Jason forced himself to turn his back on the hellhounds. Jenkins was wrapping a piece of cloth around a length of 2” x 2” board. A completed torch stick lay on the bed of the truck.
“This is the advantage of carrying a toolbox around with you,” Jenkins said. “I happen to have a bottle of kerosene in here, too. It probably isn’t the safest item to carry around; but I’m mighty glad to have it tonight.”
He took a small squeeze bottle of kerosene from the toolbox and applied a liberal dose to the torch in his hand. This would make the torch catch fire easily, and keep it burning.
Reaching across the bed of the pickup truck, he handed Jason the newly completed torch and picked the other one up from the floor of the bed. He doused it with kerosene as well. Then he pulled a disposable lighter from his pants pocket.
“Smoking,” he said. “That’s another bad habit that I never quite licked. I’ve been a pipe and cigar man for going on sixty-five years now.”
Jason noticed that Jenkins’ hands were shaking as he moved the thumbwheel of the Bic lighter and lit the first torch. The kerosene immediately flared, sending up an oily flame.
“Now come around here quick,” Jenkins said. He gestured in the direction of the house. “We don't have much time.”
Jason looked toward the house. The hellhounds—there might have been a dozen of them—were amassed between the house and the far end of the driveway.
Moving quickly around the rear of the truck, Jason extended his torch toward Jenkins, and the old man touched its tip with the sputtering flame of his own. It occurred to Jason just then that this old man—who had been so well prepared with the torches—might not have needed his help after all.
But when Jenkins spoke his voice quavered, revealing once again the fragility of a man who had passed halfway through his eighties.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” Jenkins said. “I’m not the strongest walker beyond a few steps. And I’m scared, Jason. I won’t lie to you.” He looked where Jason had looked only a moment ago: The hellhounds were milling about the front and nearest side of the house. They seemed to know where the two men were headed. They therefore had no reason to charge; they could simply wait for their prey to come to them.
“I’m scared too,” Jason said. “But we can do this.”