Adam observed everyone’s reactions to Jen’s words. Mrs. Johnson looked relieved but the others were glancing at each other uneasily. Jen came back over to her seat and sat on the edge with her hands grasping her knees.
“Okay, Jen, how about you red us your statement.” Adam picked up her sheet off the floor where she’d left it and handed it back to her.
“Okay.” Jen’s hands shook a little as she read over her words. “We were on the bus, going to the zoo, and singing with the kids. We braked suddenly and then hit a pole. Mandy fell off her seat and was crying. I was helping her back onto her chair when the scream first came and broke the windows. I impulsively closed my eyes and covered my ears. When it stopped, Mandy wasn’t there. None of the kids were. We got off the bus and they weren’t there either. Then there was a second scream and we found the woman missing her baby. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut…and I don’t remember anything else until the cops showed up.”
Jen took a deep breath and lowered her paper. She stared at the ceiling as she slowly let the breath out, but everyone saw the tears welled up in her eyes.
“Okay, now tell me what you remember about the woman,” Adam said after she seemed more composed.
“Well,” Jen kept her eyes on her hands as she considered the question. “she was curled up on the ground with a baby blanket next to her car.”
“How did you know it was her car?” Adam interrupted.
“Oh, well, there was a car seat in the back.” Adam only nodded so she continued. “And she was crying that her baby was gone. And…I don’t know.”
“What did she look like?”
The others were still listening curiously, but Mrs. Johnson had her lips pursed together and she was watching hopefully.
“She – uh – had curly black hair. Um, fair skin and a small nose. About my height I’d guess…she was on the ground but um… I didn’t see the color of her eyes…”
Adam was watching Mrs. Johnson now as she twisted a strand of her black hair around her finger. “Was there any features that stuck out to you?”
Jen shut her eyes and thought about it. “She…she had a…scar.” She opened her eyes and seemed scared now as she glanced around. “A scar on her arm like a figure eight.”
Everyone turned to Mrs. Johnson now, but she was no longer in her chair. Adam spun around, sure he’d been staring at her the entire time. The lights flickered and then went out aside from the one illuminating the circle of chairs.
A cackle of laughter shook the room.
“What’s going on?” Liz said, her voice tearful as she kept looking all around the room.
“What did you do with the children?” Adam asked in an attempt at an authoritative voice.
“I ate them,” she growled next to his ear and he fell off his chair into the circle.
But she wasn’t there. The room was still dark.
“Why?” Jacob choked out the word.
“They were taken in the name of the gods.” Her voice echoed around the room and they trembled.
Another laugh vibrated around them. Liz and Jen were clutching each other. Jacob was openly sobbing as he held onto his chair like a life preserver. Doug was on his feet, fists clenched at his sides.
“Where are you?” he demanded.
The lights came back on and she was standing near the door. Her eyes were balls of fire and she smiled in a way that showed too many teeth.
“The children will no longer be a burden.”
And she was gone.