“Well, near as I can tell, Soderquist and Sanchez came right through here,” said the sheriff, sucking on a hollow tooth. “They made it as far as the edge of the Lovett pasture where we found them footprints and a bit of Soderquist’s prison oranges, and then they both got themselves drowned in the swamp.”

“That doesn’t explain much,” Trooper Barnes said.

“Course it does,” Sheriff Davis said. “Everybody in Sap Hollow knows he had it in for old Dan Olsen. Thought he’d stolen the deed to some Soderquist land and shut him away to keep anyone from doing anything about it.”

“And I’m guessing the attempted murder, assault and battery, and dealing in controlled substances on Soderquist’s rap sheet are nothing, huh?”

“No, not nothing, but he musta felt he had no choice. No other reason that a local’d go through the Sap Hollow swamp.”

“And why’s that?”

Sheriff Davis reached into a pocked and flicked a grainy photograph out of it. “Because of the monster,” he said. “That’s why those boys never came out, and why they never will.”

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