It Escapes Me – 2nd Issue of Shoe Factory Road
By: Chris Darkes - August 28, 2015
Category : Shoe Factory Road, Writing
Episode 2 — Part 2
After realizing I never posted the second part, I figured it’s overdue to release the second half of this episode. Without any further waiting, I present the second episode of the second issue of Shoe Factory Road. Enjoy, and stay out of the woods! For Part 1.
Fixated on the scrapbook. Each page: another killer, another disappearance. Some infamous, others unknown. Years apart, but all during the same month. This month. The rainy season. Bill smiled. Maybe it was him who could produce a body this time for Old Orchard. The game was really beginning to shape up.
A thunderclap of lightening cracked outside. The reverberation rattled the house, causing an already wired Bill to drop the side of the book he was holding, sending it tumbling over itself before shutting on the floor. His ax gripped again tightly. Bill’s eyes were giant, as they darted side to side in their shiny sockets. Listening for any movement. The rain, faintly heard outside. He moved on, carefully placing the weight of his wet shoes.
The next room was the kitchen. The light significantly reduced as a single lamp hung over a wooden table. The outside rain squiggled against the tiny cabin window over the sink, making shadows dance on the walls. The sink was empty and everything seemed to be exactly in its place. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for the old wooden table…
Scattered across the table — a pile of blank paper, translucent rubber gloves, a jar of glue, a razor, and a half assembled document pasted together with magazine letters, each in a different typeface.
Bill slowly stepped towards the document, but stopped short. A shadow painted across the floor. This one belonged to whatever was on the other side of that wall — but this one didn’t move like the others.
In fact, it didn’t move at all.
Someone was standing on the other side. Bill knew it. The bill of a baseball cap jutted out slightly, just enough to calculate the person had to be least 6 feet tall. Bill leaned softly against the wall, gathering the ax to his chest.
Electricity ran through him. The insatiable taste of death approaching. White-knuckling the ax. Counting down in his head. One…two…In one motion, he swung the ax around the corner with full force. Letting out a scream, animalistically.
The ax tore through the wall so much Bill had to coil back from the momentum. A plume of wood splintered into kindling . Nothing but a rack of hunting coats and hats had been on the other side. A single yellow umbrella fell across the floor. Bill, stunned, threw his foot against the wall and yanked the ax out, pulling half the wall out with him. Breathing heavily. A sheet of cold sweat glistened his forehead. The cabin — was too quiet.
Next to the coat rack was a doorway, with a staircase leading down into a basement. The lights were on, but something felt like a setup. He whirled around and ran for the exit.
His boot kicked open the rusty screen door, snapping one of the hinges. The rain now —
Falling through the tormented sky. Slamming on everything. Bill looked around to catch his bearings. He violently wiped the rain from his face with his cut up hand. Looking towards what he thought to be the direction of the way he came. The police had to be combing through that main road by now. He’d be stupid to head back that direction. Turning the other way, the distance to town seemed unknown. The car was probably his best route of escape. When he looked down – little pinholes where the rain had poked through the dense fog, and vanished just as fast, made it extremely difficult to gauge anything near his feet. Bill stopped. Frozen. He just remembered the bear trap.
Could there be more? he asked himself frantically.
Then something caught his attention. A small beam came on in the distance. Then off again. Back on again. Bill squinted to see what was emitting that. The single light cut across the mangled profusion of trees, as Bill followed the source. Moving like a ghost in the foggy terrain. Ax in hand. He ducked behind a rotted out tree, and then forward again. 100 feet. Now 75 feet. “Could be a cop,” he momentarily pondered. Must have left a piece of evidence while heading into the woods. “A bloodtrail?” “A footprint?” No. The hellish rain would have washed that clean, instantly. Inching closer now. The details became visible. The piercing glow of a pulsing flashlight was now in sight. Bill tucked himself behind a 10 ft wide fallen fir. Peeking beyond — a silhouetted figure wearing a raincoat, holding a yellow umbrella. The flashlight caught the rain beads that crawled down the umbrella.
The figure continued to methodically click the flashlight on and off. Waving the light in a horizontal, sweeping motion. Bill began to study the image in front of him. Just as he was about to get a studied look, the bright beam sliced back in his direction. He dropped like a brick, milliseconds before the light waved over his fallen body.
The fog provided a thin blanket, covering Bill in the puddles and moss. No way the figure could spot him. The ax right beside. Within 50 feet now, and the details began to sharpen. From this angle the light caught the jaw of a thin-lipped male. The man had been cracking a smile. Bill had also began to smile. His eyes were lit with a murderous glow. His prey so close. That excitement equivalent to tearing off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning…
Something stopped the man in the yellow raincoat’s thumb from clicking. The flashlight kept in the “on” position. The man kept the flashlight steady, and lowered the umbrella down towards Bill, angled perfectly over the light. The shining light revealed a smiley face, stenciled on the top. In a slow methodical pace, the figure placed the flashlight and umbrella on the ground, which in turn spilled light across the ground, revealing Bill.
Bill had no choice. His fingers found the ax handle and squeezed hard. Jumping to his feet, he charged at the figure behind the umbrella leaving behind a chemtrail of fog. The ax blade cut through powerfully — whistling from right to left. Nothing but air, as it sent out a whoooosh. He threw the blade so hard it slipped from his insane grip, and disappeared somewhere in the foggy abyss. Much like the ax, the person who was standing behind the flashlight was gone now, too.
But Bill wasn’t worried about either of those things, his attention was now focused on the creepy smiley face staring back at him. There was something taped underneath the inside. A note.
Bill kneeled over, and pulled the note towards his face. Scribbled in jagged capital letters:
it stated. The rain drops began to rinse the ink away, bleeding the words into fat blue streaks.
For the first time, Bill felt that sinking feeling. Despite the buckets of rain, he was soaked through in sweat. And whoever this person was, Bill was on their turf. No harm no foul. “Time to get the hell out of Dodge,” he succinctly decided. He tossed the umbrella away, and craned his neck. Now if he could just find his way back to the road, he’d be all set. The fun was over, and it was time to move on. After all, there were plenty of people left to kill when he arrived to town. Groping the flashlight and spinning it in all directions. Swirling around, the view looked the same both ways. It was like a twisted maze of pine and fog.
He decided to explore the area past the cabin, away from the road. Choosing his footing very carefully. The last thing he needed was a bear trap impeding his escape.
Back behind the cabins’s garage, he discovered the terrain sloped downward. Exposing a collection of creeks that drained to a retention pond, and three sewer pipes each about fifteen feet in diameter. Flanked by rocky walls. The entire distance of the pond was maybe 200 feet from end to end. It was the opposite way of the road, and a pretty safe bet nobody would find him that way.
Bill navigated the terrain as best he could, slipping once, but found his rhythm down the slick mud and grassy weeds that dressed the embankment. His legs started to burn like battery acid from all those miles on foot, as the rain continued to pummel the earth in heavy sheets. Flashes of lightening arced from horizon to horizon.
Playing the flashlight around one of the hallow, rusted pipes he found foot-deep water, drooling out. Nothing visible beyond 20 feet, but it looked like it went on for some distance. Turning around, Bill waved the flashlight across the way. He noticed above him, from this new angle there was a bridge that ran above the river basin. Oddly quaint, it strung across the entire length, like an accordion. The bridge was in perfect alignment to the hill, invisible from where he had been standing earlier. But too high to climb to. He followed the bridge with his eyes and flashlight to the pipe below it, and began feverishly trudging through the creek; his legs continued to weigh on him like cement shoes.
There, he pointed the light down the tunnel. At the other end, there had been clear moonlight, albeit through a heavy-gauge wire mesh fence. The sewer drains were pouring in water from the ceiling and walls, gushing out at knee-level. The water was a plumy shade, and aggressively launching out from the pipe, towards him. There was really no other choice. That had to be the way to town.
Negotiating the cruddy walls, Bill slipped to one knee, choking in some muddy water, before getting back up. The water levels had been rising at a moderate pace, and working against him. When he eventually reached the end of the tunnel, he noticed a rusted mesh corner folded inward. Pulling with all his might, the metal refused to peel. He began violently pounding the flashlight against the mesh. The rust must have locked the grate in place. The light, not surprisingly, shattered.
The water had risen to waist level. Bill didn’t give a shit. He was desperate. Hungry, tired, and didn’t get to kill anyone tonight. Bill was at the very end of his rope.
Reaching his right arm through the other side, he tried to use his body weight to fold the metal. The feeling of thin, crisp air on the other side. Almost there. Instead though, a metal handcuff clamped down hard on his wrist. The other cuff slapped across the outside bar grate.
Bill stunned, looked up to reveal…the man who had been holding the umbrella, earlier. This time though, he was not holding an umbrella. He was not smiling. He was just…standing there. Right on the other side of the mesh fence. His face visible now. It was long and pale. Wearing a raincoat and underneath a black three-piece suit. His voice was a mellow, pleasing one. “Hello there, convict,” he said calmly. Bill was frozen solid. For the first time, he realized the feeling each of his seven victims felt. The man in the raincoat gestured at the cuffs cutting into Bill’s wrist. “I see you enjoy the thrill of escaping, as much as I enjoy the thrill of hunting.” The man gave a pensive look at Bill for a moment. “Let’s see if you can break out of these bars, before I cook you for dinner.”
Bill wailed at the top of his lunges, echoing through the pipe. He yanked back on the cuff so hard, it snapped his wrist like a tree branch. The water rose to neck level, as the man in the raincoat stood there, in complete stillness. Bill lunged against the mesh fencing, unbelievably pissed off. Ramming against the metal fence, fighting for his life. The water rose above Bill’s head.
That would be his last memory, before a rush of rain water filled his lunges.
The man in the raincoat stood there, watching Bill’s cuffed wrist thrash violently, and then become lifeless. It hung there like a broken windsock, as the man fished something out of his pocket. A tiny steel key, unlocking the cuff. He used the same key, and unlocked two thick padlocks on the outside, that had been just out of view from Bill. The locks clicked open, sending Bill and a rush of rain water spilling out right in front of the man in the raincoat.
Later that evening, the man in the yellow raincoat (who was now just wearing dress pants, and a dress shirt paired with a paisley tie) gave one final glance through his binoculars from the safety of his cabin’s window. He was seated in the rocking chair. The rain smacked across the window like a tiny hammer, but from his view it was more like looking through a painting, with the lightening occasionally changing the color palette.
He rested the binoculars back on the table, next to the police scanner that had been filled with the occasion chatter the man in the raincoat had been monitoring for his next target. (Or if the police had any discovery of his last target.) He ladled another scoop of meaty, hickory chili from the pail hanging over the fireplace into a ceramic soup mug.
It tasted fresh, because it was fresh. The left side of his lip sported a smile of glee.
The police scanner was busy with talk among the small town’s law enforcement with the pursuit and capture of Bill Cottington. “10–98 still in progress,” the scanner pulsed out. An officer chimed back, “10–4 base camp, yeah me and Steve are lapping back towards ya. Far as I know, this guy split town. Nowhere to hide in this storm.” Nowhere to hide, indeed.