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Black Creek- an excerpt
Black Creek Cover photo
Excerpt from my novel Black Creek
Charlie Knox, a 31 year old detective jotted down a few notes. “If I have any more questions I'll call you.”
“Thanks for coming out so quickly.” The woman smiled.
“I'm just doing my job.” Not as soon as Charlie left did she get another radio call to go out to yet another bizarre missing persons report. A small town outside of Cowford reported the incident an hour ago. “Why are we handling all of these missing person cases outside of our normal jurisdiction?”
“This request comes straight from the boss. It's one of those unique cases.”
“Gotcha. I'm on it. Tell the boss I'll report back as soon as I'm done.” Charlie couldn't help to laugh at her luck. The boss definitely had it in for her-considering recent events surrounding a certain male figure she was dating whom happened to be her boss's old boyfriend, not that Charlie had any clue of that important detail. Of course she ended things when she found out. It didn't matter, she was paying the piper anyway. Charlie arrived at a cute little cozy home placed on the corner of a cu-de-sac in the one and only community in Black Creek. Not the kind of place anyone would imagine a home like this to be in. Most of the neighborhood consisted of newly developed homes. She stepped out of her car and into what she thought was the twilight zone. Charlie read the sign that was adjacent to the road. “Welcome to Black Creek, population 200.” Charlie walked up to the home. An eerie feeling came over her. Against her better judgment, she knocked on the door. To Charlie's surprise the door opened without asking who it was. A short man about 5'5 with graying hair stood before her. “Hello, I'm responding to a call you placed about a missing person. Are you Mr. Graham?” MENTAL NOTE: He looked to be in his late 50's perhaps.
“Yes I am Mr. Graham, please come in.” Charlie followed the old man into the home. Her eyes scanned the room. “Would you like something to drink? Water, tea?”
“No. I'm good thank you.”
“Please have a seat.”
Charlie sat down and looked down at her note pad. “Please tell me what happened to your daughter and why you feel that she's missing?”
“My daughter didn't come home last night after she got off of work. She's not a minor. I was told the police couldn't do anything until she was missing for 48 hours and it hasn't been even 24 hrs.”
Charlie nodded. “That would be a common myth that most believe. Adults generally would have to fall under a specific category such as mental illness, a belief that they would harm themselves and or others. Once anyone goes missing you should always call to report it regardless of the circumstances. In my department, we handle cases specifically such as this...unique cases. So tell me where does your daughter work?”
“At a diner, in town near the old theater. Catherines. It's just a few blocks from here. Everything is in walking distance in Black Creek.”
Charlie smiled what would be an uncomfortable smile. Being in close proximity to everyone and everything in town would drive her mad. No escape. Suffocating. “What is her usual work schedule?” Charlie jotted down notes without looking up.
“She usually gets home 15 minutes after the diner closes at 8pm. That's the closing time for everyone here in Black Creek due to the curfew. It's always consistent when she would arrive home. I called the diner, no answer. I called Mrs. Marshlee-she owns the diner. She told me they closed up at 8pm like always and everyone had left.”
Charlie placed the note pad by her side as she raised her head to look at Mr. Graham. “You mentioned a curfew?”
“Yes the community has a set curfew. At 9 pm. This is when everyone should be at home and not out and about. It's to prevent any crimes or unfortunate events that may arise.”
Charlie looked at the old man with suspicion. “Mr. Graham, I assume that Amber doesn't go out or hang with her friends much due to her work schedule and the curfew.”
“Yes and no. Amber only works 3 days out of the week. Her best friend since grade school, Lorraine, lives next door.” Mr. Graham pointed to the house to the right of us. She hasn't seen Amber since yesterday afternoon.”
MENTAL NOTE: Why is this case unique? “Mr. Graham, how old is your daughter?”
“She's eighteen.” Charlie couldn't help but notice Mr. Graham's nervous behavior. He began to fidget in his seat. His legs crossed and uncrossed a few times.
Charlie continued with her questioning. “Does Amber attend school when she's not working?”
“She attends the same school as all the other kids. It's a prep school from kindergarten to 12th grade. They also offer vocational classes for high school graduates. Amber is taking up culinary arts this year.”
“Ah, I see.” Charlie took down more notes. “I need to ask around, maybe go into the diner, and talk to a few of the people. I'll also have a talk with Lorraine.”
“Well Lorraine won't be home she's at school. She's a grade younger than my Amber but she will be home shortly.” Mr. Graham spoke with a much lower tone than before.
“Thank you. I will let you know if I stumble upon something useful.
“Thank you for your assistance, Detective Knox was it?”
MENTAL NOTE: Always go with your first suspicion and or instinct about EVERYONE you meet. I never gave Mr. Graham my name and I didn't show him my badge.
Charlie smiled. “It's my job Mr. Graham, thank you.” Though Charlie's suspensions of Mr. Graham were raised, there was a possibility that the station gave up her contact information when they spoke with him. An uneasiness swept over Charlie as she got into her car. She looked back at Mr. Graham. He was standing in the doorway. Charlie went to wave goodbye and saw a dark shadowy presence lure over Mr. Graham. “I need to get the hell out of this town. The sooner the better.” Charlie drove up to the diner. Mr. Graham was right it was just a skip and a hop from his house. “Catherines” blinked in red lights. “Nice, I bet they have the best apple pies.” When Charlie walked in to the diner she could feel unwanted eyes stare upon her. A hushed silence replaced the laughs and light conversation. She ignored it and walked up to the counter. Charlie nearly jumped out of her shoes when the old woman turned around to face her.
“What can I get you?” The old woman spoke her lips thin and cracked.
“I'm Detective Knox, I need to ask you a few questions about one of your employees.” When the old woman didn't respond, Charlie continued. “Amber Graham she's one of your employees correct?”
“We just don't give out info to people like you.” The old woman spat. Her beady eyes hidden behind a pair of white and pink polka dot rimmed glasses. Her hair was snow white and huge. Didn't know they still wore beehives. Charlie thought. The look on the old woman's face read disgust.
“People like me? What kind of people am I? Charlie opened her jacket to reveal the badge hanging from a chain around her neck. “What is it? You don't like cops?”
The old woman huffed up. She stood there in silence, she wasn't budging. “Or could it be because I'm black?” Having walked in to the diner, Charlie knew immediately of their kind. Small towns such as this on the outskirts, not one colorful face, she just hated to play that card but it fit. She didn't care, it was her ace of spades.
“Humph, I guess you could say that. I can tell you got a little something in you but you're still black and not wanted here.”
MENTAL NOTE: Get the hell outta this town! Though it seemed that the hushed silence was over, Charlie could still feel those unwanted eyes burning a hole in her back.
“Look! I'm trying to help out someone in your town. I was called here to do my job, so let me do my job. I thought little old ladies were supposed to be cute and sweet.”
“Well she’s not standing here!”
“Yeah I noticed.” Charlie stated with clenched teeth.
The old hag turned on her heel and disappeared behind the kitchen door. At first Charlie didn't think much of it until she pondered some more. The old hag looked too made up with all the makeup, beehive and glasses and those nasty cracked red lips. Charlie sighed in frustration. She was in one of the most back woods 200 person count populated towns that she never thought she would step foot in...Ever! Then it happened she looked up after staring at a red spot on the floor and saw the beehive wig fly up in the air. Charlie darted around the counter and through the double doors. When she didn't see the old lady, she ran towards the exit and bolted out the door. Charlie ended up in an alley behind the diner but the old woman was nowhere to be found. Charlie shivered in her shoes, goose bumps crawled up her arms. Charlie was staring at the pink and white polka dot rimmed glasses that was attached to a face mask with all the makeup, cracked red lips and pointy nose. “What the hell is going on around here?” Detective Knox fumbled with her cell. Her hands shaking like crazy. “Just breathe.” she tried to calm herself. Charlie started to speak, her breathing became erratic. “This is Detective Knox.” Charlie took a deep breath before continuing. “I'm reporting in on that missing persons call out in Black Creek.”
“Detective Knox, this is Susan. What's going on, you sound out of breath?”
Charlie rolled her eyes. She didn't have it in her to respond in the usual aggravated and sarcastic undertone manner she seemed to always manage to be in. “Well I'm fine, this place not so much.”
“What do you mean?” Susan breathed heavily into the phone.
“There's something very strange going on in this little town. I think Amber Graham may be having a little fun. She's 18yrs old and the town has these strict rules that any teen would love to break. My lead on her whereabouts however is a different story, one that I don't wish to get into. I'm headed back to the station.”
“Just a moment Knox.” Charlie looked at her phone, exasperated she didn't give two cents about this case. She was heading home. After waiting for a few moments, Susan came back to the phone. “You need to follow up with that lead Knox before coming in to the station. Boss says it’s important that we do everything that we can to find Amber Graham.”
“Are you kidding me right now?” Charlie bit down on her bottom lip, a habit when she got frustrated.
“Hey don't shoot the messenger. I'm only telling you what the boss said.” Before Charlie could respond Regina, the chief in command voice ranged over the other end of the line. “Is it going to be a problem Knox with you staying and getting all the evidence you can on the whereabouts of Amber Graham?”
Sighing Charlie rolled her eyes. “No sir. It won't be a problem.” Charlie spoke with clenched teeth. Her words barely audible. Her anger however was very noticeable. Charlie didn't care, she wanted Regina to hear that she was upset.
“Good girl Knox, see you when you get back.” The anger within Charlie rose the obscenities that bellowed out of her mouth were faded out by the dial tone on the other end.
“Good girl?! Ugh! Like I'm her pet dog! She gets under my skin. I bet she didn’t even flinch with the ‘Sir’ reference.” Charlie looked back at the diner's back door and thought she better take the long way around to her car. She was in a town that didn't like people like her and she wanted to get in her car and high tail it the hell outta there. Charlie sat in her car going over her notes when she got that feeling of unwanted eyes on her. Staring out the window, Charlie looked over her surroundings. This was the first time that Charlie actually saw where she was. It was a small town for sure. Charlie hated small towns. It was something creepy about them. Every movie she's watched about all the eerie happenings were based out of a small town and also some of the best love stories were set in small towns. Charlie sighed. Maybe she would fall in love in a small town like this. Charlie's eyes roamed over the towns people as a few of them sat at the tables lined up on the sidewalks that stretched throughout the entire inner downtown area. Drinking their tea or coffee having small talk and sharing in a few laughs. Charlie watched those that walked by the shops, peeking in to the windows, saying hello to those with familiar faces. The coffee house was the busiest. Books shelved all around the shop, a peaceful looking place Charlie thought. Point A to point B was in walking distance in this town. That's when Charlie glanced at her gas meter. Thinking back to when she entered into town, no gas station for miles. “This day just keeps getting better.” Charlie cursed under her breath. Charlie thought it was best to not think about it until she needed to. Checking her notes she scratched off Marsh-lee and Mr. Graham as persons interviewed. “Next up, best friend Lorraine.” Hoping that things would be smooth sailing here on out would be too much to ask for. Charlie decided to walk instead of driving. She figured this way she could get a better feel of the town and its people. Charlie walked along with the other residents of Black Creek. It was evident that she was out of place. It didn't matter that she smiled and spoke to everyone. They knew she didn't belong. It was the aurora she put out. They could smell it on her. She smiled at the cute family coming towards her. A wife and husband and two children, a girl and a boy. All of them gingers, with piercing blue eyes. “Cute kids.” Charlie stated with a huge grin across her face. Why did she have to go and say that? Not that it was an offensive statement, well not to her.
“Excuse me?!” The man spoke, his tone stern and direct. His eyes boar into Charlie's. They cut her like razor blades. Charlie just stood there. She was speechless. Everyone back at the station mouths would be dropped, if they were witnesses to this moment. For now, only Charlie's mouth was open. No sound just a gasp of uncertainty of how this would play out. “I'm sorry.” the words dragged out of her mouth. “I meant no offense.”
“Of course you didn't. We call the young goats on our farm 'kids'.”
“I'm not a goat daddy!” the little boy cried. His father gripped his shoulders as they shared a glance, a moment of understanding.
“Listen I admit I am ignorant to the 'politically correct' terms especially farm jargon.” The family stared at Charlie with a distasteful look. “I'll be on my w-”
“Yes you are right about that. You are ignorant.” The man's lips turned hot pink as they were tightly squeezed shut. His face went from ivory to blush red.
Charlie thought that this was a bit much for a 'cute kids' comment. Holding up her hands in defense. “OK. I get it, I really do or I think I do. I've apologized and we're done.” Charlie stared at the man for a few moments before she felt safe to turn around and walk away. To her surprise no one had stopped to look at the show. Which she could be thankful for. “Hoping that things would go smoothly was definitely too much to ask for.” Charlie stated under her breath as she approached the cul-de-sac that Mr. Graham resided on. She stood in the middle of the street directly facing Lorraine's home. Lorraine spoke to Mr. Graham already about not seeing Amber all day of her disappearance. Charlie hoped that she could read her and find out if she was holding something back on where her best friend was. She knocked twice at the door. The door swung open. “Hello I'm det...”
“I know who you are. You're that detective from the city. My mom said you're not to be trusted, that you're not here to find out about Amber.”
Charlie did what she could to not let her frustrations get the best of her. “Then why don't you tell me why I'm here. If it’s not for the missing person call, which is exactly why I'm here, I wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be.” Lorraine stared ghostly at Charlie. Her suspensions raised. Charlie looked over Lorraine. Her hair stringy, no doubt it could use some coloring and flat ironing. Her pale white skin could use some coloring too. “Lorraine just tell me if you've seen your best friend since her disappearance. This would be after her shift ended at the diner.”
“I haven't.” was all Lorraine said. The door slammed shut in Charlie's face. Good work Charlie.
Charlie stood there in front of the door. She felt this tickle churning deep down in the pit of her stomach. Out of nowhere she burst into laughter. This wasn't the quick short burst of laughter one would normally have. For this was the uncontrollable seemed like it would never end kind of laughter that roared through Charlie. Tears streamed down her now flushed face. Her eyes red and puffy. Out of breath, Charlie tried to gain her composure as she nearly stumbled off the porch and down the stairs. Standing on the sidewalk faint voices could be heard coming from Mr. Graham's home. It was a woman's voice. MENTAL NOTE: Don't follow that feeling in your gut when you're in a small town. Charlie in stealth mode made her way over to Mr. Graham's. She tried peering into the window which could only be done if she had super powers. Super powers that could help her see through walls. The windows that appeared to be on the side of the home were actually painted to look like windows. Great job. Almost fooled me. Charlie thought.
“A house with no windows.” Charlie's mind raced with no sign of the road ending. None of what she has experienced since arriving in Black Creek made any sense. None at all. Charlie guided by her detective instincts proceeded to knock on Mr. Grahams' door. The only window appeared to be the one on the door... a glass door with a wooden fame. Blinds covered the window which didn't stop Charlie from trying to see who was in the house. Then it happened...a shadowy figure ran past the door. Charlie could hear footsteps against the home's hard wood floors. Charlie knocked on the door. “Mr. Graham this is Detective Knox! Please open the door.” Charlie's patience was growing thin by the minute. “Mr. Graham if your daughter has returned, why don't you do both of us a favor and open the door. I need to speak with you.” Charlie continued banging her fist up against the door. Then it happened...the door creaked open as Charlie raised her hand to knock once more. Charlie took a step back as she could feel someone watching her. Lorraine and a few other teens were standing on the porch holding what seemed to be a deep conversation. Lorraine's head flew up, catching Charlie's stare. She scowled back at Charlie. Lorraine directed her attention back to the young man she was conversing with, while Charlie's attention became focused on the strange happenings in Mr. Graham's home. Stepping into the house, Charlie noticed a foul odor. The home she visited earlier that day couldn't be the same home she was standing in right now. The decorative flowers and warm colored pastels that covered the walls were now mustard colored painted walls. The bright welcoming furniture with figurines placed on all of the old fashioned traditional coffee tables and cabinets were replaced with mismatched thrift store furnishings. Charlie walked further into the home, the foul stench became more apparent. She could barely swallow as she tried to hold her breath. She needed to exit the house like really quick. She looked down at the items on the floor of the hallway that lead to one of the bedrooms. It was Deja vu from what she saw in the alley behind the diner- another face mask. She knelt down to get a better look at it. Charlie gasped as she stood up quickly. Her head started spinning, her body felt weak. Mr. Graham? Charlie questioned the face mask identity. Nearly choking on her own vomit, Charlie's eyes became watery, her nostrils burned as the odor became impossible to breathe in. Charlie stumbled out of the house, eyes closed she had to feel her way out. Her throat was itchy and agitated from the fumes. While inside of the house she could smell gas mixed with some other waste material she couldn't at the time put her finger on. Screw calling in to the station, she was getting the hell outta Black Creek as soon as possible. Charlie almost ran back to her car. The sun was setting and she didn't want to stay around to see what kind of freaky things came out at night. It was just as few hours before the curfew was in place so people were still out walking around and having what they would consider late night coffee dates. Charlie went to turn the ignition and remembered that the only gas station nearby would be a few miles outside of town. She was on a half a tank of gas. “Let's hope that gets me home or to the next gas station.” Charlie didn't look back when she sped off down the street. “Now leaving Black Creek.” Charlie stated under her breath as she drove like the driver of the getaway car of a bank heist that just went down. Charlie drove for what seemed like hours before she heard the humming sound coming from the car's engine. It take less than hour to get back to the city and even less time to get to the nearest gas station. Charlie looked down at the gas meter it was still on a half a tank. “Just my luck it’s probably broke.” Night had fallen. A thick fog moved slowly throughout the darkness. The road was pitch black. It didn't help that there were no light poles for miles from what Charlie could gather. Charlie pulled over to the side of the road. The headlights flickered off-the sound of the vehicle's engine roared then died out. Charlie stepped out of the vehicle and examined the condition of the car. White smoke seeped out from under the hood. Charlie walked around the car and popped open the trunk. Taking the flash light out, Charlie shined it into the darkness. A dark shadow moved within the fog as it traveled through the darkened path off the road. Charlie hopped back into the car, she tried starting the car and heard nothing but a click. “You got to be kidding me!” She checked her phone, the battery was dying. “This day just keeps getting better.” Charlie tried to make a call just as another call came through. “This is Charlie.”
“You were due back to the station a half hour ago.” Charlie rolled her eyes when she heard her partner's voice, Jake on the other end. None of this would be happening if he was in place when she got the first call. Jake would have been by her side to help her through all the craziness.
“I got stuck in Black Creek, following up on a missing person case.” Charlie sighed.
“You're where? You weren't supposed to go out there!” Jake's voice was full of unexplained emotion that Charlie couldn't make heads or tails of.
“What are you talking about? I was sent on this wild goose chase by yours truly.” Charlie tried to ignore the beeping sound coming from her phone.
“Charlie what's your ETA?”
“It's not looking to good. My car. There's something weird...I can't explain it.” She looked around for her car charger. Dumping out the contents of her purse over the passenger seat, just her luck, there was no charger.
“Where are you?” Jake was undoubtedly concerned for Charlie's wellbeing. Usually whenever he took on the big brother complex, it always made Charlie feel safe. This time it just made her fearful.
“I'm on I-10. I think. I should have been back in the city by now.”
“I know, don't worry. I'm connected to your GPS location. I'll send that over to the stations' roadside service.” Charlie opened her mouth to speak...dial tone. “Ok then. Well bye to you too Jake.”
Charlie waited in the car. She felt herself become overwhelmed with anxiety. Time moved in slow motion or at least that's what it felt like. The dense fog covered the entire area. Appearing in the fog was a dark shadow. It moved forward, becoming more visible. “What the hell is that?” Charlie now frightened, she tried starting the car up. Charlie pressed her feet against the gas pedal, the sound of the engine clicked. Charlie beat her fist against the steering wheel. “Damn it!”
Charlie picked up her phone and tried dialing her office. Two rings and the phone went dead. “Just great!” She looked in the rear view mirror and saw a pair of headlights. She tried to turn on the car's lights but nothing happened. Excited, she jumped out of the car with her flash light.
Charlie began turning the flash light on and off, praying that it would help the traveler to see her from that distance. The lights traveling through the darkness got closer and appeared much larger.
“Hey slow down!” Charlie yelled out. A vintage beat up ford truck zoomed by. A gust of wind blew past Charlie as her eyes stayed fixated on the truck. Charlie took a few steps back as the truck disappeared into the darkness. A loud scream trailed off into the woods. Charlie could hear the sound of the truck stopping on its breaks.
The truck's tires skid against the pavement. Charlie flashed the light in the direction of the passing truck. No sight of the truck. Charlie ran around to the driver's side of the car. “What the hell is happening? This isn't real. It can't be.” Frustrated Charlie tried once more to start up the car. Tears form in her eyes out of an undesirable feeling of fear that rushes over her. A feeling of someone watching, Charlie turns her head to see a dark figure staring back at her with white glowing eyes. Charlie makes out the figure to be a young girl. Sitting at the edge of the road rocking back and forth her eyes staring directly into Charlie's. Tears fall from Charlie's eyes, she turns the key in the ignition and taps her foot against the gas pedal.
A cold chill surrounded Charlie as a white cloud of smoke formed from her lips. The car's windows fog up. Ice builds up on the windshield. “Come on...damn it!” The engine rumbles then starts up. “Yes!” Charlie screamed out in excitement.
Charlie arrived back in Cowford with the welcoming of bright shiny lights that lit up the entire freeway. It was great to be back home, well at least she was no longer in Black Creek. Charlie thought.
You're back, I didn't hear you come in.” Charlie, slumped down in the leather chair, her feet up on the desk. “Remember 'stealth mode'.”
“Regina's in her office.” Susan replied. Her voice hoarse, almost a whisper.
“OK.” Charlie replied nonchalantly. “Where's Jake?” Charlie opened her eyes to see Mark, another detective in her unit, hovering over Susan. A slight smirk tilted the corners of his mouth.
“What's with him?” Charlie pointed in Mark's direction. Startled, Susan turned around to find Mark standing over her like a tree hovering over a bench in the park. Susan looked at Charlie then her eyes wandered up at Mark. “Alright then. Well if anyone need me, I'll be at my desk.” Susan sashayed away. Her hips swaying with each step. Mark watched her walk back to her desk. Charlie would swear he was drooling but there was no one around for her to place that bet.
Mark, was the tallest man Charlie ever had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with. No longer phased by his odd admiration to shorter and plumper women, Charlie focused her attention back to resting her eyes. Everyone in their less than 20 man unit knew that Mark had a deep infatuation with Susan, everyone but Susan. Mark’s efforts at wooing Susan continued to be an epic fail, not that the poor guy didn't try his hardest. I heard you were on one crazy adventure in the mysterious town of Black Creek?” Charlie opened her eyes to find Jake at his desk, pretending to be working. “To bad my partner wasn't here to accompany me.” Charlie stated in a playful, yet serious tone that only Jake would understand.
“I'll make it up to you. I promise.”
“Oh you will, you can count on it.”
“So what happened?” Jake was eager to hear how Charlie's day went. He knew she disliked small towns. Black Creek was no ordinary small town. They placed 1st in the strange and unknown.
“Let's just say I'm glad to be back in good ole boy Cowford.”
“Well that's new even for you.” Regina the unit’s Chief Officer walked in to the room. Regina spoke directly at Charlie. “Did you follow up on that lead like we discussed?”
“I did. You'll have the report on your desk first thing in the morning.”
“How about tonight before your shift ends.” Regina turned to walk away when she looked back at Charlie. “That shouldn't be a problem right?”
“No sir.” Charlie retorted.
“Good girl, Knox. I'll be waiting on that report. Carry on.”
Charlie sighed. Her feet hit the floor with a loud thud. She could feel Jake's eyes on her. She refused to look in his direction.
“How about we get some drinks after our shift ends. “I'm buying.”
“How about we...don't.”
“Charlie come on. There's no need for you...”
“Jake I'm tired. I've had a rough day. I'm going to finish this report then go home.” Charlie typed away on her keyboard never once looking up to catch Jake's pleading puppy dog eyes.
Charlie finished her report. She sent it to Regina by carrier. Before Susan returned Charlie had rushed out of there. She didn't worry about the station calling her, for her cell phone was still dead.
A little about my novel Black Creek
Black Creek is a fictional romantic paranormal novel following a young Detective, Charlie Knox who struggles with who she is- a foster kid with no real memories of her childhood. She stumbles upon a mysterious town and becomes closer to discovering who she really is without even knowing it. Charlie will embark on discoveries that will lead her to experiencing an odd world of unexplained phenomenon. This is a fast paced read full of quirky and humorous dialogue, an adventure ride with a bit of mystery.