Girl and Ship

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If they hadn't almost tripped over her, the trio rummaging through the scrapyard would never have even seen the girl.

She was crouched in the burned-out husk of a ship that looked like it could have fit four people at the most with only her eyes and the top of her head visible. If Rina hadn't looked up at just the right moment, the girl would have ducked out of sight again before anyone saw her. Not sure she'd actually seen her, Rina didn't look directly at her. Instead she tugged on her boyfriend's sleeve to get his attention.

"What's up?"

"There's someone watching us," Rina said. Miguel automatically started to look around to see who she was talking about but Rina jerked his sleeve down, forcing him to look down at her. "Don't. You're gonna freak her out."

"Her? How do you know it's a her?" Miguel kept his voice down and his eyes on Rina's face. She cast the barest of glances back to where the girl had been, then cast a wider search for her around the scrapyard. When she didn't see the girl, she took Miguel's hand and pulled him over to where Su was considering a chunky, ribbed metal tube.

"Find anything good?" The question was directed at either or both. Most of the group just considered Miguel and Rina as a single entity, and they really didn't mind. Miguel looked at Rina and made an encouraging motion.

"Okay, but you gotta keep your voices down. I don't wanna spook her."

"Who are you talking about?" Su looked around as if she expected another person on an illegal salvage operation and Rina leaned toward her.

"There's a girl in that ship. She was just watching us."

"So let's go see what she wants," said Su, tossing the tube back onto the heap where she'd found it. Never one to err on the side of caution, she walked briskly over to the ship with Miguel and Rina close behind. "Hey," she called. "Who's in there?" Instead of a response, the door on the backside of the ship banged open and the girl inside darted out. Rina and Su shared a look, then ran after her into the maze of ships and cars that twisted across the land.

The girl ran until she reached a wall of crushed and stacked cars that blocked her path. From the rapidly closing distance between them Rina could see her running her hands over them, searching for a way out. When they got close enough to talk to her, the girl pressed her back against the wall and looked at them with panicked eyes that flicked over them rapidly while they got their first good look at her.

She looked like she could be anywhere from sixteen to twenty, thanks to the strange outfit she was wearing. It looked like the sort of frilly dress a little girl might wear for Easter, light blue with a skirt that fell to her knees with puffy short sleeves and a lace hem. It was also filthy and torn, giving Rina the impression that she'd been wearing it for days. Matching lace socks completed the picture but only one shoe had survived whatever had brought her into the scrapyard. Her face was dirty as well, framed by tangled blonde hair that reached her waist, and Rina wondered how long she had been crouching in the old ship.

"It's okay," she said, taking a slow step forward. "We're not going to hurt you, we just want to help. Are you all right? Do you need a doctor?" The girl pulled her arm protectively behind her, but not before Rina had seen a long cut down her forearm.

"Can we take you somewhere?" Miguel stayed back, not wanting to spook her, while Rina crept closer. "It's getting kinda late. It could be dangerous to stay out here." The girl shrank against the cars and shook her head.

"You can't stay here," Rina said in a calm, soothing voice. "Why don't you come with us? You can at least get a shower and something to eat. Are you hungry?" The girl shook her head again but was betrayed a moment later when her stomach growled loudly, making Rina wonder how long it had been since she had eaten. She had reached the girl by then, and held out a hand. "Come on. I promise we're not going to hurt you." With a mistrustful look at Rina, she took her hand and let herself be pulled toward the others. Miguel smiled kindly at her.

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