Beyond the thin walls of the trailer the day was getting darker and the air colder. He pulled his gloves out of his jacket's pockets and put them on.
Need to start the generator for the lights, he thought, opening the door and stepping out into the cold. He walked to the where the generator was chained to the back of the excavator for the night. Tom double checked the fuel, hit the ignition and fired up the generator.
The lights which were suspended from tall, temporary, steel frames flickered into life. Cones of bright, harsh light appeared around the gathered pieces of equipment and Tom nodded to himself. He turned and started to walk back to the trailer and then stopped.
What the hell? He thought, turning back towards the generator.
Standing just inside the tree line, just inside the very edge of the light was a young boy. Maybe six or seven, no older than Tom's youngest brother.
The boy's skin was pale and seemed sickly. He had short, black hair, and he wore a black suit and a white shirt with a black tie. On his feet were battered canvas All-Stars. The suit coat that he wore hung strangely, as if it was too wide in the back, or torn up the center.
Tom took a cautious step towards the boy.
They were out in the middle of nowhere, as far as Tom was concerned, and the only person that he knew of living in the area was the old man who lived up the dirt drive. And that was half a mile farther up the road.
"Are you okay?" Tom asked.
The boy nodded.
A little bit of relief slipped into Tom -- but only a little.
"Are you lost?"
The boy shook his head.
"Are you with someone else?" Tom asked.
Again the boy shook his head.
"Are you cold?"
The boy nodded.
"Well," Tom said, "do you have a phone?"
The boy nodded.
"Did you call anyone?"
The boy looked at him, confused for a moment, then shook his head.
Maybe it's not charged, Tom thought, or bad reception.
"I've got a phone inside if you want to use it," Tom said, "or I can grab you a blanket out of my truck if you want to wrap up in it. I've got pizza on the way, and I can call someone for you too."
The boy looked at him, hardly blinking.
"Um," Tom said, rubbing the back of his head. "Do you want to come inside and warm up and use the phone?"
The boy smiled and nodded.
"Cool," Tom said, relieved. He didn't want the kid to think that he was some kind of pervert or anything, but he didn't want the kid out in the cold either. Tom would sit at Mike's desk and let the kid sit in the recliner. Then Tom could call the police. That is, if Thorne even had a police department.
He shook his head and then stumbled back.
The boy was right beside him.
"Jesus Christ!" Tom said, his heart thundering in his chest. "I never even heard you!"
The boy smiled happily.
Yeah, Tom thought, shaking his head. This kid is exactly Matthew. Must be the age, he thought, remembering some of the shit that his youngest brother liked to do.
"Okay, kid," Tom said, "come on with me. I'm Tom, by the way," he said, extending his hand.
The boy shook the offered hand, the boy's own small hand was deathly cold to the touch. "I'm Morgan," he said.
"Nice to meet you, Morgan," Tom said, letting go of the boy's hand quickly. He led the boy to the trailer and up the three steps that took them inside.
The boy smiled and walked over to the heater, holding his hands out to it. Tom sat down at Mike's desk and saw that Morgan's suit coat was indeed ripped up to nearly the center of his shoulder blades.
"Does someone know where you are?" Tom asked, reaching for his phone.
"Yes," Morgan answered.
Tom disconnected his phone and saw that the battery was nearly dead. What the hell?
Shaking his head, Tom plugged the phone back in. Sitting back in Mike's chair, he looked up and saw Morgan standing in front of the desk.
Tom's heart leaped.
Christ! This kid is way too quiet. He must drive his parents nuts.
"What's up?" Tom asked.
Morgan looked confused, glancing up at the ceiling then back down at Tom.
"Ah, well," Tom said. "I mean, do you have a question?"
"Yes," Morgan said.
"What's your question?" Tom said.
"Why are you tearing down these trees?"
The boy had hazel eyes, Tom realized, and they were fixed steadily on Tom.
"It's my job," Tom answered. "The company I work for was hired to clear the land for houses."
"This is your job?" Morgan asked.
"Yup," Tom answered.
"This is your job," Morgan said again, then he added, "Do you live in Thorne, too?"
"Yes," Tom said again, wondering if something was actually wrong with the kid's head.
"Then I am sorry."
"Why?" Tom asked, genuinely confused.
Yet Morgan said nothing. He simply stared at Tom.
"Why are you sorry?"
And as the last syllable left Tom's mouth, Morgan leaned over the desk, grabbed Tom by the head with both hands and dragged him out of the chair.
For a moment, Tom was stunned, and then he felt how cold the boy's hands were. There was immense strength in that small frame. At first Tom shouted, then he screamed, flailing at the boy with his fists, trying to get to his feet, yet Morgan jerked him off balance.
Morgan pulled Tom towards the door, which flew open of its own accord as they neared it, and a heartbeat later
Morgan was dragging him down the steel stairs and into the yard.
There, just a few feet away was a large hole. One that hadn't been there before.
Morgan moved confidently towards it.
Tom saw the hole, and he knew what was coming.
He shrieked and tried to wrench his head away, but the boy tightened his grip, stars of pain exploding around Tom's vision.
Tom punched at the boy, clawed at Morgan's hands, pulled at the boy's clothes, but nothing stopped the quiet child's steady approach toward the hole. Then Tom was in the hole, Morgan holding him down, looking calm as the dirt started to fall into the opening.
Tom continued to fight, but soon the earth had his legs buried, and then his waist and his chest. One arm became pinned beside him, the other upraised to strike when Morgan settled back, letting go.
"I'm sorry," Morgan said as the earth swept over and around Tom's head, leaving him gasping and in darkness. "It won't be quick."
And it wasn't.