Town hall meeting - Open to all
The announcement about the meeting had been cried every day for the past week; every citizen had been strongly encouraged to attend.
Since it had the possibility of running for a long time -- and to give it the appropriate sense of seriousness -- the meeting was held in the cathedral, one of the only places in LeChance that could seat most of the town. Leroy stood behind the lectern, quietly talking to Ms. Sheedy as the crowd gathered. He looked tired but determined.
He invited Jonas and his staff to sit at the front of the space with him, giving them a brief rundown of what he planned and giving them a chance to voice objections or suggestions before the idea was placed before the town. Others at the front of the hall included Father Marks, the judge, council members, a historian and the principal of the schools.
Finally, on the hour, Anastacia Mason, the town crier, stepped forward and called for all to be seated and settled. She read a few commonplace announcements before introducing Leroy and moving unobtrusively to the side.
Leroy stepped up, hands behind his back and took a breath as he ordered his thoughts.
"My fellow citizens, I thank you for taking time from your schedules to attend this meeting. I am grateful. Sadly, the news I bring to you today is by no means happy. As many of you have noticed and have brought to my attention, there have been unusual goings-on throughout the town. Foremost among these, and perhaps the most disturbing, are reports of attacks -- both on animals and on products -- by some unseen assailants. Details have led us to believe that these creatures are some sort of large insect or small mammal. Unfortunately, they seem to occur in, for lack of a better term, 'swarms' and can overcome much larger animals."
He paused as the crowd began to murmur and watched their faces. Once they had settled again, he continued.
"We have not been able to catch one of these creatures and we seek your assistance in doing so. Please, while we would prefer to have a live specimen to study, we do not wish you to risk yourselves in attempts to capture one. We will gladly accept any evidence you have of them. Inventors, I look to you especially to help create traps that we may use to safely catch a specimen."
"In the time until such a thing is accomplished, we also have need of volunteers for a newly-formed citizens' watch. Participants will be assigned to either patrol the town during the day with a partner, keep an eye out for unusual occurrences in their neighborhood and have more immediate access to report unusual things that are going on. Special emphasis will be placed on the stables, stockyards and other places that have already reported trouble." He held up his hand to forestall another rumble of protest. "These citizens will not be allowed to enter private residences without invitation, nor is this an open invitation to become a town full of busy-bodies. However, Sheriff Wilder and his staff can only be in one place at one time and that is not always the place where things are happening. They have been doing an excellent job," he continued, nodding gratefully to Jonas, "But in times such as these, it is every citizen's duty to assist in any way that they can."
"I would also like to dispel the rumors that have begun to circulate that I must have been aware of various natural variations in temperature that are occurring in spots throughout LeChance. I state here and now that when I was searching for a place to establish this city, I took every precaution that I could to find someplace that was safe and stable. Studies of the earth did not show that occurrences such as the quake this summer might take place although, of course, there is always a chance that such things might happen. Mother Nature is an unpredictable mistress."
"As for the unusual warm spots that have been reported, again, we can find no natural reason for these to occur. I ask those among you with scientific minds to volunteer to join the study of these sites with the goal of discovering their source."
He stopped and looked at Anastacia who in turn glanced down at a paper she held in her hand and nodded to the mayor. He murmured his thanks and turned back to the assembly.
"Now then. This is a lot to absorb. I would ask any of you that have information on any of these situations to come forward and let someone here at the front of the hall know. Those who wish to volunteer for any of the projects that have been mentioned should also come forward to put their names on the lists. After we see how many volunteers we have, we will put together another meeting to discuss details and schedules. If nothing else, please stay to talk with your neighbors and fellow citizens. We do not want to encourage you to gossip so much as talk about your experiences and try to find fellow threads among them. We never know what may lead us to a break-through."