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Rated: 18+ · Novel · Horror/Scary · #2009555
In the winter, an ice path becomes available to truckers, a path, with a terrible secret.
1?###?########n?####6#6#7#8#8#############################################################################9#####?############### Ice Road Trackers Dirt, gravel, tar. These are the basic elements involved in the construction of every road and highway on the planet earth. That s because they are cheap, inexpensive and commonly found. Plus, as an added bonus, they re both: weather resistant, and durable, and easily found. You can t fine too many materials that are cheaper than dirt. Dirt is basic, abundant and easy to fine. And its among the components that have stood the test of time and have always, been associated with paths that have carried walkers, horses and wheels. In fact there is no place on earth, that there isn t a highway, road or path that isn t composed of one or more of these elements. The others being stone, wood or even clay. Such are the simple things in life. There is also room for improvement. Rocks, despite their longevity, are not easy on the spine. Clay, in dry weather, hardens, and breaks, creating uneven paths. Dirt, in the rain, can get washed away, leaving behind, holes, uneven paths and deep water filled pits. Over time, and along with all the other advances, that accompany so many other achievements, roads have advanced as well. Today, you can t go down any highway, road or path without being bombarded with an endless array of advertisements. Billboards that push beer, condoms, or food stuffs, guaranteed to make your live better, easier or more fulfilled. Take for instance the numerous cigarette advertisements , abundant and numerous, with sexual overtones, displayed by male and female models, (the female ones always attracting more attention). For example: A voluminous, slightly tanned blond, with deep blue eyes, full, wet lips, and the hint of an ample bosom, with a long, lit cigarette in the forefinger. Her finger giving the impression that it is approaching her lips, and a come on, look on her face, thus creating any number of sexual fantasies . Beer advertisements, billboards displaying macho men, and overly female, females, both holding large glasses, with foaming heads, (probably as to not offend anyone of any sexual orientation). Beer the basic aid of the unattractive, forever using its appeal, to attract more users, in the hopes that what happens in movies, can happen in real life. Who could not notice the billboard of the man with the big tool,(does it really matter what it is?) Or the woman bring a delicious, chocolate covered candy bar to her mouth, (no cares about the brand of the product, it s the image that draws attention). Along with billboards, there are single and double and broken highway line dividers, telling drivers at what points they may venture into the opposite lane to pass, or even pull over. There are also sound barriers. The long, tall, mud colors monoliths that attempt to capture highway traffic sound, and prevent in from annoying, whatever building filled inhabitants that way be within earshot. Every highway in America is covered with this eye litter. All but one. Route 666, known to some as the Dragon s Tail. A rather dismay, forbidding, stretch of ice that, during the cold winter months, would transverse, an almost twenty mile length, severing as a shortcut between Minnesota and a lower region of Canada. A bridge, built by nature over Lake Erie that existed from the beginning of January to almost the first week of March. An event that has been orchestrated by natural conditions for, according to locals, and the University of Minnesota for the last five hundred years Much like the Bering land bridge, which stretched some 1,000 miles and connected North America with Siberia , some 16,000 years ago. An icy trail that, some say, allowed inhabitants to cross over from Russia and enter the Americans. It is theorized, that, thanks to this bridge, life in these United States, grew and prospered. Or the sea bridge, that at one time, about 14,000 years ago, connected, Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania. Were the results the same? Hard to say, since there was no one there to record as such results, or affects, or for that matter, effects. But be that as it may, this bridge, does exist, as some three hundred or so truck drivers will testify to, and its results are very measurable. Currently, from January 5th to February 28th approximately five thousand tons of associated materials, foodstuffs, medicine, and occasionally illegal goods, cross the forty five mile stretch known as the Dragon s Tail. On the average hour, thirteen to eighteen International 9900i Eagles, Freightliner FLD s or Volvo VNL s crossed the ice at 55 miles per hour, weather conditions permitting . Watching these steel and rubber behemoths racing along, on the same road, at such a steady rate, one couldn t help but be impressed. First, knowing that it was only hardened ice that stood between them and a watery death, but also the hash, blowing winds that howled like a wounded coyote, and two, the thick mist that would pop up, sudden, reducing visibly to also zero, at any given time. But rather than courage, or fool hardiest, it was something else that motived these strong men and women. The bonus. The extra eight to a thousand dollars that waited for those who got their loads in on time, or early, and the even larger bonus for those who made the most runs. Having an edge, often meant the difference between, making a larger bonus, making it just on time, losing your rig, or even your life. Time was important. Stamina was important. A good shortcut was worth its weight in gold. And the best shortcut known, to but a few, was Route 666. A little known , not more that a trail, that veered off at an almost perfect 36 degrees from the main road. More uneven, unsteady, lumpy and without a doubt, more unstable, much like the truckers who dared to venture upon it. This even more desolate alternative promised an almost hour and fifteen minute cut from the usual travel time of four hours. It promised something else as well. It promised more mist, thick snow, steep inclines and bigger, more dangerous, icy patches. It also promised specters, howling winds and things that ran across the path, where there shouldn t have been things running across the path. It was said that things lived out there. Things that thrived in twilight, in near zero degree temperature and ate whatever came across their path. Creatures that only appeared during this time of the year, on a small, seldom used trail, that lead through the small, hamlet of New Rochester, Minnesota. A trail known as the Dragon s Tail. Elliot Paterson! the rusty loudspeaker barked from the corner of the factory floor. Eliot Patterson! Report to room 707 immediately! Some heads along the floor of the Peterson Plumbing and Fitting Company, turned. Others paid no attention, and continued grinding out various lengths of pipe, valves or sprinkler parts. A salty haired, glasses wearing man of forty-five years rose from his work station, like a child being pulled away from an ice cream stand. He was clearly not happy to be disturbed, not happy to be called, in such a tone and even less happy to be summoned to where he was being summoned to. Even though Eliot Paterson gave the appearance of being prepares, a bit over weight, make be a like sloppy and rumored not to have the greatest hygienic habits, he was a very honest man. He walked slowly, yet with determination, towards his destination. As if he wanted everyone in the room to know who he was and where he was going. Hey Eliot! a horse voice called from the back of the room, who s toes did you step on this time? The salty haired man just waved back. Someone here needs to keep these scumbags honest. Who s going to do it? Who? You Sal? Or Davey? Naa, you just don t got the balls. Elliot continued down the main aisle, then stopped at the exiting doorway. Personally, Rosey has more balls than you. As Elliot disappeared through the doorway, a grey haired man turned slowly from his workstation, stood up and raised his middle finger. All but three of the workers in the room smiled. Elliot proceeded down the picture laced , paint peeling hallway. The few pictures he managed to notice were family portraits, pictures drawn by the owner s children, and three of the family dog. There were no awards, no commendations, not one of the usual newspaper clipping one would see, commenting on the fine work done by Peterson Plumbing and Fitting Company. Nor were there an references to employee workmanship, or a list of Employee of the Month. He passed a medium sized glass display case, that would have looked fine, if it were filled with plaques, statues or citations. But it held little more that a several pipe fittings, four wrenches of various sizes and a bottle of Liquid Plumber, all covered with dust. The contents of the case were less than inspiring. There was a slightly tilled bottled water fountain just outside the door, that had painted on it in bold uneven letters, in a small rectangular space, (trying to look like a plaque) that read J.D. Osmundsen, owner.           Elliot stopped, reached for a cup from the dispenser that hung from the side of the bottled water fountain, pressed the blue button, for cool water, and slowly brought the cup to his lips. He sipped in short spurts, taking the time to study the time on his watch, then, from the corner of his eye, watched as a large brown insect, that crawled across the floor. From inside he could hear the high pitched voice that could only be that of an irritated executive. Someone who was asking to someone he didn t want to. I know you re out there Paterson, the high pitched voice yelled, get in here! Elliot opened the door and walked into an office that easily would have doubled for a walk in closet. A tiny desk, took on added dimension in the cramped quarters, as did the chair that the balding, sweaty, overweight man sat on. There was no room for an additional chair. You wanted to see me J.D.? Don t you J.D. me, you bastard! I know what you did! the sweaty man bellowed. You called the Better Business Bureau! You! My own employee! A man I treated like one of my sons! You filed a compliant! You made a number of accusations! You told them about unhappy customers! No raise, denied vacation time, enforced overtime, at reduced pay, if this is the way you treat your sons, you re lucky they hadn t killed you a long time ago. And another thing, the reason, your customers are unhappy, Elliot continued, is because you screw them to the wall. You use the cheapest parts, you don t hire qualified workers, and our people are never there on time. In fact, if you got off your fat ass, once in a while, you would have read in the papers that one of our workers, was charged for rape, on one of our jobs!! Elliot s statement, ended with a louder than expected tone, one that reached back on to the work floor that he had just left. We have always maintained the highest levels of integrity. In fact we handled the Olsen re-fitting job, and also brought it in under budget. Did you forget about that? Osmundsen stammered. A tiny smile crossed Elliot s fact, as he reached down to scratch his groin. Of which you were investigated eight months later, for using illegal aliens to do the work, and using parts that were stolen from Wee s Warehouse in Chicago. How d you manage to get your hands on those parts, anyway ? You make a deal with Al Capone, or what? You had to pay a pretty hefty fine, to stay out of jail, didn t you? Don t you raise your voice to me, Osmundsen responded. This is my company, and those workers were hired because they were qualified and... They were hired because they were cheap! And this is your company, because your father left it to you! Maybe if he knew what an asshole you were, he would have left it to the family dog! Elliot s loud voice boomed. All ears tuned to the hallway that lead down to the office of J.D. Osmunden. Few could hear the conversation, even though they strained, with every fiber of their ear muscles. Many even stood up, hoping that the stale breeze that blew from the rotating fan overhead would carry the sounds waves, closer to them. But what they heard was muffled, and unclear. The only detectable difference was the intensity. After several minutes, one phrase that was indistinguishable, even from the distant office was, You re fired! Spencer Jimmy Olsen Economos, arrived in New Rochester, Minn. at about four o clock pm. A twenty eight year old reporter with the National, a newspaper based in Chicago, Spencer specialized in the typ of story that always drew interest. Not because it was factual, informative or of any value, but because it was the kind of story that was a slight cut above the National Inquirer, but not by much. Spencer, who, when he entered the room, reminded everyone of that cute, innocent, caring reporter of the Superman Comics, was anything but. He was a young, Get what you can at any cost, type of professional. Spencer, who once submitted a story, about a young female teacher, who allegedly had an affair with one of her students, which later, turned out to be false. As it turned out, the young teacher was innocent of these allegations, but none the less, once the damage is done, the damage was done. Her reputation destroyed, and personal integrity forever in question, she was forced out of her job, neighborhood and town. There was another story, among so many others, that involved a German American, who Spencer, under careful research, done by an unqualified college student, pointed out that the man was once a prison guard at one of the death camps, in Poland. This time the results of his work were much darker. The man was convicted in court, on questionable facts, which came from unreliable sources and testimony that came from unconfirmed sources. As a result, he was deported. He never made it back to his homeland. Midway through the voyage, the eighty six year old man jumped overboard. Spencer had a unique policy, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Perhaps that is why Spencer Jimmy Olsen Economos wound up in New Rochester. Arriving on the 9 am Greyhound, on Main Street and Maple, Spencer was not overly surprised that there was no Bus Depot but rather a long yellow line preceded by a sign that read No Parking, Bus Stop. His trip had been long, about six hours, but filled with colorful sightings of autumn: trees turning into a rainbow of colors, farms, with the farm hands harvesting the remainder of whatever crops they could find, and miles and miles of building free land. None of which he appreciated. On board the bus, throughout several stops he met two women and three men, who probably would have enjoyed their trip more, had they never come across Spencer.. The first woman a rather over weight Chinese lady, of perhaps some fifty-five years shoved herself into the seat next to Economos. She held in her hands a huge cloth bag, that by the looks of it, had been with her for some time. Economos took one look at her, from the behind the newspaper he was reading and said. Hell of a take out order, huh? The woman shot him a rather unpleasant look, and found another seat. Three stops later, a rather attractive, red headed young lady, found the empty seat next to Spencer. He studied her for a moment, then said, Nice day for a trip, isn t it? She turned and gave him a slight smile. He smiled, You traveling by yourself? She nodded. Don t be shy. I m just a regular guy. You have nothing to worry about. I m harmless. My mother brought me up good. In fact, she always told me, never take off your pants until you re in the room. The seat next to Spencer was empty a moment later. His luck with the other people foolish enough to sit next to him wasn t any better. In fact it got worse. It got worse, when a tall, black gentleman sat next to him. The man was well dressed, cultured and perhaps the product of a well to do family. But for one flaw, that Spencer took in. He noticed that the man had a box of KFC on his lap. Guess its true, Spencer said. What? the black gentlemen remarked . About you people and fried chicken, Spencer smiled. The tall black gentleman, got up and left, but not before his elbow accidently found its way into Spencer s right eye. Spencer s trip was long and quiet after that. He didn t enjoy it at all. Spencer stepped on the street of what appeared, to him, a scene out of A Wonderful Life. He stood beneath a large copper sign that read, Welcome to New Rochester. Spencer looked at the sign a moment longer, spit on the ground, then tossed his backpack over his shoulder and started walking. His walk was slow and relaxed. Spencer, despite his many character faults, had an eye for detail. Deep down, he was a good reporter. He did have a sense about things, those that were in place, and those that weren t. He had the capability to put a good story together. But he was, among other things, lazy, and self indulgent. Looking around he took in the dull, worn overhead sign which hung over the large pane glass window of the Ye Olde Soda Shoppe. Complete, with what he could see, a long, white Formica counter, complete with cushioned stools. It brought back memories of chocolate egg creams, fried fries, and spilling coca cola onto Mary White s new prom dress. A slick smile made its way across Spencer s face, these indeed were good memories. Further down the street he noticed one of the local taverns. The Do Drop Inn, it seemed to him, that every hick town on the face of the earth had a Do Drop Inn. Spencer thought about his first encounter in such a place, as he walked down the incredibly clean street, that was filled with polished street lamps and freshly painting garbage cans. He had gone into such a friendly bar, some ten years ago, to get the low down on one Willie Homes, a local baseball player who had just won a college scholarship and looked to have a promising future in the big leagues. So I here to talk about your boy. You know, ask a couple of questions. See what you can tell me about this mutt, Spencer announced, as he sat down in the wooden high back chair, one of a dozen that lined the hard, dark wood bar, in the dimly lit saloon. It was fairly populated, maybe two dozen men and women were in the bar. The jukebox in the corner played Stand by your man, and the walls were covered with posters of country music singers, spurs, cowboy hats. From the single over head light, which resembled a wagon wheel, hung several lassos, holsters, and what looked like two sets of false teeth. He chose this seat, because it was next to a truck driver, like individual, complete with a plaid shirt, heavy blue dungaree pants, and a black Jack Daniels hat. And he was big. Drinking. And big. The big man lowered the beer filled glass he had been drinking from. What did you say? he said, in any unsettling tone. But nothing seemed to effect Spencer, he was there for a few answers, nothing more, nothing to care about. Hey, barmaid! How long do I have to sit here? He leaned over to the truck driver. How come they only have stupid bitches working in these places? He laughed, before elbowing the big man. Now what can you tell me about this loser? How many first downs did he run for? Did he score any touchdowns during a key game? Or was all his scoring with cheerleaders? he laughed. He was a baseball player, the big man growled. His disdain, of the young man sitting next to him, growing by the second. His tone rougher, his muscles tensing, the look in his eyes ever darker. All observations, to his regret, Spencer failed to make. The barmaid walked over, a forty-ish woman with dark hair, and a thin white streak in it. Her face, worn, from the many years of serving drinks to men who were rough and tough and wouldn t think twice about sending one another into a nearby wall. She had seen her fair share of knife fights, fists fights and shoot outs. She had also seen what happened to young, arrogant smart asses, who thought that they were better than everyone else. She already knew what was waiting for this one. She walked over wash rag in hand, tall glass in the other, she wiped the glass with the wash rag, then placed it down in front of Spencer. The glass was still dirty. Want something hon? she puffed out with the smoke from her cigarette. Spencer smiled. First at the barmaid, then at the husky man next to him. Well, first I like a beer. Then I would like a clean glass, then, I would like a decent looking barmaid to serve me. The last thing that he remembered, outside of the blinding white hot pain that erupted in the right side of his skull, as he pulled himself out of the back alley trash bin, was a tough sounding voice saying, that s my wife. Now here he was again. He would not go into the Do Drop Inn, no, not this time. Economos proceeded down the street. The bright sun and cool breeze, made no difference to him. It could have been raining with thunderous lightening as far as he was conceded. Because he was scanning. Like vulture looking for its next meal, of rotting flesh, so was Spencer Jimmy Olsen Economos. But it wasn t for his next story. It was for someone to keep him company at the Shady Rest Hotel, a three story, quaint, 19th century style hotel, that he would be spending the next few weeks at. Spencer hated the idea of sleeping alone. Perhaps it stemmed from his childhood, and the fact that he was afraid of the dark. Afraid of things that went bump in the night, Things that moved by themselves. One time, when he was seven, a clown statue, Sammy he was called, stood on Spencer s toy chest, proudly. To Spencer he was a guardian of all the treasures that were locked within. It was Sammy s job to protect them. It was evening, Spencer s mother had just, roughly, tucked him in for the night. Her coarse, uncaring fingers, poking and grabbing, going through the motions of someone not trying, too hard , to care. She finished and turned to leave the room. No kiss goodnight. The nightlight was lit as she left the room. The room, as usual, was an eerie twilight, that caused shadows, real or not to appear and dance, slowly, hauntingly. Human silhouettes, not with standing. Within the depths of the room, sounds emerged. Noises always seemed to follow, ticking was always louder, boards that never creaked in the day, never stopped when the sun went down. Dark hands, with dark fingers pushed and pulled at things. Spencer knew knew, because there were times when he felt those fingers. And then it happened. Sammy moved. He didn t just move, he fell off the toy chest. There was no earthly reason why that should have happened. None. Spencer flipped off the covers and ran into his mother s room. His father had died seven years earlier. Mommy! Mommy! The young boy cried, Sammy moved! He jumped off the chest! He jumped! His mother, a part time drug addict, who had just injected herself with the first dose of the evening, slapped him hard across the face. Get back into your room, you little shit! she screamed, and don t ever come running in here again! He returned to his room. Slowly walking in, he observed Sammy, still on the floor, face up, staring at him. He walked slowly, carefully around the doll and climbed into bed. He buried himself deep withing the blankets, he would not come out until the following afternoon, when his mother pulled him out. Or may maybe, he was just a horny bastard. Anything female, firm and fine, would make his stay at any place, easier to take. That s why he was more than happy to past Mary s Hair and Nail Salon, of which he spotted three prime candidates. It was time to employ a routine that he had used before. Dumb guy, it had worked before. Walking past the salon, Spencer stopped and looked around, a confused look came to his face, as he took a few steps south, then backed up, took a few steps east, then stopped again. He continued to look around again, then took out a piece of paper, reading from it, trying to give the impression that he was lost. The ladies within the salon watched, amused at the first, then interested, finally eager to help out. Appearing to walk into the crosswalk, Spencer heard a voice call to him. It was sweet and young and innocent. Are you lost, sir? Spencer turned slowly, the lost puppy look, in full force on his face. By the doorway of the salon, stood an attractive, blond haired girl of twenty three years of age, wearing a plain, yet pretty blue dress. She smiled at him and repeated, Are you lost, sir? I...I..mmm. I m sorry, he stammered. I seem to have lost my bearings. I m looking for the department store Stern s. My uncle works there and I haven t seen him, or his family in a while. The young lady took a couple of steps forward. I am sorry to tell you this, she began slowly, but Stern s when out of business, almost three years ago. Spencer put on a confused yet hurt face. Oh no! he began, damn, I should have gotten back to him earlier. He brought his hands to his face, letting his backpack drop. Two other women appeared at the doorway of the salon, they had become interested in what was going on outside. The blond stepped forward, Is there anything wrong? Can I help you? When Spencer took his hands from his face, he had managed to force a lone tear, from his left eye. It trailed down his cheek, to his chin. My niece has cancer. My uncle told me this some time ago, but I wasn t able to get back to him. You see, I m a veteran, I was over seas. Now I have no way of finding him, or finding out what happened to his family. It was then that the sobbing began. The blond hurried over and gently placed her hand , on his shoulder. Poor dear, I m so sorry for you. My name is Nancy, I work here, she pointed to the salon. Why don t you come in, have a cup of coffee, and we ll see what we can do for you. She smiled, softly into his face. Spencer let the young lady steer him into the salon, while one of the other ladies took his backpack and followed them into the salon. Sheriff Fred Idone, had been the chief symbol of law enforcement in New Rochester for the last twenty odd years. A tall, lean, ex-marine, of some fifty-eight years, he was still the man that everyone in town knew of, and respected. The silver haired giant, spent six of his eight hour day, directing traffic, he spent eight of his eight hour eight, directing it in the winter months, when the big rigs, barreled through, down the center on the town, on Main street. It wasn t a job he looked forward to. Each one of these rubber and steel behemoths weighted between 60 and 80 thousand pounds, with a payload averaging about 130 thousand pounds, meaning that if one took a turn too sharp, or sped down the street a bit too fast, there was an unimaginable disaster waiting to happen. A Western Star model 4900fa was like more that a tank on large rubber wheels. Stopping a vehicle like that, was nearly impossible. And that was one of the smaller ones. Another common assailant was the Volvo VNL 64T630. There was something about the drivers of those trucks. They always thought, that American laws didn t apply to them. Their trait of thought, according to Idone, was since their in this country for such a short period of time, no one would mind if they broke a few laws. Well, that didn t carry to well with the big sheriff. Thanks to his diligence, and distrust of foreigners, especially those, damn illegals, the town coffers did very well in the winter months. Idone and his deputies always managed to write between three and five thousand dollars in tickets. And he was very fair about it, he covered all infractions, including the ones that didn t even exist. Idone made no bones about it, he wasn t a big fan of foreigners, he was, at heart a good old boy, that wanted to keep America, for the Americans. Not that all his actions were without merit. There was one time when some Polish driver, speeding into town, drove straight through Sam s Hardware and Dry Goods, practically busting the place to pieces. The Canadian authorities had wired Idone and his deputies about a truck, that they had concerns about, and that he should stop it on sight. This is Sheriff Idone s account: Idone set up a check point and stopped the truck, just before it reached town. The hissing eighteen wheeler python slowed before him, with an air of tenseness. Both driver and truck waiting, trying to anticipate his every action. Getting out of his car, Idone approached the cab of the truck. He eyed it slowly and carefully, circling it was slow footsteps, then looking, not so much for anything incriminating, but for the reaction of the driver. Even at a distance, of twenty feet, Idone noticed that the driver was sweating profusely, could not seem to sit still in his seat. After many years of this kind of work, even at a far distance, he saw that the driver s eyes darted, side to side. A sure sign that something was amiss. He hoofed up to the cab. How you doing fella? he said in a friendly yet authoritative voice. Not bad, the driver stammer, How about yourself? Idone took a couple of steps towards the back of the truck. Not bad, not bad, I guess. You a company boy? Haven t seen you before. I know most of the boys that drive down here. Know their families, friends, even the names of their pets. Can t say I seen you before, he continued. The driver fumbled a bit, as he took out a cigarette, failing three times to light it. The sweat flowed at an ever increasing rate. I m new, sir. Just been on the job a couple of weeks. Once you get to know me, you ll love me, he laughed. Idone, smiled, but the eyes behind his sunglasses, studied the man like a hawk. Well, we ll see about that, he said in a low tone. As Idone proceeding down the side of the rig, he thought that he heard something. Leaning over, he listened. Voices, there were voices coming from withing the truck. He turned and headed back to the cab, but not before noticing the driver s frightened face in the rear view mirror. Son, I m going to need for you to out the truck as I can take a..... With that, the driver gunned the motor and the truck disappeared in a cloud of dust. Son of a bitch! Idone yelled as he jumped behind the steering wheel of his patrol car. The chase was on. The driver of the truck barreled down Old Parsons Road, a route that would lead into Main Street and the heart of New Rochester. The giant truck barreled down the green grassy, winding road at better than sixty-five miles per hour, thirty miles faster than the posted speed limit. The driver, familiar or unfamiliar with the road, Idone couldn t tell, clipped branches of trees, and in fact took a red wood completely down, sending it into a nearby stream. To his credit, the big rig, avoided three cars, although it side swiped a minivan, as far as Idone could tell, packed with a complete family. The minivan narrowly missed Old Fatass, a huge 10.000 pound, boulder that had been a local landmark, for the last seventy-five years. Idone radioed ahead for his deputies to set up a road block at Miller s Crossing, just outside the town s limits. He also instructed them to clear whoever and whatever might be in the vicinity. Other than that, there was little he could do to stop that giant that raced across one of the busiest roads of New Rochester. The deputies did as they were told, Idone could see two squad cars, blocking the crossing. But this didn t slow the driver in any way. Seeing the steel monster speeding down on them, the two patrol cars separated and allowed the truck passed. Idone didn t question their actions, the last thing he needed was for one of his men to be killed. The speeding eighteen wheeler entered the town, hotfooting down Main Street, taking out overheard streetlights along with the decorations for the upcoming Easter Festival. It s funny how fate can play a role in things. Sometimes a major role, sometimes a minor one. As the gigantic truck barreled down onto Main Street, a single, lone little black cat, took that moment to cross the street. For some reason, never to be known to Idone, or anyone else for that matter, the driver, seeing the animal, apparently jerked the steering wheel, the result being the truck swerved to the left, violently. It crashed into Sam s Hardware and Dry Goods, leaving a fine and reputable store of thirty years, a pile of broken wooden and destroyed dreams. As it turned out, the driver of the truck, upon an intense search, was carrying illegal immigrants, explosives, and other materials that could have been used for terrorist activities. But this was the exception. More often then not, everything else was nothing more than minor infractions. Idone usually pulled drivers over for characteristics rather than driving ability Except for one other incident, one that Idone found partially disturbing . There was the interesting incident, involving an ice fisherman, a Mister Jeffery Hamm, an on and off again resident, who showed up from December and stayed through March, his reasons, never being known. It was almost three years ago, during a particularly cold winter, that had broken several local records and even made the national news. The mist was thick and the winds blew such that no one in their right mind came out, for whatever reason, longer than ten minutes. Route 666 was wider with ice, more than at any other time, recorded by the surveys recorded by the government send scientists. It had along been the winter that three rigs had disappeared. Along with the usual among of truck traffic, several brave souls in Chevys and Toyotas had ventured upon the path, in the hopes that their travel time would be cut in half, resulting in more holiday time with their loved ones. This was not the case with Mister Jeffery Hamm. An older gentleman who was found straying along the road, just ten miles outside of New Rochester. He was batter, bloody, and weary, wearing a torn winter jacket. Good samaritans took him to nearby Good Mary Hospital, where a few days later, he was in condition enough to talk to Idone. He recalled, that he was in his fishing hut, some seventy five feet away from the trail that the fifty to one hundred trucks rolled over, Hamm was content. Despite the constant rumbling, blaring horns and occasional shrieking brakes , Hamm was content. An ice fisherman since he was a teen, Hamm was used to the rigors of the sport: getting up early, finding a spot that one wouldn t fall through, digging the hole, and finally, freezing his ass off, trying to catch any fish he could, under conditions that most normal men would avoid. Such was the case one early December morn, about the 15th, perhaps 6:30 am. Hamm had been in his ice fishing hut, sitting on his favorite camping chair, his portable heater, doing its best to prevent frostbite, and his radio, doing its best to prevent boredom. He had been sitting, holding his rod and listening to Spike Jones s Der Fuehrer s Face. In between laughs, he reached for his coffee, when it happened. He was jolted from his seat, across the hut and almost into the hole he had dug for fishing. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. But that wasn t the end of it. What followed was the screeching of brakes, the tumbling of what sounded like tons of metal, and other objects crashing about. One of those objects being a 200 pound case of plant pottery that came crashing those his hut, followed by several other cases, and two trunk wheels. One of the truck wheels smashing into his small portable heater, which immediately set the two remaining walls of his hut on fire. As Hamm tumbled, down a slight slope, he felt the ground heave beneath him, causing him to bounce heavily, rather than just roll. He came to an abrupt stop at the bottom of the slope, his body stopped by what appeared to be the torn and broken cab of some massive truck. He cried out as jagged pieces of metal pierced his jacket and skin. As he lay there on the cold snow and ice, buried in the thick mist, that now bordered on fog. He heard what he had heard so many times before, the sound of an eighteen wheeler coming down route 666. Closer and closer it came. It s steel belted tires hugging the path, its powerful engine supplying all the energy necessary for it to make its way down. But that would not happen. Though eyes flooded with pain and tears, Hamm watched a a huge, shadowy figure emerged from the mist and with what appeared to be powerful claw like limbs, grab the vehicle. He heard the distant, hollow screams as the shadow beast lifted the truck, as if it were manufactured by Mattel, and bite it in half, with a powerful jaw like structure. A Structure, he recalls like that of a T-Rex, only with huge fangs, two on the top, two on the bottom. Then after a ear piercing cry of rage and victory, toss the two truck pieces high into the air. Steel and iron, bitten in half, as if broken, like a candy bar, by some child enjoying a snack. As Hamm recalled, them pieces flew over my head, like they were my niece s dolls. One of them bounced and bounced, landing on my shack, crushing it to pieces. He watched the truck, or what he thought it still, land some two hundred feet, onto a patch of ice, which quickly surrendered to the 100 ton weight, then sink into the lake. Hamm turned back towards the thing, that rose out of the lake. Three bright lights, he saw. Eyes? Balls of fire, he recalled. They burnt like the fires of hell. Glowing gold and bloody red, balls of heat that could cut through blocks of ice miles thick, they was. As far away from me as they was, I could swear to the Almighty God, that they could reach into my soul, he recanted, in a tone, filled with fear and horror. Then he said, he watched as the thing, sunk down, slowly, mysteriously down into the icy abyss of the Lake. It was almost three days later, when the weather had cleared up enough for a look see, that Idone was able to get out to where Hamm had described the incident. There was nothing. Snow and ice had long ago covered any and everything out there. Other than a few pieces of wood, and the petrified remained of a toilet bowl, there was nothing of interest. Other huts had been destroyed out there. Fisherman who had grudges. They burnt the huts of their enemies, or sometimes worst. Dale Grander stabbed Michael Stimers to death, back in 1992, then burnt his hut, till the heat from the fire caused the hut to melt the ice and sink into the lake. It wasn t until spring, that they found Stiners roasted hands, floating ten feet from the shore. Some by fires left burning by fisherman who were too tired, or too drunk to mind them. Other fires, or explosions, by propane tanks that had been ruptured or pierced or shot by stupid tourists, with too little sense, too much time, and too many guns. But Hamm had not fit into any of these categories. He was just an old timer who liked to fish. He would come back to New Rochester no more. It was within that general area, with Idone still investigating Hamm s story came upon the body of twelve year old Diana Young, who had been reportedly missing by her parents, two weeks earlier. Her head completely removed, buried in a snow bank, some twenty feet away. So what do we do now? Linda Patterson said, her eyes caste down at the dinner plate, which held a slice of meat loaf, a pile a sweet, yellow corn and a smaller pile of sliced carrots, Elliot s favorite dinner. What you say hon? Elliot said, head still in the refrigerator, looking for the last bottle of Coors. Damn it, I thought it was right here, and I... oh here it is, he said, his tone changing. I said, what are we going to do? You only had this job seven months, the one before that two years, and the one before that, three and a half. What is it, the next job will last three months? We re having a baby soon, in four months. Linda said, as she picked at her meal. She sat like a figure in some surrealistic painting, one that invoked a disturbing and forlorn impression. Elliot splashed a bit of ketchup on his semi-new plaid shirt, as he attempted to shove a forkfull of meatloaf into his mouth while reading the want ads. You know, I ve only been out of work a week, and I ve been out everyday looking. It s not like I ve been sitting on my ass, on the sofa, watching television all day, he returned, slightly annoyed. That does help too much Elliot. The rent is due in ten days, I need to go grocery shopping, we re one month behind on the car insurance... Elliot slammed the newspaper down on the table, forcing the meatloaf to jump eight inches in the air. I get! We re behind on a few bills, he said in a loud voice. Then, quickly composing himself, I have a couple of leads, honey. As a matter of fact, I have two interviews scheduled for tomorrow. I get something, you ll see. Elliot reached out and took her hand, rubbing his thumb, against her soft skin, trying to reassure her. I love you, Linda, he said in a soothing voice. I would never let anything happen to you or our unborn son. You both mean the world to me, and when I say I m going to find something, I will, no matter where it takes me. She looked bring at him with immeasurable love in her eyes. No matter where it takes us, she said softly, and our daughter. They finished the rest of their dinner with small talk, and in a lighter mood. They would end it in bed, watching the latest episodes of the Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men. The following morning, Elliot Patterson awoke, fresh, and enthused, ready for whatever the day was about to bring to him. She slept, he tripped his way out of bed,(she always told his to thrown his rolled up pants in the laundry, and not drop them by the foot of the bed). He stumbled to the breakfast table, where he banged his hand twice before managing to open the refrigerator door, reached and dropped one egg before retrieving several, took out a fry pan and began to concoct what was suppose to be scrambled eggs. Elliot wasn t in the mood for instant coffee. He felt special today, it would be freshly ground coffee and rye toast to go with the eggs. That would be if the grinder worked. Patterson reacher up to the top shelve and pulled down a bag of French Vanilla Coffee, purchased only three months ago. Dunkin Donuts, on sale, always good. Whole bean. He opened up the grinder, removing the lid and poured about ten ounces more into the grinder than was required. He then plugged it in. He carefully replaced the lid. Pressing down on the lip, which was how to turn the unit on, he waited for the grinding to begin. Nothing. He looked at the grinder, shook it a bit, and pressed down again. Nothing. Damn piece of crap, Elliot murmured as he opened the lid. Seconds later, the still plugged in unit grinded to life, sending whole and partially grounded bean gusting into the air, like a water pipe that had burst under too much pressure.. A brown and vanilla smelling cloud filled the kitchen. It covered the toaster, the oven, the new, three month old table, and Linda. She stood, stoically, silently, looking ethnically different. Still in her teddy bear covered nightgown, only now the polar bear designs in the material, had become brown bears. Don t you have an interview to prepare for? she asked tonelessly. Honey, I... Elliot began. Don t, she said, just go. An hour and a half later, Elliot Paterson arrived at Dewey & Sons. Dewey & Sons was a Janitorial concern, that had opened up some eight years ago. They were a promising company that dealt with waste management on a broad scale, mostly the cleaning of toxic waste sites that had met with some sort of natural or man made disaster. Their motto, on a plaque made up of pressed garbage cans, that covered the entire side of the building they occupied, read: Where no man has gone before. Elliot stood just outside the clean, steel door. He was not amused, nor was he enthusiastic about the impending job opportunity. But he promised Linda he would find something, anything. He opened the door, and walked in. Fifty steps down the brightly-lit hallway he came to a desk, made to look like it was constructed of DDT cans. Overhead were broad fluorescent lights shaped like decaying steel girders. Before the desk was two chairs, each one doing its best to look like a pile of recycled newspaper. Elliot heard the click of a door lock, behind him. She , it, him walked in the door. A six foot Hefty Bag, with two arms, filled with papers. Elliot stood, frozen, like a man ready to meet his maker, or something even more unbelievable. May I help you? the bag said. Elliot turned and walked out the door. This was the way it went on. Two dozen interviews, followed by two and a half dozen rejections. Elliot Patterson was a hard man to please, and a man with pride, is always hard to please. Three weeks into several shouting matches, forty-five slamming doors and two nights of female wailing, that things were about to change. It was during Sunday Morning (the television show) that Elliot s phone rang. Hello? answered a distracted Elliot. Hey Elliot, it s Ira. How ya doing? Fine, just fine. Got no money, the wife s a pain in the ass, all my bills are overdue and the cat needs surgery. I m living in paradise. So, you still looking for work? I can t believe CSI didn t accept your application. Yes or no, replied the voice on the phone, in a bit of disgust. Elliot had forgotten that Ira was the kind that needed to know that his efforts were appreciated. They had been friends since elementary school. He remembered one time Ira wouldn t talk to him for three days, after Ira had lend him a pencil for a math exam, because he hadn t thanked him Yes Ira, I m still looking, and I appreciate anything that you could thrown my way. It would be very helpful. There was another pause at the other end of the line. Ira was enjoying his moment of superiority. Trans-National. What? Trans-National. A trucking company. They haul stuff all over the country. And they re hiring. You used to drive a truck. I remember during your college years, you did it during the summer. I hear the pay is very good, too. Driving a truck? It s been awhile, almost fifteen years. I don t know. I be away from Linda a lot. Well think about it. I don t doubt that you can do it. Like I said, they re hiring and the pay is good, would solve a lot of your problems. Got to go now. Let me know what you decide. Bye. Elliot sat back in his chair and thought for a moment. Driving a truck? He hadn t done that since college. Yeah it was a hoot. Drove across the country, got laid in all kinds of towns, by all kinds of women. Got away from his parents for weeks at a time. And the money, even back then, he thought, the money was very, very good. But now he had a family, and he wasn t crazy about leaving Linda and his soon to be born child along. Yeah, her parents could look after her. But thanks to her crazy bitch of a mother, he d never hear the end of it. Linda s mother never forgave him for getting another woman pregnant while they were engaged. But that had worked its way out. The woman, married another man some six months later, and the child had been put up for adoption before that. A questionable ending. In the morning he would go down to the offices of Trans-National. Spencer Jimmy Olsen Economos had spent almost a week in the town of New Rochester. He had managed to have his way with several women, using various techniques, that he had employed, in the past, to sleep with him. He had also manage to incur the wrath, of several boy friends and two husbands. As a result Spencer Economos decided, that in the small, pretty, yet incredibly boring town of New Rochester, he would keep to himself for awhile, thus keeping his urges in check. The easiest way of doing this would be to check out the local folklore, perhaps there was something there, that he could bring back, and possibly sell, as a book, or short story. That meant, its time to do some work. Early Tuesday morning, Economos set out for Smithville Farm, home of the local three legged chicken. It was a four hour drive, over creeks, and ditches and two drunken, Mexican day workers. Howdy, said the breaded, crusty old man. Spencer stood before him, like a stiff wooden plank. Howdy, he returned with a mocking tone. I ve come to see your chicken. The old man smiled, C mon in. Molly loves visitors. He lead Spencer into his barn, a short pace behind the shack he called home. Between the two, the barn would have been a better choice. In they walked over the smelly hay, Several times Spencer was forced to wipe his shoes. There she is, old Molly, the old man said proudly. What stood before Spencer was a rooster with two legs, and a bony set of three or four feathers, knotted together. The third leg. Then it was off to Black Oak Lane, through dense forest, over several hills, with sharp turns, and, Spenser could swear, the same two drunken, Mexican day workers., to discuss the benefits of being able to bend one s knees almost 180 degrees, as Adam Sack could. Adam lived in an home for the elderly. Then the following Wednesday, he had an appointment to take to one Joseph McGrath. A one time blacksmith,(they were still around?). Economos had heard about McGrath through word of some of the locals. It seemed that in these backwoods, relative, screwing inbreeds did have people that were disliked, and not everyone was family. McGrath served overseas during World war II in the Philippines and was know as a good soldier and comrade. He was credited with saving the lives of several of his follow soldiers, and the taking of a couple of enemy outposts. But then he was taken prisoner, He spend two years in a prisoner of war camp, where is was said that very bad things were done to him. He wasn t the same when he returned to the states. The girl he was to marry, married another. His parents were killed in an auto accident, and the house he grew up in burnt down. McGrath couldn t find work. For a time, he lived on the streets, until a shady, steel worker, named Ira Fink, who took him in and taught him a trade. And a few other things.. Because of his suspected involvement in the disappearance of several children, and some animal sacrificers, he became a loner. Then there were the rumors of his sightings of a huge creature in the nearby lake, which, it was also rumored, he communicated with. All in all, Economos would have must preferred the three legged chicken. I didn t try to peck him in a malicious manner, nor did it give him the vibes that McGrath did. He didn t like, dark characters, they frightened him. McGrath was dark as night. But of all the leads he had been following, Joseph McGrath seemed to carry the most interest. He was big, fat and grotesque. He was like a troll or some other mythical creature out of the Lord of the Rings. Except for the eyepatch that covered his left eye, and part of a long scar that reached down to his chin. A scar that seemed to end with teeth marks. And the children s dolls that lined the corners of the walls. It was three days earlier, when Jimmy learned of McGrath. Bored out of his mind with so called celebrities of the in bred sect, he decided to check out the one promising character that wouldn t put him to sleep. McGrath lived in a shack, with an outhouse behind, just a mile out of New Rochester, on a side road, buried in grass, torn bushes and rotted trees. It was the only place in this Mayberry type setting, where the birds didn t sing. He tried to phone ahead, but McGrath didn t have a phone. He was told that McGrath ;s use of devices of the 21th century were limited. McGraph didn t trust, these new fangled toys. Thinking that he had made a wasted journey, Jimmy was pretty surprised when in knocked on the very solid looking door, and someone answered. Whata ya want? was the salutation that greeted him. The tone was gruff, yet musical, like something out of a Gilbert and Sullivan scene. Immediately Economos, for reasons he could never explain, was taken in. There s something incredibly provoking about this guy, he thought. Ya deaf, or somethin the melodious voice said. I have come to talk to you Mister McGrath. I am from the newspaper and I m interviewing some local personalities for a feature story, and I heard some interesting things about you, and I d like to include you, in my story, he rattled on. McGrath studied the person before him, like a biologist studying a new species. Ya, what have you heard? he said. That you re an interesting and remarkable man, Economos said, now seemingly enchanted with the man. You re a man of many abilities. A man that sees what few others do, a man that knows how to get things done, he smiled. McGrath looked at him, a minute later, a half smile crossed his face. Set ye sails, and come aboard, he said, I welcomes ye with open arms. McGrath reached out and placed a hunking arm over Jimmy s shoulder s, no so much guiding him in, but hauling him, into the semi-lit shack. Jimmy, on reflection later, found it disturbing, that he was lead in so easily, to a place that was dark, he knew nothing of, by a man he had heard so many bad things about. Been here a while, have ye? the now merry pirate said. Or are ye new to this terrain? Been living here, many a year myself. A man of many trades am I They sat down by a hard oak table, that looked all the part of a sea ferrying piece of furniture, as were the chairs around it, and , from what Jimmy could see, the furniture in the bedroom, all kitchen. Only three rooms. A cup of tea, ye fancy? he asked. Sure, Economos said, even though he considered a cup of tea more disgusting than a cup of mud. So, why don t you tell me a little about yourself? Some of the interesting things you have done, gone or accomplished? Well, McGrath started, as he turned with a hot, old kettle in hand and poured hot water into cups waiting for teabags, I be a man who always be doing things himself, a survivor, no matter the odds. Like in that prison camp? You must be strong in order to survive that. A dark look swept across McGrath s face. Ya know nuthin of my time there, or what a man has to do to survive. The nights and days, the beatings, starvation, watching ya friends die before ya eyes., Economos flipped another page on the pad he held in his hands. Uncaring of his questions or of McGrath s feelings. He continued without so much of a concerning blink. Or the death of your parents, that would take the hell out of me. The hot water continued to pour, over the rim of the now filed cup. Or losing my girlfriend and the house I grew up in. McGrath s hand shook, the tremors of a muscle, with too much energy, and nothing to use it on. A steady red glow built up in the eye of the ex-sailor, he squeezed tightly the cup of tea in his hand, unmindful of its temperature. But at least you had that nice man who took you in. McGrath took a slow step closer to Economos, who for the first time, since his insensitive questioning began, noticed just how dark and hulking McGrath had become. And how he began to recite something in an ancient tongue. Some language that Economos couldn t understand, but felt slightly threatened by it But still he continued, his arrogant nature would not permit him to stop. He figured, his method of interview had always gotten him to where he wanted to go, and it would this time too. He looked around, Economos noticed something interesting. Dotted in a couple of corners of the room, lay dolls, some plastic guns and colored balls. The small piles of toys gave the appearance of being there for quite some time. Tell me, why do you have all these children s toys here? He was wrong. A shadow appeared behind him. Hulking and huge, it crept upon him, noiselessly. Suddenly, a hand with too much energy shot out and grabbed Economos s throat. He couldn t breath, the steel fingers, like rolls of steel, formed a vise, growing tighter by the second. Economos could feel each individual finger, as it dug into his skin, giving greater pain. He lifted Economos from his chair, as one would lift a five pound puppy. The hand pulled him inches away from McGrath s face. In the haze of the unconsciousness that was setting in, Economos noticed a dark, pool of oily blackness within McGrath s eye, a turbulent dark liquid, that from within, something thrashed and fought, trying to break surface. The charming and friendly voice, was replaced by a tone, deep and hollow, a guttural pitch that wasn t even remotely human. The tongue of the unknown language, flowing from McGrath s mouth. Economos felt himself growing faint. In a deep, dark monsterous voice, McGrath growled, Ye like a sea gull, with too many fish in its mouth, trying to shallow more than its belly will allow. There be a danger to taking in more than ye can handle. Economos s feet never touched the floor as he was helped to the door. He felt the cool breeze coming into the room, as the rusty hinges squeaked open. The hand lifted him still higher, then, and threw him twenty feet down the path, where he landed roughly on his back. Ye think twice before the likes of thee come back, cause if ye do, be prepared to be gutted like a fish, McGrath said, as he slammed the door. Economos crawled slowly, painfully to the outhouse. His throat gasping air, in and out, painfully. His vision blurred, and his neck aching. He would reach the outhouse, where the stench blowing out towards him would cause him to vomit, in the high grass, for the next ten minutes.. You re going to what? Linda exclaimed, angry, as well as filled with other emotions, at Elliot. She paced about the room, like a penguin, who had just consumed a six pack of high energy drinks. Long distance truck driver! Do you have any idea how hard that work is? It s not like on television, where they whistle and drink beer, drive and pick up women. And that s another think... Elliot sat on the sofa, trying his best to pay attention to the New York Giants, even through he couldn t figure out why. They were losing to the Green Bay Packers, going into the fourth quarter. Honey, it s the only thing I could find on such short notice. I drove a truck before, remember? All the times I came up to see you at the college? I drove two hundred miles out of my route to get to you. You didn t mind then, he said. That was different, she said, grabbing the remote and clicking off the television. I knew what you were up to, where you were going and what time you were going to show up. That doesn t appear to be true in this case. Does it? You ll be traveling long distances to God knows where, carrying God knows what, illegal aliens for all I know, or drugs, or something that could blow up. And how long will you be on the road? You fall asleep ar nine thirty, she finished. Elliot got up from the sofa and walked over to her. He wrapped his somewhat long and strong arms around her. Linda, he began, it isn t like the old days. I m not that young and crazy any more. I m more responsible. I can do this. Besides, they already gave me an advance. We needed the money. With that Elliot pulled an envelop out of his pocket, and handed it to Linda. Things will be just fine from now on, he smiled and kissed her. He could tell from the way she kissed back, that she still wasn t happy. They spend the evening without much talk, and that night even less conversation. That is until early morning. When are you going, she asked her voice already filled with fear. Day after tomorrow. My first run, I ll be driving an eighteen wheeler down from Canada to a town called New Rochester, across a lake. A lake! Are crazy? Linda sat up, bolted up, from the bed, like an over coiled spring. Relax, honey, its frozen solid, hard as rock. Probably thicker and more dense than most roads on the highway. They have a road mapped out that the truckers use. It cuts down on the travel time, so I ll be home sooner. Linda sat for a moment, then reached for the glass of water that she always put down on the night table near the bed. She realized that her husband was a good man, who had been looking for work for almost eight months, and perhaps, just perhaps, this was the best he could do. Elliot had never cheated on her, hit her, or said an ill word to her. And a baby was on the way. Babe, you alright? Elliot asked, slightly awake. She swallowed another sip, then turned and lay down next to him. When is you first trip? she asked, now resigned to her fate. I have to leave here, day after tomorrow. I take a quick trip to Canada, just above the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario, I think, check in with the supervisor, then into a hotel, they set me up in. The next day, after breakfast, I do my run, he said. Cut back on the bacon, you have a cholesterol problem, and make sure you take a clean pair of underwear, and don t forget your...never mind, I ll pack for you, she laughed. He pulled her close to him. Everything will be fine babe. I ll be back home before you know it, he whispered. A cool breeze parted the curtains, as they fell into a blissful sleep. Their slumber was deep and restful. Not once did they hear the distant thunder, of an oncoming storm. Two days later, Elliot found himself in the pleasant, welcoming City of Hamilton, in Western Ontario, which bordered on the lake of the same name. Leaving the Greyhound terminal, with the small, grey overnight bag that Linda had packed for him. Elliot entered into the welcoming, colorful city of Hamilton, which he immediately didn t like. It was nothing like the City of New York, in which he grew up in. It wasn t large, busy and overly colorful. Hamilton was just colorful, like a village in some children s story, filled with gingerbread houses and jellybean roads. There were the smells of unfamiliar foods in the air, both interesting and enticing. He would have to explore them later. Now, he needed to find the Greens s Inn and Restaurant, at 304 Maple Drive. Elliot walked down three blocks, got directions from some old woman with a Danish accent, walked two more blocks, getting directions from a blond man smoking a Cuban cigar. It was three blocks later that he began to think that he was being followed. The thought had just entered his head, when he felt a light tap on his shoulder. Turning, he encountered a tall black, man who immediately reminded him of a taller boarder Sammy Davis Jr. The man said, Hey fella, excuse me, but I remember you from the hiring hall. Name s Samuel Davis. But people call me Junior. I suppose you re heading in the same director as myself, Greens s Inn and Restaurant. Yes, I am, Elliot responded, Just pulled in here twenty minutes ago. Had to find job, been out of work almost a year. Me and the Missus are expending, How about yourself? The two men started walking down the street. This way, Davis pointed to the left, as Elliot was about to make a right. No, its just me and my kid, who s staying with my folks. Wife s been gone going on five years, now, Davis said. I sorry, Elliot said, didn t mean to bring up old wounds. Davis turned to him, Oh she s not dead. She walked out on me. Didn t want to be around a man who wasn t around all the time. You see, I m a full time trucker. But what about your kid? Elliot asked, both curious and annoyed. After all how many women walk out on their own children. Kevin, isn t her s. He s my son by a previous marriage. She figured, she didn t owe him anything, Davis said, with a tone of sadness in his voice. Still sounds wrong to me. I mean, I know this is none of my business, and you can tell me to shut the fuck up, but it still sounds pretty callous, Elliot announced. Davis look at him for a moment then smiled. Well then, shut the fuck up, and let s go get something to eat. I know this great little place two blocks from the hotel. They make a great steak. It was nearly ten o clock when Elliot and Davis, finished their meal and decided to have a smoke. As far as conversation when, they had pretty much covered the spectrum of subjects: family, home, football and chocolate. It was time to talk about the most hated of topics: work. So you re here because you couldn t find work? Junior asked, lifting the half empty glass of beer to his lips. Yeah, Elliot replied, not my first choice of jobs, you know. Used to do factory work, and I was happy doing it. Could have seen myself as a supervisor someday, running things. But politics always get in the way, and as far as ass-kissing, well, I m not too good at that. I hear that, not too good at licking butt, myself. Like my freedom. I guess that s my problem. Always been my problem. Freedom and the ladies. Got to have a different piece every now and them, variety is the spice of life, you know? So truckin is perfect. Junior took a long second gulp. He then sat back in his chair and looked about the restaurant, as if searching for someone, something. But it does get lonely, dear Lord how it can get lonely. Elliot looked at the big man, I already miss my wife. She s a good woman. She s put up with more than enough from me. Oh, I ve had jobs. The shitty little annoying kind. Dumb ass jobs. But she understood when I left them. She suffered in silence in silence. Elliot played with the silverware on the table, the lone steak knife that the waiter didn t remove. She s a good woman. Davis stopped drinking and looked at him. Then perhaps you shouldn t have taken this job, he said. Why is that? You think that maybe I ll rob a bank? Steal a truck? Cheat on my wife? Elliot laughed, never happen. Maybe you didn t notice. But there weren t too many people in that hiring hall. Or maybe you didn t think about the money that was being offered. But there s a reason for that. And that s because we re going to be traveling over a lake. Truckers, most of the one s that I ve known, aren t to keen on driving over ice, he finished. Ice? nobody told me about ice! What kind on maniac drives on ice! Elliot exclaimed. Relax, Davis began, plenty of drivers drive across think, stable patches of ice, and do just fine, it happens all the time, in the heart of winter, in certain parts of the country. I still don t like it, and if I had opened my eyes before I opened my mouth, I wouldn t be in this, Elliot said, waving the waiter for another drink. Davis rose up from his chair, like a mythical giant out of the mist of Olympus. C mon, let s get back to the hotel, while we re still sober, I don t feel like carrying your white ass, he laughed. The evening was cool and refreshing, traffic was light, and couples dotted the streets. It seemed like the perfect evening for one to be with the one, that you desired most. But not for Elliot, who was still upset. The only ice I like it in my drink, he lamented. Didn t bargain for this. Linda was pissed that I was going to be away for so long, she fends out I m risking my life to carry ten tons of cabbage across country, on a long sheet of ice, she ll go crazy, he said. Davis lit himself up a cigar. He took on the likeness of a minstrel player, who lacked only a banjo to make the picture complete. You know they say there are things out there, he laughed. They reached the entrance of the hotel, just as Elliot asked, Things? Walking into the hallway, which was decorated in a delightful European style, Davis continued, Gremlins. Black like creatures that had been known to mess with the trucks. Tearing up the wheels, smashing the windshields and breaking off the side mirrors, that kind of stuff. A lot of trucks had been damaged out there. Can t be vandals. Who be stupid enough to go out there in the freezing cold, just to fuck with a truck? There are assholes where ever you go, Elliot remarked. They like to mess with any and everything. I ll tell you what the scarey part is, they don t even need a reason, he added. I don t know. Seems really far fetched. Someone going out there. I mean, how would they great there? There are no roads or landmarks, other than the route mapped out, and that s almost fifty miles from the nearest town. Great, Elliot said as they stepped into the elevator. He then pressed the button for the fourth floor. Now I have to worry about creatures from the Twilight Zone? Things that jump on airplane wings, and tear the engines to pieces ? You Sammy, if you re trying to make this trip more annoying, mission accomplished. By the way, I don t believe in that shit, I m just still in a pissed off mood, is all. Bet you don t believe in Voodoo, either, Davis said. No, I don t, Elliot replied, as he headed to his room. Good, because neither do I, Davis laughed, as walked further down. He turned the key, in the lock of his room. Half way in, he turned back to Elliot. But things that go bump in the night, scare the shit out of me. Davis then turned back to his room, and walked in. Elliot stood a moment longer outside his door. What the hell is that suppose to mean? he said, to no one. He shook his head, then walked into his room. Sheriff Fred Idone stood over the body. It was a cold, grey wintery afternoon, with a sharp cutting wind. The air seemed to sing a song for the dead. A trail of light, pink, droplets, lead a trail from the forest to a secluded spot, behind three frozen bushes. The pink spots became darker as they were followed, until they became a large puddle of blood, which ended with the discovery of thirteen year old, Billy Williams s headless body. Joannie Micheal s dog, Boo, whether fetching a stick or sensing something else, lead the forty-two year old woman to the grim discovery. At that point, the woman ran head long to her car, jumped in, and drove at break neck speed to the sheriff s office, leaving poor Boo, alone and cold, within the frozen bushes. His two deputies, Joe Frank a twenty-nine year old blond man with some experience, from New York City, and Alice Miller a thirty year old red head from New Mexico, searched the area for whatever else they could find, in the way of clues. Idone, knew that eventually the FBI would find their way into his jurisdiction, but he would do everything he could to keep them out. He wanted to get this bastard himself. He was deep in thought, still examining the scene where the Williams boy was found. It appeared that the boy might have still been alive, when he was carried or dragged to this spot. The wounds on the fingers told him that the boy fought, traces of blood on the fingertips were fresh, and not the boy s own. He also noticed the boy s ankle, which was bent at a 45% angle, as if it had been caught in something, then pulled out with great force. He also saw that.... Hi sheriff, what s new? a young, cheerful voice said behind him. Idone turned quickly. It was Spencer Jimmy Olsen Economos . Nice day for some ice fishing, would be better if you weren t busy with this murder. So what do you got? Idone approached Economos with an air of disbelief, then anger, then borderline fury. Who the hell are you? he said in a loud voice, and what the hell are you doing here! This is a crime scene! He shoved Economos back forcefully. You re tramping around evidence! You re polluting possible here! he continued. Economos stepped back another couple of steps before bringing his hands up before him, one holding a pad and a pencil. Easy there, Sheriff Mayberry. Touch me one more time and I ll call in the ACLU. I have a right to be here, I m a reporter. Ever hear of the First Amendment? I know, here in Hooterville, Aunt May probably runs the local Moonshine Times, but in the real world, reporters, do real work, for a real newspaper. O.K.? Idone, stood firm, like a boxer trying to decide where, and how hard to throw a punch. This is a crime scene. Don t come any closer. You want to know something, ask me. You understand? he growled. No problem chief. So where did you find the stiff? Economos asked, lighting up a cigarette. By those bushes over there, Idone pointed. And for your information, it was a young boy. An innocent, a lad without out a care in the world, a boy with his whole life in front of him and in general, a good kid. How was he killed, Economos puffed. I can t discuss that now, but a report will be made available to you as soon as possible, Idone said, as he walked back to where the body laid. Thanks, Economos said, as the ambulance pulled up. He stood and watch as the attendants came out and ran to where the body lay. Not because he cared, but because there was a rather attractive blond para-medic, that joined in the effort. Economos turned and returned to his car. A smile crossed his face, as he constipated his next conquest. He thought, over and over agin about how he would introduce himself, and what would be his first move, once he got her into his bed. His concentration turned. He stopped walking. In the far distance, he thought he heard...what? Couldn t be. Not here. A roar? Deep within the depths of the lake without a name, lay a canyon. A canyon five to six times the length and width of the Grand Canyon This stretch of land stood majestically filled with life, above land some one million years earlier. Creatures great and small trotted the grass and sand in search of their next meal, and often became meals themselves. Where an ancient civilization lived, beast worshipers. Believing a divine entity, lived within the mightiest creatures, worshiped these great creatures. Never recorded by archeologists, these people t existed there, sacrificing members of captured tribes as well as its own young. Their sole barbaric ritual consisted of leaving the heads of the of the dead, in a holy area, for the great beasts to feed on. In return, crops would grow plentiful, women would bare many children, and all would remain healthy. Over the course of time, this great canyon, gave way to the forces of nature, and sank into a great sea. During the next ten thousand years, as the continents moved and shifted, it became enclosed in a area near what is known today as the Great Lakes. Land masses shifted and great pressures forced the thousands of tons of dirt and ground to press together, crashing and crushing anything that was unfortunate enough to be in its way. Mountains crumbled, lakes flooded, green lands, and once rich farmlands caved into themselves. Barriers formed, impassable, trapping all that were within. Whatever people and creatures that had made a home in this area, were lost. Almost. Enclosed, but not completely trapped, but for the many under water tunnels. Some of which, the great beasts escaped and survived, only to find homes in other parts of the world. These creatures that hadn t drowned, evolved into another, totally different species. Creatures that adapted to conditions not normally found in nature, extreme conditions that gave arise to abilities that some would consider unnatural. Only the strongest, intelligent and most unique remained. There in the abyss, where no light can reach, and the coldness of space, pales in comparison, lived the creatures of legend. The Loch Ness Monster, for example. And others. But the creature that lives below the Lake Without a Name, is no legend. It is not quite a dragon, nor is it a fish. It is an abomination. It is a beast, comprised of all the pieces and anger of a predator, that knows nothing of mercy or love. It is unable to nurture its own, feeding on them as well. At one time, it only swam. Now, it walked the land. Often the rumblings from the surface world, attracted it s attention. Mostly in the winter, when food is scarce. At these times, food floated down to it, heads. Adults, both male and female, or of young children, sinking down from a hole in the ice. Which made it more curious, and angry. Then there were the Gremlins. Servants of the creature. Some say that, at one time they were human, and fed the great beasts, in exchange for immorality. But the price they paid, was that they would be seen as the spineless, ugly looking things that they had been, all along. Monsters in human form, monsters within. Small creatures themselves, not to be trusted, not to be respected. Creatures with tiny claws and sharp teeth, always attacking the unprepared and helpless, thus forever condemned to this form, the form of the coward, black, with coarse fur and small. Ugly creatures, the payment they received, for the sins that they had committed. But new worshipers came. The cult survived through the centuries. Food, supplied by a lone worshiper, A hulking man, with an eyepatch on his left eye. A man, despite his appearance, who was able to enchant children, enough to lure them away from their homes, or playgrounds or even their parents. A worshiper who always came in the dead of night, on the third Friday of every month, and carried with him, a long, sharp knife, with fresh blood stains on it. McGraph had been performing his sworn duties of offering sacrifices, since he had returned from the prisoner of war camp, he had been in, during World War II in the Philippines. Captured during a raid, he had been taken to Camp 14, with the few other soldiers, unlucky enough to survive The days turned into weeks, in the topical setting. With scorning temperatures, poison insects and eighteen hour days of slave labor, the men suffer incredibly. They were brutalized, to a heart breaking extend, until they, one by one, died .McGrath, had been singled out. After working his shift, he had been tortured and beaten, almost everyday, by a eyed-smiling Captain Tung. Tung delighted in whatever pain he could inflict. Tung, a tall Japanese man who enjoyed tormenting Americans, enjoyed the mystic arts only a bit more. So when he wasn t beating or raping McGrath, he taught him of the great creatures that inhabited the earth at one time, some of which, still lived in his own country. Each howl, or tear that it brought forth, only seemed to bring him great pleasure. In McGrath s case, the howling and tears were goals that Tung had to work especially hard for McGrath was a strong and proud man, who had come to fight for his country, despite the way it had treated him. It was also his escape. . Thusly, their nightly sessions, often went to day break. But continuos torture, and mental anguish, do take their toll. Pain changes a man. One learns to believe what he is told, no matter how strange the subject may be. One night, during their sessions, Tung hit McGrath so hard in the face with his boot, it cost McGrath his eye. That was the night, Tung broke him. McGrath became a student of the crazy Tung, not only to escape his situation, mentally and emotionally, but to stop the beatings and torture. Tung accepted his young protegee, and taught him well. Well enough to, one dark night, introduce him to a creature. It was massive, rising from the ocean, some two hundred yards behind the camp. Like something out of a Greek legend.. It rose, it s not quite lizard head breaking the surface of an other wise calm, and tranquil sea. Rising and continuing to rise, some one hundred and fifty feet in the air, that he could guess. Its head passing the full moon that shone so brightly behind it It wasn t long before part of its monolithic, body appeared. Giant limbs that clawed at the open air, as if to grab a piece, and pull it to its breast. It did this several times, not so much to impress any one watching, but more like battling against a entity that didn t want it to live in its world. Finally, it stopped and looked around. Tung approached, slowly, carefully, in awe of what was before him. In his hand was a large sack. McGrath hadn t noticed it before, perhaps because of the dark evening, or because of the beating that he had recently received. But it was a large sack, and it appeared to be stained, with a dark liquid. Blood? McGrath took a step backwards, but Tung wouldn t have any of it. He quickly grabbed the younger man by the hair and yanked him forward, so much so, that he fell to his knees, inches from the water. Tung stepped forward with the sack. He bowed, muttered what sounded like a prayer. Then reached into the cloth bag. McGrath could not believe what he saw next. Yung pulled, from the bag, heads, some still dripping blood from where the neck had been. The heads of his fellow soldiers, friends and countrymen. Henderson, Fella, young Monoki, who had saved his life, by getting him to the aid station, after a poisonous snake had bit him in the late evening. Heads, with expressions of pain and horror, still on them, almost aware of faith a waiting them. He watched, his fingers digging into the sand with fury, as the mad Tung, flung the heads into the water. The beast sensing a meal, a treat swam towards the offering. It studied the objects floating before for but a second, before extending its massive jaws forward, to enjoy what it was given. McGrath watched, and listened to the sickening crunch of bone, as the creature ate. Then a strange thing happened. The sense of disgust, was replaced with a sense of fascination. He watched in awe as the brute s jaws crushed the skulls of this offering, much like a child s jaw mashing up peanuts with its teeth. McGrath marveled at its power, and its overwhelming might. After finishing its meal, if that s what one would call it, it lean down. Down, close enough so that its great head was level with McGrath s body. It stared at him. It s fiery eyes level with his. Staring into his soul, pushing away his will and replacing it, with it s own. All the time, its fishy, brimstone breath, washing over him, like some unearthly baptism. The creature had now become a thing of beauty. Not some monster from a child s nightmare, or half cocked invention of some drunken lunatic, but now a savior, a redeemer of souls, and a punisher of evil souls. . It had become a thing of beauty, outside the constraints of man, outside of his control, outside of his values. Like a God. He was now a believer. It wasn t long after that, that he helped Tung, find heads, to feed the creatures. It didn t matter where they came from, which included, his fellow soldiers. As the allies approached, Tung made sure that McGrath was one of the few that was not executed, if for no other reason, to ensure the survival of the nameless religion. Thus it had been for the next thirty years.           As he grew older, McGrath learned that he had a talent for charming people, especially children. He could get the young ones, to believe anything. It was especially easy, if you told them, that there was treasure involved, or perhaps, a dragon. The Japanese army knife, that Tung had given him, was always kept well sharpened, and in the living room, in the hidden drawer, beneath the glass topped coffee table. It s serrated edge cut through skin and bone with equal ease So it was, thirty some years later, and Billy Williams s headless body had been proof that the sacrifices had, and would continue. Elliot Patterson at in the cab of the 2008 Volvo VNL64T660, a conventional truck with a rather surprisingly comfortable sleeper. A ten speed, class B vehicle with 485 horse power. It had been almost twelve years since Elliot had been in the cab, of a monster such as this. Needless to say, a few things had changed in that time, and he had only a few short hours to familiarize with all the automated advancements, which included a GPS, two way radio, and cd player.           He was about twenty minutes into studying the six-hundred page manual, when the driver s side door opened, and the smiling face of Samuel Davis appeared. Samuel Davis looked happy and cheerful, as he usually did.. Despite the cold, his jacket was open, exposing a teen shirt that read, I just wish this damn toilet wasn t frozen, cause I m tired of looking at yesterday s lunch. So what s my man? Cold enough for ya? he laughed in a puffy breath that looked like cotton balls that were too large. Bet you can t wait to get your freezing ass out of here. Damn straight, Elliot replied, and at the rate you re going, you re going to be whiter than Frosty the Snowman, you stay here much longer. Samuel pulled a cold beer out from his pocket and drank it down in less than a second. Cold my ass, I can take it better than most of you white boys, he laughed. Het look, we re out of here in a couple of hours. Check your map. Be running doen to the Crow s Nest, that s about four hours from here. We ll be having luch there before we spit up, and go our separate ways. By the way, what are you hauling? Elliot closet the glove compartment and then lit himself up a smoke. Parts for some chemical refinery, don t know what it is, or what they use it for, but its going all the way out west. he said. Samuel looked back at him. Got me a load of women s clothes, going to New York. Works out good, it will give me a chance to see my kid. Good for you. I m glad. This Crow s Nest, good eats there? Elliot asked. Samuel jumped down to the snowy surface, then looked up at Elliot, as he turned to return to his own rig. Eats are good, been there once before, they make a mean chicken pot pie, and the ribs and the best around. Just remember one thing: they re used to their own there, they ain t crazy about outsiders. Seven of the eleven trucks, growled to life. It was like the lions of a circus, being awoken, in a new city, new cage, and worst of all, with a new and unknown trainer. In this case, the trainers, being both veteran and rookie drivers. Patterson, not being a total rookie, shifted gears, wrongly, twice, hearing the high pitched complaining of the truck s gears. But it was a mistake that was short lived. Before long, the two hundred foot behemoth rolled out of the yard at the so ordered fifteen miles per hour. Following the thick, yellow lines, Patterson became part of a long snake-like convoy of twenty trucks, heading out to Highway 339 West, which all twenty trucks would follow for the next ten miles before separating, some continuing on the highway, going south, north and east. Others would leave the four lane highway, and go local, taking the streets and other local routes to their destinations. Elliot followed Samuel down 339 West for twenty seven miles, of light traffic which flowed at an even pace, into the City Limits of Bakerville which they were out of, twenty minutes later. Over the bridge into Lawrence Harbor, a fishing hamlet, that Elliot had spent some time in his young. In another ten minutes, they would reach the off ramp, 119 which would take them onto 282 West, where three trucks into front of him, Samuel included would get off. From there it would be another six hours until they reached, their first stop, the Crow s Nest. What will it be Marshall? the cheerful waiter said, as Sheriff Fred Idone sat down, in a pine booth, lined with bench seats and a table that had too many names etched into it. I ll take the number two, Marie. And a cup of coffee with that, Idone said, as he reached over and grabbed a newspaper from the stand. So how s it going, Fred? a voice from within the kitchen bellowed out. Got that busy time of the season coming up, huh? Idone turned to the window like opening behind, the counter. There stood a white gowned, pot-bellied, cigar smoking man of some fifty years. Morning Cookie. Nothing much these last couple of days, a couple of speeders, Tony the drunk, throwing up in Gary s department store, and a few kids starting a trash fire down by Miller s. Well soon you won t be so bored, Cookie laughed. I m not bored now, Idone said grimly. There was a slight pause, before Cookie spoke again. Real tragedy about that Billy Williams. He was a good kid. Him and his mother, used to come in here every Sunday before going to church. Real sad. I know. Knew the boy, Idone said, as a plate filled with bacon strips, sausage and scrabbled eggs, was placed before him. No toast? he asked. Coming, the waitress cheerfully replied. Yeah, real sad, continued. The boy liked to go hiking near the lake, up by Willows Point. Said, it was nice there, where he could be alone. Liked to go there, ever since his father died. Only down side of that, is that, that pervert lives there. Idone s head jerked up, McGarth ? It had been almost ten years, since Paul and Wendy Williams had been to Minnesota. Having grown up there, Paul a sixty-four year old veteran, and retired bakery shop owner had decided, that this time, he was going to return to his childhood haunts. His wife, Wendy almost four years his junior, a retired teacher, had reluctantly decided to go along with him. They had just finished an interesting meal at the Crow s Nest. Paul, always a friendly fellow, had been talking about the weather, sports and retirement to some of the truck drivers who had been having lunch there. I m not looking forward to the next eight hours of driving, I ll tell you that. These old bones aren t what they used to be. And the wife here isn t to happy either. So the faster I could make this trip, the better, I ll tell you. One of the truckers leaned over. A big and burly fellow, he spoke with all the delicacy of a black bear. Hey old buddy, why don t you take Route 666? It ll help ya out. Probably cut about, maybe three to four hours off your comminute. Williams turned to the breaded trucker, Route 666? Never heard of it. Williams flipped through his map, then his tablet. Don t see it on the map or my GPS. What is this Route 666? he asked. The trucker got off the stool he had been crushing under his weight and walked over to them. It s a shortcut, not too many people know about it. But those who do, swear by it. Williams wife looked at her husband, her look was of concern. She didn t like the idea of taking routes that weren t on a map. But Paul liked the idea. Tell me about this route. When you get out of here, go back on the main road, go down about half a mile, you ll come to a road, Heckler s Ave. Make another right, go down about an hundred yards, you ll see a path, more like a trail, it goes down the frozen lake. Do this, and it ll cut about four hours off your trip.                                                                                                                                   I don t like it. You know I don t like it. You have a hard enough time with roads that are on the map, let alone, puppy dog trails that cub scouts wouldn t be bothered with. I don t like it, she said, with no question in her voice. But her arguments were fruitless. As soon as Paul hit the main road, he followed the directions that he was given. They reached the mouth of the trail. It was dark and gloomy, and not the least bit inviting. The branches of the half dead bushes and trees, scratched at the doors of the car as if they were the fingernails of the dead, trying to get in. At one point, Paul ran over something that emitted high piercing scream, the unnerved the both of them. Moments later, they emerged onto a flat surface. A thick slab of ice, that reached out as far as the eye could see. Further down, a thick mist seemed to be gathering, within dim pulsating red lights. Are you sure you want to do this? Please Paul, let s go back. I don t like this, Wendy pleaded. We re here already. Let s get it over with, Paul said, as he gunned the accelerator The mist, it s getting thicker. Paul, I don t like this. Please turn back, she pleaded some more. Paul, reached over and pressed a button, and the radio sprang to life playing, Stronger. He then began tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, and smiled, a superior smile. I told you Wendy. When are you going to believe me. I know, what I know. Sometimes you have to trust your gut. I can see that taking this route was a good... What was that! A small dark shape sped past the car, as the car plunged into the mist, which suddenly had thicken, reached forward at them, becoming a dense fog. Williams could feel the car rattle. Not the kind of rattle one would hear from an engine. But the type of rattle, that was heard after something had been taken out of the car. Wendy screamed. Even through the fog, which had now become as thick as pea soup, she could see things, attached to the windows. Small circular things, that peered at them with dark, shiny eyes. And teeth. Teeth that chewed, when there was nothing to chew on. Through the heavy fog, Wendy could make out three foot forms. Figures shaped like a bowling pin. The thin top half s , waving furiously sideways, were the teeth were, like windshield wipers gone crazy, leaving long streaks, some dotted with dark spots, long the side windows. There were two loud pops. The car rocked crazily. Paul could only guess that one or more of the tires had been blown. On the windshield three of the gremlins gathered, biting, scratching, trying madly to break through the glass. Paul punched at the glass in an attempt to drive the creatures off. Control of the car was no longer his. The car veered sharply, left to right, right to left and back again, at speeds undeterminable in the fog. He couldn t even guess the direction. The two of them bounced within the car helplessly. Paul s head crashed into the dashboard perhaps two or three times, then into the driver s side window, which shattered, allowing one of the creatures to jump in. It flew over Paul s head and dived at Wendy. Even without visible arms, it managed to wrap itself around her neck. Her scream lasted but a second, as the beast bit and chewed, like a power saw, and her head came off. The car flipped over. The force within the tumbling car send Paul crashing into the roof once more, breaking his neck. He lay on the roof, of the now over turned car. The gremlins gathered around the now stationary car, whose smoking engine, and turning wheels, continued running for another few minutes. Using their powerful and sharp teeth, they dragged the bodies from the vehicle. In the distance, a powerful roar echoed in the pea soup thickness. The gremlins, like dwarfs from some evil fairy tale, using only their teeth, carried their bounty to their master. In the foggy distance, a long, loud growl, told them, they had better hurry. Sheriff Idone sat at his desk. The Styrofoam coffee cup, sitting on the desk to his left, once holding steaming, French Roast coffee, now held several cigarette butts. Even spending the morning, with two of his deputies: Sharon Livorsi and Fred Leong, known around the small town as the L & L team, couldn t take his mind off the young child s murder. They had been outside of the town s limits, posting speed sign restrictions, for the trucking season, that was less than a week away. Idone was wondering why he had to wait so long for the FBI to fax him the information he had requested. But then again, he wondered that every time he requested something from the FBI. The last time he needed something from those damn bureaucrats, it concerned a driver that he suspected was running drugs, up from Mexico. He had been watching this nasty, dark eyed shifty Mexician for almost eight months, getting ninety-percent of what he needed for an arrest. Just as he was about to close in and cuff the son of a bitch, there was a fire fight outside of town limits, inside the Peterson Development, at about four thirty in the morning, where three hostages were taken. Despite his best efforts, two were killed, and a deputy was wounded, Deputy Long. There was a short chase, into the woods, where he caught him and put a bullet between the eyes of the wetback. Sure, maybe he didn t have to shoot him, the guy did surrender, but hey, the two people he killed were people Idone knew, and liked. Justice done. Idone was about to get up for another cup of rather disappointing coffee, when Long, limped into his office. 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