This article is part of the That Insidious Beast series.
I run barefoot all the way back to my house. My skin is clammy and covered in goose pimples. I saw it. God above, I saw it. Every awful detail.
I bang in through the back door. My mom is cooking chili on the stove. She is startled. I am breathless from running all the way.
It comes out in gasps. It's there! There in the back of Mrs. Harding's house! Beside her garden. Playing with-
My mom realizes the magnitude of my claim. She snatches up the phone and calls the wardens. Sheriff Oates and two trucks of wardens arrive in minutes. The Sheriff is in a neat, brown uniform with a gleaming silver pistol on his side. The wardens are wearing homemade uniforms. Red shirts and blue pants, mostly blue jeans, with white kerchiefs around their necks.
I recognize some of the wardens as my Dad's friends from the lodge. A few are wearing old army helmets and carrying varmint rifles or shotguns. Most of the wardens are wearing mesh-backed caps. They're brandishing baseball bats and homemade weapons.
I watch them through the window. They are in two trucks in the street outside our house. An old man is passing out cigarettes and talking excitedly while my mother speaks to Sheriff Oates. They seem eager and afraid. I might have said they seemed tough yesterday. Not anymore.
I tug on Sheriff Oates' sleeve and finally get his attention. I try to warn him, but he just tousles my hair and smiles a big, gap-toothed grin.
We'll take care of it, he says.
It is lucky for him that the thing is already gone. None of them are ever going to forget what they see though.
Two towns over, a whole school full of kids are gonna be dead before the buses show up to take them home. I know they catch the thing in Billings. Drop a bomb right on it from an airplane.
I do not know how I know.
Out here in the Wild West we got some rules for gunfightin', like a pregnant lady ain't gotta be carryin' iron for you to draw on her first.
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