tagNon-EroticShallow Rock Ch. 25-27

Shallow Rock Ch. 25-27

byDarcyLansdowne©

Chapter 25

Kelly was driving back around the lake with Mitch. The rain had gone in to a bit of a lull while they were at Mrs. Anderson's, suddenly picked up again with a vengeance. It was hot and humid inside the dripping car and Kelly sweated as she leaned forward over the steering wheel to get a decent look at the road ahead.

She had to drive slowly. Fair enough, since she was not sure there was any reason to hurry, and she needed time to think. Beside her, Mitch, with his long blond hair dripping, was singing in a low, soft voice. "Long as I remember, rain's been pouring down, clouds of mystery forming confusion on the ground."

Things moved in the rain and the dark, but she knew that they weren't real, just products of her weary, over stressed brain. She could feel the presence of the Wendigo just as she felt it hovering over the bodies in the swamp. She had felt it ever since Mitch told her the damn story on the night of her arrival. But, she needed to think clearly, or she was going to go down in this flood.

The power was out all over the lake; the lake was cut off from the outside world. If someone wanted to commit murder, now was the time. But, that didn't mean that it was going to happen. They all needed to calm down. There were a few things to worry about. Had the conspirators finished killing each other off, or was the ambush in the swamp just the beginning? Take it easy, or you'll be one of the casualties, she told herself.

"All we really have is three bodies," she said out loud. She needed to talk to get outside of her own head. She needed someone to bounce things off. Mitch was probably the last person she needed for that, but he was all she had. He was quiet for a moment. She looked at him quickly to see if he was asleep, or if he even heard her at all. He was counting on his fingers.

"More like, I don't know, twelve or thirteen. You've got the girl that drowned and became the Wendigo. You've got the two hunters ..."

She pounded on the steering wheel with both hands. "Stop it, Mitch! Stop it, stop it, stop it! Just forget about the Wendigo shit. We need to look at the facts."

"But, I think the Wendigo has something to do with it," he argued.

"Just leave it, okay? Maybe you're right, but just leave all that out. Just current events, forget history."

"Well, that's pretty stupid," he muttered.

She went on anyway. "All we have is three bodies."

"Four. You forgot Mrs. Dee."

"She was an OD."

"Do we know that?"

"Jesus, Mitch! You were the last one with her. Do you have something you need to tell me?"

"Okay, it was an accident."

"Three bodies. Deputy Miles and Mr. Cross, both killed by shotgun blasts fired at close range. The girl, no doubt the missing runaway, cause of death still unknown. But, the body had been in the swamp for many months, maybe a year or more. So, what happened?"

"The two men had an argument over the girl and they blew each other away."

"What are they doing with the body?"

"Moving it."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because, they murdered her, and now all of the sudden, the police are looking for her."

"Why were we looking for her?" she asked.

"Because, some one, a woman, tipped us off."

"Who?"

"Let's not go down that road. Let's ask why they tipped the cops off," Mitch said.

"Because, they wanted the cops to catch the bad guys in the act."

"Why?"

"Because, they did a bad thing."

"And, they just conveniently blew each other away," Kelly said.

"Not just conveniently, they got spooked out there in the swamp. The Wendigo got into their heads, and wham! Guilty people are easy prey for her."

She sighed. "Okay then, we have nothing to worry about. The bad guys are dead. It's just a haunted lake, that's all."

"And, Kyle Weechum."

"It couldn't have been Kyle Weechum. They have him too far away at the time."

She drove on through the rain, past the turn off to the new cottages.

"Just for the sake of argument, Mitch, let's just say that it wasn't an accident, and that it wasn't possession. Let's say it was murder."

"You said that the simplest answer is usually the right one."

"I don't think that possession and simultaneous shot gun blasts is the simplest answer."

"That's just the way your mind works."

She was determined to put this issue on some kind of rational basis. There was a procedure for solving murders. "What's the motive?" she asked. "Who would want to kill these guys?"

"The Wendigo."

"Besides the Wendigo."

"The runaway's family."

"They weren't around. If they were poking around Shallow Rock, we would have known about it. I was thinking more like an accomplice, someone who wanted to do away with all the witnesses to the girl's death. It's obvious. Bobby Margin wanted to kill Cross, because he was fooling around with his wife, and they were trying to catch him. He got Mrs. Cross to phone in the tip to lure them into the swamp, and he ambushes them. End of story. I just have to figure out how to prove it."

"Watch you're driving, it's steep here."

She turned down onto the road leading down to the Parker Place. She wasn't going very fast, but the road was slick with mud, and the car began to drift on her. She worked the steering wheel as gently as she could, trying to ease it back into her control. Just as she came around the side, there was something, an apparition, crossing in front of her headlights. Startled, she hit the brakes and completely lost control, the rear catching and spinning them, sending them drifting sideways.

"Damn it, Mitch!" she shouted. She fought the wheel, but she could do nothing as they toppled off the bank and smacked into the water.

The car landed on the driver's side. Mitch grabbed for the dashboard, but his grip slipped, and he crashed sideways into Kelly who still gripped the steering wheel.

"Sorry," he shouted as he banged her head against the side window.

"Shit!" she replied. "Shit, shit, shit! I can't believe I did that."

With his weight added to hers, they felt the car do a slow motion roll onto its side. He scrambled back to his seat, evening out the weight. The car paused for a second, and then righted itself and began to sink. Both their windows were open about a quarter of the way, and now water was pouring in.

"Don't panic!" Mitch shouted. "We're okay! We're okay. I've been through this before." He had been through it before, not in real life, but he had been here in his dreams many times. Usually, in his dreams, he managed to get out okay.

"Son of bitch!" Kelly shouted as they thrashed to free themselves of one another. They fought to get righted in the new direction, sitting on the ceiling, heads up towards the floor, away from the rising water.

He fought his own panic. He breathed deeply. There was air. No need to panic. They were okay. They were both conscious, no problem. They could get out.

"You okay, Kelly?"

"Sure," she panted. "I don't believe this."

They were sinking. "Keep your head up. Don't fight with the handle, you'll just break it. Wait. Wait, breathe."

It was watery dark. Their rasping breath filled the darkness, and Kelly's was getting faster. "Easy. Easy. Take deep breaths. You can hold your breath long enough to get out. We're almost at the surface, so, no problem. No sweat, Kelly. No sweat."

He cranked the window slowly down, feeling in give bit by bit then he felt Kelly kicking and squirming as she wriggled her way out her half open window. He took a last gulp of air, gave the handle a few more cranks and struggled out his own window.

There was a long silence, dark and muffled. Sweet singing of the Wendigo in his ears, calling him down into the deep. Lights exploded behind his closed eyes. He broke surface in the pouring rain, gasping for breath. His thrashing hands clutched and entangled in long hair. He recoiled, whipping his hand franticly to free it. "Kelly!" he shouted.

She was lying strange, head down in the water, arms bound behind her back.

"Mitch. Mitch."

He turned with a jerk. She was right there, crouched down on the dock, holding out her hand, and calling to him. "Mitch. Mitch, get the fuck out of the water."

He turned around, bumping the body, and watched it make a slow roll, lifting Mrs. Parker's swollen face and dead, watery eyes.

Chapter 26

Kelly heaved Mitch onto the slippery dock and stumbled backwards as crashed against the wall of the screen porch. She sat down with a thump. She reached for her side, relieved that her pistol was still in its holster. She drew it while looking back and forth into the night. She looked for the attacker, ready for him to leap out of the dark from either side. "Quick! Get over here!" she shouted at Mitch.

Mitch rolled over, and was now lying on his belly on the dock. It left him wide open to attack as he reached out to the body. "Mrs. Parker," he shouted.

"She's dead, Mitch. Get over here."

"We can't just leave her," he argued.

"It's a crime scene. Don't touch her. Now, get over here. The killer could be anywhere," Kelly ordered.

Mitch rose to his knees and worked his way towards Kelly. He sat beside her, his back against the wall. "We can't just leave her," he repeated.

"It's what we have to do. Now, be quiet, and listen."

Mitch finally caught on that they might be in trouble and he shut up. Kelly looked from side to side. With the hammering rain and the darkness, she could only see a few feet on either side of them, not even to the edges of the deck at either side of the building.

She could hear nothing besides the hiss of rain, the beating and splashing of it on the deck, and her own breathing. Someone could be out there, just a few yards away. She tensed, waiting for an attack.

Mitch was patient now, and quiet. He shifted a bit, so that they were touching at the hip and along their bent legs. He watched one way, while she watched the other. When she felt she could not stand it any longer, she held her breath and counted to one hundred. Still, nothing happened.

"Have you still got your flashlight?" she asked at last. He didn't hear her; she had to speak louder. "Mitch, do you still have your flashlight?"

He leaned close to her. "It's in the lake. I've got my hatchet though."

She took a deep breath and tapped him on the shoulder. "Let's go," she said.

They entered cautiously through the screen door. Mitch feeling his way first, and Kelly following closely behind him with her revolver leveled. Inside, the room smelled of stale nicotine. They waited in the dark. Outside, the rain hammered down heavier than ever, but the thunder had receded. The lightening was only a distant, dim flicker. It revealed almost nothing to them as they tried to make out the room. Mitch took a step, and kicked a glass. It sent it screeching across the floor. Mitch dropped to the floor just as Kelly fired.

"Where is it?" Mitch shouted.

"What? You dropped. What did you see?" Kelly demanded nervously.

"I didn't see anything."

"Then, why the hell did you go down?" she snapped.

"So, you wouldn't shoot me, for Christ's sake," Mitch answered.

Mitch lifted himself from his belly, but he stayed low.

"What happened?" Kelly asked.

"I kicked a glass, and you fired. What did you fire at?" he asked.

"I thought I saw something. Shit, Mitch! I thought you went down for a reason, damn it." We're freaking losing it, Kelly thought to herself.

"Quiet!" he snapped.

She shut up. That was probably a good idea. He held a restraining hand out towards her as he slowly stood upright. There was the sound of rain on the roof, and wind in the trees, but nothing else, nothing at all.

There had been a struggle. Chairs were overturned and the normally cluttered kitchen table was swept clean. Its contents were scattered on the floor. "Don't shoot me," Mitch whispered as he crossed the room to the sideboard near the sink.

He located a book of matches, and he lit the coal oil lamp, then held it high. The room was filled with jumping shadows; everything wavered in the yellow light. Kelly flicked this way and that, with her arms outstretched, holding her revolver, reacting to the moving shadows.

"Nobody's here," he said.

"We have to check the back rooms," she said. The doors to the two back rooms were black rectangles, and anything could be behind them. Mitch twitched, and jerked his shoulder. He flexed against the spasm. Kelly swung her pistol towards him.

"It's okay. I'm okay. It's nothing," he whispered.

"What about the back rooms?"

"I don't think that there is anyone there," he said.

"We have to check," she insisted. Her voice was a little calmer. She wasn't making a move towards the rooms, but pointed her gun at them. "You've got the light. I'll cover you."

"Thanks," Mitch quipped.

"You said there was nothing in here."

"It's still fucking scary," he admitted sheepishly.

After another moment he walked carefully to the doorway with the coal oil lamp still held high. Kelly came behind him, sliding her feet along the floor. Despite herself, she found she was crowding behind him, looking over his shoulder.

There was nothing to see, except scary damned shadows, and in Mrs. Parker's room, more wreckage.

They returned to the main room and they both relaxed a little. Kelly brought her revolver down to her side. She looked around; Mrs. Parker's guns were gone. Mitch crouched down to look at the floor. A Jack Daniels bottle lay on its side, preserving a few good ounces. He reached to pick it up.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"I need a drink. You want one?"

"Don't touch that," she snapped.

He stood up with the bottle.

"It's a crime scene," she insisted.

"Shit!" He wiped the mouth of the bottle. "Too late now. Anyway, if we don't have a drink to steady our nerves, then we're both going to end up as exhibits before this night is through. Here. Trust me. You need it."

Reluctantly, she took a pull and handed it back to him. She gave a deep sigh and looked around again in the funky light. She could feel the whiskey flowing like calming molasses into her blood stream, tamping everything down. She used to drink a lot in 'Nam. She drank a lot when she came home and she had to work hard to keep a lid on it. But, sometimes, it was just what you needed.

Mitch took another pull on the bottle. "Kyle Weechum," he said.

"He's fifty miles away. It was Bobby Margin," she replied.

"Why would you say that?"

"Jesus, Mitch. Didn't you see him run in front of the car?"

"That wasn't Bobby."

"Sure it was."

"It was the Wendigo," he said.

"Mitch, are you stoned?"

"No. I saw her. What are you? Drunk?" Mitch countered.

"In none of your stories, does the Wendigo go around tying people up."

"No. That's true."

"But, we know Bobby Margin does," she said.

"How do we know that?"

"From the fucking picture you burned."

"I didn't burn any pictures," he said shaking his head.

"Then, it was Margin. The little freak was destroying evidence."

"Bobby didn't take that picture. Kyle did to lure him to Shallow Rock."

"Sure, Mitch," she said with sarcasm.

"Bobby Margin wouldn't do this."

"Who would then?"

"Weechum, of course," he shrugged.

"Just go along with me, Mitch. Just accept that Weechum isn't on the lake, then tell me who else it could be."

"McCall," he said. Suddenly he was shaking, vibrations wracking his soaked, steaming body.

"Shit! Put that fucking thing out and come on," she said.

At the McCall's cottage, they found a massacre. Bound bodies, but this time, they were tortured and shot. The whiskey was working on them, and even though the scene was grizzlier, they moved with less caution. They raided the liquor cabinet, most of which was gone, but there was still enough gin left to keep both of them steady.

It also helped make Kelly sick. She barely managed to make it out the back door. Mitch was close behind her as she heaved her guts out. She didn't seem to care about whatever, or whoever, might leap out of the woods and kill her, or eat her, or whatever the hell. He watched her back for her.

At least the McCall's had flashlights. Mitch found one of the square body type with the big round headlight lamp. It still made shadows, but they were stark and firm.

They found the McCalls bound in the bedroom, laying on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs. Mrs. McCall was naked and bruised; Mr. McCall was dressed. Both had been shot in the back of the head.

They searched the house looking for Mrs. Cross, but they didn't find her, or her body. "She must have gotten away, if she was here at all," Mitch said.

"Who would let themselves get tied up?" Kelly asked.

"Freaks, but I don't think that McCall was the kind of freak that liked to be tied up. No, I don't think so," Mitch said.

"It would be pretty hard for one person to do it alone," Kelly said.

"Not if he held the gun on Mr. McCall, and got the missus to tie him up. Then, he could handle her alone. Or, if he smacked McCall on the head, knocked him unconscious, or just beat him until he couldn't resist."

"With the wife watching? Wouldn't she attempt to run away, or try to stop him?" Kelly asked.

"Maybe she does, and fails," Mitch shrugged again.

"Still, it's pretty hard for one person to do it alone."

"Maybe Mrs. McCall helped," he suggested.

"If she did, she had very bad judgement. Maybe she had a thing for Bobby Margin, too. Maybe she trusted him. You know more about it than me, Mitch. Did Margin have a thing with Mrs. McCall? Was Mr. McCall after Margin, too?"

Mitch didn't answer right away. He said with a bit of a sigh, "Ya, Bobby had a thing for Mrs. McCall, and sure, McCall was in on it with Cross and Miles. Hunting him down, I mean. But, you're forgetting about Weechum."

"Forget Weechum!" Kelly snapped.

"There are no signs of a struggle. Whoever did this got the drop on them."

"Or, they knew him, and they weren't afraid," Kelly insisted.

"What about Dee?"

"Not alone. Not against McCall," she argued.

"Dee and Weechum?"

"Weechum and Margin, then. Any of it works," Kelly said.

That made Mitch shut right up. He drank the last of the gin. "Bobby and the Wendigo," he said grimly. "We had better get going."

Mitch turned off the flashlight, and together, they headed for the patio doors that would lead to the quickest route to the Cross place.

"All those women had a relationship with Margin. Did he fuck them all?" Kelly asked.

"No."

"Which ones?" she asked.

"Parker, Dee, and Cross."

"Maybe more this summer. McCall, maybe? Added to the list of dead or missing women he has screwed."

"No, I don't think so," Mitch disagreed.

"But, the husbands were all hunting him."

"I don't know if McCall knew that the others were trying to kill him. Anyway, they caught Bobby."

"Then how did he get away?" she asked.

"The Wendigo."

"Mitch, shit! It doesn't matter anyway."

"If we see anyone, don't you want to know who to arrest?" Mitch asked.

"If I see anyone alive, I'm going to arrest them. I don't care who they are! And, if they don't surrender, I'm going to shoot them down. Fuck that shit!" she replied.

The rain had let up. It was just a drizzle now, but the night was completely black. The clouds were still locked in tight, smothering the air right down to the surface of the lake. They moved quickly along the lake front path, as fast as they could in the dark.

They were unconcerned about an ambush. Now, it was more of a chase. Whoever was doing this wasn't waiting to jump them. They were working their way down the lake, probably intending to go all the way around to Mrs. Ratzmueller's at the end.

Chapter 27

The patio door to the Cross cottage was open, and the carpet was soaked in black mud. Kelly felt better now she had thrown up, and gotten all of that nervous shit out of her stomach. She had just the right amount of alcohol running through her to balance the flood gates of adrenaline that were pumping since they crashed into the lake.

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