What can YOU say in six sentences?
Intermittently over those long months since he'd pitched his cigarette butt into the weeds and turned around to see the crazy motherfucker bearing down on him from out of the door of one of the abandoned houses, Owen had heard similar versions of the same batshit sermon about sanctity and hallowed things and the perverted disorder of pumpkin-flare.
Sometimes Flythe dressed up as a vampire, other times he wore a hollowed pumpkin over his own head, sometimes he seemed to morph into something verifiably inhuman (Owen knew the psycho was drugging his food and water, but he had to eat, he had to drink), and one time he'd even draped the skin of a victim over himself and capered about like some grinning savage, but his favorite outfit of all was the scarecrow: stitched mouth and fevered button eyes.
Tonight, after he'd trussed Owen up on the clubhouse wall and dragged a bale of straw up into the abattoir he'd made of these rooms, he preached his secular sermon and started forcing clumps of the straw into Owen's mouth, choking him, looking right into his eyes as he said: "You're the special prize, you're my perfect pretty, and best of all you're the same exact age as I was when I learned how much better it is to sow fear than it is to be afraid."
All Owen Nelson knew about age was that it was relative, just like Mama said; he'd been grown up since the day Dad took off when Owen was only eight years old, he'd been the one taking care of his little brother while Mama worked herself half to death just to keep them in cereal and noodles and schoolbooks. He knew that the first time he felt really scared like a man was that time he'd tongue kissed Laura Gilmour and the most amazing thing hadn't been the taste of her or even the soft eager feel of her lips but the way he'd felt her heart beating against his chest, and how he'd become confused as to whether it was really her heart or his heart or whether they'd made some new thing between the two of them that was beating faster than a jackhammer.
Life was full of confusions, just like right now, when Owen couldn't be sure if he was hallucinating the vision of his little brother sneaking into the back door of the clubhouse, followed by lovely Laura and that fat kid from down the block, Theo Somethingorother, but Flythe must've seen his eyes widening because he paused from force-feeding Owen the straw to turn and look behind him.