It was, indeed, a shitty deal, but it was the same shitty deal that witch hunters had always made. If witches drowned when dunked, they were innocent. If they floated, they burned. Witch tests were never set up so the innocent could walk free, because the assumption was always that the accused were guilty.
Kat and Kate actually were guilty of being witches, but they’d become witches when nobody was inclined to burn them for it. They didn’t hide it. So, when somebody decided to call them on it, there was nowhere for them to go. I wondered if they were the first witches to be accused in this meadow, this week.
The men on the platform dragged Kat and Kate to two of the large corner posts that held up the platform. They lashed the women to the posts. The crowd was breaking up, disappointed that they wouldn’t be watching any women die tonight. I was fairly stunned that people were taking all of this as a matter of course. Had people already been shocked into numbness? Were a couple of horrible deaths no big deal, anymore? Then, I shrugging it off. I had to shrug it off.
“Clock’s ticking. Let’s get to the Burning Pit,” I said.
“What are you talking about?,” hissed Mike, whipping his head around from staring at the bound women to stare at me.
“Aren’t we going to help Kat and Kate?,” Moira demanded. “They are right here. They are going to die. Is that no big deal to you?”
“Of course it is,” I whispered back. “But I hardly think we can rescue them in front of everyone here and run through the crowd with them to rescue Jill after that.”
Mike thought about it for a second. “You have a point,” he admitted. Moira reluctantly nodded her agreement.
Honestly, I didn’t know if we would be able to get back for Kat and Kate. If we had to make a run for the East Side, we’d never see them again. I didn’t say that because I couldn’t say it. I knew we’d be haunted forever if we didn’t at least try to help them, but I had to walk away not knowing if we would help them.
Kate raised her head and saw us as we walked toward the platform. I saw hope flare in her eyes. It faded as we walked on past.
We didn’t linger at any of the other booths. We had too many missions and not enough night to complete them. We made straight for the noxious smoking pit and its chain link enclosure.
We saw trucks like the body truck Jill had been on moving to and from the pit. They were discharging their cargo and heading back out for more. I wondered who was in charge of this organized effort to dispose of bodies. There weren’t public services, anymore. Nobody was enforcing the law or distributing information. There was no organized effort to get rid of the giant birds. But there was a body sanitation department.
As we got closer, we saw that the trucks didn’t even go inside of the fence. It was probably too dangerous for them to get that close to the heat. There was a dirt road circling the fence. The trucks would stop at various points and the slaves would off-load bodies directly from the truck beds into metal chutes that opened at the top of the fence and disappeared from view somewhere in the pit itself. If Kate and Kat were in league with the devil, these were the sliding boards to Hell.
I saw two people standing near the fence having an arm waving chat. They looked like rock stars on a stage with too much chemical fog. The glow of the pit behind them cast them as fog monster silhouettes, with dark arms as big as trees.
If they were in charge, we might want to go over there and knock them in their heads. I casually directed Mike and Moira’s attention that way. The wind changed direction and the smoke cleared, at bit.
“It’s Jonathan,” Mike said.
“He’s talking to Bob,” Moira said.