In the previous episode, Mark’s father and the sheriff reunite with Silas, whom they knew from the last time the creature fed on Rivertown’s teens. They tell Sy that the tools to defeat the creature are still hidden at St. Luke’s church. It’s time to go after the creature, but they’ll need something to lure it. Readers voted, choosing that Mark agrees to be bait.
I thought of Tim, how he looked when I had found him.
I thought of Emmett Manley, lopsided on his bike with the sack of newspapers, wobbling down the street learning balance all over again.
I almost thought of Inky, but I shut that memory off for another time.
“Yeah,” I nodded. “I’m ready.”
A quick trip to St. Luke’s by way of the sheriff’s squad car and they were all ready, too.
We needed a place where breezes would carry my scent the farthest. Silas thought a certain hill near the old Indian cave would work well enough.
I don’t remember any words being spoken as we filed down the path towards that hill. What could be said? This was either going to work or it wasn’t. There was no back up plan.
I do remember how perfect every tree, leaf, bit of moss looked to me. I was keenly aware I might never see them again.
“Right up there, Mark.” Silas pointed up the hill. “Will, how about you get behind that boulder? Joe, I’ll bet that dead tree right across there has enough room for you to crouch in it.”
Sheriff moved to his place pretty quickly, but Dad hesitated and made a move toward me.
I nodded to reassure him. “This is going to work, Dad. It’s okay. This will work.”
Dad put his hand on my shoulder for a few seconds, looking at the ground. I think he was praying. Then he walked to his place.
“It’s gonna see me here, Sy,” Dad told him. “It can’t miss me.”
Sy shook his head. “Smell,” he told Dad. “He may smell you, but he won’t care. It’s Mark he’ll want. I’ve seen it. He can’t stop himself when there’s something near he wants.”
Sy himself ducked under a patch of ivy and dried leaves.
I walked up the hill, trying not to think about the thing I had seen when I hid in Giuletta’s cooler.
And I waited.
But I didn’t need to wait long. When it happened, it happened quickly.
It sounded like a squirrel or a chipmunk, skritching through the past year’s fallen leaves. Spidery and clicking, it came.
Loud clicking, like sonar.
Far off at first.
My stomach cramped as it came into view. Skin over sticks. It was worse than I remembered. And the clicking wasn’t sonar.
It was snapping its teeth, tasting my scent on the air.
It passed my dad, giving him no more thought than it had Mrs. Conlon when she saw it near the woods that night I found Tim.
“Dad’s safe” was the last thought I had before it slammed me in my gut, knocking the wind out of me, knocking us both backwards.
I thought I heard shouting, but it seemed a mile away. My lungs screamed for air, my head felt like it had just exploded and all I could see was… Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.