In the previous episode, Mark was attacked by the creature killing Rivertown’s teens, but his father, the Sheriff, and Silas were there to finish off the beast, burning its body. Rivertown readers voted for a creepy ending to our tale…
Sheriff hushed it up. Nobody lies like a lawman. And it makes sense: it was over and he had a peace to keep.
You could do that in those days. We didn’t have an Internet to call us liars.
He called a town meeting and found some way to convince them it was some passing transient, a hobo had done all.
And they bought it. Because they wanted to believe that. That lie kept them comfortable every time they passed Rivertown’s woods and the hairs stood up on their necks.
Turned out Mrs. Conlon was Silas’ great-great-great-niece or something like that. Oh, she knew all about the deal Rivertown’s founders had made. She was only too happy to have Sy move there with her the last couple of years.
Bet it made them both feel a bit better to be by those woods, keeping an eye on them.
Sheriff put together papers for Silas, a birth certificate, whatever else he needed. Again, you could do that then.
Me, I finished high school and went to college to study law for a few years. Left that to travel a bit. Get Rivertown behind me. But that didn’t last long.
I was twenty-five when I came back to Rivertown to take up the position of Deputy to Uncle Will. My family wasn’t surprised that I didn’t want to follow Dad down into the mines. I had seen enough of what lurked under Rivertown to last me a couple of lifetimes.
The summer I came back, Dad set up a barbeque. Silas was there, Sheriff, our family.
Come sunset, the kids and women went indoors while the four of us sat around the fire, mostly just watching the flames in silence, like we had once watched a fire on the hill in the woods, near that old Indian Cave.
We threw back a few beers each, but Silas outdid us all. Dad said later he’d never considered the man much of a drinker, but that night he didn’t seem to stop.
I found out the next morning that Silas had gone out to that same hill that very night and put a gun in his mouth.
I guess ten years of healing hadn’t been enough.
I retired as sheriff of Rivertown about five years ago, and in all that time I kept the lies about what happened.
But I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands, and an Internet connection.
I’ve seen stories cropping up in other towns all over, big batch of kids missing here, there. Once I knew what I was looking for, the reports were easy enough to find.
“In Vino Veritas” — know what that means? It means it’s hard to bullshit someone when you’re piss-drunk.
And that night around the fire, Silas hadn’t made much sense, slurring out, “Schwarmsh, Mark. There were schwarmsh.”
Can’t say he hadn’t tried to warn me, like I’m warning you: There’d been swarms of them below.