They weren’t native to Cross.
Hell, they weren’t native to anywhere or when I had seen.
I found them in a stretch of Hassel Brook that passed from my land and beneath a section of North Road. Like most unexpected creatures and objects that showed up in Cross, I kept my distance as I observed them.
As I smoked my pipe and considered what to do about the situation, the sharp clip of a horse and the soft jangle of harness and tack caught my attention. When I glanced toward the sound, a horse and buggy came into view. The mare was a fine-looking creature, and the man driving the buggy was bloated and worthless from what I could tell.
He had an imperious expression, a paunch that strained his ill-fitting suit, and the air of someone who has not had to earn his bread with his hands.
The man pulled the buggy up short and was about to speak to me when his eye caught the curious fish in the stream. His small eyes widened, and he spoke in a high voice that sounded as though he was forcing each word through his nose.
“Are those fish yours?” he asked.
“No,” I answered.
“I’d like to buy one,” he continued as if I hadn’t answered. “Fetch one for me.”
I raised an eyebrow and remained silent.
He frowned. “Did you hear me, boy?”
“Then do as you’re told,” he snapped.
I took the pipe out of my mouth, spat on the ground and replied, “No.”
He sputtered angrily for a moment longer, but when I refused to budge, he climbed out of the carriage and waddled over to the stream. Kneeling down, he reached in, tried to catch one of the fish, and tumbled in.
He didn’t come up.
As soon as he was in the water, the fish attacked.
The water churned into a bloody froth, but within seconds, there was nothing but a fine mist of blood dissipating in the stream, and man and fish were gone.
The mare snorted, and I nodded my head in agreement.
Climbing into the buggy, I turned it around and headed home.
The horse, no doubt, was hungry and needed a good rubbing down.
Who wouldn’t after hauling the fat bastard around?