Stephen ducked back and grabbed a gun for himself. He didn’t know if he was angry at the people for leaving after they were warned, or because they were murdered — eaten —within earshot of the monastery, his home. He could smell the stink of fear rising from inside his robes. He had never fired a gun, but he raised it, pointed it, and fired at the thing that had taken Gemma, its nose still pointing at the sky. He’d liked Gemma, so quiet, secretly smart, always with a smile for strangers in town. The gun kicked back into his shoulder painfully. If he missed, he didn’t care. Even firing, making a resistance, added an action to the blank that had thinned him, anchoring him to the world. No longer did he feel the wind would blow and he’d funnel away like sand.
But everyone was gone. He had failed them all. That thought radiated from him like warmth, and from the man next to him, and the next. Helplessly, they’d become fewer.