Writing never had been of any interest to Patric. Throughout his life, it was his older brother, Sean, who had been the creative and artistic one, while Patric quietly had assumed the role of the unknown introvert. But for years now thoughts and ideas had been filling Patric’s head in a constant war against his shyness and his overwhelming fear of failure kept his innermost peace and ideas all balled up way down inside. But now Patric found himself busy scribbling in his notebook and his virgin thoughts flowed from his fluid ink pen onto the next blank page like water seeping through a busted dike. Maybe the time was inevitable, or maybe it came from the fact that for the first time in his seventeen years he had finally been left home alone. His parents had decided to take a trip to Wheeling (to bet on the dogs) and his brother was off in Blacksburgh attending school, which left him alone as the man of the house. The creative ideas may have been coming from his freedom or maybe it was from the three empty bottles of beer that he had taken out of the fridge, but whatever the case Patric had a sense of inspiration up to the point that the ideas refused to slow down.
The two-story Tooley house was barely lit downstairs and the outside grounds had fluorescent spotlights. Patric’s room, though, was only lit by the soft glow of a forty-watt bulb in his desk lamp. The only thing more looming than the quiet darkness shared by the inside of the house and nature outside was the deafening silence that filled them both. There wasn’t a sound to be heard. No dogs barking, no cars passing, no crickets chirping, no hooting owl or croaking frog. Simply nothing.
But none of this seemed to register with Patric as the only sound that he was concerned with was the scratching sound made as he dragged his pen across the paper. He buried his head and worked feverishly as he lost himself in a zone of solitude until a distant wail pierced through the otherwise quiet night. An approaching siren was soon followed by pulsing blue lights until the shrill cries stopped leaving only the lights to dance upon the Tooley’s house and fill Patric’s open window with their hypnotic beams. The quiet creeping of the once loud entrance followed by its sudden interruption startled Patric and woke him from the trance he had been in coming from reading over what he had been writing. The presence of the police car outside had sobered him up from his daze and with a cold water splash, Patric began to realize that what he had been writing about was full of violence and menacing images that made his empty house now even more empty than it was before.
“Damn, where did all of this come from? It sounds like Stephen King or something,” Patric mumbled to himself as he gazed out of his window down upon the police cruiser sitting outside. What had begun as a quiet, peaceful night of relaxation was swiftly turning into a dead-calm, never-ending night to be filled with solitude.
Patric shook the cobwebs from his hypnotic state and his safe sense of adult given freedom was being replaced by a heightened sense of fright. Finally, the sound of alarmed dogs filled the crisp night air and sobered Patric up enough to flinch alive from the comfort of his reclined La-Z-Boy recliner.
“Christ, what’s next?” Patric asked himself only to have his question answered by his ultra-paranoid ears detecting the sound of an additional wave of police cars approaching.
“Damn, thanks a lot,” he answered himself, “I wonder what’s going on?” Patric made his way to his second-story window to survey the situation before turning his attention to his 19’ color t.v.
“And in our top story this evening, a Raleigh man is being sought after tonight in connection to the brutal slayings of seven motorists at a rest stop along Interstate 77. We will have more details on our eleven o’clock broadcast,” the anchorwoman said before the station returned to a rerun of Law and Order.
“Shit, that’s frightening,” he said as his thoughts became suddenly complicated by the chimes of his front doorbell. Patric rushed back to his window to see who was at his front door and saw that it was a member of the Sheriff’s office. He raced downstairs to see what he could find out from the lawman.
Patric opened the door,” Yes sir, can I help you?” he asked through the crack of the door which was still on its chain.
“To who am I speaking?” the man asked while thrusting his beam of light through the crack and into the darkened downstairs of the Tooley’s house.
“My name is Patric Tooley.”
“Well, hi, Patric. My name is Barnes. Deputy Barnes. Can I speak with your parents, Patric?”
“Oh, I am sorry, but my parents aren’t home tonight.”
The deputy’s face was hidden by the shadow of his cap but Patric could tell by his demeanor that he had become troubled. “I see. So you are home alone then?”
“Well, they sure picked one hell of a night to leave you here by yourself. You really shouldn’t be alone tonight. I don’t want to scare you, but there may be a crazed, escaped madman hiding out in the area. Isn’t there anyone else that can come over and stay with you, or that you can stay with?”
“No, but I will be fine.”
“All right then, Patric, but listen. Make sure that you keep all of your windows and doors locked. And if you happen to hear, or see, anything just call it in to the 911 operator and we will be here asap. We will be in the area all night. Just ask for me, okay?”
“I will sir,” Patric answered re-securing the front door as the Deputy limped away and followed the shrubbery lined sidewalk back to his cruiser through the peephole. Patric noticed not only the man’s physical impairment, but also that he wore an obviously elevated heel on his left boot and there was the peculiar absence of a sidearm. What kind of cop doesn’t carry a gun? Who was this guy, Walker…Texas Ranger?
“Calm down Patric,” he said as he slapped his own head, “Your minds playing tricks on you.”
And Patric went back upstairs and into his room.
“Damn, it’s almost eleven. I’d better turn on the tube. I don’t want to miss this.”
“The Twin Cities Highway area was shocked this evening as several bodies were found along Interstate 77. News-center Eleven’s Night-desk has learned that State authorities had a suspect in custody at one time, but the suspect was successful in a daring escape from authorities. The suspect is described as a white male approximately six feet in height and weighing 180 pounds. State police confirm that the suspect was, indeed, injured during the escape and is not believed to be armed but is considered to be extremely dangerous,” the anchorwoman continued before Patric turned off his TV And made his way towards his phone.
There was just something uneasy about the Deputy that Patric had talked to and he had to be assured that he was indeed a cop, so he picked up the phone and called the Carrol County Police Department.
“Carrol County Police Department, what is your emergency?” the voice asked. Patric was unprepared and he froze for a moment.
“Um, yes, I was just wondering, could I talk to an officer named Deputy Barnes?”
“Please hold.” the operator said as the phone line went cold for a couple of anxious seconds. “Yes, we have him on hold. What is the nature of your call?” and the connection went dead as Patric hung up the phone with a feeling of assurance that the Deputy did, indeed, exist.
Patric quickly became tired of watching the night’s excitement of the patrol cars routinely driving back and forth through the neighborhood and he decided to go to bed. Before he tried to sleep, though, he checked every door and every window of his house to make sure that they were all securely fastened, but even with his house totally locked down, the fact could not soothe his thoughts as his head rested upon his pillow and his excited mind flirted with the idea of an escaped maniac and it’s entailing reality of total loneliness, until his energetic visions subdued and he finally drifted off to sleep. His sleep was neither long nor restful, though, as he was suddenly awakened by a large, strong hand shaking him by the shoulder.
“What– what do you want?” Patric asked in a panic expecting it to be only in his dreams.
“Take it easy. It’s me, Deputy Barnes,” said a voice making Patric realize that this wasn’t a dream but very much a reality.
“What are you doing here? How did you get in?” he asked withdrawing from the lawman’s grasp while reading his name tag and glancing down at his feet. Patric noticed the right name but the height of his boots were the same. His shadow cast into the hallway was obviously clear but his face remained cloaked in darkness by the halls light coming from behind him.
“Look, there is no time. Your front door was wide open so I came inside to check up on you. I think that our guy might have gotten in.”
“All right,” Patric answered as he rose from his bed and wiped the sleep from his eyes then followed the Deputy out of his room.
“I think that he might have struck again. I’ve found two patrol cars with their officers dead inside. You might be lucky that I got here when I did or you might have joined them,” the still unseen voice of Deputy Barnes said. Patric followed on the back of his savior until they both came to the top of the stairs where Patric reached down and grabbed a lamp from the end table. He gripped it tightly with both hands and drew it back ready to strike.
“Where’s your funny shoe and your limp?”
“What, my shoe? Are you serious right now? I took that off and put on this soft sole so that I could get around better and you better thank God that I did, I might have just saved your ass.” the hidden figure answered. “Now come on, put that thing down and let’s go!”
Hearing these words from the dark figure caused Patric to lower the lamp and watched as the Deputy approached. When Patric felt that he was just close enough he pulled back and struck quickly knocking the Deputy down. He dropped like a wet towel upon the floor and Patric hurriedly made his way over him, down the stairs, and towards the front door. As he reached the final step of the stairwell Patric noticed a silhouette rising out of the darkness and from behind the couch, causing him to not see the hallway table in front of him.
“Patric! Wait, come here!” cried a voice from somewhere within the house as two gunshots were fired and Patric fell to the floor. He regained his balance and crawled on all fours towards the door as another round was fired, soon followed by the heavy thud of a fallen man, followed by the reassuring voice saying “It’s okay now, Patric. Everything is all right.”
* * * * * *
The following morning the Tooley’s returned home early from their trip and were greeted with the sight of a crime scene, ambulances, and State Police cars. They were quickly ushered away to the local barracks to be filled in on all of the details of the past night’s events.
Inside of the Tooley’s home was the bodies of two officers Deputy James Robinson, and draped over the couch was Deputy Todd Barnes. Scattered about the house in three separate rooms were the dismembered remains of one Patric Christian Tooley. The suspect was not caught and still remains at large.
Credit: Brady Sheets
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