“We all made it back. We’re safe. Take a deep breath,” Annie was trying to comfort Drew. He was rocking back and forth in her kitchen chair, staring at the floor with a blank expression.
“But those people… All those homes… Children…”
“Drew!” Stephen walked up and slapped his face. “Snap out of it!”
“Hey!” Annie pushed Stephen back.
Drew stood up and Annie retreated. Stephen stayed right in his face though, glaring with all his might.
“What did you do that for?” Drew asked.
“You’re losing it, man. It’s like we lost Nora all over again.” Stephen paused to let the words sink in, pain creasing Drew’s face. “But I can’t let you go back to that. We have work to do.”
Drew rubbed his eyes and shook his head, backing down from his brother. “You’re right…you’re right…”
“Good man. Now, everyone is waiting, come on.”
The three of them went back into the living room where the other believers were sitting.
“Sorry about that, everyone,” Drew said, attempting to smile.
“Don’t mention it,” Ryan said.
“Okay… so we know it’s down there, and we know it can bring on the rain at any time. Yesterday’s forecast was sunny all day. There wasn’t even supposed to be cloud cover. It noticed us and tried to attack. What do we do now?”
“Kill it?” Tim asked.
“Okay, how?” Stephen said.
“Blow it to high heaven!” Tim said.
“Sure, again though, how?”
They went quiet to think about that. It all sounded good in theory, but it wasn’t like any of them had explosives lying around.
“The cops?” Annie said, and they all looked up at her. “They could help. They’d have access to firepower, right?”
Stephen smiled and Drew laughed. Some of the others were showing signs of amusement, too.
“What?” Annie asked.
“Did the cops help find your missing neighbor?” Ryan asked.
“They came here- “
“Hours later?” Tim asked.
“Yeah, but- “
“What about when your boyfriend disappeared from his wrecked car?” Drew asked.
“I…no…they didn’t,” Annie looked away to hide her tears.
Drew went over to comfort her. “Look, we weren’t trying to be rude. We’ve just all talked to the police before. We’ve all tried to get their help, but they never listen.”
Annie shifted and reached for the tissue box on the end table. She noticed the edge of a card sticking out from under the box and her eyes lit up, remembering.
“This cop,” she snatched up the business card. “He wanted to help me. He was the one that came to tell me about Trey. He wanted to do something, so he gave me his card. Said to call anytime.”
The brothers exchanged a glance and Drew shrugged.
“It couldn’t hurt to ask one more time, I guess,” Stephen said.
Annie went into the other room to make the call. She wasn’t appreciating the condescending expressions and whispers coming from the rest of the group. When she returned, she felt much better and even had a smile on her face.
“Officer Davis will be here in ten minutes to hear us out,” she said.
“What did you tell him?” Drew asked.
“That we might have some information connected with the disappearances.” Annie shrugged. “It’s the truth.”
“Hopefully he doesn’t bust in here thinking he’s going to arrest someone,” Amanda said with a roll of her eyes.
Ryan shushed her, and they waited.
Officer Davis arrived right when he said he would, looking tired and a little unsure. Annie took his hat and he scanned the room. He studied the faces of all the tense believers before his eyes landed on the bulletin boards. He stepped closer, looking at all the missing posters. He reached out a hand to touch a small girl’s face on the poster for Analise Davis, then he turned back to the group.
“Whatever it is, I’m in,” he said, a slight gleam of tears in his eyes.