Daniel Lightfoot stood at the park entrance, watching Jimmy scramble around like a chicken with his head cut off. He was showing his age these days. Maybe it was time like all the other elders had suggested. Daniel always brushed off the comments and snide remarks from others about his cousin. They weren’t cousins, but he had known Jimmy since he was a child. His father was good friends with the older male and had spent many holidays with their family. Jimmy lost his wife due to a tragedy when he was young. He never remarried.
Looking up, Jimmy knew this was it. They sent someone to check on him, which meant that his ability to take care of the creature was under review. Why they didn’t realize was that he had questioned it for the last few years, but Jimmy didn’t want to let anyone down. Pride was everything to him, and losing face in the community was worse than dying. Grumbling under his breath, he rubbed his hand up the back of his neck, walking out to see what the man wanted. He knew, but it was always better to confirm something before assuming.
“Daniel, what brings you here tonight?” Jimmy asked.
Exhaling sharp, Daniel knew that Jimmy was a smart man. He knew after the phone call Jimmy made he would get a visit for one of them tonight. They couldn’t let him mess this up. Jimmy didn’t realize that before Daniel arrived, they all concluded that tonight the torch would be passed on to someone else.
“Jimmy, you knew when you called me that I couldn’t let this ruin our town. Finish closing up, get all the kids out of the park, and then we can discuss what will happen next,” Daniel said.
Jimmy looked up, the lines on his face deepening, but there was almost a sense of peace in his face. The only way you got out of being a caretaker was death. They had to make sure that the person never spoke a death bed confession in the advancing years. Most would never believe it, but the elders would not leave this to chance.
Before walking away, Jimmy looked to Daniel, shaking his head, “He’s out there, and four kids are in the park. I let him have the kids until I closed up and could get him a proper meal. I had no choice. They found him before I could keep them out of the park. Not my problem.” Walking away, Jimmy knew there would be hell to pay, but what did he care? He was a dead man walking.
“Son of a bitch,” Daniel growled. Walking off, the male knew he couldn’t handle this alone as he thought. Not with children learning about the beast. The last thing he wanted was to kill a child, but he had no choice now. He couldn’t let them walk out of the park, knowing that this thing existed.
Walking back to his car, leaning against his door, Daniel mad the call he dreaded. With his arms resting on the windows and his forehead against the top of the car, he placed the mass text that would blow the lid off everything.
“It’s over. Jimmy screwed up. We have four kids out there, and all of them know. You have thirty minutes to get here,” Daniel typed.
Pulling a pack of cigarettes from his packet, Daniel slipped one between his lips, shaking so hard he had trouble lighting it. He was trying to quit, but tonight, he wouldn’t stop until the pack disappeared inside his lungs. Each tug of the cancer stick burned like the pits of hell. He had never killed a child and never wanted to. It was bad enough knowing that each year innocent people were eaten alive by Wendigo, but to know that four kids were fighting for his life brought bile up and out right now. Rushing to the river bank, Daniel lost the contents of his stomach in the rushing waters below. Retching pain twisted his guts. He wondered if this were the way he would die? Would that son of a bitch eat him too? When it was all said and done, would each of them feed the beast that they feared so much? Maybe that was the way it was supposed to end for all of them. The sins on the earth would feed the flame that took them all straight to hell’s bowels.