13. to swallow you whole without qualm.
Jessica held her breath as she hid beneath Savanna’s bed. The one was coming, she knew. She would not tell Thomas and Sarah. Not after…no, she would not. They would meet him soon enough.
Thomas sat at his table with his wife. They said nothing and didn’t touch. There was nothing and everything between them. There was a knock at the door, then it swung open. Kenneth.
“Hello, Thomas.” Kenneth said, his face different, sharper.
“Kenneth, my friend. What brings you by?”
“I was just in the square. Remember the day that you came to me in my home? The promise you made?”
Thomas’ throat clicked as he swallowed. “I do.”
“What, Kenneth? I did try. No one can say,”
Kenneth threw the table across the room and Sarah gasped, too worn for a scream. “Liar. How could you have tried if I had to watch Savannah burn? Eric died trying to save her! Bishop, as well! And where were you? Here!” Kenneth grabbed Thomas by his shirt. “I am changed, Thomas. I have lost my humanity.” As he spoke, Thomas was horrified by how Kenneth’s overgrown beard spread across his jaw and down his neck, crept up his face and along his arms. The last thing he saw was fangs.
Jessica wanted to cover her ears but she didn’t. She made herself listen to all of it. Thomas being broken against the wall, Sarah screaming as she was split open, Kenneth as he paced around the room, leaving bloody paw prints. She waited for him.
“Girl? Where are you? I can smell you in here.”
Jessica trembled. The bed flipped from over her and Kenneth looked down. “Come here, girl.”
Jessica crawled towards him but he grabbed the back of her dress and set her to her feet.
“My name is Jessica.” She stood straight as Savannah would. Kenneth stared at her, not a hint of what he was thinking on his face. She shivered despite her show of bravery. He was almost all animal on the inside. The man in him had died.
“Well, Jessica. You’re what the fuss is all about. You’re the true seer, then. Not Withers, that hag. She was just using you?”
“Yes. Yes, but I’m not what all the fuss is about. You are,” she said defiantly. “You started all of this.”
A flicker of sadness passed though his eyes.
“Aye, it is that. It was I who killed Gloria. It was an accident, of course. She was out looking for me and she shouldn’t have been. The moon was high and that’s when I have the least control. She surprised me. And I attacked her and my unborn child. I didn’t know what to do so I took her to the doctor. I knew she was dead, but…you always just hope that something that bad can still be fixed. I should have died with her, as is our way, but I didn’t give her my heart completely until it was too late. I’d been afraid, and now…That would have been that, had not the pyre burned blue. I didn’t think that she would – only werewolves burn blue- but I didn’t take the babe into consideration. Part werewolf, she would have been. I’d like to think that it would have been a girl. My own girl.” Kenneth sighed and rubbed at his beard. “Eric was furious with me. He was the only other werewolf in the village and we knew that if it ever got out of control it would end bloodily. I think that he would have left then, if it were not for his lass, Savannah. Innocent of everything, she was. He wanted to take her with him. He never thought that they would come for her, who would? But you knew, didn’t you?”
“I dreamt of her long ago.”
“Did you, now? Did you dream of Eric slipping in to kill Withers? He did. She was stirring up more trouble than she was worth with those visions of yours. That would have been the end of it, had Suzanne kept to her own business. Ah, and the good doctor!” Kenneth laughed. “It was the doctor who dug up Withers’ wolfsbane. I could smell it on him. He made a pretty penny from the sale of that, not that he’ll be using it now. He even started rumors about Bishop being a werewolf to keep up sales. And his jealous and gossiping wife, well, she’s been set straight. She wanted you, did you know that? And what did she get? A mark on her door.”
“I did it. I thought it would scare her and make her leave Savannah alone.”
“Instead, it stirred everyone into action.”
“It’s my fault everyone’s dead.”
“We’re both guilty of bringing death to those that loved us.”
“Are you going to kill me now?”
“No. You and I both, we’re going to leave here. It’s too risky of me to let a true seer walk free and point me out later. And you oughtn’t be on your own.”
“But what about when the full moon comes?”
“We’ll work it out on the way,” he said as he offered his hand to her.
“On the way to where, Kenneth?” Jessica asked as she took his hand and kept her eyes locked with his, not on Thomas and Sarah’s broken bodies, as they walked out into the open dawn.
“Maybe we’ll make our way to the desert. I’ve seen it once. And call me father.”
“What is a desert, father?”