Crimson Falls (The Depravity Chronicles)

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CRIMSON FALLS

 

 

 

Joshua Grove

 

 

 

 

 

Book One of The
Depravity
Chronicles

 

 

 

 

 

Crimson
Falls

Text
Copyright 2012 by Joshua G. Grove

All
Rights Reserved

Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania

 

Visit
the Official Homepage of Joshua Grove at
www.joshuagrove.com
Today!

Enjoy
“Sneak Peeks!” of his new upcoming novels:

Rise
of the Underworld
(September, 2012)

Lucifer
Rising
(December, 2012)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For
Rita.

CHAPTER ONE
Shadows

 

1

 

As winter slowly
approached northern Minnesota, Alan Brickton was enjoying his favorite pastime.
Fishing would not be an option in a few weeks, so he glanced at his line as he
took a drag of his Newport.

“Can’t swim from
me!” Alan yelled to the fish, his cigarette hanging from his near blue lips.
“Black Bear ain’t froze over yet, by God.” He smiled as he grabbed his fishing
rod and began pulling in what he thought would be his dinner. Suddenly there
was a loud rustling of leaves directly behind him.

“Jesus H.
Christ!” he yelled as he dropped his pole. He watched as it slid into the
river, hauled by the large fish still attached to the hook. He spun around to
face whoever had
trespassed
onto his property.
He scanned the trees and underbrush, breathing heavily with annoyance and
frustration. All he saw was his own breath drifting upward in front of him.

“Who’s there?”
he bellowed. At first he was pissed that he had lost his favorite pole. Then,
as he continued to listen to the perfect stillness that surrounded him, panic
began to swim in his stomach. Flashbacks of Vietnam streamed through his head.

“Damn brats!” he
screamed. “If I find you on my property I will shoot your commie heads off!” He
cursed himself silently for not having his gun with him. He listened for the
sound of someone running away. Only silence prevailed. They were still there,
watching him.

He took a small
step forward. As he did, he heard something running through the shallow water
behind him. He turned around too quickly, almost losing his footing. From the
corner of his eye he saw a shape move past his body. A familiar emotion from
his war days began to creep into Alan’s body. Fear.

Who in the hell
can run that fast?
he
thought to himself.

Feeling
lightheaded, he took a deep breath and nearly retched. The smell was more
horrid than anything he had ever encountered. Even in Nam, when he had helped
bury bodies, and body parts, nothing had smelled even remotely this foul.
Suddenly the shape sprinted past him again, this time stopping in the shallow
water. As he turned toward the shore, his fishing pole struck him in the chest.

“Mother fucker!”
Alan cried. When he looked up again, the water was clear. Only ripples remained
where the stranger had just been standing. He knew when he was being stalked.
Hunted. He turned around in a circle, looking in all directions for any sign of
movement. He heard no birds, no signs of life. It was as if the forest itself
had died. Then, in the quiet, he heard a noise. It sounded like someone had
jumped into the water a few hundred yards away. It became louder, the stalker
running through the water toward him.

Alan turned and
ran as hard as he could toward his house, his legs trembling. He had never run
from anything in his life. After all, he had seen it all – and then some.
Against his better judgment he glanced behind him. What he saw frightened him
so badly he went sprawling to the ground.

As he looked
forward again the hunter appeared in front of him out of nowhere, a make-shift
smile across a horribly disfigured face. Alan scrambled to his knees, and then fell
backward. He tried to kick
his assailant
, but
instead the predator grabbed his feet and began dragging him back toward the
water. Long strands of dirt-laden, white dreads fell across the attacker’s
shoulders. Alan grabbed a rock from the ground and hurled it at the back of its
large head. It wasn’t even phased by Alan’s weak assault.

The creature
threw Alan’s legs to the ground and in a flash pulled Alan upright by his
shoulders and
lifted him
off the ground. Its
breath was rancid and its teeth long and rotting. There were no lips, just
dried blood around its mouth. The creature’s dead, soulless eyes sent terror
racing down Alan’s spine. Licking its teeth with a long, snake-like tongue, it
grunted several times. Then it began laughing, a truly sadistic sound. It threw
Alan against the rock where he normally sat while fishing, striking his head.
He felt the warm trickle of blood on his ear.

The creature
abruptly jumped over him, to the top of the rock. Between the terror and the
stench, Alan was finding it difficult to breathe. Frozen in fear, pain shot
through his chest. He heard the sound of something scraping against the jagged
corner of the rock. The sharp, hissing strokes reminded him of when he sharpened
his machete.
If only
I
had that
machete now!
he
thought desperately. The sound of raspy, heavy breathing filled the
air.
It sounded like a demonic chorus of predation.

“Who are you?
What
are you?” Alan demanded. “What do you want with me?” Alan tried to sit up, but
couldn’t muster the strength.

“Look me in the
eye goddammit!” The sounds were torturing him. Alan felt sick when he thought
of what the monster could be sharpening. And worse, what its plans for him
were. He recognized evil when he saw it. Had the darkness of the past returned?

“I’m ready,”
Alan whispered to himself. He knew there would be no escape; death was all
around him. So he closed his eyes and waited.

   

* * * * * *

2

 

Sherriff Anna
Blackwood leaned lazily against her cruiser as she waited her for oldest son.
Only sixteen, Trevor Blackwood had managed to find himself in detention at
least weekly for insubordinate behavior.

Just like his
father
,
she thought to herself. Anna worried about Trevor’s constant struggle to manage
his temper ever since her husband had left them high and dry the previous year.

“Mom!” Trevor
shouted as he trotted through the massive doors of the small
town
high school. With short, jet black hair, fiery
blue eyes, and that infectious smile, it was difficult for her to believe he
was nearly a man. His rigid personality made it difficult for him to date,
which quite frankly didn’t bother her much. Anna waited until he got into the
car to begin another useless attempt at discipline.

“Trevor, honey,”
she began, but was cut off by his deep sighs.

“Really?” he
asked. “Another lecture? Maybe I can spare you the time and give you the
talking points about how I continue to fail you.”

Anna shook her
head. “It’s not about failure, Trevor. I know this past year has been hard. But
you’re not the only person in this family. Your brother and sister are hurting,
too. But they manage not to find new and exciting ways to undermine their
success in school.”

“Yes, mother,”
he groaned. “If only I could mirror my siblings in their perfections.” Trevor
folded his arms across his chest and stared out the window, his smile replaced
by a scowl.

Sometimes
I wish
he
wasn’t so damned brilliant,
she mused. By the time he turned ten she
knew he was already smarter than everyone around him. Although she, too, had an
above average intellect, she couldn’t hold a candle to his aptitude. His
disregard for authority figures was matched only by the contempt he harbored
for his absentee father.

“Tommy and
Trisha are not perfect,” Anna said a little too sharply.

“Tommy got all
the good genes in your womb,” Trevor retorted. “I got the shit genes.”

“Language!
Besides, your genes are as identical as they can be,” she said
matter-of-factly. “Just because you’re twins doesn’t mean one of you got ‘the
good genes,’ as you put it.”

He shrugged her
off and his gaze returned to the passing trees out the window.

There had been
times when having twins was a spectacular phenomenon. But at other times, like
the current one, it downright sucked. Just as Anna was about to try to break
through Trevor’s shell again, her emergency radio screeched. They both jumped.

“You’d think
that by now I would get used to this thing,” she laughed as she looked at the
radio. Trevor managed a smile as he shook his head.

“Sheriff?” asked
the voice of Janet Rodriguez, the station’s lone operator.

“Yes, Janet,”
Anna replied.
Who the hell else would it be?
she thought.

“Sheriff, we
have a 10-54 by the woods,” Janet reported.

“Holy shit!”
Trevor cried.

“Language!” Anna
commanded.

“But that’s the
code for a dead body!” he said with a little too much pleasure for Anna’s
comfort.

“Copy that,”
Anna acknowledged. “Where?”

“The woods,”
Janet repeated.

“Janet, we live
in a small town in rural Minnesota. And we just happen to be surrounded by
trees.”

“Okay…” Janet
said.

“So, when you
tell me that the 10-54 is in the woods, where exactly would that be?”

“Off Old Route
32.”

“Janet, for the
love of God!” Anna exclaimed. “You are aware that 32 runs through the entire
town?”

“Right, sorry.
At the end of the road right on the banks of Black Bear River.”

“You mean the
old Brickton Estate?” Anna knew that of all the homes in Crimson Falls, only
the Brickton Estate sat on the river’s edge.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Is it Alan?”

“I’m sorry,
Sheriff. I don’t know.”

“Did the body
wash ashore?” Trevor asked as he grabbed the radio. Anna smacked his hand away.

“I’m sorry?”
Janet asked nervously.

“Do you have any
additional information?” Anna pushed.

“Not at the moment.
But Jake and Sam are already there.”

“I’m on my way,”
Anna promised. She turned on the lights and slammed on the gas.

“Alright!”
Trevor laughed.

“This isn’t a
movie theater, Trevor,” Anna explained. “We are talking about a human life.”

“Obviously, Mom.
It’s not like I am celebrating death. Jesus. I just want to see what it is you
do because, you know, I may want to follow in your footsteps.”

Anna wanted so
badly to say,
Bullshit!
but she held her tongue. At the very least they
were talking, and that made her happy. Kind of.

“Hold on tight,”
she instructed.

Anna knew it
wouldn’t take long to drive across town. Having been in law enforcement for
twenty years, and sheriff for the last six, she knew almost every family in
Crimson Falls. With a population just shy of three thousand people, Crimson
Falls was a close-knit, cozy community. Once a successful logging town, the tall
pines were now in short supply, leading the sawmills to abandon their original
trade and produce pulp, paper, and manufactured building materials. The town’s
only claim to fame was that it was one of the coldest regions of the contiguous
United States. She was proud that murder and other violent crimes simply didn’t
happen in their little slice of frozen Heaven.

“God, there are
more squirrels than there are people in this shithole,” Trevor joked. “I know,
I know…language.”

Anna couldn’t
help but laugh. “I guess it does get a little boring here, doesn’t it?”

Trevor shifted
in his seat. “Not when your mom is the sheriff and you get to ride along when
stuff goes down.”

“Trevor, nothing
is ‘going down.’ Whoever died probably fell into the lake while fishing, was
too drunk to swim, and hypothermia got to him before his senses did.”

“True that,”
Trevor sighed.

Soon the
staccato strobes from the other cruisers came into sight.

“God, sometimes
I hate winter,” Trevor complained. “It’s not even dinner time and it’s already
half dark out.” As the car slowed down, he took off his seatbelt in
anticipation of seeing a dead body.

“I don’t think
so, mister,” Anna said as she pulled his arm. He plopped down hard in the seat.
“Wait here.”

As she got out
of the car, both Jake and Sam began walking toward her.

“Hey boss!” Jake
crooned as he rushed past Sam. Jake was in love with Anna and everyone knew it.
He was also an asshole.

“What do we know
so far?” Anna asked as she walked toward the fresh crime scene. 

“It’s Acorn
Alan,” Jake said.

“That’s not
nice,” Anna whispered.

“Acorn Alan?”
Sam asked, confused. Having only moved to Crimson Falls last year, he was still
learning the ropes about the townsfolk.

“Acorn, you
know, nuts?” Jake answered, twirling his finger around his ear.

“Ah, I see.”

“Yeah, he’s both
the village idiot and the village recluse. A two for one deal,” Jake mused. “He
was in Vietnam or some shit. Really f’ed him up.”

“Jake, I think
you could be a bit more professional when describing the victim,” Anna scolded.

“So he had Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder?” Sam asked.

“Yeah,
whatever,” Jake sighed. “Psychobabble bullshit if you ask me. The man was a
drunk and a prick. A rich prick, too. The worst kind.”

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