A Thing Greatly Feared, Chapter 8

English: Moon

The Daleys have an unexpectedly disturbing night at Sara Kremshaw's house. ... Image via Wikipedia

“Sara, what is it? What’s wrong?”

Darrell was scooching by Sara’s chair; she was leaning back in it, but her mind was elsewhere as she gazed away at the ceiling.

“Look, Sara. We know that you don’t know us that well, but we’re your friends now. We are. We want to help you.” Her eyes, big and glazy, moved a little. “Sara, we were talking about bears earlier.” He glanced at Hank, who nodded. “Have you seen a bear recently? Did a bear try to attack you?”

She looked at Darrell; her face contorted and she started crying again.

“Sara, it’s okay. Don’t be afraid to cry, and don’t be afraid to talk to us. We’ve, uh … we’ve had an experience with a bear ourselves. But look – we’re still here, we’re fine.”

If only it were that simple, thought Hank, but he knew that Darrell wasn’t naïve, just trying to help.

“Did you see a bear out here, outside your house?” said Darrell.

Sara nodded. “I saw something; I guess it was a bear – I don’t know. I was … sitting on the porch in the dark, and … and I heard a noise in the bushes, and I thought it was a deer so I-I grabbed my flashlight. … When it came onto the lawn, I turned on the flashlight and– and … ”

“And what, Sara? That’s when you saw it?”

Her nod was almost imperceptible. “I saw … eyes. Orange eyes.”

Hank stopped breathing for a second; anxiety washed over him, beginning in his chest and spreading from there.

She must mean yellow, thought Darrell. “Well that could’ve been a bear, or a dog. When did this happen?”

“S-Sunday night.”

“And did you see anything besides the eyes?”

Hank perked up.

“No. N-no.” Hank deflated. “But– but it growled.”

“Well bears and dogs both growl – that’s normal. Scary, but normal.”

“And it screamed.”

Hank perked up again.

“Screamed?” said Darrell. “Do you mean howled?”

“No, screamed. Like, like – like a hawk, o-only worse: meaner, angrier, ho-horrible.” She was starting to shiver, or shake – Darrell couldn’t tell which.

“Wade, go find a blanket, will you? Please?”

Wade left the room. Hank remained on the couch, wringing his hands and looking around, as if he was going to find the answer to his problem hanging on the wall or sitting on one of Sara’s shelves, ready to just pick up and use.

Wade returned a minute later with two blankets.

“I found these folded up on her bed.”

“Good. Thanks,” said his father, who draped them over Sara.

Darrell asked no more questions then, and Sara volunteered nothing more. She soon fell asleep.

“Hey guys,” whispered Darrell, “let’s go outside.”

They went onto the porch and closed the door behind them, careful to be quiet.

“Listen, um … first of all,” said Darrell, “I think we should stay here tonight – at least me and Wade. She’s obviously very shaken up and probably shouldn’t be alone.”

“I agree she shouldn’t be alone,” said Hank, “but are you sure we should stay? That might look kinda funny if people found out.”

“It might, but I’m willing to take that risk. Besides, I don’t think there’s anyone else who could do it. If you don’t feel comfortable staying, though, that’s fine.”

“Alright. We’ll see.”

“Second, I want to apologize to you, Hank.”

“For what?”

“For mentioning bear attacks earlier. That was really insensitive of me and I should’ve found a better way– ”

“It’s alright, I … didn’t even notice.”

“You didn’t?”

“No.”

“Oh, I thought you did, because you got up and went to the kitchen all of a sudden, right after I said it.”

“Oh. No. That wasn’t … anything to do with what you said.”

“Are you alright? I mean, was it just nerves or something like that?”

“Yeah. Nerves.”

“Well, don’t worry. I think you did fine tonight. We all did fine. I think she enjoyed our company, and I certainly had a good time. Didn’t you?”

“Yeah,” said Hank and Wade.

“So, you staying or going, Hank?”

“I guess I’ll go home. You and Junior can man the fort here, but I’ll be back first thing in the mornin’ to pick you up.” He started to walk away.

“Bright and early,” said Darrell.

“When I get here.”

Hank drove back to Darrell’s, but from the moment he stepped off Sara’s porch his thoughts were all about what she’d said, and about what he’d seen at Clyde’s, and about what he’d seen the day he and Wade hiked the Upper Basin … and about what he saw there 19 years ago.

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