Not since college had Randy gone through such a physically demanding week. Not that he had been particularly athletic back then, but there had been days when he'd do his best to keep up with his sports-loving friends or attempt some activity in the hopes of attracting some girl's attention. None of it could compare to digging up a grave followed later by a full day of crime scene analysis, including the field autopsy of an acquaintance. Simply cataloguing and packing up Gabrielle's remains had taken the lion's share of the afternoon. Shipping all the samples to various labs as well as writing the full report had taken him well into the night.
There was of course so much more to do, but working while this exhausted was paving the way for errors. The medical field did not look kindly on mistakes. He wished he could do like in the movies and burn the midnight oil until he stumbled across the missing piece of the puzzle that would wrap up the case and deliver the culprit on a silver plater. Things didn't work that way, though Randy already knew who the killer was.
At this time of night, the station was deathly quiet. The dispatcher on staff, Chris Elliot, would be reading a science fiction novel while waiting for the infrequent calls. There was normally another officer who shared the graveyard shift, but Randy would be hard pressed to remember his name.
Otherwise, the only other living soul in the building would be located two rooms away, securely behind bars, awaiting yet another day of questioning, hopefully by a lawyer so that this whole legal mess could get underway. Randy couldn't help but marvel at Crowley's talent for postponing and delaying such things as judges, lawyers and reporters. Dr. Mackenzie couldn't fault the inspector for wanting to postpone the inevitable and uncomfortable questions that would come from that.
Shutting off the lights in the tiny office he'd borrowed to get his paperwork done, Randy took a look at his watch. It was half passed midnight. A quick calculation later and the medical examiner realized he hadn't slept in almost twenty hours. Considering the dreams that plagued of late, it was a wonder he could stay awake.
Yet, despite the exhaustion that threaded his every step, he took a small detour to check up on Sam Finnegan. Fully expecting to find the frail old man asleep in a bundle under a thick wool blanket, he was startled to turn the corner and find himself face-to-face with the killer.
"Hey Randy." whispered Sam, as if afraid of waking someone.
"Sam!" the doctor took a step back. "You startled me."
It was always a little strange to see him there. Like he didn't belong. It was almost a conscious effort to remind oneself of what the man had done. Still, he was but a man. A person, and it wasn't in Randy's nature to forget that Sam's actions, no matter how despicable, where the results of a damaged mind and 'circumstances'. There was no need to be rude.
"How are you tonight?" the doctor inquired finally.
"Afraid? Look, I don't want you to think what you did wasn't horrible or that I'm giving you legal advice, but I think whatever the lawyer says tomorrow, he'll probably file an insanity plea. No one will hurt you Sam, and you won't hurt anybody else."
"That's not what scares me. Aren't you afraid Randy?"
Randy was afraid. He knew enough of the nature of what had killed Gabrielle LaForest. He knew what it could do and if Sam had any idea then he had every reason to be scared. It would gather its strength, prepare, build up its forces and finally, ultimately, hunt down Finnegan and kill him. If Sam was lucky. No, of course the legal system wouldn't worry Sam Finnegan.
"I'm terrified Sam." the doctor finally admitted to the madman.
Randy took a look at the cell that had been Finnegan's home for over a week. Unexpectedly, it was extremely tidy. Not that Crowley allowed Sam many things to mess it up with. Still, he'd been given a felt pen, some paper and some books. The books were arranged in the shape of a strange inuksuk very reminiscent of the stone cairns built by Inuit tribes in the north. The staff at the station thought Sam couldn't read and was occupying himself using the books as building blocks. After a few days however, they realized he was indeed reading the books and even quoting from them.
"Sam..." Randy dropped his voice even lower. "You're a one of them aren't you? A Watcher. You know what's coming. You've got to know a few tricks to protect yourself, don't you?"
It was an educated guess. Randy's father had been a Watcher though he didn't talk about it much. The Mackenzie boys thought it was a gentleman's club. A social group that met to discuss business and politics. Eventually, Randy learned it was much more than that.
Sam shook his head, smiling with just a hint of condescension, as one would upon hearing a child say something particularly innocent.
"Nonono. Oh no. No. You don't understand. Oh, I'm a Watcher all right. I watch. That's what I do. Sam the mad watcher s'what I am, anything else s'just a sham."
Randy's eyes darted to the cairn of books, wondering if he might find some Doctor Seuss in the sculpture.
"Surely there's more to it than that."
"What about you Randy? You're a doctor. You heal the living. Do you do anything else?" Sam put his forehead against the bars, staring intensely at doctor Mackenzie.
"I... I save what I can."
"But you're no warrior, no scholar or baker or builder or dancer... Well I'm a Watcher. I watch. Well I used to watch. Now I wait and shiver on warm nights. I'm either a waiter or a shiverer."
Randy knew more than most but less than he'd like. Somehow, he'd always hoped that Watchers knew what they were about, how to handle things. Wasn't that where Cicero's curse was from in the first place?
Figuring out that crazy old Sam Finnegan was a Watcher had been a blow to Mackenzie's sense of security. Not just because apparently they weren't the erudite scholars he'd always expected them to be, like his father had seemed, but because it appeared that they condoned extreme measures to get the job done.
"Y'know it used to talk to me all the time Randy. I'd sit there, day after day, watching. It'd threaten me from inside that cave and I'd taunt it right back. I'd eat right in front of it. It was hungry and I'd eat huge sandwiches and it would threaten me. It said it'd kill me, disembowel me. It promised that it'd hurt me so much I should be dead but wouldn't die. I'd laugh and I'd watch."
"And now it's free." added Randy. "It's already killed you know."
"I was always merciful." mused the madman, less to make excuses and more simply stating fact. "I bet whoever it killed was in a fine mess. It'll be stronger next time."
"Sam... How do we stop it." Randy heard himself sound desperate. "How do we stop it now that the curse is broken?"
"The curse? It's not broken."
"Fine then! Wait. What? If Cicero's curse isn't broken then why is that thing free! How do we trap it again?" Randy was visibly reaching the end of his rope as far as talking in riddles was concerned.
"Oh that's easy. Just keep an eye on it." Sam laughed. Loudly and pointlessly.
Randy, feeling like he'd wasted his time being baited stood and left. The madman was having a little bit of fun at his expense. He picked up his papers and, without a further word, departed, leaving the Saint-Ferdinand killer to laugh alone.
Sam sat on the floor of his cell and sighed. He ran a finger across the length of a book, tracing its spine. He didn't mean to make doctor Mackenzie mad or laugh at such an important situation, but he couldn't help it. He usually knew how to keep things in perspective, but sometimes, in the heat of the moment, he lost track of it all and got confused.
"Why'd uncle Randy leave?" a small voice called out from the shadows in the cell.
"Because uncle Finnegan is a very, very stupid man darling."
"Aww. Don't say that. I don't think you're stupid Sam." answered the voice.
"You're too kind." Sam smiled turning to the corner. From the shadows stepped a small figure. Wearing a white dress but no shoes, a metalic tink echoing through the cell with each step. She walked up to where Finnegan was sitting and sat opposite him, crossing her legs revealing her puncture feet. She looked at Sam with iron nails instead of eyes.
"I lost Theodore." that's how she called her bear; Theodore Edward Bear. Ted E. Bear. That clever baby-sitter had given the toy the clever name.
"Where'd you see it last honey?" asked the Saint-Ferdinand killer to help jog the dead girl's memory.
"In the forest. I dropped it when the boogyman scared me." Sam knew what the little dead girl was on about. One of those moments of clarity.
"Don't worry pumpkin," the old man said "that mean old boogyman can't hurt you." Sam punctuated his words by gently tapping the iron nail driven into Audrey's left eye. "Uncle Randy made sure of that didn't he?"
Drenched in sweat, his heart pounding from fear and exertion, Donald Crowley wandered through the pitch darkness of the forest that surrounded Saint-Ferdinand. Following his father undetected had been easy. In such a rural area, with little in the way of street lights, a careful driver could become invisible simply by turning his headlights off.
Even the trek through the woods had been a piece of cake. After Stephen Crowley had parked his car just off the road near the Peterson farm, Donald had known where his old man was heading.
He been in these woods dozens of times, with friends and alone. Each time, fear had accompanied him on the journey, but it had been a discreet companion, only occasionally reminding him that there might be a killer stalking the forest. Tonight, the fear was back. Its voice was loud and insistent this time, reminding him of the beating his father would give him should he be found tailing the inspector. Mostly however, it played back in his mind the insistence in Stephen Crowley's voice as he ordered Don not to leave the house. In a lifetime in the shadow of the Saint-Ferdinand kilker, never had his old man sounded so adamant, so worried.
When he neared the clearing where Sam Finnegan had been arrested, Donald became very quiet, listening very carefully for voices and signs of life. Soon, he could see into the clearing even catching a glimpse of the cave that had fascinated his father so much the day they'd argued. It all seemed so trivial now to have fought over a fishing trip.
The clearing was dark and quiet. Donald did not dare get too close but even from his vantage between the trees,he could see maybe three or four light beams, presumably from flashlights. If his father was meeting with William Bergeron, they were obviously not alone.
After a moment of perfect silence, Don saw another light. This one came from within the cave. Bouncing from one wall to another of the small opening, it increased in intensity until someone finally emerged from the cave's entrance. Even from where he stood, Donald could hearthe man's labored breathing.
"Find anything in there?" came Stephen Crowley's voice, crashing through the quiet.
"Jesus Crowley!" Don recognized the voice of Luc Archambeault, the manager of Bergeron's drugstore and renowned outdoor enthusiast. "What the Hell lived in here? Couldn't you get one of your stooges from the department to do this?"
"No." came Crowley's stern reply. "This is strictly Sandmen business. Tomorrow Matt is going to be sending someone down there and we need to make sure they don't find anything they don't expect to."
"Well next time you can crawl in yourself."
"What's got your panties in a twist Luc? What did you find?"
It was William Bergeron who finally spoke. He waved his light around clumsily, illuminating a few of the other attendants before settling on Archambeault's face. Donald was able to identify Beatrice Bergeron and Tom Godard, an ancient relic of a man who lived in a nearby farm.
"First of all, it stinks down there. You can barely breathe." explained Archambeault. "Second, the walls are covered in animal parts and bones. It's like a god damn nightmare."
"That's fine." the inspector interjected. "We can pin that on Finnegan. He's crazy enough that no one will doubt it. There were no trace of our little 'friend' though right?"
Luc Archambeault shook his head in the glow of Bergeron's flashlight.
"Is that it, Crowley?" this time it was the voice of Gédéon Lafrenière that broke the silence. The man was in his late sixties and owned a local orchard. He was known to terrorize the youth who dared steal his apples. "You got all of us out here in the middle of the night so we could watch Luc crawl through a cave?"
"Not quite." Crowley answered. Don doubted the others could detect it, but he noticed the tell-tale inflection of his father's patience beginning to erode.
Several of the attendees pointed their torches towards Donald's father, making him the only one of the group to be illuminated. This gave him an eerie appearance thatdid nothing but amplify his authority.
"For those of you who aren't up to date on current events; Gabrielle LaForest's body was found in the woods near the Richard's farm." the stillness of the villagers hinted that most knew. "The condition of her body makes it obvious that she was butchered by the god we're trying to get our hands on. That god is on the loose people and it's prowling the forest."
Immediately, almost comically, beams of light shot around randomly as several attendants nervously looked around the darkened woods. Don crouched down rapidly to avoid being spotted.
"Then why are we here instead of safely meeting at Bergeron's house?" the guttural voice of Hector Alvarez, a local butcher inquired.
"Because I needed to be sure it wasn't in the cave and we wouldn't be safe at William's place anyways."
"Wait? You sent me in there knowing that thing might still be there!?" Archambeault demanded to know.
Crowley dismissed him without a second look.
"This is our end game people," the inspector began to pace amongst his followers. "our final gambit. You all knew when you joined the Sandmen what you were getting into and if you didn't, if you thought this was going to be a little social club or a good networking opportunity then you were wrong.
"We're standing on the precipice of greatness! But we have to be vigilant. We need to keep our eyes open."
"Like you did for fifteen years letting Finnegan babysit our god? Keeping it prisoner?" Bergeron interjected.
Stephen Crowley walked up to William Bergeron, towering six inches above him, leveraging every once of intimidation his uniform and sidearm granted him.
"Who fixed your fence last summer William?" Don's father growled at the shaking fat man before turning to another member of the assembly. "What about you Melanie? Who cleaned the gutters of your shop? Who here hasn't had Sam Finnegan performing chores for them through the years? We've all been blind!"
Stephen was now yelling, but it was a different kind of shouting than what Donald was accustomed to. While there was certainly a large dose of blame and admonishment in his voice, Crowley wasn't trying to discipline the assembled villagers, he was inspiring them. He sounded like a preacher.
"None of us are perfect and yes, we have failed. Miserably." the inspector continued, his audience rapt with attention. "We let a feeble-minded old man literally get away with murder for years, keeping from us what is rightfully ours! But that's not the case anymore. We have him and better yet, now we know. Now we know how to control a god!
"Mackenzie and Peterson kept that from us and in time, they'll get theirs, when we no longer need them, but now we know. We know what Cicero's curse is and how to use it!
"If we're careful. If we're vigilant! We will find our god and we will chain him to our will. Then, there will be nothing we won't be able to accomplish."
Donald could still here the group cheer as he crept away through the forest. Are those the Sandmen? he wondered trying to find his way back to the road. A cult that wants to control a god? The idea sounded I sane as he rolled it around his head, but as he delved deeper amongst the trees, surrounded by the cold darkness, he couldn't help but remember the tone his father had used to forbid him from leaving the house, the abject terror in Luc Archambeault's voice when he learned he'd been sent into the lion's den or that Gabrielle LaForest, the mother of a schoolmate, had been murdered the previous day.
Whoever or whatever was responsible for so much fear and so much carnage was still free, still in these woods.
Thinking it all over, alone in the dark with nothing but the cracking of foliage underfoot for company, Donald couldn't get back to his car fast enough.
It was a minor triumph but well worth it.
Not getting her parents to agree to letting Penny sleep over for a few days of course. Considering the circumstances, that was not a problem. In fact, getting her parents to agree to just about anything had never been a problem. As far as Venus could tell, they didn't care anyways. Walking Penny back to her place was also relatively easy since she had become a sort of zombie at this point; too overwhelmed to understand, let alone question what was happening to her. Going to Penny's home and gathering a few essentials like clothes and basic hygiene products had been more demanding. Every room in the house had a memory linked to it, like that time Ms. LaForest had brought them brownies in Penny's room while they were watching horror movies or all the diners they'd shared in the living room sitting on the couch. It was difficult to imagine how hard of a homecoming it would be for Penelope.
It was none of those things that made Venus so proud of herself. What she accomplished reassured her that, although it would take some time and the road ahead was going to be difficult and painful for her friend, Penelope was going to be okay. After hours of sitting with her in silence, listening to her cry and attempting to come to terms with the unimaginable, after much begging and prodding on Venus' part, she had succeeded in making Penny eat something.
Both girls had chatted calmly well into the night. Venus had tried her best to keep conversation topics away from the tragedy of the previous day and Penny seemed to try and follow the thread as much as she could, but they could only ignore the elephant in the room for so long. Inevitably, conversation returned to the subject of Penny's mom, why she had to die and what would Penelope do now. Eventually, the poor girl had gone to sleep, drained by the day's events. Tomorrow would be even more difficult, but at least for now she could rest.
Meanwhile, Venus was still very much awake. While she too was exhausted the many recent events only served to fire up her brain with the many questions that were swimming through her mind. Who was the man at the café? Why did Erica Hazelwood walk around with a dead girl's toy in her purse? Who had killed Ms. LaForest?
Having no way to find answers at this very moment, Venus frantically looked for a way to distract herself quietly until she too was able to sleep.
Inevitably, she turned to her computer. Sitting down browsing web pages about a variety of different topics while petting her cat, a black Persian half-breed named Sherbet, was exactly what she needed to relax. Yet, after an hour of trying to distract herself, caught between her friend's snoring in her bed and Sherbet's purring in her lap, she was still no closer to sleep.
Out of idle curiosity, she patched into the video feed she'd installed in the shed. Expecting nothing more exciting than the nest she intended to observe. Instead, her heart nearly leaped out of her chest as she was startled by a sight both unexpected and creepy.
Someone was in her shed.
Sitting in the back of the shed, where the nest used to be, was what appeared to be a slender, athletic, naked bald man. Or was it a woman? Its features and body, through some trick of the light, seemed completely androgynous. Its skin color was also strange. Not quite white but not the bronzed flesh of a caucasian, it seemed to have it's own luminosity. Perhaps the camera was overexposing the images but the figure looked almost radiant. All except for the arms and hands which seemed to be black. Whatever it was, it was crouched, in the shed, bent over itself in the corner and it did not look happy. It was staring directly into the lens, almost as if it knew someone was watching.
Venus stared back, both petrified and fascinated. The emotions battled for dominance. Obviously, it wasn't anyone from the village that she knew. The facial features of the intruder were also too perfect and too smooth to be any kind of mask or makeup.
She observed for several minutes, perhaps longer, wondering, pondering and trying to figure out what lay before her eyes. Then, it hit her. This wasn't a person. It couldn't be. The figure hadn't moved, not even a twitch, since Venus had switched to watch the video. In fact, when she paid close attention to it, she could swear the intruder's chest did not heave from breathing as it should. No, this was a mannequin, painted and posed in an attempt to freak her out. It was a curious and elaborate plan, one too sophisticated for André to have come up with. In fact, none of her usual tormentors had the wits and skill to come up with such a prank. This left her friends and acquaintances, including her parents. Maybe this was their odd way to convince her not to move into the shed. Paul certainly knew how to build a convincing theater prop.
Whoever was behind it, Venus was suddenly incredibly curious about it. She stood, dumping poor Sherbet onto the floor unceremoniously and walked to the back door. The cat followed in her footsteps, still offended at being dropped and its back rub interrupted.
The night was dark, lacking a moon or the many streetlights of larger communities. The only source of illumination came from the shed itself as a soft glow emanating from the various cracks in the wall and the small window in the door.
Venus walked as calmly as she could, bare feet stepping lightly in the humid grass. She was too preoccupied to enjoy the feeling of it between her toes. Finally, she got to the shed and realized; she hadn't put up any lights in there. How did she see inside if there were no lights? Obviously, whoever had set up this prank had taken the time to make sure his handiwork wouldn't go unnoticed.
When she stepped in, Venus quickly realized that the truth was magnitudes stranger than she'd first assumed. The figure, whatever it was, turned out to BE the source of light. She could see it much more clearly now. It was indeed luminescent. More disturbingly however, it had moved.
The figure was standing now, looking directly at the door through which Venus had stepped. It wasn't that tall, just short of six feet. It was however, impossibly muscular, glowing a soft blue and absolutely genderless. Moreover, the dark arms weren't black but were in fact simply covered with wet, tacky blood.
Venus tried to step back out and run, but the door shut behind her. As she looked back from her only, and now closed, escape route, she saw the figure walking mechanically towards her, its right arm, now glowing brighter than the rest of its body through the thick coat of blood, outstretched menacingly towards her. A mere foot away from being able to grab her by the neck and twist her head clean off, as was most obviously its intention, it stopped.
The arm twitched and strained to reach Venus but it came short a dozen inches. The whole creature writhed as if struggling against an obstacle that simply wasn't there. After nearly a minute of this grotesque pantomime, the strange figure let out an alien grunt of frustration and tossed itself back in the corner. It's strange black eyes locked themselves back onto Venus'. The creature was suddenly immobile again, unblinking, waiting like a coiled snake.
Then, it spoke.
The voice that crawled out of the thing's mouth was like nothing Venus had heard before. Both beautiful and terrible at once, it could be compared to a heavenly chorus chanting from within a cave inhabited a hundred thousand bats. It echoed majestically while tearing at the soul with voracious hunger. Sherbet hissed from between Venus' feet.
"Release me." it seemed to say, the concept of the demand writhing in the young girl's mind rather than sounds ringing in her ears.
It reached once more to grab her and Venus slammed her back against the wall. She tried to scream but couldn't get enough breath in her lungs to do so. Whatever this thing was, it meant her no good.
Giving up on its prey a second time, the thing started to pace like a tiger in a cage. Eyes fixed on her, it walked in tight circles, flexing its strange and sinewy muscles, almost crackling with rage. Sometimes, the thing would shoot a withering look in the direction of the camera, its irritation almost palpable.
This lasted for several minutes, a period of time that seemed to stretch forever. This gave Venus time to think, to calm down if only enough to allow her breath to slow and her mind to work. Eventually, the beast sat down again. Its movements were fluid, calculated, almost rehearsed. Still, its eyes would not stop drilling into her soul. Its stare alone felt like nails scratching at a chalkboard, raising the hair on the back of her neck. She also noticed that the more she looked at the thing, the smaller she felt, down to the point of almost having an anxiety attack. This wasn't the natural feeling of being in the presence of a predator, though she was definitely experiencing that too, it was something greater, more debilitating.
"Who... Who are you?" she squeezed out the words with significantly less confidence than she had originally intended.
It rose again, in a quick, single movement, reacting to the question as if to a challenge.
"I just want to know who you are! You're name!" she found herself screaming in a panic.
"No name. I am unique." it took a step forward, calm and composed, but not predatory as it had been. Like this, Venus thought it almost looked majestic.
"What are you then?"
"To you, a god."
And she believed it. The voice dug deep in her soul, not just transmitting the sound of its words but implanting ideas into her mind like seeds she had to consciously eradicate less they take root. She quickly found that when she weeded through the words she could think much more clearly and compose her thoughts more calmly, giving her back control of the situation, little bits at a time.
"Then what are you doing in my shed?"
"I am trapped. Free me."
It immediately felt like something she should do, at least until she weeded through that idea too and realized she couldn't. It would kill her. In fact, it had tried to kill her before ever giving the order to be freed. Venus swallowed hard. Hoping this whole situation had been fabricated by her exhausted and traumatized mind and she would wake up at her computer in a moment, she chose what would otherwise be unthinkable; to defy a god.
Venus had braced herself for a verbal, maybe even physical assault. An unmistakable reprimand for refusing the order of a creature that was clearly on a completely different level. The attack didn't come. The thing just stood there, features failing to betray any hint of emotion.
What Venus failed to notice was that Sherbet had been creeping along the floor, ears flat on the back of his head, poised to strike as if hunting a mouse. Teeth bared and emitting a low growl, the cat had slowly been advancing and circling around the self-proclaimed god. After a few seconds of passively staring down Venus, the creature snarled and in a single, sweeping movement, bent down, grabbed Sherbet and stood back up, holding the shrieking ball of fur in one bloodied hand.
"No!" cried Venus, almost lunging forward to her pet's rescue. Only by a restraint she hasn't suspected herself to have did she keep herself out of the creature's reach. Ignoring her protest, the god opened the hand holding the panicked feline, allowing it to float unnaturally in the air, flailing with its claws. Tears ran down Venus' face in the seconds that past as she waited in torment for what she already imagined would happen. Whatever that wound up being, it did not live up to the actual horror as the god, with little more than a gesture flayed Sherbet and let the poor creature drop to the ground in a wet plop.
This was not, however, the end of it. Twitching in horrible agony, the helpless animal would not die or even pass out. All it could do was suffer while Venus watched helplessly.
"Stop it!" she screamed, hands balled up in white-knuckled fists.
"Free me." the god answered, emotionless as it observed Sherbets torture.
"I don't know how!"
"Break Cicero's curse. Free me." crouching down, the thing that called itself a god ran a finger through the exposed muscles on Sherbet's back, increasing his torment tenfold.
"How! Just tell me how!" Venus was yelling so loud at this point, her voice was beginning to fail her.
"Shut the mechanical eye. Shut yours eyes. Do this and I will end your animal's suffering."
"Don't kill him. I'll do it. I'll go turn the camera off but don't kill him. I swear!" she realized she was kneeling, begging and imploring too close to the god's reach and moved back before it noticed.
It stopped for a moment to consider the offer.
"Agreed." the god touched Sherbet's nose, almost tenderly and immediately, the poor cat stopped writhing. Before Venus had time to protest that he was dead however, Sherbet got up, looked around and, oblivious to his missing skin or the thing that had been torturing him seconds ago, bound to Venus' side, rubbing its moist body against her leg affectionately.
"Nonono..." the girl repeated in stunned horror and disbelief.
"It lives." the creature's voice scratched as an explanation.
"That's not what we had agreed on!" Venus felt like she was losing her mind. She couldn't even begin to estimate how long she'd been locked in this shed with this loathsome yet undeniably powerful abomination. However much time it was, these moments had shattered her life and any pre-conceived notion she might have had about the world. Clearly there were things the modern world had forgotten. There was such a thing as life after death if her cat was any indication. There was magic and horror and gods walked amongst men. No matter what happened, whether she got out of the shed alive, things would never be the same again.
"It lives without pain. Free me."
Without warning, the door to the shed unlocked and slowly slid open, inviting Venus to step outside.
"What if I don't?" Venus asked, gathering poor Sherbet in her arms.
"We would be unbound."
Venus didn't understand exactly what that meant but it didn't sound that bad. Slowly, she took a step halfway through the door. The thing was trapped and clearly needed her to allow its escape. Considering what it had done to Sherbet, there was no telling what it could do if it were free, or what it had done while it was. The blood that covered the god's arms wasn't its own and Venus almost threw up when she realized who's it was likely to be. No, this 'god' would have to stay in the shed until she figured out what to do about it.
"I can live with that." she said in a distant yet even voice.
Venus stepped out and started to close the door behind her, but the voice invaded her mind one more time, giving her pause for a second.
She closed the door and carefully snapped the padlock in place. Looking down at the purring mass of flesh and sinew she collapsed on the ground and allowed herself the luxury of breaking down in tears.