Troop 86 watched Dusty cross the road. Unable to see, Skinny could feel his approach.
“What’s going on here?” Rehearsed confusion slowly dripped down Pa’s face.
Gerald was hesitant with his words, Barry too. “Boys, keep back.” Gerald whispered to the troop, who seemed unconsciously aware of Dusty’s pleasures and were already backpedaling to the trees.
“Just waiting on some help.” Barry spoke up with a smile.
“Help? Oh no! One of your boys fall ill?” His confused squint twisted, his burned nose shriveling with anger, his lips curling, turning white, then relaxing with self-aware concern. Dusty could barely stand still in the presence of Skinny, alive, who had the power to end everything for he and Egger.
“‘Round here, we have ways of takin’ care of our own. Mind if I see the child? Might have a remedy handy for it.”
Barry and Gerald rose from Skinny’s sides and stood guard in front of her.
“That’s very kind of you, but we already called for help. They’ll be here any minute.” Gerald puffed his chest, suspicious, leaning forward into Dusty, who was raising and lowering his neck over their shoulders and between their arms trying to catch a glimpse of Skinny.
“Ah, I see, I see.” He nodded, close enough that both men caught his stink, the sight of his gapped grin, and small-fingered scratches lining his arms.
“Hey! I think I know that girl! She ain’t one’a yours!” His long, cracked finger pointed towards Skinny’s face, whose breathing heaved as she kept her eyes slammed shut. White stars filled her darkness, and though she tried focusing on them, she felt as helpless as she was under the porch. All of these kids, two more adults—they’ll die because of her. As sweat poured over her face, Skinny thought again of being doused in blood, covered in sticky warm paste, drowned in the taste of iron.
“Hey, mister, we appreciate you wanting to help ‘n’ all, but we got a large enough crew here to make sure she gets to the hospital safe. Thanks again.” Barry said finally and confidently, backing up Gerald and mimicking his chest-heave.
“Well that just ain’t how this is gonna end, hate to lay it on you fellas like that.” Dusty shook his head, looking down at the tar beneath his corroded, blood-stained boots. In one fluid motion, he reached into the back of his pants and raised a hunting knife to Barry’s throat, piercing through flesh and spilling blood out the other side. It pooled in Barry’s mouth, and he spent his last moments in a hazy stare at Dusty as death swirled around him. Dusty pulled his knife out and Barry collapsed to his knees, then face-first on the grass. The boys screamed, huddling together near Skinny, who finally opened her eyes.
With his next raise, Dusty aimed at Gerald, who was already charging him with his shoulder dropped, bringing both men fighting to the floor. Dusty’s grip was strong—years of practice holding on when things tried breaking free—and his knife jammed deep into Gerald’s shoulder, releasing a guttural scream from the Scoutmaster.
“Gerry!” The boys screamed, helpless in the unfolding carnage. From the ground, Skinny stared at the blue sky, clouds slowly grazing around the sun, whose beams fell upon the horror unfolding all around her. “I am not a monster” she repeated, struggling to lift off the ground as the two men struggled. Though the knife was buried deep, Gerry’s adrenaline forced Dusty off of him, and both scrambled towards each other for a quick and final advantage.
Slow to her feet, Skinny patiently let her vision fully return, watching Pa and Gerry desperately try to end the other. “I am not a monster” she repeated, glancing at Barry’s gurgling corpse, reshaping blurs of color to t-shirts and pants, to men and death. Noticing a walking stick, she picked it up, and with the rest of her energy, dropped it hard over the back of Pa’s head. Again. And again. As Pa turned over, his arms crossed over his face, and Gerry crab-walked from under him, panting and reaching for his shoulder.
“I AM NOT A MONSTER” She screamed, over and over, dropping the thick stick down again and again, Pa’s arms falling limp and his tormenting face becoming more and more unrecognizable—uncorked eyes, swallowed teeth, and a mash of flesh, bone, and blood slapping her wet mallet and splashing Skinny’s face and shirt until the stick finally snapped in two. Horror washed over Gerry’s pale face, his head bobbing from pain and reality, unable to do anything but watch Skinny end her Pa. He scooped Skinny into his arms, restraining her arms as they ached for more.
“I AM NOT A MONSTER. You bitch! You stupid bitch! FUCK YOU!” She roared at the mess, collapsing into Gerry and giving in to her tears and exhaustion. Troop 86 silently watched, still huddled together in a tight ball. They slowly released from shock and laid the makeshift sleeping bag gurney over Pa—just to shield their young eyes from Skinny’s vengeance. “Don’t pick him up! Drag him! I’ll fucking kill you! Drag him!” She screamed this way to Troop 86, regurgitating the evils Pa and Egger had told her since she was unfortunate enough to remember. 15 minutes later, the first glimmer of light against metal could be seen in the distance, and was soon accompanied with the piercing wails of emergency sirens. One of the boys approached Skinny, her teddy bear in hand. “I…I think you dropped this in the woods. I carried it out for you.” He never made eye-contact with her, afraid that Skinny might unleash on him—afraid to look into the eyes of the girl who saved them all. Egger and Pa’s words dried in her mouth instantly and she fell silent though her lips continued. Reunited with her teddy bear, Skinny at-once began rubbing its grooved paw, pacified while rocking back and forth to sounds she’d never heard before.