Ms. Williamson has been captivating the hearts of readers for decades. Her heroes are strong and daring while the antagonists, diabolical!
Putting the Town on Alert ...
“Oh meine Seele!” Ian screams as he kneels down next to the remains. “That is the new boot I bought for my son—” The man stops short as he hears moans from a hollow long.
Rushing to the scene, the four men find a bloody Luke half frozen and totally terrified.
“Hurry!” Gerhardt orders. “I don’t know how this lad managed it but let’s get him into the house and warmth.” Everyone takes his coat off and wraps it around Luke. Ian looks at his son—not understanding why his arm and leg are still attached. He notices that he is coatless, in his stocking feet only.
“What happened, boy? I thought those parts belonged to you!” A relieved Ian asks his offspring in complete bewilderment.
“Jarvis came over while I was milking Gertrude. He liked my shoes and jacket, asked if he could just try them on for a minute.” Luke breathlessly begins.
As they enter the house, Ian hands his son a small flask that’s resting on the table and Luke welcomes its contents, then continues.
“Well this huge tiger like a white phantom jumps on Jarvis. First, he rips into his chest—blood went everywhere. Then, he put his whole head into his mouth and starts to drags him away.” Luke explains.
“Why didn’t you run to the house?” Ryker questions.
“I just panicked at first. I was covered with blood and couldn’t move. After the beast ripped off Jarvis’ arm and leg, he eyed me. That’s when I knew I had to make my move.” Luke explicates.
“Again, why didn’t you just run into the house?” This time it is Gerhardt.
“Because momma came out to see what was going on. By the time she got halfway between the house and barn, that thing turned toward her. That log was just a few feet from the barn. I didn’t think she could make it back inside in time. So—”
“So you decided to distract the beast by letting him follow you instead.” Ryker intrudes.
“Aye! I thought that animal was going to break that log into pieces but it held fast.” Luke expounds.
“Aye, Luke saved my life, he did. It was that white demon— der weiße Dämon!” As if on cue, Chloe enters the room.
“I always thought it was just a story. You know like we tell about the wee people. But Naomh Beo, it’s true!” Chloe proclaims as she looks from her bloody son to her husband.
“I barely made it into the house. I saw Luke scamper into that log there. Covered in blood like he was, I thought the demon had wounded him.” Chloe further replies.
“Jarvis McEwen wasn’t so lucky.” Gerhardt tells Chloe and she hangs her head in sorrow.
“What about my shoes?” Luke remembers.
“We can buy you another pair, son. What we can’t do is replace poor Jarvis.” Ian declares.
“I have all the information I need right now. Take Luke upstairs, Chloe. I think he needs sleep more than anything. The rest of you help me find the remains of the boy. Be vigilant!” Gerhardt commands and the men follow him outside. Meanwhile Chloe takes her son’s soiled clothes to the cellar for a thorough scrubbing.
It is nearly 1:00 pm when the men are finally finished with their work. They find scattered fragments: a crushed skull, parts of the torso and bone slivers of the right arm and leg. Luke’s other boot has also been retrieved but will be confiscated with other evidence. Gerhardt speaks.
“I guess that’s all we can do here. Ian, head back home. Make sure you spread the word amongst the others in your community regarding der weiße Dämon. If you people are determined to remain here at least be cautious. No one goes outside after dark or during the early morning hours.”
“I’m going to be closing my tavern up just before sunset.” Millie adds. “I don’t want anyone wandering out in search of one last drink.”
“Good idea, Millie. Come to think of it, I sure could use one right about now.” Ryker proclaims as his cellphone commences to ring. He looks at it and observes that its Hannah.
“I think it would be a good idea if you just went home, Ryker.” Gerhardt throws over his shoulder. “No use unnecessarily worrying you wife.”
Ryker nods in agreement and lets Hannah know he is on his way home.
“What about you, Millie?” Gerhardt inquires.
“I’m going back to Hoffman’s and let my patrons know what’s going on. I think I may get my wife Luisa to make me a small sign. You know she’s good at such things.” Millie brags.
“Good notion. I’ll have it broadcast on the local stations. That will reach more people in Stäfa and the surrounding areas. Why don’t you just call it a night too, Millie?” Gerhardt inquires.
All afternoon people are informed of the present danger, but of course there will always be those who come to believe that the entire thing is just a hoax.
“Ich glaube es nicht. This is just another means of keeping us from enjoying a good night’s run.” Max Schubert concludes.
“But did you see that picture on the television?” Hans Muller asks.
“Do you suppose der weiße Dämon stopped to pose for that shot?” Max laughs.
“No but a white Siberian tiger is very rare. That was taken some time ago. It’s just to let us know what we’re in for.” Hans insists.
“Unsinn! I don’t believe it. If I can’t get a stiff one from Hoffman’s Tavern, then I’ll just go down to Stäfa. It’s not too far to drive and I can get back into the village just before dark. Want to come along?” Max coax.
“Are you sure we’ll get back before dark. I thought that Hoffman’s would still be open until then.” Hans tries to persuade his companion to stay.
“He’s already closed for the day. Somebody said his missus wants him home because of what happened earlier. Had a run in with a bear or something.” Max misinforms.
“I heard it was that tiger. There were footprints all around the place.” Hans asserts.
“Ja, richtig. I’m leaving. You can come with me or stay here. Your choice.” Max challenges.
“Let’s go.” Hans agrees and the two men are off.
Max confidently drives down the snowy road as Hans nervously watches. Occasionally, he thinks he sees a shadow but then he’s not sure. It is not very long before they arrive at the Crimson Stallion Inn. The inn not only serves great beverages but also provides good accommodations for the wary traveler.
“Why don’t we get a couple of rooms and go back to the village in the morning?” Hans suggests.
“Auf keinen Fall —my woman is already angry because I left. If I don’t come back it will be Hölle zu zahlen.” Max declares.
“Then let’s go. It will be dark when we get back to the village.” Hans retorts anxiously. After one last round, the two men leave.
As they travel down the road, both men seem to sense that there is something different from when they first embarked on their journey. There seems to be an eerie quiet as they travel further away from Stäfa.
“We should have stayed at the Crimson Stallion.” Hans laments.
“I think you are right, my friend.” Max agrees as they come to a large fallen limb that is blocking the road.
“It is going to take the both of us to move that obstacle. I wonder how it got there?” Hans replies as the car comes to a stop and both men cautiously exit the vehicle.
“I don’t know but let’s hurry.” Max decides as both men begin to drag the fallen limb out of the way. As they turn to head for the car they hear a sound that almost stops their heart.
To Be Continued ...
© 2021 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS
Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS (author) from Memphis on January 11, 2021:
Some people have to learn the hard way!