Dangerous Creatures - Catherine Mesick
By Catherine Mesick
2015 by Catherine Mesick
For Mom and Howie.
THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST.
The words were written on a sheet of paper that had been wrapped around a rock.
I looked up and down the street in the gathering gloom. Not only was the street completely deserted, but the neighborhood itself was quiet and still as if no one had stirred in a long time.
I'd been sitting in the living room, staring out the window, watching the sun sinking behind the houses across the street and waiting for William. I'd felt a strange softness in the air, and a sense of peace settled over me that I hadn't felt in a long time. I felt as if I had no need to be afraid.
Though the stars had not yet come out, I'd seemed to see them before my eyes—both above me and below me. I'd felt myself sinking pleasantly into darkness.
Then there had been a sudden, sharp crack at the window, and I'd hurried out to see what it was.
As I looked around now, a sensation stole over me that I had felt once before. I felt as if the silence around me was watchful—as if the very air were holding its breath, waiting to see what I would do.
I looked at the note again. Of course, it was likely just a prank. Tonight was a night that was known for pranks, so there was really no reason for me to read any great significance into the words. I probably hadn't even been targeted particularly. I imagined that someone had simply thrown the rock at the closest house and then run off.
There was no need for me to be worried. Things had been quiet.
But whoever had thrown the rock had disappeared quickly.
I was just turning to go back into the house, when a familiar car turned onto my street. I quickly folded up the note and pushed it into the pocket of my jeans.
The car slotted into place behind my grandmother's red sports car, and William got out. He was tall and lean and dark-haired, and any outside observer would have guessed him to be about eighteen or nineteen years old—but that guess would have been off by quite a bit.
As William walked up to me, he gave me the crooked half-smile that I loved so much.
"Were you waiting out here for me?"
I smiled and tried to push my uneasiness away. "Of course I was."
I glanced down the street. "You didn't happen to see anyone walking—or maybe running—through the neighborhood on your way over here, did you?"
William glanced at me sharply. "No. Is something wrong?"
"No," I said. "I just—no. Someone threw a rock at our window, and it startled me. That's all."
I didn't see any point in mentioning the note—I was sure it was nothing. I told myself that it had to be nothing.
William glanced toward the house. "Are you ready to go? Or should we stop in and say hello to your grandmother?"
"We'd better tell her we're going," I said. "Otherwise, she'll think you've kidnapped me."
"That's a joke, right?"
"Sort of," I said.
William looked at me closely. "Are you sure nothing's wrong? You look rattled."
"No—nothing's wrong. It's just that—I left the front door open. I really should have closed it."
I turned quickly and went into the house with William following me.
GM met us in the hall—a tall, slim figure with folded arms. Her long silver hair was tied back in a braid, and the silver cross she always wore stood out starkly against her black sweater.
"So, you're here now, are you?" she said shortly. GM somehow always seemed to grow more formidable whenever William was around.
"Yes, Mrs. Rost." William, who could look quite formidable himself at times, often seemed to grow less so when confronted by GM.
She sighed. "Well, I hope the two of you will have a good time at the carnival."
"Thank you, Mrs. Rost," William said.
"And don't be out too late. I'll be waiting for Katie's return."
"Yes, Mrs. Rost."
"Well, you may go now. And don't do anything I wouldn't do."
"Yes, Mrs. Rost. Of course not."
"GM, please," I said. "This is starting to feel like an interrogation."
She waved a hand. "I already said you may go."
"We'll see you later," I said, giving GM a kiss on the cheek. "And you don't need to worry. Nothing awful is going to happen. Really."
GM gave me a skeptical look and then walked with us to the door. As we went out, she closed it firmly behind us.
"Sorry about that," I