A Novelette By Robert Swartwood

Chapter 10

A sense of déjà vu hits me when I open the front door and push Amanda out onto the porch.

“Leave,” I tell her. “Get in your car and just drive. Drive as far away as you can.”

“Josh.” She’s not sobbing anymore, but tears are still in her eyes. I’ve told her everything there was to tell on the way back here, though our pace wasn’t as fast as I would have liked. “Please, don’t make me leave.”

I glance over my shoulder, through the living room to the back patio door. From where I’m standing I have a pretty good view of the backyard. If Ty—or what’s become of Ty—is able to make it back in good time, I’ll at least have some warning that he’s near.

“Josh,” Amanda says again. She grabs my hand, squeezes it. “I’m not going to leave you. We—we need to call the police.”

“And what are they going to do?”

She says nothing, but I can see she’s hurt, scared, confused and doesn’t know what to do. And what bugs me the most is I have the same feelings. I have no fucking clue what to do next, though an idea lingers near the edge of my mind. It’s the worst idea in the world, something I wish I could erase, but it’s the only thing I have left.

“Go,” I say, glancing over my shoulder again. There’s movement outside, near the edge of the yard.

I hear Amanda’s voice, a thousand miles away: “Josh?”

I hear my own voice, sounding even farther: “Leave.”

“But—”

I’m suddenly able to take my eyes away from the child in the backyard. Without even looking I push Amanda as gently as possible out onto the porch. Slam the door and lock it. At once she starts yelling, starts banging on the door. I ignore it all and glance through the living room at the back patio door again.

Ty’s there. He’s walking slowly, his body carrying no emotion.

“Josh!” Amanda calls from outside, banging the door again, but I ignore her.

The time has come. I hate to take my eyes away from my brother, but I have no choice. My dad’s hunting rifles are in the basement.

<<< >>>