“Hey numbnuts.”

Tommy whispered into Nathan’s ear just as he took a sip of the bourbon Herb had slid his way. Immediately he started coughing until his face was red. He used the coughing fit to surreptitiously glance over at her, the colour draining away at the sight of her.

“Are you all right there, dickless? I’d slap you on the back but I seem to have found myself rather discorporate. Oh, look sharp. Hottie Herb is checking you out.”

Indeed, Herb was looking into each of their faces, as though assessing how much he should tell them, fearing they were fragile and might break under the strain of what had already happened. Nathan sat up a little straighter, meeting Herb’s gaze. He wasn’t intimidated by him. He was a cold-blooded…

“Okay, hold that thought, numbnuts. You’re not a cold blooded anything and we both know it. You were seconds away from going back to hiding and checking out my ass from the safety of the bushes like the dirty perv you are. If I hadn’t stood up so quick and accidentally impaled myself, I don’t know that you would have gone through with it, you. fucking. coward.”

Nathan closed his eyes. He could vaguely hear Herb talking about how they should leave well enough alone. God, this guy was a broken record. Talking about the monster as though he was just a man when he was obviously so much more than that. Now he was prattling on about how monsters are made, as if he was some sort of expert. He didn’t even have wifi! What information did he have access to in this backwoods nowhere?

“And what makes you such an authority on how monsters are made?” He hadn’t meant to say it out loud. Herb responded something about origin stories but Nathan didn’t hear. He was being berated by a dead girl.

“Maybe because he doesn’t have someone’s blood all over his hands?” Tommy leaned in, her tone mocking. Nathan looked down at his hands. He didn’t see any blood but he self-consciously wiped them on his jeans anyhow. “Hard to see out of it when you’re in it, numbnuts. Whereas Herb has something called objectivity. And sense. Unlike you. You know, it doesn’t even matter that you accidentally murdered me, because you’re marked now. There’s no going back, no salvation, no redemption, no absolution. Oh, by the way, your mother’s here with us. Would you like to leave a message? I’ll see that she gets it.” Nathan swallowed, trying to force the lump in his throat down so that he could remember how it felt to breathe normally. Tommy luscious pale lips quirked into a smirk which made her look almost vibrant again. Nathan looked down at the hands which had carried her still, cool corpse from the woods to the shed and he wiped them on his jeans again.


Herb watched them all as he told the story. It seemed as though it was swaying Kirk and Casey. Perhaps this is how he should have handled it from the beginning, but the shame of his involvement kept him from wanting to share too much. But he was so tired of watching and worrying, of waiting and hoping that he could wake up. Of feeling as though his was a neverending path of purgatory and penance. Rather than relying on the people around him to make good decisions, maybe it was time to take matters into his own hands.


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