BLACKMANE Chapter 67

Judith felt like crying, but she held back her tears. She’d gotten good at it. It came from long practice. Wait, always wait, until the proper time for sadness, or for fear. Stay strong while it is necessary; fall apart on your own time. Just now Maribelle needed her. Needed her to be strong for the both of them.

They sat in the den of Judith’s townhouse, in front of the big bay window looking out over the downtown skyline, Judith in her favorite old brushed leather chair, Maribelle and her boyfriend, Blaine, together on the sofa. Ruben lay on the floor between them, making the antique Persian rug his own personal sleeping mat. It was nice and quiet inside. Judith’s sanctuary, she called it. Welcoming as always. But outside, the world had gone quite mad. Atlanta had, anyway.

Some of the so-called city leaders were calling for a mandatory curfew. The mayor had taken it “into consideration.” Others proposed calling in the National Guard. Meanwhile the streets were full, more full than usual. Throngs of citizens on the march, armed with concealed handguns or camera-phones, all wanting to see it for themselves. It. The monster. The maneater.

Others sat behind locked doors, like Judith. Watching the folly of their fellow men on television, waiting to see what happened next. Waiting for somebody to see the creature. Waiting for somebody to die. Reporters and policemen, those afraid and those oblivious to it all, the excited and the angry and the thousands, tens of thousands, millions watching it all happen from the safety of their living rooms or bedrooms or their windows looking down, as Judith’s did, on the hysteria, the circus, that was the city tonight.

Judith shifted her gaze. She watched the long pendulum of the grandfather clock swaying back and forth. She looked at her aquarium, at the tropical fish swirling about in the lighted interior, like little flashes of color. She listened to the gentle hum of the central air and tried not to think about the world outside. Tried not to think about Adam.

“You think he’s okay?” Maribelle asked. Not for the first time. She too stared out the window.

Judith swallowed, drew up her strength from her gut. “We mustn’t underestimate his intelligence yet again,” she said. A good response. She tried to make herself sound confident. Maybe if she sounded confident enough she might convince herself as well. “He can take care of himself.”

“Yeah,” Maribelle said. She sounded as unsure as Judith felt.

Judith sipped at her hot tea. She glanced at the television across the room in the entertainment center, surrounded by the miniature rain forest of her potted plants. She’d muted the sound. A sitcom playing on this channel, which surprised her, but then she saw the little words scrolling across the bottom of the screen in white block lettering. The latest updates on the search for the escaped monster. Her tea, spiced chai, seemed bland, her mind too busy to focus on tasting it. Judith took a drink, scarce feeling it as it scalded her tongue.

“This sitting around isn’t doing anybody any good,” Maribelle said. “We need to figure out where he might go, or what he’s going to do now. Any ideas?” she asked. “Judi?”

“I’ve been asking myself those very questions, dear,” Judith said, again turning to the window.

“And?” Maribelle prompted.

“I suppose,” Judith said, “he’s going to revert to form. He’ll seek shelter, first and foremost. Then there’s the matter of food, but he should have no great difficulty there. And fresh water. He’ll need to locate a source for those three things. I expect he already has done so.”

“What then?” Maribelle asked.

Judith sighed. Ruben lifted his head at the sound, his large brown eyes looking up at her. He thumped his tale on the ornate rug.

“All we have to go on is previous experience,” Judith said. “And previous experience tells us that Adam will seek out some sort of Human contact.”

By The Evil Cheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763 MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!

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