In my dreams juicy, crackling hands attached to juicy faces with gaping mouths reach for me. I gasp awake, certain my eyes are open but only finding crushing darkness. I can feel Cleaver’s fur and the weight of his legs on top of one of my arms and I feel comforted for a moment before I reach for a lighter in my pocket, desperate to be free of the blackness. When the flame takes to the gas I half expect to see a zombie Mark sitting on the other side of the booth. Instead, the lighter provides more light than I had anticipated. Enough, at least, to assure me that we four are certainly alone and safe.
I rise very slowly and walk towards the windows at the front, where light is starting to crack through the gloomy dark. I pull the vertical blinds and I’m simultaneously comforted by the light and assaulted by the cold that leaks through them. Preferring the light anyway, I sit at one of the small stools that accompanies a tiny counter in front of the window and open the journal to where I’d stopped last night. I’d learned quite a bit about Mark.
He’d started to question his township when his daughter, Kelsey, had tragically died in a fall at six years of age. Shortly after this he’d had some kind of conversation with his friend Christopher, who had worked at the local hospital, and was on duty the night Kelsey had been brought in. The conversation was merely referred to in the journal, but it seemed that whatever Christopher had told Mark had sent him down a path of paranoia. Or so it seemed.
…I’d returned the following night but no one had heard of them. I asked three or four people but they all claimed that they had never heard of Alceron or any person of that name. The secretary looked at me odd though. I left my number with her.
I flip forward several years.
February 8, 2009
I went to the lake again today. I could see the men going in and out of the chasm in the early morning, just as the sun was going up. I’ve seen them six times in less than a year now. They always wear those disgustingly clean grey jumpsuits. They go into the chasm, go through the door, and who knows. If only I could get through that metal door. Maybe that’s where they have her.
Furiously, I flip back and forth. Which lake?
…I’d thought he’d meant Bruce Jackson, but he meant Jackson Lake! My only…
I slam shut the leather binding. I’ve spent summers under the stars at Jackson Lake. I’ve rented cabins, driven boats, gone water skiing, gotten drunk, gone fishing there… I could probably walk there from here in the dark in a blizzard. I wake the dogs and hold the door open as they exit in front of me. Pulling keys from my pocket we all load into the Jeep.