Sounds from the Silence

Submitted into Contest #119 in response to: Set your story in a silent house by the sea.... view prompt

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Crime Fiction Mystery



         Wind howled through the trees along Route 611 with a vengeance so strong you would swear its main mission this November was to rip the entire Ocean City area off the map and hurl it as a package into the Atlantic that surrounded it.

     The time--around midnight on a Saturday night--the screeching of the breeze stood alone as the solitary sound inhabiting this stretch of Delmarva adjacent to the Maryland section of Assateague Island.

      The season of the year leading up to Thanksgiving the boisterous shouts of partying surfers on their way to catch the next wave or hook up with one of the feminine beauties of the Eastern Shore materialized nowhere near the area.

      Yet John Martins, normally one of the first of his crowd to head for the inviting ocean during the summer, found himself this evening driving down the solitary highway on his way to South Point.

      Martins’ reluctant assignment, which he frightfully accepted from his real estate tycoon uncle, Harry Percipco, involved motoring through the cavernous woods to the long-abandoned Genesar mansion to secure it from uninvited overnight guests so Harry could bring in his demolition crew on Monday to prepare the creepy home for the first steps of what the Realtor hoped would become the resurrection of the site as a newly-renovated beach area getaway.

     “Don’t worry about it,” Harry told his nephew, “the place is so far away from OC and Salisbury that you’re not likely to run into anything but squirrels and owls, especially this time of year. We just want to make sure it won’t be a safety risk to our crews on Monday. I would have told my crew to secure it during the day, but final negotiations on the sale ran until nearly 5 pm when most of my guys had already gone home.”

     “Guess I have little choice,” John had shot back, “my lifeguard gig ended with the season and, even in this wide-open job, there are few openings for a high school junior with a c-minus average and next-to-nothing in the way of experience. Might turn into a little bit of an adventure. Sure the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office won’t pick me up for trespassing?”

     “I cleared everything with the authorities. They even agreed to have a patrol drive by from time to time in case you run into any problems.”

     So John took the drive slowly up to the decrepit ruins in the deafening stillness, practically jumping out of his skin every time a branch on the overhead trees cracked before falling to the ground.

      The stillness of the night and the lack of any illumination on the deep woods roads made the excursion even more blood-curdling.

     When he got up to the driveway at Genesar, the oldest abandoned property on the Eastern Shore, he made sure he had ample backup batteries for his super highpower flashlight. He also had made a point of having a full charge in his smartphone in case he needed to call for the help his uncle said he probably wouldn’t need.

     John carefully exited his car and slowly walked up what seemed like five miles to what had been the front door of the former mansion. He had brought plenty of locks and security fencing with him, but even the sound of his own materials scared him every step of the way.

     He finally entered the front of what remained of the “estate” and surveyed every corner of the structure with his flashlight.

     Everything seemed clear so he went to work securing as much of the inside of the structure as possible before unwinding the security fence, hammering it into the ground and locking each of the sections into place.

     However, a job which, in the daylight and under normal circumstances, should have taken only about an hour at most, seemed to have dragged on for half the night.

    Finally, just as John began to bang the last fencepost into place and jam the final padlock closed, a hard object struck him in the head, knocking him out cold.

     After several hours--seeming more like days--John finally awoke with a huge bump on his head to find many of the fence sections he had laborously locked into place now knocked to the ground. To add to his nightmare, he found the business end of a 357 magnum jammed into his gut.

     “If you want to survive until tomorrow, my friend, you will move very slowly and do exactly as I say,” a gruff voice attached to the body of a 300-pound weightlifter-type shouted to him as its owner emerged from the darkness.

     As soon as he regained what was left of his composure, John replied, “I’m only here trying to secure this site for construction of a new home. There’s probably nothing here that you would find of any value. Besides, how did you get past the sheriff’s department patrols?”

     The weightlifter voice replied, “Guess you haven’t heard the rumors of the bank heist proceeds buried here a few years ago. As for the deputies, not a problem for me to flatten the tires on their patrol car with a few well-placed shots.”

    “There’s no way anyone could hide any ‘treasure’ on this site, John said as he tried to figure out a way to overtake his behemoth captor. “My uncle’s crews have excavated every inch of this property so they can begin work on the new home on Monday. They surely would have found anything by now.”

      Just as John began to figure he probably had drawn the short straw in this deadly standoff he saw a flash of light and two welcome forms in sheriff’s uniforms emerged from the darkness to “take down” his captor.

     “The idiot didn’t realize any time we get knocked out of service our communications equipment automatically sends an emergency signal back to headquarters,” Deputy Harry Benson said. “Didn’t take long for a backup unit to get to us and give us a hand getting here. Hope you’re alright. We’ll take this joker back to the county lockup.”

     John nursed the few cuts and bruises he had from his “quiet night along the shore,” finished securing the site and sped back to his apartment glad to nod off for a well-deserved rest. 




November 07, 2021 21:37

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