A long moment passed as Sam struggled to catch her breath. Elias sat quietly with the rifle between his legs. Outside, the rain hammered down relentlessly.
Finally Elias asked “Are you alright?”
“Is it dead?”
Still struggling to speak in an even tone, Sam said “How? I shot it—her… I shot her again and again and—”
“Silver.” Elias said. “Silver’s the only thing that works.”
Sam fell silent once again, attempting to process what had happened, but she felt removed; outside of herself, like someone observing events on a TV screen or watching theatre actors on a stage. There was just no way any of this was real. People couldn’t become things like… like what Nina had become.
Looking to the dash on Elias’s side, Sam spotted her cell phone. Elias had moved it from the passenger seat when he sat down. Sam started to reach for the phone, but Elias put his hand up to block her.
“We have to get rid of the body,” Elias said.
This statement brought Sam partially back from her mental limbo. “What? No… no we have to call this in.”
“You’re still in shock,” Elias replied. “You’re not thinking straight. Your bullets are in her body, you said so yourself. Bullets from your service weapon.”
Shaking her head, Sam continued to protest: “It was self-defense. They’ll see… see what she really is.”
“They return to human form when they die,” Elias said. Sam rose in her seat and leaned to the window to get a view of Nina’s fallen form. As Elias had said, the body lying out in the mud was that of a naked young woman… which made Sam question briefly whether the monster had really existed at all.
“I know this sounds callous, but it’s for the best. Trust me, you don’t want the government getting involved. We need to get rid of the body, and we need to get rid of evidence.”
Sam tried to corral her thoughts. She had fired her gun. If the department found out, there would be an investigation… but what if—
“What if they could test the blood?” Sam asked. “Would it prove what she is?”
“If they knew what to test for, maybe. And then what? At the very least they would hide you away somewhere. Your life, as you know it, would be over.”
This was wrong. It was all very, very wrong… but as the shock slowly began to wear off, as a state of semi-lucidity returned, Sam realized that it also made a horrific kind of sense. What could she really tell her superiors at the department? Even if she attempted to tell a half-truth, she felt like she would simply break down. But if the two of them could dispose of the body, she might not have to say a word. More than anything, though, it would give her time to think.
The next few hours passed by in a kind of haze: Sam and Elias first retrieved Sam’s gun, badge and all the shell casings they could find, as well as the padlock and hasp, and Elias dug deformed bullets out of the wooden jamb.
Back outside, they pulled Nina’s body into the nearby trees then drove separately to drop off Sam’s car. Elias took bleach from Sam’s house and drove the two of them in his truck (it was the same truck he had been working on in the garage when she had first met him, Sam realized dully) to the garage. Elias went up to his apartment and came back with sheets, more bleach, a wire brush and rubber gloves. From the garage and the grounds outside he acquired a padlock, chains and cinder blocks.
They drove back to the home (the Myers property, Sam now knew—it had been foreclosed on three months ago. The Myers had moved away). There, Elias and Sam scrubbed and scoured and bleached the basement. When they were done, they retrieved Nina’s body. Sam noted that even the young woman’s hair had come back and returned to its former length. How was something like that possible? The rain finally let up as they put her clothes back on her body, wrapped it in sheets and placed it in the back of Elias’ pickup.
Next, they drove to Lake Croatoan.
A mist hovered just above the water as the two of them hauled the body out to the end of the jetty. They wound the chains around the sheet-wrapped corpse, which looked to Sam like something that had been cocooned in a spider’s web. Elias ran the chains through the cinder blocks and secured them with the padlock.
The two of them stood holding the body upright while Elias counted to three. On three he kicked the cinder blocks in while Sam pushed the corpse over. She stood at the edge and watched the white sheets disappear into the murky water.
What should she feel? Should she feel sorry for this woman that tried to kill her? She was still too numb to know what to feel.
Later, Elias pulled up in front of the garage. Throughout the drive, Sam had remained silent, still trying to wrap her mind around the insanity of it all. She barely registered where they were when Elias spoke up:
“I’m not… trying anything improper here but given what you’ve been through, if you don’t want to be alone tonight you could stay. I’ll sleep on the floor.”
For a moment Sam sat, silently considering. There was no way in Hell she would get any sleep anyway, not after what happened. She wondered just which nightmare vision would await her when she finally did close her eyes: the hospital, the beast, the half-human half-Nina thing in the basement… or the shrouded corpse sinking into the gloom?
Sam thought of her cat. Mister Perkins had plenty of food and water to last him through the night. She looked over at Elias, who waited patiently, his face illuminated by the dashboard light. He was right; she didn’t want to be alone. More than anything, though, now that time had provided some distance from the horror of what she had experienced…
She was ready to ask Elias a whole lot of questions.