Jethro stared in disbelief at the palm of his hand. He'd gotten the splinter only a moment ago, but things had escalated. The eleven-year old saw dark grey tendrils reaching and probing their way under his skin, through capillary and blood vessel, growing rapidly. When the blackness started to work it's way up his arm, he felt a madness take him, and Jethro was no more. Simeon had taken his place. "Stop being a cry-baby, it's just a sliver," Justin taunted. "You always cry at stupid things. I'm going to tell everyone." Jethro's father had always said that bullies like Justin would always get theirs in the end. Somerwhere along the line, someone would always teach bullys a lesson. "Stop, Justin, he's not crying." Kendin, said. She was older than the other boys by a year, and often times held the authoritative edge. She moved to Simeon's side, unaware of any danger, and took his hand in hers for examination. "This is... Weird." She concluded, looking up at Justin. "We need to get him home, help me Justin." "Ask nicely." Justin commanded. "Go to hell." Kendin shot back. "I shouldn't have come here with you idiots," Justin retorted, becoming so angry that Kendin could see his face getting red, "everybody said this place was haunted, but it's not, nothing cool has happened. Jethro cried all the way here, cried because of a sliver, and now he needs his mommy." Justin finished, punctuating the air with his air quotes. Kendin lifted her middle finger at Justin and told him to fuck off, but Simeon had no care in the world for such childish battles. Something greater awaited him. "Let's go inside." He suddenly suggested. Justin, who'd cursed and had begun to stalk away, turned and said "Finally, crybaby picked up his nuts. You in, Kendin?" Kendin frowned, but that was what they had come here for, after all. "Sure, but fast. Jethro's hand is nearly black. Does it hurt?" She asked, prodding the black flesh. "No." Simeon said. He stood, turned, climbed up the porch and headed into the dilapidated building. "Watch for slivers..." He said before disappearing entirely. Justin followed, and then Kendin as well. They didn't come out for a fortnight. -------------------- Rid spat on the sidewalk as he walked, caring only for his thoughts. He was passing the house where the Flaggerty family had been murdered, and his thoughts paid their memory some respects. He'd never known them very well, but they'd had a rough time right before they'd kicked it; their girl goes missing and they have a meltdown the whole bleeding town can hear, and the day they go silent is the day they're all found dead. Terrible things happen all the time, and this town is no different. Rid told himself, but he did wonder who'd done it. He'd already gone through the list a couple of times, and the police had come by more than once asking him about it. "Fellas, I'm too old for this shit, alright?" He'd tell them, every time. "Nobody here matches the profile, to my knowledge. You'll have to catch the sunuvabitch to know who it is." He'd agreed to keep an eye out for anything strange, as usual, and then he'd banged the door shut and went back to his research. That's what he did these days, research. On anything he could lay his hands on. He was a scientist, and a damn good one too. He made his way to the makeshift command center that had been set up for search and rescue; two weeks and nothing had turned up. Ever since the Flaggerty murders, the search operation no longer allowed civilians to participate, but that didn't stop those idiots from running around in the woods to pursue who was probably an armed and dangerous individual. Despite shutting down the cops, Rid's participation became almost obligatory in the investigation when the FBI entered the picture. He lit a cigarette, walked into the command pavilion and announced, "Alright, shitheads. Who's yappin' first?" "Nobody needs your attitude today Rid, we're all tired and we need answers, else we wouldn't have called you in." Reed Douglas said as he stood, holding a file. He walked over and shoved the file into Rid's chest. Rid tried to grab it before it all fell to the floor, but he couldn't quite catch it all in time and ended up dropping his cigarette with everything else. "Still a dickhead, you'll never change. Cigarettes are expensive these days." Rid said as he gathered up the contents of the file. He stomped on the cigarette as he began to flip through the file, and immediately lit up to see that it was his own work. This is really old stuff, where did the dickhead find this? "This is classified." Rid said, cracking a smile. "And so are you. Isn't it strange that this kind of thing would happen right where you decided to retire?" Douglas said, not sitting back down, but choosing to hover over his makeshift desk, which was a mess. Kami Kirido, Douglas' partner, smirked and fixed Rid with a glare. Rid didn't know Kirido very well, but she was FBI; she was an asshole, a really attractive asshole, but rumor had it she was a headhunter in the witch-hunting department. This was starting to smell like a witch hunt, after all. Rid would have to be careful around that one. Douglas continued, "I think you know more than you told the cops, Rid. You always were a liar." Rid let the file fall back to the ground. "Sure I do, but I was told to keep quiet. As long as the pension keeps coming, my mouth may as well be stitched shut. I'll tell you what, though, this ain't no fuckin' Coven. They don't go after the family. It's probably some junkie psycho who took the kids and needs to kill the families for a change of ownership. We've seen this shit before... Unless you know more than you're letting on." Meanwhile, only miles away, screams ripped through a suburban home and then silence fell again. Simeon walked out of the home, and back towards the woods.