"I'm sure he will," Simon said. "And all of this," he gestured at his kingdom, in all its shabby glory. "All of this will be gone."

They've gotten about all they can from Hamilton County. Once again, Phil heard his friend's words. Pretty soon, they've got to move on.

"What about me?" Phil said, but he knew the answer. The reports: it wasn't just property stolen, but pets. All manner of animals had been disappearing.

"You'll be coming with us," Simon said, and for a moment Phil had hope. "At least, your body will. You'll go a long way towards keeping our people fed. You've got a little meat on you."

Phil's struggles just made Clay tighten his grip. He lifted Phil’s head and slammed it back down into the table. Phil tried to scream, but all that came out were strangled grunts and cries. When he saw the blade, he thrashed even harder. It was a brown, rusty thing with a jagged edge. Every muscle in Phil’s body went tight, spasming as he fought, but when it bit into his neck, he went limp. The sound it made as it tore into him reminded him of his summers at his father’s, the sound his handsaw made when it ran across a tree branch.

An odd humming sound filled his ears and he smelled something animal, a musky, coppery scent that was at once foreign and familiar. Black started to press in on the sides of his eyes, like the shadows were growing larger and threatening to engulf the room.

He focused on Carmen, who was on the ground beside the table, arms wrapped around herself. Her tears were flowing freely, her knees tucked to her chest as she watched, shivering. She was the last thing Phil saw as his vision faded. He reached his hand out to her, tried tell her it was okay, but blood filled his mouth, and a warmth came over him that he wished he could share with her.

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