Walking At Night
a collection of short horror
Brian J. Jarrett
Copyright © 1996-2011 Brian J. Jarrett
Elegy Publishing, LLC
All rights reserved by the author. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted by any means without the written consent of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Any names, people, locales, or events are purely a product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to any person (either living or dead), to any event, or to any locale is coincidental or used fictitiously.
THE THING IN THE SHED
Sheriff Dan Tabor cruised out a rutted dirt road in his beat up 1960 Rambler police cruiser. The Rambler’s ride was already rough (the shocks were pretty much shit by now) and the potholes and ruts of Garrison’s road were only exacerbating the roughness of the ride.
The Rambler was getting a little long in the tooth in Tabor’s opinion, but a small town sheriff had a lot of trouble justifying the purchase of a new squad car when the one they had technically still ran. He’d been eying those Matadors he’d seen on Adam-12; L.A.P.D. had ordered a bunch of ’em just this year. But that was Los Angeles, not the Green Creek P.D.
BAM! The car rattled as the front driver’s side tire disappeared into a deep pothole. The already shot suspension scraped and groaned under the impact, like an arthritic hand smashing against a wall. The bottom seemed to drop out of the cruiser, then gravity returned and Tabor’s ass took the full brunt of the impact. It hurt all the way from his tailbone to the back of his neck. I’m too old for this shit, he thought to himself. With five more years until retirement he hoped this wasn’t true for everything else in life too.
Tabor gunned the engine of the old brute, half hoping he’d blow it to Kingdom Come in the process. If so, there was still time left before 1973 rolled around, and he might still be able to squeeze that request in for the Matador just yet.
One could dream.
Unfortunately for the sheriff the engine didn’t blow; the Rambler maneuvered the ruts and potholes like a champ, eventually bringing him to the top of the ridge where the entrance to Garrison’s farm lay. Garrison had the largest farm of anyone in the county; passed down from generation to generation. He was fifth generation from the way folks told it, his ancestors picking up the land in old Pennsylvania right off the boat.
That farm now was mostly woods. Garrison worked a good bit of it, but with that much land and only so many hands available to work it, only so much of it got worked. He produced a good crop on it, even grew pumpkins and put on a whole pumpkin festival every year. He was a good member of the community, even if he was fifth generation.
Garrison himself wasn’t a bad guy. He was cordial enough, though not chatty. Most often Tabor viewed this as a strength, especially with assholes like Bo Jarvis always running their mouth the way they did. No, Garrison was a man of few words, and when words didn’t flow easily, it took some effort to make them. That made those words truly mean something when they came out, and Tabor could respect that in a man.
The sheriff gunned the cruiser as he reached the top of the ridge before bringing the engine back down to a reasonable idle once the road flattened out to level. He could see the old farmhouse, still built with the original logs used by the Garrisons over two hundred years ago. Everyone should be so lucky to see one’s work last two hundred years, Tabor thought to himself. A legacy wasn’t an easy thing to leave behind, at least not a good one.
He guided the cruiser along the dirt road leading to the Garrison farm, dodging potholes wherever he saw them. They weren’t as bad here; the hilly roads washed out faster than the flat ones, gravity not being on their side and all. It was a dry day, and the cruiser left in its wake a large, brown dust plume. The plume rose a couple dozen feet in the still air before eventually dissipating into invisibility.
Garrison himself had made the call to the station. Irene had answered, and had put it through to Tabor right quick. Strange thing was Irene never pinned it to a police code. Said she couldn’t. Tabor had questioned her on it, but when it became clear that she just didn’t know exactly what was going on, he dropped it. The nice thing about being a cop in a small town was that procedure could be skirted when it didn’t make sense.
Tabor rolled up to the front porch of the old farmhouse, the cloud of dust he’d kicked up following closely behind. He brought the cruiser to a halt and then killed the engine. Garrison was sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade; hard lemonade if Tabor would have been forced to testify. But it wasn’t his place to judge, just to serve and to protect.
He gathered his things and then got out of the cruiser. His knees protested as they took the weight of his body, which had been steadily increasing in girth since his forty-fifth birthday. He grunted as he forced his body out of the car and to his feet. He then righted his holster and belt, placed his hat on his head, and nodded to Garrison. Garrison nodded lazily back. Tabor closed the door to the cruiser and then made his way to the front porch.
“Evening, Red,” Tabor said to Garrison. ’Red’ had been Garrison’s nickname as long as anybody had known him, even from his teenage days driving demolition derby. The sheriff hated to admit it, but for the time being he had actually forgotten Garrison’s given first name. Cruel what age did to the mind. Criminal, really.
“Evening, sheriff,” Garrison returned. He took a sip of his lemonade. His face was a sun-kissed red with deep lines running like cracks in a windshield. His beard was completely white now, reminding Tabor of just how old they all were getting. Time was a cruel bitch.
They stood this way for some time without speaking. He really is a man of few words, Tabor thought to himself. “Mind if I sit?” he asked, breaking the awkward silence. Garrison nodded, gesturing to a folding chair catty-corner on the porch. Tabor sat. The shredded lashings of the chair supported his considerable weight. “What brings me out here today, Red?”
Garrison took another drink of his lemonade, staring off into the distance for a few moments. “Well, sheriff,” he began. “I don’t suppose I can rightly say.”
Although Tabor liked Garrison, his patience was growing a bit thin. “Well, you called us, Red, so I’m gonna need you to go ahead and tell me.”
Garrison shook his head. “Naw, sheriff, it ain’t like that. It ain’t that I won’t tell you, it’s that I’m not sure I’m able to tell you. A man can describe the things he sees to a man who ain’t seen, provided both of those men have seen something like it before. You know, a frame of reference. But, when a man sees something entirely new, and don’t have a thing in the world to compare it to, that makes for a difficult time when describing.”
“So you saw something then?” Tabor asked, perplexed.
“But you don’t know what it is?”
“Where’d you see it?” Tabor asked.
“Found it along the old May trail, just off from it. Katy wandered off, and when I went to look for her I ran across it.” Katy was Garrison’s blue-tick hound, a creature that he loved more than anything in the world. Maybe even more than his wife.
“So this thing you saw; any idea at all what it might’ve been? Person, place, or thing?”
“A thing,” Garrison replied. “An animal, I think. I’m not sure. It was mobile, I know that much.”
“So it ran away?” Tabor asked.
“Naw. It tried to kill Katy. Then it tried to kill me.”