"If what you said earlier is right, your sister would be no where near him and is probably far from here."
"But if he isn't?"
"Sarah, we are going to find her. Besides, that beast was hungry so your sister must be still fine." He hoped. What ever was frightening the beast was very near. The monster had looked even more agitated as they passed and had half-heartedly dragged the body off the tracks and a little into the forest. "We will keep to the tracks, for now," he continued to speak because he saw Sarah's fears rising in her eyes when there was silence. "If your sister is lost, she will likely stumble onto this old track as you did."
They walked on. Danny had forgotten the cold rain of the night before, until dark clouds rolled in and dumped on them again. Because it was drier in the forest, they pushed their way through the undergrowth by the tracks and walked through the woods. But soon the heavy rain had drenched them completely. Water plastered their hair to their heads and dribbled into their eyes. Sarah kept pushing her blonde hair from her face and it kept falling back. Scout huddled on Danny’s shoulder making unhappy burps and cooing noises. She hated being wet.
Danny led, holding aside branches and always watching for the glimpses of grey light through the trees that marked the train track. Sarah was not looking good. Any colour that she had gained walking with him on the tracks was gone and she was a pale as death and shaking so much that the branches she sometimes gripped to steady herself sprayed water every which way from the vibrating. He would have to find them shelter, but he dared not leave the tracks—not in this blinding rain—not with monsters on the prowl.
Finally, when Danny thought that she could go no farther, the undergrowth began to thicken and the trees began to be younger and they pushed through the forest and into a field. To his great relief he saw that the old tracks led down out of the forest into a slight valley and through a small town.
“Look!” he said to Sarah, who had only been looking down for the last while, focused on putting one foot in front of the other.
She looked and he saw hope in her fragile face. And hope in the pale, wet face was a sight to see. For a moment she was so angelic that it brought a lump to Danny’s throat and he almost had to look away. Then she pulled ahead of him, eager to reach the town.
They returned to the tracks where it was easier to walk for the last little stretch into town. The little town seemed to be deserted. Water poured of roofs and darkened the sides of old wood. They walked to what appeared to be the town square. It was deserted but for their two lonely, wet figures.
Danny felt more disappointed now then he had in a long time. He had been hoping for food and warmth and people for the poor shivering girl beside him. He knew they could get dry inside one of the buildings, which would have been fine if he had been on his own. But she needed more than just a roof.
Then Scout tensed on his shoulder, gripping him tightly with fear.
“What is it?” he asked her quietly.
Sarah looked up at him questioningly, not having the energy to speak.
Then from one of the nearby buildings there came a boisterous laugh and a big man burst out of the door and lifted up the wooden blind that covered his shop window. At the same moment, a grinning young woman opened her shop across the square. In a matter of minutes, every shop but one in the square was open and there were all sorts of delicious smells coming here and there. A child chased a dog across the square, a baby was laughing somewhere. People were shouting cheerfully at one another and two old ladies with shawls about them were peering in the window of a fabric and yarn shop. A couple of young men strung up brightly striped and plaid tarps to protect from the rain.
Danny, Scout and Sarah were, to say the least, happily surprised and very bewildered.
Then the man who had opened the first shop came trotting up to them, his big belly swaying up and down.
“Well, what are you just standing there for?” he asked. “We’ve opened shop just for you—we rarely have any visitors. But I’m getting ahead of myself—welcome to the Valleyville Bazaar!”