Writing in Public: Story 3, Scene 3
Grace had to go outside to be by herself. She didn’t want the two men to see the fear that gripped her. They would think less of her, and she was supposed to be the expert.
But the sunlight did little to warm her up. The cold that had seeped under her skin had gone into bones, burrowing deep.
The door banged and heavy feet thumped down the steps.
“You okay?” Samuel.
Grace stared at her bare feet. “It’s a nest. There were at least three of them. I’ve never gone after that many without help.”
She didn’t say it aloud, but the other hunter had been a lot more experience. She only had seven kills; he’d had more than twenty. How was she supposed to take on this nest when he hadn’t been able to? The sea folk were fast and dangerous on land, and even faster under the water, in their element.
“Do we have any other choices besides killing them?” That was Alexander, standing in the doorway. “Can we drive them away?”
Grace almost snapped at him, but Samuel squeezed her shoulder gently. It wouldn’t do to get angry, not right before she was going to dive. How could the Lighthouse Council, managing all the lighthouses for that last one hundred years, not understand anything about the hunters or the sea folk? It had to be the reason why the lighthouses were slowly being closed down.
“No,” she said when she trusted herself not to get mad. “These have fed on humans. Once they do that, they’re going to continue killing. And they’ll get more aggressive, more bold. There was a nest ten years back that went into a town. Everyone dead.”
“What about if we kill them when they came ashore?” Alexander asked. “I could get you men and rifles.”
This time she couldn’t help it: Her anger flared out at him. “And they would all die.”
“They’re God-awful fast,” Samuel said. “I wouldn’t want to face one, even armed with a rifle. I don’t think I could shoot fast enough.”
From the way Alexander was looking at Grace, she wondered how much he really did know about hunters. There were lots of stories, many of them made up. Most of the Lighthouse Council didn’t like dealing with the messiness. They used to be better, years ago, when the attacks were more frequent. But politics had intervened, and men with different agendas had signed on. Those men thought the lighthouses were too expensive to maintain, and the hunters a story perpetuated by scam artists. Where did Alexander fit?
“I dive down to the caves during the day, while they’re sleeping,” Grace said. “If I’m lucky, I can catch them off guard.”
“You think you know where they are?” Samuel asked.
“There’s cave near where I found the footprints.”
Samuel gave her a smile. “You got me. I’ll go out on the boat with you.”
“And me,” said Alexander.
“Why?” she asked, her voice going stony.
Alexander came down the steps like he was thinking about each step before he took it.
“The last person was killed while I was there. I wasn’t far away. I heard him…it was a horrible sound. I ran…and I was too late. It was someone I knew and he was alive and then he wasn’t. I don’t know if I can do any good, but I’d like to help.”
Maybe it would be enough. Grace wasn’t sure if anything would be enough.