People stumbling into Jack Hawthorne’s little town of Reeve’s Creek isn’t anything new. It happens from time to time. Those who need a safe place to hide from the world. Not the same way he needs a safe place, mind, but he lives with it and keeps to himself on the edge of town.
Then two come at once. One is an irritating blip on the radar of his quiet life no matter how much this stranger upset the town, and the other ... well, Sheriff Mason Carrow is there to turn Jack’s world upside down. Which is unexpected, and Jack can handle that. Mason likes to hand him surprise after surprise, though, and Jack’s in too deep before he even knows what hit him.
The monster in the swamp on the western edge of his territory is something else. It’d take some real special care to deal with, if Jack manages to keep the good Sheriff Carrow from getting in the middle of that mess.
A light flashed on the road some ways ahead. It was too dark to tell what the light was all about, but Mason's curiosity and instinct for trouble urged him on. The light blinked out as it entered the treeline off to Mason's right. He jogged a little in the hope of catching up, but the light had vanished like it never existed. Something crunched through the leaf litter though. He stayed still for another minute and the light came on again, farther into the trees. It jumped around as it lit up the ground and Mason saw it blink through a gap about halfway through its arc. Maybe they were legs in the way of the beam? The leaves crunched under shoes, from the sound of it, which meant this was probably a person. Mason almost called out to them to find out who the hell was stupid enough to wander into the woods at night this deep in the Texas backwoods, but he clamped his mouth shut.
People who lived in Reeve's Creek seemed to be sensible. And Jack probably warned everyone about the forest. It stood to reason the only one who would ignore Jack's advice was someone who hadn't heard it. A stranger to the town. The same stranger lurking around and giving residents the creeps. Who seemed to be on the hunt for something. That was Mason's biggest question. What the hell was this guy up to? Especially out here in the dark?
Another light bloomed into existence off to Mason's right, pale blue and higher than the flashlight far in front of him. This one bobbed and weaved behind the tree trunks. It seemed to want Mason to look at it if he had to guess from the way it moved. But Mason had this guy in front of him and he was too busy trying to keep up and stay inconspicuous. Leaves crunched loud under his boots though. Maybe Mason was lucky enough that the creeper couldn't hear him over the careless path he was making.
The blue light danced farther ahead of Mason until it became a speck in front of him. It didn't seem to be in front of the stranger directly. At least the figure he was following didn't obscure the blue light at all. A weird feeling raced up Mason's spine with winter cold fingers and goosebumps broke out in a riot along his arms and the back of his neck. A whisper floated past Mason in a jumble of nonsense, deep and sweet to the ears. Without his conscious input, Mason's path veered toward the ball of light. That voice pulled at the pit of his stomach and damn, he had to know what it wanted. Maybe he could help. The white beam of the flashlight changed course too, toward the same thing he needed to follow. Mason stopped and shook his head. The pull lessened. The flashlight moved faster, the underbrush crashed into and scattered at a fast pace. Whatever the stranger was after, the light must've been his goal.
It wasn't a surprise when the two lights met and vanished, and Mason was stranded in the dark. They were moving away from him, leaves still crumbling under shoes and the sound of it fading away as they moved away from him. A growl worked its way up his throat and he kicked at the ground with his right boot as he spun around. He didn't like losing a person. At least he was close enough to the tree line that he didn't get lost as he left the shelter of the forest.