The Mountainside Murder
Jessica’s eyes sprang open as she bolted to a semi-upright position, her hand automatically reaching for her nightstand drawer and the handgun it held inside. “What on earth was that?” She thought, half aloud.
She swore she had heard breaking glass, but now the silence had her doubting if it weren’t just part of a very realistic dream.
Jessica strained her ears to listen for any sound at all but heard nothing. And she didn’t like it.
She finished retrieving her handgun from the drawer, slid off the holster and racked the slide before getting the rest of the way out of the bed. She then hesitated as she decided whether to pick up the flashlight and ‘clear’ her house or pick up her cell phone and call police.
There wasn’t much thought to it really, she didn’t even know if there really was something wrong and even if there were she lived so far out of town the police would never be able to get there in time for much more than clean up duty. So she grabbed her flashlight, took a deep breath, and readied herself for what she may find....
...As she crept quietly towards her bedroom door she remained vigilant for any sounds or warnings that something was wrong. She heard nothing.
She reached out for the door knob and as her fingers wrapped around the cold metal, she froze. The little hairs along the back of her neck stood on end and her spine shivered making her body momentarily shutter in place.
She felt surrounded by something and yet at the same time so completely alone. How long would it take for someone to find her? Even know that something was wrong? It was something anyone living in the middle of nowhere had to ask, but this is where she chose to be, to live her life. So now she needed to prepare to defend herself or surrender. And she knew as scared as she was at the moment that she was not going to roll over so easily.
Her fingers tightened on the knob as she twisted it, pulling the door slowly towards her. The cool air wafted through the crack sending yet another shiver down her spine. She paused for just a moment to take in any new sounds, smells or flashes of sight she could gather through this small opening. Again, nothing.
Standing along the wall, mainly to support her trembling body, she flung open the door shining her flashlight out into the hall. Nothing.
Jessica always felt comfortable with a gun in her hand – during the day time – at the range – target practicing. This, well this was totally different.
With one last deep breath she knew it was time to move out of her safety zone and check the rest of the house. How she was now dreading her decision to put off getting a dog until she was more ‘settled’.
She scanned the hallway inch by inch and then stepped out into the cold darkness that awaited her.
Her mind all of a sudden flooded with the thoughts of the previous owner of her ‘dream home’ being murdered and his house being set a blaze.
Stop it Jess, she muttered to herself. This is not the time to drift to your what-if game. Focus.
As she slowly made her way to the end of the hall, heart beating so hard she was sure she could actually hear it, she heard and saw nothing out of place.
She came to the edge of the hall and paused momentarily before pushing off the wall and out into the stair landing, gun and flashlight searching, finding nothing.
She peered over the rail to scan the living room below and caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye.
Her body tightened, breath stopped as she aimed her light in the direction of the movement she had seen. Nothing.
She slowly descended the stairs. One step at a time. Heart pounding, Hands sweating. Body so tense her muscles ached.
“Who’s there?” She called out.
“I’ve got a gun and the police are on the way.”
Damn, why hadn’t she called the cops.
With her foot just about to touch the entryway floor Jess started to turn to scan the dining room off to her right when she was slammed into from behind and sent airborne into the entryway.
Landing hard on the tiled floor her head snapped back bouncing off the bottom stair as she lay motionless for what seemed like an eternity.
When she regained her senses she painstakingly lifted herself to her feet, surprised to see her handgun still in her grasp, and headed to the light switch.
Jess, hit every light switch in the place, including the outdoor floodlights on her way around the rest of the house.
On her way through the dining room to the kitchen she could feel cold air, the chills made her spine tingle. She hit the dining room light and there stood the patio doors… wide open.
She was sure whoever that rather large and powerful figure was that took her off of her feet had left the house through that door and was gone, but it didn’t totally put her at ease. Now she had to climb those stairs and retrieve her phone to report the breakin.
They told her she was crazy for buying that property. Not only because it was so far from town, from anyone really, but because of what had happened there.
What had happened anyway? No one really would say exactly what went on, just that a very private man was found shot to death and his house burnt to the ground.
Jess let it go at that, but now, now she needed to know the whole story and if it had anything to do with her break-in last night.
Sheriff Thompson growled “what now” as deputy Marcus knocked on his office door.
“Sorry sheriff, but it’s Jessica Taylor, she says she needs to speak to you.”
“That woman is going to drive me to drink. Show her back here.”
“Hi sheriff,” Jess bounded in the room full of energy and determination, “I was wondering what you and your deputies found out about my late night visitor?”
“Just happened last night Jess, wanna give us a couple hours?!”
“So you got nothing?.”
“I didn’t say that, damnit Jess, don’t you have something you should be doing besides in here getting in the way?!”
“I am doing something sheriff, I’m trying to find out who broke into my house and why. I’d like to know what I’m dealing with, might make sleeping a little easier.”
“If you were worried about your sleep, maybe you should get a small place in town like a normal person.”
“Okay sheriff, if you guys won’t work this out I guess I will have to do my own thing. Have a good day!”
“Jess?! Jess, don’t you dare go taking the law…. damn that woman.”
Jess pulled into a parking slot right in front of the midtown café, shut off the engine and let out a long, deep sigh. It wasn’t that she was anti-social or anything, but dealing with groups of people, especially when she felt she would be interrogating them, just wasn’t high on Jess’ list of favorite things.
As Jess, slid out her dusty Bronco a firm hand grabbed her shoulder.
“What the hell?!” Jess yelled as she spun around to find deputy Marcus standing behind her.
“Sorry Jess, didn’t mean to startle you.”
“I just wanted to give you a heads up, sheriff Thompson has been ranting and raving since you left his office. He thinks you’re going to stir up trouble in town and he told all the deputies to keep an eye on you.”
“That’s fine Marcus. I’m not doing anything illegal, unlike the person that broke into my house last night.”
“Just be careful Jess, people around here don’t like people nosing into their business.”
“Thanks Marcus. I’ll be fine.”
Four hours later and Jess didn’t feel any closer to finding out who had broken into her house or why, but she did get a little more information on the previous owner of her property.
Turns out that Michael Davenport was a stranger to the area when he bought the property and kept pretty much to himself the whole time he was living there. Which, as Jess found out, was only for about 18 months.
Aside from a large, shiny, black SUV that rolled through town and out to his property about once a month, Michael didn’t seem to have any other visitors. He didn’t even venture into town very often and when he did he kept to himself.
Sounds like my kind of guy, Jess thought to herself.
Jess also found out that Michael was found dead, shot in the back of his head outside his home. His home, which had been torched, was nothing more than a frame skeleton by the time anyone reached it.
Jess didn’t know whether this guy, and his murder, had anything to do with her break in last night, but something sure seemed to be going on in this ‘town’.
As Jess unlocked her car door she felt a warm sensation come over her. She turned slightly from her car and saw several people staring at her. Jess waved and gave her half smile, half smirk.
“Yeah, I see you.” She mumbled under her breath.
“Hi honey. Haven’t heard from you for a few days. How’s everything in the new home?”
“Sorry mom, it’s been a little busy. You know how it is when you are trying to setup a new home. Everything’s fine. How are you and dad?”
“It’s funny you ask dear.”
Jess rolled her eyes as her body tensed awaiting what she was sure would be news she didn’t want to hear.
“Your dad and I have been itching to take a little vacay in our new rv.”
Vacay? Jess thought. Since when does my mom say things like vacay?
“Oh that’s nice. Where are you two going to go.” Jess shuttered as soon as the words left her lips.
“Why we are coming to visit you dear.”
The panic attack that overtook Jess was immediate and full blown.
“Oh mom, I don’t think that’s such a good idea just now. I have so much work going on, the place is a mess.”
“But that’s why it’s so perfect dear. We have our own RV to stay in so we won’t put you out and we can lend you a hand. We will be there by Saturday dear. And we are bringing you a gift.”
“Mom, really, maybe you guys should wait another month or so.”
“Nonsense dear. We will see you Saturday. Have to go pick up your dad now dear. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”
Holy shit, what was Jess going to do now? Her patio door is still boarded up, there’s crime scene tape around part of her house, and the sheriff or one of his deputies are sure to be stopping by.
Well, Jess thought aloud, I still have 3 days before they get here.
The sound of sirens and horn blasts filled the quiet morning air.
“What the… “ Jess jumped to her feet, pulling half the covers off the bed with her.
She raced toward the front facing window and peered through the blinds.
“Sheriff? What on earth is going on?”
“We knocked, you didn’t answer.”
“Ugh. I’ll be right down.”
Jess stepped out onto her front porch still in her pjs wiping the sleep from her eyes. “What’s going on? Did you catch the intruder?”
“We don’t even know who the intruder is Jess, but we do have some news for you. We found a ‘bag of tricks’ off in your woods near your east gate.”
“Bag of tricks?” Jess looked at the sheriff half curious, half scared.
“Yeah, there was a crow bar, handcuffs, zip ties, duct tape, stun gun, a couple knives…. you know, your basic ‘bag of fun’.”
“Sheriff I hardly find that funny.”
“Sorry, thought maybe you knew something about it.”
“Why would I…. oh, never mind. So what now?”
“Now, I think you need to get some security on this place until we find this person.”
All Jess could think of was her parents arriving in two days.
“So sheriff, does that mean I’ll have a deputy following me around now?”
“No ma’am. There is no current threat so we can’t pull a deputy just to sit on you. You’ll have to take care of your own security.”
“Great. Thanks for the help.”
“No matter what you think Jess, we are working this case. And we will get the person responsible. Just watch your back in the meantime.”
STAY TUNED FOR MORE....
Note From Author:
I thought I would test out a new type of 'article post' for those who enjoy mystery/suspense type stories - where I start a mystery story and then post the continuation of said story on a weekly basis.
Is this type of story something that interests you? Please let me know in the comments your thoughts about this type of writing so I know if I should continue writing these for you.
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