That's why Quill won't leave. He and Pete are the only two souls in the commune willing to kill these creatures a second time, without them we would be overrun.
I try to remember a time when anyone has spoken to Quill, or to Pete, besides Elderess Jane or Benjamin. I cannot. Do they not see the men keeping them safe? Or do they not acknowledge them because to do so would be to admit that violence is sometimes a necessity?
My earlier conversation with Quill haunts me, far more than the monsters that lurk in the night. He'd lost someone. Was that why he stayed? To protect the people here? Or did he simply have nothing left on the other side of the mountain?
I have to know, but he won't volunteer the information. Though we don't know each other well, anyone who's spent five minutes in the man's company can see that he's not an open book. He's a book with half the pages cut from it and written in cipher.
There's no chance of breaking from the group as we walk. I fear it will be even more difficult to go unaccounted for in the coming days. Still, there is a moment, as we cross the threshold of the dwelling house, that I see past the staircase, to an unattended doorway at the side of the house. I take my chance, not to sneak, for that will call attention, but to walk confidently and calmly past the stairs, down the hall, and out the door into the night.
* * * *
isn't in the hired men's house. I shouldn't have expected him to be. Of course he's out there, stalking through the dark, with his gun, armed against terrors.
I sit upon his bed and wait. Even alone, I feel safer here, where Quill lays his head night after night, than in the dwelling house with the others who still refuse to believe how dire our predicament truly is.
Time passes, I don't know how much. I lean against the bedpost and close my eyes. I must nod off, because his voice startles and disorients me, and I didn't hear him on the stairs.
"What are you doing here?" He's tired, probably of asking the same question of me over and over again.
"Just once, you could be pleased to see me." My sudden peevishness takes him aback.
He hesitates before he responds. "I..."
"It doesn't matter," I snap. Seeing him, and hearing those harsh words from him, yet again, makes me wonder why I bothered to come. How had I thought seeing him would make me feel better, after the way we parted before?
I get to my feet, and he steps in front of me, pleading, "No, don't go."
The remorse and regret in his tone reminds me of my purpose here. "You don't want me to go, but you're never happy when I'm near."
"I'm always happy when you're near," he says, looking down as though he's ashamed. "But I'm unhappy when I'm reminded that you're here."
"I don't like to be reminded that I'm here, either." I meant it to be a joke, but the reality of it chokes me. Though my voice is dry, and it trembles, I tell him, "Especially, when I remember I that I'm alone."
"You're not," he says fiercely, then runs a hand through his dark hair. "Or we all are. I haven't decided, yet."
There isn't much comfort to be had from that statement.
"You were so angry with me, earlier." My voice is small, and as fragile as my heart.
"I wasn't angry." He sounds angry, now.
"Who died from the typhoid?" I ask him.
Silence passes between us like an ill wind. We stand on one side of a veil, and my heart pounds as I will that veil to lift, knowing we will never return to our former plane.
YOU ARE READING
After her father’s death and her mother’s hasty remarriage, Evelyn Whitney is handed over to the Shaker commune of Bannock, New York, into a life she has little chance of escaping. When the dead become monsters and community loyalties fracture, Evel...