V I S I T O R S -- DownStream -- Part 2
Link to Part 1
It wasn't gangsters who had Frank Long, Alice had been thinking as she suppressed a cold shudder. At least not your everyday human gangsters. What they were, at least how they appeared in Alice's nightmares, was terrifying. Those things went beyond reason.
Beyond anything that she could rationally explain. Yet she knew they were still in town. Maybe part of them (those THINGS) still slithered through the rotting bowels of the old Stuart house across town, or tugged thoughts and unsuspecting inhabitants from downtown Main Street with frosty breaths of fire. Perhaps they -- Alice was fairly sure there was more than one -- floated squid-like in the murky depths of Black Lake: tentacles entwined around and through one ornery old ex-cop as they sucked out information with groping pink mouths.
These were the images that haunted Alice night and day. But what scared her most -- what rocked her nights and rolled her days -- was that she could feel them spreading: moving and searching, like starving leeches.
Lately, when she wasn't at work, Alice kept finding herself staring into the Rove River, which ran down and across her back yard from Black Lake.
Sometimes she'd awaken from a sound sleep with her toes curled awkwardly around the shoreline rocks and goosebumps the size of thimbles marching across her bare arms. Other times she'd just realize that she'd ambled over to the shore again and had lost all track of time as her gray-green eyes followed the swirling currents across rocky paths.
More than two weeks had passed since the discovery of the awful Thomas family tragedy, which many in town had already chalked up to one deranged old ex-cop snuffing out his family and then himself, but Alice -- and many others -- wasn't so sure.
Recently, Alice's intensified dreams targeted the river that babbled sedately through the back yards of her closest neighbors on Wooded Hill and angled sharply down into her dead end gully before it flowed smoothly through the woods and then out into the center of town.
In Alice's dreams bloated pink slugs drifted in the river -- like autumn leaves -- through the yards of unsuspecting townsfolk up on the hill. In her nightmares, Alice always ran to collect the spongy globs, which felt like cold raw liver in her hands and reeked of rotten fish, but they were too slippery and always evaded her grasp. She'd wake in a cold greasy sweat -- sometimes standing on shore -- knowing that the things were still washing downstream and that she couldn't stop them.
Alice's instincts told her to run to the next town meeting and warn the rest of the town--warn them that the things were coming downstream and headed for the center of town. But when she awoke the river always looked so calm: so peaceful.
Remember that they're only nightmares, Alice continually scolded herself, not really pictures of the future.
She'd learned that lesson once before; she'd learned it the hard way. While Alice secretly admired Duncan and Joanna for voicing their fears to the town, she also heard the snickers and jeers bubbling from small knots of people at Walmart, at the school, and even at church . . .
Continued in my next post
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