Things Slip Through

Things Slip Through

By:  Crystal Lake Publishing  Completed
Language: English
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When a child mysteriously disappears from a small town and even his mother seems indifferent, it’s time for the new sheriff to step in. Meet Chris Baker, the new sheriff of the quiet Adirondack town of Clifton Heights. As one inexplicable case after another forces him to confront the townsfolk in The Skylark Diner, it’s the furtive Gavin Patchett that hands Chris a collection of not-so-fictional short stories that tumbles him into a world of monsters, ageless demons, and vengeful citizens. As Chris reads through the stories the veil starts to lift, and he soon questions what is real and what’s not, and whether he really wants to know. Nothing will ever be the same again. ©️ Crystal Lake Publishing

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25 Chapters
August5:00 PMClifton Heights, New YorkIt’s Poker Tuesday. My daughter Meg is at the sitter’s and my friends and I are relaxing on my front porch, enjoying a few quiet drinks after we wind down from our respective afternoons. Father Ward stands beside me, Fitzy leans against the railing at the porch’s end and Gavin sits on the railing across from me. I’m sitting in my favorite Adirondack lounge chair.The warm summer air is quiet and still, save for the distant buzz of cars easing their way down Henry Street. Usually, this is my favorite night of the week; an evening of carefree leisure, when the world’s troubles are held at bay by camaraderie and friendship, and beer and pizza, too.But tonight is different. Tonight, everything may fall apart because the things I’ve ignored for so long can no longer be dismissed and I must speak, risking at the very least our friendships, at the very worst this place I’ve come to call home.And the others se
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The Skylark Diner5:30 PMSomehow I’m not surprised when Gavin walks into The Skylark alone. No one said much as we left my place, but I sensed—through body language, maybe—that this was Gavin’s job, telling me the truth or whatever passes for it in this town.A nice town, dammit, in spite all of this. Picturesque, a postcard-beautiful Adirondack town as charming as Inlet or Eagle Bay but not as touristy as Lake George. And the people here have been nothing but accommodating and pleasant. Word of the new Sheriff in town (also new widower with an only daughter) has paved the way for fruit baskets, pies, homemade bread, frozen venison and casseroles galore, all this past year.But as time has passed and the town’s strangeness has bloomed, it’s dawned upon me that maybe this town is too accommodating, because someoneshould’ve petitioned the Town Board for my immediate resignation a long time ago, especially considering all the odd cases I haven’t been able to s
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She swings the hammer down again and again. Bone crunches, blood splatters. Her stomach churns as she raises the hammer to swing it down once more . . .But she stops and squeezes the hammer’s slick rubber grip. Blood oozes between her fingers. The hammer shakes in her hand.And then she drops it to the pavement where it hits with a dull ring and she looks at what she’s done to his face, and realizes . . . she likes it.And wants to do it some more.She kneels and sobs.Then vomits.MondayGavin Patchett glared at the stack of essays sitting on his desk, then glanced at the first one before him. He tapped it with his red pen, leaving clusters of smeary crimson dots near its heading. He read the first paragraph, squinted and read it again, hoping it would make more sense the second time.It didn’t. Just made him feel tired was all.He closed his eyes, sighed and rubbed his warm forehead. Maybe he’d call in sick tomorrow, sta
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3.I lean back against the booth’s thin leather cushions and pull my hands away from the journal, staring for a moment at Gavin’s elegant script. The words themselves seem to shiver and twitch across the page.I look up at Gavin, who’s nonchalantly devouring the stack of blueberry pancakes he ordered while I was reading.My mouth opens, but nothing comes out.Fortunately, Gavin speaks for both of us, after swallowing a forkful of syrup-drenched pancakes. “That whole thing was horrible, and I feel awful that it took a tragedy like that to sober me up. But after everything died down, when I finally dried out . . . I knew things had to change. I haven’t had a drink since.”I reach toward the journal but don’t touch its pages. It’s as if I’m afraid of something happening to me if I touch it, which is ridiculous. It’s only a journal. Paper bound by a leather cover.That’s all.“You wrote this. After it happened?”He reaches for his glass of orange juice, compliments of the waitress,
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Way Station
WAY STATIONIt was QuestCon, New Hampshire’s largest SpecFic convention. Attendees packed the main lounge of Portsmouth’s Holiday Inn, bunching up in clots around tables and chairs and the bar, chatting with old friends, hitting up new ones. Con veterans worked the scene, happy to be among colleagues and friends. Younger, more inexperienced folks bounced nervously about, balancing between worshipful awe and their overwhelming desire to be “noticed” by peers and role models, and amongst them drifted fans asking for signatures, wondering respectfully (most of the time) when their next book or comic book would hit the stores.It was a full house, everyone busily engaged and enjoying themselves and, Jim Goersky couldn’t help but feel, glancing at him and Gavin Patchett from the corner of their eyes.“Listen, Franklin,” Gavin snapped into his cell phone, “the distribution sucks and you know it. Why the hell weren’t there more copies of Forever War at the Barnes & Noble here in Portsm
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4.Gavin has finished his pancakes and is now sipping from his coffee, watching me with a neutral expression. I again push the book away from me, as if prolonged contact with it could hurt me, somehow.Which is ridiculous.It’s just a journal full of stories, that’s all. So what if Gavin’s story about the Pital girl was eerily accurate? Gavin wrote fiction for a living, he made stuff up. That’s what writers do, right? Make stuff up.Right?I meet Gavin’s calm gaze and speak carefully. “So. This story’s . . . a . . . what do you call it? A metaphor. Symbolic. Of how you realized there was more to life than your writing career.”Gavin raises his eyebrows and says, “Is that what you think it is?”I clasp my hands together on the booth’s tabletop so hard my knuckles ache. “I don’t really know what to think, Gavin. You brought me here with cryptic allusions to a Truth, then have me read these stories . . . ”I wave at the book and I swear Gavin’s flowing script wavers and trembles,
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The Water God of Clarke Street
THE WATER GOD OF CLARKE STREETIt was a cold winter day and Carolyn O’Neil was pissed off at her imaginary friend Bob the Water Sprite.“I hate you Bob,” she rasped, trudging through powdery snowdrifts, “I hate you! Adam Stillman thinks I’m a freak, and it’s all your fault!”“I hate you.”Her angry footsteps scraped the frozen sidewalk and her ponytail swished against the back of her neck as she recalled today’s disaster in sixth period study hall. It had been the most humiliating experience ever and she had Bob to thank for it.Adam Stillman was the most popular boy her age. Athletic and graceful, with brown hair teased into a skater cut, his bright blue eyes made her knees buckle. She tutored him in Math every sixth period but they might as well live on separate planets. He was a basketball god that all the cheerleaders worshiped. She was the kinda-chubby smart girl everyone ignored. He only tolerated her because she helped him keep his grades up so he was eligible to play ball.
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5.Our waitress (whose tag reads Cassie Tillman) refills Gavin’s coffee. She offers me some, I politely decline, and as she walks away a startling realization hits me: our waitress, Cassie Tillman.JennyJenny Tillmanyou know . . . the senior who wears the purple eye shadowand the short skirts all the boys likeThe implication sends ice down my spine.If all these stories are true, or, as Gavin puts it, have Truth in them . . . how many are about folks I know?For example, Jenny Tillman. Cassie Tillman’s younger sister, a high school senior. She disappeared back in March. Got into a big blowout with her mother and stormed out of their trailer in the Commons Trailer Park on the edge of town. She was last seen hitching along Bassler Road, toward the interstate.Will I read a story about her next? Or maybe a twisted tale about how my next door neighbor—a gentle, seventy year-old retired nurse named Maude—is really a dedicated Satan-worshiper who dines on the flesh of cooked bab
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The Gate and the Way
THE GATE AND THE WAYThe woods behind Bassler House stank worse than anything Jesse Kretch had ever smelled. He looked up to bitch about it to Scott, but a tree branch smacked him in the face before he could speak.“Ow! Dammit! Watch it, Scott!”Small lines burned his cheeks. Scott looked back as he pushed through brush and more branches. “Sorry. You okay?”“Yeah. Guess so. Stings like a motherfucker, though.”“Pussy.”“Ass.”“Whatever. Just keep movin. We don’t have all day. Gotta have Mrs. Wilkins’ yard mowed by dinner.”Jesse scowled but said nothing as he followed Scott through the woods behind old Bassler House. They could’ve taken the easier way along Bassler Road, but that started off the end of South Main Street and looped around town. Way too long. This shortcut—through the woods behind the Commons Trailer Park—was quicker.But smellier, way smellier. The air reeked of bad milk and old piss. Mounds of bulging white plastic bags dotted the ground, some split open like
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6.“So that’s it?”I ask as we descend The Skylark’s front steps into the nearly empty parking lot so Gavin can take a smoke break. “Jesse Kretch is gone?”With a quick snap Gavin lights the cigarette in his mouth with a battered old Zippo, takes a drag and releases a gray-blue plume of smoke into the black sky. He stuffs the lighter into his front pocket, then sucks on his cigarette some more, its tip glowing a bright orange. He blows out more smoke and says, “When’s the last time you saw Jesse? Do you remember?”I close my eyes, thinking quickly. The answer comes sooner than I’d like. “New Year’s Eve. A few weeks after that 911 call. He’d been cutting up rough at The Stumble Inn. Drunk again, ranting and roaring his usual gibberish at the top of his lungs. That time, Deputy Shackleford and I brought him back to the jail so he could sleep it off. Next morning, I got him breakfast—coffee and an egg sandwich from the Quickmart down the road—gave him my usual speech about him sobering
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