A mysterious man has come to Spirit Falls. Does he have something to do with the new diner, or maybe the disappearance of the town's mayor? Sheriff John Darkman needs to find out the answers to both questions.
Noah Graham is also curious about the mystery man and the new diner. Then he meets the man, Arik Dalca, who offers him a job as a waiter there.
When the mayor reappears and begins to sicken, John and Noah discover the real reason Arik has come to town. Shocked and horrified, they are drawn into what is happening in their town.
In the process of trying to stop the horror, Noah begins to fall for Ewan, one of Arik's team members, and John is drawn to Arik himself. Can the four men -- and the town -- survive what is to come?
With the permission of their respective bosses, Noah and Cody had joined in the search for the mayor. The team they were with was responsible for checking the north side of Spirit River from the top of the falls down to where it went under the bridge, a quarter of a mile from the Irish Rose, and entered the town proper.
"I really, really hope we don't find him," Cody said as he studied the rocks along the side of the falls. "I mean ..."
"I know what you meant," Noah assured him. "We want him found, but alive. Not here or at the bottom of the falls, torn to shreds by the rocks."
"Exactly." Cody shivered.
They continued their trek, moving slowly; afraid they could miss something if they didn't. At one point a shout was heard over the roar of the water. They turned in unison to look back at one of the two other men on the team. He was kneeling on a rock, peering down into the water. A moment later he stood, shaking his head and waving them on.
"False alarm," Cody said with a sigh of relief.
Noah nodded, glancing toward the top of the falls. "Who the hell is he?" he asked, pointing up. "I saw him there yesterday."
"No clue," Cody responded. "Never saw him before that I know of. What's with the hat? It makes him look like something out of Solomon Kane or Indiana Jones."
"Except he's not wearing a longcoat, or whatever it's called, if he's going for the Kane look."
As they watched, the man turned abruptly, stepping off the rocks onto dry land and vanished into the trees.
"Just like he did yesterday. There one minute, gone the next."
"He really is a vampire hunter and he staked Mayor Dunn then took him up there and threw him over the falls," Cody said with a grin. "Naw. The mayor goes out in the daylight. Scratch that thought."
Noah chuckled. "You, my friend, have some strange ideas. I guess we'd better get back to looking for him and pray we don't find his body."
* * * *
By early evening all of the search teams had returned. There was a mixture of emotions -- dejection that they hadn’t found the mayor somewhere, alive if injured, and relief that they hadn't found his body. But above all else was puzzlement.
"He can't have just walked away, or run away," one of the men said, stating the universal feelings of the others.
"Agreed," John replied. "However --" he spread his hands in resignation, "-- we also know he's nowhere in town because we searched any vacant buildings or presently unoccupied houses. If he did hike off on his own into the mountains for some reason, and fell into an old mineshaft or had an accident, I'm sure one of you or your dogs would have found him."
"Then what the hell happened to him?" another man exclaimed.
"Rollie, believe me I wish I knew. We have an APB out on him in all of the towns within fifty miles of here. We know he didn't drive out of town, at least in his own car, since it was at Ms Miller's place. Of course there's the possibility that for some reason he was kidnapped."
"Wouldn't Maggie have gotten a ransom call if that was the case?" one of the women asked.
"One would presume so. So far, she hasn't. I've been checking with her almost hourly just to see how she's holding up."
After a few more questions along the same lines, none of which John had answers for, people started drifting away. The majority of them headed home while a few others made their way to Mike's Bar. John was tempted to join them but knew if he did he'd only have to field even more questions, or listen to off-the-wall ideas about why the mayor had disappeared without a trace.
So instead, he went home.