Please accept my apologies for the lateness of this installment.
BY: PATTY L. FLETCHER
COPYRIGHT DECEMBER 2019
ABOUT THE BOOK…
Blending Adventure, mystery, supernatural, Romance, and Suspense, author Patty L. Fletcher weaves a tale of fiction, all readers are sure to enjoy.
James Landing Tennessee was a peaceful small town just trying to keep up with its neighbors, which seemed to always be growing by leaps and bounds around it. Then one day Roy Dingus took over Friedman chemicals, a lady of unknown origin known only as
Miss Mazie bought the old house on the outskirts of town and as the heat of August blazed with no end in sight, what was once a city with no promise came to life.
Follow the adventures of three small-town boys, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake, and their newfound friend Billy Ray as they try to unravel the mystery that surrounds the newcomers and all the strange goings on before James Landing is no more.
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to people, places, and things are simply that Similarities.
*Please Note, this has not yet been professionally edited.
CHAPTER 9: A PLAN OF ACTION
For the next few weeks all anyone could talk of were the decorations going up all over town, and the haunted house taking shape in the park. Cindy spent all her free time creating terrifying masks for the boys and even with the threat hanging over the town excitement was in the air. At school, the kids talked about their costumes and through it all, Joe, Ronnie, and Jake quietly set about putting their own plan in motion.
Just as class was letting out the Friday before Halloween Joe, Ronnie and their friends, Jonny, Mathew, Jack and Susi met on the edge of the supply road out back of the school. “Yawl boys get permission to stay at my house this weekend?” Joe asked.
“Yes.” The boys answered. Jack asked, “You get what we needed from Uncle Harvey?”
Walking backward facing the others Joe answered, “It’ll be ready in the morning.”
“How’d you get him to do it?” Susi asked.
“Gave him all the silver dollars I had so he could melt it into an arrowhead and told him I wanted it for my costume. Which is partly true. I am going as a hunter, and I do have a bow and arrow, so I did need an arrowhead. I told him I was pretending to be an Indian brave hunting for a dangerous beast which was terrorizing our village, and that a silver arrowhead was the only thing that would kill it.”
“A little close to home, don’t you think?” Matt asked, his bright blue eyes flashing merrily.
“Well, he didn’t seem to be curious about it. Just told me to come by in the morning to pick it up.”
“So, how are we going to get this done and be back before someone misses us?” Jonny wondered.
“I asked permission for us to camp out in the woods just behind our house. I figure we’ll head out early in the morning. Go straight to Uncle Harvey’s house before he has to leave to open the station, then out to the woods. I’ve got an idea where to look thanks to overhearing dad and some men talking the other day at the barbershop. Dad said that the Caster’s calf was killed night before last, and that Mr. Caster tracked the bloody prints all the way to the pathway leading up to Hawk Cave. Said the only reason that he didn’t go on up there was cause it was getting ready to storm and he didn’t want to get caught up there in a blow.”
“Asked me, he was scared.” Jack allowed.
“Maybe, but it’s as good a place as any to start. Maybe the thing’s living up there. Maybe we can catch it sleeping and just shoot the thing and be done with it.”
“And if we can’t?” Susi asked, brushing her deep brown bangs out of her eyes a worried frown on her face.
“I don’t know. But we have to do something. That calf is the fifth animal to be killed since that thing attacked Old Dog Bubba. That poor thing’s just now getting so he can walk right again. Miss Mazie told Billy Ray that if they’d not been there to care for him right when it happened, he might have died. I wasn’t sure about Miss Mazie until Billy Ray moved out there to work on her house, but I’ve helped him some and she’s a nice lady and she ain’t nothing like those old stupid ladies say.”
Matt smiled, his braces glinting in the sun. “She gave me cookies the other day when I went out to mow her yard. Billy Ray had me do it so he could finish painting. That old house is starting to look right nice.”
“Yeah.” Jonny agreed, bouncing excitedly up onto his toes. “I took some jars out there for momma the other day. Miss Mazie’s making some Blackberry preserves for us.”
“Yawl know if we get caught at this and we’ve not done what we went for beforehand we’re all gonna be in a lot of trouble right?” Joe asked, hands in his pockets. “If you want out. Now’s the time. Once we start this there’s no stopping till it’s done.”
“I’m in.” Matt said.
“Me too.” Jonny, Jack, and Susi echoed. “All for one, and all that.” Ronnie put in.
Just then Jake came pounding up. “Joe! We got a problem! He panted. Oh! God, do we got a problem. I mean a big problem!”
“Calm down and tell me.” Joe demanded.
“Mark Sims.” Jake said breathlessly.
“Ah Shit!” Ronnie Roared. “You didn’t?”
“No! He don’t know. He’s been attacked! I just heard. He wasn’t in class today. So, after school I went up to his sister Janey and asked where he was.”
“Any excuse to talk to her huh Bro?” Ronnie teased.
“Hush!” Joe demanded. “Go ahead Jake. What did she say?”
Taking a deep breath Jake said, “She started to cry, and she said her papa Sims told her not to tell any of the kids at school, but she had to tell someone. I told her she could tell me, and she said that Mark was late coming home last evening from helping at the church and that when her grandpa went out to see what was keeping him, he found him alongside the road behind the church cemetery. Said he was all chewed up like a big dog had gotten hold of him. Clawed places all up and down one whole side of his body. One of his arms bit clean off.”
“Well, that settles it. No matter what the risk we have to do something.” Joe decided.
“Wait. There’s more.” Jake said. “There’s an emergency town meeting happening this evening. They’re going to get a large group of men together and go hunt the thing.”
“Hunting party or not. We have to go ahead with our own plan. Unless they find and kill that thing, we have to do it. Personally, I don’t think a regular gun can kill it. I don’t think it’s some oversized wolf like everyone thinks. I saw the teeth marks on Bubba’s body. Those weren’t no regular wolf bites. Not even an extra big one. I don’t know what it is but it’s up to us and our silver arrow to do the job.”
“I wanta help.” Said a voice from the bushes. As Joe turned around Janey Sims walked out onto the road. Joe and the others all looked at one another and then turned their accusing eyes onto Jake. “I did not tell!” Jake insisted.
“No. He didn’t.” Janey said, flipping her long blond braid over her shoulders and looking Joe straight in the eyes. “I followed him and got into those bushes back there just before he ran up. The way he said that things were going to be all right told me something was up. I wanted to know what, so I followed him. Look, I could threaten to tattle but that’s Mark’s way not mine. But tattletale or not Mark’s my little brother and I want to help. I won’t tell if you guys say no, but My Papa Sims has something that just might help. I heard yawl talking, and it sounded like to me you got Uncle Harvey to make you some sort of silver tipped arrowhead and that’s fine, but my Papa’s got a real honest to goodness silver bow and arrowhead. Don’t know where he got it, and he’ll switch me so’s I can’t sit for a month of Sundays if he catches me with it, maybe worse. He’s right handy with the strap too but I got to help. That thing hurt my brother. Please?”
The older kids went into a huddle leaving Jake and Janey standing together at the side of the road. After a few minutes of whispered argument, They came back.
“Alright.” Joe said. “We’ve agreed to let you help. In fact, why don’t you and Susi spend the night together. That way you can meet us at Uncle Harvey’s house at 7 sharp in the morning. Don’t be late and don’t get caught leaving or we’ll all be cooked.” And with that he turned and started for home.
CHAPTER TEN: GATHERING WEAPONS
Joe lie huddled in his sleeping bag shivering from the sounds of sirens echoing in the distance. He couldn’t know for sure, but he had a bad feeling there had been another attack.
It had been nearly impossible to get his parents to agree to let them campout in the woods at the edge of their property but finally they’d come to an agreement that everyone could live with. The boys had agreed to leave the flood lights on in the backyard and to keep a small campfire going all night. Everything that had been learned about the animal stalking the town said the thing didn’t like bright lights or fire.
They had readily agreed to this for on this night the object of their campout wasn’t to have an adventure of roughing it, but to have a way to make an early escape so they could finally take care of the business of ridding their town of the hideous creature running amuck leaving bloody destruction in its wake.
They’d crept close to the house when his parents had come out onto the porch to talk after they’d thought the boys asleep, and Joe still felt sick when he thought about what his father had said concerning little Mark Sims.
“Cindy, I don’t know what we’re dealing with. I can no longer go along with the opinion that this thing is some oversized bear or wolf. The damage done to that child’s body was horrific. His arm was torn clean off. I’m talking about shoulder and all. The doctors have decided as soon as he’s able they’re going to fly him to the children’s hospital down state. If he lives the reconstruction that’s going to have to be done to replace his arm with an artificial one alone will take months. He also lost an eye, and part of his side was ripped open as if the thing just took its hands and scooped him out. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. My father took us boys hunting when I was a kid. He showed us kills animals had made in the woods when they were feeding. He wanted us to realize the power of the beast. I’ve seen some bad shit in my day, but nothing compares to that.”
The swing creaked as Cindy snuggled closer into Eddy’s arms. “Sounds like Old Dog Bubba’s very lucky to be alive.”
“Absolutely.” Eddie replied. “Honestly, I wasn’t too thrilled when the boys asked to sleep in their tent outside, but I’ve been checking on them and they are OK. The light is shining directly on their tent and their fire is going fine. We’ll keep the monitor on tonight and if I hear one noise out of place, they’re coming back in.”
“Eddy, honey, much as I worry about them, we cannot let this thing make us afraid to live our lives.”
“I agree, but we don’t have to leave food out for it either. But you cannot help admiring their courage. I felt right proud of Jake when he said, ‘I ain’t fraid of no monster’”
Just before sunrise Joe shook the others awake. “Let’s get a move on. I don’t know what happened last night, but I heard sirens around 2 and I’m afraid there may have been another attack. If we don’t get going before mom and dad wake up, we’ll not get away. They’ll have us down to the park helping with the decorations.”
When the boys had eaten and made sure their fire was out, they quietly made their escape. As they walked toward Uncle Harvey’s house Jake wondered, “You think Janey and Susi will show?”
“I don’t know.” Joe answered. “Her papa Sims is pretty strict. If he catches her sneaking out, he’ll blister her good. Not to mention telling Susi’s parents.”
“He’s a mean old cuss.” Ronnie allowed.
“Yeah.” Jonny agreed, “Once I accidentally let my ball roll into his backyard and when I came in to get it, he came charging out of his garage hollering at me like a crazy person to get off his property and to never come back.”
“Well, we cannot wait for her and Susi if they’re not there by the time we’ve picked up Joe’s arrowhead.” Jack said. “We’ve got to get up to Hawk Cave, find this damned thing, and get rid of it for the last time. Mark Sims wasn’t my favorite kid on the block, but he didn’t deserve what happened to him.”
“Did you hear what dad said about how broken up Old Man Sims was?” Ronnie asked.
“Well,” Joe observed, “he may be a hateful cuss and maybe he’s a bit heavy handed with the switch or strap, but I know he loves Mark and Janey. He’s very protective since his daughter and son in law died. I don’t know whether he’s really mean, or he’s just scared to death something will happen to Janey and Mark, and now that Mark’s been attacked, he’ll be half crazy with worry, so Janey best be careful. I overheard Billy Ray and Miss Mazie talking the other day while I was out there helping Billy Ray do some painting. They said the circumstances around his family’s death were strange. Said they were killed in an accident at Friedman’s.”
“Yeah.” Jonny agreed. “Happened right before yawl moved here. Pretty sure it’s what made Mr. Dingus call your dad and ask him to come back.”
“Well, I’m glad we did. I like this town. New York was nice and all, I mean lots of things to do but here, people are friendly we all know each other and when something happens like what happened to Mark, everyone pulls together. In New York, it would’ve just been one more headline.”
Just as they rounded the corner onto the road where Uncle Harvey lived Janey popped out of the bushes from the side of the road.
“Gees! Girl!” Joe demanded in a hoarse whisper. “Do you always go sneaking about in the bushes? You scared the crap out of me popping out of there like that. By the way? Where’s Susi?”
“I’m sorry.” Janey said, covering her mouth to stifle a nervous giggle. “I was trying to stay hidden. Papa sims left in the middle of the night with a group of men, and I don’t know where they might be. There was another attack and a bunch of men got together to go hunting the thing. That’s why Susi’s not here. Her Dad made her go home. Didn’t you know? Your dad went with them.” She said, pointing a finger at Joe.
“No. I guess he left after I dozed off. I heard the sirens, but I didn’t hear him leave. Who’s hurt?”
“Ellen Raymie.” Janey answered, falling in beside Jake. “Clawed her up right good when she went out to look for her cat sometime in the night. Told the doctor she heard it yowling and thought it had gotten stuck in a tree. Said she didn’t think, just ran out in her nightgown to see if she could get it down. Least that’s what I heard one of the men telling my papa when they came to pick him up. This thing is killing animals and hurting kids.” She said emotion filling her voice. “We have to end this thing. We have to, and I have just what we need.”
With that all the kids stopped in their tracks and turned to her. Jack, the oldest of the group demanded, “Let’s see it!” Janey, a bit taken aback by his stern tone hesitated a moment. Then Jake stepped up beside her and said, “Take it easy Jack. You might be older and bigger than we are but you aint got to be mean.”
“Easy everybody.” Matt advised. “Won’t do any good to go fighting amongst ourselves. Janey let’s see what you brought.”
Janey smiled gratefully at Jake and Matt then reaching into her backpack she drew out the silver bow and arrow. For a moment no one spoke. They could only stand and stare in amazement at the thing glittering in the sun.
“Gees.” Jack breathed, reaching out a finger to touch it. “Honestly, I thought you were putting us on, but this is the real deal. Where on earth did your Papa get such a thing?”
“I don’t know, but if we manage to kill this thing and we get out of this with our skin, I’ll not keep mine much longer than it takes me to go home and get caught. All I can do is hope we can do what we need to and get home before Papa and the other men get back.”
“Oh shit!” Ronnie declared. “Do you think Uncle Harvey went with them? What if we cannot get Joe’s Arrowhead?”
“Mayhap we won’t need it.” Joe allowed, but we’d best see. Mom will surely be checking in on us soon and when she sees we’ve left without letting her know where we’ve gone off to, she’s liable to send people hunting for us.”
Reaching Harvey’s front porch, Joe stepped up and knocked on the door. after knocking a second time and still he’d not come they were about to leave when Janey spied a note stuck to the inside of the glass. Reaching in and plucking it up she read, “Hi boys. Sorry I missed you. I’ve gone with the others to hunt that evil creature. I’ve left your arrowhead round the side of the house in the shed. I don’t know what you’re up to, but I don’t believe for one moment your story of needing this arrowhead simply to complete your costume. My advice. Turn around and go home. You’re just liable to get your fool selves killed. If though, you’re like I was when I was a boy, I’m doubtful you’ll take my advice, in which case I’ve left something else for you in the shed. Be careful when you use it. The effects of its use can have everlasting changes that you don’t want if it’s used incorrectly.”
“What in the world?” Jack asked.
“Don’t know.” Joe said, but there’s only one way to find out. Let’s go see.
To Be Continued
Patty L. Fletcher lives in Kingsport Tennessee where she works full time as a Writer with the goal of bridging the great chasm which separates the disAbled from the non-disAbled. She is Also a Social Media Marketing Assistant.
To learn more visit: https://www.amazon.com/Patty-L.-Fletcher/e/B00Q9I7RWG