Pine Brook Falls - The Charlie Noble Chronicles Book 1

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Chapter twenty-five

I stood with trepidation in my heart. Neither Trevor nor Hayden moved for several minutes. The sun was now above the crest. I walked toward them slowly. Listening. No sounds. I fell to my knees. Trevor’s face was hidden beneath Hayden. I struggled to push Hayden’s body aside. He was heavy.

Before this week, I had never touched a dead body, now I had done it twice. I leveraged my hands beneath Hayden and pushed him with as much force as I could muster. His body lifted and then tumbled onto his back. The dart embedded in his back prevented him from lying flat. It seemed as if he were propped up on his elbows just hanging out.

I kept my focus on Hayden for a moment and the bizarre death poses I had just inadvertently created for him. His eyes were open. His tongue draped from the corner of his mouth as his head leaned back against his shoulders. The anger had vanished from his face. He appeared to be lazily looking at the sky. Peaceful. I turned my attention to Trevor.

His head was tilted to one side. Eyes closed. A fresh bullet wound in his chest. I felt his neck, hoping there would be a pulse like they do in the movies, but I didn’t feel any. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

Shock and weariness hit at once. I was depleted. Tired. I don’t remember laying down, but I was now. Head in the dirt. Next to Trevor. I no longer had the strength to move. I closed my eyes as the sun continued to rise.

The sun had yet to reach its highest point when I opened my eyes. I hoped to see Becky standing next to me when I opened my eyes. She wasn’t there. I sat up slowly. Trevor remained next to me. Hayden, next to him. I knew I needed medical attention as I got to my feet. A firestorm of pain raged through my entire body as I moved.

I couldn’t stay here any longer. Any moment a hiker could stumble upon the bodies and I would have a lot to explain. Sadness overwhelmed me as I gave Trevor a final look. Even though I didn’t know him very well and spent most of that time suspecting him of manipulating me, he grew on me. He was also my only link to Becky.

I started to make my way down the trail. My bandage had soaked through and needed to be changed. Medical attention became my first priority. When asked what happened, I could just tell them that I was attacked by a coyote. That would be as believable as anything I could come up with. Coyote attacks were not common around here but also not unheard of.

I made my way down the short incline but was jolted to a halt at what lay before me. Or should I say, what didn’t. The Crog was gone. That wasn’t the troubling thing, though. It’s what lay in its place. It was a body. A man. One that I had just met. Mr. Jenkins, from the hardware store, lay where I had last left the Crog. I remembered speaking to him. He seemed very nervous when I brought up Becky’s name. He said he had seen the thing in the woods. Now I can see that he was talking about himself.

Trevor had called it a Crog but he knew all along that it had been a werewolf. Maybe he thought it would be too much for me to handle. Calling it another name probably spared him questions I would have asked. It hadn’t looked like any werewolf I had ever seen depicted in movies. This had been more beast-like than wolf-like.

It made me wonder how long Mr. Jenkins, the long-standing resident of Pine Brook Falls, had been a werewolf. He had lived his entire life in this town. I wonder if Becky knew. The thing with the dogs and cats going missing was all recent. If Mr. Jenkins had been a werewolf all along, what changed? Did Mayor Hayden aka, the vampire, have anything to do with the sudden change in behavior. The world is full of mysteries. Pain and weariness prevented me from pondering any further. I had to keep moving.

Pine Brook Falls had more secrets tucked away in its closet, I was sure of it. It was a hot spot for everything weird and unusual. I turned away from Mr. Jenkins and proceeded down the trail. The birds were chirping. Lizards scurried into the brush. And the heat was out in full force. Once I returned to Becky’s house and take a good inventory of my injuries, I would attempt to find a doctor in town. It hoped it did not end up being Dr. Frankenstein.

I reached the bottom of the trail and entered the park. There were a few people scattered around but I managed to walk past them without incident. I did my best to avoid eye contact with anyone. I kept my head low and walked the edge of the park. I hoped I could make it out without drawing too much attention to myself. My clothes were dirty, bloody, and I sure wasn’t having the best hair day, so luck wasn’t on my side.

A wave of dizziness hit me. Pulsating pain shot through my spine reaching up into my temples. Stretching out my arms out to my sides was all I could do to keep from falling. The pit of my stomach was rocking over itself. A woman walking with her young daughter gasped in my direction before shielding the young girl’s eyes and ran away quickly. A jogger stopped. The look of shock and horror on his face did little for my self-esteem.

I tried to talk. Words were cut down to short syllables. My tongue felt flat. Grunts and moans were the only sounds I was able to create. My stomach twisted up. A blinding pain smacked me in the head. I felt like a knife had been dug deep into my skull, twisting as it went in. The ground spun. The trees blurred. More people gathered. Someone screamed. I collapsed.

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