Clod and Hess had actually walked across the blazing hot desert, punished by stinging, biting sands. They had actually arrived at the dead town and found the tavern with slashed, bloodied sheets. They had entered and Clod had actually wrenched on the breast bone of a blonde vampire woman. He had actually ripped an arm off one of them and tore the heads off a few others. He really would have ripped the dick off the man at the bar, who was named Rein. Later on, Clod and Hess had actually taken Rein back out into the desert, Rein protesting all the way.
“I’ll burn in the morning! The desert goes on for miles and miles! We won’t walk it in a night!” Rein had cried at Hess because he could see that Clod really wasn’t there. Clod had shown himself to be vicious, but the viciousness was like that of a falling tree or an avalanche, deadly but mindless. Rein had been wrong about burning in the morning. Rein hadn’t known of Fiend’s magic. At some point, the shifting sands of the desert had through to rocky hardpan and then that had gave way to pasture lands with swaying dandy lions as tall as the three men. Finally, as the deep, bruised purples of night flooded with faint orange tinges of morning, they had arrived at a rainy town paved with cobblestones and chipped bricks. They stole into a crumbling tenement that stank of an open sewer as Rein began to scream and smoke. Finding a room proved simple. Rein was hungry and an old man on the ground floor gave up his bed and blood quietly enough. Hess curled his upper lip up in disgust as Rein drove his fangs into the man’s neck and squeezed on the man’s sides, crunching bones and forcing blood up to his mouth.
Hess threw a blanket over the window of the old man’s small room with a small bed and a dirt floor. Hess took the bed and fell asleep instantly. Rein stared at the big man, considering quietly if he could kill the man and escape. For Rein, it was easy to forget that Clod was there. His preternatural senses, jacked up by the old man’s blood, could hardly hear Clod breathing in the corner. He had almost forgot, but he was remembered almost instantly as Clod’s head turned to glower down at him. Rein decided to stretch out on the dirt floor and rest a while.
Clod hadn’t known that he had glowered at Rein and he hadn’t known that he had walked a desert on the behalf of Fiend. At one point, he would have been pleased to know that he had fought and slain vampires, but he didn’t know that either. Clod wasn’t smelling the open sewer of the tenements. He was smelling the slightly fishy smell of the trickling river. He hadn’t been disgusted by the sound of Rein shattering the old man’s bones and slurping at the old man’s blood. He heard Thaddeus fiddling with his old guitar on the homestead while Megan hummed into the night, her hand on her belly and the baby inside. She was leaning at Clod’s side, watching the fireflies flutter about. Macy was there, too. She had taken up carving, although nothing she made looked the way it should have. She was working on a cat. She claimed it was a cat, but it looked more like a gnarled piece of wood.
“You ought to take up knitting. I’d be happy to teach you.” Megan said, looking over to Macy’s carving.
“No, thank you.” Macy said simply and then dug a thick sliver off the piece. Clod smiled faintly, looking over to the girl and the sculpture.
“Take care you don’t cut yourself with that.” Clod said.
“I won’t.” Macy said, studying the unfortunate stroke.
“Where’d you even get a knife like that?” Clod asked.
“Toby.” Macy said, scraping a thin strip from another side of the gnarled, wooden cat.
“What?” Clod said. The name had been familiar, but it didn’t belong there in Big Tooth, by the river and with the horses.
“Toby cut me with it when I tried to save the children. I don’t know where they are, just like you don’t know where I am.” Macy said and suddenly, Clod could actually smell the open sewer of the tenements and the blood that was still tacky on Rein’s hands and mouth.
“What? What are you talking about?” Clod asked, shaking his head. For a moment, the fireflies made it look like the neighboring ranch was on fire. He shook the image out of his head.
“I’m gone and you’re not looking for me. It was me and Toby. I was trying to get to you and Toby was pulling me away. I fell into the light.” Clod felt a faint headache and he winced at the sensation. The neighboring farm really did look like it was on fire and no matter how much he shook his head, he couldn’t will the flames away. He had a fleeting thought that it was odd to think he could will away fire. He should be getting up, rushing down to the river with a bucket. Thaddeus hadn’t reacted to the flames, nor did Macy or Megan. Was he imagining it? Then he was staring at two men slumbering in a filthy, little room that stank of sewage. There was a third crumpled up in the corner, but he wasn’t sleeping. Most of the third man’s face was covered in dark, red blood and it seemed like someone had attempted to decapitate him by why of the mouth and gave up half way. He had recognized Hess and remembered that Hess would give him miserable looks and pleaded with him to stop fighting.
“Can’t. Can’t.” He remembered a tarry, black retch snatching up Gutter’s body and bounding away, taking him in consolation.
“I…can’t.” He remembered seeing Megan and Thaddeus stung up by the necks and the homestead burning.
“I can’t stop.” He remembered Macy shrugging with Toby and then disappearing into a blaze of light. Tears bled down his cheeks and his jaw tensed. He mourned hotly, willing his arms to move, willing for something to move. Nothing did. The small, filthy room burned away into darkness and then sunlight bled across his eyelids. Megan’s hand was rubbing his bare chest. He opened his eyes and looked to her, taking shaky, relieved breaths.
“I was having a nightmare. A bad one.” Clod confessed to Megan and he was sure that it was only a nightmare. No one was dead. No one was lost. Megan pressed her body against his body and they rest there for a while, knowing that everything was alright.