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What Rough Beast ... Session Three Part 1 - Tommy Hill Returns

Max_Writer

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

 

(After playing the Call of Cthulhu original scenario “What Rough Beast …†today from 1:30 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. with Yorie Latimer, John Leppard, Austin Davie, Ambralyn Tucker, Kyle Matheson, and Ben Abbott.)

 

The six children all had dinner in their homes after getting back from Anniston the night of Sunday, June 23, 1929.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Billy told his grandfather there was a prank-craze going around town and people were trying to get back at him for pranks. He asked his grandfather not to let anyone in the house or else they would probably do something.

 

“Who are these … these … oh, some of these boys from school?†his grandfather said.

 

“Just … people,†Billy squeaked.

 

“Well, if I see any of these boys …†his grandfather said.

 

He picked up the broom.

 

“If those boys come around here, they’re going to get a swat!†he said.

 

“It’s more people town,†Billy squeaked.

 

“People around … who is teasing you and bullying you, boy?†he grandfather said.

 

He pointed the broom at the youth.

 

Billy squealed something unintelligible and ran out the front door. He took his bicycle from where it lay in front of the house and put it under the overhang in the back.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“Hey pop,†Richard said to his father. “Have you seen the … who’s the guy who runs the ice house in town?â€

 

“Wilbur Mayo?†his father said.

 

“Have you seen Wilbur lately?â€

 

“No. He doesn’t bring ice until next week.â€

 

“Do you know anyone who’s seen him lately?â€

 

“No. I don’t know.â€

 

Richard left the house and biked up to Wilbur Mayo’s ice house. The building was built into the side of the hill and had a little lean-to on the side where Mayo lived. There was a stable and barn nearby. The horse and wagon were both there. Richard went to the lean-to and looked inside but didn’t see anyone in there. He didn’t hear anything either.

 

Then he biked up to Old Sanguis, the tiny abandoned town that was where their village originally began. He searched the nearest of the buildings until almost dark but found nothing.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Michael and Ella-Marie sharpened the ash stakes Michael had brought back.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Billy was in his room after dark when he heard a knock on the front door. He got up to go answer it but when he got to the living room, he saw his grandfather by the front door. A tall, dark-haired man in a suit stood there and his grandfather invited the man in. The man’s hair was parted in the middle and he wore pince-nez glasses and held a hat in his hand.

 

“My name is Christopher St. Jordan II,†the man said. “I have taken up residence in the Bennett Farm.â€

 

Billy turned, walked back to his room, and grabbed Mrs. Pine’s crucifix. He put it behind his back and came out to where the two men talked near the front door. He went to them and overheard St. Jordan tell his grandfather that some boys from town were out at his house and did some damage. His man described the boys and Billy realized the description of one of them was obviously him.

 

“I am not concerned with who did it exactly, or getting the law involved,†St. Jordan said. “I just don’t want it to happen again.â€

 

Billy reached the two men and his grandfather turned towards the boy, fire in his eyes.

 

“Boy!†he said loudly.

 

He grabbed Billy by the ear.

 

“Were you out there messing with this man’s─?†his grandfather said.

 

“No no no,†St. Jordan said. “There is no need for any of this.â€

 

St. Jordan told his grandfather the old house was still in poor shape but he had plans to get carpenters and surveyors to start repairs in a month or so. He didn’t want any children to get hurt out there, playing. He also didn’t want any more damage.

 

Billy’s grandfather let go of his ear as the two men continued to talk, ignoring the boy. St. Jordan talked about starting a mortuary in the house to bring some more life into Sanguis. He said he was hoping to lay down roots and possibly even have a large family someday. He noted that since his family already had money, he was hoping to supply his services to the village very inexpensively. He looked down at Billy occasionally.

 

He thanked Billy’s grandfather.

 

“I’m sure you’ll see that he is talked to,†St. Jordan said, glancing at Billy. “But please … he is a young boy. He has a whole life ahead of him. Don’t you?â€

 

“I’m sorry mister,†Billy squeaked.

 

St. Jordan seemed startled by his high-pitched voice.

 

“I’ve been … I’m sorry,†Billy squeaked. “Troubled.â€

 

“If you just tell your friend as well, I will see him sometime,†St. Jordan said.

 

“I’m sorry, gramps,†Billy squeaked. “I’ll just get to the good book.â€

 

He pulled out the crucifix and St. Jordan turned quickly away, putting his hand over his eyes.

 

“My wife passed recently,†he said. “She was Catholic. I must go.â€

 

He walked hurriedly out of the door.

 

Billy’s grandfather gave him a talking to, telling him not to break things or he’d whip him. He had never whipped the boy before. When Billy returned to his room, he found his dog, Blitzer, cowering under the bed.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Ella-Marie was woken in the wee hours of the night by a voice whispering her name.

 

“Ella-Marie,†it said.

 

He opened her eyes in the dark room. A breeze blew in through the window.

 

“Ella-Marie,†the whisper came again.

 

She sat up in bed and looked over at the window. A small figure with blonde hair stood just outside.

 

“Ella-Marie,†Tommy whispered again. “Come here.â€

 

“What are you doing here?†she whispered back.

 

“Well, I’m hungry Ella-Marie.â€

 

“I saw you fly off into the night!â€

 

“Yeah, I can fly now!â€

 

“No!â€

 

“I can turn to a wolf. Yeah. It’s great. I’m gonna live forever. I’m gonna live forever, Ella-Marie. C’mere.â€

 

“Was that … you in the woods?â€

 

“I wanna talk to you. I won’t use my eyes on you, I promise.â€

 

“No!â€

 

“Come over here.â€

 

Ella-Marie picked up one of the ash stakes.

 

“Can I come in?†Tommy asked.

 

“No, you don’t come closer,†she said.

 

“Well, I can’t. It’s rules. I can’t come in. See, I’m not even using my eyes. C’mere, talk to me, just talk to me. I’m not gonna touch ya.â€

 

“No. No. I’m not speaking to you.â€

 

“Ella-Marie, I’m so hungry.â€

 

“I’m not speaking to you.â€

 

“Well, what have I done? What did I do?â€

 

“You’re not natural! You’re not of this Earth! I’m not speaking to you!â€

 

“Well, I might not be natural but … but you know … y’all’ll never find me. I got the best hiding place.â€

 

“What do you mean?â€

 

“I got the best hiding place. It’s a great hiding place. I’m so hungry, Ella-Marie. Please!â€

 

“What do you want me to do?â€

 

“Well, come over here.â€

 

“No!â€

 

“I can’t touch you while you’re in the house.â€

 

“Exactly. Go away.â€

 

“Well, if you come over here and you let me … you let me. It’s real nice. It only hurts for a second and then it feels real good.â€

 

“No!â€

 

“But it does!â€

 

She got out of the bed and went over, pushing the sash down. Tommy sighed.

 

“I guess I’ll have to go talk to Jill then,†he said.

 

She went back to her bed and had a terrible time getting back to sleep.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

On Monday, June 24, 1929, the six children all met at the tree house after breakfast. On the way, Michael and Teddy saw Harry Match in the Sanguis Grocery, purchasing a shovel, a pick, and a shotgun.

 

As soon as Billy showed up, he started shouting at the rest of them.

 

“He came to my house last night!†he screeched.

 

“What?†Richard said. “Who?â€

 

“You, too?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“Christopher came to my house last night!†Billy screeched.

 

“Christopher?â€

 

“The man! My house!â€

 

“I was talking about Tommy!â€

 

“Who cares about Tommy!?!â€

 

“Wait wait wait,†Michael said. “Tommy came to the house last night?â€

 

“Yes!†Ella-Marie said. “Tommy came to my window and he was … he was … playing and he was─â€

 

“Big whoop! He was at your window!†Billy said. “Christopher was in my house!â€

 

“Wait, in your house?†Michael said.

 

“In my house!†Billy shrieked.

 

“All right, let me tell me tell my story first!†Ella-Marie said.

 

“House!†Billy said. “Not window! My grandpa let him in!â€

 

“What’d he say to you?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“What if I can’t tell him go out!?!†Billy said. “I’m up **** creek!â€

 

“Billy, what did he look like?†Richard asked. “You saw him.â€

 

Billy described a tall, handsome man, his hair parted down the center, in a nice suit. Richard was unsure if it was the same man he had seen in silhouette out in the woods.

 

“You sure it was Christopher?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“He said it was Christopher!†Billy said.

 

“Billy, how did he talk?†Richard asked.

 

Billy looked at him and then pointed at Jebidiah.

 

“Like him,†he said.

 

“Oh God!†Jebidiah said.

 

“Did he talk like he was not from around here?†Richard said.

 

“Of course!†Billy said.

 

“What did he want with you?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“So … he’s not a Yankee though, right?†Richard said.

 

Billy ignored him and turned to Ella-Marie.

 

“He knew me and Mike went out there and busted up the coffins,†Billy squeaked.

 

“What did he want from you?†she asked again. “Why is he at your house?â€

 

“He’s buddying up with my grandpa,†Billy said.

 

“Oh god,†Michael said.

 

“Your grandfather?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“Yeah,†Billy said.

 

“Does he have anything to do with this?â€

 

“No. I don’t think so. But I did find out this crucifix works pretty good. He left the house real quick when I pulled it out.â€

 

“That’s good,†Michael said. “Good to know.â€

 

“Good to know,†Richard said.

 

“Which, by the way,†Michael said.

 

He poured out the numerous rough crosses and stakes he’d made from his bag.

 

“He also said his wife died,†Billy squeaked.

 

The children all took some of the crosses and stakes.

 

“All right, now are you done with your story?†Ella-Marie said.

 

Billy nodded.

 

“Tommy came to my room last night,†she said.

 

“Did he say anything?†Michael asked.

 

“He was right at the window and he was talking to me about how he was so hungry and he said he can’t come in because I wouldn’t allow him in. And I just said ‘No.’ I just said ‘Absolutely not, you’re not natural. I saw you fly off into the dang sky.’ I just shut the window and I tried to go back to sleep. But he said he was gonna visit Jill.â€

 

“Oh no.â€

 

“Who?†Richard said.

 

“Jill!†Ella Marie said.

 

“Oh yeah, Christopher said that he was wanting to make a family,†Billy squeaked.

 

“Oh no,†Michael said.

 

“Oh no,†Richard said.

 

“Oh no,†Ella-Marie said. “Oh no.â€

 

“He wanted to put deep roots in the community,†Billy said.

 

“I wanna check on Jill,†Ella-Marie said.

 

“I’m not going!†Richard said.

 

“Okay, you don’t have to.â€

 

“Look, I may have insinuated that I would be willing to shoot her father. As a joke. But he didn’t take it as a joke.â€

 

“I’m sorry, what? How is this going to help any of us?â€

 

“I’m not going. I’ll go somewhere else, but I’m not going there.â€

 

“This is a good time to talk about my idea,†Jebidiah said. “You have brought stakes and spare crosses and I thank you for your effort. We should be equipped, wherever we go. I think, while some of us go look after Jill, some others of us should go explore places we haven’t checked in the town.â€

 

“I propose that those who don’t go to check on Jill go up to Old Sanguis. I checked one of the buildings there yesterday. I also checked the ice house but Wilbur Mayo wasn’t in. That’s the only place we haven’t been in.â€

 

“There’s the abandoned places,†Billy squeaked.

 

They discussed where to go, Jebidiah noting it was daytime so they should be safe. They were all in agreement that they shouldn’t stay out after dark.

 

“Perhaps there’s four places we want to check,†Teddy said. “I saw Match buying some … rather curious items.â€

 

“He was buying a shotgun,†Michael said.

 

“Well, that changes things a little,†Richard said. “Because he’s able to kill us.â€

 

“I can’t say I blame him!†Ella-Marie said.

 

She gave Michael a hard look.

 

“We did break into house … three times now? Right?†Michael said.

 

“He could also … kill us at any point,†Richard said.

 

“Well, we’ll be ready,†Ella-Marie said, hefting a wooden stake.

 

“Well, I─†Jebidiah said.

 

“Against a shotgun!?!†Richard said.

 

“I think as long as we don’t go near that─†Jebidiah said.

 

“Well, we’re just as prepared, aren’t we?†she said.

 

“We have sticks!†Richard said. “He’s not a vampire!â€

 

“I’m mean … they’re still sharp!†she said.

 

“Yeah, but …†Richard said.

 

“I think as long as we don’t go near the Bennett Farm again, we’ll be fine about not encountering Match,†Jebidiah said. “But, if he shows up any other places, we’ll know that something’s up there. It is good to know so we can be careful, even during the daytime if Match is around.â€

 

They decided to split up and headed out. As they got Teddy into the seat to lower him out of the tree house, he saw Match on the railroad, walking from town in the direction of the plantation. The man had a shotgun under his arm and was also carrying a pick and shovel. Billy also saw the man.

 

“Look, there he goes,†Teddy said, pointing him out to the others.

 

“So, who wants to tail him?†Billy squeaked.

 

“What?†Richard said.

 

“Who wants to what?†Ella-Marie said. “Who wants to tail him?â€

 

“Who wants to tail him?†Billy squeaked again.

 

“Tail who?†she asked.

 

“I don’t have a gun,†Richard said.

 

“He has a shotgun,†Teddy said.

 

“He could be digging where the graves are!†Billy squeaked. “They could have buried the coffins they’re staying in around the plantation and he’s going to where they are.â€

 

“Who are you talking about?†Ella-Marie said.

 

They pointed Match out, at the edge of vision, walking down the railroad tracks.

 

“What is he doing?†she asked.

 

“I can’t get caught out there again,†Billy squeaked. “My grandpa will kill me.â€

 

“Yeah, we’re not going to let you out there again.â€

 

“I know. So who’s gonna tail him?â€

 

“If he sees us, we’re done for,†Teddy said.

 

They discussed making a change of plans. Ella-Marie noted they had a lot of concerns right then. Billy pointed out there were six of them. Jebidiah said he and Teddy could take other jobs to free up someone else to watch Match, though suggested it be someone quiet who was a good hider. Richard noted he would go trail Match and both Ella-Marie and Teddy were of the opinion he shouldn’t go alone. Ella-Marie was insistent but, in the end, they realized there were not enough of them.

 

Richard told Billy which building he had checked in Old Sanguis. The boy squeaked that he would check it again and Richard protested but Billy pointed out he had plenty of time. Jebidiah warned Richard to be careful and if he was seen, to just flee as quickly as possible.

 

They all headed off.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Richard followed Match at a safe distance, barely keeping the man in sight and hiding behind whatever cover the woods afforded. Match never looked back but walked directly to the plantation house, going around the north side. Richard gave the place a wide berth but got to the side where he could see Match, at a distance, digging a hole behind the plantation house. He saw no sign of the shotgun.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Michael and Ella-Marie went to Spearman’s house on the north side of Sanguis. Jill Spearman was sitting on the front porch reading a book. She was dressed in a blue skirt and a long-sleeve shirt buttoned up all the way.

 

“Jill?†Ella-Marie said as they approached.

 

“Yes?†Jill said. “Oh, hello Ella-Marie, how are you today?â€

 

“Hi. I’m … I … uh …†Ella-Marie said.

 

“How are you feeling, Jill?†Michael asked.

 

“I’m fine,†she said coldly.

 

“All right,†Michael said. “Didn’t know. Tommy was sick, before he passed, and you hung out with him a lot. Didn’t want you getting sick.â€

 

“Yeah,†Ella-Marie said. “Just concerned.â€

 

Jill frowned.

 

“I’m fine,†she said.

 

She looked at him a moment.

 

“Did Richard send you?†she suddenly said. “Richard sent you, didn’t he?â€

 

“No!†Ella-Marie said.

 

“You tell Richard I’m tired of his advances!†Jill said.

 

“No, I just had a terrible dream last night. That you were … you were incredibly ill and, like Tommy, and I just wanted to come check on you.â€

 

“I got a book on dreams! Wait! Wait here!â€

 

The girl ran into the house and returned with a book.

 

“You said I was sick?†she said, flipping through the book.

 

“Uh … yes,†Ella-Marie said. “I-I just … I just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong with you.â€

 

“Nothing about being sick.â€

 

“I dreamed that you had rashes all over your body. Do you─â€

 

“No. Ew!â€

 

“Do you mind? Do you mind if I just check your arm? Please?â€

 

“Why would I … it was a dream, Ella-Marie.â€

 

“I know but … you should know … my dreams are just … they can seem kind of real sometimes … so I just …â€

 

“Well, I don’t have no rash.â€

 

“Are you sure?â€

 

“Yeah.â€

 

“Okay. No nothing?â€

 

“No. I’m fine, Ella-Marie.â€

 

“Even … even around your neck?â€

 

“No.â€

 

“No rashes?â€

 

“No. I don’t have no rashes, Ella-Marie.â€

 

She looked at Michael.

 

“Why don’t you go away?†she said. “This is girl talk, anyway!â€

 

Michael walked away.

 

“That is my brother,†she said.

 

“That’s right,†Jill said. “He’s a man. You don’t talk about lady things around a boy!â€

 

“He goes wherever I go,†Ella-Marie said. “You don’t talk to my brother like that!â€

 

Jill closed the book and went into the house. Ella-Marie went after her, entering the house and seeing Jill walking down the hallway to the back of the house. Mrs. Spearman was in the kitchen preparing something.

 

“Well, hello Ella-Marie,†Mrs. Spearman said.

 

“Hello,†Ella-Marie said. “Hello Mrs. Spearman.â€

 

Ella-Marie walked back to Jill’s room and found Jill putting the book back on the shelf.

 

“All right Jill,†Ella-Marie said. “Listen to me.â€

 

Jill spun around.

 

“Ella-Marie, what are you doing in our house?†Jill said.

 

“Just─†Ella-Marie said.

 

“I did not invite you in.â€

 

“Just listen to me.â€

 

Jill crossed her arms.

 

“Well, that proves one thing,†Ella-Marie said. “Listen─â€

 

“What is the matter with you, Ella-Marie?†Jill said.

 

“Look, Tommy came to visit me last night. And I know you’re not going to believe me but you need to listen to me, Jill.â€

 

“Tommy is dead.â€

 

“I know.â€

 

“And there are some things you don’t discuss in front of boys, Ella-Marie. Private, personal stuff.â€

 

“What do you mean?â€

 

“Rashes? You’re asking me to look and show you rashes? When your brother’s right there?â€

 

“He’s my brother. Can you get over this?â€

 

“No. He’s a boy.â€

 

“I tell him everything.â€

 

“You shouldn’t.â€

 

“You need to shut up and listen to me.â€

 

“You need to shut up.â€

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Michael entered the Spearman house.

 

“Oh, hello Michael,†Mrs. Spearman said. “What are you doing?â€

 

“Oh … I just saw that … my sister came in and I was wondering if I could wait on the couch for her,†Michael said awkwardly.

 

Mrs. Spearman looked at the boy a moment.

 

“All right,†she finally said.

 

“Thank you,†he said.

 

He sat on the couch and tried to overhear the conversation.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

“All right, Jill,†Ella-Marie said. “He was talking to me. And he said that he would come visit you. And I am just worried about your safety, okay? Even if it sounds crazy─â€

 

“I’m worried about you, Ella-Marie,†Jill said. “It does sound crazy. It sounds very crazy. But why would … Tommy died. I know you liked Tommy. He was always telling me.â€

 

“Oh, I did not! You are very much mistaken.â€

 

“It’s just like Richard likes me.â€

 

Ella-Marie’s jaw dropped.

 

“But you gotta just let go,†Jill said. “He’s gone. He died. It’s very sad. I miss Tommy.â€

 

“I’m just here to tell you he’s not,†Ella-Marie said. “And you need to watch out for him and don’t invite him in. If he shows up─â€

 

“I would never invite a boy into my house.â€

 

“Well good. That’s … that’s all I’m saying.â€

 

“Are you all right, Ella-Marie?â€

 

“Maybe not.â€

 

“Come here. Come sit down. Come talk to me.â€

 

Jill had a nice conversation with her, trying to calm Ella-Marie down. She didn’t seem to believe Ella-Marie but she also didn’t seem to not believe her either. Ella-Marie handed her one of her ash stakes and the little girl took it and put it on the bed.

 

“This will be for your protection, okay?†Ella-Marie said.

 

“From … from boys coming into my room?†Jill said.

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Well, all right.â€

 

The conversation steered towards Richard with Jill trying to learn what he was doing and how he was. She assured Ella-Marie if Tommy Hill came around her house, Ella-Marie would be the first to know. She promised and crossed her heart. Ella-Marie thanked her and left, finding Michael in the front room on the couch.

 

“There are you are!†Michael said. “What were you doing back there?â€

 

“I was warning her …†Ella-Marie started to say.

 

Then she noticed Mrs. Spearman in the kitchen, looking at the two of them. She grabbed Michael’s arm and took him out of the house.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Billy walked Teddy and Jebidiah up the Tallapoosa Road, Jebidiah pushing Teddy’s wheelchair, until they reached the rutted path to the ice house. He left them then, heading on up the road while the other two boys continued up the path.

 

“How should we approach this?†Teddy said.

 

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check Wilbur with your compact,†Jebidiah said.

 

They discussed him doing it discreetly, as he had done to his own friends before.

 

“Why are we here?†Teddy said. “We have to give him a reason to think that we’re here naturally.â€

 

“Oh, that’s true,†Jebidiah said. “I didn’t think about that.â€

 

“Your parents need ice!â€

 

“Yes! It can only be the best ice so we must look for a while.â€

 

“And you brought me because my wheelchair can transport it.â€

 

“We are fascinated by ice! We could tell him we are interested in his job. We want to be ice boys.â€

 

“I would love to grow the ice.â€

 

They soon came to the ice house, a large building built into the side of the hill. A lean-to stood on the side where they knew Wilbur Mayo lived. The ice wagon was gone, as was the horse in the stables next to the building.

 

“Maybe he’s out?†Teddy said.

 

“I guess that means we could just go in!†Jebidiah said.

 

“Don’t you mean … ‘The door was open when we came?’†Teddy said.

 

They went to the lean-to and found the door unlocked. Teddy opened it and they looked in the tiny room which had a bed, a pot-bellied stove, and a few other items. Mayo obviously didn’t have much money. They gave the place a cursory look and Teddy found something disturbing. When he pulled the covers back on the cot, he found blood on the man’s pillow.

 

“Hey, Jebidiah, I think I found something,†Teddy said.

 

Jebidiah came over.

 

It was not a lot of blood but seemed to be at least two separate stains, both of them dry. They were towards the middle of the pillow towards the bottom, where a person’s neck would be situated at night.

 

“This is … this isn’t good!†Jebidiah said. “That means he’s very close to becoming one of them. He’s been visited, twice, it looks like to me.â€

 

“We should probably speed up the process and get out of here quickly,†Teddy said.

 

“But if it’s only two, we need to warn him, somehow,†Jebidiah said.

 

“Do we want to take the chance that it isn’t the third?â€

 

“Hmm. That’s a good point.â€

 

“I’d say, if you’re bit twice, you’re probably just gone for. You only got one more strike.â€

 

“That is a harsh and realistic expectation, Teddy. I applaud you.â€

 

“I’d help anybody with one bite, but two? You’re just kind of on the fence.â€

 

“He’s out anyways. Do you think we should check on the ice house and see if it’s unlocked?â€

 

“Absolutely.â€

 

They found the ice house unlocked. It was very cold within. There were slabs of ice covered in sawdust. It felt nice and cool in the place. They started searching.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Billy bicycled up to Old Sanguis and began to search each and every house carefully. It was in the last house, the furthest away from Sanguis, it’s back to the river, that he found something several hours later. A few dirty blankets were on the ground along with a few tins of food and can opener. There was a can of beans, two cans of peaches, and a can of some kind of beef and broth. There was also a large, clay jug.

 

Billy took the cans outside, opening them with the can opener, and poured them on the ground. He then removed the blankets and hid them elsewhere in the abandoned house.

 

He was getting ready to mount his bike to leave when he noticed the houses in Old Sanguis were built on foundations, each of them being a foot or so off the ground. He had found no doors or trapdoors that led under the house, so he guessed there were no basements. He looked around each of the houses for some way to get into the crawlspace underneath, but there were no entrances.

 

He looked at his pocket watch. It was 1 p.m. He headed back down the road towards Sanguis.

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Teddy and Jebidiah had thoroughly searched the ice house, only finding a place they felt, from the scattered sawdust, the ice had recently been removed. Teddy thought they would have found a body but there was nothing else in there unless it was hidden under hundreds of pounds of ice.

 

“I have a question,†Teddy said. “So, if he’s been bitten twice or thrice, who has he invited into his shed?â€

 

“Well …†Jebidiah said.

 

“We should ask him.â€

 

“Vanzant seems like it was too recent to invite in. That new fellow, Christopher. People around here are friendly. If they knew it was a new neighbor, my guess Wilbur might have invited him in.â€

 

A shadow appeared in the doorway. Jebidiah looked towards the door, terrified. It was only Billy.

 

“Why wouldn’t you say anything?†Teddy said to him. “Why would you just walk in like that?â€

 

“It’s Billy!†Billy squeaked.

 

“A little too late for that one, son,†Jebidiah said.

 

Teddy looked at Billy with his compact but saw the boy in the mirror.

 

“Did y’all find anything?â€Billy squeaked.

 

“We found that Wilbur might be … infected,†Jebidiah said.

 

“What did you find, Billy?†Teddy said.

 

“I found out … nothin’,†Billy squeaked. “But … we might be doing some more vandalism.â€

 

“The ‘we’ you use in that sentence─†Jebidiah said.

 

“Me!†Billy squeaked.

 

“Okay,†Jebidiah said. “That’s a better clarification.â€

 

“Maybe one other person,†Billy squeaked.

 

“Where and why and─†Teddy said.

 

“Old Sanguis,†Billy squeaked. “The houses: they’re built up a little bit.â€

 

“Yes.â€

 

“Above the ground.â€

 

“Like houses are.â€

 

“I can’t get under there. There’s no crawlspace or anything.â€

 

“Why are you wanting to get under a house?â€

 

“You can’t just crawl under the foundation?†Jebidiah said.

 

“Iunno,†Billy squeaked. “I’ll check back. There’s still plenty of day. I just want to check on you guys.â€

 

“Well, the only thing we found is that Wilbur Mayo has been bitten at least two times.â€

 

“Nice.â€

 

“Not nice, actually. Very bad.â€

 

“Not nice, Billy,†Teddy said.

 

“Yep,†Billy squeaked.

 

“So, we thought we may try to talk to him about who he’s invited or check him with the mirror,†Jebidiah said. “If he has been bitten two times and not three than we should try to help protect him.â€

 

Billy looked around and found an ice pick and a mallet among other tools in the ice house.

 

“I’m going back to Old Sanguis,†he squeaked.

 

“Are you stealing!?!†Jebidiah asked.

 

“I’ll bring ‘em back,†Billy squeaked.

 

“Should we accompany him?†Teddy asked Jebidiah. “He seems adamant.â€

 

“I …†Jebidiah said.

 

“To destroy houses?â€

 

“To destroy houses. Oh my God. Well …â€

 

“I’m mostly - I’m gonna look for loose floorboards this time,†Billy squeaked. “That’s what the mallet and ice pick are for.â€

 

“Do you really want to accompany Billy with theft and vandalism or should we wait on Wilbur?†Jebidiah said.

 

“Hmm,†Teddy said. “Why are you breaking boards?â€

 

“Looking for stuff,†Billy squeaked.

 

“Looking for what?â€

 

“Iunno.â€

 

“You said you wanted to do this, because the houses─â€

 

“Maybe there’s a coffin under there or maybe they’ve dug out below the foundation.â€

 

“And maybe there’s gold under my feet, Billy.â€

 

“There is.â€

 

Teddy looked down. Billy reached forward and flicked his nose.

 

“Ha!†Billy squeaked. “Made you look!â€

 

“I think we should wait for Wilbur and make sure he’s safe,†Jebidiah said. “But you’re the tiebreaker, Teddy.â€

 

“This seems like fools gold,†Teddy said.

 

“I love the pun!†Jebidiah said.

 

Billy headed back to Old Sanguis without the other boys.

 

 

* * *

 

 


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