Then she came around a bend in the path and saw the lightning-struck tree blocking her course. There was no time to swerve, and if she tried to put on the brakes she would succeed only in being impaled on one or more of the tree’s dead, jutting branches. Even if she avoided that, there was Norman. She had gotten ahead of him a little, but if she stopped, even for a moment, he would be on her like a dog on a rabbit.
Rosie turned, feeling one of his outstretched fingers skate over the zat’s single shoulder-strap, and bolted.
He jumped up on the other bank and ran for his wayward wife, big hands outstretched.
She did it right, too, kissing the tip of it at him before running for the grove of dead trees ahead.
‘Want to do the dog with me?’ the stone boy enquired of her in a grating, uninflected voice. The hands clamping her wrist were all angles and squeezing, bitter weight. She looked over her shoulder and saw Norman leap onto the bank, the horns of the mask he had on digging at the night air. He stumbled on the slick grass but did not fall. For the first time since realizing it was Norman in the police car, she felt close to panic. He was going to get her, and then what? He’d bite her to pieces and she would die screaming, with the smell of his English Leather in her nostrils. He would-
‘You’re not getting away that easy,’ he breathed. ‘I don’t-‘
The stone boy moved then. Its arms came down and seized Rosie’s right wrist. Rosie screamed and beat fruitlessly against its two-handed grip. The stone boy was grinning, and as Norman watched, it stuck out its marble tongue and waggled it at Rosie suggestively.
It sounded so plausible, so right. He looked up, perhaps to see if the moon in the sky looked as much like a skull as the one in the water, and instead saw Rose. She was standing at the place where the path entered a grove of dead trees, beside a statue of a kid with his arms up and his crank hanging out in front of him.
She ran as she had when she was a girl, before her practical, sensible mother had begun the weighty task of teaching Rose Diana McClendon what was ladylike and what was not (running, …….