“You must go,” ordered Farmer Geonnes.
“But Father! The forest…” The boy’s voice was fearful.
The farmer snorted as derivisvely as he could, trying to dismiss his son’s fears. “You’re a man now, Alviso, and your sister has no time for your childhood fears. Now fetch the doctor.”
His shoulders slumped. There was no one else on whom the task could fall. “Yes, sir.”
Alviso retrieved his coat, hat, and much-mended gloves before braving the cold wind outside the family’s sturdy front door. He stretched his normal pace into a jog, though the path was as dark as a witch’s heart and he had only memory to guide him through the fence posts.
In the forest, he had not even that.
The branches stretched toward him like the spindly hands of wraiths, and twice—twice—he would have sworn he saw the ghost of Marjorie Cook, the sweet young girl he would have married. Should have married, and perhaps she wouldn’t have gone missing, gotten lost…
Alviso shook his head to clear it.
He had to fetch the doctor.