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A man was lying face down in the middle of the road, his tweed jacket lit by the approaching headlights, one arm splayed out and the other at a right angle by his head. Mercy slammed her brakes on. "What the-?"

           They had circumvented the town and taken the road around the outside, and now Pagham lay lurking off to their right, the cliffs somewhere out to their left across the darkening swathes of sheep-cropped grass. This road would lead them to a fork, and lead them right and down the gentler slopes to the lower reaches of Pagham, where the town met the pier, and the beachfront restaurants were turning on their twinkling lights. Mercy had made Jack call Carrie's phone repeatedly while they drove, but it was either off or on silent somewhere in the depths of her bag. Jack had just reported that the signal had gone. Then the headlights had lit up the sprawling man, and everything in Mercy was on high alert.

"We could drive over him," Jack suggested. The shadows played over his torn-up face, giving no indication he was joking. 

Mercy scowled. "No." She gripped the door handle, debating the next move. "I can't see any blood," she said uncertainly. "Can you?"

She was right: there was no dark, sticky pool around the man's head, no spots on the road that she could make out from where they were. He was just lying there. Mercy pulled the handle with a clunk, debating going to see if he was alright. Her door opened a crack. The sheep had wandered off to safer pastures, and the sea wind whipped through the door, making her shiver. There was a rocky outcrop of misshapen limestone out there, and the hairs prickled along the back of her neck and all the way up her arms. Stone did not watch you, and the man on the road was face down, but Mercy's gut told her they were being observed. 

Mr Oir leaned forwards between the front seats, filling the space with his dark expanse. "Don't get out. Something's not right."

A prickle of warning shot down her back. Mercy slammed the door shut again and let the handle go. As a precaution, she locked the doors. 

"Something's up," she muttered. "But we can't just sit here all night." 

That was the moment a van came ploughing over the grass from behind the rocks, blindsiding them. Mercy had no time to think or start the car. The bonnet slammed into Mercy's side, forcing the car sideways with a shriek of metal and grating tyres. The van's dead headlights flicked on, blinding them. The whole side of Mercy's car caved in like a crushed tin can, and the car toppled off the road onto its side in the ditch. Mr Oir disappeared with a click, and Jack was left pinned in place, upside down, with Mercy's crushed, wide-eyed corpse.

#

Parsons wished she had brought something useful along with her, like a taser. She stared into the hollow shell of the open globe, now empty, every muscle tensed. A shrill cackle cut the air. 

"Mrs Wend," Dr Monday said pleasantly, as if he had just bumped into her buying milk. Parsons heard him turn. "What long nails you have."

All the better to maul us with, my dear, Parsons thought, looking for something to throw. There was only the jar, still in Dr Monday's hands, which he was now holding behind his back. Inside, a human tongue was sloshing about. The jar wasn't completely full, and the muscle inside wasn't properly suspended. Parsons felt sick. 

"Put it back," said the soft voice of Mrs Wend, and when Dr Monday didn't move, Parsons found herself taking the jar out of his hands. The voice was sweet and young, alive with a fresh innocence that made her wonder what exactly she had been worried about. There wasn't a problem here. There was no danger. She stared at the jar, wondering what had been so horrifying about its contents when she had first seen it. There was nothing there to be sickened by. 

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