I am back with another chapter of the serial. I hope that you’ve enjoyed the story so far. This chapter is the beginning of the main story arc, everything up to now being more of an introduction to the community in which the story takes place.
A woman in a dark blue polo and cargo pants sat in a tiny office, head resting on her hand as she stared at the computer screen in front of her. Her light green eyes were beginning to droop with the monotony of the chore at hand. Periodically, she brushed slightly overgrown strands of strawberry blonde hair away from her vision.
Her work emails were quickly piling up with the usual share of irrelevant messages about upcoming events for officers-in-charge of the stations in the region, most of which would simply distract her from a backlog of tasks. Some the other emails were becoming irritatingly tiring.
Some of the local “clients” had also been calling in the usual conspiracy stuff such as UFO sitings and a monster that appeared to be replacing cows with doppelgangers. That was normal fare. However, this was not a normal week.
Simply put, Senior Constable Karen Johnson was having a bad week. Between the paperwork from a host of jobs piling up, she now had to contend with one of the more unusual jobs of her career. When she was called to help with a car crash in the region south of her own, she had expected something simple. For the better part of the year and a half that she’d been stationed in the area, she’d attended and coordinated a host of crashes.
Sometimes it was a truckie that had fallen asleep and drove into some cane fields. Other times it was tourists passing through that passed out at the wheel and hit either a tree or some other vehicle. Those were standard, normal and explainable. However, the incident in question was neither of these things. It was downright weird.
The crash report was overdue and she was waiting on a toxins screen from the body of the driver. The report was tricky because it was absent of relevant things, such as whatever had hit both the driver side and front of the vehicle in separate impacts rather than a single angled collisions. Whatever it was had done major damage to the skyline before the vehicle finally settled more than two hundred meters down the highway.
She’d found two more oddities at the scene. The first arrived in the form of several large blood-covered feathers that were white in colour and objects that she had not as yet been able to identify the species of. The second was some odd animal prints near the beginning of the impact. They were large and reminded her of some crocodile and alligator tracks that she’d seen during a trip with her ex-husband and daughter years before. Whatever the thing was it had an odd gait and large claws.
As for the lone survivor of the “crash”, he was still in a coma. She doubted that an interview would be useful anyway, her investigation so far leaving her with the sensation that she wasn’t dealing with a simple hit and run. It wasn’t the first odd thing that she’d seen in the township since she’d arrived either and probably wouldn’t be her last. The fact was that she recently been facing an unexpected upsurge in what can be legitimately described as “weird shit”.
She’d seen some odd things over the past six months in particular. It had not reached the point of unmanageable, but it did leave her wondering why she hadn’t been warned by the previous OIC. From a brief conversation that she had and from his record, he didn’t seem incompetent.
She wondered if Senior Constable Darren Michaelsen had simply not been around for oddities such as a rather large spider that she’d seen crossing the road dragging a Joey in two of its arms. A big-ass spider was frightening enough. It was also within the realms of nature and occasionally the stuff of normal conversation. However, some things that she’d seen were decidedly unnatural.
Perhaps he had not been in a similar position one night to see something furry that stood on two legs howling at the moon when she’d been on a callout to a car accident. She’d heard it loud and clear over the sound of her car’s diesel engine. She’d initially dismissed it as some late night delusion, but she’d received calls from locals over the preceding days that suggested that the howl that she’d heard was at least real. She’d tried to put it out of her mind in the preceding months, but other things had happened to make her believe that she was only touching the surface.
The high-pitched sound of the phone ringing next to her dragged her back to consciousness. She picked up the plastic handset and heard an audible click.
“This is the Carmila Police Station. Senior Constable Johnson speaking…”
“Hello, Karen… This is Martin Williamson…”
Recognising the familiar voice of one of the more reliable sources, she breathed a sigh of relief. Martin was a cattle farmer that had recently lost several cattle to dogs belonging to his neighbour. The dogs had been put down, but the neighbour continued to declare innocence in spite of photographic evidence that proved otherwise.
“What can I do for you, Marty?”
“Ah… its about my wife. She’s gone missing…” replied the middle-aged man now on the verge of crying.
Karen took a deep breath. Sue Williamson was a reliable member of several organisations in the district. It seemed out of character given her background. As far as Karen knew, neither Sue nor Martin had any ongoing issues with anyone but their neighbour.
“When did you last see her?”
“Yesterday morning. She went to Coastal Care. The girls said that she left in the afternoon, but she never arrived home. I rang her mobile but it keeps ringing out… I also rang family down south to see if she’s contacted them… but nothing…”
Karen had always been appreciative of Martin’s proactive tendencies. It gave her some necessary starting points. However, Sue’s disappearance was immediately troubling due to what she’d seen during several callouts to other properties along the same dirt road.
“Okay. If you don’t mind, I’d like to chat to you in person.”
Martin was quiet for a moment, “I’ll be home all day… just in case she shows up…”
“Understandable. I’ll drop by around two o’clock. Is that okay?”
“Anything that will help you find her.”
“I’ll see you then.”
With that, Karen ended the conversation.
After jotting down some notes, Karen made a few phone calls, the first was to the landline of the family of her daughter Melody’s friend Jenny McCormick, letting them know that she would likely be later than the arranged pickup time. Jenny’s mother Lyn was more than happy for Melody to stay longer as it meant that her daughter would be occupied. Karen understood the feeling, school holidays were a challenge for any parent with a hyperactive child.
The second call was to the police officer currently acting as relief for the officer in charge of the Saint Lawrence station to the south. She asked if he’d seen Sue Williamson’s navy blue Jimny during his shift so far. As expected, he hadn’t seen anything. Karen promptly ended the call.
She stared at the screen for a moment, dozens of emails still unchecked. She rubbed her forehead before signing out of the computer system and putting her kit on. She picked up some car keys and notepad then looked around as she considered if she was forgetting something. Satisfied, she closed up the station and got into the car.
As Senior Constable Karen Johnson pulled out of the driveway, she was aware that the week was about to get a lot worse.