In the previous episode, a phone call saved Mark’s life as the creature stalked him. Silas began to explain the origins of the deal that traded the lives of Rivertown’s teens for money and power for Silas’ family. Silas pointed to where the original Rivertown residents once lived and told Mark he had sneaked into the houses as a boy. Readers voted that he had found the houses in perfect order, as though they had been left a day ago…
“Do you know what I found?” Sy asked.
I shook my head.
“Everything — dishes, clothes, muddied boots, all of it — untouched. But for the dust that covered it, it might have been left a day ago. These people had not left to hunt gold,” he scoffed.
“Rivertown grew,” he continued. “It was all about the mines. There was money to be made, and plenty of people wanted to be part of that. I was seventeen when the beast came back to collect again. Rivertown lost six children. My best friend was the second.”
“Your cave– ” He tried to smile but couldn’t. “It was our cave, too.” He grabbed my shoulder and squeezed it the slightest bit.
“I was terrified — we all were. My grandmother took me aside, patted my hand. Told me I had nothing to worry about. And then she explained why.” That sentence rasped in his throat. “Rivertown’s fortunes would belong to me and my cousins one day,” she said.
He pinched back tears.
“Rivertown’s children, traded for money,” he fairly choked on the words.
Sy drew a deep breath and continued. “That wasn’t going to happen in my name,” I told her.
“And so I searched for it. He couldn’t hurt me, but I would goddamn well destroy him if I could. I found him in the woods, near his hole. He had just…” He paused, looked at me. “Well, he had just killed the sixth. I managed to catch him around the middle as he descended.”
“Mark, I can’t tell you everything. The dark down inside that hole goes forever.” He stayed quiet a moment. He shook his head. “No. You don’t need to know about that.”
“I had no way to find him in the darkness. I had almost given up hope, when he returned to go up and feed again. I followed him.”
“But something had changed in Rivertown. New houses, new businesses. People in clothes I had never seen. The date on the Rivertown Daily truly scared me. Forty years had passed, Mark.”
“It was still Rivertown–the signs, the churches all proclaimed it. But it wasn’t my Rivertown. Though the cave was still there. The cave is always there.”
“What do you mean, ‘always’?” I interrupted.
“I’ve followed him down below several times, now, Mark. He’s never down for long. Or so it seems to me. Then we emerge thirty, forty years later.”
“Father Kessler, I knew him as a young child. He trusted me when we met next, he as a young priest at your St. Luke’s. He did some studying while I was gone. The next time the beast came to feed, Father Kessler was ready with the spear heads, the source water that burns it and renders it unable to move.”
“A couple of boys helped him. They were brothers.” He shrugged. “I told them about the cave. They might know where Father Kessler put those things. Their names were Joe and Will Skandersen.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.