Welcome to FROST HARROW, my new modern (1990s) gothic horror series! If you’d like to support this and my other work, go to www.CushingHorrors.com and become my patron! You may also enjoy the Scribe Award-Winning MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE – In print, for kindle, and for all e-book formats. And check out my retro-horror-comedy classic CANOE COPS VS. THE MUMMY as well as my other books. Now… On with the show!
EIGHT – OFFICER RICK
Officer Richard Ali Christopher turned the wheel of his patrol car and headed out of town on Junction Road. He rubbed his eyes and took another drink of coffee. Three in the afternoon and he still felt tired. It had been one Hell of a long fortnight in the Frosthaven PD.
First, that dizzy heiress driving her car off a cliff ten days ago… (Having to deal with the Frosts always made Rick tense.) Then the reports of shadowy prowlers with red eyes sneaking into bedrooms in Riverside Heights… Nothing to them, of course, but after four nights, he and the rest of the department thought the calls would never end. Then the trouble with those two teenagers up at Wind Point two nights ago…
Rick slammed his palm into the steering wheel. What did those kids expect, mixing booze and God-only-knew-what else with a lonely road in the middle of the night?
Maybe if the girl had been willing to press charges, the cops could have done something about it. It pissed Richard off when he couldn’t do anything more than give a stern warning to a perp. When would people—women in particular—wise up?
Add to that the unusual number of domestic problems in the last week and a half, and Richard was almost ready to crawl back to Milwaukee. Almost.
The only bright spot in his week had been the return of his old buddy Grant Winslow. Rick hadn’t actually seen Grant yet, but the town was buzzing with the news. The prodigal Winslow heir had returned to accept his inheritance.
Shoot. As if people didn’t have anything better to talk about! The whole town was an incestuous, gossiping cesspool.
Rick sat behind the wheel and tried to think of the good things about working in Frosthaven.
Most people were friendly to him, that was a plus. They seemed to judge him less by the color of his black skin and more by what he did. Maybe it was because of the years his family had spent here when he was growing up, or maybe it was just that folks were nicer in northern Wisconsin. Anyway, here most folks gave him a chance to prove his worth.
Of course, proving his worth to his boss over and over again was a major pain in the ass. He’d been on the force for years, but days like these he felt like the only cop on the FHPD. Why did he always get assigned to the shitty jobs?
Richard hoped that the reports of a car off the road up by Haughton Academy would turn out to be just kids necking, rather than another date rape.
He slowed down when he spotted the vehicle stopped on a wooded path just off the road about a half mile from the Angstrom farm—three miles from the Academy. It looked like old man Angstrom’s navy-blue pickup. Richard frowned. Jack Angstrom had put a fortune into keeping the old beater running the past few years. Old Jack just didn’t believe in any autos made after 1955. Funny he should just leave it there by the roadside.
The cop wondered if maybe the grandkids had come visiting the Angstroms and been up to some mischief. The eldest one, Bobby, had once gone joyriding with the old man’s tractor. They’d found the kid in the next county over, out of gas and thumbing a ride.
Richard put on the flashers and gave a brief toot on the siren. Then he pulled up behind the truck and hopped out of his cruiser.
The tires of the truck had sunk into the mud left over from when it rained two days ago. The windows of the cab were fogged; Rick couldn’t see inside.
He almost sauntered up to the driver’s door before cop instinct took over. What if it wasn’t the Angstrom kid? What if the truck had been stolen? Fog on the windows could mean someone was inside.
Could still be kids necking, he reminded himself. He drew his gun anyway, then called out:
“Anybody in there? That you, Bobby?”
Now that he listened, though, he could hear faint sobbing moans.
“Is somebody in there? Are you all right? Open the door, please.”
He reached for the door handle, trying to position the frame of the truck between him and whoever was inside, trying to make himself less of a target.
The door wasn’t locked; it swung open easily.
Inside, old Mrs. Angstrom leaned against the truck’s steering wheel, her grey head slumped against her thin, wrinkled arms. She sobbed gently but didn’t look up as Richard opened the door. The front of her faded, flower-print nightgown was drenched in blood.
“My God, Louisa,” Rick said, holstering his gun. “Are you all right? What’s going on here?” He moved to help her, but she turned her head. Her feral eyes froze him in his tracks.
“I killed him, Officer Christopher,” she said quietly between sobs. “I killed my Johnny.”
“Louisa, what are you talking about? Are you hurt? Let me call an ambulance… take you home.”
The old woman laughed and threw her head back against the seat. “Not my blood… Johnny’s. I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen.” As she talked, bubbles of foam formed on her lips.
She continued. “Kept me tied up in the bedroom for three whole days while he had his way with me. Never seen him like that before—so savage—not in all our years together. Felt like two people on top of me. And he kept mumbling to hisself. Guess maybe he just went ’round the bend.
“Finally couldn’t take it anymore. Slipped one hand free and fetched the gun he had in the dresser.
“He didn’t hardly know it. I don’t think he suffered much. Not how he made me suffer. After fifty years of marriage, thought I knowed him better.
“I didn’t mean to kill him. Not really. Just wanted him to stop.
“I was driving into town to tell you, but had to stop for a little rest. I been so tired lately. Haven’t been getting much sleep.”
After visiting the Angstrom farm, Officer Richard Christopher and the other members of the investigating team didn’t get much sleep either.
TO BE CONTINUED…