A few hours after the patrol car had departed the parking lot, his neck
stiff, an old injury talking through his knee, he woke with a start. Now
it was stronger, that call of Shag, that disruption on the air. He shook
his head, looked for the patrol car, walked toward the mall. It came again,
stronger, not a voice, not words, not his name, but a humming, a vibration,
near electrical. Twice he went past one store, only to come back and feel
the announcement again.
He entered the store, an open building that seemed to spread as wide as three football fields. He could smell popcorn, flowers, and the burnt skin of chicken frying. Should he stay by the door? Was it the only way out of the store? Would he be here for hours? No, he would be active. He would pursue the feeling, the sensation, that vibrating hum still coming at him.
Scanning the store for the silhouette of someone carrying a child, he picked an aisle and started down it. Back over his shoulder he looked, afraid he might miss something, and looked down side aisles. A hum of voices came to him, a caustic static that intruded on the vibrating hum. A wife arguing with her husband.
Back he went to the main aisle, crossed over, looked down the aisle. The silhouette was exclusive; a woman holding a child. A man near her was looking at a display of security alarms, a big man, wide across the shoulders, in worn dungarees and work boots. The woman was in her late thirties, dark hair, red lips. She hummed to the infant in her arms.
The eyes of Brittan Courvalais met the eyes of his grandson Shag. The boy’s
head came up off the woman’s shoulder.
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