“He’s perfect,” George whispered to himself, following the boy's approach. The streaked windscreen of his small, mud-caked van, gave him the perfect cover. This was the most beautiful little boy he'd ever seen. He speculated on whether they would end up being friends.
The boy strolled along, unaware of the attention he'd attracted. His hair, long and sweeping, bounced around his shoulders with each long-legged stride. Overflowing with youth and unaffected innocence, his impression of the world, as yet, untainted. Saliva sprayed from his mouth as he tried, again and again, to whistle. He couldn't get his lips right, no matter how hard he tried. His Granddad was brilliant, especially when his teeth weren't in the way. He chuckled at this before giving it another go.
Encouraged by how friendly the boy looked, George’s anticipation grew. The van was already sweltering and sweat ran from his protruding forehead into his eyes. His vision blurred and he blinked several times in quick succession, clearing them. He smiled, at the thought of his eyes having their own wipers like his van, but the smile was short-lived. Unlike his saturated forehead, there wasn’t a drop of moisture in his mouth. His lips were dry, cracks beginning to form on them. He ran his tongue over their rough surface, but it brought him no relief.
A squeaking sound, loud in the quiet interior of the van, drew his attention away from the boy. Confused, he looked around for the source before realisation dawned on him. His hands, knuckles white from clenching, were slipping down the steering wheel. He uncurled each finger, whimpering as he straightened them. He hadn’t realised how hard he'd been gripping the wheel. Silly George, he thought, smiling through the pain. Brave George though, he added, his smile stretching further. Between flexing his fingers, he wiped his palms across the legs of his wrinkled, light blue jeans. This left behind sweeping trails of sweat, but George didn't notice. Regressing back to his earlier adoration of the boy, George saw the gap between them had shrunk. He was now close enough for George to recognise the dog on his t-shirt. Scooby-Doo, his all-time favourite cartoon character. He clapped his hands, letting his shoulders do their own freestyle dance. This was great, he thought. They already had one common interest and would discover they had lots more, no doubt. Their sleepover was going to be so much fun, he knew it.
“I can’t wait to put him in my book,” he exclaimed, bouncing in his seat, almost hitting his head on the roof. The volume of his own discordant voice in the quiet van had frightened him. His heart was galloping, making its outrage at the disturbance known. He counted backwards from 5, pausing between each number. His mother had shown him this trick whenever he got scared or angry as a child. It always worked and his heart began to beat at a more manageable pace. A steady heart rate was nothing more than a pipe dream at present. Especially considering the adrenaline flying around his body, like a bat out of hell. His scalp prickled with a sudden heat. Picturing his new friend's photograph stuck to an empty page in his book, he felt restless and fidgety. He began to squirm and wriggle in his seat, finding it impossible to stay still.
George stroked the crotch of his jeans with his thumb, enjoying the way it felt. Whenever George thought about his book, he'd get an erection. He didn't understand what connected the two things, but it was clear something did. Thinking of the A3 sized scrapbook with its multicoloured pages was enough to arouse him. Whenever he had the real thing on his lap, he could never contain himself. He always made a mess before returning the book to its secret spot. He’d thought of where to hide it all by himself, which in his opinion, made him a giant clever clogs. Under the loose floorboard in the bathroom was the best hiding place, George thought. No one would ever find it there. He shook his oversized head from side to side, emphasising the point. He had allocated two of the coloured page to each 'friend' and to date, George had filled twenty-four. A grin swamped his entire lower face, as though he'd eaten a Cheshire Cat and was now the proud new owner of its teeth. Twenty four pages equated to twelve friends. George, more so than most people, understood the importance of having friends.
On windy nights the ill-fitting window frames in his bedsit would rattle, like old bones. Terrified, George would crawl into his matchbox sized bathroom and retrieve his book. There he would sit, for hours at a time, thoughts of monsters shaking the windows far from his mind. He'd leer over each page, taking his time. Jagged strips of tape held the photographs he'd taken in place. He loved looking at them, remembering each of his friends. It was the hair that George loved the most though.
Every ‘sleepover’ he had at his bedsit ended in the same way. They’d have fun, to begin with. George would wrestle them, always giving his 'special cuddles' afterwards. Their crying would grate on him after a while, forcing George to stop being their friend. Why did they have to do it? Any form of sensory overload gave George a migraine, noise being the worst trigger. His migraines were always accompanied by a buzzing sensation behind his eyes.
As a child, whenever the buzzing started, he'd go straight to his mother. She would rock him on her lap and tell the bees in his head to go home, which always made him laugh. Memories of his mother, who'd left when George was 7, no longer hurt him. He'd ask his father if she'd forgotten where they lived. George was always forgetting important things, so the idea seemed logical. His father, who'd gone to his grave holding a bottle of Jack Daniels, was a cruel man. He derived great pleasure from telling George his mother left because she no longer loved him. Whenever he cried, his father would dry his tears with a leather belt. Everyone learns not to cry in the end.
His friends always cried for their Mummy. George tried explaining how he'd lived for a long time without his, but they didn't listen. He didn't have a leather belt, so he'd put the stained pillow from his bed over their faces instead. Only when he had silenced their muffled cries would the bees leave his head and return home to their hive. In the blissful silence which followed he would lay next to them, burying his nose in their hair and inhaling the sweet aroma of their fruity shampoo. Intoxicated by them, he'd then cut a lock of hair from their head before saying his final goodbye. George didn't like saying goodbye but knew it was necessary. He'd kept the first boy in his cramped, airless bedsit for three days. George, not knowing much on the subject of death, had assumed his friend would remain with him. Decomposition had other plans though, the smell forcing him to dispose of the body.
Now, once he'd removed the keepsake from their heads, he would carry their lifeless bodies to his van. Once secure in the van, he'd drive to the abandoned copper mine outside town. An old shaft, its edges cordoned off by an ineffectual barbed wire fence, was the destination. Parking as near as possible, George would drag the body from the van to the edge of the shaft. The ease displayed suggesting the children weighed no more than rag dolls. With a final push, he would watch as they tumbled into the darkness. Each time, he would imagine them falling all the way through the centre of the earth. The idea of them ending up in Australia made George giggle each time he thought of it.
Sitting on his bathroom floor, George would rest the book on his chubby thighs. He'd run his fingers across each strand before lifting the book to his nose and inhaling. The smell of their hair made his own stand on end, giving him goosebumps. It'd been this way for his Dad too. He'd smell George’s hair after their special cuddles, whisky fumes lingering in his wake. The special cuddles hurt him, so he knew how his friends felt, but George had never cried for his mummy after them.
The hair's texture against his calloused fingers coupled with their aroma gratified him. Over time, the elicited pleasure would dwindle to nothing. Whenever this happened, George had to find a new friend. His book now void of pleasure, George hoped this friend would be braver than those who preceded him. Leaning across to retrieve the dog lead from the passenger seat, he was optimistic. As always, he struggled to extract his hefty frame from behind the wheel. With only seconds to spare before the boy reached him, George took a deep breath and composed himself.
“Hey, kid. Have you seen a black dog around here anywhere?” George’s voice was friendly, yet full of concern for his fictional pet. The lie fell from his mouth with ease, but he looked away as he spoke to hide his guilt. He could practise in the mirror as much as he liked until every word was perfect. He'd never be able to disguise the burning shame that crept up his thickset neck to his face though.
George hated having to lie. Making friends through traditional methods was a capability he didn't seem to have. He'd lumber through the local park, towering over the tallest child. Excited, he would offer his services as a swing pusher, flexing his muscles in a show of strength. George deemed this approach acceptable, but the horrified children did not. He was, to them, a grown man. A stranger wanting to play with them. George epitomised everything their parents had warned them to be vigilant of. Left alone, his bulk stuffed between the chains of a child's swing, George would cry. Each watery breath punctuated by exaggerated wailing. His tears left behind clean lines as they rolled down his grubby cheeks. All he wanted was a friend, something he'd never had. His father frowned on friendships and never allowed George to invite anyone home.
“What if we want to have special cuddles, hmmm? No, George. You know other people wouldn't understand our cuddles." Recalling the sandpapery voice of his father, George gave an involuntary shiver. The chains gave a noisy clink with the force, but he didn't notice. Chewing on the remains of a ragged thumbnail, he understood why the children ran away from him. If they would only listen, he could explain to them how it wasn't his fault he looked like an adult. He was like them on the inside, where it mattered.
Tired of constant rejection, George resorted to deception instead. Working his aesthetic to his advantage, he began practising the lost dog routine. It didn’t always work, but it was successful for the most part. George hoped it would be this time, too.
The boy, lost in a daydream, looked up at the sound of George’s voice. He had given up trying to whistle. Fantasising instead of flying over rooftops, his black cape flapping behind him.
“Sorry," he apologised, holding up a small hand to shield his eyes. The man, holding a chain of some sort, appeared to be scanning the surrounding area. “What did you say?"
“You haven’t seen a little black dog on your way, have you? I’ve lost my little Cherry,” George replied, still pretending to look around. One thing George didn't mind about having to lie was giving the dog a name. Thinking up new ones was always fun.
“No-“ sympathy crossed the boy's youthful face, “- I haven’t. I’m sorry.” He also began to look around, wanting to be helpful. The man seemed alright. “There are some woods down there-" he pointed back the way he had come, "-at the bottom of the road. She might have chased a rabbit in there or something,” he suggested with a remorseful shrug.
“Yeah, you could be right. What’s your name, kid?” George asked. He felt he was keeping his tone friendly, although it wasn’t easy. Up close, the boy looked even better and George suspected he would make a good friend. They may even become best friends.
"Um, Luke,” the boy replied, shuffling his feet in a gesture of nerves.“What’s yours?” he enquired, not wanting to appear rude. The man had a strange look in his eyes and had moved closer as he spoke. It seemed, to Luke anyway, the man wasn't aware of the way he was acting. Knowing less on the subject of sex than George, he failed to recognise the obvious display of lust.
“My name’s-" he faltered. Taking a deep breath, he tried again “-my name’s George. Pleased to meet you, Luke.” Better, he thought. He'd come close to sabotaging his efforts. Needing to calm himself, George was aware this would be his only chance of victory. If he'd been a sporting fan or understood the definition of an analogy, he'd have been able to make one. His current situation was the dying minutes of extra time at the FA Cup Final. He was ahead and had everything to play for. Provided he didn't score an own goal, the trophy would be his.
Luke couldn't seem to work George's intentions out. He seemed normal but would switch to abnormal without warning. His parents had strict instructions on what to do if he suspected a stranger had bad intentions. What if he was looking for his lost dog though? I'll wait a little longer before deciding, he thought to himself. He didn't have to wait long.
“Will you come and help me look for Cherry, Luke?” George asked, uncertain whether he’d done enough to cement their friendship. Mentally, he crossed his fingers. “Four eyes are better than two, after all,” he laughed. When Luke laughed too, George knew they were going to be friends. When Luke mirrored his smile with one of his own, tears almost sprung from George's eyes. This was going so well, he thought. The lost dog had been a success on a dozen previous occasions but it had never gone as smooth as this. He imagined them together, wrestling and having a special cuddle.
“I’m sorry, George, but I have to go home. I’ve got to look after my little brother,” Luke replied. George could see the disappointment on the boy's face, could hear regret when he spoke. “My mum and dad are both at work, see. They always work on Saturday’s," he finished.
“Oh, right. I see." George's shoulders slumped forward and his arms hung like pendulums at his side. Frustrated, he refrained from throwing the dog lead away in a temper.
Luke marvelled at the range of emotions this man seemed to express. Wondering what thoughts this man held inside his head, he began to explain the situation. “My brother, Toby his name is. He goes to a babysitter on Saturday mornings, see, because my mum thinks I'm too young to be in charge all day." He put his hands on his hip, a defiant gesture, before continuing, "I have to look after him in the afternoon. She, the babysitter I mean, drops him off outside our house at one o'clock. She doesn’t even wait to see if anyone’s home. Can you believe that?” His wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression brought a giggle into George's mouth. He gulped hard, swallowing it back down. Luke was worried about his brother and he'd be mad at George for laughing. Luke, paying no attention it seemed, was studying the face of his chunky blue wristwatch. George had never been able to tell the time. His mother tried teaching him several times as a child, but the numbers confused him.
“Oh no,” Luke exclaimed, lifting the palm of his hand to his forehead. The gesture startled George, as he'd never seen it before. “It’s almost one now. Toby’s going to be at home on his own. I have to go, George. He'll get scared." He gave George a half wave, covering both an apology and a farewell. He started off in the direction of home.
Panic raced across George's chest, squeezing it like a vice. He couldn’t lose Luke, not now they were almost best friends. He didn't know what to do, that much was obvious, even to George. He wanted to stay but needed to go home. There had to be a compromise, a resolution from which they would both benefit.
“Wait!” he shouted. Luke, who hadn't walked much of a distance, flinched at the volume. George held up a hand to apologise. “Let me give you a lift. I hate to think of your little brother, of Toby, all alone." George knew only too well what being alone felt like. He'd been alone for most of his life. At least now he had his book for company. He was willing to bet all the money in his penny jar on Toby not having a book like George's to look at. He didn't think anyone in the world had a book as good as his.
He pushed these territorial thoughts of his book aside, inspiration taking their place. What if Toby could be his friend too? Luke was his best friend, of course, but he wouldn't mind if Toby played with us, would he? No, he would not. George bobbed his head, focusing only on this internal dialogue with himself. It would be something to finish the day with two new friends, wouldn't it? Yes, it would. He confirmed this with an obvious nod of the head. Fascinated, Luke was no closer to deciphering the enigma of George. He felt he had come close, but close didn't get him a cigar. George wasn't throwing your average curl ball. He was throwing balls which pirouetted through the air before knocking Luke for six.
"What about Cherry?" Luke asked. For a second George’s mind was an empty corridor, filled with nothing but the breeze blowing in ancient cobwebs. He had no idea what Luke was talking about. Cherry? Like the fruit? The strain of confusion contorted his features. His eyebrows millimetres away from embracing, like long lost friends reunited. He felt along the walls of his mind, groping for the light switch. His hand which wasn't seeking out the light switch made a clanging sound. Looking down, George saw it was the dog lead. Smiling, his brow smoothed at once. A satisfying click in his brain meant he had found and flicked the switch. One by one the lights came on, flooding the corridor with the light of memories. Cherry was his dog, of course. The dog he'd been so eager to find. How could he have forgotten? Silly George. Remembering pleased him, but had his forgetfulness made Luke suspicious? George couldn't tell by looking at him, his face giving nothing away.
Making a final show of looking around the area, he said, “I’m sure she’ll be fine, you know, Luke." His gave his voice a worried edge, the one he had perfected in the mirror. It felt important to show Luke he cared for Cherry. Especially considering he'd forgotten she existed only moments ago. "Besides, Toby being alone is more important. He could do with a friendly face or two. Don't you agree?" He gestured towards the van, the dog lead swinging in an arc as he did.
Luke, his mind now made up, began walking back towards the dirty van. The filthy exterior didn't give Luke much hope about the condition inside. If anything, he thought it'd be worse. George himself needed a makeover, like those ones his mother binge-watched all day. Between George's personal hygiene and the state of the van, the journey wasn't going to be pleasant. Luke felt discomfort would be a small price to pay though. Getting home was his main priority.
“Thanks, George," he said., looking across the bonnet of the van at him. "Hey, what if the three of us; you, me and Toby came back later to look for Cherry?" George's grateful doe eyes shining with tears made him feel awful. While his own heart sank quicker than a cruise ship hitting an iceberg, George’s soared. He'd been sceptical about making friends with Luke, to begin with. He'd almost ruined things several times and he couldn't believe they were now best friends. Trusting someone to be friends with your brother was a privilege only best friends got, he was sure. The only way today can get any better, thought George as he unlocked the van, is if Scooby Doo came to play with us.
"That would be brilliant," he said, emphasising 'brilliant' as he pulled open his door. "Six eyes are even better than four," he chuckled. Luke, as polite as always, chuckled back, but George didn't notice. His concentration focused on the laborious task of getting himself into the van. Luke, already seated, watched the tangle of arms and legs with amusement. He was sat on the scorching leather but in the most uncomfortable way possible. His aim, to ensure the skin of his bare legs never made the acquaintance of the seat. He didn't want to burn them. Getting home was the priority, but it wasn't a priority worth burning himself for.
George, fatigued but victorious in his endeavour, was now seated behind the wheel. “Sorry, it’s so hot in here, Luke. The windows aren't working,” he apologised, noticing how the boy wriggled in his seat. He pressed his thumb against the button, proving they were defunct. Clipping his seatbelt into place, George turned the key and set the gearstick to Drive. When he was 18, his father had taught him how to drive. They'd used his own manual car, to begin with, but George hadn't been capable of comprehending them. Numbers had been a mystery to him from a young age. He'd failed to improve as he got older, his grasp of numbers decreasing instead. Several failed teaching attempts ensued, one involving a severe beating from his father. George didn't blame his father; he felt he deserved the punishment for not being very bright. His father bought a second-hand automatic car when George was able to begin lessons again. Without the numbers weighing him down, George excelled, passing his test in a few weeks. This disappointed his father, who took great pleasure in ridiculing his simpleton son. With no justification, he'd be a bully like his own father had been. He'd have to find another reason to berate George and he doubted it would prove a difficult task.
As George pulled into the road, Luke hoped he would make it home. He wondered if he'd been too hasty accepting the life. He supposed time would tell. It usually did. “Left at the end of the road,” he directed, not wanting to give George the full address. , he didn't think George had the intelligence to navigate to an unknown address unaided.
“Right you are,” replied George. Luke, unnerved by this uncharacteristic display of intentional humour, twisted in his seat. Had George been acting this whole time? Dropping the dumb act now he had Luke cornered in the van? George's vacant expression reassured Luke. He hadn't been acting, it seemed. As unbelievable as it was, George had not realised he'd made a joke. His heart had crumbled to dust, like a vampire during a heatwave. He wished he could open a window.
George flicked the indicator and it began clicking in anticipation. Edging out of the junction, his head darted from side to side, checking for oncoming cars. George stayed below the speed limit for the entire journey, he was always cautious. He stuck to Luke's directions, like the pages in his book stuck to each other. Seldom adept at anything, George revelled in his driving skills.
The van was dirtier than Luke had anticipated. Much dirtier. A stale smell permeated everything and dust quilted each available surface. clinging to the hairs inside his nose. It made him want to sneeze. The smell would linger in his nostrils for days to come, assuming he still had any days left to come. They'd be arriving at his house in less than two minutes. If George had a plan, Luke believed he'd have executed it by now. When the driving took George's full concentration, Luke would observe him. There didn’t appear to be any malice in him and Luke didn't think he had a sinister motive. If anything, George was displaying the complete opposite - seeming innocuous and childlike.
“Left here.” Luke lifted his left hand and George, once again, becoming engrossed in turning the van. His tongue poked out from between his lips, a universal sign of concentration. of It was obvious to Luke how excited George was. He'd had an erection for the majority of the short journey. Luke was conscious of both the erection and of George's sporadic rubbing of the area. As had been the case throughout their encounter, George was unaware of his own sexual arousal. Although definitely nervous, Luke sensed an innocence in his motivations. They had exchanged few words since getting in the van. These had now dwindled into silence. Luke knew driving the van took a lot of George's attention, but the silence still felt odd. The others hadn't stopped for a breath, never mind a minute of silence. Always asking him questions, about himself, his family, school and Toby, of course. They were always very eager to me his unsupervised, fictitious little brother. George seemed to be different though. His extensive knowledge had convinced Luke early on that George was a child molester. Yet, it was almost as though he was unaware of his own deviance. He didn't know what he was doing was wrong. This wasn't something Luke had ever encountered before. Did it even make a difference? Did George's ignorance somehow lessen the severity of his actions? He didn’t know, and besides, it was too late now anyway. They were here.
George parked the van kerbside, pulling in at a perfectly straight angle. He turned to gape at the house. "Cool," he breathed, his mouth hanging open with wonder. Only someone of George's nature could have found a house as dilapidated as this cool. "You must love living here,” he remarked. George did notice the house was in disrepair, but this gave it character. Besides, it was the size which George liked more than anything. He thought of his own bedsit, cramped with only him there. This house was like a castle in comparison. If we're allowed to have a sleepover here one night, we'd have so much fun playing hide and seek. There were bound to be lots of hiding places inside a castle, George mused. He'd never actually been inside a castle before, but he thought he was still right. Not once shifting his gaze from the house, he unbuckled his seatbelt. With the added incentive, the struggle from the van became less gruelling. At the passenger side, Luke was out of the van and was filling his lungs with clean air. bathtub sized, thankful to be out of the van. He wasn't thankful for anything which would follow from this point onwards. He walked around the van, joining George in front of the house. Inside, behind the drawn curtains were his family. They would be awaiting his return under the cover of darkness and they would be hungry. Ravenous, in fact.
“Wow!” George exclaimed, his attention drawn to the tyre swing in the garden. His only exposure to swings were the ones he could not fit in at the local park. He’d never seen anything like this before. Lifting his finger, as though casting a hex on the swing, he said: “I bet you and Toby have so much fun playing on that.” His half-chewed, dirty fingernail gestured toward the unmoving tyre.
Luke sighed. “Yeah, I suppose so. Come on then," he said. He dragged his feet, attempting to delay, as he started up the stone path. George, still agog at the house, came lumbering along behind him. Luke regretted his decision, bringing George home for his family was a mistake. Usually, Luke chose their victims well, each one more perverted than the last. His handsome features and portrayal of childlike innocence were catnip to these predators. His vulnerable little brother, all alone in an empty house, was their downfall. Every single time. They were so predictable, it was becoming tedious. Greed and lust, the two most reprehensible character traits a human could possess. They were also what made these humans vulnerable and open to manipulation. Since moving to this area not twelve months ago, Luke had provided three of these monsters for his family. George would be the fourth. He'd been doing this for years. He was much older than those reading about him at this very moment. The only time his people would age was during their times of hunger. Now, his parents and grandfather were disintegrating. Their skin dry and crumbling, like pages in a well-read but ancient book. They wouldn't survive much longer. They couldn't. On his three previous hunts, Luke had brought stripper poles back with him. Tall and thin, to the point of emaciation almost, they'd yielded little in the way of sustenance. George was a big guy, almost bordering on obese and he'd keep the three of them well nourished. They'd be moving soon, their 'twelve months or four victims' rule in effect. Luke understood the necessity of relocating, but he hated it all the same. His age may have been beyond comprehension, but to the world, he was a child. Even to himself, he was, by and large, a child.
Moving was essential once police began to connect the disappearances. It would take them a while, the men having no known connections or affiliates. Their sexual provocations were, as a rule, a well-kept secret. Their true nature was often discovered post-death, which Luke always liked. Karma worked in mysterious ways. There were no bodies to find, his grandfather never wasting a mouthful. Several men disappearing from the same localised area, all within a year? You would have to be useless beyond words to not connect those stats. Luke had seen enough of them to know they were plentiful in local police stations up and down the country. No one would come out and tell them they were suspects. Small towns breed small minds and small minds talk a lot, but never to those who are the topic. Luke understood their mistrust. Whose suspicions wouldn't go to the family who never left the house or opened their curtains? If yours wouldn't, you're lying. Luke was the only one who was ever seen in the daytime. His parents, when nourished, would sometimes leave at night. Although this wasn't common. Most things fell on Luke's centuries-old guileless shoulders. A genetic quirk, allowing him outside even in the blazing sun, was all it took to become the sole provider. Luke didn't want the responsibility, he never did in all honesty. Offering himself up as bait to lure victims wasn't a problem, he was happy to do it. Feeding his family while ridding the world of animals who prey on children? Yes, would be his answer, every time. He'd give it before the question even needed asking. He had never once felt a smidgen of remorse for luring them into agonising deaths. Until now, that was.
Luke stopped in front of the heavy oak front door. George, still admiring the most mundane things, bumped into the back of him. Excitement had the better of him and Luke felt terrible for what he was about to do. Conning the little kid at the fairground with promises of prizes should they knock the cans over. Except you knew the kid was never going to win, you had skewed the odds in your own favour before the kid had even arrived. You'd always win against the vulnerable. Was he any better than those he hunted?
George was eager to meet Toby, but not in the same way the others were eager. George wanted friends, company, affection. Things he had longed for his entire life. The inevitable consequence of trauma; a warped perspective of love and all it entails. Had there been someone to care for him, his life may have been very different. Instead, George had learned to associated violence and molestation with love. There had been no one to teach him otherwise during those impressionable early years. As children, we learn all we know from the adults in our lives. The only consistent adult in George's life had been his alcoholic, violent father. A man who saw nothing amiss with raping his young, mentally disabled son on a nightly basis. Could someone like George be accountable for actions their simple minds deem to be the norm? What did it even matter at this point? Letting George leave meant letting his family starve, which wasn't an option. Which only left one option . . .
He sighed, turning the ornate, silver doorknob. With the obligatory horror film creak, the door swung open and Luke stepped into the murky gloom. George followed behind him, cautious but craning his neck to see into the house. Expecting to find a child alone, the sight which confronted him went beyond his feeble grasp. Of Toby, there was no sign. In his place were three of the oldest looking people George had ever seen. They must be the oldest people on Earth, he thought. They were fossils, creatures beyond any words George could conjure up. Their appearance made determining their genders difficult. The triumvirate was identical, one looked a touch older, but not enough to add any value. George, for reasons unknown, thought 'two men and one woman.' Gender mattered none as all three moved toward him. They glided, as though on conveyor belts. He retreated a step, terror chiselled at the lines of his face creating grotesque angles. Deformities such as those left behind by terror would drive anybody to the brink of lunacy. They had eyes that pierced into his own. Red eyes, which put George in mind of laser beams shooting at him through the sky. George opened his mouth. To sing? To laugh? To scream? His descent into madness already beginning, any were possible. With what remained of his logic, he tried moving his clumsy feet. Every muscle in him had frozen with fear. He wasn't moving from where he stood. Unavoidable given his situation, Georges's bladder burst its bank. He felt the warmth spreading out across the front of his jeans. George was unaware his intestines were heading towards the same fate.
One of the men, only inches away from his face, whispered, “He’s perfect," as George himself had done only hours before. When the man had spoken, George saw each tooth filed into razor-sharp points. The final frayed threads of his sanity snapped, like brittle twigs under heavy feet. They began to feed, it was going to be a long night. George died in the same way he killed: crying for his mother.