Pine Brook Falls - The Charlie Noble Chronicles Book 1

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Chapter thirteen

I stared at the gun the sheriff left me. It was a Glock 9.mm. That much I knew. I am neither a fan of guns nor do I dislike them, but I know almost nothing about them. The thing with guns that no one really thought about is that at some point, you may just have to use it.

Sure, I can find the safety, check the clip to make sure it’s loaded, load the chamber, breathe, and squeeze the trigger. But shoot at what? That’s the part I had a hard time with. Will I, if the situation presented itself, have enough wherewithal to actually pull the trigger on another living thing?

The other thing that bothered was that it was the sheriff that had given it to me. Up until yesterday, he didn’t know me from Adam. Now, he is thrusting a gun into my hands? The world as I knew it had definitely turned on its side.

I picked up the gun. It felt heavy in my hands. I took it to the bedroom and hid it under the mattress. I know, an original hiding place, but I was short on time. Plus, if I needed it in a hurry, I could get to it fast. Besides, looking at it was making me nervous.

Trevor still had not returned. Where was he? Perhaps he returned to the cave. The one I, for the life of me, could not find. Venturing out into the woods was not on the agenda. There was nothing to be gained and only something to lose: my life.

A thought occurred to me and I dashed back to my sister’s bedroom. I went through her closet, then her dresser, and lastly her nightstand. Nothing. I returned to the front room and looked around. As I glanced around, my eyes eventually fell upon a small desk in the corner of the dining room. There was no dining table. Just the desk and a chair. My sister’s workstation.

I went to the desk and poked around. I opened the top right drawer and found her small point and shoot camera. I fumbled with it and finally found the power button. If she were tracking this thing, she would have wanted to take pictures of it. Unless she had another camera with her when she disappeared, there should be something on this one.

I found the menu button and scrolled the options until I found the stored pictures. There were no stored images. The camera also had no SD card. I put the camera down and looked through the drawers. There had to be something in there. I moved to the bottom drawer, which had hanging files that extended its length. I glanced at the titles of each section. Taxes. Bills. Personal. And then I found one that stuck out. Pine Brook Falls. Not exactly the most obscure title if you’re conducting a secret investigation into your own town, but it worked for me.

I pulled out a folded piece of paper and opened it. It was a drawing, but not just a drawing. A map. As I looked closer, I recognized the landmarks drawn on the paper. It was a map of the woods. Becky had labeled the map ‘Black Nest.’ I didn’t know what that meant but I thought I knew the place she had drawn. If I was right, it was where I was last night before I jumped off the path of doom. Was this the place Becky thought the beast was hiding? Did Black Nest refer to the where this thing had been seen? If it was, then I was up to my neck in its nest last night.

I looked at the map a few moments longer before returning my attention to the only other thing in the hanging folder. A single envelope. I pulled it out and opened it. It was a flash drive. Damn. I didn’t have a computer. Becky must have one somewhere.

I pocketed the flash drive and began my search for Becky’s computer. Becky and I used to talk on Skype a few times when she couldn’t visit. I knew she had a laptop. Becky took me on a tour of her house with her laptop when she moved in. I was led around to each room. She told me that the bathroom was the bathroom, the kitchen was the kitchen, and the room with the bed was her bedroom: she was so proud of her new place.

As I looked around her room, I didn’t remember seeing a laptop during my earlier invasion of her privacy. I was surprised that Trevor never looked around her place. Or perhaps he did. I was sure he must have looked through her desk once or twice. The jury was still out on Trevor.

I moved to the bed and peered underneath. Bingo. A small Gateway laptop rested on the floor next to a couple of boxes of shoes. I returned to the desk with the laptop in hand. I opened it up, turned on the power and fished out the flash drive. A moment later, Trevor walked in the front door open.

I slipped the flash drive back into my pocket and turned around. Trevor stood just inside the door. He looked around the room cautiously. He seemed to be looking for something.

“What’s up? Something wrong?” I asked.

He took another look around before stepping inside. He was breathing heavy and there were dirt smudges on his right cheek. He kept his hands in the front pocket of his jeans. He was definitely on edge.

“Anyone been by? Looking for me?”

“What happened to you? Where have you been?” I asked as I moved away from the desk.

“It’s a long story. So, has anyone been by?”

I looked at him for a moment. His eyes darted left to right wildly. I didn’t know why he was asking. Did he know the sheriff was here earlier? What should I say? The truth? Lie?

“No. No one’s been by. Why are you asking? Where have you been?”

Trevor closed the door and then sat down on my favorite couch. He exhaled.

“I saw the sheriff heading this way earlier. I thought he may have come over here.”

“What happened to you?”

He looked down at his hands which were layered with dirt.

“You mind if I took a shower?” He said as he got up.

I pointed to the bathroom. Perhaps, after he got himself cleaned up, I could get some answers out of him. I waited until I heard the water turn on and then quickly returned to the laptop. I pushed the flash drive into the USB port and waited. I didn’t know what my sister had on it, but I hoped it would help me find out what happened to her.

I waited for the laptop to power on. I glanced back at the hallway a couple of times and listened to the water. I waited for the computer to load. The hourglass spun around on the screen. I stomped my foot on the floor a few times as the computer booted up.

Another check back to the hall. The water was still on. The hallway was clear. Finally, the screen flashed white then the welcome message appeared. I clicked the My Computer icon. The screen sat idle as if it was mocking me because it knew I was in a hurry. Finally, the screen changed and I saw the flash drive icon. I clicked on it.

The contents of the drive appeared on the screen. There were four picture files and three documents. I looked back once more. All clear. I clicked on the first picture file.

A blank box popped up in the middle of the screen and another hour glass began spinning. I was starting to gain a great dislike for that hour glass. Another few seconds ticked by and the picture slowly scaled down the screen from the top. I leaned in closer as if I could intimidate the computer to load the image faster.

After another minute, the picture appeared on the screen. It was dark, grainy, and taken at night. There was a form hidden in the darkness. Its outline was distinctive. It was large, bigger than a coyote or wolf, and its head was elongated. It was definitely an animal of some sort but due to the poor quality of the picture, it was hard to make out any details. There were two glowing, red oval shapes, set a few inches apart from each other. Eyes of the animal, perhaps. It gave me the creeps. I wished the picture was clearer. I remembered there were three other images on the flash drive.

I leaned backward, the shower was still on. I didn’t think I would have time to look at the other three pictures so I clicked on one of the word files. It came up quickly. It was one-page file consisting of only a two paragraphs. As I stared at the screen, I realized it was a journal of sorts. I began reading.

This town hovers around absurdity. Things are getting progressively worse. I met this man, Trevor, and I knew there was something about him. I believe he is linked to the emergence of the creature in the woods. They both appeared around the same time. Although he seems harmless, I know he knows something about what is in the woods.

For now, I have let him stay on my couch. I am hoping that Trevor can help me find some answers. If anyone finds these words, get them to my brother Charlie. He will know what to do. And if this is you, Charlie, reading these words, I love you, little brother.

My phone number was listed on the bottom of the page. Did my sister know she was in trouble? Why didn’t she say anything to me?

“Interesting reading?”

I didn’t hear the water stop or Trevor walk up. I turned around and closed the laptop. He was standing behind me.

“Just some random notes. Becky wanted to be a writer.”

As soon as the words left my lips, I shuddered. I was referring to her in the past tense.

“She wants to unearth the world’s secrets. She has the determination to do just that.”

He was shirtless, wearing only jeans, with a towel draped over his shoulders. He turned away and started drying his hair with the towel. My sister may be gone. I was no closer to finding her. And the only person that probably knew what was going on was sitting, towel drying his hair in Becky’s living room.

Trevor put on his shirt and walked back to the bathroom. I pulled the flash drive out of the computer and powered it down. I tucked the flash drive in my front pocket as Trevor returned.

“You ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“There is something you need to see. I promise you, it doesn’t involve nearly being eaten alive. It’s something I think you’ll find interesting.”

Trevor stopped at the door.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“It’s easier if I show you. It’s about Becky and where she went before she disappeared.”

The words lingered in the air a moment. What was he talking about? I quickly went to the bedroom to retrieve the thing the sheriff left for me. I thought about taking the portable sun that I purchased at Tompkins hardware store but I had no intention of returning to the woods. Where ever Trevor was planning on taking me, I hoped the gun was just an unnecessary precaution.

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