We were angry.
For some time, we sat in the woods, hunkered down in our hide as we watched the men and women of the town. They raced around the seed store, wisely remaining outside.
After almost an hour, they left, and no guards were posted.
They should have if they wanted the creature to survive.
As night moved toward dawn, we slipped forward, and I entered the seed store as my father kept watch.
The creature groaned and moved slowly toward me, bloated with my cousin’s flesh.
From one pocket, I took flint and steel. From another, tinder.
As the creature eased across the floor, I squatted down and struck the first spark.
The tinder caught and flared up. The flames blazed in a single spot for a moment, then spread out across the floor.
While the creature could not see the fire, it certainly sensed it.
With a howl, the thing reared back.
From the wall, I took down a lantern, lit the wick and hurled it against the creature. The glass shattered, spilled the kerosene across the beast and set it alight.
With the creature screeching behind me, I slipped out, and my father and I returned to the woods. As the townsfolk reacted to the blaze, I decided it was time to go into town.
“And if someone knows you again?” my father asked.
I patted the Colts.
He nodded. “We may have to put the town to the torch soon.”
It was my turn to nod. “Aye. It seems that way.”
“Where are you headed?”
“A place to listen.”
My father chuckled, and I left the hide. I walked to the far end of town, cut across a field and entered by way of Main Street. I’d no sooner gone a few blocks down when I nearly stumbled over my own feet.
Von Epp’s Bookstore stood at the intersection of Main and Olive.
I walked to the entrance, opened the door and stepped inside.
I didn’t recognize anyone, but the woman at the register looked up and smiled at me.
I smiled back, then turned my attention to the shelves of books and the paintings hanging from the walls.
I listened to the staff chat with the customers, discuss authors I’d not heard of, and speak of works in Greek and Latin.
As I stood there, taking a work by Homer down, I knew one thing.
I would not let Von Epp’s burn.