Chapter 25 - The Suspect
"Whaaat the fuuuuckk was that!" Squeezing himself out of the window of the passenger side door, Kevin places the working end of his shot gun in the dirt to sturdy his hasty exit of the wrecked patrol car, then blurts "Would someone please tell me what the hell I just shot at?"
The dogs were going mad, barking and howling like rabid animals, not only the ones he knew to be in the old ford truck that belonged to Mr. Johnson but the ones in the back yard of the house behind him as well. In the rear lights of the still running vehicle Kevin saw the two men that had been following him and Mark already out of the truck and half running in his direction.
"Who are you!" The Doc came running up his rifle trained on a figure just outside of the lights of the patrol car. Kevin's eyes followed the Doctor and could just make out the person in the dirt drive way his back turned to wreck and watching the woods where that thing had disappeared.
"Turn around slowly so that we can see you" The Doc again yelled in an overly excited voice.
"Doc, put your gun down NOW! Get over here and help me with Mark, he's not moving." Kevin had seen the man in the flash of the car lights as it was rammed into the ditch. He had seen that hairy thing bearing down on the stranger and the shots that kept the thing at bay for the short couple of seconds required for him to zero in and pull his own trigger. Whoever this person is, he is not the danger they have to look out for.
Looking back inside the passenger window Kevin sees Mark slumped over the steering wheel unconscious, reaching in he turns off the cars motor.
"Are you guys the police?" the strangers asks in a somewhat shaky voice just as old man Johnson hobbles to his side.
"Yes son we are, are you alright?" Mr. Johnson's flash light now shown fully on the man with the 1911 pistol still held at the ready in two hands where he continued to scan the woods that bordered his property. The stranger was clothed in a T-shirt, what was clearly camouflaged pajama pants and flip flops and therefore in the old man's eyes not a threat at all.
"Yes sir" There was a short pause "Whatever that was, it went crashing through the woods like a train heading north."
The car door creaked and groaned as Doc Baker put his weight into pulling it open. Old man Johnson flashed his light in that direction the damage to the vehicle now completely exposed.
"Holy shit" an exclamation coming from the old man when the amount of destruction the car had taken from that one hit became apparent. The rear passenger door had been caved in, shattering its glass into the back seat and the roof was crumpled into waves of sheet metal towards the center of the vehicle. It sincerely looked as if a semi-truck had broadsided them.
Kevin rounds the car and grabs the edge of the door with the doctor pulling it open.
With an "Oh my F-ing head", Mark slowly comes to. Leaning back he falls into the driver seat just as the Doc catches his shoulder to steady him.
"You alright there kid?" Although a complete asshole most of the time, an attribute he picked up over the years and which propelled him high into the hierarchy of the medical profession when he was younger, his training kicked in and his voice softened, sincerely friendly even to this young man that had been in the past quite disrespectful to his position and authority. "Let me see that head of yours, it seems to have taken quite a thrashing. Mr. Johnson, please give me some light here."
"Did you see it Doc? Did you see what hit us?" Mark, though groggy and hurting could still get his wits about him. "That wasn't no damn bear or wolf just like I said. It almost looked like a freaking human ape or something."
"I don't know what I saw but we'll get to that later. You have a nice cut on your head and you are going to have a good sized goose egg soon as well."
Kevin had gone to the back of the patrol car and opened the trunk pulling out a second flash light, a standard issue black Mag light with the weight of a baseball bat. Shining the flash light in front of the car he looked at the prints on the sandy road, hand sized prints of what could be a man or wolf, the same prints that he seen earlier in the pictures and castings. "Looks like we got our suspect. Mister, you hit it twice I am sure and that thing took my slug dead center mass and it kept on going."
"I hit it too." The doctor, looking over his shoulder stated, "It was buck shot which certainly wouldn't have killed it but there was no missing at that distance either."
"It couldn't have gotten far. Mr. Johnson, could you get your dogs out? We should set out right away to see if we can't find that thing." Kevin was intent on not letting the trail get cold.
"No sir, ain't gonna happen, not in the middle of the night. Not without more guns to come along. And, if you know anything about hunting and want to find that thing, you don't go running after it right away. If it is hurt, it will lay down somewhere close to die. If we go stomping through the woods to find it, it'll just get right back up and keep running."
Mark's voice chimes in, "Mr. Johnson is right, if it is only a wounded animal then there will be hell to pay if we should stumble upon it and it isn't dead. What I saw before it slammed into our car though, that wasn't any animal that I have ever seen before and I think that my suspicions might be proving correct."
"That wasn't a bear and it wasn't a wolf. Whatever it was, it was skulking around our trailer and scared the shit out of us." The stranger now bent down looking at the pool of blood, chunks of flesh and hair in the middle of the road where the beast had landed after it had been shot. "At first, my wife and I thought it was one of the neighbors' dogs. They get loose every now and again and like to visit us here to see if they can find any scraps of dinner on the ground or they go digging through the garbage leaving a mess. But when I came out to scare the dog off that isn't what I saw. If it wasn't the dogs or either of those two animals, what do suppose it was? It sure as heck didn't look like an ape, almost like someone in a Halloween suit except for the weird way the thing moved and was running on all fours."
"What's your name Mister?" The police officer in Kevin finally getting the overhand of the situation after that initial shock and the stranger's question requiring a delicate answer had him wanting to change the subject.
"Bruce, my wife's name is Chenny." The statement was given as a matter of fact as he again scanned the tree line.
"Well Bruce, those were a couple of excellent shots that may have saved your life. If you would please, could you return to your camper while we close off the scene here? Your help was very much appreciated but we need to gather some evidence." Kevin looked at Mark who was already out of the car and rounding up the necessary materials to mark the crime scene. "A little later on we would like to get a written statement from you if it isn't asking too much?"
"Sure. Just knock on the door when you are ready. We'll be up, I don't think the wife will be getting much sleep tonight after all this commotion."
Mark's radio breaks the near silence just as residents and campers stirred up by the gun shots and howling of the dogs begin to arrive at the scene, "Suspect in custody".
Remembering his orders from earlier that afternoon Mark pulls his cell phone and dials the Sheriff's number. "Sheriff? It's Mark. Who do you have in custody?"
"We found Joe Allerton at Aunty Ann's and took him into custody" Jack had been hoping that this move would result in a calm evening but continued, "Since we locked him up at the court house I have received about forty calls regarding shots fired out at the Black Tree campground. Are you in that area?"
"Yes Sir, we are and we think that we may have run into the perpetrator."
"You have 'run' into him? Do you have him in custody?"
"No Sir and I am not so sure if it was a him at all, more like an it."
There was a short pause from the Sheriff, "What road are you on?"
"Not sure Sheriff,… just follow the crowd, it looks like half of Shawhanee county is showing up."
"Those shots, were they from you then?"
"Yes Sir, we were able to wound the suspect before he,… it got away."
"And old Johnson? Did he meet up with you?"
"Yes, he's here and at the moment helping to hold back the onlookers."
The Sheriff took in the information but knowing the experience of his troopers, even if Kevin was on site, he preferred to see things first hand, "I'm on my way."