tagNon-EroticShallow Rock Ch. 18-21

Shallow Rock Ch. 18-21

byDarcyLansdowne©

Chapter 18

Kelly wished Mitch was with her, talking his bullshit, babbling. It didn't matter what he said, the sound of his deep friendly voice was what she needed to hear. He could go on; he rambled all over the place. He had an out in left field idea on everything, and he made strange connections. It didn't matter. He could fill the silence, which right now was filled with things barely audible, that she didn't want to hear.

They had left her alone with the bodies. She couldn't look at them any longer, but there was no direction she could look where she didn't see things moving in the night.

She was wearing mosquito netting over her head and shoulders. It draped down to touch the water like a khaki shroud. Everything she saw and heard was twisted and transformed by its tight screening, and by fear. Everything was distorted, the blood and bone in the intermittent moonlight that broke through the running clouds, and the swarms of black bugs.

She felt things moving in the water around her legs. She felt that there was always something watching her from behind, but she was afraid to turn and look. She was afraid if she started doing that, she would end up whirling in circles and screaming.

Snips and snatches of the Wendigo story snapped through her mind. She couldn't stop them or control them. The scenes played out in front of her.

She had been at crime scenes before. She had stood watch over dead bodies and bloody rooms, but nothing like this. She tried to get her mind away from the supernatural, away from the spooky stuff by trying to think rationally. This wasn't the result of demonic possession, it was a crime. So what the hell happened here?

Two men dead from shotgun blasts facing each other. Shot at the same time. Is that possible, to shoot each other like that? Not the way they were blown apart at close range; the shots would have to have been at the very same instant. So how? A third shooter standing in the middle gets both of them, bam one, whirl around on the other one and bam! Complete surprise. The shooter down low because, they both looked like they had been hit by an upward blast.

What were they doing? Hiding the body, the body of a girl.

No, not hiding it, moving it. Why were they moving it?

Because the sheriff was looking for it. Because he was tipped off by a woman calling on a dead woman's phone. She replayed the call over and over again in her head, trying to remember clearly. Her memory was distorted now by everything that had happened since. Had it been Mrs. Dee, the dead woman on the phone? Was it a woman's voice, or a girl's? Why would the Wendigo use a phone?

Assuming the third body was a runaway, the killers; three at least, or maybe four, were spooked. They got into an argument and two of them were killed. The others panicked and fled. Or, maybe it was a setup, perhaps an ambush. One of the conspirators could have set up the others.

There was a lot she didn't know. Too much she didn't know to worry about solving mysteries. The thing was, it was murder. The killer was human. It had nothing to do with ghosts or spirits, or possession, or anything like that. That's what she told herself.

She heard the water slosh behind her. She whirled and drew her gun. There was a dancing light, a flashlight moving along the rope back towards the shore.

"Kelly? How are you doing? Kelly, are you okay?"

She quickly holstered her pistol hoping Deputy Rudwall hadn't seen her draw it. She clicked her flashlight a couple of times. "Over here," she called. She was relieved to hear her own voice. She was relieved it didn't come out as a scratched, pinched scream.

"Man, it's spooky out here," Rudwall said.

"No shit."

"Sheriff says go back and see him. The coroner and all the state crime scene guys are almost here. It's going to get very crowded in a couple of minutes."

"They can have it, thanks," she said as she laboriously made her way back along the rope. She came up the bank and emerged from the water. She felt a shiver go through her. She turned it into a stretch. She shook as if she could wriggle out of the night like a snake shedding its skin.

She looked at her watch, and it was almost two. She wondered if Mitch had left her something to eat. She wondered if he was still waiting up for her.

Mitch sat upright in a chair on the screen porch of the lumber camp. His body sagged in on itself, his neck bent, and his head rested on his shoulder. Water dripped from his body onto the floor. It had to be two in the morning and Kelly still wasn't home. He had called the station and talked to Betty who was working very late, and she told him about the bodies in the swamp. She didn't know any details, other than there were three bodies, two men and one young woman.

"The Wendigo is walking tonight," Mitch said aloud, but he couldn't rouse himself. Hell, the Wendigo walked every night. He was hung over from the booze and dope. He was bug bit and weary from his ordeal in the swamp, tired from his long walk around the lake in the intermittent rain. He was too beat to fear. He dozed in the chair, but he couldn't go to bed until Kelly came home. Mitch hadn't come straight home from Mrs. Parker's. He had stole quietly through the bush and snuck up to the Cross cottage. Everything seemed okay there. Both cars were in the driveway, and most of the lights were on, although he couldn't get a good look inside.

Both McCall cars were in the back driveway, too, and there were no strange ones. He moved all around the cottage. He pressed against the walls and peeked in from different angles to see through every crack in the curtains, and to watch the shadows. Some lights were on, but mostly, it was dark inside making it difficult to see. He strained to hear, but could hear nothing over the rushing and subsiding conversation of the trees and the drip of rain.

There was no Kyle Weechum. He must have imagined it, which didn't surprise him. At the upper front patio doors, he was able to gain an angled view into the dim living room. Mrs. McCall was naked. That was not the kind of thing you did with a rapist killer in your house. He faded quietly back into the bush, wondering what Kelly would think of him sneaking around and peeping in people's windows.

He had been heading resolutely home on the bush path when he stopped again in his tracks. He felt all the spirits of the night pile up behind him and they breathed down his neck. There were lights on at the Dee cottage, not just the back door light that the police had left on, but several lights.

The master bedroom light upstairs and most of the main floor lights were on. He crouched on the path and spent several minutes wondering if he had left the lights on when he had been there. When was that? Yesterday? No, it was two days ago. He couldn't have left them on. It was daylight when he was there. And, definitely not upstairs. He hadn't even gone upstairs.

Absently checking the hatchet in his belt, Mitch approached the cottage through the bush. It was easier to see here, since there were more lights, and the curtains were more carelessly drawn. He circled all around, but he couldn't see anyone inside.

The police tape had been torn from the door and it was lying, glistening wet in the back door light. There was a car in the driveway, a new mustang convertible, that he didn't recognize, but he noticed it had the Dandy Dan Dee plastic plate covering.

It didn't occur to him to knock. The back door was unlocked, and he slipped inside. Would Kyle be so bold as to come here and turn on all the lights? Or, had he done it? His mind was not working well. He thought he left the door locked.

In the kitchen he heard the click of a revolver hammer being pulled back.

"Stop and put your hands up, or I'll fucking shoot you."

He raised his hand in the air and turned slowly. "Don't shoot me, Mr. Dee," he said. "It's me, Mitch Herkemer." "Who?"

"Mitch Herkemer, the sheriff's son."

"What the fuck are you doing in my cottage?"

"I saw the lights on, and I thought it was strange. I thought this was still a crime scene."

"It's my place. You're the one that's fucking strange," Mr. Dee said, still holding the gun aimed at him. Mr. Dee looked flabbier than ever, sweaty and beat.

"I'm sorry for your loss," Mitch said with his hands still in the air.

"Fucking slut!" Mr. Dee snarled. "You want a drink?"

They sat down on the couch. Mitch wasn't sure what he wanted to say to the guy except to ask, why the fuck would you come back to this place alone in the middle of the night?

They drank together, and their conversation drifted about, ultimately going nowhere, and revealing nothing. On one hand, Mitch felt he already knew too much about the guy, and too little, on the other. He left Mr. Dee sitting in the living room with all the lights on. The revolver was on the coffee table. Mitch wondered if he was might kill himself, too. Mitch really didn't care if he did.

Chapter 19

Kelly managed to make it back to the lumber camp. It was about seven-thirty, Saturday morning, and she was wolfing down a sandwich Mitch left for her when the sheriff called to tell her what her part was going to be in the manhunt for Kyle Weechum.

"What about the bodies?" she asked.

"Nothing yet."

"How can we not have anything? Didn't they check his wallet"?

"It's all in the troopers' hands now. Everything, the bodies, the crime scene. They've brought in extra people. They're going to work this at their own pace."

"Jesus."

"We know one was Miles, and the girl is probably the run-away we got the tip on. We don't know who the third victim is."

"Kyle Weechum?" she asked.

"No. That would be too good to be true. No, I could tell from what I could see that it wasn't Kyle. The man was too big."

With difficulty, she forced herself to recall the images of last night to see if she knew anything about the body. It was hard to tell there in the swamp. "You saw them take the bodies out?"

"Ya, about dawn this morning."

"Jesus."

"That's not the worst of our worries. We still have to worry about Weechum. If he did it, or, even if he didn't, he could well be in the area," the sheriff pointed out.

"Or a thousand miles away."

"I wouldn't count on that. With all the activity around the bodies, he's not going to be around Shallow Rock. He's sure to have bugged out of there. But, I'm afraid the next most likely place he might go is Wendigo," the sheriff mused.

"I hear you. Do you want me to meet the searchers?" she offered.

"That's the thing, Kelly. There aren't any coming your way."

"I thought this was a major priority," Kelly said.

"It is. The state is putting in everything they've got, and corrections, too."

"Well, then what the hell?" she snapped with irritation.

"Everybody is busy." There was a pause. The sheriff sounded dead beat. "They found some more bodies," he said.

"Jesus, no." She swallowed hard and blinked at the news.

"A man and a woman in a cottage at Round Lake. They were tied up, raped, murdered. The bodies were a couple of days old when they were found last night. So, the coroner is busy on that, too. The state troopers' proceeding on the assumption that Kyle Weechum is responsible. They're concentrating their search in that area," the sheriff explained.

"If they're a couple of days old, he won't be around there anymore," Kelly ventured.

"We don't know that. Anyway, it's out of my hands. Listen, they're not sure, but they think these people had a canoe and it's missing. That lake is about twenty miles southwest of Wendigo. But, there's a river that runs to Beaver Lake and that's right next to Shallow Lake."

"What do you want me to do?" she asked.

"Go around, and check on everybody. Warn everybody. See if you can persuade them to get the hell out of there until we catch Weechum."

"Can I order them out?" she asked.

"I don't have the authority to order an evacuation. Anyway, we shouldn't have to. If it comes to that, I can get the Chair to go to the governor, but that would take a hell of a long time. Everybody is busy right now."

"Okay, I'll get right on it Sheriff," she assured him

"I'll send someone out to help as soon as I can."

"Okay, sheriff."

"You could take Mitch along with you," he suggested.

"Ya right," she thought.

"And, one more thing. Could you check on Mrs. Cross first? See if she has heard from Mr. Cross. See if he's there."

"You think the other man is Cross?" Kelly asked.

"Maybe. Check it out. And, call in often, okay?"

"No problem, Sheriff."

She put on her last good uniform, got into her car, and headed around the lake towards the Cross cottage. She left Mitch behind, snoring loudly enough to shake the walls.

It was only around eight-thirty when she arrived at the Cross cottage, but Mrs. Cross was already awake, and she wasn't alone. Mr. McCall was with her.

Mitch woke up screaming again. Weak morning light was in the air. Dust swirled in the light, not ghosts. Kelly never said anything to him when he woke like this. She never asked if he was okay. Of course, he never said anything to her either. But, it wasn't just that, he could sense she was already gone.

Chapter 20

Kelly rolled her car to a stop at the top of the rise leading down to the Parker place. The dim and watery afternoon had suddenly gone black. She turned the car off and waited. She needed to think.

It was late morning and the weather was steadily growing worse. She wished she had a radio in her car to call in to the sheriff, although, she wasn't sure what she would tell him.

"Things are strange Sheriff, things are really fucking strange around here," is what she would probably have to say.

They were all up to something; they were all harboring secrets. The wall of mystery was closing in on her like the bowing trees, like the suffocating heat and humidity. Everybody was lying. She was almost ready to agree with Mitch that the whole damned lake was possessed.

Bad shit happened around here. She was sure more bad shit was about to happen, and there was nothing she could do about it. She wanted to haul them all in for questioning, get them all in an interrogation room, and beat the living crap out of them until they talked.

Mrs. Cross had looked like shit. She also looked doped up.

Mr. Cross was supposed to have come up last night, and when he didn't show up, Mrs. Cross had a bad night. Mr. McCall said she was spooked by all the bullshit about the Wendigo and Kyle Weechum. McCall did the talking and Kelly kept talking around him to the point she almost took out her nightstick and whacked him across the mouth.

Mrs. Cross said she was afraid that her husband had gotten into a car accident or something. McCall was sure it was nothing more than he had gotten tied up at work. They tried to call him, but there was no answer at home, or at work. Then, there was trouble with the phones, which was probably why he hadn't called. He would show up today, once he fought his way through the lousy weather.

Everything about this guy screamed asshole. He was acting pretty cool, but he was a little frayed at the edges. He sweating a little. Although, the morning brought no relief to the humidity, the rain had stopped for the moment. It was gathering itself up somewhere in new buckets.

"How's Mrs. McCall?" Kelly asked.

"She's fine. She just went back to our cottage. She had been staying with Mrs. Cross."

Kelly took a good look at Mrs Cross. She was on something.

"She has valium. She took some to calm herself down," McCall said.

She could talk, and she could focus with some difficulty, but it was no more than the reaction from a normal dose. It was not like Kelly had an excuse to take her to the hospital, but she didn't like leaving her with McCall. She would be in no condition to drive for many hours at least.

"Can you drive her home?" Kelly asked.

"Home?" McCall asked sounding puzzled.

"Back to the city," Kelly said.

"She lives in Syracuse. We're from Albany. Anyway, I'm sure her husband will show up by this afternoon."

"But, you should all be leaving now, as soon as possible."

"Why the hell would we want to do that?" McCall demanded.

Because, the weather is the shits, she thought. But, she didn't say it. She didn't want to say what was really on her mind. If she started doing that, she would surely end up beating on somebody. It raised the question of why the hell they were all up at their cottages when everyone knew the weather would be bad for the entire weekend.

Instead, she answered, "Because, Kyle Weechum has escaped custody and we believe he might be headed for Wendigo Lake."

"Weechum? Do you mean that punk they picked up in Shallow Rock a few days ago?"

"Yes."

"You want us to pack up and leave because of a punk like that?" McCall asked in disbelief.

"He killed a guard, and he may have killed two cottagers at Round Lake. There may be others as well in the Shallow Rock area."

That shut him up for a bit. It drained a bit of color from his face. "He killed a bunch of people? Are you sure?"

"No, but it's possible. He's posted as armed and dangerous. There's no point in taking chances. Why risk it? The weather is lousy anyway."

"My wife and I like it here when it storms," McCall retorted. He stared out at the lake, and took some deep breaths while she watched him closely. The bastard was starting to look afraid at least. "But, Cross is probably on his way. If we leave now, we'll miss him."

"We'll turn him around, and let him know what happened. There's no sense in delaying, Mr. McCall. The weather is only going to get worse. You should pack up and go now," Kelly sagely advised.

"Are you ordering me out?" He turned to look at her now. He squinted, although, there was no sun.

"No. But, I don't understand why you would want to stay," Kelly shrugged.

"Maybe, because I don't like being ordered around."

"I'm not ordering you, Mr. McCall. I just told you that a very dangerous murderer might be in the area."

"Maybe, maybe, maybe." He held up his hand before she could say anything else. "I don't feel like driving to Syracuse. If Cross doesn't show up by two or three, then we'll head out and take Mrs. Cross with us. We'll leave before nightfall."

She couldn't really argue with that.

"Okay," she nodded. "I'll be doing my rounds." She leaned down to speak directly to Mrs. Cross. She spoke clearly into her unfocused face. "I'll come by and check on you in a bit," she said.

Mrs. Cross smiled at her. "Thank You," she replied.

Kelly stood straight and looked at McCall, waiting to see if he would challenge her.

"We'll look after her," he said firmly.

"The sooner you leave the better," she replied.

"So you said already."

Kelly intended to return to check each of the three cottages as soon as she was finished with Mrs. Parker. After that, she would swing around to the far end of the lake and talk to Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Ratsmueller. Then, she intended to come right back here and stick with Mrs. Cross until they either left, or until her husband showed up. She was tempted to call in from the Cross place in order to test what McCall said about there being problems with the phones. But, she didn't want to talk in front of McCall. She could use Parker's phone instead.

Parker. Now, there was a piece of work. The McCall's, the Cross' and the Dees were all rich assholes, but Mrs. Parker seemed more Kyle Weechum's type. A hillbilly momma who liked younger men. She was just the type of person to harbor a fugitive. She didn't live in Shallow Rock, but in Kelly's mind, her place was where Shallow Rock began, a forward outpost into the land of the respectable. Ha! Respectable.

The sheriff warned her about sneaking up on Mrs. Parker, so she sat for a while, thinking. She didn't want to hit her horn or give any other kind of warning. What if Weechum was there? He could get away, or worse, she could walk right into an ambush.

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