Jason Burrows spoke with the missing.
He had done so since the age of six when his father’s mule had kicked him in the head and knocked him senseless. Jason never recovered from the accident. He was always a touch slow, never quite certain what was going on in the world around him. By the time he was ten, his parents had pulled him out of school. There was no reason for him to remain. He simply couldn’t understand anything.
That, and he was a disruption to the class. He would sit and whisper in the back of the room, nodding and carrying on conversations with himself. When his teacher scolded him, Jason always responded the same.
He was talking to those who had gone missing in Cross.
Jason never married. Not because he lacked and interest in relationships, it was that no one wanted a relationship with a man who talked to himself and hadn’t progressed beyond the third grade.
He inherited his family’s farm, and he worked it well-enough to sustain himself and to keep from having to mortgage the property.
I made it a point to check on him regularly, and in the winter, I would sit with him as he sorted his seeds for the spring planting.
When I stopped by this afternoon to have a cup of coffee, he was sitting in the kitchen, his face pale and his eyes wide. I asked what the matter was, and he told me.
Some of the missing were returning.
His voice trembled when he spoke, and he said he didn’t want them too. It was going to hurt.
“Is it going to hurt you?” I asked him.
“Then don’t do it,” I told him. “You don’t have to do it.”
“I do,” he whispered. Tears filled his eyes as he said, “They miss their mommas.”
Before I could speak again, Jason stood up and went rigid. His eyes rolled up, and his body shook.
A heartbeat later, the house was rocked by an explosion and I was hurled from my chair. Blood and bits of Jason Burrows dripped from every surface of the room. In the center of the kitchen stood a trio of children, not a one of them over the age of five.
They were covered in Jason’s blood and wailing, in German, for their mothers.