CHAPTER 9- MANHUNT
That night, the search was still on. The Crystal Lake police were on high alert searching for the escaped Rob Goldwater. On the orders of Mayor Quincy, every officer in uniform was on the streets in some form. Even Chief Warren himself was out patrolling, something he hadn’t done in the seven years since he became the chief of police.
On the opposite side of town, rookie officers Alex Morton and Ricardo Rodriguez were on the tail end of their 12-hour shift. They had scoured the streets all day in their patrol car, exploring all the back roads that nobody else wanted to bother with. That’s the way it was with rookies on the force. From the time they graduated the academy to the time they prove themselves in the streets, they were stuck with all of the chief’s shit work. Even in a time of crisis like this, they were relegated to patrolling the outskirts of town instead of being near the action downtown. Nothing ever happened on the outskirts of town. Ever. And the chief knew that. In fact, he probably stuck them out there on purpose, just so they’d be out of his hair.
“Ricky, I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired,” Alex stated with a yawn. After driving around all day, Alex was starting to wear down. He was struggling just to keep his eyes on the road so much that probably the only thing keeping him awake was his police radio, abuzz with occasional chatter.
“Hang in there, chico,” Ricardo replied in his obvious Spanish accent. “We’re almost done with this shit, holmes.” While day rapidly turned into night and the skies darkened, Ricardo was responsible for shining a spotlight out of the window into the woods just in case he’d see anything weird—anything that didn’t belong. But what they didn’t realize was that they were in Crystal Lake, where everything was always weird, and nothing ever seemed to belong.
Their patrol car routinely sped down the damp road with its red and blue lights flashing vibrantly into the night. Mayor Quincy’s mandatory town curfew now began to take effect, and he made it really perfectly clear that anyone still outside after the curfew was to be arrested. So far, no one had disobeyed the order, which was good. It would save them a hell of a lot of paperwork if they didn’t have to arrest anybody tonight.
“You see anything?” Alex asked, trying to make conversation and stay awake.
“No,” was Ricardo’s glum reply, in his broken English. “They’s nothing there, mang.”
“Why does Warren put us through this shit?” Alex complained. “He knows we both hate doing his dirty work. He just puts us out here to keep us away from all the action because he’s afraid we’ll steal some of his thunder.”
Ricardo didn’t answer, partly because his English would be so badly broken that Alex wouldn’t understand what he said anyway. He just nodded in agreement and continued to shine his spotlight into the gloomy forest along the road.
Sensing Ricardo wasn’t going to be talking anytime soon, Alex turned on the radio in another effort to keep himself from falling asleep behind the wheel. However, that attempt failed, too, because after hearing some boy-band pop song, he quickly changed the dial. Not satisfied with anything he was hearing, Alex got frustrated and just turned the radio off and yawned again as his eyelids began to dangle up and down like a window blind.
Just then, a tall, dark figure quickly darted across the road right in front of them, narrowly missing their car. Alex’s first instinct was to slam on the brakes, and when he did that, the car fishtailed and spun out of control on the wet road. Alex fought to regain control of the car, but it did a 360 and ended up sliding off of the road into a nearby ditch.
Smoke rose rapidly from the squad car as it was firmly entrenched in a ditch at the side of the road. The smell of burnt rubber emanated from the moist air, as Alex repeatedly tried to accelerate out of the ditch. Mud flew everywhere from underneath the tires, but the car just would not budge.
“Damnit!” Alex groaned. “Now what do we do?”
Ricardo just looked at him dumbfounded.
“What the hell was that anyway?” Alex moaned, catching his breath and grabbing the receiver of his police radio. “Dispatch, this is squad 23 requesting backup, we’ve been involved in a minor vehicle accident…”
He paused, not hearing any reply from the dispatcher. He tried again, “Dispatch, Dispatch, this is squad 23, requesting backup on a minor vehicle accident.” Again, he heard nothing but fuzz and a nasty whir pierced his eardrums as well. It was obvious he wasn’t getting through. When he looked down at the floor, he realized why. Ricardo’s spotlight must have jolted out of his hand during the crash and smashed the radio.
“Fuck,” Alex sighed, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket. If their police radio didn’t work, at least his cell would. He quickly dialed 911 and pushed the send button, and then waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, after about 20 seconds, his phone just beeped at him instead of placing the call. “Damnit!” Alex yelled, trying repeatedly over and over to make his call. It then became obvious that his phone was not going to get any reception on that side of town.
“Come on Ricky,” Alex finally stated, making it up to the road. “There’s a house right up the road. The Jefferson’s live there. Jack’s a decent guy. He’ll let us borrow his phone so we can get backup out here and get out of this damn ditch.”
Nodding in agreement, Ricardo followed Alex up the road about a mile until they saw the Jefferson’s secluded house with the lights on. “Thank God,” Alex stated, sprinting ahead of Ricardo to knock on the door. “Hey, Jack, it’s Officer Alex Morton”…knock, knock, knock, “I helped you with your chicken feed a while back”…knock, knock, knock. “Listen, we had a little accident up the road, and were wondering if we could borrow your phone. Do you mind?”
There was no response. The front door was surprisingly open, and Alex peeked his head in, and made his way into the kitchen. “Ricky, go in the living room and look for a phone, I’ll go look in the back,” he said.
But Ricky didn’t reply. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.
“Ricky?” Alex called out, not knowing where Ricardo went. “Ricky, where are you? Come on, man, this ain’t funny. We have to get backup out here.”
There was still no response.
Alex drew his gun from its holster and slowly searched around the living room and den, when he heard some commotion outside by the barn. Must be the chickens, Alex thought. Jack always loved to take care of those damn chickens. Then, thinking maybe Ricardo had ventured out there to find them, Alex went back out the front door, letting the screen door shut behind him with a bang.
Alex circled the house, still clutching his pistol, and slowly made his way toward the barn, leaving a trail of footprints in the mud behind him. The problem was, he didn’t see the other pair of footprints coming from the back door.
They also led to the barn.
The large double-doors were wide open as Alex cautiously approached the two-story barn. As soon as he entered the barn, the chickens erupted in their constant clucking, like they always did when Jack Jefferson would come to feed them.
The hay crumpled beneath his feet at Alex started searching the lower level of the barn. When he got about halfway to the center, the power went out, and the entire barn went black, sending the chickens into an even louder frenzy. In the meantime, Alex pulled his flashlight off of his belt and started to shine it around, searching for clues, for any sign of his missing partner or of the Jefferson’s. He found nothing.
Discouraged, he found the ladder to the second floor and was just about to start climbing, when a bunch of loose hay fell down from above and temporarily blinded him.
Spitting and brushing the hay off of his face, he quickly shined his light up toward the second floor. “Hello? Who’s there?” He called out. “Ricky? Jack? Anybody?”
There was nothing but dead silence. Alex was then starting to debate whether he actually wanted to go up to the second floor. But somehow, his conscience relented, and, with his heart beating out of his chest, he got up on the first rung of the ladder. Then the second. Then the third. When he got to the fourth, however, he was startled by more hay rustling around above him. He shined his flashlight above him one more time, and was shocked to see a huge rat squeaking around, with its beady little eyes fixed right on his.
Screaming, Alex fell off of the ladder and landed flat on his back. Grabbing his back and wincing in pain, he realized that his hand was wet. In fact, his entire back was wet too. Maybe there was a leak in the roof or something, he thought. But when he shined the light on his hand, he discovered that there wasn’t even a leak at all, and that it wasn’t even water. It was blood. And he was lying in a pool of it, with more falling down from the ceiling.
He sprawled to his feet, and when he looked up, his stomach turned sour and he was instantly ready to puke. Because hanging there above him in the rafters was the dead body of his partner Ricardo. He was hanging upside down, pitch forked to the rafters through his groin.
Alex hunched over and began to throw up, wiping his face with his shirt. He then cocked his gun and clutched it tight, staggering back to his feet. He backed up into the far corner of the barn, when he backed into Jack Jefferson—or what was left of him. He was hacked all to pieces, and he had a garden claw stuck in his head.
Screaming again, he turned to try to run away, but tripped and fell, dropping his gun. He looked back, and shining his flashlight, saw what had tripped him. It was Maggie Mae’s body, drenched in blood and sprawled out in a few different directions. The horror continued for Alex, as he then saw what he guessed was Jerry tied to the nearby cattle corral, bent over backwards. His head was missing.
A moment later, Alex heard the chickens roar to life again, which could have only meant one thing. But as he spun around, he had no time to react to who was there, because Jason swung a hammer claw straight down onto his head, splitting it in half.
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