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SIX

“What the fuck can stop that thing?” the sheriff wondered, trapped against the patrol car as the creature came closer.

“No idea, for now I think the best we can do is get out of here for now,” the boy said and crawled behind the wheel.

“I guess you’re right, kid,” the sheriff agreed and opened the door of his car, sliding in quickly while firing once more at the creature for good measure.

The boy stepped on the gas as The Otherworldly thing clawed at the car, catching air as the car sped off. The sheriff was pushed back against his seat.

“Whoa! Be careful! I don’t want you to run us off the road with that kind of speed!”

“Don’t worry, sheriff. I’ve driven faster cars than this one on way more dangerous roads,” the boy said, thinking back about the time he thought maybe ice road racing would scare him.

“You’ve got some explaining to do, kiddo!” the sheriff said as he glanced in the rearview mirror, watching the monster disappear in the distance. “Just what the hell was that thing back there?”

“I guess there are several options. It can be that creature was the inspiration for one of horror writer Kingsbury’s stories or that thing somehow sprung to life from Kingsbury’s imagination.”

“The fucking hell what?”

“Yeah, I know it sounds crazy.”

“Crazy? Insane! I must me dreaming or something. Shit, maybe my wife is right and I am working too much.”

“You’re not dreaming, sheriff. Or we both are.”

“So why were you in that house? It’s been empty for years!”

“I sorta snuck in, hoping a night there might scare me,” the boy explained.

“Snuck in? That’s illegal, kid. I should arrest you for that.”

“I think you’ve got other things to worry about right now. Like a monster from another dimension in your town.”

The sheriff ran a hand through his hair, letting out a big breath. “I just don’t believe this…”

“You’d better,” the boy said.

“And what is that stuff about hoping you would get scared in there? And why the hell do you seem so calm about this shit? I almost wet my bloody pants and I did a tour in Afghanistan.”

“I don’t get scared. But I want to learn how to.”

The sheriff shook his head. “You’re a weird kid, aren’t you?”

The boy shrugged. “Guess so.”

The sheriff laughed and extended a hand. “Sheriff Joe Baxter, not sure it’s nice to meet you.”

“Hey, I got you away from that monster, didn’t I?”

“You are one piece of work. So what do we do now?”

“You’re the law and order of this town. I’m just a seventeen year old kid. I suggest you tell us what to do.”

“That’s funny, real funny… Well, guess I should just get some more firepower, get back over there and send that thing back to whatever hell it came from.”

“Firepower didn’t really seem to do much against that thing,” the boy pointed out.

“If you have any fucking better idea I would be happy to know about it,” Baxter growled.

“Sorry. Don’t know, it’s my first demonic caterpillar too,” the boy said.

“Maybe I should just call for backup. Or the damned National Guard or something,” Baxter suggested.

“I’m not sure the National Guard is going to believe you. By the time you’ve convinced them that creature might have done God knows what.”

“Wiseass. But I guess you’re right. So yeah, I call my deputies to help out.”

“What are they armed with?”

“Shotguns and pistols. Just like me,” Baxter said.

The boy gave the sheriff a look.

“Fuck you. Yeah, that’s not going to work either. I’ve got some stuff from my days as a Marine at home that might do the trick though. Let me take the wheel and I’ll drive us there. We’re far away enough from that thing by now.”

The boy hit the brakes, almost launching Baxter through the front window. The sheriff was barely able to keep himself in his seat, thanks to his seatbelt.

“Crazy kid,” Baxter muttered and switched places with the boy. He hit the gas and they were on their way.

“Whatever you’ve got at home I hope it’s enough to stop that thing,” the boy said.

“If it ain’t I don’t know what is. And we’re royally screwed,” Baxter said, tightening his hold on the steering wheel.

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Jochem Vandersteen

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