Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Twenty

Yet another chapter of my continuing blog fiction...

by John L. Harmon

Chapter Twenty

    Two questions hang in Stickler Woods unsatisfactorily unanswered.  “What yearbook?” from Clyde and “Seriously, who is Old Man Stickler?” from Christine.  Samuel, nudging up his black frames and holding the equally black gadget, simply suggests they walk while they talk.

    Sheriff Benjamin Straker, for the sake of the out-of-county scientific duo leading the way, begins with who is Old Man Stickler.  He explains that the Stickler clan was one of the first settlers in the area.  The fact they settled in these woods barely needs touching upon, but Ben doesn’t want to neglect this information.  While he cannot run through the extensive and wealthy Stickler family tree, he can name the last known branch.

    “Eugene Raymond Stickler.”

    “Our local boogeyman,” Clyde interjects his previously stated opinion in a disgruntled tone, “that no one has seen hide nor hair of in decades.”

    Ben, admitting he never really paid attention to the outlandish stories concerning Old Man Stickler, gives what possible facts he knows.  That Eugene Stickler was a genius in his youth.  That after losing his parents in a car accident, Eugene Stickler spent less and less time in town and more time in his home in the woods.  And that Clyde is right; no one has seen Eugene Stickler in at least two decades.

    “Probably dead,” Christine theorizes practically.

    “Hopefully dead,” Clyde states, giving his childhood fears a voice.

    The Chief Deputy goes on to explain how parents and other authority figures use Old Man Stickler as a warning to make children behave.  He purposely neglects any personal insight into such trauma.  There doesn’t seem to be any point of dredging up his drunken father’s threat of Old Man Stickler will get you, boy, or how then young Clyde would be forced to listen to precisely what Old Man Stickler would do to a short, chubby brat like him.

    “As far as I know, there has never been an official death report,” Ben mentions, unaware of Clyde’s childhood emotional abuse, “which means Eugene Stickler may still be alive.”

    After a few feet of silent contemplation, Clyde asks about the yearbook again.  Ben describes the empty house of Lawrence.  Empty, except for an old yearbook and the note to Ben.  Then the Sheriff explains how he flipped through the pages last night and saw a spread about that year’s science fair, and how first prize was awarded to Eugene Raymond Stickler.

    “What was his project?” Samuel inquires, curiosity peaked.

    “According to the yearbook, he physically changed the color of a sturgeon.”

    The scientific duo stop dead in their tracks and turn, nearly causing a bodily crash with the law enforcement duo.  Nothing is said as the four stand, facing one another, digesting this odd piece of information.

    Suddenly, and quite loudly, Ben’s cell rings, making them all jump.
Click CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Nineteen

Another chapter of my continuing blog fiction...late as usual....

by John L. Harmon

Chapter Nineteen

    The scientific duo’s large white van comes to a sudden halt in the middle of Stickler Woods, nearly causing the law enforcement duo’s generic grey police cruiser to rear-end it.  By the time the Sheriff and the Chief Deputy unbuckle and exit their vehicle, the two doctors stand together, waiting.

    “The energy has dissipated,” Samuel, holding the black gadget, quickly explains before harsh driving words can be exchanged, “but we triangulated the location.”

    “Which way do we head?” Benjamin asks, trying to suppress the tragic thoughts of Tommy Schroder and Tracy Newcastle.

    Sam nudges up his thick black frames, glances at the gadget, and then points to his left.  “This way.”

    “Very scientific,” Clyde mumbles under his breath, slightly disappointed that no one heard his sarcasm.

    Deeper into Stickler Woods the four souls venture on foot.  Christine and Samuel lead the way in their usual unison fashion.  Clyde and Ben follow in unconscious imitation as they turn together at the top of an incline.

    As they move through the dense trees, Ben’s currently chaotic mind hits on a memory that clicks quickly into place.  Before he can explain it to himself or to the others, a name surfaces from his lips.

    “Old Man Stickler.”

    “What did you say?” Samuel stops and turns, facing the Sheriff.

    “Old Man Stickler,” Ben repeats, becoming fully aware of why this name came to him.

    “Who is Old Man Stickler?”  Christine inquires, folding her arms together tightly.

    “The local boogeyman,” Clyde mutters, turning away from what he considers absurdity.

    “His was one of many names an angry crowd spouted off last night at Gordon’s,” Ben explains, glancing at the back of Clyde’s head, at Christine’s doubting face, and finally at Samuel’s understanding eyes because he was there.  “Names of people whom they believed responsible for the disappearances.  Maybe Old Man Stickler knows something.”

    Clyde faces the stationary group, trying to hold back the childhood nightmares spawned from that name, and growls low, “Complete and utter bullshit, Ben.”

    “No, there is…” Sheriff Benjamin Straker reaches and nudges the beige up to scratch an itch.  To scratch the itch clawing at the back of his mind that there is something he is missing or forgetting.  Suddenly another memory clicks into place.  The last gift from Lawrence, now carelessly cast aside and out of reach at Sturgeons Police Headquarters, “…the yearbook.”
Click CHAPTER TWENTY to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,


Friday, November 8, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Eighteen

A short chapter of my blog fiction, but it is better than nothing...


Chapter Eighteen

by John L. Harmon

    The engine of the large white van, followed by the generic gray police cruiser, cuts through the silence of Sturgeons.  It doesn’t seem possible that over 4,000 people have either fled or vanished, but the palpable stillness makes the unbelievable disturbingly real.

    Evacuated buildings of the downtown business district zip by as the scientific duo try to focus on their work at hand.   With recent developments this is difficult to accomplish.

    “Did he live up to your uniformed daydreams?” Dr. Christine Abernathy can’t help but inquire from behind the steering wheel.

    “He seems sweet and honest, so we shall see,” Dr. Samuel Dwyer answers, looking up from the black gadget, while nudging up his glasses.  “So, were you truly expecting to see your date again?”

    “No, and now I don’t know what to think.”

    Evacuated businesses give way to abandoned houses of the residential area as the law enforcement duo try to stay focused on the road and the white van ahead of them.  This is easier said than done.

    “Do you trust him?” Chief Deputy Clyde Woodhouse asks, glancing at the contrary image of his passenger’s clean, bandaged face and torn, dirty uniform.

    “I think so.  He seems sincere and thoughtful enough,” Sheriff Benjamin Straker answers, briefly touching the bandage near his left eye.  “Do you trust her?”

    “I did Saturday night, but now I don’t know.”

    Abandoned homes are fewer and farther between as the two sole moving vehicles in Sturgeons reach the city limits.  An occasional tree turns into a few, which multiplies considerably as they head out of town, but not too far.  Another half mile and the vehicles leave the smooth highway for a bumpy dirt road, leading them to the signal registering on the black gadget.

    Leading them back to Stickler Woods.
Click CHAPTER NINETEEN to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,