At the first trace of dawn a creature hooded and swaddled in sack cloth and rags wandered out of a long-abandoned copper-smelting plant and scurried down to squat on the Susquehanna River shore.
With one bony finger it drew a circle in the muddy water at the river’s edge. The shape remained even after the finger passed.
The waters in the newly made circle began to smoke and boil. When they were done, an image appeared in the watery portal, as clear as something real seen though a window.
It was the image of a little girl in a rose garden with her mother. The elder was guiding the child’s hands as she clipped and tended the flowers.
A low, satisfied hiss sounded from the creature’s hood. It waved its hand over the water. The circle and the image disappeared.
The creature moved back to the factory to gather its skulls and knives. It had a long journey ahead and could waste no time.
The waters were perfect.