October 26 Book Tour: The Curse of the Mountain Tyler Cram
Roanville’s entire existence was archaic. Nothing was truly that modern there. The town was built on small businesses, a community full of people betting on themselves and their local companions. It was a logging community in the 1800s, it wasn’t a sweet place to live; it only existed to make a living. Slowly it crept its way up through time and modernity to be sustainable for all family types, but it still had trouble catching up. The locals joked that the slogan for their lonesome town should have been ‘The town that time forgot’. There were still pay phones in the city that were frequently used. The police and fire department shared a building because the cost of running both in separate buildings would’ve crippled the town. There were only four cops on the force, the Chief, Frank Gilmore alongside his deputies: Bradley Fine, a lazy native who was ready to retire at the age of forty. Garrett Brock, a stable and smart man around the same age as Brad. Brock was Frank’s right-hand man because of his dedication to the job. He served papers, and wasn’t afraid to give people he knew speeding tickets. The most important thing to Brock was that he needed to get paid. The police force worked off a ticket quota system. Brock held no prisoners. The newest addition to the team was Sarah Mann.
A few years ago, Sarah got a call from the outskirts of town. The trailer park, ‘Disneyland’, as it was called by the denizens, was the source of drugs in Roanville. It was constantly surveyed by the cops.
The caller said someone had been killing the chickens that the Quinn family owned, butchering them once a month since the beginning of the year. Sullivan Quinn didn’t even entertain the thought of someone else doing it. He knew it was his neighbor Ichabod Turner. Ichabod had a loose grasp on the English language. He was seventy-five and was skin and bone, Sarah thought he looked like a skeleton from a Halloween store. He had a yellow-stained beard and long grey frizzy hair. His eyes were sunken and his face was drawn.
He spoke as if there was a marble on his tongue. “Da… Sully… he, uh, he say it wah me ’cus I ain’t never wen to he granpappy fun’ral back een March. I say to Sully ‘daggom, boy, da’worl don’t stop for nobody granpappy, not even yours’ well… he don’t like dat much so he been plannin’ a war and dat boy, daggom, he try’na get me arrested… sheeeeit,” he explained to Officer Sarah Mann when she went down to mediate the situation.
It was night when she talked to them. She got called down because one of Sullivan’s chickens was shrieking, and when he went to go look on the side of his double-wide trailer where his coop was, its innards had been tossed around like dripping scarlet streamers. The fresh red blood hadn’t yet permeated the loose dirt.
He looked over across the street and saw the light inside Ichabod’s house flick off suddenly. Sullivan began to bang on the door, threatened to grab his .44 and shoot his way in. Ichabod called the Sheriff’s office. When Sarah arrived, Sully was pacing in front of Ichabod’s trailer with a revolver in his hand, Sarah jumped out of her patrol vehicle and yelled, “Put the goddamn gun down, Sullivan!”
“He killed my chickens! Every month, massacred! He did it, Sarah!” He was Standing in baggy jean shorts and a stained white tank top, pointing his gun at the house. Sullivan was a tall, skinny guy who had trouble with pills. He worked the lumberyard and a log fell off a pile and broke his leg, snapped like a twig, the bone protruded from his skin and was shattered in multiple places, nearly having to get it amputated. He got hooked on painkillers shortly thereafter. He was thirty, but the labor and drugs aged him. He used to be a hirsute young man, always kept his thick, golden hair shoulder length, and stayed clean shaven. Now he was nearly bald save for some patches, and had a scuzzy, holey black beard, speckled with blond and red strands that were so long off his chin he looked like a goat.
“Drop the gun, Sullivan, or I will be forced to pull mine out as well,” she yelled, her words weaved through the alleys between the trailers. She had her hand fixed on her Glock 17 attached to her hip.
Sullivan dropped the gun to his side. “Just get him out here so you can arrest him,” He said condescendingly.
Sarah walked to Ichabod’s front door, her eyes never leaving Sullivan. She was born and raised in Raleigh and ended up going to North Carolina State University. She had no extracurricular activities, no significant other. The idea of being a police officer took all of her time and thought. Frank found her by chance when he visited the Raleigh NCSU campus to meet with a friend that happened to be her Professor. She was in his office when Frank came in. He offered her a job by the end of the conversation. She was twenty-two years old, even in a small town she was making sixty thousand a year. Many scholarships through the state for women in policing gave her some extra bumps. Now she had been with the Chief for about four years and was sick of all the hick bullshit she had to deal with. A feud over killing chickens? What happened to my life? Now she was a cantankerous, young cop in a trailer park.
She banged on Ichabod’s door, the way only a cop can. He swung it open immediately. She led him into the middle of the trailer park’s road underneath a yellow-orange mercury streetlight. There was one every fifty feet, and in between each post was pitch darkness. As soon as someone would step out of the ten-foot diameter light beam, they would be completely gone.
Sarah asked, “Sullivan, what makes you think Ichabod did this?” She started writing in her notebook.
“He has had a vendetta against my family for some time now, Sarah. He didn’t go to my grandfather’s funeral a few months back and they were best friends,” he said politely, with a southern drawl.
“Now das just boolshit… Aaron hated my guts, boy, he tol me a few week back ‘fore he died dat he hated me for my, uh, demeanor or some shit. Dat I was jus too nasty and he didn’t wan to be seen wit me. But let me tell you bof dat he was nastier den a hooker lickin’ a frog to find her prince charmin’ ’cause he sexed he goddamn cousin… I caught him, too, in the back of his old pick-up back by route one-one-six, where da, uh, post office is. Dats why he hate me, boy.”
Sarah tried to understand what he was saying. She had never heard him uppity the few times she interacted with him. She stopped writing down what he was saying halfway through his aside.
“Don’t you fuckin’ slander my dead grandfather, you dirty shit,” Sullivan gritted through his words.
“Hey, Shut it, both of you,” Sarah said, looking up from her notebook, then back down again to write.
“How would I slaughter dem chickies, boy? I look like a serial killer to you?” Ichabod said, pulling on the length of his tarnished beard.
“Yeah, you really do. The guts were thrown out of them, Officer, and I think this man is sick enough to do it. I saw him standing and pissing off of Arthur Scott’s truck going seventy miles an hour on the highway coming into town,” Sullivan said, thinking that would be the final blow. She didn’t even look up and mumbled, “I expect nothing less from this town.”
“It’s a damn dog doin dis shit, I’m tellin’ ya’s. Couple miles down da road, that farmer, uh, I forget his name, two of his sheep, dead. I know it some damn big dog or wolf, you can quote me on dat one, lady,” Ichabod said.
“Officer,” she retorted, looking at him with fire in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, Officer, but dis mother fucking boy, he—what the fuck?” He squinted past Sarah, three streetlights down the road—an animal.
“What the fuck is that thing?” Sullivan said.
Sarah turned, and her throat dried immediately when she saw it. It didn’t move. She pulled her pistol out of her holster with some difficulty, she never had to pull it before. She had never seen a dog this big. Even from this distance she could see every detail of it. On all fours, it was five feet tall with paws the size of baseball gloves. Its fur was long, dark brown. Sarah could tell that the head was over a foot long, its prodigiously large vulpine teeth hung out of its mouth, glittering by the dingy light. The streetlight gleamed in the beast’s eyes. It stared at her. Her breathing started to sputter, she couldn’t control it. She shook with her gun in her hand as she raised it. A tear built up in her eye. She felt a wave of cold throughout her body as gooseflesh raised on her skin.
The beast stood on its hind legs, the light painted onto the creature and revealing its oversized dog-like body. Ichabod and Sullivan both screamed and ran into their houses.
Full stretch, it stood at nine feet tall. Sarah didn’t move. She stood there waiting for it to start coming towards her, the moon was going to reach its apogee in the sky and that’s when their duel began.