[Early evening, Wednesday, August 13th, day 444]
[The woods outside town]
Woke up'is mornin' when the sky wuz th'deep blue'a th'sea bottom, m'breath stranglin'n m'throat, and a pain'n m'head't threatened t'push m'eyes from'eir sockets. I sat up, chokin' 'n clawin't m'throat, wond'rin' dully if'n m'head wuz gonna burst 'fore I strangled, an'en't wuz done. Th'air'n m'lungs pushed out hard, there wuzza flash 'fore m'eyes, an'en th'pain wuz gone. But not b'fore I heard somethin', a weird screamin' noise somewhere deep'n th'mist. Closest thin' t'it've ever heard s'when I came 'pon a mama vixen'n th'woods, she stood up from'er cubs'n fuckin' screamed
at me. This sound wuz like'at...but wit'n edge, like th'bone squeal'a teeth grindin'n pain. Dunno what't wuz, but't made me feel sick'n pale'n sweaty, an' I didn't sleep no more after'at.
Seems mosta th'others'n th'Carnival felt somethin' th'same. Lotta folk woke up'n th'night, 'r member a chokin' spell...nobody else mentioned the scream, though. I don't mention it neither, but think mebbe I oughta go talk t'Nanshe soon's I can. Whatever't wuz, don't think't meant anythin' good.
Fer t'day, though, there's work t'be done. Can't b'lieve th'summer's near t'ended. We's headed fer our second winter innis town, an'I think mosta us're resigned t'it. Somma th'folks'a been lettin'eir wagons go, lettin' th'wheels sink inta th'ground, 'r settin'em on blocks. Some folks've built shacks 're rented places in town. Some've taken jobs, too, part time 'r full. Can't blame'em, really, since'ere ain't allat much money comin' in fer the rides 'r games no more. There's a feelin' on th'Lot now't we might never leave, annit makes m'skin itch.
Me, I still keep m'wagon ready t'move, an'm makin' 'nough cash sellin' potions'n charms, so'm doin' okay. Smokey's gettin' fat, though, 'e's spendin' so much time'n pasture. I ain't never learned t'ride'r nothin', so'ere really ain't nothin' for'im t'do. Guess I could rent'im out t'folks in town, but I dunno. In some ways't makes me feel like'm puttin' down roots m'self, an'at jes' makes me twitch.
At least I still got work t'do. Shoulder m'satchel 'n head out inta th'woods. Rain's gone, but'ere's a cool breeze, so I throw on m'jacket, 'n pull boots on 'gainst th'mud 'n wet grass. Th'woods 'n th'river here've been good t'me, at least in terms've finding materials. Roots 'n herbs, moss 'n bone. Miss somma th'stuff I c'n get 'n th'south (Christ, I miss olive oil), but gotta say, gathered a lotta stuff last winter't I can't normally get, annit came in right handy over th'past few months.
...Lord, guess I better start thinkin' 'bout getting th'heaters set back up inna few weeks. Jesus wept.[OPEN to Reed and Catherine primarily, but others too]