tagNon-EroticShallow Rock Ch. 28-31

Shallow Rock Ch. 28-31


Chapter 28

"Please don't hurt me. Please God, don't hurt me anymore," Mr. Dee said. As he spoke, the red wig came loose from his head, and fell to the floor


"Mitch, what the hell?" Kelly asked. Fucking weirdoes, she wanted to shout. Freaks!

"It's okay. It's okay, Mr. Dee. It's us. Mitch Herkemer and deputy Mackinaw. We're not going to hurt you," Mitch said rushing forward.

Kelly was jerking all around. Her revolver was once again out and at the end of her extended arms, pointing this way and that. She was expecting something to come at them out of the dark.

"Who did this?" she demanded loudly.

Mitch set the flashlight down and was untying Mr. Dee, murmuring gentle things to him.

"Who the fuck did this to you?" she shouted. "Where are they?"

She backed up until she was close behind Mitch, covering his back.

"Kelly," he admonished.

"Jesus, Mitch!" She couldn't hear what Mr. Dee was saying. He was saying things over and over to Mitch and crying.

"He says it was Kyle Weechum. Careful now. Everybody be calm. Mr. Dee, it's okay. I'm just going to cut the ropes."

Even with the warning, Kelly jumped when Mitch started hacking away with his hatchet at the ropes tied to the table legs.

"Who else?" she shouted again.

Mitch stopped for a second. "He says Mrs. Cross. He says Kyle had her as a prisoner. Neck rope, and cuffs. Maybe drugged. She was like a zombie."

"What about Bobby Margin?" she demanded.

Mitch had stopped hacking. Kelly continued watching the shadows, although her fear of attack was beginning to recede. She found she didn't want to look at the pathetic man. She could hear him groaning and whimpering, and the sound of the table creaking as Mitch must have been moving him. He didn't ask for help.

"What about Bobby Margin?" she said again her voice very tight.

"He says he doesn't think so. Jesus, Kelly. Go get some towels from the bathroom. See if you can find a bathrobe or something. I don't think he's hurt bad, but he's in serious shock."

Mr. Dee wouldn't look at them, but he was willing to talk. Mitch was torn. He was pretty sure he knew what was going on, and that they needed to get down the lake to try to prevent any further murders. But, they couldn't just run away from the guy. Besides, Kelly seemed to need to know what was going on.

Mr. Dee had lots of cuts, but they weren't deep. He was bleeding from the rectum. He'd suffered a blow to the back of the head, but he said that he could see. They applied towels to his wounds and wrapped him in a bathrobe. He lay on the couch in the fetal position. Mitch tried to get what information he could out of him as quickly as possible. It wasn't all coherent, and Mitch couldn't even be sure if it was all true.

Mr. Dee didn't say why he had come back to the lake. He talked about how he had tried to leave. He was stopped by the washed out bridge. When he got out of his car to see if there was a way around it, he saw what he thought was Kyle Weechum on the far side and he took a few shots at him. Kyle shot back, and Dee fled into the woods, losing his gun as he fled.

When Dee made it back to his cottage, Kyle was waiting for him. He had Mrs. Cross tied to the kitchen beam like a dog. Mitch didn't press him for the details of what happened after that. But, some came out just the same.

Weechum was going to kill him just for being there. He had beaten him and tortured him just for the fun of it. He had placed one of Lucy's wigs on him as a joke. Weechum thought that was real funny. Mr. Dee was sure Kyle would have killed him, had he not been interrupted.

"The fucking psycho! Fucking psycho bastard! Out of the blue, he started shouting for his mother," Mr. Dee recounted. "He kept saying, 'Maw! Maw! Don't you run away from me, god damn it! Maw!' Then, he said, 'Fuck you, Bobby, you little cocksucker!' After that, he smacked me on the back of the head. I don't know what happened after that, except that the psycho fucking bastard was gone. You're going to kill the fucker, aren't you, Mitch? Tell me you're going to take that hatchet and cut his balls off, and bury it in his fucking skull."

Mr. Dee was in no shape to come with them, and they had to hurry. So, they locked him in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and they told him to keep trying the phone. They took off out the front to the path that led to steep rock, and then around to the last cluster of cottages on the lake. It was Bobby Margin's home ground. Mitch knew that one way or another, it was all going to come to an end there. Kelly seemed to be feeling better. She had calmed down and gotten a hold of herself. They picked their way up the slippery path, sometimes going down on their hands and knees.

"Fucking psychos! It always has something to do with their fucking mothers. I remember Kyle had a tattoo of 'Maw' on his arm," Kelly hissed breathlessly.

It was time to set her straight on that. "The tattoo isn't 'Maw', Kelly. It's M.A.W. It's his cousin, Mary Ann Weechum. She's out here somewhere, floating on the night."

Chapter 29

From the top of Steep Rock, they heard the shooting. In the dark, distances were foreshortened, and they saw the bright flashes almost like they were next to them, casting strange shadows as they lit up the inside of Mrs. Anderson's cottage. Mitch still led the way, and Kelly followed him, slipping and sliding on their asses down along the path from the rock.

The firing would pause and then begin again. Blam, blam, blam mixed with the sound of breaking glass and the thump of bullets hitting wood. There was shouting too, a woman's voice. They stayed low, and Mitch led her off the path when they reached the bottom of the hill, circling inland towards the back of the Anderson cottage until he found a good sized tree for them to hide behind.

There was another volley of fire from the inside the cottage. By the sound of the bullets whine and the snapping of branches, it seemed to be all directed outwards. Pistol shots. There was no answering volley, no shotgun blast that she would have expected to follow. They could make out the voice now. Mrs. Anderson, high-pitched and slurred.

"Come on, you little bastard! Come on, you little prick! Take that, and that! Come on, you little dead bitch!"

Kelly felt Mitch sag a little, his face turned close to her in the dark; she could make out the white of his smile. "Jesus," he said. "How many fucking bullets does she have?"

She didn't know where it came from; it took her completely by surprise. The laugh welled up in her and burst out. She tried to cover her mouth with her right hand and bopped her nose with her revolver. That set her heaving uncontrollably.

"Kelly, shhh! Goddamn it, Kelly," Mitch hissed, but he was laughing, too. Another volley of bullets and a stream of profanity came from the cottage and they were helplessly on their hands and knees, trying to keep their giggles quiet like a couple of girl scouts on a camp out.

There was nothing to do except let it run it's course, let the tension pour out. In the end, they were flat on their bellies on the branch strewn ground, face to face tears pouring down onto the soaked ground. She was completely helpless, she had lost all control of her body and her mind. Someone could have come up behind them and beaten them to death with a club like a pair of baby seals.

At last, she managed to say, "I think she'll be okay. Even Weechum wouldn't walk into that, at least not until she runs out of bullets anyway."

"Doesn't matter," Mitch whispered back. He reached out to cup her face with his hands. "Weechum's not after her. Let's go."

They stayed on their bellies and crawled around until they came to the edge of Anderson's driveway. Mitch came up into a crouch, right hand with the hatchet in it, raised to hold her back. The lightening began to split the sky again, sheets like sudden flashbulb bursts, the thunder following not far behind. The storm was coming around again for another kick at the lake. Kelly could smell wood smoke and she thought of the fire burning in the stove at the bunkhouse. Was it still burning?

They scooted across the road and into the bush again, keeping close. In the cover of the trees, she kept her left hand, arm three quarters extended, on Mitch's back. That was about as far as she could see. She was serious again. The laughter and the cry had taken all of the twitches out of her system.

She could feel the wretchedness of her physical condition, her skin chafed and scraped and nicked up, overheated, bug bit, and her feet blistered in several places from running around for hours in soaked socks and shoes. She was completely waterlogged, her clothes wet and heavy from the lake water and the rain and her constant sweat. The heat and the humidity puffed her up and she was beginning to feel like a hot dog that had been boiled too long. Her hair that began the evening in a tight bun, was now loose, lopsided, expanded and frizzy, a sight she imagined nearly as scary as the Wendigo herself.

It was dark in the trees, but not silent. Rain still hissed down and the trees shook now and again in heavy communal rushes, shedding more water on them, while shaking themselves dry. Thunder in the distance was growing louder, getting closer. Bugs whined, more under the trees, but there were no birds. There was enough noise that you wouldn't hear something pushing through the brush unless it was close; you wouldn't hear a twig snap unless it was almost right beside you. Mitch was moving carefully, an unlit flashlight in one hand, and the hatchet in his other.

They knew there were other people around; the area of action was growing smaller. At least two killers were out there, maybe even three or four, circling around in the dark. They passed carefully behind the Margin place and kept moving. They hadn't said anything to one another about a plan, she didn't even know if Mitch had one, but he was leading and she was following.

They made it to the lumber camp, to a path that led from behind the bunkhouse back into the woods. Unseen, to their left was a fairly steep rise to the haunted outhouse; down the path was the back door of the lumber camp. Mitch paused and crouched down again, and again they waited and listened.

There was another rattle of shots from the Anderson place, but it had nothing to do with this. It might have been in another county for all they cared; it could have been ancient history.

So, Bobby Margin had a girlfriend, Mary Ann Weechum. Kelly remembered now what the sheriff had said about Mary Ann. She was the girl with the half-crossed eye. She was a skinny little thing, who you might have thought to be about twelve, but she was really the same age as Margin. A girl in a simple dress, whatever color it was, faded almost grey, with long dirty legs, and bare feet. A little thing that could glide over the swamp like the mist. Someone who might haunt the night and see things, like people hiding bodies in the swamp, her swamp. She was probably a real climber too, quick and thin for squeezing through windows.

She could have made the call from the Dee house to spook Cross and Miles into the swamp where an ambush could be waiting. Was she strong enough to fire a shotgun or did Margin do that himself, or did someone else help him? How many were in on the ambush? It had to be Margin who could only conceive of things in Wendigo form. Motive, opportunity. A couple of stone-cold killers.

You could really smell the smoke from the lumber camp now, the fire must be raging. They moved onto the path and walked carefully to the back door of the bunkhouse. The outer door was open, but the screen door, with it's return spring was shut. The inside pulsed with soft red light dancing with deep shadows, hugging until they dissolved into one another.

Why would Mitch go in there? Why would Mitch want to go in there? She wanted to stop him, but dared not speak. He opened the door gently, but it still complained; it made little ponging sounds, little mouse like screams. She followed him through and eased it closed behind them.

The red firelight was freaky, but at least they could see a little better in here. If there was someone hiding in the shadows, you would get a shine off their eyes. If someone was going to jump them here, they would have to be hiding, not just waiting.

Mitch waited and she waited with him. She didn't know what he was thinking, but she had no plan of her own anyway. What was left to do? Besides Anderson, everybody else was probably a killer, including Ratsmueller. She was too close to Margin not to have had some part in all this. Mrs. Cross, she wasn't a killer. She was not exactly innocent either. She had participated in the attempted murder of Margin when she lured him into another ambush at her cottage the night they threw him off Steep Rock.

Together, they walked slowly up the middle of the bunkhouse. The walls whispered with the scratching of trees and the seeping of water. The roof droned and mumbled. The air was electric and possessed. Kelly was not discounting supernatural forces anymore. She not ruling out evil spirits. What moves a little girl through swamps in the middle of the night? What pushes a little boy up against windows in the dark? What produces a lake where everyone is either a killer or dead?

Mitch stopped. He felt Kelly's reassuring breath on his neck. "Gotta stay cool, man. Stay cool, fool," he said to himself. He stretched his neck, and worked his knotted shoulders. It was good not to be getting rained on, at least for a few minutes. He stood as he listened and watched the flickering fiery eyes of the wood stove.

Next to the stove, they would make a good target, so he had to think about this. The best thing to do would be to crawl under one of the beds with Kelly for a while and just wait it out; let the universe take it's course. His money was on Bobby Margin; this was his turf, this was his fight. They might just fuck everything up by interfering. Who had the hammer out there? Kyle Weechum had Cross as a hostage, but Bobby had the Wendigo.

All his life, Bobby had been haunted by her. First in his imagination, and then, at some point, after one of his visits to Shallow Rock, her incarnation had fastened itself to him and haunted him for real. Obsession. 'The Wendigo loves Bobby Margin. She wants to eat him right up,' Mrs Parker had said.

Bobby had rebuffed her advances, but that didn't make her angry and it didn't change her love. The Wendigo followed him, never letting him out of her sight, joined to him in everything he did. While Bobby stalked the night for comfort, she followed behind deeper in the shadows.

She was not a ghost, but a guardian angel, watching his back. Even when he was fucking around with the ladies of the lake, even when he was mooning after them and playing their puppet, their servant, their houseboy and he was drooling after them, the Wendigo had his back. She never left him. She kept trying, and he kept gently pushing her away.

Bobby didn't know it, he probably never figured it out until the night he got tossed over Steep Rock and she went over after him. That was what Mitch and Kelly had seen that night. Mitch was right, it was the Wendigo dropping down the rock face. Bobby managed to miss the rocks, but beaten up the way he was, he probably wouldn't have made it. She hauled him out; she got him away to Mrs. Ratsmueller. Bobby must have figured it out after that.

Mitch smiled. That meant when Kyle sent Bobby the picture of Mary Ann tied up at Bitch Creek, Bobby didn't go to save his guardian angel; he went to save poor little, cross-eyed, flat-chested Mary Ann Weechum. Bobby knew it was trap. He stuck his head in the lion's den for her.

There was no ambush here. Mitch walked to the stove and using the handle, he opened one of the round fire plates and looked inside, light ash wafted out as he did. There was some wood at the bottom and a whole lot of ash, fine ash piled thick. It looked as if Bobby burned all the photos.

There was the loud crack of a gun. Not in the room, but close by. They both ducked down instinctively, and then, boom.

It was not a crack of thunder, but an explosion; they felt the shock wave wash over them, and they felt the building shake in a great burst of white light.

"Propane tank," Mitch shouted looking out the window to his left. He could see flames roaring through the trees. "Mrs. Ratsmueller!" he shouted and he sprinted for the door.

Jesus, Mitch thought, if they were all holed up in there, Kyle just blew the tank and probably got them all. But, he wouldn't kill Mary Ann. Maybe he already had her.

There was a volley of shots, again, close by. He dove for cover, rolled, bumped up against a tree and began to crawl. He had years of instinct and training from playing with his Johnny Seven to boot camp and infantry training, and then, two years in 'Nam. Hit the ground, roll, crawl, sights up, observe, fire. Only this time, he didn't have a gun. He had managed to keep his grip on the hatchet; the flashlight he left behind in the bunkhouse. Where was Kelly?

She wasn't there beside him. Did she stay inside, or did she jump the other way? He raised himself to crouch, tempting the shooter. He couldn't see her. He didn't want to shout to her and perhaps cause her to give her position away.

The Ratsmueller place was burning steadily, adding it's noise to the night. It illuminated the area around it, but cast thicker darkness everywhere else.

Lightening came again now, sheet lightening hard and sudden like phosphorus rounds showing everything as dark shapes and brilliant white. His heart stopped and once again his body rippled with chills despite the heat. Did he really see that? He froze.

Thunder burst overhead and lightening flashed one, two, three times on top of each other like a strobe. He was looking towards the haunted outhouse. The door was open, tied open like a display wall and a naked woman's body was tied to it, spread eagle, head drooped forward.

"Now that I've your attention, do you see what I've got? You see that motherfucker?" It was Kyle Weechum's voice, coming from somewhere out there. Mitch felt his nerves go racing up to the high wire, but Kyle wasn't talking to him.

"Fair trade, Bobby!" Kyle shouted.

Mitch moved quickly, there was no time to crawl. He crouched, circling to the left, the best approach from behind, from the opposite direction from the Ratsmuellers', out of the light. There was no telling where Bobby might be, but Kelly was probably off in that direction, too.

"You can have her, Bobby, just give me Maw. Hell, you don't want her anyway."

Mitch couldn't see Kelly. He continued moving through the undergrowth, picking up speed until he was to the bottom of the far side of the outhouse hill. "She sure ain't much, but she belongs to me, Bobby. She's my kin."

There was no answer. Lightening flashed again, but Mitch was behind and below the outhouse now, and he saw only its shape starkly outlined. Kyle Weechum could be anywhere around in the shadows. Mitch dropped to his knees again.

"I'm going to need a little companionship where I'm going, and nobody can find their way through a swamp like she can. Hell, you know that, Bobby."

Chapter 30

Kelly crawled towards the outhouse. She couldn't tell where that bastard Weechum was, but her responsibility was clear. She had to get Mrs. Cross down. The woman was hanging there like a target. If she ran into Weechum in the process, she'd blow his head off. She groped along until she found the path, then she followed along beside it. There was no point in being too obvious.

A shot fired and smacked the ground in front of her. She froze. Where the fuck did that come from?

"Quit fucking around, Margin. You want to make this shit harder, you little fuck?"

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