A Shadow of Death in The Woods

BOOK: A Shadow of Death in The Woods
9.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
A Shadow of Death in the Woods







Albert E. Sisson

A Shadow of Death in the Woods by Albert E. Sisson is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to businesses, open or closed, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.



Copyright © 2014 Second Life Publishing

All rights reserved






Cover Design by Rachel Carpenter



Cover images

[email protected]





This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to businesses, open or closed, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.



Some of the characters in this novel use language that could blister the paint on a battleship. I saw no point in burdening the reader with such colorful language. I have cleaned it up so even a Sunday school teacher can read the book. If, instead, the reader would prefer the colorful version, feel free to add the language as you read.

The story is a violent one but I contend that it is consistent with the world in which we live. We humans, especially in the U.S., like to believe that we are civilized and basically nonviolent. Anyone who knows history, watches the news on TV or, in the old days read a newspaper, can attest to the fact that we live in a violent world. Some people like to believe in human progress. The main progress has been in the efficiency with which we can kill and maim.

This sounds very pessimistic but there runs a streak of good in most people. There is a goodness in the world and we can help each other. We only need to beware of the shadows.


Chapter 1

The Woods


I had just finished riding several miles of intense twisties (roads that twist back upon themselves) on my custom Harley in West Virginia when I decided to slow down for a breather. Lifting the heavy bike in each curve was a lot of work. Well, maybe it was more the tension in the curves than it was the tiring from the repeated lifting. My leather gloves were moist from the nervous sweat. Adrenaline was running high. I felt great.

The heavy V-twin motor was running well with the big cylinders pumping out a low speed torque for which it was famous and nicknamed a stump puller. It wasn’t a particularly fast bike but the acceleration out of the corners was exhilarating. The big pistons were too heavy for high speed but they could generate huge torque. My kind of bike.

The beautiful scenery was just a blur as I raced through the mountain curves on a gorgeous fall day. Such beauty deserved a closer look. I needed to slow down and enjoy it.

Just ahead I noticed a small, paved road going off to the left. On a whim I decided to take it. I loved exploring side roads. It was a narrow road but well paved. I took it slowly, watching for gravel kicked in from the shoulders. A friend of mine was killed, hitting loose gravel in West Virginia. They act like ball bearings, sending the bike to oblivion. Of course, he was smoking the road at the time on a rice burning, Japanese, crotch rocket, a fast bike with high RPMs.

The road went up a small rise. As the bike crested the hill, I popped over into a small depression and I could see the road going up the other side, curving slightly to the left. On the left side of the road was a field of dry, golden grass with bedrock protruding above ground in places and a few wildflowers scattered around between the rocks. On the right side of the road by a stand of mature trees was a pickup truck and a bike. I could see it was a Harley. It struck me that something was not quite right about the scene. The pickup truck was angled off the road blocking the bike, giving me the impression that the pickup had forced the bike off the road. It is not unusual for pickup people to harass bikers. I decided that a look-see was in order.

To keep my bike quiet, I coasted down the hill and pulled in behind the bike, keying off the motor. I put the kickstand down and hung my helmet on the mirror. I kept my gloves on. I don’t know why.

I could still hear the roar of the wind in my ears from riding but otherwise it was dead quiet except for noisy insects. The bike in front of me was set up with a sissy bar and my guess was that they had been riding two-up, i.e. a driver and a passenger. It was a nice bike, decked out in shiny chrome. It wasn’t overdone like some Harleys you see on the road.

I looked at the pickup. It was a rusty, beat-up heap in contrast to the bike. I could see an empty gun rack. That could mean that the owner left his gun at home, didn’t have one, which wasn’t likely, or he had it with him. There was no point in getting too wrought up about the empty gun rack but I made a note to watch for a gun. There was a sort-of-path through the woods. I eased my way down the quasi path.

The woods were hardwoods just like the area where I grew up. It was mostly red oak with some maples and an occasional beech tree. As a boy I tramped miles through forests just like this one. I am part Native American and, when a boy, I read in a book that Native Americans, then called Indians, could walk silently through the woods. I wanted to be like them so I practiced walking quietly in the woods. The trick was to ease your foot down slowly and get it near the ground before touching down. With practice you can walk quietly even if you are a big guy. The only other thing is not to step on a dead stick and snap it.

Being careful, I made my way down a slope through the woods silently. Soon I could hear running water and voices nearby. There were four people not far from a mountain stream. A man was holding a shotgun aimed in the direction of a terrified woman standing by a rotting log. Another man, whose rape intentions were clear, was chasing a third man who had no clothes. The man with the shotgun was giggling. The man with rape on his mind was squealing and trying to hang on to the third man who was resisting. No one had spotted me. The scene made me feel both ill and angry.

I needed to interfere immediately. I looked around and saw a dead oak branch about four feet long and three inches in diameter with no branches, a natural club. I picked it up and found it to be solid and not rotted. I hefted it and got a good grip on it.

I stepped forward. The guy with the shotgun sensed something behind him and started to turn. I swung the limb around and whacked him in the head. Due to the severity of the situation, I swung the club a little harder than I intended. When the stick hit the guy, his head popped like a pumpkin would if you hit it with a bat. It was a sickening sound but I was too busy to dwell on it. I dropped the club and rushed forward, grabbing the shotgun before the would-be rapist could get his hands on it.

I swung the shotgun barrel down and knocked it against my boot to make sure no debris was in the barrel. I raised the shotgun up in the direction of the would-be rapist while checking to make sure the safety was off. The safety was off so the guy I just killed had been willing to shoot the woman. I was ready for the other guy to charge me but instead he seemed dazed seeing his friend on the ground, obviously dead.

The naked man quickly took in the scene and started getting his clothes on. The woman was trying to scream. Her mouth was open but no sound coming out.

I looked down the barrel at the would-be rapist and said, “On your knees!”

He just stood there with his mouth agape. I shouted, “Do it now!”

This set him in motion and he got on his knees. The previously naked man got dressed and called to the woman, “Jane! Get hold of yourself! You’re okay.” She seemed to hear him and closed her mouth.

He turned to me and said, “Friend, can you please give me the shotgun and take my wife up by the road?”

My brain was not exactly firing on all cylinders. It all seemed like a dream, a nightmare really. Like a zombie I gave him the shotgun because he didn’t seem like an enemy to me. I put my arm around the woman he called Jane and urged her toward the road. I got her turned around and she walked ahead of me. Part way up the path, I turned and saw the guy training the shotgun on the would-be rapist. He was saying something that I could not make out. Just then I heard the report of the shotgun and much of the would-be rapist’s head disappeared in a red mist.

When the shotgun went off, Jane faltered in the path and her body started shaking, or maybe it was just shaking more. I put my hands on her and said it was okay and urged her to the road. Not knowing what else to do, I said, “Jane, my name is Jack.” In a daze, she merely nodded her head, her whole body shaking. I don’t think she heard me.

In a few minutes Jane’s husband came up the path quickly but not in a panic. He was scanning the ground and had a branch in his hand. When he approached us, he looked at me and said, “Get the bikes out onto the pavement.” He said this in a tone that indicated he was accustomed to giving orders but he was not offensive. I did as he ordered. While I moved the bikes, he was busy using the branch to erase our tire and foot prints. When he was finished, all that was evident was the pickup and no signs of our bikes or feet.

I saw him look at my license tag and then he turned to me and said, “Follow us. We’ll go to the cabin.”

We started up the road and at the first intersection, he turned right. In a short distance he turned again. It was an easy follow but I had no idea where we were.

The easy riding following them gave me time to think. The adrenaline was starting to subside and my thoughts were clearing. I realized that he had deliberately noted my license number while he seemingly had more important and more urgent things to do. Then it dawned on me that he had memorized my license number so he could track me down at home if he wanted. I had just witnessed him kill a man. True, he had seen me kill a man but he had no way of knowing if he could trust me. It was then that I knew I had probably only a fifty percent chance of surviving the trip to the cabin. It would be safest for him to kill me there.

If I broke and made a run for it, he would only track me down and kill me, which could endanger my family. My best option was to follow him to the cabin and make the best of it. After all I had saved his life and the woman’s life. That should be worth something.

What would I do if I were in his situation? I didn’t know because I had never once considered myself being a murderer or a murder witness. Sunday school had not prepared me for this. I was not a killer but sadly I was now a murderer. I needed to focus or I was going to be a dead murderer.

We made our way through the hills until we came to a small road that looked like it might be a paved driveway but there was no house or cabin in sight. We turned and went up it at a slow speed. Soon a building appeared but the closer we got the more it looked like a hotel or resort rather than a house or cabin. I searched for a cabin but I didn’t see one. The man pulled up, stopped and backed his bike onto a concrete pad for motorcycles. You can’t easily park a bike on blacktop. The kickstand will go down through hot pavement and you will find your bike on its side with an unhappy pavement owner, hence the concrete pad. He stopped with his back tire near a steel ring embedded in the concrete so the bike could be locked down. He motioned me to back into the slot next to him where there was another steel ring. I backed in with my rear wheel near the ring.

I got off my bike. My hands were shaking as I took off my gloves and helmet. I threw my gloves in my helmet and hung the helmet on my bike.

The man and Jane got off their bike. He came over and said, “Bring your gloves with you. This is The Cabin. By the way my name is Bob McAvoy and Jane is my wife.”

I told him my name was Jack Clayton. He shook my hand and urged Jane and me into The Cabin, saying that we had a lot of things to do fast.

Inside I could hardly believe the size of the place. This wasn’t a cabin; it was The Cabin. I didn’t have time to survey it much because Bob was telling Jane and me to take our clothes off in the laundry room.

Like everything in The Cabin, the laundry room was big. It had a large washer and a large dryer. There was an area to hang up clean clothes and a large table for folding clean laundry. A cabinet was full of cleaning supplies.

Bob was on his telephone calling someone.

I heard him say, “Mike, trouble!” and then I couldn’t hear anymore.

He turned to us and said, “Empty your pockets on the table. Take everything off except your socks and underwear.” And then looking at me he amended that by saying, “Jack, take off your undershirt as well.”

In a moment I was standing in their laundry room in my shorts and socks while standing next to me was Jane in bra, panties and socks. I looked away and kept my eyes on Bob. I had never been in a situation like this. First, the killings and now I am practically naked with a mostly naked strange woman who, incidentally, is the wife of the man standing nearby. My nerves were raw. I was sweating.

Bob was back on the phone with someone named Paul. He issued a few brief instructions and hung up. He turned on the washing machine to fill it with water. He grabbed a gallon of bleach and poured some in the washer.

I was standing there in my shorts and socks, thinking things are getting curiouser and curiouser as Alice would say. Bob took his clothes off and told us to put our dark clothes in the washer. I could see Bob had a muscular body, someone who worked out regularly. He added soap, closed the washer lid and turned it on.

Bob drew water in a pail and poured in a measure of bleach. He moistened a cloth with the mixture and started washing my face and hair. In a few minutes we had washed each other. He washed my undershirt and Jane’s shirt in the pail. It was obvious that we were making sure that there was no blood on our clothes or bodies.

We went up stairs to where there were several apartments. Jane went in one to shower and Bob and I went in another apartment to shower. Bob pulled out a nice beige robe for me to wear until my clothes dried. Bob let me shower first.

I am a big man over six feet six inches in my stocking feet and weigh about two hundred and forty-five pounds. Well, okay, it could be a bit more but I like to think of it as two forty-five. I am a weight lifter so I am very muscular with large shoulders, arms, legs and a relatively narrow waist. The robe made me look like a big man in a kid’s robe. It was good that the robe was floppy or I wouldn’t have fit in it at all. It was tight around the biceps and the shoulders and the bottom was well above my knees. It barely covered the essentials.

While I was waiting for Bob to shower, I looked around the apartment. It was a fully furnished two-bedroom apartment with a wet bar, an expensive entertainment system and full book shelves in the living room. Off the living room was a small but nicely equipped kitchen. Between the kitchen and the living room was a dining area. Past the living room was a large bedroom with a king-sized bed. Next to it was a smaller room, which could be used as a bedroom or a den. The furnishings were well designed and not cheap. A person could live very comfortably here.

After we showered, we went downstairs. When the dryer stopped, we got our clothes out and dressed.

I heard a vehicle coming up the driveway and soon a man and two women came in. He was a tall man at maybe six feet two inches with a trim build. He had medium-brown hair, closely cropped. Bob introduced him as Paul Jackson. I didn’t peg Paul as a weight lifter but he was no stranger to a gym.

BOOK: A Shadow of Death in The Woods
9.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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