Word reached one of our field monitors that young Jigs had attempted escape and been caught. It was that news which triggered a realization: the ‘monsters’ she had been talking about were real; and I knew who they were—at least in principle. With all that had been going on, and Audrey nearly killed, it had completely slipped my mind. Could it really be they, unseen by all? It all made sense with a sudden crushing weight of stifled panic.
The haunting, short interview—conducted whilst escorting her to the Militia headquarters—again rang in my ears:
“Jigs, why did you shoot at Audrey?”
“Because she’s a monster. I know she is,” the young girl spat out earnestly.
Struggling through all the emotion to stay calm, professional—as if I could do that anymore—and
utterly transparent in this impromptu interrogation, I grasped for
clarification while trying to loosen her up with a bit of humour: “She’s only a girl, Jigs. Not a monster, unless you play backgammon with her.”
Audrey’s indignant retort was cut off by Jigs’ correction, “No, she is a monster. A real one.”
Major Sole stepped in with a stern admonishment, still carrying her: “There are no real monsters, young lady. The real dangers here prevalent are enough for all to fear without the addition of phantoms.”
He happened to look at her eyes to register her reaction and stopped cold, staring at her.
Her voice changed. It became more of a terrified quiver; hushed and careful, yet utterly lucid and purely sincere, almost pleading. “They are real. You can’t see them, but I do. I see their shadows. They only move in shades of darkness where they can’t be seen. Shifting, tricking, lying, scaring… They’re real. They hunt children. And they’re everywhere, always moving. They’re watching us now.”
I shivered, not because I understood what she had said, but out of horror that such words could come from a young girl, even in this city. There were times when I was relieved that I was not offered the luxury of fitting in here.
Audrey barked out some nasty comment and shook Sole back to reality, and we all carried on toward the Milita office in silence.
It was odd. I had seldom seen Major Sole actually, visibly scared; and of the words of a child, at that. Remembering the conversation, the real cause of his horror finally struck me after all this time. He knew what she meant when I hadn’t. He knew who she meant. And the real horror was that she was dead right.
She was talking about them.
I needed to interview her again, but could only visit as a concerned acquaintance, and would according to policy be monitored. I could not allow anyone to hear anything which might put them at undue risk, but I somehow needed to talk to her again—with full comprehension of this information and not in shock from nearly witnessing my sister’s execution.
To clear my mind I needed to give in to vile temptation and go have just one drink to unwind. Or maybe two. This concession did have consequences, but never what might have been anticipated… (continued)