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Guardian by Gregory Harvey
Where was it? It couldn't be gone... Thomas must have missed it.
He looked up and saw that he was standing outside of the Hertz Rent-a-Truck depot. It should be there... on the ground. Thomas, almost panicking, bent down into the gutter, looking along the edge of it and not noticing the strange glances coming his direction from the traffic. Where had the shoe gone? He stuck out his hand, and suddenly it went cold, as if he had become a victim of frostbite. Thomas moved it through the space the shoe should have occupied, and noticed how his hand faded as he did so. In fear he drew it back. Something was wrong... one of the permanents was missing! It couldn't have been destroyed, this was something Thomas just knew, so somebody must have taken it. But who would do such a thing!?!
Thomas rose to his feet, although reluctant to move away from the area, and began his trek to the next permanent. Hopefully it would be okay. It had to be okay! Something was going wrong... terribly, terribly wrong.
About halfway along Zillmere Road, there was a small path that trundled down by a wide creek. This would lead to a small park, and the non-descript block of wood which Thomas had found in the bushes there one day. As he walked on the uneven grass beside the creek, Thomas didn't notice that there weren't any ducks around. On a day like this one, there were usually at least twenty of the things swimming on the creek.
In another three minutes, with his heart still pounding (a serious problem for someone with Thomas's blood pressure), he had entered the park. The swings were being knocked about by the gathering wind, but Thomas had eyes only for the cluster of bushes at the far end of the park, where it met the creek. Quickly he proceeded, the wind howling at his back.
Upon reaching the bushes, Thomas pushed the first row beside, and entered into the thick of it. There was a small clearing amongst the bushes, which Thomas had to fight his way towards. When he got there however, he was tragically disappointed. The block of wood was gone as well...
Suddenly the wind flared up almost as if a hurricane had suddenly come upon the park. Thomas wheeled around and saw an airborne wooden stake heading towards him. He dropped to the ground, the missile spinning just over his head. As it splashed into the water of the creek behind the bushes, the wind suddenly dropped.
Thomas, now covered in wet grass and mud, was breathing erratically. His lungs wheezed as he tried to control it. He... he almost died! He almost was killed. But what was trying to kill him? What force? Two permanents had already gone... Thomas rose awkwardly to his feet, struggling to keep balance in the wet clearing. As he did so he noticed one of his feet was faded and cold. He re-positioned it quickly, as if trampling on hallowed ground.
The next permanent was a few blocks away, in the yard of an abandoned house. For some reason Thomas felt he had to get there. He had to get there now. He set off again, not caring about his mud covered backside, and moved with unnatural speed for a man his age.
As he walked, although completely concentrating on the task at hand, Thomas took a moment to notice how dark it was getting.