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The two holes in Hal Laramie’s ankle were red and angry. They were set wide. Floyd recognized them right away.

“So you were out in Tallett’s Woods when this happened?” Floyd squeezed the puffy flesh. It was hot as a poker and crinkled like old paper.

Hal grimaced. “That’s right, Doc.”

“Uh-huh. And what were you doing out there?”

“Just trying to get home,” Hal gasped

Floyd moved the leg back and forth, appraised it through thick glasses. “When was this?”

“Night before last.”

That was how Floyd remembered it, too. Nobody had ever lasted this long before.

“Those woods are no shortcut, son. Too many places for varmints to hide. Does anybody else know about this?”

“Just my pa,” Hal went on. “He was waiting for me when I got home and saw me limping.”

Floyd set the foot down on the floor and pulled his chair closer to Hal. He studied the young man’s eyes.

“I’ve seen plenty of these snake bites over the years, son, and this is the first one that’s had a living man attached to it.”

“Really?” Hal sounded panicked.

“Indeed.” Floyd poked at the young man’s throat, looked in his ears. Everything seemed normal. “It’s a small town. I’m the doctor, so I’m also the coroner.”

Hal swallowed hard.

“Do you think I’ll die?”

“Some day, sure. Now, open up.” Floyd tugged at Hal’s chin, and the patient opened his mouth.

Floyd squinted his eyes and clenched his jaw. The young man’s canines were already half again as big as they should have been.

Already sharp.

“What should I do, Doc?”

Floyd shook his head. He’d never had competition, and now he’d created his own rival. What an old fool he was!

“Nothing, son. Just be careful who you bite.”

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