We buried Sam without much talk - I couldn't think of anything to say - and filled in the grave. We didn't hide it, so he'd be discovered by the police and given a real burial soon. I wanted his parents to be able to give him a ceremony, but this would keep him safe from scavenging animals (and Little People) in the meantime.

We broke camp before dawn. Mr. Tall told everybody there was a long trek ahead. Sam's disappearance would create a fuss, so we had to get as far away as possible.


I wondered, as we left, what had become of R.V. Did he bleed to death in the forest? Did he make it to a doctor in time? Or was he still running and screaming, "My hands! My hands!"?

I didn't care. Although he'd been trying to do the right thing, this was R.V.'s fault. If he hadn't gone messing with the locks on the wolf-man's cage, Sam would be alive. I didn't hope R.V. was dead, but I didn't say a prayer for him, either. I'd leave him to fate and whatever it had in store.

Evra sat beside me at the rear of the van as the Cirque pulled out. He started to say something. Stopped. Cleared his throat. Then he put a bag on my lap. "I found that,"he muttered. "Thought you might want it."

Through stinging eyes I read the name - "Sam Grest"- then burst into tears and cried bitterly over it. Evra put his arms around me and held me tight and cried along with me.

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"Mr. Crepsley told me what happened,"Evra mumbled eventually, recovering slightly and wiping his face clean. "He said you drank Sam's blood to keep his spirit alive."

"Apparently,"I replied weakly, unconvinced.

"Look,"Evra said, "I know how much you didn't want to drink human blood, but you did this for Sam. It was an act of goodness, not evil. You shouldn't feel bad for drinking from him."

"I guess,"I said, then moaned at the memory and cried some more.

The day went by and the Cirque Du Freak rolled on, but thoughts of Sam couldn't be left behind. As night came, we pulled over to the side of the road for a short break. Evra went to look for food and drinks.

"Do you want anything?"he asked.

"No,"I said, my face pressed against the window-pane. "I'm not hungry."

He started to leave.

I called him back. "Wait a sec."

There was a strange taste in my mouth. Sam's blood was still hot on my lips, salty and terrible, but that wasn't what had started the buds at the back of my tongue tingling. There was something I wanted that I'd never wanted before. For a few confusing seconds I didn't know what it was. Then I identified the strange craving and managed to crack the thinnest of smiles. I searched Sam's bag, but the jar must have been left behind when we left.

Looking up at Evra, I wiped tears from my eyes, licked my lips, and asked in a voice that sounded a lot like that smart-ass kid I once knew, "Do we have any pickled onions?"

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