In the previous episode, Mark’s younger sister Inky has disappeared and Mark has left the house in the ensuing chaos to search for her. He heads to Silas’ lean-to, looking for answers, but Silas was not there. Readers voted that a piece of fruit rolls down the hill from the fruit market above as Mark decides what to do next.
I almost turned to leave, but something rolled down the hill, stopping at my feet: a rotting peach.
Silas was scavenging the garbage cans again.
I made my way up the hill to the back of the fruit market, staying close to the building, hoping to catch him unaware. I made the corner-turn; nothing.
The side door of the fruit market was dented, like someone had tried to crowbar it open. Mr. Giuletta kept a spare key under one of the loose bricks at the back of the building. I grabbed that, all the while listening for some sign of Silas.
Inside the fruit market, it was as cold as a morgue.
Mr. Giuletta kept the air conditioners on maximum to keep the produce cold. He must have forgotten when he locked up for those past few days that no one would be using the door, letting the cold out. As a result, my teeth chattered after I was a couple of steps in.
I took a quick walk around, checking that everything was okay. It didn’t look like any one had gotten inside. I was close to heading out the door when I heard it. A scrambling sound outside, shuffling. Scraping.
“Silas.” I whispered.
He must have seen me come in.
I debated throwing the door open to confront him, but I didn’t. Instead, on a whim, I ducked back into the walk-in cooler, quietly pulling the door closed behind me but for the slightest crack. I wanted to see what he wanted first.
I heard the door open. My stomach was churning, my jaw tight as I tried to keep my teeth from chattering and giving myself away.
What passed me as I hid was not Silas. It wasn’t Mr. Giuletta.
It was trying to look human, that much was clear. It wore a cloth over its frame. And when I say “frame,” that’s the best I can give you. Sticks covered in some kind of a skin.
It wheezed as it walked, tasting the air, maybe. It moved much too fast. Spider-like. And the skin on the back of its hairless head as it passed, it was pulled much too tightly.
I watched as it scrambled to the far end of the fruit market, looking for something. Shocked as I was at the appearance of it, I didn’t realize what it was looking for. Only as it began making its way back toward my cooler, toward the door, did I realize.
It was looking for me. It was smelling and following me.
It was over. I saw the way the thing moved–I couldn’t outrun that. If I pulled back into the cooler, hiding in deeper, it would hear me.
It was over.
I never found out which Rivertown resident chose that moment to call the fruit market, see if Giuletta’s was open. But I owe them my life.
The ringing was loud enough that it covered my sounds as I moved backwards behind stacked cases of lettuce. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.