Copyright 2012 Joseph Bush
They must have talked to the sheriff once they heard what happened. Maybe they were even waiting for it. Maybe they were listening, watching. You tell me.
Sheriff Cormac brought me to the house in his squad car at eleven at night. Between the wind and the fog and the eerie eyes of the forest animals in the headlights, I almost didn't make it. I almost asked to go back. But I didn't know what was going on. I hoped, in vain of course, that they'd be able to tell me what happened. I hoped I could see the girl I loved.
I remember wondering what connection they had to the Sheriff, but I didn't dwell on it. The gnarled, twisted trees were crowding in too close for comfort, even a few miles out of town. It got worse from there. I was clutching the seat with bone-knuckled hands, feeling the sweat seep into the upholstery as we sped through the night.
I wasn't a suspect, he had assured me many times, but he still showed up at my house late that night, asking about Ash. When I told him I hadn't seen him for a day or two, he told me they had found his body.
After a terrifying trip through the wilderness and up the long, winding, deserted path to Stonegrave Manor, I got out of the squad car and Sheriff Cormac led me up to the ancient looking door. The towering entryway glowed enigmatically in the fog, making me even more apprehensive. The sheriff walked up and made use of the giant door knocker which caused me to almost yelp in surprise.
A few moments later, a young man emerged from the gloom inside and opened the massive door. He was probably a few years older than me, but he glared at me with suspicion and contempt around the sheriff.
“Mael. Go get your folks. I brought John Ward. I need to talk to your dad,” the sheriff said. The young man, Mael it sounded like, pushed the door open, smiling congenially at the sheriff and letting us inside. I didn't like his smile.