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The back roads

Michael J T Zak

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The tap of Jeremy’s new Nike shoes made a melancholy patter as he


walked home from school. Holding his D English paper he took a different route
home than usual, because he knew that Kent and Timmy would be waiting at the
end of the road to call him a low life idiot. He turned left into the North Beach
woods where the sounds of birds hummed in Jeremy’s ear. Hopefully Cody
would be down here collecting rocks for his collection. He and Cody had been
friends ever since the third grade. They did everything together. They even, a
year ago, had gathered up enough courage to walk into Mr. Tatum’s old
farmhouse. The old farmhouse was supposed to be haunted, says some folks of
Newcastle, Pennsylvania, but Jeremy and Cody knew that it was just some dumb

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old wives tale. They had spent four hours in that rickety old house and not heard
one darn noise. Of course Mr. Tatum’s cat May Belle had given them a spook.
But besides that, it was an old wives tale.
Jeremy crossed the old wooden bridge and then climbed down a series of
rocks stacked on top of one another. If you weren’t too careful a rock could easily
slide out from underneath you and before you knew it you would be tumbling to
your death. As he made his descent he carefully put his right hand on every rock
he passed, just to give him support. When he finally jumped down from the last
rock he landed hard on the ground. He looked around taking in the cool October
air. The trees of the forest provided tremendous shade to the grounds below and
the leaves that barricaded the sunlight made shadows of all different figures on
the ground below. A small pond ran right beside the stack of rocks and into the
hill far away into a small cave. On the other side was another hill that also was
made of stones but no one used them because it was much easier to just climb up
the grassy part and hold on to the trees.
Jeremy swayed where he stood and looked at his D English paper. He had
not really even studied for the stupid thing but when Miss Mary Ellen called out
his name he knew that he was in trouble. He had been sitting in class minding
his own business and of course everyone else had gotten their paper back, except
Jeremy. He thought that it was just a coincidence; that the teacher had forgotten
all about him, but he was wrong. As class was about to come to an end Miss
Mary Ellen had called out Jeremy’s name and made him stand in front of the
class. She pulled a piece of paper off her desk, grabbed a piece of tape, and then
stuck the piece of paper right on Jeremy’s forehead. Within seconds the whole
eighth grade class burst into laughter.
“Now class,” Miss Mary Ellen had shouted, “I hope that this poor young
man knows what he did wrong, and I hope that this young man sets an example
for all of you. Of course a bad example I mean. Tut, tut Jeremy Chance, thirteen
years old and still slacker. You will be a slacker all you life!”
“I forgot my book at school!” Jeremy pleaded, as though he were pleading
for his life.
“A likely excuse,” She howled with wicked laughter, “Now sit down
Jeremy, and read over that paper, you will be retaking it on Monday. Six A.M.!”
Jeremy walked over to the pond and sat down on a log. He glanced at his
reflection in the water. He was a small boy, about five foot, and had dirty blonde
hair that was not too short but long enough that it crept over half of his ears and
the front touched his eyebrows. He face was clear except for about thirty freckles
around his eyes and nose. He was strong and built, and maybe could be a
basketball player, but definitely not a boxer. His arms were short but his legs
were long and lanky. Whenever he spoke a slight rasp came out, both rough and
scratchy, like his fathers, who had been dead for a year now. The rasp was not
too noticeable but people could tell it was him whenever they played ‘Who has
the pumpkin?’

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To his despair Cody was not there collecting his rocks like usual. He
looked around the woods and wished that he didn’t have to go home. His auntie
would probably give his a run for his money when he showed her that D. He
thought that his mom would never have hit him but just simply said to him that
he did his best and that he would have to try extra hard the next time. But
Jeremy’s mom had disappeared last year, a couple months after his dad’s death,
without a trace, and so now the only living relative he had in New Castle was his
aunt who, to his perspective, was the devil himself. If he ever put one toe out of
line his aunt would whip him like there was no tomorrow. He would even get it
if he would spill his soda, which was usually Chester’s fault, not his. Chester was
Jeremy’s aunt’s dog, and if there ever was a closer pair than Jesus and his
disciples then this was it. Chester was like a miniature version of his aunt and
whenever Jeremy was alone in the house Chester would come along and
terrorize the heck out of Jeremy. Jeremy would have to lock to the door to his
own room just so Chester would leave him alone.
The sun was now beginning to lower deeper into the trees and the
shadows on the ground were become fainter and fainter. Jeremy found himself
slapping at his neck and arms because of the pestilent mosquitoes. Quickly he
got up from the log and crossed the forest ground. He made his way up the
grassy hill holding onto the trees as he made his ascent. When he reached the top
Kent and Timmy where leaning on a small oak and cracking their knuckles and
flashing Jeremy a wicked grin.
“Hey.” Jeremy laughed waving his hand at them.
“What’s up idiot?” Timmy laughed, walking over to Jeremy and laying a
hand on his shoulder. “Can I take a look at that test you aced?”
“Why?” Jeremy asked, beginning to shake because he knew that trouble
was about to arise. “You already know what I got.”
“Ha, true, true,” Laughed Kent, “But we wanna admire it. Maybe even
frame it in town hall!”
“No!” Shouted Jeremy, trying to wriggle free of Timmy’s grip, but even
with just a hand on his shoulder Jeremy still couldn’t manage to wriggle free.
“No listen here you little twerp!” Shouted Kent, “When Timmy here says
to give him you’re paper, you better give it to him or we’ll kill you and then we’ll
kill your aunt and her little pussy dog Chester! Now give it to him NOW!”
“HEY! Leave him alone!” A boy, taller than Jeremy, had now joined the
scene and was prying Timmy’s hand off of Jeremy’s shoulder.
“What did you say to me, you little asthmatic freak?” Shouted Kent,
“Come on, I wanna hear what you said to me!”
Cody stood frozen where he was. “You heard me you jerk!” He shouted,
“Leave him alone!”
“Ha, and I suppose you two little girls are gonna stop us are ya?” Timmy
laughed.

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“Maybe,” said Cody, shaking slightly, “And when we do stop you two,
you’ll be sorry you ever messed with us!”
“Haha, you two are definitely off your rocker!” laughed Kent. “Now I’m
gonna ask you two fags one more time. May I please have your English paper
Jeremy?”
Jeremy stood there, breathing heavily, his eyes wide as golf balls. He looked
down at his hand where the paper was folded in two. Awe, what the heck, thought
Jeremy, I don’t want my aunt to see it. I’ll just give it to them. “Here.” He said. Cody
looked at him like he had just signed up for a death pledge, “Take it.” He shoved
the piece of paper into Kent’s face. Kent looked as if he had just won the Civil
War.
“Yeah, that’s right!” Kent screamed. “Yeah!” He jumped up and down
and motioned for Timmy to follow him up the road. Timmy gave Cody a gently
push (gently to Timmy) and Cody fell on the ground; almost down the hill.
“Jerks.” Cody whispered as he stood up from the ground wiping a bit of
blood from his lower lip. “Why can’t they pick on someone their own size?”
“Cody,” Jeremy smiled, “They are you’re size.”
“Not yours” Cody laughed.
“Way to rub it in!” Jeremy smiled.
The sun was very low in the sky now and down below in the small gulley
was probably as dark as night itself. The buzz of mosquitoes were everywhere
you went now, even in the town, where Jeremy and Cody stopped by the ice
cream store to get a soft serve. The unusual thing was that Mr. Brown, the usual
ice cream man was not in the small booth. Instead it was his son, Barney Brown,
who was a blown up version of Mr. Brown. The people of New Castle say that
Barney probably takes after him mom who can’t squeeze her whole body
between her front door. That’s why, according to the folks, that no one has seen
her in over a year.
“Hey Barney!” Cody said, as he walked up to the front of the cart.
“Hey boys, what are you two up to today?” Barney was a man of wisdom.
He carried himself in a very fashionable way, and always kept his head held
high; which looked like a tennis ball stuck to his massive body. In a few years
time the neck would have probably covered up most of the tennis ball head, so
that he would resemble The Headless Horseman. So now Barney’s nickname, as
you can guess, was now Tennis ball.
“Awe, you know the usual stuff.” Replied Jeremy, tilting his head to get a
good look inside the ice cream cart to see if Mr. Brown was hiding in there
somewhere. “Where’s Mr. Brown?”
“You know what boys, when I see him I’ll ask him.” Replied Barney,
fixing his nametag. “I haven’t seen hide or hair of him in a day.”
“Well, where was he last?” Asked Cody.
Barney huffed in a big breathe of air and then replied, “Well he told me
and my mother that he was just goin’ out for a walk in the woods. I tried to stop

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him, considering his bad leg and all, but he told me that he was fine and a bit of
fresh air would do him good. You see, he’s been sick for about two weeks now.”
“That’s horrible!” Jeremy cried, “Have you told the police?”
“Well of course I have. What kind of son you think I am. I told Sheriff
Whitman what happened and they’ve been searching the area all night long.
They haven’t found a trace of my father in those woods or even in Erie. Nowhere
to be seen. I’m scared boys, I really am. He’s only forty – seven, and I can’t take
care of mom by myself. I just got out of college and I wanna make a living. I can’t
be stuck at home all day. Oh, what am I gonna do?” Barney rubbed his stomach
and looked at the two boys with worried eyes.
“Hey,” started Cody, “We could help you.” Jeremy looked at Cody like he
had just not heard what he had said. “Sure,” Cody smiled, “Yeah, we’ll help you.
We can even get Benny and Will. Maybe even Jessie.”
“Jessie!” Cried Jeremy, “What good is Jessie. She’s afraid to leave the
perimeter of her own house. I know she’s not gonna go in any woods, that’s for
sure.”
“Awe, don’t listen to him Barney, he’s just upset because Miss Mary Ellen
gave him a D on his English paper!” Barney gave a small chuckle, but when he
looked at Jeremy’s scowl, he looked back at Cody. “Look we’ll start tomorrow.
We’ll search the entire woods and we won’t stop until we find your father.”
“Gee, thanks boys, that really means a lot to me. Do you boys want some
ice cream?”
Jeremy and Cody had forgotten all about the real reason they had even
went to the ice cream stand and that was to get some ice cream. When Jeremy
told Barney that they would like two twist ice cream (A twist is a soft serve ice
cream where chocolate and vanilla are mixed), and when Jeremy was about to
hand Barney the three dollars they owed, Barney said that it was on the house
for offering to help find his father.
“Are you sure Barney?” Asked Cody, still holding the three dollars in his
hand trying to offer it to Barney. Geez, thought Jeremy, He’s acting like my aunt!
“Course I’m sure. It’s the least I can do. So since tomorrow’s a Friday, let’s
say you can come over to the house at around five o’ clock. We’ll all split up and
then if we find him we’ll call out to one another. Okay?” Barney flashed the two
boys a smile and then said, “Well golly, look at the time. I better close up. See
you boys tomorrow!”
“Ok, see you Barney!” Shouted Cody. Barney slid the black window that
said ‘CLOSED’ over the little square opening where Barney had stood. The big
fluorescent light that said ‘ICE CREAM’ was also shut off, and without that
shining, it looked like a regular old trailer.
The two boys trailed off down the path toward their homes. The sun was
now beginning to set and a reddish glow lit the ground on the way home for the
two of them. Lightning Bugs were dancing in the fields and the birds were
singing their sweet song to call their children back into the nest.

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……

Sheriff Whitman had just finished reading an article on juvenile


delinquents and how to teach them a lesson when Lieutenant Wahburgh walked
him sweating and a wild look in his eyes.
“Dale, Dale, Dale, oh Dale!” cried Lieutenant Wahburgh.
“What?” Shouted Sheriff Whitman. He folded the piece of newspaper and
laid it gently on his desk.
“There’s been another one! Someone else has gone missing!”
“Who?”
“Gale Hatchet!”
The Sheriff stood from his chair and gazed into Lieutenant Wahburgh’s
eyes. “When did this happen?” He asked.
“I have no idea.” Replied Wahburgh, “It could have been within the last
three hours. According to her son, Kent, she had to go out of town on business.
She didn’t want to go through town because she heard that there was a bunch of
traffic, so she took the back roads, through the woods. When she didn’t come
back this evening Kent saw me on the road and told me what happened.”
“The back roads,” started the Sheriff, “Who lives in the back roads. Why,
there’s nothing but woods back there. Nothing except Tatum’s house, but no
one’s lived in there for five yeas since the old man disappeared.” The Sheriff
looked up at the Lieutenant. Wahburgh got the Sheriff’s hint and then backed
away.
“You don’t think it has anything to do with her do you? Dale, she’s dead,
we killed her. Jonathan handled it all.” Wahburgh backed away a little.
“I understand that Trent, but still, it could be the old man. Maybe he’s
back and he…no, it’s impossible. Look dispatch some of the boys and tell them to
search around the area of the back roads. She could still be out there. Maybe she
crashed and she’s trapped under her car.”
“But sir…” began Trent.
“Just do it Lieutenant. Please!” shouted the sheriff, sitting back down in
his chair as to indicate that the conversation was over. Lieutenant Wahburgh
nodded and turned with a jerk. As he slammed the door behind him Sheriff
Whitman stood up from his chair and walked into the back room where there
was a small sink. He turned the handle and the water came gushing out. He
cupped his hands until they were filled with water and then splashed the water
onto his face. He grabbed the white towel and dried his face off. The sheriff stood
in the confines of the small space he was in and took a deep breathe and then
threw the towel on the sink and walked out of the room.
As he came out of the bathroom he turned right leading off into a long
hallway. He stopped in front of a black door. He put his left hand on the door
and rested his head next to his hand. The sheriff started to sweat and started

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shaking very badly. He reached inside his pocket and pulled out an orange pill
container, but to his horror it was empty. He put his right hand over his eyes and
nose to try to calm himself down and it worked a little.
He pulled his head off the door and gazed at it with hatred and detest. He
kicked the door and screamed, “You did this to me! You, you, you, you!” He put
his head back up against the door and started to cry. This is where it all happened.
He thought. This is where it all happened.

When Jeremy arrived home that evening he was greeted with a smack on
the head and Chester biting at the bottom of his pant leg. Once he had eaten a
dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, he smiled at his aunt, who didn’t
return the smile, and rose from his chair and marched off upstairs and into his
room. His room was the smallest room in the whole house and it wasn’t that
grand either. It had an old nineteen sixties T.V. with bunny ears on it, a bedside
table, a chest of drawers, and a bed. Jeremy threw off his clothes that he had been
wearing and put on a pair of gym shorts to wear to bed.
After he brushed his teeth he climbed into bed and pulled the sheet up to
his shoulders length. Jeremy stared at the ceiling of his room. The paint was a
puke green color and it really needed to be repainted because the pain was
chipping off and sometimes he would awake when a small flake would drop on
his face and wake him up. His mother would have let him and his father paint it
up and they would’ve had a great time doing it, but sadly, both of his parents
were dead.
Mrs. Chance’s whereabouts are still unknown, but Mr. Chance’s
whereabouts are certain. Any time Jeremy wanted to visit his father all he had to
do was walk five miles north of his house and walk through the gates of
Blackwood Cemetery, Section five, row six, and block five. Jeremy had
memorized the exact location of the gravestone.
A year ago they had found Jeremy’s dad’s body in the woods with his
arms and legs tied behind his body and a symbol carved on his chest that no one
knew the meaning of.

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When Jeremy had seen his dad’s body lying on the ground with his head
twisted backwards he could not fall asleep for six months. The image of his
father’s mangled body haunted him in his dreams and sometimes the lifeless
body would come alive and speak to him telling Jeremy that it was his fault that
he was dead. Jeremy’s mother could not take it either. After the incident she kept
to herself, only talking to Jeremy, and remained in the house. The day she
disappeared she told Jeremy that she loved him, and told him to lock the doors
and to not answer the telephone, which he knew not to do. His mother had
turned into a control freak. When she didn’t return that evening Jeremy began to
worry. He waited up for her for hours until he finally made up his mind and ran
to the sheriff’s office and told him what happened. The sheriff dispatched thirty
men to look for Carol Chance and after three weeks of searching they gave up
and put an unfilled grave right next to Jeremy’s father. They have been there
ever since. And every day of the week Jeremy visits them and says a silent
prayer.

“Now class, does everyone have their signed papers?” Miss Mary Ellen’s
voice rang throughout the whole classroom. Classes across the hall could
probably hear every word that she said and maybe could hear some of the
insults and report her to the headmaster and then she would get fired. But, the
class’s dream’s had not come true yet and they were certain that it was not going
to happen.
Miss Mary Ellen scanned the classroom, her beady black eyes checking
each desk. “Mr. Chance, do you have your signed paper?”
“Huh?” Jeremy answered, looking up from his English book where he
was just finishing off a daydream about a starship fighting off evil forces in the
sky a hundred light years away.
“Do you have your English paper Jeremy?” She gave him the same
wicked smile she had given him the day before when she handed him the
dreadful paper. “The one that you were supposed to study for so you could take
it on Monday. Remember?”
“Oh, yea, why don’t you ask Kent, he’ll tell you where it is?” Jeremy
smiled up at Miss Mary Ellen who turned her gaze over to Kent. Kent face went
to stone. His eyes were wide, looking disbelievingly at Jeremy, and his mouth
was hanging open.
“Mr. Hatchet is that true?” Kent expression stayed where it was. “I’M
TALKING TO YOU KENT!” Miss Mary Ellen screamed. “Did you take Jeremy’s
test?”
“Do you have any idea what my family is going through at the moment?”
He stared up at Miss Mary Ellen with a sad look of grief. “Yea, ok, I took it. I

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mean look at him. He’s smart right, and then he thinks that he can become one of
the cool kids by slacking.” Kent returned his glance toward Jeremy who turned
around.
“What the heck are you talking about?” he screamed at Kent.
“Shut up Jeremy!” Yelled Miss Mary Ellen. “Kent, why would you take
his paper? He obviously already has friends. I don’t see why he would want a
slimy little punk like you!” She put her hands to her mouth and then stepped
away from his desk. She started to breathe very heavily and then she whimpered
out, “I’m sorry Kent…I didn’t…” But Kent had heard enough. He flipped over
his desk and stormed out past Miss Mary Elle and ran out of the room. “Stay
here class!” She said the class.
When she left the room the whole class turned to one another and started
to converse in whispers so she would not return and yell at all of them. Jeremy
turned around to Cody, who sat behind him. Cody had his inhaler out and was
puffing away. Cody was taller than Jeremy and had black hair that was combed
backward across his head. He had a small nose and a pointed chin and his face
was completely clear.
“Do you think he’ll come back?” Jeremy asked Cody.
“Today, probably not.” Replied Cody. “Are you still coming to help
Barney find his dad tonight at five?”
“Sure, I’ve got noting better to do.” Said Jeremy, putting his head down
on the back of his chair. “I don’t really see why you even bother though, I mean
what are the odds of us finding him… and if we do find him…” Jeremy looked
up into Cody’s face.
“No!” Shouted Cody, and everyone in the class turned to look at him.
“He’s not gonna turn up like…like your dad.” Jeremy looked down into his lap.
“Sorry.” Said Cody, “but you gotta have a little faith. I mean when the police was
still searching for your father you still had hope didn’t you?” Jeremy nodded,
“So maybe we should have a little hope for Mr. Brown. I mean what if he’s just
out there, waiting for us to find him.”
“I guess you’re right, what time do you think we’ll be out till?”
“Why do you care”, laughed Cody, “It’s a weekend. Jeremy?” asked
Cody.
“Yeah?”
“Do you still wonder if you’re mothers still alive?”
“I don’t think, I know she is. Maybe it’s like what you said Cody, maybe
she’s out there waiting for me to find her. So I guess I can’t give up hope either.”
He looked up at Cody who smiled back at him.
The door opened and Miss Mary Ellen walked back in alone. The whole
class looked up at her with worrisome eyes and they all wanted to know where
Kent was.
“All right class, let’s review our lesson.” She began to talk about
intransitive verbs and how to spot them in a sentence. The rest of the class soon

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became bored and were eager to learn where Kent was. As Jeremy sat in his seat
he also wanted to know what Kent had meant about what he was going through.
When the bell rang to change classes the whole class moved out of Miss
Mary Ellen’s room to see if Kent was sitting near the office waiting for his mother
to come pick him up. But Kent was nowhere to be seen, and the day moved on.

Lieutenant Wahburgh shifted from tree to tree holding out his hand to
block twigs from hitting him in the face. The forest here was very dense and
everywhere you moved trees closed you in. If you did not mark your spot on the
trees you could possible get easily lost. Trent Wahburgh was looking for the
thing that made Kent jump off his track at school. He was looking for Kent’s
mother Gale Hatchet. So far he was having a pretty tough time. He had been
searching for an hour and still not found anything. If anything was possible, he
was hoping that he wasn’t about to find a dead body. He was hoping to find a
body that was just dehydrated or hungry and was too weak to walk. He did not
want to find someone who’s limbs were all torn.
He lifted his head and stared into the blue sky. He swiped his arm over
his face to wipe of the sweat. When he looked straight in front of him he saw an
old man in ragged clothing holing a hoe above his head. The man was at least ten
yard away from him, but he looked as if he was right there. Trent blinked. When
he opened his eyes again the figure of the farmer was gone.
Trent began to turn in a circle and his breathing increased with every turn.
His heart was pounding harder than it ever had pounded and his eyes were
focusing and UN -focusing. He quickly grabbed the rifle he had laid on the grass
and picked it up and fired a shot into the air. He just wanted to make sure that he
was alone in the woods. A couple of birds scooted out of the trees and a rabbit
and a squirrel dashed in front of him and scurried away into their dens. Besides
that he was alone in the woods.
Just calm down Trent, he thought to himself, it was just a mirage. Yea, only a
mirage. But at this point he didn’t even trust his own thoughts. The woods were
beginning to grow dark, and he didn’t like the idea of seeing another mirage in
the dark. It would only double the effect of freaking him out.
With his rifle in one hand he made his way out of the North Beach woods,
looking for the marks he made to find his way out. As he was halfway there he
heard something behind him like a voice saying for him to turn around. When he
turned around there was nothing there but a small brown and black cat. Trent
laughed at himself and put his right hand forward to pet the cat but the cat
hissed and swiped a paw at the Lieutenant’s hand. When it connected it made
three deep cuts into his hand. Blood started to trickle down his hand and Trent
put the hand in his mouth to try to suck the blood away.

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He looked at the cat with worrisome eyes as the cat started to advance on
Trent. He quickly turned around and started to run in a direction he was not sure
of. He wasn’t looking where he was going, and for that matter all he wanted to
do was to get rid of the cat, that was chasing after him, hissing and growling like
a dog.
He could now see an opening in the trees and he could also see blue and
red lights flashing. Thank God, he thought, the sheriff. He ran, ran, ran, and when
he was five feet from the clearing he made an almighty dive into the grass and
out of the woods. He was breathing heavier than ever as he picked himself up
and was relieved to see a cop car sitting in front of him. No other cars were
zooming past because really no one took the back roads.
“Gee, am I glad to see you,” began Trent, “I just seen…well nothing…but
there was this cat. This goddamn cat clawed the hell out of my hand and then
chased me through the whole entire woods.” The officer, saw Trent, was not the
sheriff, who he had been hoping to run into, but looked like a very old man. The
man was bent over and all Trent could see was his back. He was apparently
looking for something in the backseat area because his whole body was turned
that way.
“Would you like a ride, young man?” The old officer asked Trent, still
facing the backseat.
“Ummm, were you going?” Asked Trent, who really was thinking of a
ride to the sheriff’s office where he could tell the sheriff what he had just seen.
“To hell.” Shouted the old man, and when he turned around, Trent saw
that he wasn’t any police officer, he wasn’t even the sheriff. He was the old
farmed Trent had seen in the woods earlier. The old man was wearing an old
farmer get up but his face was badly cut up, like someone had taken a plow and
scratched his whole entire face. The man gave an evil laugh and then started the
engine in the car. “You wanna ride don’t ya? We’re gonna have a helluva good
time! HAHA!” Shouted the farmer and he put his foot on the gas and drove off
down the road and out of sight.
Trent stood where he was and watched the car drive out of sight. A
strange feeling, like soft cotton, came to his legs and when he looked down the
cat was purring and circling his leg. Trent grabbed his walkie talkie and phoned
in the sheriff. Strange things were going on in New Castle, and he was going to
get the bottom of it all.

“Jeremy! Come on, were gonna be late.” Jeremy was taking his grand old
time packing up a flashlight, and his very own pistol that his father had given
him.
“All right, all right, I’ll be right down!” He shouted out of his window at
Cody. Cody was standing on his front porch leaning against one of the posts. The

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only reason Cody was even on the porch was because Jeremy’s aunt was out
playing Bingo at the senior citizens club. If Jeremy’s aunt had been there, Cody
would have been forced to wait for Jeremy in the bushes by the house because
Jeremy’s aunt didn’t approve of Cody’s asthma problem. She thinks that with the
way Jeremy is, he should be making cooler friends; friends that are fun to hang
around with. But that’s what Jeremy couldn’t stand about his aunt because Cody
was really fun to hang around with. So was Benny and Will and maybe Jessie,
but Jeremy’s mother couldn’t see that at all.
When Jeremy was finally ready, he ran down his front porch to join Cody.
“So, are Benny and Will coming?” asked Cody.
“Benny isn’t, but Will said he could come.” Replied Jeremy.
“Why, where’s Benny? And did you even ask Jessie?”
“Why would I?
“Ugh, Jeremy, you can be a real jerk sometimes, you know that?” Cody
stopped walking and looked at Jeremy. He pointed his index finger in Jeremy’s
chest. “Just because you don’t like doesn’t mean I have to hate her too!”
“Hey, hey, hey, I don’t hate her at all. And I like her, but like I said, for the
past year, ever since what happened with my father, she’s been afraid to leave
her house.” Jeremy pushed Cody’s finger away.
“Well what would you expect, I mean she was the one who found him just
lying there.” Cody looked over at Jeremy who put his head down. “Sorry, but it’s
the truth. I mean…well…it’s been a year now Jeremy, shouldn’t you be moving
on.”
“Just shut up.” Said Jeremy bitterly. Cody looked at him, frowned, but
continued on walking like it had not mattered. “Come on, we gotta hurry up and
get Will.”
The two boys ran the rest of the way to Will’s house. Will’s house was a
cozy one story red brick house. It was set in a little row of houses, all the same,
on Dwight St., just outside of town. Jeremy walked up to the front door and
knocked and a boy, about the size of Jeremy, maybe an inch taller, came out of
the front door. He had dirty blonde hair and wore a crooked smile on his face.
“Hey guys!” He said. His voice was high and unchanged. There was an
awkward silence between the three boys. “Well are we just gonna stand around
and admire each other’s pretty looks or are we gonna go?” Jeremy and Cody
laughed and Will and then they all walked down the porch steps and headed to
Barney Brown’s house.

“SHERIFF!”
“WHAT!” The sheriff had been woken up by the sound of Trent
Wahburgh’s voice outside the door. He picked his head up from his desk,
grunted, then got up and walked to the door. He stood there for a moment in

13
consideration, wondering if he should open it or not because he really didn’t feel
like listening to his Lieutenants bull crap, but he opened it and Lieutenant
Wahburgh busted into his office.
“Sir, sir, sir, you gotta hear this! You won’t believe it!” Shouted Trent.
“Just tell me what it is Trent.”
“Well I was in the woods looking, you know. And well…” Trent paused
wondering if he should tell the sheriff what he had just seen. What if the sheriff
laughed in his face and called him a baby and a daydreamer.
“What?!?!” the sheriff’s face was red.
Trent told the sheriff the whole story about the ghostly farmer and the evil
cat that nearly gave him a heart attack. When he was done the sheriff looked at
him with both amusement and consideration.
“Ummm… Trent…maybe you should take the rest of the day off.” The
sheriff smiled at Trent and patted him on the shoulder.
Trent looked at the sheriff in disbelief, he knew this was what would
happen. Not one single person was going to believe him and something really
bad was happening in New Castle. He turned around sharply and left the office,
slamming the door behind him.
Something very, very bad is happening in New Castle, he thought.

Jeremy was paired up with Will. Cody was somewhere in a different part
of the woods with Barney. He could still hear them shouting out ‘MR. BROWN!’
and ‘FATHER!’ What idiots, Jeremy thought, What if the guy is knocked out. He
probably won’t be able to hear you.
“So when did Mr. Brown disappear?” asked Will. He was on Jeremy’s
right and was shining his flashlight in front of both of them while Jeremy shined
it sideways to look around to see if Mr. Brown was anywhere to be seen.
“Two days ago, I think.” replied Jeremy, “I really don’t know actually.
Barney told me and Cody yesterday, but I forgot.”
“Ah, whatever, we’re probably not even gonna find him.”
“That’s what I said, but Cody had to be all generous and offer!” Jeremy
laughed and then looked at Will who laughed too. They walked for ten more
minutes before stopping to rest on a rock. The boys talked a little, but slowly the
conversation died away and it soon became quiet. Will was playing with sticks,
trying to build a small log house with them and Jeremy was throwing rocks
trying to hit certain trees he had picked out.
Jeremy picked out a tree in his head that was at least twenty yards away.
He threw, and missed. Although he did hear the rock clunk on something, and he
also heard a growling voice say, “Ouch! Hey boy, watch where you throw them
rocks!”

14
Jeremy looked up in shock of what he had just heard. When he looked up
he saw nothing there. Except something shiny, in the direction he threw the rock,
was glimmering in the setting sun.
“Hey what’s that?” Jeremy said to Will who, by shock, knocked over his
log fort and looked up at Jeremy.
“What?”
“That.” Will pointed in the direction on the glimmering shiny thing.
Jeremy stood up from the rock and started to walk towards it.
“Where are you going?” asked Will frighteningly.
“I wanna check it out.”
“Be careful.” Jeremy nodded and continued to walk in the direction of the
shiny thing. As he got closer to it, it revealed itself to be a farmer’s hoe. It was an
ordinary one, to Jeremy’s eye, so he picked it up and balanced it in his hands. It
had a bit of dirt on the end of it, but besides that it looked brand new.
Jeremy walked back over to Will and showed him the hoe.
“That’s it,” snorted Will, “That’s the magical object that was over there.”
“I didn’t say anything about it being magical. All I said was that I wanted
to see what it was.” Jeremy looked at the hoe more carefully. He noticed that in
the middle of the handle part was a pair of initials that read ‘I.T.’.
“I.T.? Who that heck is I.T.?” Will asked, dumbfounded.
“Beats me.” Jeremy me replied. At that moment a voice far off somewhere
shouted “WE FOUND HIM!”
“Barney!” exclaimed Will.
“BARNEY WHERE ARE YOU?” shouted Jeremy.
“FOLLOW MY VOICE!”
The two boys followed the voice southeast until they met up with Barney,
Cody, and the dead body of Mr. Brown. You could tell he was dead. His neck
was hanging in an odd position and his white shirt, what looked like a white
shirt, was stained red all over his chest. Barney looked at his father and started to
cry. The three boys looked at Barney and then at Mr. Brown.
“It’s okay Barney,” said Cody, trying to comfort Barney, “We really did all
we could.”
“It’s my fault.” Whispered Barney. “I should have stopped him from
going out that night. If I would’ve stopped him from going out this would’ve
never have happened.” Barney shook and trembled with despair.
“No Barney,” said Cody, “It’s not you’re fault. There was nothing you
could’ve done. Don’t blame it on yourself.” Tiny rain drops started to fall on the
group’s heads and it was Jeremy who made the suggestion to leave before a
severe storm hit.
Cody and Barney grabbed Mr. Brown and began to carry him through the
woods with Jeremy and Will trailing behind him. A bolt of lighting struck the
ground nearby and the group’s stride quickened to a fast walk.
“Jeremy!” shouted Will, “Look at your pants!”

15
While trying to keep the steady pace, Jeremy looked at his pants which
were stained with blood. This would have been normal if he were carrying Mr.
Brown, but he was not, so he looked over his body to try to find the source of the
blood.
“Jeremy!” shouted Will, again, “It’s the hoe!”
Jeremy looked at the hoe he was carrying with him, and it was dripping
with blood. Jeremy stopped and screamed with horror, dropping the hoe on the
ground. A huge lighting bolt hit the tree right in front of Jeremy and Will and it
sent the boys flying backwards.
Jeremy, Will, Cody, and Barney looked up at the tree that the lighting had
struck and all cried out in horror. On the tree two women were strung up with
ropes. Their heads were all cocked in the same position as Mr. Brown’s and
blood was pouring down the tree. In the center of their body, where the heart is,
a huge hole was made and blood was gushing out. There was no heart in the
body, something had ripped it out. Black and blue marks covered their face, legs,
and arms and their mouths were open as if they were trying to call for help.
One of the women was Gale Hatchet, Kent’s mother, and the other was
Carol Chance, Jeremy’s mother.

The top story of all three newspapers in the state read, ‘Three people
found dead in the North Beach woods in New Castle Pennsylvania. Found by
three thirteen year olds and a twenty year old. The old man who is revealed to be
Jeremiah Brown was one of the three who were found dead. The autopsy report
says the all limbs and bones in his arms and legs were broken and a symbol was
drawn across his chest with a knife. His neck was broken after someone had slit
it. The two women were brutally beaten and then strung up with ropes at thin as
kite wire on a tree that was struck by lightening. The horrific part was that both
women’s hearts were found not in the body and a huge hole had been made in
their chest. The two women were later revealed to be Gale Hatchet mother of
Kent Hatchet and Carol Chance, a lady who has been missing for some time
now. New Castle, Pennsylvania and the state of Pennsylvania should not leave
their homes at night for something truly horrible is going on and of course, as
always, the police have put their best people on the case and they will surely
have it cleared up in no time. The burial Jeremiah Brown will be on Thursday,
October 6. The burial of Gale Hatchet will be on Friday, October 7. The burial of
Carol Chance will be on Monday, October 10.’

16
“SIX MONTHS! SIX MONTHS!” The sheriff was sitting in his desk. The
whole police force of New Castle was in front of the desk, shaking in fear by how
angry the sheriff was. “SHE WAS MISSING FOR SIX MONTHS AND THEN
SHE TURNS UP DEAD! WHY COULDN’T WE FIND HER? WHY?!?”
Nobody could answer him. After a long silence of shudders Lieutenant
Wahburgh spoke on behalf of the whole force. “Sir, listen, Carol could have been
anywhere. We searched for a very, very long time. She could have even gone out
of the state. But I don’t really believe that.”
“Well then what do you believe Trent?” shouted the sheriff.
“I’m not too sure, but why do we trust Jeremy. For all we know he
could’ve killed her. You saw the blood on that farmers hoe and…Oh, my god!”
Trent stopped talking and looked up at the sheriff. “Sheriff it’s what I told you
on Friday.”
“What are you talking about?” The sheriff questioned.
“The farmer! ‘Member? I told you I was in the woods and I saw…”
“Trent, if this is another one of your silly daydreams I don’t want to hear
it.” Laughed the sheriff. He turned to the team, “Now getting back to reality…”
“It wasn’t a daydream goddammit! It was real! I saw him as plain as day!
Why wont you believe me?!?” Trent was now advancing to the front to look the
sheriff right in the eye. “While you piss around with your little papers and
orders we have got a killer on the loose and you are doing nothing about it
except yelling at everyone for your mistake.”
“I thought she was gone for good. Okay? When Jonathan turned up dead
and then she disappeared I actually thought that she killed herself somewhere.
And now, she turns up dead on some tree with Gale, not only a woman she was
very close to but also a woman who was reported to be missing that Thursday.
There has to be some sort of link to all three of these murders including
Jeremiah’s. A person just doesn’t kill three people for the hell of it on the same
night.”
“But how do we know it was on that night.” Trent said, “Okay, so we
know that Jeremiah died that night, but Gale and Carol, how do we know that
they weren’t killed say Wednesday or maybe Thursday?”
“Because top doctors examined them and they said that they were freshly
dead. That probably means that day.” The sheriff screamed.
“PROBABLY!” screamed Trent. “The key word there was probably!”

After every bolt of lightening came a blundering roll of thunder a second


after. Jeremy stood near his window watching the storm increase before his eyes.

17
The rain bounced off the sidewalks and streets flooding it up with water and
turning it into a white water rapid. The leaves on the trees broke away from the
branches that were connected to the man trunk which also shook with fright as
the wind howled in the sky with delight. It was only six o’ clock at night but it
seemed much later due to the wind and the darkness created by the monstrous
storm.
CRACK! Jeremy jumped. He looked outside his window and saw that the
tall oak tree that had stood in his next door neighbor’s yard was now lying in
front of the house blocking the road that lead into town. Jeremy sighed with
relief for the oak tree had just missed his neighbor’s house. Jeremy could now see
and hear red lights and sirens in the distance as the lights of the house flickered
off.
His and Aunt and Chester had already taken shelter in the storm cellar
but Jeremy had remained shut inside his room ready to take on the monster
throughout the rest of the night. The monster roared with delight; louder and
louder the growls grew as the rain that was fighting hard to keep the monster
from attacking the world below suddenly died away as the monster defeated it.
The rain water fell from the gutters as the steady rain poured into it. The
monster howled with delight, for it knew that it was winning but the rain took
up a new leader and fought back. Hail started to fall in unison with the rain as
both teams drew up their swords of defense to fight off the monster. As the rain
and the hail fell hard the driveway of Jeremy’s house flooded over and looked
soon became a miniature version of the Monongahela river as it carried twigs,
bugs, stones, mud, and anything else that had been laying on the driveway. The
rain now echoed in the sky like a tin roof was covering the earth making the
noise of the rain increase.
The rain raised its sword higher as the trees twirled in a production of
Swan Lake trying to distract the monster so the rain could defeat it. Jeremy sat on
his bed and watched the mighty battle unfold in front of his eyes and to his
horror the monster was winning with power and hate.
Jeremy ran over to his radio and switched the channel over to Weatherscan
where the newscaster’s voice rang throughout his room, blocking out the
screams of battle.
“Anyone who is in the top floor of their building,” said the newscaster,
“Stop listening and get to the nearest basement as soon as possible. And
whatever you do, do not step outside at all; I repeat do not step outside.”
Jeremy switched off his radio and grabbed a flashlight from his chest of
drawers. He ran out of his room and raced down his steps that led into the living
room. The monster let out a bellowing roar and the whole house shook with
fright as the rain tried hard to fight back. He turned right into the kitchen and
unbolted the lock to the storm cellar. Chester did not bark and his aunt did not
yell at him. He ran down and sat beside her and Chester as the three of them
waited for the monster to lay down his sword of fury.

18
The morning smelled of rainfall. The remains of the rain fell from the
bottoms of the trees and sewer pipes exploded with water. The air Lieutenant
Wahburgh breathed in that morning was dense and stuffy. Trent was mad for
many reasons on this gloomy morning, but the main reason that he was mad was
because of what the sheriff had done to him in front of all his fellow policemen.
He was not heading to work this morning. Instead he was heading toward
his Ford truck where he was planning on a trip to Pittsburgh to talk to the police
there about what was going on. He crossed his lawn, the drops of water on the
grass falling onto the bottom of his pants, staining them with clear dots.
At his truck he put his keys in the lock to unlock his door when something
shiny in the passenger seat caught his eye. He left his keys where they were in
the lock and looked into the car where the shiny thing was. He backtracked one
foot by horror and stared at the bloody farmers hoe lying on his passenger seat
getting blood all over his black leather seats.
Within a second he reached into his pocket and grabbed his cell phone
and phoned the sheriff’s house. It rang…but no answer. After the answering
machine came on he left a short, strong worded message to the sheriff about how
first thing this evening he would like to have a brief meeting with him. Brief
meeting my ass, thought Trent. He knew that it was time to get down to business
with what’s been going on. This isn’t and normal thing happenin’ here! Something
bad! He unlocked his Ford and grabbed the gardener’s hoe by the handle, where
there was no blood, and yanked it out of the truck, being careful not to spill any
blood on the interior.
He carefully studied the blade of the hoe and seen that it was dented at
the top. He didn’t know the significance of this except that Jeremy was the last
one who touched the hoe before Carol and Gale turned up dead. And then blood
was found on the hoe at the exact time when they found the body. Trent was still
suspicious about this Jeremy kid but really didn’t have the time to worry about
some kid at the moment. He placed the hoe inside the trunk of his Ford and got
into the car and started up the engine. He revved up the motor and pulled out of
the driveway and faced up north. He hesitated, looking up at the long stretch of
dirt road in front of him.
Huh, should I?, he thought. He was looking at the back roads, the roads no
one really ever used. He gave a sigh and turned the car around and headed
south toward town. He was not taking any chances.

“What do you mean you don’t know how the blood got on?”

19
“I don’t know. One moment there wasn’t any and then the next there was.
What, do you think I did it?” Jeremy sat in his chair, huffing and puffing as he
looked into the sheriff’s red, dark circled eyes. Jeremy was rubbing his arm and
stains where tears had ran down his cheeks shined in the fluorescent lights.
“I’m not saying that Jeremy, not at all, I mean why would you?” The
sheriff smiled. His aunt glared at him.
“Because that’s just the kind of boy he his! He never listens to me, he does
bad in school, and he loafs with all the wrong friends.”
“SHUT UP!” Jeremy shouted at his aunt. He looked at his aunt and then at
the sheriff. “All you ever want to do is find a way to yell at me. That’s all
everyone wants to do! You piss around all day with your dog and don’t do shit!
Don’t yell at me because you screwed up your own life!” Jeremy’s aunt slapped
him hard in the face.
Jeremy touched the reddened part of his cheek and looked at his aunt, his
jaw open and breathing heavily. He looked at his aunt, wondering if he should
slap her back. The sun was going down but Jeremy could still hear more and
more people being brought into the local jail. He wondered if he would join
those peopled, the people being persecuted, probably half of them didn’t even do
the crime they were accused of.
“Jeremy listen to me,” the sheriff said, almost sounding comforting, “I
want to help. I know you do too. Don’t you want this to stop?” He looked at
Jeremy, giving him a half hearted smile.
“I guess so,” Jeremy replied, and looked down into his pants, the glow of
the fluorescents hurting his eyes.
“Good. Then just tell me what happened that night when you and Barney
went to look for his father.” The sheriff sat back into his seat looking as if he was
getting ready to watch a new action movie. Jeremy’s aunt stared directly at him,
intending to catch him telling a lie.
Jeremy decided that it was best to leave Cody and Will out of it. He
proceeded to tell the sheriff what had happened that night in the woods. The
sheriff listened with wondrous eyes as Jeremy retold the event as though he were
reading it straight from a book.
“Wait a minute.” The sheriff stopped Jeremy right at the part where he
found the hoe. “You said it had an initial on it?” Jeremy nodded his head. “Well
what was it?” the sheriff asked.
“Umm…” Jeremy looked out the window trying to remember. He looked
up at the sheriff, “I.T. …I think. Yeah, that was it, I.T.” Jeremy smiled to himself.
“Enough with the games son,” the sheriff said, and now he wasn’t looking
so friendly. In fact he looked like his aunt looked beside him, furious and ready
to pounce. “Now tell me what the initials said!”
Jeremy realized why the cop was yelling at him and why he hadn’t taken
Jeremy’s word seriously. The initials ‘I.T.’ also spelled out the word, it. But, there

20
was nothing Jeremy could do about that, that’s what the hoe said, and he was
prepared to swear that in front of a court.
“I’m being serious!” Jeremy shouted.
“Now don’t you take that tone with me young man!” The sheriff pointed a
finger at Jeremy, “You stay right there.” The sheriff stood up from his chair and
walked out of the interrogation room. He walked passed the tiny jail cells, which
held no one, and walked passed the room with the black door and looked away
quickly. He ran into Trent who was just coming in.
“Trent, hi, any idea where Mary is with ‘case twenty four’s ‘ evidence?”
Trent looked at the sheriff trying to remember.
“Oh, umm…she’s down in the crime lab looking over the evidence.”
“Thanks,” said the sheriff. He walked passed Trent and walked into
another tiny hallway. This hallway had a lot of memories to the sheriff. For one,
this is where he had kissed his wife when the first met on the New Years party
about twenty years ago. What a party!, thought Dale. He shook his mind trying to
clear his end and proceeded down the hallway and down a pair of steps.
It became much cooler as Dale walked down the steps and the smell of
rubbing alcohol and phemaldehyde stung his nose making him sneeze.
“That you boss?” a voice from down the stairs came.
“Yeah,” Dale got to the bottom of the steps and looked to see where Mary
was. She was at her microscope that was connected to the T.V. looking at…
something.
“What it is boss?” Mary asked, not taking her eyes away from her work.
“Do you have that hoe; the one that was found at the scene of the crime?”
The sheriff looked around the room trying to see it himself. He didn’t.
“No but I have a picture of it on my computer. Wanna take a look.” She
pulled her eyes away from the microscope and walked over to her computer.
Dale followed her and stood behind her as she pulled up her picture browser.
“Here we are.” The picture popped up and the answer Dale was looking for was
staring him right in the eye.
“Zoom in,” said the sheriff, a little forcefully. He noticed that in his voice
so he said, “please.” She didn’t seem to notice and went straight to work on
zooming in.
“Damn!” Dale exclaimed.
“What is it?”
“Ah, nothing. Looks like the kid was right. Thanks anyway Mary.” He
didn’t even want to hear her ‘you’re welcome’, and went straight back upstairs
into the interrogation room.
“Well?” Jeremy asked, as he pulled his head off of the black steel table. He
had been snoozing while his aunt had been fiddling with her hair and thinking
of all the ways that Jeremy was going to get in trouble. And she smiled at them.
“I owe you an apology. I’m sorry.” The sheriff pursed his lips together
and nodded his head.

21
“So, what the hell does that prove?” Is aunt screamed.
“Now Muriel, please settle down,” said the sheriff trying to talk in his ‘its
okay voice’.
“No!” Jeremy’s aunt screamed back.
“HUSH!” Sheriff Whitman said, not really screaming, but he did raise his
voice. He turned back to Jeremy knowing that he had shut the aunt up for now.
“Jeremy I’m sorry but can you continue where you left off. Remember you were
at the part when you heard Barney’s voice and then you ran to go and find him?”
“Oh, yeah,” and Jeremy began retelling the event. The sheriff watched like
it was Stephen King himself retelling his most popular book. “…and then a huge
bolt of lightening struck the tree in front of us and when I looked up…” Jeremy
felt a little embarrassed as the tears stung his eyes. He tried to hold them back
but a single tear fell and trickled down his cheek and then fell off of his chin. “…
and that’s when I saw my mom and Mrs. Hatchet,” he paused and then scowled,
“Kent’s mother.”
Sheriff Whitman leaned back and let out a long sigh while pulling the
ends of his shirt down, not wanting to expose the bottom of his stomach.
“Is that all?” the sheriff asked. Jeremy looked at his aunt, who wasn’t
looking at him, and then he looked at the sheriff and nodded his head.
“Yes,” his usual rough and scratchy voice now sounded like something
was blocking his windpipe all together. He cleared his throat and then put his
face in his hands and started messaging his temples.
“Very well, you may go.” The sheriff looked at Jeremy’s aunt, “Muriel,
have a nice day.” Muriel did not look at the sheriff as she stood up and left the
room but Jeremy did. As he walked out the sheriff gave him a pat on the
shoulder and watched Jeremy and his aunt leave the station. Poor kid, thought
Dale, It must be tough…living with that old hand bag. He laughed at his own joke
and walked down the hallway into the main hall where he ran into Trent again.
“So boss, how did it go with Jeremy?” Trent really didn’t care much for
Jeremy and he suspected him as much as he suspected any other thug in the
whole state of Pennsylvania.
“Went good,” replied Dale, “I don’t suspect him at all. He doesn’t look the
type and from what he gave me, he doesn’t seem the type either.”
“Ah, bullshit boss!” Trent screamed louder than he wanted to. “What did
he tell you?” Dale told Trent the same story that Jeremy had told him. “The only
thing that he left out was the two other boys that went with him. Cody and Will.
Other than that, Trent, it sounded true to me, and let me remind you, I’ve been
doing this a lot longer than you have.”
Trent rolled his eyes and shook his head at the sheriff. “Look…” he began
but the sheriff cut him off.
“Look, I know what I’m doing.”
“Do you?” Trent asked in a mocking way. “Do you know that there is
another missing person? Huh?”

22
The sheriff’s eyes went wide. Thoughts began reeling through his head.
What if the person ends up the same way as…? He shivered at the thought. The only
thing he could say was, “Who?”
“Julia Pfluenger. She was last seen today at seven A.M. by her nine year
old daughter Annabelle going out of town to Pittsburgh to get her daughter a
birthday present.” Trent looked around the room. They were the only two in the
room now.
“Damn!” shouted the sheriff. He had just about had enough with all this
crap. “Listen Trent, I want you to go to wherever the hell that little kid is and I
want you to bring her here, understand.” The sheriff’s voice was a little
demanding, almost scary. Trent was wondering if the sheriff was going to say
‘dead or alive’. “UNDERSTAND?” The sheriff shouted in Trent’s face.
“Yes!” Trent shouted back in surprise. “I’m on it!” Trent stormed out of
the room and the sheriff headed to his office. When he got there he picked up his
phone and called the Pittsburgh City Police. Dale waited and waited until a
young man answered.
“Pittsburgh City Police…how may I help you?” the young man said.
“This is sheriff Dale Whitman of the Newcastle City Police, I want you to
put a missing ad all over the radio, the television, even the sky, just tell all of the
U.S. that we have had three deaths and probably another one coming.” Dale spat
the words out over the telephone, spraying spit in the mouthpiece of the receiver.
“I’m sorry I didn’t catch that could you say that again?” the young man
said.
“GET THE HELL OFF OF THE DAMN PHONE AND GIVE ME THE
SHERIFF!” Dale was screaming at the young man in Pittsburgh now and he
could imagine what the man must look like, quivering in his little chair. Bet the
little sissy pissed his pants!, thought Dale.
“Hello? This is the sheriff…”
“No time for those stupid intros, now listen to me. We have got a missing
person by the name of Julia Pfluenger. We have already had three deaths in less
than a week and if you don’t help us find this lady, you might as well add
another dash to the chalkboard. I want her name on the television and radio all
across the east coast. Please!” Dale’s hand was shaking and he was praying to
God that this man knew what he was doing.
“Alright sir, I got that. Any idea where she was seen last?” The sheriff of
Pittsburgh sounded like he knew what he was doing, which gave Dale a chance
to breathe and pop a white pill from his orange container.
“Umm…according to my Lieutenant she was last seen leaving her house
by her nine year old girl, that’s all we knew, but I’ve sent Trent, my Lieutenant,
over to the house now to talk to the girl. You know, see what she knows.”
“Okay, now listen to me very carefully,” the Pittsburgh sheriff said, and
Dale was listening with Dumbo ears. “I want you to alert every policeman in
your area. Send a wire to New York and Connecticut and I’ll do the rest. Just

23
make sure you know where everyone is.” The phone buzzed, and the sheriff of
Pittsburgh was gone.
Dale hung the phone up and opened his desk and started rummaging
through it to find his phone book. He flipped it open to ‘N’ and found the police
chief’s number for New York. He dialed it, praying to God that the guy would
pick up.

Now Trent Wahburgh was usually good with kids, except this one. He
wasn’t even so sure that it was a kid. A devil trapped inside a kid’s body more
like it. This girl was going to end up being the death of him and at his funeral the
girl would stand over his tomb and laugh like the little demon she was. Even
though he thought this about Annabelle Pfluenger, he didn’t say it to her face
and he had to take it easy for her. She had just lost her mother.
“Sweetie come on into the car, everything is going to be alright.” Trent
said, grabbing the girl by the waist and trying to force her into the police cruiser.
Trent thought that she was putting up way too much of a fight for a nine year
old. He had to keep retelling himself that she was a demon child.
“No, no, no, no, no, NOOOO!” Annabelle screamed, “I’m not going
anywhere till mommy gets home!” She began to wail a piercing scream that only
dogs should be able to hear. A couple of the neighbor’s heads were popping
from behind their curtains to see what all the screaming was about. Trent felt
even more embarrassed than the time he had called the sheriff mother in front of
a whole committee. Annabelle’s arms started flapping in front of her and her left
leg kicked up and it connected with Trent’s left eye. Trent fell on the ground,
screaming, and grasping his left eye. Annabelle stood there just laughing at him.
That’s it, he thought, definitely a demon baby!
He stood up, the left side of his face still stinging in pain, and grabbed the
girl by her waist again, and quickly shoved her into the police cruiser. “Ha!” he
screamed into the sky, hoping that it would reach heaven so that God himself
could hear. The neighbors didn’t know what to make of it. Some of the senior
citizens were shaking their heads in disapproval. Trent didn’t care though; he
had completed his task and was ready to embrace the demon child.
He got into his cruiser and locked the doors. He didn’t know what powers
the child possessed. He was actually amusing himself with all this demon crap,
but Annabelle didn’t seem at all amused by anything and would’ve probably
liked to rip his head off.
“Now Annabelle,” Trent said, trying to sound like the big brother
character, “You’re going to go to the courthouse to talk to the sheriff about
mommy. Can you put on your big girl pants for mommy? She’d like that.” He

24
looked at Annabelle with a smile on his face. She didn’t say anything let alone
show any emotion.
Trent drove down the road, the demon baby in the backseat planning her
revenge.

“I still don’t get it, tell me more,” Cody was still chewing his peanut butter
sandwich, but he didn’t care, he wanted to know the whole story about Jeremy’s
trip to the interrogation room.
“What’s there to tell?” Jeremy said, “I just told them what happened in the
woods and…well…the sheriff seemed okay with it…except…”
“Except what?” Cody asked, almost falling off the lunch bench.
“Well, actually you weren’t with Will and me, but…remember that hoe
that I found in the woods?” Cody nodded his head. “Well, it had initials on it,
before I saw blood, of course. The initials were, and I know this is gonna sound
weird, but the initials were I.T.”
Cody laughed. “I.T. Ha, you gotta be kiddin’ me?” Cody looked at Jeremy,
smiling, ready for Jeremy to say that it was a joke.
“No, I’m not,” said Jeremy, looking down at the ground, feeling small.
Cody twitched his head backward, looking shocked and amused.
“Bullshit,” Cody said looking at Jeremy like he was five years old and
didn’t know what the heck he was talking about. “Unless you can prove it.”
“Jeremy bit his bottom lip and looked around trying to find Will. When he
spotted him walking back into the building he grabbed a rock and threw it at
Will. When Will turned around Jeremy signaled for him to come over to the
bench.
“What is it?” Will asked, panting.
“It’s important,” said Jeremy.
“Ok, well…well whatever it is hurry, if I’m late for class, Miss Mary
Ellen’ll kick my ass to the moon.”

25

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