ALEXA WATCHED THE pot expectantly, even thought her mother told her not to. “Watched pots never boil,” she had said before she went to change her brother’s diaper.
What does that even mean? Alexa frowned. Grownups liked to speak in riddles.
“Alexa? You’re not in the kitchen, are you?” Her mother’s voice crackled through the baby monitor.
Alex knew not to answer. She had done so once before, and she got in trouble both for being in the kitchen and for lying about it. Instead, she stirred the pot. It was simmering now. Bubbles started bursting through the heavy concoction like pus-filled boils.
It was almost time for the chant. Alexa had heard it enough to be able to repeat it word for word. Ostende nobis rimatur, vera vestiga.
“Ostende nobis rimatur, vera vestiga,” Alexa whispered.
“Peek a boo. I see you.”
Alexa turned; behind her stood a tall man in a green suit. “Alexa, I presume?”
The man smiled and held out his hand. “Come with me, child.”
Alexa considered. Her parents always told her to not go anywhere with strangers. But that was before her brother was born, back when they actually cared about her. Alexa climbed off the stool and took the man’s hand.
In the distance, she could hear her mother screaming. “No! Let her go! My baby!”
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