For the next week, everyone in town was waiting for something terrible and tragic to happen. There was even talk of a mass evacuation but Mayor Ben Cooper, who had held the office for twelve years running, assuaged people’s fears by reminding them that this was the twenty-first century and of course there are no such things as monsters, witches or goblins. Said out loud, it sounded absurd and everyone smiled or laughed at the silliness.
This was particularly effective in the daylight hours, and in those times, spirits were high. Of course, once the sun set, it was a different story. Despite his outward lack of superstitions, the Mayor wore a cross around his neck, a bottle of holy water in his right pocket and a cold iron nail in the left. Just in case.
Folks now tended to cluster, either in their homes or at the pub. If you had to travel at night, people always went in groups. It felt safer and so far, nothing, except for the appearance of “That Woman,” had happened. Of course any dog barking or cat hissing was seen as a raised alarm. While it is true that animals are sensitive to things that humans are not, most dogs are inclined to bark with little provocation and cats hiss at even less.
A week passed and nothing happened, at least nothing out of the ordinary. Barry, who worked at the garage sprained his ankle while fleeing what he thought was a spectral figure but was in fact, a tarp hanging on a door frame that blew open from a gust of wind. Barry told everyone he slipped on some grease on the garage floor, which sounded foolish but less foolish than running from an imaginary phantom.
Since the town was whole and there were no supernatural crises, life went back to normal. The sun shined, children played and all was right with the world. Of course it didn’t last.
The harbinger of that was the deep baritone rumble of a motorcycle, roaring into town early one morning. It wasn’t the presence of this particular mode of transport, they were common enough, it was the rider. If Rachael’s appearance was the gold standard of innocuousness, this person was the height of ocuousness, which is clearly not a word but nothing else quite fits.
Over two meters tall, with long, shaggy red hair, dressed in worn biking leathers, adorned with a plethora of chrome chains and what looked like amulets and talismans, this lady, if we’re being polite and it would advisable to do so, pulled up in front of the butcher shop just as it was opening for the day.
Ernie, owner and proprietor of said shop was just about to turn the open for business sign when he spotted this new visitor. Understandably, he was overwhelmed, as I’m sure you would be. Please, you know you would.
A sharp rap brought Ernie back to the present, that and the looming figure in his doorway.
“Mornin,” said the looming figure.
With a start, Ernie replied, “Good morning!”
“Are you open?”
“Yes, yes! Of course!” Ernie turned the sign and leap back. “Please, what can I do for you?”
Opening the door, she entered. The butcher, who was not by anyone’s definition, dainty, felt like a small child next to this customer and hurried behind the counter.
“How’re the bangers?”
“Best in the county!” said Ernie in a higher pitch than normal, “Old family recipe!”
“Alright then. I’ll take’em,” replied the very large woman.
“How many did you want?”
“I said, I’ll take’em.”
“All of them,” said the looming figure, who seemed to be even bigger, but how could that even be possible.
“That’s going to be a bit expen-“
Ernie trailed away as his patron produces a large roll of cash from her pockets.
“Not a problem. Throw in three geese and some meat pies if they’re fresh.”
“Made them this morning!” squeaked Ernie.
Ernie’s butcher shop was not the only stop. She went to the cheesemongers, the bakery, and picked up a keg of stout and a case of wine. Afterwards, no one could say how she took so much food and drink out of town on just a motorcycle, even as large a one as she rode. The prevailing opinion was she had a cart of some sort, or maybe a large sidecar, even if no one could recall exactly which she had. All of that couldn’t fit in the large saddlebags on the back. On that everyone agreed.
No one asked where she was heading, or even her name, which was Georgia. But they knew where she was headed. Everyone was afraid that something terrible was looming. It was, but not in the way they feared.