by Jenny Links
In a small town, a supernatural detective must look for clues in mysterious happenings.
Out of the Woods
Chapter One-Strange Things
I pulled up in front of the East Hollow Police department. I took a deep breath and put the car in park and then shut off the ignition. I grabbed the cup holder and my keys and pushed open my door. I kicked it shut and proceeded up the stairs. Officers were coming and going and heading to their cars to start their daily patrols. I entered the building and was immediately hit with the cool air conditioning. My purse hung on my left arm as I walked toward the desk of my best friend, Detective Jacob Wilson. He was sitting behind his desk typing on the keyboard. He was dressed in a pair of battleship gray slacks, a matching white shirt and striped tie. He was in his mid-thirties with short, but thick and wavy dark brown hair and blue eyes. His badge and ID were clipped to his waist band. He also had a dark brown leather holster which crisscrossed over his back and around each shoulder. He looked up and spied me, breaking into a grin.
"Hey this is a nice surprise," he said warmly. "What are you doing here?"
I flopped down into one of the plush leather chairs in front of his desk and crossed my legs. I pulled one of the iced coffees from the cup holder and handed it to him.
"Just milk, no sugar," I said to him as I took mine off and tossed the cup holder into the garbage can. "I just decided to surprise you." I said shrugging a shoulder nonchalantly. "That and I came to cheer you up."
I took a sip of my own iced tea and studied him. I was a bit worried about him. He'd just gone through a major divorce only a week ago. I was even surprised he'd gone back to work so quickly also.
"Ems, I'm okay I swear," he said sighing. "It was just not meant to be. I know there's someone out there for me I just have to find her. I'll be okay I promise."
"You have me right here," I muttered under my breath but thankfully, Jacob didn't hear me. I took a sip of my tea again and got lost in my own thoughts. Jacob was tall, about six feet, but he was built. He was athletic, did most of the sports things like white water rafting, rock climbing you name it. I'd been his best friend now for almost 12 years. We'd met at a concert and just hit it off. It turned out we liked the same type of music...however, I wouldn't be caught dead in a white-water raft, or rock climbing. I had a horrible fear of heights and a little thing about drowning.
Through the seven years I'd watch him date one woman after the next and oddly, never seemed to see him connect with any of them until he met Jules. They had gotten married and I'd been a bride's maid. In truth, I had to admit it stung a bit as I had slowly fallen in love with him over the past few years but I never had the courage to tell him. I figured I'd rather have him in my life then not at all. They had stayed married for about 4 years until this divorce popped up. According to Jules, she complained that he was too involved in his job and she even complained about me...which was the icing on the cake.
Jacob had gotten angry at her for that and that led to a fight--which led to the divorce and now here we are.
We live in a small town called East Hollow, Maine. This town wasn't like your ordinary town, which most people would say about their home, but this time, it was right on the money. Here, things are not what they seem. There are supernatural's living in this town and even working in the police department...and yes, Jacob is one of them. He's a werewolf.
There are humans living here in town too, in harmony with the supernaturals. Of course, there are going to be problems which is why the police department hired a few on the inside so there would be no biased issues when dealing with the law. It works, and so far, things are in balance.
I, myself, am just a normal human. My name is Emma Coleman. I'm 33 years old with shoulder length wheat brown hair with black streaks through it, and hazel brown eyes. Today I was wearing a red paisley dress and knee high black suede boots. My hair was fluffed around my shoulders and I'd applied light blue eye shadow and clear lip-gloss. I had a heart locket around my neck and small diamond studs in my ears. The locket was given to me by my mother who was killed when I was young by a drunk driver who swerved and ended up hitting her. My dad had died a few years ago. Life was never the same after mom passed away.
I was snapped out of my solemn thoughts when I realized Jacob had his hand over mine, giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Huh?" I asked blinking and coming out of my stupor.
"I said are you alright? You zoned out," he said with a concerned expression.
"Oh y-yeah I'm alright," I said waving a hand in the air dismissively. "Just had brain fart."
He frowned, but didn't say anything else which is what I loved about him. He never pushes you or forces you into anything.
"Hey," he continued. "I get off work at seven. How about you and I go grab a bite to eat?"
"Sounds good," I said nodding. "Sure."
"Okay. I'll pick you up,"
He grinned at me and then returned his attention back onto the computer screen and resumed typing. I got up and took a few more sips of my tea, heading back out to the guest parking lot. I opened the door to my 2017 Hyundai Sonata and slipped onto the seat. I pulled it closed and turned on the ignition, the ice-cold air conditioning hitting me in the face. I sighed and gripped the steering wheel, letting my forehead hit the top of it. I took a few deep breaths. My pulse was racing madly in my chest as I tried to calm myself. I shouldn't be nervous--this is Jacob we're dealing with. He's my best friend. Still, I eventually calmed down and started the car. I pulled out and headed home.
Around seven pm, I waited patiently on the couch. I had found a nice summer dress and curled my hair with a curling iron. I had to admit to myself I didn't look bad. But I knew I didn't have to dress up for him but I enjoyed it.
I sat on the couch, and crossed my legs. My phone was next to me on the cushion as I waited for Jacob to text me he was outside in the driveway. I checked my watch. It was 6:59. I had grabbed a glass of orange juice and drank it a bit. When I was done I put the glass on the coffee table. I nervously bounced my foot as I waited.
An hour went by. No text. I was worried as I had hoped nothing serious had happened. I checked my phone. It wasn't a full moon out so I knew Jacob wasn't morphing now. So, what was going on? I ran a hand over my face and then propped my chin up. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. I anxiously jumped up and rushed over to the front door. I grabbed the door knob and turned it and opened it expecting it to be Jacob. My excited grin faded when I saw there was nothing there. I took a step onto the porch, looking around trying to see if there was anyone there. But the darkened street was silent. The sun had set and now darkness had fallen. Street lights had come on illuminating sporadic spots down the street. Shrugging it off thinking that perhaps it was a mistake, I closed the door and locked it, and turned to walk back to the couch, when the doorbell rang again. My heart jumped as I took a deep breath and turned around to answer the door again. I grabbed the knob and twisted it. Once again, there was no one there.
Now I was starting to get scared and uneasy. My heart rate picked up a bit now as I closed the door again and headed back to the couch. Again, the doorbell rang. I was starting breathe a little heavier now. I stood frozen in the living room with my fingers clenched into a fist, which dug into my palms. I heard a noise behind me and turned just as a pile of books from my shelf went flying off and slammed into the opposite wall. I screamed and turned to rush toward the door. I yanked it open preparing to run into the street when I bumped into the chest of something solid. I screamed and felt this something grab my arms. I struggled to break free.
"Ems! Stop it's me what's going on?" Jacob's voice scolded me.
I stopped struggling and looked into his concerned face. I realized at that point he was carrying a Chinese takeout bag.
Sitting on the couch next to me, I explained to Jacob what had happened just as he arrived. He noted the books lying splayed on the floor next to the wall. He frowned.
"Are you sure they didn't just topple over from vibration?" he asked slowly.
"No," I said shaking my head as I wrapped my arms around myself. "I told you. The doorbell rang twice, but there was no one there. Then I turned and saw the books flying off the shelf."
Jacob slowly exhaled and placed a hand on my arm, giving it a reassuring squeeze.
"Alright," he said slowly. "How about I stay the night to make sure that nothing else goes on?"
I shook my head vehemently at his suggestion. I didn't want him thinking I was some wacko or scaredy cat. It probably was caused by some logical explanation and here I was freaking out like some weirdo.
"No I can't ask you to do that," I said. "You're probably right. I'm over reacting and there is some logical explanation behind it."
Jacob frowned suddenly and got to his feet, heading over to where the books were. I saw him crouch down next to them and pick one of them up. I watched him curiously, wondering what he was up to.
"Ems, I don't think there is a logical explanation for this," he said his tone changing suddenly and now I was starting to get worried.
"Why what did you find?" I asked.
"I'm picking up a faint scent of ectoplasm here," he said wrinkling his nose as he rose to his feet. "So I think you might have a problem."
"A ghost problem?" I asked him uneasily.
"Maybe," he said slowly. "I think its best that you gather some of your belongings and come stay with me. I don't think it's safe here now."
Werewolves had an uncanny knack for picking up the most unusual scents. Ghosts, spirits and other things along those lines apparently leave behind residue that their sensitive senses can detect. I never understood it, the technical aspects of it, but I trusted Jacob and nodded. He waited in the living room while I hurried into my bedroom, grabbed my suitcase and began packing. I had my back to the closet, which had two sliding doors. I was busy throwing clothes into the luggage and didn't hear them slowly opening behind me...until I heard the creak. My heart hammering in my chest I closed the luggage and zipped it and then slowly turned around. The doors were opened and I stared into the darkness and that's when I saw two glowing red eyes staring back at me. I screamed and grabbed my luggage, rushing from the room.
"Ems, what happened?" Jacob asked as I came charging down the stairs.
"Let's go," I said frightened as I hurried out of the house.
Jacob was confused for a moment then he followed me. He put the luggage into the back of his car as I climbed into the front passenger seat and reached up to grab the seatbelt and pull it across my shoulder. My hands were shaking violently as I tried to get the belt to click but I kept missing. He climbed in next to me and shut his door. Noticing I was having a problem buckling in, he gently placed his hand over mine and guided it into the buckle. It clicked into place and started his car. I felt his eyes on me the entire time as he put the car in reverse and backed out of the driveway.
When we were away from the house, I felt relaxed but a bit unnerved and spooked.
"Ems what happened back there?" he demanded glancing at me sideways as we stopped for a red light.
I swallowed and told him what I'd seen.
When I was done, he was silent for a moment.
"It's okay," he said in a reassuring tone patting my knee. "You're safe now. I think I was right about having a ghost issue in the house--but I never imagined something like that."
"Do you have an idea on what it could be?" I asked him meekly peering over at him.
"No," he said shaking his head. "But I think we did the right thing in getting you out of there."
A few moments later, we pulled up to his house. He had colonial style ranch painted a light yellow with accented dark teal window shutters. The garage was on the right side of the house. There was a large tree in front which provided plenty of shade. He pulled into the driveway and shut off the engine. I unbuckled myself and pushed open my door, climbing out. I felt safer already here. Jacob grabbed my luggage and then locked the car. He led me up the small path to the front door. He opened it and turned to glance at me.
"Make yourself at home," he said softly as he opened the door and we went inside.
His home was decorated in modern furniture with some colonial designs thrown in. It actually meshed really well.
"The guest bedroom is down the hall and to the right," he instructed motioning to the hallway. "Bathrooms at the end."
He handed me my luggage.
"Go unpack and unwind," he said. "I'll heat up the Chinese food I brought so you can have something to eat."
I gently took the luggage and followed his instructions. I opened the door to the guest bedroom and flicked on the light. It was painted a warm mauve color with a cannon ball four poster bed. The comforter was matching with mauve and white accents on it. There was a dresser against the wall, a nightstand with a lamp on it and alarm clock; a wooden wardrobe against the corner and then the window which was opened a bit letting in a semi cool breeze. The curtains fluttered softly as I plopped the luggage on the bed and began unpacking. I grabbed a pair of gray leggings and an oversized tee shirt which hung off my shoulder a bit and headed into the bathroom to change.
Feeling a bit more comfortable, I then padded back down the hall with white anklet socks on my feet to find Jacob in the kitchen already warming up the food. He had changed into a pair of plaid lounge pants and a plain white undershirt. He looked up. He handed me a plate filled with my favorite Chinese food which was steaming hot and a bottle of water. I gratefully took the plate and bottle and stared at my food for a moment.
"Thanks Jake," I said quietly.
"For believing me," I said finally raising my eyes to his. "Just for everything tonight."
He waved a hand dismissively and grabbed his own plate and drink.
"Never mind," he said coming over to me. "You're my best friend Ems. Of course, I'm going to believe you and have your back."
Smiling, I took a seat on the couch and dug into my food. Surprisingly, I was starving. I had a feeling knowing that I wasn't in the house or possible danger, my appetite had come back. When I was done, I leaned back against the couch. Jake turned on the TV. Apparently, there were news reports of strange things occurring around town. The supernatural community was dumbfounded at this point. The human community had no idea what was going on either but there a few accusations around that the supernatural residents might have something to do with these occurrences. There was just a lot of suspicion going around now with no real answers which made it even more frightening and confusing.
I drew one leg up to my chest and wrapped my arms around it. I rested my chin on top of my knee.
"What's happening Jake?" I asked him.
"No idea," he responded next to me. "But I have a feeling in the morning I'm going to have a stackful of cases to figure out." He sighed and ran a hand over his face from exhaustion. I could see that he was tired. By now it was nearly ten o'clock and even I was starting to feel fatigue settling in. I yawned and raised my arms above my head, stretching lazily.
"Okay I think it's time to hit the sack," I said. "Night Jake."
"If it hits you back, let me know," He cracked.
I chuckled and shook my head as I headed into the guest bedroom. I face planted on the bed and within moments I was out cold.
I awoke to warm sunshine on my face and I blinked a few time clearing my vision. I yawned and stretched and slowly got to my feet. Bright rays of sunlight poured in through the blinds, creating little bars of light on the hardwood floor. Dust particles danced in the beams. The scent of sausage, eggs and bacon filled my nose as I inhaled and hungrily my stomach responded in a loud growl. I eagerly left the bedroom and entered the kitchen. Jacob was already dressed in a suit and tie. He grinned.
"Morning sleepy head," he said as I slid onto a barstool at the semi large island that was in the center of the kitchen. He plopped a plateful of food down in front of me and I grabbed a fork and dug in. As he passed me, I caught a brief whiff of his cologne.
"Hey," I said lightly spearing a piece of sausage.
"How did you sleep?" He prompted as he leaned against the counter and dug into his own breakfast.
"Alright," I admitted softly. "Better knowing I was safe here."
Jacob let out an understanding huff and within moments, his plate was completely bare. Werewolves tended to have really good appetites.
"I'm not going to let anything happen to you Ems you know that," he added warmly and sincerely as he placed his plate into the sink. I quickly finished my own breakfast and he took my plate too, placing it on top of his.
"Um," he said rubbing the back of his head. "I know you don't wanna hang around the house all day. I-I mean you can come with me to the precinct. It's not usually protocol to have civilians hanging around the bullpen, but..." his voice trailed off.
"I don't want to get you into trouble Jake," I said shaking my head. "I'll be fine around the house."
He looked upset and guilty but he sighed and walked around the island. He came up to me and threw his arms around me, pulling me against him. I leaned into his embrace, wrapping my arms around his neck. One of his arms snaked around my shoulders, while the other wound around my waist. Our chins rested on one anothers shoulders.
"I'll be okay," I whispered.
"If you need me for anything, and I mean anything just call okay?" he whispered back in my ear. He gave me an extra squeeze before gently disentangling himself from my embrace. He gave me a mock salute before slipping on his suit jacket and grabbing his keys and heading out the door.
As I stepped out of the house and closed the door behind me, I felt my heart flutter a bit. I had never told Emma this but I had fallen in love with her. I had supposed that was why most of my dates and the marriage had fallen apart. She was the one for me. I was just too scared teo tell her right now for the fear of losing her completely. Exhaling, I climbed into my 2017 Ford Fusion, black, and headed to the precinct.
Sitting behind my desk now, my partner, Carlton Weiss, came over and leaned his hip against it. He was dressed in a navy suit and tie. He was older, in his early 40's with gray hair and blue eyes. He was about the same height as I was but he was wiry and slender. He folded his arms across his chest and watched me with a knowing expression on his face.
"Okay I know that look," he said in an amused tone. "Girl trouble right?"
I looked up at him and didn't say anything right away.
"Oh come on," he pleaded. "You have that look on your face like 'I slept with the wrong girl and how do I get out of this' expression. Spill, Wilson."
I sighed. There was no getting past him. He was just too damn good.
"Emma's staying with me," I finally relayed to him leaning back in my chair and clasping my hands behind my head. "She had something strange happen to her last night and I could pick up it was some kind of ghost, but it was dangerous. I didn't want her staying in her house alone."
"Ah," he said in an understanding tone. "You want to get into her shorts huh? But you're afraid to cross that friendship line."
"Jesus," I said exhaling and rolling my eyes at him in disgust. "Have some respect."
"I'm sorry," he said laughing and holding up his hands in a defensive position. "Emma is a hottie man come on. You know it and I know it and so does every guy out there. You just played the hero to the damsel in distress. You're golden. It's only a matter of time for the reward." He said winking at me. I went to throw something at him but thankfully, the Chief, Alan Harper, came over with a tan manila case folder, ending our conversation.
Alan was in his late 50's with salt and pepper hair and a bit of a beer belly. He had a goatee that was the same color as his hair. He dropped it on my desk.
"This just came in," he grunted in a gruff voice. "There has been a murder. A female victim in her early 30's. She had been badly mutilated by something. I want you two to go investigate this."
"Right Chief," I said nodding and snatched the folder. I got to my feet and grabbed the keys to the Ford Explorer, and Carlton followed me closely behind.
When we got to the scene, there was yellow and black crime scene tape wrapped around blocking it off. Carlton and I flashed our badges and ID's to the police officer standing guard before ducking under the tape. There was a body lying a few feet in front of us. The murder had apparently taken place in the park only a few blocks from Emma's home. The park had several jogging paths that wound through it. In the center of the park was a small pond and a foot bridge that went over it. The body was covered in a yellow tarp but I could see a bright red stain forming on it already. When we reached it, the ME looked up.
"So what happened?" Carlton asked the ME curiously as I crouched down next to the body to see if I could pick up any scent that might alert me to what had done this. Carlton, was a vampire. They usually tried to pair two supernaturals together to work on cases. It was a legal thing the department did. But he could control his blood urges. In cases like this, if he got a little too out of hand, I was ordered to restrain him any way I could. Why the Chief gave us this case knowing he had an affinity to blood, I'll never know.
The ME pulled back the tarp and I choked back a gag and pressed the top of my wrist to my nostrils. The girls throat was torn out, as well as several deep gauges along her back. Her leg had been bitten in several places, and looked as though it had been partially eaten. I knew a werewolf wouldn't do this as werewolves didn't hunt humans...unless this was a rogue one that went off the grid.
I could hear Carlton talking with the ME.
"We have no idea what could've done this," The ME was saying writing on the clipboard. "It definitely doesn't look like any known regular animal."
"Could it be...?" Carlton's voice trailed off and I knew what he was asking.
"A rogue one possibly," I responded. "But I don't detect anything."
Carlton kept his eyes on the ME and began asking if there any witnesses. I heard their voices but as I gently turned the womans head slightly toward me, a hard truth hit me. This woman looked like Emma. Same build, body type and hair coloring. I stood up. Carlton was done talking to the ME as they covered the poor girl up again. I turned to Carlton. He saw my expression.
"What is it?" he asked me with concern.
"Did you notice something?" I asked him, gently taking his elbow and leading him away from the crime scene. We ducked back under the tape and stood next to the Ford Explorer. He looked at me with a puzzled look that I figured he wasn't sure what I was talking about.
"The victim looked exactly like Emma," I whispered. "Same body build and type and hair color."
"Are you sure?" he asked frowning. "It could be a coincidence and nothing more."
"I don't know," I said biting my bottom lip. "Something about this seems wrong and I have a bad feeling in my gut."
Carlton was silent for a moment.
"Okay," he said exhaling. "Let's see if there's anything that might shed some light on this more. We can check out the victim's house. If you wanna call Emma go a head to check in with her."
We climbed into the truck. Carlton was driving so that gave me a chance to call Emma and check on her. For some reason, this case was bothering me. More so because I didn't get any scent off what killed her, and the fact that she looked like Emma so much in her profile, it was nagging me.
I dialed home.
The phone rang and I picked it up. It was Jake.
"Hey," I said cheerfully into phone. "What's up Jake?"
"Are you alright Emma?" he asked.
Something in his tone I didn't like.
"Sure. What's going on?" I asked now lowering the volume on the TV so I could hear him better. I was watching my favorite TV show but now I was alert to Jake's tone.
"I just wanted to make sure you're okay," he said. "I can't talk about it now but I just wanted to check in and make sure you were alright."
"Yes I'm fine," I said. "You're scaring me now Jacob."
"Trust me," he said as I heard traffic noises coming through the phone. "I'll talk to you more later when I get home. But if you see anything or hear anything unusual call me right away okay?"
"Yes of course," I said.
"Okay. I'll be home soon. Talk to you later,"
After I hung up, I turned up the volume on the TV again and saw a news reporter standing in front of a crime scene in the park that was only a few blocks from my house. I leaned forward with interest now as I saw the reporter flash a picture of the victim. Apparently, she had been viciously attacked by some animal. And when the picture of the victim appeared on the screen, I finally understood what had rattled Jacob. The victim looked exactly like me.