Pine Brook Falls - The Charlie Noble Chronicles Book 1

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter Eleven

I left the coffee shop a little before five. My belly was full and I could use a nap but I had more pressing matters to contend with. I checked my phone, hoping my mother hadn’t called. I didn’t know what to tell her. No messages. I could put off calling her one more day, but come tomorrow, I better have something to say her.

I headed over to Tompkins Hardware store. The accounts of Mr. Tompkins dog in my sister’s journal seemed incomplete. I understand his dog began to act strange and then ran away, but that didn’t seem entirely usual. I wondered if there was more to it than that. Plus, I was hoping that my sister had said something to him about what she was planning to do.

I got to the hardware store right at five and fortunately, it was still open. I vaguely remember Mr. Tompkins when I used to live here. He was old even back then, but I never had any interactions with him so I doubt he would remember me.

I entered the store as two ringing bells above the door announced my arrival. The store was small. The front counter was directly ahead of me with aisles on either side. No one stood behind the counter or came out to greet me. I walked up to the counter. There was an open door leading to a back room behind the counter. I tried to peek through the opening, but it was dark.

I stood there a moment, listening. No sound resonated from the back room or from anywhere else in the store. I had a strange feeling creeping down my spine. I walked around the shop, looking at different drills, saws, wrenches, a socket set, and screwdrivers. Then I came across a portable sun. That’s what the package said, I didn’t make it up. It was a handheld, battery operated, torch light. The package bragged that it was like having a mini sun in the palm of your hand. That gave me an idea.

I was looking at the packaging of the portable sun when I felt something behind me. I turned quickly. A tall, older man stood a few inches from me. His looming glare nearly made me drop the sun but I managed to keep enough of a grip on the box to keep if from falling.

“The store is closing. Make your purchases now,” the old man said as he turned back down the aisle.

This had to be Mr. Tompkins. He looked to be in his seventies. Greyish-white hair clung to his scalp with an entirely circular bald spot on the back of his head. He was tall, well over six feet and beanpole thin. He wore drab gray overalls over a white tee shirt. His boots scuffled against the concrete floor as he ambled back to the counter where I took my purchase.

Mr. Tompkins put on his glasses and glanced at the package before punching some keys on the cash register. He squinted at the green numerals of the small display and told me it was sixty dollars. I gave him my credit card.

“Your name is Mr. Tompkins?”

“That would be the name on the door, so good deducing on your part.”

He swiped my credit card and handed it back to me. A moment later, the receipt printed out and he tore it off. He handed it to me along with a pen.

“I believe you know my sister.”

I handed him the receipt and pen back.

“I know just about everyone in this town. Your sister, if she lived here, I probably know of her. You, on the other hand, I don’t know.”

He put my package in a plastic bag and handed it to me. I didn’t move. Mr. Tompkins looked at me for a moment and then over my shoulder to the front door. I stood still.

“I am closing, so you are going to have to leave.”

He came around the counter and started for the front door.

“Becky. Becky Noble is my sister.”

He stopped before reaching the front door. He turned around slowly. His eyes squinted at me. I felt like he was sizing me up. He stared at me for a long minute.

“Becky’s a nice young lady. What’s your name?”

“Charlie. I used to live here about ten years ago.”

We stood no more than five feet apart. He seemed troubled at the mention of my sister’s name. His eyes darted around the room. I don’t know what was troubling him but I could see a change in him as soon as I mentioned my sister’s name. Then again, this could all be in my imagination.

“I don’t remember you. Becky mentioned she had a brother who lived down in LA. Anyway, I am closed, so you have to go.”

I took a couple steps toward the door but stopped when I reached him. He looked away. I waited for him to look my way again. He told me once more that it was time to go but he wouldn’t look in my direction.

“Becky was researching something. I believe it had to do with what happened to your dog. I was hoping you could tell me what you told her. She’s missing and I am hoping anything I learn will help me find her.”

Mr. Tompkins closed his eyes for a moment. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. He exhaled deeply before opening his eyes and bringing his hand back down to his side.

“Something lives around here that shouldn’t. I saw it once. I can’t control it. I can’t get rid of it. I believe Darrin, my dog, sensed something was wrong that day and took off.”

He had seen it. This had to be the thing from last night. I didn’t know what Becky was planning on doing. Take a picture? Send it to the press?

“Why do you think your dog would just leave like that?”

Mr. Tompkins turned to face me. He looked at me for the first time since we began talking. I could see tears hugging the rims of his eyes. His voice cracked and he was on the verge of a complete break.

“Animals know things. They can pick up vibrations, air movement, sounds, far better than humans can. Animals also have superior intuition. If you ask me why did Darrin leave? Fear. He could sense this thing and it scared him. He didn’t feel safe, even inside behind locked doors. I had him for eight years. He was not a fearful dog. A Great Dane is a strong, confident animal. But something out there is getting closer. Perhaps, he ran because he feared whatever was out there would be coming here next.”

“You think that this beast might be coming into town. Has anyone else seen this thing? Does the sheriff know?”

Mr. Tompkins wiped at his eyes. A small tear ran down his right cheek.

“The ones that know, they know. Others will soon enough. The thing is taking the animals of this town or scaring them half to hell, making them run away. What do the animals know that the rest of us don’t?”

I left Mr. Tompkins store. He believed in what he was saying. I’m not sure if he saw what he thought he saw. He did wear glasses and had a hard time seeing the numbers on the cash register. On the other hand, what if he was on to something. Something was happening to the animals. The pile of animals in the woods was manmade. Was someone collecting dead animals and taking them into the woods? Why did they run away in the first place? Maybe they fled because they sensed something that humans couldn’t. Maybe they felt that leaving a warm home with a steady food supply was not worth the risk of staying. Nothing made sense.

I don’t know if I actually believe the theory of a mass animal exodus. There were still animals in this town that didn’t seem to react in the same manner. At least, from what I saw today, the few animals I came across since my arrival seemed normal. I wondered, if this theory was true, which I had serious doubts. I knew that there was something more to all of it but I didn’t have any clue as to what it could be.

Things were getting crazier by the day. Speaking of crazy, I decided to put off seeing my father for at least another day. Tonight had the possibility of being interesting and I had some things to do before any guests arrived. Would I finally know for sure what happened to my sister?

Should I confront Trevor about my suspicions? I trust that when the time was right, I will know what to do. Death was going to come over and borrow some sugar and when he knocked on my door, what was I going to say?

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.