Kaia rocked Vlael, holding her snug to her chest. Theo, sitting, lifted the binoculars to his eyes. They’d been watching the hideout for close to an hour. Trying to get an idea of the kind of people that lived there. They’d seen bones and skulls—human—on their way in. That’d been enough for Kaia. No way, no how, were these the sort of people she wanted anything to do with. Theo said it was probably just a scare tactic.
“I want to go, Theo. Don’t try convincing me good, wholesome, people put human bones out front of their home.”
“Doesn’t mean they killed anyone, they might have just fou—”
Kaia was shaking her head, “I didn’t say anything about killing.” She stroked Vlael’s hair, fine as spider’s silk. That was an odd thought. She scanned the area. It was this foul place. There was something vile about the people that lived here. “I said good people don’t put human bones out.” She locked eyes with her husband. “Would you? Hm? Put skulls and bones, humans, in front of our house to warn people?”
Theo turned back. “No.” Smoke issued from the shed’s little chimney. Movement caught the edge of his vision, his swung his gaze that way. A tree blocked his view. He dropped the binoculars. Leaned side-to-side, but it was no use. “Kaia, here, look,” he pointed. “Something happened.”
Kaia held the binoculars with her right hand, minding little Vlael with her left. “I don’t…Oh, okay, yeah. Oh he looks real fun.”
“What does that mean?”
Kaia shrugged. “Rough. He’s got a smoke. Wetting it with his lips…Lighting it. Headed towards the shed. Here.” She handed the binoculars back. Vlael moved, but remained asleep, her head resting against mother’s chest.
“He went in. I think their smoking meat.”
“I still say it smells weird.”
“It just smells like meat.” Theo held still, watching.
Kaia shook her head. Yeah, weird meat. Something about this place was off. She looked up and saw movement in the distance. The man exiting the shed, but he was too far for her to see details. But plenty close enough to feel that they needed to go.
Theo swallowed. “Okay, yeah…Come on, let’s back away. Nice and easy. Oh, shit—stop. Don’t move, Kaia. I think he’s looking this”—he drew deep breaths.
Kaia’s heart began to pound. We shouldn’t have stayed here. This was a mistake. We need to leave right now. Vlael stirred. She felt it too.
“No, we’re good.” Theo sighed. “He’s headed back to the barn.”
An hour later, on the road, her heart finally beating normal, Kaia asked, “What was it?” It was the first thing either of them had said since leaving that place.
“A hand.” Theo said. He let that sink in, then glanced over and nodded. “A human hand. Unless there’s monkeys that live out here.”
“What was…He was eating it?”
Theo nodded. “Like a chicken wing.”
Kaia sucked a breath through clenched teeth, checked the side view mirror. “I don’t want to serve chicken wings at our restaurant.”