You Don't Know That

Amy drove the van while Colton slept against the passenger window; Morris and Jen commiserated in whispers in the middle seats. In the back…

The demon had reeked of sulfur and decay before being shot by Colton, and death had not improved its odor. It was sprawled across the convertible bed, leaking thick black blood onto a tarp they had stolen from atop a neighbor's patio grill.

"Colton."

He heard her, but didn't stir.

"Colton."

"What?"

"Where am I going?"

"Just keep driving until you don't see buildings. Do the speed limit. Signal turns and lane changes. Do not get pulled over."

"If we get pulled over we can just—"

"If we get pulled over I have to shoot a policeman and then we've got two bodies to bury."

Amy said nothing for a minute. "That's the demon talking."

"The demon's dead, Amy, that's practicality talking. There is no explanation for what's back there. If we're caught with it, we'll be lucky if we ever see the light of day again. Do you want your baby to be born in a holding cell on some secret military base?"

She didn't seem shocked that he knew, she just sighed. "Our baby, Colton."

"Oh, it's 'ours' now, is it? You've known for how long? Since before him, isn't it?"

"I was waiting for the right time, Colton. And then… and then after," she didn't bother specifying after what, "it just seemed like if I told you, you'd do something stupid."

"Too late."

He finally looked at her. She looked strong, determined, recovered, in a way that he wasn't, in a way he suspected he never would be. Of course it was a front. She glanced over at him, and they both laughed nervously.

From the back, Morris piped up. "There. Make a left." It was an access road. There was a gate, but it was open. "This used to be a private school. It's abandoned now."

"Does someone check up on it?" Jen asked.

"Only once a week, only the building. We used to come here in high school to get high." Morris grinned. "Pull around the back. We'll drag him on the tarp into the woods and then bury him."

"It. We'll bury it." Jen said, decisively. "And then a doctor for Colton."

"No." As much as he wanted one, needed one. "Then get rid of the van. I'm not sure how to do that. A cadaver dog would go apeshit if it got anywhere near this thing. Clean it, take it to a professional place and have it cleaned again, and then junk it."

Jen stopped the van on the far side of the dumpsters, where it could be seen from the road and where it might not be seen from the building, if they were lucky. "You bought shovels on your credit card. Now you're going to junk your van. Maybe you're making yourself look more suspicious by trying not to look suspicious."

"Can't be helped." It probably wouldn't matter, anyway. He was hurt worse than they thought. It wasn't just the wound itself: after twelve hours, it was clearly infected with something hellish and deadly. Just another thing to hide.

The others got out quickly, thankful to be out of the enclosed space. Colton eased himself out slowly, wincing, shaking.

Morris offered, "We'll dig. You rest."

"Thanks." He fixed Morris' eyes with his own. "It's gotta be deep, Morris."

"Got it."

He watched them dig. It took a couple hours just to get the hole deep enough. It was therapy, burying the demon's corpse. If they could have chopped it up, or burned it, they probably would have. By the time they were read to drag the tarp over and upend the body into the hole, he felt even worse, but still he had to get out, help them. It made it over. Almost over, anyway.

They stood around the lip of the hole, staring down at the corpse. Jen cried.

Colton found himself waking up with dirt in his mouth, staring up at the sky. "What happened?"

"You passed out. Colton you're bleeding again."

It had been bleeding the whole time, under the bandage: the wound in his side where the demon had clawed him after breaking out of the pentagram. Only now, the blood was dark, almost black. Amy pulled his shirt up, pulled the dressing aside. "Oh, God."

"Yeah. Help me up."

They put their shoulders under his arms and lifted him from the ground. Amy was white as a sheet. "Doctor, now."

"No. Sorry." He fished the revolver out of his pocket; they stepped back instinctively. He almost fell, but he had just enough strength to keep his feet.

"Colton!"

"I can't go to a doctor. They'll ask what happened. They'll run tests. I don't know what they'll find, but it won't be good. You'll all be arrested for murder when I die."

"Colton you're not going to—"

"It's my own fault. He… it said not to move, and I took a step back. I was going for the door." He laughed, winced in pain. "It doesn't matter: I moved, it clawed me. That's that. Just make sure to pack the dirt down tight." He moved back to the edge of the hole.

"Colton, the baby. Our—"

"I'll be dead within a day either way."

"You don't know that."

He shook his head. Amy had to know she was kidding herself: she'd had the demon in her head just as long as him. "Amy, what if it's not a toxin? What if it's how it reproduces? You know what it wanted, you saw, we all did. An army of children, just like it. And all of us slaves or food or worse."

Morris was tight-lipped, silent. Jen put her arms around Amy, who had begun sobbing uncontrollably.

"Cover us up, do what I told you to do with the van, and never come back here again. Ever." He put the pistol to his head.
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36-40
Jan 18, 2013