THE WARDEN'S LANTERN
Copyright © 2012 JOSELYN VAUGHN
Cover Art Designed by Ginny Glass
Edited by Saralee Etter
For the Koffee Kuppe Writers who are always there in spirit, and for Joe.
Barbara Milanowski adjusted the motion setting on her camera and snapped another shot of the trail. She wrapped the strap around her wrist and wandered a few yards along the road—if it could be called that anymore. Weeds grew up through the middle and crowded in from the sides. A gust of wind caught a handful of leaves and tossed them in front of her. The trees swayed and creaked, sending chills down her spine.
It's certainly creepy out here. No wonder there were stories. But with the dim light and building haze, she doubted she'd find anything useful tonight.
She took off her glasses to clean them on the bottom of her black turtleneck. The humidity clouded them up in minutes. Surveying the woods, the shapes of brush and undergrowth blended into the darkening sky.
Professional investigators would have been better prepared. Tripods, extra batteries, voice recorders, flashlights. The farther she traversed from her car the more items she added to the list of things she should have taken. She'd headed into the woods with only a camera and pepper spray on a dare.
The fishy, seaweedy smell of Lake Michigan wafted in the rising breeze, mixing with the damp mossiness of the trees. Barbara stared down the trail where the path disappeared around a curve.
The legend claimed a light would bob along the path shortly after twilight. When one approached it, the light disappeared. Those who claimed to have "seen" it said it was the lantern of a warden who disappeared searching for an escaped inmate. Neither he nor the inmate had ever been found. Some said the inmate killed the warden and buried him in the sand dunes. Others said the warden lost his way as a storm came across the lake; disoriented by the wind and rain, he wandered into the raging surf and drowned.