Last chapter! 😀 I guess that means I need to start typing up what I’ve written of my second book.
Silence poured back into the spaces around us. I looked up at the altar at the front of church, standing alone and self-important.
“How many of them are left? Besides you,” I said.
“One,” Sam said.
“One…” I repeated. Such a finality in the word. The fact that there was one left was somehow more unbelievable than his story.
“I have to see this through to the end,” he said. “I have to kill him.”
“Is he here? In Chicago?”
“No, because he would have struck at me by now. I think he left. And I think he’s coming back now that the others are out of the way.”
“And you’ll wait for him?”
We sat in silence for a moment, and I wanted desperately to reach behind me and touch him. But I couldn’t do that now. Everything had changed. He was what I hunted, what I hated.
“Do you want to forget me?” he asked, a whisper in the quiet.
I stood and turned to him. My eyes answered him. His own eyes were wide and frightened, as if I might punch him, as I had so long ago. And my fists were clenched, and I did want to punch him for asking. But we were in a church.
“I’m going to find him,” I said, and walked away down the pew.
“You can’t!” Sam stood too, hands on the back of the pew before him as if supporting himself. “He’s strong. Physically strong. Too strong. A slap from him would pulverize your skull.”
I stopped in the aisle and looked at him again. “Anything else I should know about him?”
He shook his head, either in answer or disbelief. “You can’t kill him. Only I can kill him.”
I looked up to the ceiling again, to that crossing of beams. “If you’re proposing I do nothing, I can’t go along with that. I have to try. I have to go on with what I decided long ago. I have nothing else now.”
I walked down the aisle, exited the double doors. The fog outside had thickened to the point were I couldn’t see the tops of the steeples above me.
First things first. I found my way back to the hotel, having to ask for directions more than once. On entering the room I saw that Sam’s stuff was missing. So no chance to see if I was the sort to throw his belongings out the window.
I felt filthy and raw, but didn’t have the energy to bathe. I wrestled my boots off, let my coat collapse to the floor, and fell onto the bed, not even draping the blankets over me. I had a moment of thought, which I used to wonder if the barrier for the room would still be working, and then I drifted into sleep.
I woke cold, having sweated under all my clothes, and groggy as if I had had nightmares. The little clock on the bedside read 5 PM. I warmed up under a shower and stumbled into the fading evening light. The fog was still there, or back if it had dissipated during the day. I was in a little bubble of visual clarity, and outside the bubble was the murky unknown of buildings and streets somehow alien to me now. I ate in the diner Sam and I had once eaten breakfast in and bought bullets at the shop Sam and I had visited, since the boneman had taken a good chunk of my ammo along with my rifle. The whole time I marveled that my routine was going surprisingly normally. Then I went to Sheffield Street. I went to 11031.
As I entered the building and climbed the stairs, I could see the bulletholes punched into the walls. All was quiet, and all the doors leading off the hallway were closed, as if the occupants were saying they wanted none of whatever mess had started last night. The door to 11031, however, hung open. Window shards were scattered across the carpet like pieces of a discarded jigsaw puzzle. I stood at the frame and peered down at the street. The girls below were nestled in a veil of fog amid frosted neon signs. They were alien to me now, regardless of how much I had spoken with them before.
Everything had changed, but nothing at all had changed.