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What Used to be Texas Chapter 25
Molly’s hand trembled.
What if the monsters Drew had hinted about were more than packs of mice and rats, or even the caniceraus? What if some of the monsters were men?
How could Albert possibly have known about a long ago memory only in her mind?
Molly shivered. At least she’d made it out of there—and no one knew where she lived. She took comfort in that fact.
Now more than ever, she just wanted to go home and burrow under her blankets. Not even a trip to Heather’s Haven sounded fun anymore.
Molly peeked out the bedroom door at the couple in the kitchen—suddenly suspicious of them.
Were they truly as welcoming as they seemed? Or were they in there cooking up a plan that would hurt her in some way?
Stop it, Molly! You’re letting your imagination get away from you—again.
Still, she gave them another skeptical look when Eddy said something that caused Shari to laugh and stir the pot on the stove more vigorously.
Nanook whined and butted the girl with her head.
“I know, girl. I might be over-cautious but I think it’s time to get out of here,” she whispered.
Molly picked up her backpack sitting on the old-fashioned wooden chair where Eddy had sat watching over her. After grabbing up the few items she’d pulled out of the bag and shoving them back into it, she opened the bedroom door and strode through it. Nanook followed.
The couple turned toward her.
“Welp,” Molly said, her heart thumping faster than it should be. “I’m going to head home now.”
A concerned expression covered Shari’s face. “Oh, Molly, are you sure? You’ve been asleep so long again. Are you feeling better?”
Molly’s cheeks burned. Shari’s worry for her was clearly genuine. If the couple had wanted to hurt her, they could’ve easily done so over the past few days.
She set her backpack on the nearest chair. “It’s time for me to go home. But if that is lunch cooking, I wouldn’t mind a little before heading out.”
“Of course.” Shari ladled soup into three bowls and handed them to Eddy, who put one at each person’s seat.
Molly placed a plate of still-warm sliced bread in the center of the table.
She sat and smiled as the others took their places. And when Eddy said a small prayer in appreciation of the food, a tear slid down her face. Gramps used to do the same thing.
She brushed it away as Eddy said, “Amen”.
He caught her in the act. “Some people may feel it strange to thank the Almighty at such a time as this, but we are alive, and whole—with food in our bellies. We might not be aware of the ins and outs of His Grand Plan, but He is. He says He’ll help us through anything. I trust that—and believe thanks are in order.” He patted his wife’s arm. “The same way I thank Shari for cooking up that food.”
Molly nodded. She understood that. The world was a mess, but they were still here. And prayer wouldn’t hurt—they needed all the help they could get.
“Molly,” Shari said. “Please consider staying a couple more days.”
“I appreciate everything you’ve done. I can’t thank you enough, but I need to get home. Besides the chores, I miss all my familiar things.”
“I understand. But please, visit us more often—for a meal, not just leaving stuff on a rock. Okay?”
Molly nodded and smiled. “I will.”
She looked over the table. This was the closest she’d had to a family meal in a long time. She definitely wanted more.
But it would be a mistake to get too reliant on them or anyone else. She had to stay sharp, diligent—and she needed to rely on herself for that.
Molly looked down as Nanook shifted beside her. She gave the wolf a few strong pats.
And Nanook—she had her now.
The wolf looked up at Molly and whined as if she knew what the girl was thinking and agreed.
They were a team—the two of them.
“And don’t worry,” she reassured Shari. “I feel absolutely fine now. I’m sure I’m through it—like a bad flu. It hit hard and now it’s gone.”
“If you’re leaving today, you better go after you eat so you get all settled in before dark,” Eddy said.
Molly agreed. It would take time to make sure her place hadn’t been breached, and tend to the animals that she’d let scatter while she was gone.
“And as for the night,” Eddy continued. “You know to stay inside, right? Something’s been roaming around here for a few weeks now. And the bats—well, they don’t act normal anymore.”
Molly blinked. It seemed the couple knew more than she realized. “Bats?”
“Yeah, I swear those things are smarter all of a sudden.”
Molly grimaced. Not another rodent problem—and these could fly. “I ran into mice that could—I don’t know—reason better than they should be able to.”
Shari leaned toward her. “Do you know why?”
It was plain now that she should tell the couple more of her story. Even if they did think she was crazy, it was her obligation to warn them.
When Molly told them everything she knew, they didn’t blink an eye. She ended with, “I think one of those canicerauses have been nosing around my place. If I were you, I’d build a wall around your property.”
“This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about animals acting strangely,” Eddy said. “A couple of other people told us of their experiences. But this is our first time hearing about a new kind of animal.”
“So this is the same scientist who gave you the injection that made you sick?” Shari asked. “He’s just doing all these experiments willy-nilly?”
“Well, according to him and Drew, some, if not all of the experiments were going on up there.” Molly waved her hand at the sky outside the window. “With The Fall, everything up there is now down here, including these experiments. I’ve been thinking about it. Experiments would have fallen all over the world. So who knows what is out there. It may be worse than here.”
“And only a matter of time until it gets here,” Shari added.
Molly nodded. “That’s what I’m afraid of. There’s a place not far from here that has piles of metal that would be perfect for a fence. I’ll draw you a map of where it is. And help you build when I can.”
Eddy rose to get a pencil and paper. “We appreciate that.” He turned to his wife. “It’ll be a lot of work but it’s past time we did it.”
“I agree,” she said. “If that caniceraus is loose, it sounds like it can do a lot of damage. And if it’s not the same one—well, then—there’s at least two out there, and maybe more. That could mean babies at some point.” Shari ran a hand over her forehead. “We need more than a wall. We need to learn to hunt them.”
Memories of attempting to shoot one of the huge beasts flooded Molly and she shuddered. Even when she’d been successful in hitting a vulnerable spot, the caniceraus had barely registered it. That animal was a gigantic, bloodthirsty, bulletproof killing machine. What would it take to bring one down?