting off as Nathan motioned sharply to the pup in Katherine’s arms.


Karen’s expression went from confusion to shock then lastly adoring. A wide smile appeared on her face as she walked over to Katherine.


“Hello, Ms. Foster! What’s her name?” Katherine asked excitedly as she bounced the puppy cradled in her arms.


“Ir-”


“-is, her name is Iris.” Nathan quickly interrupted his mother, giving her a stern look.


Nathan’s mom seemed to snap to realization as she nodded in agreement. Katherine looked between them a bit confused by that interaction but just shrugged it off.


“Well let me take her so you guys can get back to work.”


Karen gently grabbed Iris from Katherine, Iris wiggled a bit around but then immediately nuzzled into Karen’s neck. Karen then walked back upstairs cooing to Iris and a small wave to Katherine. Nathan watched them go then sighed, shaking his head.


“Your Mom really loves Iris” Katherine said with a chuckle.


“Oh yeah, Iris is her little baby, capable of no wrong.” Nathan said as he sat down on the couch next to Katherine with a huff.


“Haha, she reminds me of my mother when we had a cat. William was puggy, old, and lazy. My mom saved him on a job when he was young. He was cute, for a time. But around the 3rd year, he turned into a complete brat. He would do anything to get my mother’s attention and by god did he get it. It was like having a younger brother to be completely honest.”


Nathan laughs and shakes his head. After his laughter died down, they went to work on their project. After a few hours, Katherine stretched her arms up high and leaned even so slightly. After a satisfying crack, she relaxed and gave a small look around.


“So um Nathan?”


Nathan perked up from the history book he was looking at.


“Well I was curious, this house seems pretty big. Do you have more siblings or relatives that used to live here?” Katherine asked.


“Oh, um actually yes I do. My grandparents used to live here. They … moved out about 10 years back. I also have an older sister but she went to college. She’s in her third year now. My aunt and uncle, my mother’s side of the family, visit on the occasion.” Nathan said with a small smile.


“That’s really great Nathan..” Katherine said with a smile.


“Well, that’s one way to say it. Family tends to get pretty rowdy, especially when my cousins come. " Nathan said with an eye roll.


“That’s not what I meant. I was saying it was great you have so much family. It just really my mom and I. Occasionally we’ll get a visit from my aunt but that’s really all. " Katherine said with a weak smile.


Nathan’s expression softened at her statement.


“If.. it’s not too invasion can I ask why? "


“I don’t really know. My mom never likes to talk about the family. The only thing she told me was that they didn’t like her choices. " Katherine replied.


“Oh, I see.”


“Sorry. My mouth got away from me again.” Katherine said with a smile.


Nathan shook his head and they continued working. A few hours later, they had stopped working for the day and were heading back to Katherine’s house. Night had just set in as they pulled into the driveway. Katherine stepped out of the car and lead down to the window.


“Drive safely Nathan” Katherine said with a smile.


Nathan returned her smile and nodded. Katherine then pushed off from the car and slowly walked back towards her front door. waving as Nathan pulled out and drove off. She then turned to her front door, keys already head to the lock when she heard a rustle. Her head snapped behind her, her eyes struggling as she tried to scan the area in the low light. She fumbled a bit but quickly shoved the key into the lock and tried to turn. Nothing happened, the door seemed jammed. Another rustle sounded, this time however it seemed closer.


“Oh, you have got to be kidding me! " She huffed under her breath.


She kept trying to no avail to push open the door. The wind suddenly started howling rather loudly and more rustling, growing closer and closer. Katherine’s heart seemed to be beating at least three times the speed, blood pumping in her ears. Finally, with one good push, the door opened and she bolted in. Slamming the door and immediately locking it. She slowly slid down as she tried to get her heart under control however it didn’t seem to be working. Her body seemed to be caught in a fight or flight mode. She placed one hand on her chest as she forced her breathing to slow. It took a few attempts but soon her heart returned to its normal speed. She then lets out a sigh of relief, her head making a small bumping noise as she rests it back against the door. When she finally and truly calmed down, she stood up and walked over to the kitchen. Grabbing a drink from the refrigerator, she noticed a sticky note with her mom’s handwriting on it.


‘The front door is jamming up again. Need to call Travis in the morning.’


Of course..” Katherine said sarcastically with a frown.


She then just shook her head and walked up to her room, throwing herself on the bed. She must have been more tired than she realized because as soon as her head touched her pillow, exhaustion hit her hard. Try as she must to stay awake, she eventually fell into a strange dream. This time however wasn’t like the last few times. Her dream was more freeing, the feel of freshly dewed grass and dirt under her feet. The feel of the brisk cool wind in her hair. She just felt so free, like nothing could tie her down. Like for every moment, she was truly and completely free.


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