Chapter 2: Lost in the Woods

July 27, 2008

“If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?”

“And there’s the closing bell, signaling the third consecutive day of losses on Wall Street.” This was not the news that Darren wanted to hear. Things have been growing more heated around the office as the economy continues to cool. The portfolios that he monitors have dropped 17% in the past 8 weeks, causing many of his clients to call with concerns and panic over their holdings. He understands that this was a natural part of the market cycle, but trying to convince his clients to focus on the long term is another story. He knows that the following week will bring more of the same headaches. Fortunately, he had a plan.

Last week, Darren called his childhood friend Kyle to see if he wanted to get away for the weekend. It has been over a year since they’ve last spent time with each other since Darren took his new job in the city, and the two of them were excited for this chance to get away. The plan was to relive their college days by trekking out to one of their favorite camping grounds out West, spending the weekend kicking back while sitting around the campfire and telling stories past midnight. His bags were packed and the car was set to go. All he needed to do was stop by the store when he reached the town outside of the campsite and pick up the food.

Closing his books and turning off his computer, Darren hopped up and rushed out the door. He knew that traffic would be heaving today as people wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Dropping the top on his convertible, putting in his favorite rock CD into the player, he pulled out of the parking garage and headed out of the city.

Breaking the silence of the evening, Darren’s car pulls in to the parking lot in front of the old country store. Mr. Mackey has owned and run this store for the past 30 years, and Darren was looking forward to surprise him. Kyle and Darren would always pop in and say hi to the old man every time they came out to the campsite, and he always took interest into how their studies were coming along. It was almost as if he were an uncle to the two college kids, and Darren wanted to surprise him with news of his big job.

Walking through the door, Darren walked straight to the counter and tapped the old service bell. To his disappointment, Mr. Mackey didn’t show up, but rather someone he did not recognize. “Where’s Mr. Mackey?” Darren asked of the stranger.

“You mean the old man that use to run the place? He’s retired. Seems the years have caught up with him. Can’t stay on his feet all day any more, ” said the man behind the counter. “You’re the second person coming in here looking for him today. The old man hasn’t worked here in a few years. What gives?”

“That must have been Kyle,” Darren replied. “He and I are headed up to the old campsite for a weekend getaway like we did when we were young. Dropping by to say ‘hi’ to Mr. Mackey has become a tradition for us.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” said the clerk. “I hope you two have a great weekend. Hope you can find your campsite in the darkness.”

Darren thanked the clerk and proceeded to pick up the supplies he needed. After ringing up Darren’s goods, the clerk escorted him out the door as he was closing up shop for the night. Loading up his car and heading back on the road, he headed down Main St. out of town to the campsite, hoping that Kyle already had the tent setup. Last think Darren was looking forward to doing was trying to assemble tent poles in the darkness. His eyes were becoming heavy, and he was hoping to unpack his car at the campsite and head right to bed. It’s been a long day.

The campfire has been burning for hours, and Kyle was growing tired. He wasn’t planning on doing all the setup work by himself, but he understood that Darren had a long drive ahead of him. Looking at his cell phone, he was cursing at himself for having a service with poor national coverage. It’s after midnight and he was growing concerned about Darren. If he at least knew that Darren was close, he would leave a light on and head to bed. Thinking to himself that the town was just 30 minutes down the road, he contemplated driving down to see if he could get a better signal, but that would leave the site abandoned, and he didn’t want to risk someone stealing his gear.

Pacing. Kyle finds himself walking back and forth between the campfire and the car. His concern over Darren is beginning to wear on him. His mind tells him that Darren is old enough to take care of himself, but his heart can’t help but be worried. An hour has passed since he last checked his watch, and his conflicting feelings are beginning to drive him nuts. “This is not how I wanted to start my vacation,” Kyle thought to himself. Reaching into the cooler to grab himself another beer, looking for something to calm his nerves, he sat back down in the chair in front of the fire and started to drink. He never had a chance to finish his beer as his exhaustion caught up with him and he fell asleep, waiting for his friend.

Waiting, and worrying.

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Chapter 1: A cry in the dark

July 20, 2008

“Where do the missing go?”

Barbara and Jamie could not wait for the bell to sound. The autumn wind filled the school with the smell of freshly fallen leaves; enticing them to come outside and play. It’s only been a month since school began, but Barbara and Jamie quickly became best of friends. To them, the small rural town they lived in was a large as the world when their imagination was in control. Somedays it was a far away land, filled with castles and knights. Others, it was a fascinating city, full of bright lights and movie stars. There were even a few times when it was a totally different world, filled with strange people and even space ships. Yes, it was no ordinary rural town for these two.

Unfortunately, Jamie and her parents were going out of town this weekend to visit her grandparents up north, leaving Barbara behind for the first time since school began. Not wanting to stay indoors missing her friend, Barbara decided she would spend the entire time playing in the freshly piled leaves her neighbors were making. And in this town, the piles were not in short supply.

From house to house, she hopped and played, with her neighbors laughing and enjoying her antics – reminding them of when they were young. For some neighbors, it was hard days’ work lost, and would chase her off of their property. After a few hours, Barbara found herself at the edge of town. Smelling of crumpled leaves, she knew that it was time for her to go home and get cleaned up for dinner. But just as she turned around and headed for home, she noticed one more pile calling her name. She quickly ran down the street, further from her house than she’s ever been before. It wasn’t long until the leaves were flying once again and she was laughing, nor was it until Mr. Branson came out of his home shouting.

Mr. Branson usually kept to himself, ever since his wife died years ago. He never got over the loss, and being around people brought back memories that were too hard for him to bear. Knowing that she had overstayed her welcome, Barbara quickly ran from the yard back towards town. To her surprise, Mr. Branson was right behind her, shouting and waving a rake. It didn’t take long for him to catch up with her, grabbing her arm and stopping her in her tracks. Yelling at the top of his lungs, Barbara’s glee turned to gloom as Mr. Branson started dragging her back to his yard. Putting the rake in her hand, he put her to work cleaning up her mess.

A few hours have passed, and Barbara’s parents were getting concerned. It wasn’t like her to miss dinner, especially when she knew it was her favorite meatloaf. Her father decided to search the town, starting with her neighbors. After hearing about her antics earlier in the day, he got into his car and drove down the street; stopping at the houses with leaves scattered everywhere, following the clues she left behind. It wasn’t long until he made his way to the edge of town. Noting that Mr. Branson’s yard boasted a fresh pile of leaves, he pulled up in front of his house, parked the car, and walked up to his door.

The strange man came to the door where he found Barbara’s father waiting. After telling him of the mess that Barbara made earlier in the day, he informed her father that she left his yard, heading back home, cutting through the neighbors backyard. Thanking him for his time, he quickly took off in the direction provided, searching for his daughter, but with to no avail. Even with the help of the sheriff later in the evening, Barbara was no where to be seen.

It was a small room, no larger than a closet. There was barely enough room for her to move, if she were able to do so. Her hands and ankles were bound together, keeping her sitting on the floor as well as from reaching the tape over her mouth. Panicked and afraid, she struggles as hard as she could, yet her bindings would not give. Alone in the darkness, her muffled weeps echoed in her heart, and in all the hearts who were searching for her. Alone in the darkness.

She would be his first.


Prologue

July 13, 2008

We don’t know much about him. He doesn’t talk. He just stands there – in front of the window – like a statue. Standing, facing the window, but with his eyes closed. Listening, but for what?

It is the same routine. Those that first see him are apprehensive. He is the last person you would want to see, yet at the same time he is a welcomed sight. Why is he doing this? Why us?


A new online novel

July 10, 2008

Welcome to the Darkness. This will be an online novel of mystery and suspense. As this being my first stab at writing a novel of any type, I hope you bear with me as I get my footing. My plan is to have a new chapter every Sunday, so make sure to check back each week to stay current with the story.

I welcome recommendations and critiques, so please feel free to leave comments on each entry.

Thank you in advance for your interest in this project.