Lilies on her grave

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Chapter 18

Looking for buried treasure

Jackson had been riding in relative silence for several hours, with the only sound being the radio, which he had turned up on purpose. The sun was just over its apex, when he drove over the Michigan Indiana border. He needed a little time to himself, and since he knew where they needed to go next, he just drove. Lilly had told him that the next girl they needed to find, was named Allison Murphey, and that she had lived in Boonville Indiana.

He kept looking in his rearview mirror for any signs of the police. He hadn’t seen anyone outside of the old Woodruff mansion, when they had fled, but he had lost track of how much time they had spent in the house, and didn’t know if anyone had noticed his car parked outside, but that wasn’t the only reason. Lilly and Jessica hadn’t said much to each other for the majority of the long drive, but now were having a full conversation about something. The only problem was that he couldn’t make out what they were saying. Whatever it was, Jessica didn’t look happy about it.

“You really expect me to go back to that house?” Jessica asked, her body visibly trembling at the thought of returning to the place that had obviously brought her so much pain.

“It’s the only way to guarantee that we all pass over together, and you won’t have to do it alone,” Lilly promised.

“You have no idea what he did to me,” Jessica responded. Lilly could hear the fear in her voice, as the young girl rubbed the dark bruises around her throat. It took her a couple of seconds, before she made the realization. “Sorry, I forget that I’m not the only one.”

“I know exactly what you’re going through,” Lilly said, trying to be as comforting as she could. “But time is of the essence right now. He has another girl locked in his basement. Her name is Norma Jean, and we’re her only hope of surviving, if it isn’t already too late.”

“What do you need me to do,” Jessica said, trying her best to sound brave.

“Honestly, I’m not sure. Tracy said to find all of his…victims, and to bring them back to the house. She said that together we would be stronger.”

“You mean the girl that stays there with him? I got the weirdest feeling from her,” Jessica confessed. “She tried to get me to stay there with her too, but I needed to get as far from that house as possible. I know that I was supposed to try to complete my unfinished business, but I just couldn’t stay there,” she added, breaking down and crying softly.

“Don’t you dare do that to yourself,” Lilly said defiantly. “I wouldn’t want to stay there either, and if there wasn’t a chance that together we could actually do something, I wouldn’t be going anywhere near that house.” Her words of encouragement brought a slight smile to Jessica’s face. “Why don’t you tell me what he did to you? Sometimes sharing helps you cope with things better.”

“Did it work for you?”

“Not really,” Lilly answered honestly. “But I think I’m different from most girls anyway. My dad made sure that I could take care of myself, so I’m pissed more than anything else. If it helps I’ll go first.”

After Lilly shared her story, Jessica took a deep breath and held it for several long moments:

August 7th, 2015

“I can’t believe you liked that movie!” Brittney said, laughing out loud, taking a hit of a joint and passing it around.

“I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic,” Jessica replied, taking the joint from her best friend and taking a long hit. She had worked an eight hour shift at the local ice cream parlor, and decided to meet her friends for a late night movie. They had been especially busy this particular night, and she was extremely grateful for some quality relaxation, even though she was still dressed in her work uniform.

“That movie was so predictable,” said her other friend Jenny, taking the joint from her. “At least it had some good eye candy,” she added, causing all three of the girls to burst out laughing.

Jessica took a nervous look around the parking lot. She didn’t like smoking weed out in the open like they were, but it was a nice summer night, and they had waited until the parking lot was completely empty. They were sitting on the hood of Brittney’s car on one side of the parking lot. The only other things she could see were her own car on the other side of the parking lot, and an old motor home tucked away in the parking lot’s far corner. It was completely dark, and looked like it might have been there for the past few days.

She took the joint from Brittney, and inhaled deeply. “You guys wanna get something to eat?”

“Ohhh, I could really go for some pancakes right now,” Jenny said, taking the joint.

“That sounds really good,” Brittney agreed. “I’ll drive.”

“I’ll meet you guys there,” Jessica said. “It’s getting late and I don’t want to have to come back here and then drive all the way home.”

“Ok, meet you there bitch,” Jenny said with a laugh, as she and Brittney piled into Brittney’s car.

Jessica made her way across the parking lot, and gave her friends a wave as they drove past her. Brittney honked her horn a couple of times, which seemed extra loud in the middle of the night, as it echoed off of the theater walls. She unlocked her doors, using her key fob, and climbed behind the wheel. She put the key in the ignition and gave it a turn. The engine made a winding sound, as it turned over several times, but wouldn’t start. She tried again and got the same response. “Shit,” she cursed out loud, hitting the steering wheel with the palm of her hand. Reaching down, under the dashboard, she pulled the hood release, and got out of the car.

Jessica opened her hood, and using the flashlight on her phone, stared obliviously at the car’s engine. She had no idea what she was even looking for, and began to wonder why she had even popped the hood to begin with. She started to thumb through her contacts, wondering if she should call her parents, who would find out that she was stoned, or call Brittney, and have her and Jenny come back and get her. The car could wait until later she told herself. Right now, she just wanted to eat pancakes.

A strong arm reached across her neck, and Jessica felt herself being yanked backwards, hard. She found herself off balance. The young girl tried to cry out, but a large hand covered her mouth. The scent of oil and grease filled her nose. There came a sharp pain in the right side of her neck, as her vision started to become fuzzy. Her movements almost instantly became labored, and lethargic…and then there was only darkness.

“I woke up in his basement, chained to the floor. I lost count of how many times that sick bastard raped me, He told me to fight back, and I did at first, but after a while I didn’t see the use anymore. He had broken my spirit. He had stolen my reason for living, so I just let him do whatever he wanted to me, and didn’t offer any resistance. A few days later he…” she rubbed the bruises on her throat again.

“How long ago was that?” Lilly asked.

“Five years ago, maybe,” Jessica answered with a shrug of her shoulders.

“Did they find your body at least?”

Jessica shook her head. “No one will ever find us. He’s good at hiding his conquests.”

“They found me,” Lilly replied. “It took six months, and a dog named Wrigley, but someone eventually found me, and thanks to Jackson, my parents were able to bring me home and have a bit of closure.”

“That would be nice. I went home after I left that horror house, and watched my parents fall apart. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I was headed out of town, when I felt that place calling to me. It was okay at first. I thought that I might have found a new place to live. You know, with others like us, but that didn’t last very long.”

“Do you know where your body is?”

Jessica nodded her head.

“Where?”

“Climax Michigan.”

“Jackson, we need to turn around!”

* * *

Jackson pulled his car into the Walmart parking lot in Coldwater Michigan. “You got you the list?” Lilly asked.

“Got it,” Jackson answered, heading into the store and grabbing a shopping cart. He had suggested that the two girls stay in the car, that way he wouldn’t have any distractions and could get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. He wasn’t too keen on making this detour, but he understood the importance of letting someone know where they could find Jessica’s burial site.

“Why can’t he just call them again?” Jessica asked, once they were alone.

“Because he’s still sore about what happed the last time he called the cops,” Lilly answered. “It’s just best that we don’t mention it.”

Jackson headed to the electronics isle and picked up a hand-held GPS unit, that he could use in order to get Jessica’s exact location, which in turn could be used by the authorities to find her. Next, he went to the automotive section and grabbed one reflective drive way marker. A pack of self-sealing envelopes, a pad of paper, a pen, a book of stamps, and a box of latex gloves completed the listed. He was thankful that he still had a large chunk of his poker winnings, because doing the right thing was staring to add up.

Once they reached the Village of Climax, Jessica directed them down South Main Street, until they reached a cemetery, which was right next to the high school. Across the street from the school’s large chain link gate, was a two track that laid in between two houses. Jackson slowed the cars down and gazed down the worn dirt path. On the left side of the path was a small wooded area, concealing the path from the house on the left. The house on the right had a large privacy fence that ran about half way down the path. The two track itself looked like it led to a large field, which butted up next to a small forest, further down on the left side of the open field. Then wasn’t really any place to park without being too conspicuous.

Jackson pulled the car into the graveyard, and began to circle through it, looking for a good place to stash the car. He also kept an eye out of lingering spirits. He parked the car near the back corner, nearest to the school. After throwing on a pair of the latex gloves, he threw the GPS in his jacket pocket, and grabbed the driveway marker, as the three of them began to walk down the gravel road leading back out to South Main Street.

Jackson stopped at the edge of the street and looked around. It was almost noon, on a Wednesday, at least he thought it was Wednesday. He hoped that everyone in the immediate vicinity was at work, because in a town like this, everybody knew everybody, and would be quick to call the cops if they thought something was up.

When he was satisfied, that no one was looking, be made his way across the street and started off down the two track. He needed to make this fast, because the high school would surely be getting out in the next couple of hours.

“Once we get to the field, we need to head to the forest on the left side. It’s pretty over grown, but about half way down there’s a small opening,” said Jessica, taking the lead. “It hasn’t changed much,” she added.

The house on the right-hand side of the two-track had a long chain link fence, that ran along the property line, after the privacy fence portion ended. A large black and tan Doberman came running up to the fence and barked at them, as they walked, causing Jackson to pick up the pace a little. The dog followed them all the way down the fence line, and continued to bark. Jackson risked a glance over his shoulder, to see if the barking had brought anyone outside to see what all of the commotion was about, and breathed a slight sigh of relief when he found no one staring back at them.

The field was about waist high, and full of those small green sticky balls, that always get stuck on everything whenever you walk through them. Jessica pointed out the nearly invisible opening in the over grown thicket of the forest’s boundary. Jackson had to bend down pretty low in order to squeeze through it, and wondered how Mark Karle must have done it, while carrying Jessica’s body.

Once they made it through the overgrowth, the small forest opened up, allowing Jackson to move about. A thick layer of leaves covered the ground, while the green leaves of the tall trees swayed back and forth in the wind. Jessica led them to a spot near the back end of the forest, where Jackson could see a rusty metal fence, separating the forest from a different field.

“This is the spot,” Jessica said solemnly, tears welling up in her eyes.

Jackson pulled out the hand-held GPS, and turned it on. It seemed to take forever acquiring the satellite signal through the trees, but then it beeped out loud, causing everyone to look around in alarm, as if they had just been busted. Jackson’s heart literally skipped a beat, as his pulse went from zero to sixty in a half a second flat. He took several deep breaths, when he was sure that they were still alone. “Got it,” he said, saving the coordinates, and pushing the reflective driveway marker into the ground. “Now let’s get the hell out of here. This place gives me the creeps. No offense,” he said, walking past Jessica and heading back toward the forest opening.

They made their way back to the car, and Jackson wasted no time getting out of that small town. He made his way back to the highway, and eventually headed south, back toward Indiana. He saw a rest area coming up and pulled into it, so that he could work on the second part of the plan. Putting on another pair of latex gloves, he opened the pack of pens, and then picked a page from the middle of the note pad and ripped it out, before writing out a specific set of directions, along with the GSP coordinates of Jessica’s body. He also explained that he was not the killer, but had come upon this credible information. He also provided Jessica’s name and address, as well as the name of her parents, and a phone number where they could be reached. After a quick internet search, he found that the Village of Climax fell under the jurisdiction of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department. Leaving the gloves on, he opened the pack of envelopes and wrote down the address of the Sheriff’s Department on the front, carefully folded the letter and placed it inside of the envelope, and pulled the tape from the back of the flap and sealed the letter up tight. After placing a single stamp in the upper right corner of the envelope, he placed it above the sun visor for safe keeping.

For the second time in one day, Jackson drove through the town of Coldwater, and when he located one of those big blue mail boxes, he put on another pair of latex gloves, and pushed the envelope the mail slot. “Satisfied?”

Lilly looked to Jessica, who gave her a slight nod, which she then gave to Jackson. “It should take a couple of days before the Sheriff’s Department get the letter,” Jackson said, putting the car in drive and heading back toward the highway.

“I still don’t see why you just couldn’t have called them,” Jessica wondered.

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