Pine Brook Falls - The Charlie Noble Chronicles Book 1

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Chapter Eight

I don’t know how much time went by but it seemed like an eternity. I was terrified. If there was ever an acceptable time to holler and scream and just cry out from fright, this was it. For the sake of being torn to pieces from whatever stalked us in the night, I kept as quiet as I could.

It was close now. Its footfalls moved slowly in front of us. It squealed. It reminded me of what a pig would sound like if it were stuck with a spear. But there was something else about it to that scared me down to my bones. The squeal, if you could call it that, sounded angry. Sinister. It was a tune of foreshadowing doom. Hatred at its rawest level.

I envisioned an elongated body with leathery skin. An alligator head with sharp protruding fangs looking for its next feeding. Its claws scraping against the soft earth as its lidless eyes searched out its prey. The tail, long and scaly, flipping around, scattering rocks in its wake.

My mind is my worst enemy. If such a creature existed, it probably wouldn’t look as horrific as my mind could create, therefore, nothing, in reality, could truly terrify me.Then again, the beast that prowled the field around us seemed like it was trying to prove that my imagination couldn’t begin to do it justice. If I were ever unfortunate enough to come face to face with it, it would show me what true terror looked like.

Another barrage of snorts and squeals boomed south of us. From the sound of it, the thing was moving away. We waited there, silent and still until Trevor sat up and pulled the heavy tarp off of us. I was apprehensive to go too quickly. My body felt like it had been thrown down a hill, which it had.

I got to my knees and watched Trevor fold up the tarp which he then put in his duffle bag. I didn’t remember him having a duffle bag when we left Becky’s house, but he had one now.

“Let’s go. It’ll be back.”

“What was that thing? It sounded like a pig but different. And it seemed large.”

Trevor reached a hand out to me and helped me to my feet.

“Later. We gotta go.”

I tried to object, but he was moving out of the field and back toward the slope I had fallen down earlier. He was walking fast and I struggled to keep up. My leg hurt. I hobbled behind him. I didn’t think anything was broken but I wasn’t a doctor, as my bank account would attest.

We walked up a smaller trail that was to the left. This one wasn’t as steep and the dirt was more compacted. The night was dark and I could barely see two feet in front of me. I could see Trevor’s outline and that kept me on the path.

We reached a clearing and Trevor told me to follow him. We walked off the path. The moon was bright and I could see another way ahead of me. The cave Trevor had mentioned was directly ahead. There was a small opening where we would have to sidestep our way through a crack in the hillside. Trevor disappeared into the crack and I soon followed.

I hate small places. As I slithered my way through the little crevice, I was thankful I hadn’t eaten a big meal. I made my way through and was shocked at the enormity of the cave. Two lanterns hung from the wall on my left and another two on the opposite wall that bathed the enclosure in soft yellow light.

“How did you find this place?” I asked him.

Trevor put down his duffle bag and took a seat on the floor. The floor didn’t have any excess dirt and for the most part, seemed clean as far as caves were concerned.

“Luck.”

I gingerly made my way over and slowly slid down to the ground, using the wall to brace my decent. With my bottom securely on the ground, I looked down at myself. My pants were ripped. I could see blood on my left knee. The blood had mostly dried. My hands couldn’t stop shaking. I quickly put them down but Trevor had noticed. I was surprised at how calm he was.

“What was that thing? It seemed purposeful like it knew what it was doing.”

He laughed.

“Purposeful? Yeah, you could say that. It wanted to have our hearts for dinner and our limbs for desert.”

If Becky went looking for that thing, there was little chance that she survived. The thought of what Becky might have gone through made me sick. I bent over and spit.

“Becky’s not dead. I am sure of it,” Trevor said as if he was reading my mind.

“She went out looking for that thing. If she found it, who is to say it didn’t kill her? How come no one else has seen it? Where are the hunters in this area? How could the sheriff or anyone else for that matter, want to protect that thing?”

I was babbling. There were so many things I wanted to say. Questions I needed to ask. But in the end, my words just ended up a jumbled mess until I just stopped. Words weren’t going to help me understand. I doubt that Trevor knew anything that could have helped me. I came to find my sister and I failed. Or perhaps, I didn’t. My head hurt. Knowing little of something was more frustrating than knowing nothing at all. If I didn’t possess any knowledge of the events that occurred in Pine Brook Falls, I wouldn’t have a launching board from which my thoughts to jump.

“I don’t know. Perhaps, people are scared of it. It seems to stop cats and dogs in their tracks. Did you notice much wildlife tonight? My guess is, this thing owns the woods. Whatever it is and wherever it came from, we are in its domain.”

I needed to let people know. Some people would be down for a good hunt. A hunter would go nuts for an opportunity to kill something bigger than a deer. He just had to find them.

“How can you be sure that Becky is still alive? She’s been missing for a week. No one has seen any trace of her. You said she went looking for that thing and now she’s gone. If she’s not dead, then where is she?”

Instead of answering me, Trevor rose to his feet. He brushed himself off and said we should go.

“What if that thing is still out there? We should wait here a little while longer.”

“It’s gone. Trust me, it won’t linger. If this thing has a weakness, it’s a lack of patience. Let’s get back to your sister’s house and get you cleaned up. Tomorrow we can worry about who we can try to convince.”

Before I got up, there was something else on my mind.

“How did you know that throwing that tarp over us would work?”

Trevor blew out a deep breath.

“I didn’t. I just thought if this thing had poor vision, that perhaps keeping our bodies hidden would be worth a try. Also, it would hide our scent. If, you know, it could sniff us out.”

I stared at him for a moment.

“What? It was Becky’s opinion that it had poor vision. Hey, it worked, didn’t it? Come on, we should get moving.”

The walk out of the cave and through the winding trail was uneventful. I heard an owl hoot and crickets do what they do. All sounds I had not heard earlier. It was as if nature was back to normal. In the presence of the beast, nature hid. Now, that it wasn’t around, the local community of owls, crickets, deer, and whatever else lived up here, all returned to their natural way of life.

We drove back to my sister’s house. As we walked up the pathway, a bright light exploded in front of us. I shielded the light with my hands. Trevor stood still. He didn’t try to run. The beam lowered. An older man with white hair walked into view.

“You two out for an adventure, are ya? Those woods are dangerous grounds if you aren’t too careful.”

I lowered my hands and instantly recognized him. It was the white-haired man from Stub’s Pub.

“You look like hell. Or walked through it. Probably so. Let’s get off the street.”

I looked at the old man and he looked back at me and cocked his head. He squinted his eyes. Could this night get any crazier? I limped past him. He followed me up the porch steps with Trevor a few steps behind. As I opened the door, the old man’s voice croaked.

“You got any beers inside? I could use one or three.”

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