Mr. Gunderson left the shop in the capable hands of his employee, Joshua, and headed out on foot into the neighborhoods. Ever since Stevie had left the store, he’d had a niggling doubt about what Stevie was actually going to do. He wanted to believe the boy was just pretending, yet, he could see it all in his head now…
“Why did you let him take that sprayer home with him?” Stevie’s dad would ask, shaking his head in amazement at the glowing freckles all over his walls. “Didn’t you think this would happen?”
And Mr. Gunderson would say, “I’m so sorry, Dave, I just thought the boy was playing. I didn’t think he’d actually do it.”
And Dave would say, “Bill, have you ever known a child to only pretend with such a thing.”
Mr. Gunderson sighed and picked up the pace.
He came within a block of the Millers’ home and suddenly stopped short. Had it just gotten really cold? Mr. Gunderson took a step back, then three more. Warm sunshine bathed him, and he even felt a trifle too warm after walking so quickly. He stepped forward two paces. He shivered. If he had to guess, he would say the temperature had fallen a good ten degrees or more in the space of about five yards.
He continued walking, now being hyper aware of the temperature. No more drastic changes, but it did seem to get maybe even a few degrees colder the closer her got to the Miller place.
He reached the front door and was about to knock when he glanced down at the stoop and noted several small, black circles, that almost looked like something had burned the concrete. He bent down to take a closer look. “Not something you see every day,” he muttered to himself.
He straightened, chewed his mustache for a moment, decided not to knock. Instead he went walking around the side of the house. “Stevie?” he called as he walked.
As he rounded the corner he noticed the open cellar doors. “Stevie?” he called again, jogging over to the open doors. “Stevie?” he called down into the basement. No sound. But he smelled…
Mr. Gunderson’s eyes went wide. That smell! Noticing the sprayer and the glow stick package still lying on the grass, he scooped them up. They would definitely come in handy. He started making plans, thinking of what else he would need.
“Stevie!” he cried out, his voice cracking in concern. Peripherally, he caught a dark shape slinking around the corner of the house. When he turned his head, it disappeared around the back.