Those Across the River
Failed academic Frank Nichols and his wife, Eudora, have arrived in the sleepy Georgia town of Whitbrow, where Frank hopes to write a history of his family's old estate-the Savoyard Plantation- and the horrors that occurred there. At first, the quaint, rural ways of their new neighbors seem to be everything they wanted. But there is an unspoken dread that the townsfolk have lived with for generations. A presence that demands sacrifice.
It comes from the shadowy woods across the river, where the ruins of Savoyard still stand. Where a longstanding debt of blood has never been forgotten.
A debt that has been waiting patiently for Frank Nichols's homecoming...
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He came out to see me in the cage because I belonged to him.
I was like a new racehorse he still found interesting enough to visit at night, when the others were asleep. He sat there cross-legged on the wet ground, unmindful of the light rain that was falling on him. It wasn't enough to extinguish his cigar, but it was enough to keep my ruined back waterlogged; enough to make me think my bones were made of cold pewter.
I had drifted in and out. He might have been there an hour before I noticed him.
"You're going to die out here," he said.
He didn't say it to frighten me.
He just said it.
"Yes," I said.
It occurred to me for the first time that they might eat me. Then I shook that thought away; if they meant to eat me, they wouldn't have let my flesh get this rotten. They wouldn't have left me with so little food. I wasn't good enough for them to eat.
"I'm not good enough for you to eat," I muttered into the rain, too tired to choose between thinking and speaking. You or I wouldn't have heard it. But their ears were very good.
"Maybe just your heart," he said, without irony or double meaning. It wasn't like speaking with a person. He was just a shadow against other shadows.
"Okay," I said.
Having my heart eaten sounded good and final. I wanted to lie down with the dead. I wanted to be numb and blind and without memory. But that's not what happened.
I kept my memory.
Especially the parts I didn't want.
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