Several hours later, Lucius was vigilantly keeping watch from the corner window in his kitchen. He was just considering going to sleep when he heard the ominous toll of the warning bell. For a fleeting second he was almost surprised. The creatures never attacked so soon after a warning.
'Ivy could be in danger,' a voice whispered in his head, 'a very great danger. He rushed out the door, not even bothering to get a coat to shield him against the chill of the night air.
On the way to the Walker home, he paused to help his neighbors, watching them tuck their children into the cellars before locking the doors behind them.
Muffled scraping noises resounded through the village as he rushed to the Walker home. His mind was now singularly devoted to the idea of protecting Ivy, and he never considered his personal safety. He blanched when he saw her standing in the doorway, arm outstretched and the lights blazing behind her. Doesn't she know she's attracting them?, he thinks.
A warning cry died on his lips as he saw one of Them coming towards the doorway. Can I out-run them?, he wondered. Yes, don't think, just go. He began to run. He ran and ran until he was there, in the doorway, grasping her hand. A small, relieved sob escaped Ivy's lips, and he set his jaw. I'm here, he thinks, you're safe. They ran in together, and he paused only long enough to bolt them door behind them. He lead her down through the trap door, her hand still clamped within his. He barely noticed he was shaking.
The creature screamed shrilly and carefully started breaking through the door. When it enters the house, everyone, even Noah, collectively holds their breath. We are fortunate to have such a cellar door, Lucius thinks. Not everyone's door is iron.
A piercing shriek issued from the floor above them as the creature clawed at the door. Lucius' grip tightened on Ivy's hand, and the children's muted whimpering made him uneasy. At last, the creature retreated, its claws unable to shatter iron as easily as wood. The sounds of it retreating caused everyone to relax ever-so-slightly, but they dared not think what they would find upstairs.
They stayed in the cellar for another hour, too frightened to go upstairs in case the creatures decided to come back. Finally, Noah grew impatient and started to ask why they weren't going upstairs. Lucius rose and turned to help Ivy, who had put a finger to her lips to encourage Noah into silence. She accepted his other hand, and he gently pulled her to her feet.
While ascending the stairway, he heard footsteps above him. The door flew open with surprising speed and Lucius shrank back, expecting a creature to greet him. To his relief, and everyone else's, it was Mr. Walker. He looked pale and shaken, and blood dripped from a wound in his forehead, but he was alive.
"Mr. Walker, sir, you're bleeding." It was a foolish comment, and his voice sounded hollow, but Lucius felt he needed to speak.
"Never mind about me, Lucius, I hit my head. I see you're with Ivy and Noah, thank heaven, but where are Kitty and the children?" The aforementioned ground emerged from the shadows, and Mr. Walker looked as though he might cry. "Thank God you're all safe," he said softly.
"What of Mama?" Kitty whispered, her voice quavering.
Mr. Walker smiled grimly. "She is safe. She helped the Crane family into their cellar and then joined them, as did I."
"What of the others? Mr. Nicholson? The Coins? Mrs. Clack?" Now it was Ivy's turn to speak, her voice stronger than Kitty's but still weak.
Mr. Walker shook his head. "It is much too soon to know, Ivy. No one has made anything more than a preliminary search. However, only select doors remain standing; most are in shreds."
A wail, this time very human, echoed through the village. The shaken group gathered the courage to step outside, and soon discovered the source of the noise. A mother, the darkness prevented her identification, leant over her son, who was, at the least, severely wounded.
Mother, Lucius thought, his face going white. He finally, reluctantly, let go of Ivy's hand, but not before he gave her one last reassuring squeeze. He rushed to his home, forging through the wreckage of their front porch, and passed through the doorway. "Mother?" he whispered, and was suddenly overtaken by a strong, desperate hug.
His mother sobbed into his shoulder, running the fingers of one hand through his hair. "Why did you leave me, Lucius? Rushing off like that...I thought you'd gone mad!"
Lucius flushed, ashamed to have so thoughtlessly put Ivy before his mother. He could not bear to tell her the truth. "Forgive me, but I rushed to help our friends and neighbors lock and bar their doors. I ended near the Walker home and they let me stay with them. I...I wished to come home, but the creatures were too numerous to risk my return."
His mother released him and began to dry her eyes. He offered her his handkerchief, which she wordlessly accepted. "I forgive you, Lucius. Truth be told, my disapprobation would have increased if you had dared risk coming home during such an attack."
He smiled, but quickly stopped as more sounds of mourning began to haunt the village. Lucius hugged his mother one last time and ran to help those in need.