Sally Blevins woke up at around 11:00 AM. She had slept for a good long time, not interrupted by any dreams or nightmares. The beds at Mr. Eakham’s boarding house were very comfortable, and she had slept like a baby for nine hours straight. She had a number of things she wanted to do today, and the day was already half gone, so she got out of bed and showered. As she was getting dressed, she looked at the red dress she had worn last night, and how close it’s colour was to the colour of blood. She picked it up and examined it closer. Although there was certainly no blood on it, there are certain stains that will never get out, and she threw it in the trashcan. Putting on a pair of jeans and another new top she had bought, yellow this time, she went into the bathroom once more to remove her run-out make-up. Completely dressed and ready to go, she decided to turn on the television first, to check the news. Sally was surprised they even had CNN at Mr. Eakham’s, and watched intently as a new item came on about the situation in Mutant Town in Manhattan. It seemed the rioting had stopped, mainly due to the interference of a number of powered mutants belonging with a detective agency, who called themselves X-Factor. Sally chuckled a bit at the recycled name, and watched the ‘Mutant-On-The-Street’ interviews. The X-Men had been unavailable for comment, and the report concluded with the statement that it seemed more and more depowered mutants were crowding into Mutant Town following the event now known as M-Day. It seemed hard to believe that it had been only two weeks since most of the mutants on the planet had lost their powers. Flipping through channels on the television, she found a local text-service that ran Galloway County news. She read a number of pages, all of them uninteresting and trivial, until she came to the story of a local man in Limefield who committed suicide last night. Neighbours who had alerted the police had heard several gunshots. Sally shook her head at the suicide. “I guess you could call it that,” she said to herself, as she turned of the television, put on her boots and headed out.

Sally’s first order of business was getting breakfast, and she found it on the other side of the square, in a Diner called Francine’s. The waitress informed her that she was a little late to get breakfast at this hour, but she would see what she could get her. Sally thanked her, and picked up a newspaper. Reading through the funnies, the society column and even the sport-pages, she folded the newspaper away when the waitress came back with coffee, some pancakes and two eggs on toast. Sally thanked her, and ate her breakfast watching the world go by outside. Again she was struck by how much like home this town was, and how much more at ease she was with that thought since yesterday. Her father was dead. He had tried to kill her, and had ended up killing himself. Sally asked herself if she was okay with it, and no matter how deep she tried to dig in her mind, she found that she really was fine with it. A firm believer in the axiom that no crime should ever go unpunished, there had been justice in what happened last night. The man who raised her, and probably loved her as a child, had killed her mother, and had tried to kill her, too! Of course that still sucked, and it hurt like hell, but the man that died yesterday was in no way the father who had loved her. That was a man who had become a sick, twisted, violent, murderous beast, and in some ways Sally was glad that his continued existence no longer stained the happy memories of her childhood she kept, and finally dared to remember. Was that cold? Was she an unfeeling person? No, absolutely not. She was just a woman who was no longer afraid to put the blame where it belonged, and even though it hurt, the man had deserved what he got. Time to move on.

Having finished her breakfast, Sally was about to pick up the paper again to read while she finished her coffee, when a familiar little face appeared in the window. It was a plain looking brown haired, brown-eyed boy, who called himself Toby, but claimed to be a demon from limbo who called himself Joe. While she had fully intended to go out and find Joe today, she was a little surprised to have him find her. She gestured to him to come in, and the boy stepped into the diner. The waitress greeted him with a hearty ‘Hi Toby!’, as if the little boy was a regular who just came in. Toby greeted her back, and then joined Sally at her table. The waitress came up with a strawberry milkshake, and when Sally asked the waitress to put it on her tab, she was told that Toby always drinks on the house. Joe took a big slurp from his shake, breathed a sigh of satisfaction, and then looked at Sally.

“So, Joe… Don’t you have school or something?” Sally asked

“Please… It’s Toby, here. Don’t blow my cover!” Joe said

“Okay… Okay… But… What are you doing here?” Sally asked

“Well, I figured you had some questions. So maybe I can give you some answers….” Joe replied.

“Do you mean here? Now? What about your cover?”

“As long as you call me Toby, nobody will notice. Nobody listens to a little boy anyway” Joe replied smiling, and Sally knew he was probably right.

“Okay… So, straight answers, right? No cryptic demon-crap, okay!” Sally warned Joe

“Oh please… I haven’t been demonic in 6 years… So yeah, straight talk, no crap, I promise!”

Sally looked at the boy, still having her suspicions, but she decided to give it a go: “First question then: Why did you contact me? What do you want?”

“Simple. I want you help!”

“Doing what?” Sally asked, already annoyed at the vague answer.

“Getting away from here! Out of town!” Joe answered, while taking another huge slurp from his milkshake.

Sally shook her head at the insanity of talking about helping a 6-year-old boy get out of town “Why?” she asked.

“Because I can’t stay here anymore!” Joe simply answered.

“You are really going to be like this? Answering questions literally? Making me ask everything specifically?” Sally asked Joe, getting a little angry.

“Fine! I need to get out of town, because I can’t stay here anymore and I need to do stuff before it’s over. Simple!” Joe replied.

“I don’t understand… Why can’t you stay? You like it, right?” Sally asked

“I can’t stay, because I’m dying” Joe whispered.

Sally looked at Joe, and for a minute couldn’t get past the fact that the words she just heard came from the mouth of a six-year-old boy. She paused for a long time, trying to figure out what to say, and to take a sip from her coffee. Putting the cup down, she saw that Joe was absolutely serious, and that the look in his eyes betrayed the fact that there was actually a much older soul inside the young body than she had suspected.

“How is that possible? Is something… killing you?”

“Yes, and it’s me. I’m not only older than I look; I’m actually much, much older. We demons are not immortal. The greater ones are, but it’s all tied to our power. My power isn’t very great. I never had the drive to become greater. This life, this chance to become more than I am, this existence as Toby; this is what I wanted. I’m using my powers on a huge scale to keep this life, but I can’t keep it up. Soon, I’ll have spent all of my power, and then I’ll die. It’s really as simple as that.” Joe explained

Still slightly stunned by the turn the conversation had taken, Sally pressed on, asking: “But what does all of that have to do with me?”

“I want my death to be normal. I want my parents to remember Toby, not some demon-thing they found in Toby’s bed. I want Toby to die, and then get out of town before I actually die. Toby’s death must be normal, and then I can move away and die. That is why I need your help, to get me out of town after Toby’s death.”

************

Sheriff Derek Moseley was standing inside Bill Blevins’ living room. The body has been taken away, but the blood was still there. Derek looked around without emotion, but in his heart he felt a strong sense of satisfaction. The killer was finally dead, punished for killing his wife years ago. The official reading had been that Bill had committed suicide. The county doctor had been by to pronounce it, and Derek had filed it in his official report. Case closed, nobody cares. Derek was now wondering what to do with Bill and his earthly possessions. It didn’t look like Bill’s stuff would be worth much, and a state funeral since there are no heirs present was probably the best way to settle his affairs. What was his daughter going to do with the junk Bill had lying around and a house that wasn’t fit to live in for anybody but a pig like Bill Blevins. Maybe she would like a memento? Something to remember her family? Something of her mother’s? Deciding that it wouldn’t hurt to look around a bit, Derek did just that. He spent two hours meticulously combing through everything Bill owned, but couldn’t find any evidence of either Sally or her mother ever having lived in this house. Derek also couldn’t find anything of any value in the run down hovel the Blevins family had lived in. This struck Derek as odd, as Bill had had an expensive alarm system put in his house, and was very much the gun-wielding redneck, always ready to protect his possessions. So what was he keeping here? What was he protecting? There must be something. With that, Derek rolled up his sleeves, took some of Bill’s tools and started to systematically take the house apart, removing floorboards, taking apart cupboards, tearing down a hollow wall, and just generally destroying the house. After hours of deconstruction, and nothing to show for it, Derek started cutting open pillows and the mattress. That was when he found it. Stacks upon stacks of twenty-dollar bills. Derek took everything out of the mattress, and counted it. After recounting it twice he was satisfied that this was indeed 55,640 dollars, and he took a large paper bag from the kitchen. Having put all the money inside, Derek walked out to his car, and headed for Harington.

Driving in his car, Derek kept thinking about Sally Blevins. Sure, he had figured that Sally would come to her old man’s house, and that Bill would try to kill her. Sally being as unstable as she is, would kill her father by accident, finally giving Bill his just reward, and at the hands of one of his foremost victims. Justice served, case closed. Still, there was something not quiet right. The whole thing had been as predictable as Derek had always found people to be, but there was something he had not expected. Sally had come to her father’s house dressed to KILL. Just a figure of speech, normally, but this time it actually applied. Why did Sally show p beaming with confidence? He had expected a fragile young woman that would probably suffer a complete breakdown after the deed was done. One of the reasons Derek had been there waiting for events to play out, was to spirit Sally away afterwards, but that had not been necessary. Instead, the girl had walked out of the house after causing the death of her father just as confidently as she entered it. The only conclusion Derek could draw from the evidence that the Sally Blevins that showed up at Bill’s place was different from the Sally Blevins that had fled into the forest at the mere sight of her father. So what had happened in between? What kind of epiphany had Sally had out in the forest that had changed her so much? There was really only one way to find out. By now, Derek was driving past the Roadster Bar & Grill, and he turned his car into the parking lot. He got out, and looked around. There was nobody there, as the bar was still closed, and nobody would see him. After making sure his car was locked, Derek headed out into the forest.

Sally’s trail from the night before was not very hard to follow. The forest was quiet dense, and Sally had cut a trail through it that a blind man would be able to feel his way through. After about a half hour hike, Derek had reached the spot where Sally had lashed out with her force field at the surrounding growth, and he marvelled at the destruction. This was not the simple passive power display he had expected, but it seemed that the girl had found some ways to use her powers more offensively. “Something to update in my files”, Derek thought. Surveying the surroundings more closely, he found the spot where Sally had been sitting, but was very surprised to find that another person had been sitting there as swell. Judging from the pressure marks, this person had been a lot smaller. This was definitely something Derek had not predicted nor expected. He looked around frantically what other information could be learned from this scene, and found footsteps. Small footsteps, no bigger than those of a small child. Now what would a small child have been doing here last night, in the middle of the forest, talking to a completely freaked-out mutant? And what could that possibly have to do with said mutant regaining a level of confidence that enabled her to kill her father and walk away from it just like that? Derek smiled as he came to the conclusion that only one person in all of Harington could possibly answer these questions, and that was little Toby Jacobs.