I guess there was no other way to look at it. But then who was the little girl who had led me here, away from the festival?
For a while we stood there, unmoving, his arms around me. Satoru seemed to be waiting for me to calm down.
I looked past his shoulder toward the festival grounds. It looked as it always did, full of light and people. There was already a crowd waiting for the firedrawing contest to begin.
But the monsters were still offering wine. The little monsters with covered faces. They had to be children, right?
It wasn’t until a man who had downed a cup of wine in one gulp suddenly collapsed on the ground that I realized something was horribly wrong.
The monsters scattered at my shout.
“Saki? What’s wrong?”
He probably thought I was freaking out over nothing again and hugged me even tighter.
“No! Let go! That guy just passed out! Over there!”
Satoru finally let go and turned around.
“What happened?” he gasped.
“He drank the wine the monster gave him and…”
I ran over to the fallen man. He had been foaming at the mouth and writhing in pain just a second ago, but was now completely still.
“He’s dead. …he wasn’t sick or anything. It was poison,” Satoru said after smelling the man’s mouth.
“Poison? But, who…?”
“Didn’t you say it was the child-monster?”
The fear in his face scared me.
“No human could have done this. It was a queerat.”