Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 05 - "The Flathead Experiment"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

deduction, speculation and worry

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy,Sci-fi - Published: 2008-11-12 - Updated: 2008-11-13 - 844 words - Complete

It took almost fifteen minutes for John and Amy to get the ATV back onto the road. The two of them now stood before the ruined tree at the bottom of the hill. Wherever Shades was, he had at least a twenty-minute head start getting there.

But at least talking to Amy had calmed him down a bit. It wasn’t until after they were past the place where the hitchhiker vanished mere minutes ago that he remembered how nervous he was about setting foot there. Now he was beginning to question whether or not what he saw was even real.

“Do you think he might have turned around?” Amy asked as they examined the massive obstacle barring the way.

“I don’t think so,” John replied. “Hmm… he could probably hit these banks when it was dry out, but when it’s this muddy, he’d probably break his leg if he wasn’t careful.”

And, even though the rain had died down to a fine mist, if Shades had cut across the field, there would be tracks.

Perhaps Amy had thought the same, for she had ambled a little farther along the bank.

“And with this tree blocking the road, that’s the only way he could have gone,” she was saying. “We’ve got to go look for him. It’s a maze back there…”

She trailed off as she spotted a set of tracks going up the bank, on the less steep section near the edge of the field.

“Looks like someone’s been through here…” John remarked, taking a closer look. Two parallel tracks, going in, not out. “And whoever they are, they went the same way as Shades. From the looks of ’em, they belong to a pretty heavy outfit, like a truck or a van or something…”

“The Black Van!” Amy gasped.


“Haven’t you heard?” she demanded. “There’ve been a whole bunch of weird crimes around here lately… a hit-and-run, vandalism, couple break-ins, threats. And the only thing they all have in common is that witnesses say there was a black van involved every single time.”

“Oh yeah.” Now that he thought about it, he had heard something along those lines. “Haven’t they caught the guy yet?”

“No. That guy they arrested wasn’t him. Haven’t you read the paper lately? He struck again last night, in Somers.”


“So, I’ve just noticed something about all of the Black Van crimes,” she told him, a strange and distant fear coursing through her as she spoke. “All of them have been committed against students and staff at Flathead High.”

“You sure about that, dude?”

“Everyone of them, now that I think about it.” She knew, just knew, that she was on to something. She wondered for a moment why no one else had figured it out. Surely the police must have connected the dots, and she found herself irritated at the thought of them keeping a lid on it just to avoid a panic. Of course, unbeknownst to her, or the cops, panic in schools was the wave of the future. “And if that’s the case, he really is in trouble!”

“That’s what I’ve been sayin’ all along. Which is why I think we should leave this one to the authorities.” As far as he was concerned, they were in way over their heads. “We could get lost back there just as easily as he can.”

“I thought Dexter was your friend!” Amy snapped. It wasn’t that she didn’t understand what he meant; she just wasn’t sure she could live with herself unless she tried something. “What good will calling the police do if we can’t prove anything?”

“You know, we might be able to do both,” John said after a moment of thought. Amy was right. Shades was his friend, and they had to try. He was sure Shades would do the same if their situations were reversed. Though he wasn’t so sure they were up to this all by themselves. “If one of us went over to that house,” he pointed to Shades’ neighbors’ house, remembering that Shades’ own line was dead, “we could call the cops. We’d only mention the break-in, or they’ll think we’re nuts, and—”

“You do that,” Amy cut him off before he could finish, grabbing John’s helmet, “and I’ll go look for Shades!”

“Hey wait!” John called out as Amy revved the engine. But it was no good. He watched her back up to take a running start at the shallow part of the embankment, wondering where she had learned to ride. Fingers crossed, he saw her ride across the field, even getting down the steeper side beyond the fallen tree without incident. “You better bring that back in one piece!”

John wished her luck as she rode off into the dark woods. Shades, too. Then he turned to his own part of the plan, muttering, “Dad’s gonna kill me…”
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