Carmen glanced around at the rest of her friends, daring anyone else to disagree. But no else did. She settled her gaze on the one who had interrupted her.
Kavita crossed her arms and peered ahead with her cool dark eyes.
“Why does there have to be winter?”
The asker was my little niece, all bundled up in black-and-silver fleece blankets. Her favorite colors. She didn’t ask the question just out of curiosity. She was frowning slightly. Winter had swallowed up her favorite season, autumn. (The season to which her only objection was, “why does there have to be so much orange?”).
I smiled. “Do you want the scientific explanation or the non-scientific explanation?”
“The only gift you ever ask for is a story, the same story, year after year.”
Nisha grinned at her uncle. “Well, I like the story, especially the way you tell it.”
“You, dearest niece, do not need flattery to win my heart. But I like the sound of it nevertheless. You shall have the story, of course. But I’ve brought you something else this year as well.” He pulled the basket he’d set on the table closer. Nisha had thought the basket was meant for one of her siblings. He lifted the top. “A gift,” he said, “as well as a burden.”
Sometimes a thing isn’t good or evil in itself. The sequence is a thing like this. It becomes good or evil when you touch it. If you are good, it becomes good. If you are evil, it becomes evil. But we humans…we are both. What happens when we touch it?
Sam lay her fingers on the page where those words were written. The man who’d written them had been dead for almost a century.
“Saddle up, honey,” she said. “This is just the beginning. You haven’t even started bleeding yet.”
“The Meriphim monster is not a cryptid,” I said. “It’s a machine.”
Even as there are monsters that hunt us, there are guardians who protect us.
I don’t remember much from when I was seven, but I remember the thing. I remember the fear. And I remember her.