I grabbed the stun gun from beneath my pillow. I didn’t know what the voltage or amperage was, which worried me. I knew it was one of the lesser expensive models, but it was all I had. I just hoped that if I came face to face with an intruder, the metal conductors generated enough juice to knock them on their ass.
I got out of bed, put some pillows together and threw the blanket over them. Hopefully, anyone that walked into the room would think that I was asleep. I moved over to the door and waited.
Patience was not my strongest attribute. Some people excel at waiting. I am not one those people. I fidgeted as I stood. I held my breath. Shifted my weight from one foot to the other. Then I heard a creak from the floorboards in the hallway. I stared at the closed door.
I tightened both hands around the stun gun as my eyes waited for any movement from the door. The room was cloaked in shadows. A faint light from the window allowed me to see the door handle move.
The door inched open slowly. I waited. The door opened just wide enough for a figure to sneak through. I couldn’t make out any discernible features. The figure moved cautiously. Once he or she was clear of the door, it would be time to make a move. The figure took another step into the room. I moved away from the door and positioned myself behind the figure. With the stun gun in hand I lunged forward as the figure spoke.
“Charlie? Are you awake?”
I stopped suddenly, but my momentum sent me colliding with the figure that called my name. We toppled onto the bed. He called out a few choice words about fecal matter. I pushed myself off him and back onto my feet. The figure turned on his back. I found the light switch. A pale white light brightened the room.
“What the hell are you doing?”
He jumped off the bed quickly and nearly knocked the lamp off the nightstand. He looked wide-eyed at me and then to the bed. He pointed his index finger at me as he took a couple of breaths. Spittle sprayed from his mouth as he sucked in some air.
“Calm down. Relax.”
His breathing slowed and he lowered his hand. I moved over to the bed and pulled down the blankets, showing him the stacked pillows. He exhaled loudly.
“I told you I would be back. I wanted to wait until sunset. Why are you trying to freak me out?”
“Freak you out?” I asked him. “You’re the one breaking in here, again. And speaking of breaking, what the hell did you break?”
“The small window in the back. Becky usually left the back door open for me but it was locked tonight.”
Why would Becky leave the door open for him? Then I thought about the break-ins the sheriff had implicated Trevor in.
“Was the sheriff right about the series of break-ins? Is that you?”
He lowered his head and took a seat on the bed. His hair looked almost black in the pale light and his bangs fell over his eyes. He brushed the hair away with his hand.
“It’s not like I was stealing anything. Okay, maybe some food. But I would never steal anything of value. It just that...” his voice fell silent.
“It’s just what? Do you not have a place to stay? Where do you live?”
His eyes darted around the room before stopping on me once again. Was he suggesting that he lived here? With my sister? Was he involved with her? That wasn’t possible. He wasn’t her type. But then again, I didn’t really know her type. It wasn’t something we had ever talked about.
“Were you living here? With my sister?”
He looked up and he began shaking his head and waving his hands at me.
“No. Yes. I mean, I was. I am. But no, I am not, living with your sister. I mean, I am. But not living with her. Just sort of living with her. Does that make sense?”
“No. Try again.”
As much as I lack a certain discipline for waiting, I also didn’t have the patience for nonsensical conversations. I had a tendency to become really irritable if a string of words spoken by two people, me being one of them, failed to reach a decisive and final point.
“I am not living with your sister. She allowed me to stay on the couch for a while until I can get settled. But it’s not like her and I were living together.”
What a relief. I still didn’t like that fact that he and my sister had been sleeping under the same roof. However, she was a smart person with one of the biggest hearts I knew. After all, she did stay to take care of my father, despite all of his shortcomings.
“Okay. No big deal. Now, I need to know how you and Becky met. You’re the one that turned her on to this missing animal thing and the sounds in the woods. How and why?”
Trevor suggested I sit because it was a long, complicated story. I told him that he needed to make it the short and simple version.
Trevor had only been in Pine Brook Falls for a month. He lived in Oregon previously but when his parents were killed in a house fire, he had lost everything. He hitchhiked his way to California and stumbled upon Pine Brook Falls.
“I had nowhere to go. There was nowhere in town I could stay. Small towns seem to have fewer hidey holes for one to hide in, so I found a small cave in the woods that was perfect for me. It was clean and with a few blankets I found, it was comfy for what I needed it to be. I met Mr. Stubs one day, and I guess he felt sorry for me. He let me help around the bar part time and paid me enough so I could eat. I used his washroom to clean my clothes after hours.”
I waited impatiently for him to get to the part about Becky. He stopped in mid-sentence. I guess he could see my growing frustration. He sped his story up.
“One night, while I was in the cave, I was getting ready for some shuteye when I heard a quiet, steady rumbling. It was like a big truck or something, but it came from the woods. Then, there were dogs barking, whining, and yelping. Must have been twenty to thirty dogs, all at once. I had never heard such a thing. After a few minutes, it stopped. Everything, all at once. Silence.”
I watched Trevor as he told his tale. I didn’t see a smile or grin. But what struck me the most, were his eyes. He was looking straight at me. He didn’t look away or blink but kept his eyes locked on mine. He looked scared.
“How does Becky fit into this?” I asked.
“I left the woods because the silence was scarier than the howling of the dogs I heard earlier. When I made it down the trail, I ran into her. Literally. She was going for a jog and I ran into her as I was running from the woods. I felt bad. She said she was okay but I guess Becky could see that I was spooked by something and Becky, well, she’s a very curious person. When I told her I was okay, she didn’t believe it. She is very stubborn.”
Becky was as stubborn as anyone. And her inquisitive mind was only second to my own but it still didn’t know why my sister had taken such an interest in it.
“Why was Becky so obsessed? I don’t get it. The last message she left me made it sound like this whole town had gone to hell. I don’t see how a wolf or coyote in the woods relates to what she was trying to tell me.”
Trevor stood up and began to pace around the room. He put both hands over his face and exhaled before dropping them back down to his side. He circled around me and sat back down on the bed.
“It’s no coyote or wolf out there. Those dogs were scared. This town, the people in it, know what’s going on. At least, some of them do. I don’t know why or how, but there is something in those woods that shouldn’t be out there. The people here, are trying to protect it.”
An image of Dana Scully shaking her head came to mind as I was trying to rationalize what Trevor told me. Now Mulder just told Scully that it wasn’t outside the realm of probability that there were things in this world that lacked a reasonable explanation. As entertaining as it was to watch Mulder and Scully banter back and forth in my head, I switched my focus back to Trevor.
“Becky saw it. She told me. Just before dawn last week. And it wasn’t just hunting animals.”
My mouth dropped. I thought back to the last message she left me. She sounded frightened. If she did see something that would explain her message she left me. Then I remembered the part of her text where she said, they knew that she knew.
“Who in town would hide a secret like this?”
“The Sheriff for starters. The Mayor. Maybe a few other people close to them. I don’t really know. I just know that when we told the sheriff about those animals, he didn’t seem the least bit surprised. So, tell me, how does it look to someone who just arrived in town?”
It seemed bizarre, crazy, and absurd. Many thoughts ran through my head. My heart sank as I thought of Becky. Did someone hurt her for what she knew? I had to find out what she saw. If I could blow the lid on the town’s secret, if there was one, I could get back at the people that hurt Becky. I know she had been missing for a week and the possibility that she was more than just hurt existed, but I refused to follow that train of thought. She was out there. I was going to find her.
“Come on, let’s go. We have a long night ahead,” I told him.
“Where are we going?”
I bent down and tossed the stun gun into the backpack. I slung the bag over my shoulder.
“To the woods. If something is out there, I’m going to find it.”
Trevor made no attempt to move as I made it to the door. I turned around and he just shook his head.
“Let’s go, Trevor. Show me where you saw it.”
“I didn’t see it. Becky did. I don’t think we should go. You don’t know what this thing is.”
I crossed the distance to the bed in two quick steps and pulled him up by his arm.
“That’s exactly what I plan to find out.”