In the previous episode: Mark’s sister Inky has disappeared and Mark left the house to find her. He sought Silas’ help, but ended up trapped in a walk-in cooler at Giuletta’s Fruit Market with the creature just outside the door. Readers voted that the creature was frightened away by the ringing phone.
But I didn’t need to hide. When the phone rang, whatever that thing was let out such a screech that I tried to cover my ears. But as my hands were moving toward my head, it scrambled outside in a hurry, those stick limbs scraping the cement floor as though whatever bones it had were unprotected by skin.
My sour stomach had enough. It was a good thing Giuletta’s had a drain in the walk-in cooler’s floor. I took advantage of that, wiped my mouth on my shirt. I sat hiding in the corner for a few minutes waiting for my shaking to stop.
“Hey!” A voice called.
I never expected to be grateful to hear that voice. Sy.
“I’m in here,” I tried to say, but my voice wasn’t really working.
It was enough. The cooler door opened wide and I tried to stand on two untrustworthy legs. Sy ducked in and grabbed me under the arms, raising me to my feet.
“I heard it,” he told me. “It doesn’t scream like that unless it’s missed its prey.”
“Guess that was me,” I whispered.
“I’d guessed it was.” He was silent for a minute. “How old are you, Mark?”
Sy nodded. “Whatever it wants, whatever it takes when it feeds, there seems to be more of it in children around your age.”
“My sister is missing.” My voice had returned, now, but sounded quite flat. “She’s thirteen.”
“I’m sorry, Mark.”
“I don’t want you to be sorry. Sorry does nothing. I want you to help me find her.” My jaw was clenching. So were my fists. I jammed them into my shorts pockets so I didn’t use them on him.
Sy looked at the ground, then up at me. “Come out here a moment.”
I followed him out of the cooler, then out the side door of Giuletta’s.
He pointed down the highway, at the edge of Rivertown.
“There were three cabins there, log-built, strong.”
I interrupted, “Nope. There’ve never been houses there. I lived here my whole life. I would know.”
“This was in the early days. Before Rivertown was Rivertown. You understand?”
I shrugged. This had nothing to do with Inky. He was wasting my time.
“A large family–cousins, uncles, brothers–moved here. They knew land. They wanted Rivertown for themselves.
“So they took it by force, the only way they knew how. They called upon the beast,” here he spat, “and the beast came to them, lured by the promise of young flesh, young blood to drain. It was given the freedom to sate its hunger on some of the children of Rivertown. With the exception of their own descendants, of course,” he added wryly.
Now I was understanding.
“You?” I asked.
He nodded. “Those houses–” He gestured again. “As a young boy, I was curious. My parents swore to me the previous residents had left to chase after gold far away. But I broke in to look.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.