Part I: Boy Meets Girl, Shit Hits Fan
Are You Alright?
Through a fog of grey Torin could feel someone shaking him. "S-s-t..." He managed to make out.
"What!?" Katrina replied, and started slapping him in the face to get him to open his eyes.
"St... Stop!" He exclaimed and pushed her away.
He was lying on the intimidating rock that he had previously tried to avoid, and he couldn't help but painfully chuckle at the irony of being brought to safety on it.
"I was trying to avoid you... heh... he-owww..." He said to the rock before curling up in pain.
Katrina was kneeling beside him and stared at him wide-eyed.
"Are you alright?" She asked and started to press on certain areas of his body. "Does any of this hurt?"
Torin tried to take a deep breath, but it caught short and he started coughing.
"I'm... just... dandy." He managed to make out.
"Are you sure!?" She asked in disbelief, "You have no idea how hard you just ate it."
Torin found himself able to laugh without too much pain. "Yah." He replied with a strained voice. "I've always been able to bounce back pretty quickly from accidents."
He rubbed his face gently with his hands to feel for any damage. After a few seconds of poking and prodding, he came to the conclusion that he had made it more or less intact.
"You don't have any recovery nano-machines installed do you?" Katrina asked suspiciously.
Squinting his eyes, he blinked them a couple times in an attempt to clear the little black stars that kept popping up. "No... no," he replied. "My Father refuses to let m-..." Torin's sentence trailed off as his eyes finally focused on Katrina and his mind registered the scene in front of him.
Katrina was less than a foot away, and her wet clothes had become somewhat... see-through.
His eyes went wide for an instant, and there was no hope to disguise his unabashed stare.
"HEY!" She said angrily and turned away. "Don't be a perv!"
Torin snapped his eyes shut and tried to roll away. "Sorry! Sorry!" He apologized between labored breaths. "I didn't mean to look..."
Torin's pain was the least of his worries now, as his heart was beating faster than when he was at the top of the ledge and a pounding warming sensation was traveling all throughout his body. He needed to get into the water fast.
"Its just that at the height and velocity you fell at," Katrina began as Torin slipped off the rock and began to slowly submerge his body into the water. "You should have a few broken ribs at least."
Fully covered in water, Torin opened his eyes and tried unsuccessfully to keep his gaze locked on Katrina's face. "Yeah... you know..." He rambled, completely mesmerized by the beauty of the girl so close to him. "It, uh... wasn't that bad."
Torin could feel his heartbeat in his eye-lids and a strange choking sensation that began in his chest made its way slowly up to his throat. He swallowed repeatedly in an attempt to remediate the strange tickling, but it didn't work.
Before the intense feeling could overwhelm him completely, a small beep from the T-Unit managed to draw his attention away from Katrina.
"TORIN!" A gruff man's voice yelled from the T-Unit on Torin's robotic arm.
The suddenness of it made both Torin and Katrina jolt.
"Torin, are you all right?" The man's voice asked. "I'm detecting a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure... have you been bitten by a Stalker!?"
Katrina started laughing so hard that tears began streaming down her face.
Torin quickly turned away from Katrina to hide his beet-red face.
"No Dad..." He said angrily, "I'm FINE!"
"Alright, alright Son.” Torin's Father responded calmly, “Just making sure... I'm almost finished out here." He continued. "Should be back in the morning."
Torin glanced back at Katrina who was in the process of slipping off of the rock in her laughter.
"Ok, sounds good." Torin replied shortly as he motioned erratically with his arms for Katrina to be quiet. "See you then."
"Oh! And Torin," His Father said excitedly, "How has the new A.I. version been treating you? That was a developmental beta version by the way." He added. "Cost me an arm and a -- er... you know what I mean."
"I'll tell you about it later!" Torin responded in an exasperated tone.
"Ok, Ok, Torin," His Father replied warmly, "Love you son..."
"Yeah, yeah," Torin said impatiently, "See you tomorrow." Torin checked for the small green indicator on the T-Unit to turn off before turning to Katrina.
"Sorry about that." He said shyly.
This time even Katrina had a little bit of color on her face when she pulled herself back onto the rock.
"Who would have thought that jumping off a cliff wouldn't have been your most... umm... heart-racing experience." She said with a devilish grin.
Torin laughed nervously. "Yeah, who would've thought." He said wryly.
Feeling a bit more in control of himself after the initial shock of his Father's interruption, Torin brought the upper half of his body onto the rock and looked at Katrina in a calculating fashion.
"I think I deserve to know more about this girl I jumped off a cliff for." He said with the tiniest hint of mischief in his voice.
Katrina smiled. "Oh really?" She said smugly, "Not going to be an asshole this time around I hope?"
"Nah." Torin responded with a grin, "You could say that I had a change of heart after a recent life-threatening incident."
That drew a laugh from Katrina.
"I still don't know how you came out of that unscathed." She said in an amused tone. "Your legs kinda went like this..." She gestured with her fingers awkwardly, "Then your neck kinda did this..."
Torin couldn't help but smile at the hilarious description of his ungraceful fall.
"And then SMACK!" She said and clapped her hands together for effect. "Human pancake."
As their laughter rang off of the canyon walls, Torin couldn't help but think that today had been his lucky day. Not only did he crack the new A.I. version in the first attempt, but right afterwards he had met a beautiful girl... who of all things thought he was cute! If good things came in three's, then he had no idea what the next surprise could be, but he was definitely excited for it.
Torin took a long sideways look at Katrina and smiled.
"So..." He said with amusement in his voice. "Who 'are' you anyhow? Besides the crazy girl who spied on me, made fun of my arm, scared me half to death, and then jumped off a cliff?" He added as if reading a list of charges.
"You know who I am." Katrina responded playfully and grinned.
"I do?" Torin responded in surprise.
"Of course you do..." She nodded confidently. "I'm Katrina."
"Oh come on." Torin said in a mildly annoyed tone. "You know what I mean."
Katrina averted her eyes and smiled softly. "Yeah I know..."
They sat in awkward silence for a few moments before Katrina looked at him and raised her eyebrows in excitment.
"How about this!" She said mischeviously and smiled. "Tonight I will tell you all about myself..." She looked around at the still canyon in mock suspicion and whispered, "When we are in private..." Leaning forward she gazed into Torin’s eyes and mouthed the words: “At my place.”
Torin was certain his heart stopped for a moment.
There was the third surprise. He thought to himself as he felt the blood start to rush through his body again. And it was the best yet.
Clearing his throat, he shifted uncomfortably on the rock before responding.
"Yah... ha." He laughed nervously. "You never know when someone could be watching... from a hidden ledge above you in a canyon... right?"
Katrina grinned at him and winked seductively. "Exactly." She said as she pulled a stray hair behind her ear.
Torin took a deep shaky breath and rubbed his forehead with his hand. "So uhh... where? Umm..." He mumbled as he struggled to find the right words.
"You can meet me at the Inn." Katrina smirked as she began to slip into the water.
"In, uh, in town?" Torin asked stupidly.
"Yes of course." Katrina responded as she turned and started to swim towards a section of the lake where a climbable part of the canyon lay above. She was more than a stone's throw away when Torin remembered something important.
"Hey!" He shouted with mild concern in his voice. "What time!?"
Rolling smoothly onto her back mid-stroke, Katrina glanced at him. "At sunset!" She yelled in response.
Torin leaned back on his hands and watched Katrina as she made her way over to the canyon and began to scale it in quick nimble jumps. Of all the girls Torin was lucky enough to meet, he was positive that he had just met one of the funniest, most outgoing, and attractive ones out there.
Torin waited until she had rolled over the top of the ledge and counted silently to sixty in his head. Knowing that she was probably long gone, he lifted his arms high into the sky and yelled in triumph.
For the first time in his life, Torin had a date.