Okay, so yesterday I posted a preview of Into Darkness as we prepare for publication. For those who read more into the post, realized that I teasingly just posted the first sentence. I know, not funny.
I’d like to make up for it by post the actual prologue to Into Darkness.
So here for your reading pleasure.
Jason R. Davis
JASON R. DAVIS
BREAKING FATE PUBLISHING
Breaking Fate Publishing
© 2017 by Jason R. Davis
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic and print editions, and do not participate in or encourage any form of piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Please visit us online at http://breakingfatepublishing.com
Jason Davis’ website can be found at http://jasonrdavis.com
Edited by: Kim Young, Kim’s Fiction Proofreading & Editing Services
Cover Illustration by: Jason R. Davis
Chief Winston sat in his squad car on the outskirts of town. As he often did on most weeknights, he had tucked himself back amongst the trees, hidden from the road. He’d rather be asleep than pulling over speeders or harassing any of the local kids for whatever shenanigans they’d get into. Not that he expected too much on a Tuesday night, what with school having started back last month. Most kids would be home working on homework, but there were still the rambunctious few who wanted to burn off that summer energy before fall really kicked in.
There were always going to be the troubled teens. The kids who wouldn’t be at home doing homework. He knew those were the ones he should be harassing. He hated to profile, but that was the way it was. They would be the ones who vandalized houses, egged the squad car, or even slashed his tires. They were his problem children. Many nights, he would just keep a watchful eye on them, letting them have their occasional night of fun. It usually never went too far. When it did, well… He’d put a stop to it. He’d been in town long enough, nearly fifteen years, that when things escalated, he knew which parents to call. He also knew who would care and who wouldn’t. It sometimes just came down to who was worth the extra effort. Some kids just needed a swift kick in the butt.
So far, tonight had been an easy night. There was a cool breeze blowing through his window, which felt good. He was parked just off the road where the old highway ended. A person either drove into the cornfield at the end of the road or they turned toward town. It wasn’t a place to catch speeders, although he would occasionally see someone run the stop sign. Sometimes, he would pull them over, especially if he saw an out-of-state plate. Most times, though, he’d just watch them. As long as they weren’t driving recklessly, he would let them go.
Parked down the driveway of a private property, it was hard for anyone to see him from the road. It was owned by one of the local churches. Not one of the large Catholic congregations, but a smaller Pentecostal operating out of a little storefront on Main Street. They bought the property nearly five years ago and had been raising money so they could build themselves a nice church. Why? He didn’t know, but maybe it had something to do with how often they were broken into and vandalized. However,the church still hadn’t been built. In fact, there was nothing out there except the driveway leading back into the long rows of pine trees. It was such a great hiding spot, he could just sit, nod off a little, and let the night pass around him.
It was a peaceful place. Standard, Illinois, was that little town, the one that most people just drove through and barely saw. It had a little police force, but wasn’t large enough to have a full-time officer during the day. It consisted of himself, he worked from four p.m. to four a.m. during the week, and the weekend warrior who did the same shift Friday and Saturday. If anyone had any problems during the day, it could wait. At least that was how it used to be.
Ever since he brought on Rob Alletto as his weekend warrior, he felt sorry for the former Chicago cop, working in a bonus for him to be on call during the day. That didn’t mean much more than a hundred extra dollars in the paycheck. For the most part, it was nothing more than the occasional call to get a cat out of a tree. Rob was a good guy, so Dan wished he could do more for him. He hoped the rumors he heard about the man’s house about to go into foreclosure were just that. He would hate to lose him.
Dan closed his eyes, leaning his head back against the headrest. Another cool gust came in through the window, the sweet scent of pine coming with it. In the distance, he heard the sound of cars passing on the freeway. It was a soothing, rhythmic sound, like the white noise tapes he had used back when he’d been trying to quit smoking. All they did was help him sleep. Damned things hadn’t done crap to help him quit smoking. Served him right, though. That was what he got for allowing himself to get roped into one of those late-night infomercials.
He felt his skin prickle, the breeze dancing along the hairs on his arm. It was reminiscent of camping and lying under the stars. There was a time he had no cares in the world. He was just another kid camping with his folks. Some nights, when things were quiet and the campground was nearly empty, he would lay on a picnic table, enjoying the cool night air. His parents would find him there in the morning, fresh dew covering his body, but it was worth it just to enjoy that little breeze.
He felt himself slipping away. He knew he should try to push it off, not letting himself drift into the darkness of sleep. It was still early, and if he were ever caught sleeping, it would probably be his job. A night officer who didn’t stay awake at night wasn’t serving and protecting. He would never get caught, though. Not by anyone who cared enough to do anything. Most people already knew he occasionally napped on his shift, but nobody ever said anything.
His head bobbed, sleep being a thief trying to steal him away. With a jerk, he came to full attention again. He wanted to just doze off and drift away. It had been a long day. The mayor now felt Dan needed to be in town meetings with him, so time he would have used for sleep had been spent in a stuffy room listening to town officials drone on endlessly. So sleeping tonight would be justified. It was the mayor’s fault he was exhausted.
Too bad he just wasn’t wired that way. It wasn’t in his nature. When he did take naps, it was never due to a desire to get out of his work, but because he had worked too much.
Then there was also the part of him that just refused to let him do it. Not because of a work ethic, but because his body sensed he was not in his bed. He would start fading away, giving in to the abyss, when…BAM…his eyes would fly open and he would sit rigid in the driver’s seat. Tonight, he was tired enough not to care about his work ethic, but not tired enough that his body was ready to ignore the lack of a bed. As much as he wanted to drift away, his body wouldn’t let him.
He felt sleep try to take him again, his head becoming heavy and slowly slipping forward. His chin rested on his chest, body slumping forward, going slack. He could feel his butt slipping in the seat.
And then he jerked his head up, the whole world jolting back into place. His eyes opened and the fog of exhaustion faded away. He wasn’t sure, but it felt like the car had moved when he jumped.
That was it. He had tried to will himself to take a nap, but it just wasn’t happening. The best he had done was a little five-second power nap. He needed something to keep him awake.
It was funny how that little jerk out of a nap was enough to fuel a change in attitude. Where he was ready to just fade away a few minutes ago, he now had energy to get through the rest of the night. Of course, if he didn’t get moving, that would change in a few minutes.
He wasn’t going to catch anyone running that stop sign anyway, and had trespassed on the church’s property long enough.
They haven’t even made any effort to clear out the landscape. Yeah, that church is never going to get built.
* * * *
Minutes later, he drove down Main Street, the windows of his patrol car still down. It was just too nice a night not to enjoy the crisp air.
The town was so quiet and serene. This was the time of night he liked his job. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There was never really a time he didn’t like his job. He felt like it would always be his calling to be the chief in a small town, and Standard had long since become his home. Yes, there were kids who caused him problems, slashing the tires on the squad car and his personal car, damaging his property. He’d been upset at the time, but it was all to be expected. People always blamed someone else for their mistakes, and being the chief made him an easy target.
However, this was the time of night everything just faded into a memory. Yesterday’s problems slid back into the forgotten realms of confused thoughts, and tomorrow’s misfortunes were yet to be conceived. This was that time where reality seemed to slip into a lost void, everyone holding their breath for it to come back.
It was also the time when it was easy to believe there was no one else in town. That he was the last survivor of some horrendous apocalypse. That all life had been snuffed out. He could just sit and watch the rest of the world fade away. This was the quiet time.
He looked at the dashboard clock. Just past two a.m. He only had two hours left, knowing he would probably end up parking just outside the Casey’s to listen to the drone of the distant highway. Although he went off duty at four, he often stuck around until the opening cashier came at five.
Nancy was an elderly woman who shouldn’t be opening the store by herself, so he enjoyed making sure she got in safely. To repay him, she’d fire up the coffee machine before doing any of her other morning procedures, and he would enjoy the first freshly brewed cup of the day. On the house, of course, since the little gas station wouldn’t open until six and she would spend the next hour getting the cash ready for the registers.
He pulled into the lot and slipped past the dark gas pumps. They were old and not well maintained, making him question the last time they had been inspected. He guessed it couldn’t have been too long ago. There had to be regulations on pumps, the older ones being inspected more often, right? He had his suspicions they had barely passed. The things needed to be upgraded, maybe getting the ones that accepted credit cards.
God help how every damn thing nowadays had to be digital. Digital card readers, and now, according to the news, they had to have those little chips in the card to make us more safe.
Yeah, then how the hell did hackers get my info from the damn hardware store? Whole damn world is getting techsized, but it’s all going to hell for it.
With the gas station being so far away from the interstate, the business had been downsized to the point they barely stayed open, most people just getting the fresh morning donuts and the excellent pizza. He wasn’t sure if that was going to be enough to keep it competitive with the nice new truck stop out by the interstate. It seemed like the little gas station’s days were numbered.
He hoped not. The town was quiet, but the few calls he did get often came from trouble out at the truck stop. Hell, if those damn cashiers would stop doing God knows what with the truckers out there, his life would be simpler. But with the truck stop came updated pumps, fast food, and a little larger grocery area for the people who didn’t want to drive fifteen miles to the closest full-sized store.
His town had started changing, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to get up to speed with where it was headed.
He eased the squad car into his normal spot by the front door, facing the road. He could see the little field across the street that gave way to the woods and the large mound of shale left from when the town had been a coal mining community. That was long before his and many of the residents’ time. That hill at the outer portion of town was a remnant of a long-ago era. It was a mound that would probably equate three blocks wide and six blocks long, rising high into the sky and covered in trees. People were forbidden from going to it, which meant everyone did. They happily ignored the No Trespassing signs so often, there were well-worn trails through the woods leading up to it and a wide path that twirled around the little mountain leading to the top.
Military remnants sat on top. He wasn’t sure what had been up there at one time, but he’d heard something about a military radio tower. He’d never looked into it. Whatever it had been, a partial wall of one building and a cement slab of another still remained. He assumed that were the reason for the winding path to the top, although most kids liked using the direct paths up the sides because they were quicker, more direct, and more challenging. If he were still young and didn’t have the early signs of arthritis creeping into his knees, he might have enjoyed the climb.
He looked up at the large, dark shape. It was a mountain of black blotting out the deep blue of the night sky. It was so dominant and so much a signature of what would otherwise be a non-descript small town in the Midwest, he doubted anyone would have thought twice about the little town without it.
He paused, squinting, noticing something that shouldn’t be there.
There was a light at the top. An orange flicker bright enough to be seen through the trees and tall enough to rise above them. It swayed with the small gusts of wind, dancing its own hypnotic dance. He sat watching it. Someone was up there.
Well, there went his peaceful night. Crap.
He pulled out of the lot and quickly made his way around to the other side of the street, parking at the entrance of the long path. It was time for him to put his climbing skills to the test. He knew it would be so much fun doing this crap in the dark. He’d make it easier by taking the longer, winding path. It would be less likely he’d sprain his ankle or something. Flashlight or not, there were roots that were sometimes hard to see.
He put the car in park, reached for the radio, and called it in. When he set the radio down and got out of the car, he didn’t realize it would be the last time anyone ever heard from him again.