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EIGHT

From the patrol car the boy spotted the Kingsbury house in the distance. He strained his eyes to see if the monster was there. He didn’t spot it though and said so.

“Not sure how fast that thing can go. And where the fuck would it go?” Baxter wondered.

When they were back on the spot the two had their first literal run in they still so no sign of the creature.

“Maybe it went inside again,” the boy suggested.

“So maybe we should leave it there,” Baxter said.

“And risk it coming out later, catching someone unawares? It’s your job to protect this town, right?”

Baxter sighed. “Damn you, kid.”

“Besides, there’s something else in there you should have a look at. Some kind of cocoon. There might be one of those things growing inside of it.”

“What? And why didn’t you tell me about that before?”

“I guess we were too busy with the other one.”

“Christ. Okay… So what, you suggest we go in there?”

“Let me call for backup first,” Baxter said and grabbed his radio. “All officers, please come to the old Kingsbury building. Assistance needed.”

“What’s up, sheriff?” a man’s voice crackled from the radio.

“It’s pretty hard to explain. I encountered an unspecified creature here that might be a danger to the town, over.”

“Unspecified creature? Have you been drinking on the job, sheriff?”

“Goddammit, Lou! Don’t question me, just get the hell over here and bring all your guns.”

“All rightie then. Over and out,” Lou said.

The boy chuckled. “Sounds like they respect the hell out of you.”

“Yeah, well… We don’t have that many reasons to be strict over here in the boondocks, you know? They’re my buddies as well as my colleagues.”

“How many deputies have you got, anyway?”

“There’s Lou and there’s Molly.”

“Two? I hope they’ve got as much firepower lying around as you did.”

“They haven’t ever fired a gun at a living target in their lives,” Baxter said.

“Whoo-boy…”

“Yeah,” Baxter said and got out of the car, slinging his duffel bag around his shoulder. “Let’s get over there.”

The boy left the patrol car as well and caught up to Baxter who was making for the house with long strides. Baxter pulled on the door, discovering it was locked.

“I got in through a window,” the boy said.

“This works too,” Baxter said and blasted out the lock with his shotgun. He kicked the door open and they went inside.

The boy ran past Baxter. “I’ll show you where the cocoon is.”

They climbed the stairs to the room where the boy had encountered the cocoon.

“Yuck,” the sheriff said as he almost stepped on the dead cat the boy had encountered earlier.

“Yeah, that’s the creature’s earlier handywork I guess.”

“Such a shame. I like cats.”

They entered the cocoon’s room. But to the boy’s surprise there was no cocoon. Only a floor full of sticky slime.

“What the fuck is that shit?” Baxter wondered.

“I think that’s all that is left of the cocoon,” the boy said.

“Left?”

“I think the cocoon… kind of hatched.”

“Hatched? So now what?”

“I think we might have another one of those creatures on the loose now.”

“Fucking hell. Do you think it is roaming around the house?”

“Let’s have a look,” the boy suggested and left the room. “Are you coming along?”

“I am,” Baxter said and took the safety off his assault rifle.

The two made their way through the building. Each door was opened by the boy, Baxter stepped right in, aiming his rifle left and right, ready to fire whatever creature was found inside the room. After they had searched all the rooms on the top floor they made their way down again, ending up at the door to the library.

As they stood in front of the door the boy said, “Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?” Baxter asked.

The boy put his ear against the door. “Something skittering around. I think the creature is in there.”

Baxter drew his pistol and handed it to the boy. “You ever shot one of these?”

The boy shook his head as he accepted the gun in his hands.

“It’s a Glock. You just pull the tab that’s in front of the trigger into it to take off the safety. After that, just point and shoot and watch the kickback.”

The boy nodded. “Clear. Let’s go inside.”

“All right,” the sheriff said and readied his rifle.

The boy opened the door and went into the room, gun pointing forward. Baxter flanked him with the rifle.

What awaited them there was another caterpillar like creature, but two times smaller than the one the encountered earlier. It looked up at them, it’s eyes swiveling. For a moment the two reluctant monster hunters made eye contact with the creature. The thing seemed to size them up, wondering how big a threat they meant to it. Then it hissed and came into motion. The sheriff and the boy fired.

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Jochem Vandersteen

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