Chapter 44. Peaches Grow on Their Own

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Each time passing out came with the certainty that I was about to die, each time awakening came with the certainty that I'd come to wish I was dead. The winds and rain stopped so swiftly I began to think time had stopped, either that, or I was already gone. I looked down at my hand, carefully moving my thumb. If one thing was for certain - and that may very well have been the only thing for certain, it was that my being had not yet left.

I could no longer feel my left leg, not a good sign. I refused to look at it after doing so once, wounding up seeing blood splatter, painting everything in sight. What made me pass out that first time, was the terror of seeing my shin bone sticking out from the ragged hole where the bullet hit.

I had a vague recollection of the relief I felt as a piece of cloth was tied tightly around the wound, but not the slightest idea how Scottie – taller than I remembered, but still as bony, brought me to Lake Grenada. It was hard to say how much time had gone by since I pulled over at the gas station.

Through squinted eyes I saw Scottie throw flat rocks at the lake, each one of them sinking. Not once did he stand still, I remembered him as perpetually calm, almost disturbingly so, now he had the mannerisms of something feral. His blonde hair was shoulder-length and frizzy, his limbs had outgrown the striped turtleneck, orange vest and slacks he wore on the night he disappeared, and the time that had passed since had sucked in his formerly red, chubby cheeks.

I lifted myself up, pushing my arms into the icy, moss ground. He hadn't tied me up, there was no point in doing so. What was I supposed to do? Crawl into safety?

The skies above were dark blue, casting the same shade onto the crater-like lake. It was past sunset. Isaac's play was finished. If he read the letter right away, the police were already on their way. It was a shot in the literal dark, but nonetheless my only hope of bringing this to an end.

"It's the weirdest thing, Scottie," I said, my voice cracked immediately, but I refused to sound frail, "I thought you were dead."

The gun stuck out of his pocket, but I figured if he wanted me dead, he wouldn't have shot my leg.

Scottie turned around to look at me, his head looked ridiculously small atop of the body that had passed through an insane growth spurt in just two months.

"Well, duh," Scottie answered, his prepubescent voice was one of the only things to have remained the same, but having little Scottie Derrick sass me was uncomfortably brand new, "that was my plan."

"Was killing your dad part of your plan?"

I wasn't sure how to speak to him. I landed in a place between approachable and interested, not too far from how I used to act when he came over to visit Isaac, and told me all about some new video game or spec-fiction epic. If I was reading him correctly, he was glad I asked.

"It's dad's fault," he claimed, "if he didn't want me to see how cool Peachbode was, he shouldn't have taken me here for camping. That's how I found Shadrach."

Did he realize what he had done? I dared not ask. Talking exhausted me. With each time opening my mouth, it felt as if it cut hours of my life.

"I learned everything I could about Shadrach and the place he came from, it's so awesome! I knew I'd never be happy unless I left home and came here, but my parents wouldn't let me. So I made Shadrach come stand outside our house every night for days. It scared the crap outta them! Charlie, too!"

"How do you... how do you make Shadrach do that?"

Scottie put his hand on his chin, withholding laughter. 

"I can't tell you that! It's a secret," he snickered, taunting me, "he does everything I tell him to do. Like, watch you and your friends. It's weird you only noticed once, we've been looking at you for weeks."

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