Four – 06

[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]

Matt looked away, staring off into the trees for a few seconds. He took one breath, then another, exhaling slowly.

“Are you going to tell me?” Hecate asked softly. “The whole story? The truth?”

“The truth,” Matt echoed, his voice as quiet as hers. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll tell you as much as I know about it, anyway. The first time she ever mentioned seeing something out there was right after it happened and I brushed it off—it was months before the end, I think. Can’t remember exactly when. She’d been out hiking with Thom and Drew and it was at night so I figured they’d just imagined it all, you know? Those ravines made it easy, especially back then—now we’re always sure there could be things down there. Back then? Back then, the most we ever thought we had to worry about was heart attack deer and the occasional snapping turtle or angry squirrel, maybe a woodchuck. That was what we had to contend with. Then spooky stuff started to come out of the woodwork, starting with the camazotzi.”

“Months before everything started,” Hecate said. “How did it happen?”

“It chased them, I guess,” Matt said, then sighed. “It’s been a long time since she told me the story.”

“Did Thom ever tell it, too?”

“Only once,” Matt said. “That was a long time ago, too. It wasn’t something we talked much about. I guess it was just—it was just traumatic. Then thinking about why they had been here before even Cariocecus showed up and pointed them at us—”

“Then he wasn’t the first one,” Hecate interrupted. “Something else pulled their strings first.”

“And a lot of things have pulled their strings after,” Matt said evenly. “It’s nothing.”

“What if it’s not?” She shook her head slightly. “What does your gut say, Matt?”

He closed his eyes, swallowing hard. “That there’s been a target painted on our backs for longer than we ever realized. That we were lucky that it’s been so quiet for so long, treaty or no treaty.”

“Then we’re of a mind on that,” she said, then stroked his cheek. “We’ll get through it. We’ve gotten through everything else somehow. We’ll get through this, too.”

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