Tag Archives: Stop N Go

34: Harsh Truths


The Sad Man is talking.

I am talking.

So hard to stay focused and


Hank sighs as he gets out of bed. “Time to make the doughnuts,” he mutters. The joke isn’t funny anymore, but it’s all he’s got left. He kisses his fingers and presses them to Allison’s picture. She looks strange this morning. Harsh. Cold. Dead. Must be the light. Awfully bright. Awfully clean. Awful. It’s making everything in the house more… stark. Real. Hank blinks once, twice. Then he makes up his mind. Takes a shower. Shaves. Gets dressed. Then he picks up the pistol and


The Sad Man keeps talking. “I’m sure you’re feeling disoriented, Agent Matthews. It’s the Osceola. If you’re not used to its effects, it can be overwhelming. For a man of your capacities, especially. Different minds, different places. Even time distorts. Sometimes I think that riding is harder than being ridden. Depending on which of the Ahtunowhiho is doing the riding, of course.”

I look at myself dumbly, and look back with sympathy in my ancient eyes.

“I’m speaking in riddles. My apologies. It’s just so refreshing to speak with someone who shares the gift. Someone who’s not a snake, at least. Poor Oscar. It’s unfortunate what we’re going to have to do to him. But again, I’m speaking in riddles. We should start at the beginning.”

I blink, look around. Pause politely as I get my bearings. “Liar’s Path,” I hear myself say. My voice sounds strange, thick. Clumsy. “Can’t believe you.”

I smile sympathetically at myself. Already, I’m annoying myself. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to believe me. I know the urge to lie here is strong. But I’ve long since learned to fight it. Besides, it’s…” I trail off, give myself a measuring look and


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32: Heads Full of Light


Carried I’m being carried through the dark the night the dark and the Mountain and the door and the light and


Edna sits, sobbing, in the beer cooler. Cecil is gone now, gone off into the night, nimble and crazy and cruel. She shouldn’t have done it, he said. Shouldn’t have loved him. Shouldn’t have let him love her. Nothing good can come of love, he said, and as the light shines in and floods the cooler, she knows that he was right. He spoke the truth. The ugly truth. Ugly like her old woman’s body, exposed and cold and shriveled. Bulging in all the wrong places, sagging in the right ones. She feels his old man’s seed leaking out of her, cold and spent and useless, and she knows the truth.

She’d known it before Cecil, of course. Known it for years, on those dark lonely nights when she couldn’t sleep. She ignored it when the sun was out, ignored it and threw herself into her work, keeping this damn store running and running and running and running. Threw her everything into it, and what did it give her back? Never what she needed. And so she’d starved, shrunken down into a nosy old biddy. A busy-body. A character, to be laughed at and never understood.

Oh, how she longed to be understood.

But she’d killed a man with her love, and put it away, and waited too long to find it again. So many years wasted, cold and alone, and now… She despairs that anyone will ever understand her again. And without that, what’s the point?

She sobs again, blinks away the tears, and her eyes fall on a shard of green glass, glinting in that horrible searing light. Piece of a bottle, she thinks. Big piece. Big enough to…

She unwraps one of her arms from around her breasts, reaches out, and


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Report 4: Three-Biscuit Rule


The ransom demand for Alexandra Melmoth’s safe return has thrown my view of this case into turmoil. Why the ritualistic knife wounds on the Phillips boy? Why leave his body in such a remote location? Why the finger? If it was to inspire fear in the family, surely sending them the digit directly would have been more effective. And considering their reputation, who would have attempted to scare them in the first place?

All of this was racing through my mind as I awoke from my disturbing dream to meet Sheriff Patton at Melmoth House. The formerly-tantalizing smells of the Opa Lodge’s Continental Breakfast filled me with dread this morning, and I rushed past the dining room, head down and gorge rising in my throat at the memory of the Horrible Noise. Instead, I stopped for a quick breakfast of coffee and a cheese biscuit at a convenience store called the Stop N Go.

The biscuits are apparently made fresh every morning by a little old woman named Edna, who dutifully rolls out the dough each day and wraps it around handfuls of cubed cheddar. Heart-stoppingly delicious. At least, they were for Edna’s husband Frank, who had two every morning before heading out to tend the fields. After he passed, Edna sold the farm and used the money to open the Stop N Go. Amazing the things people will tell you while you wait for fresh coffee to brew. That coffee wasn’t great, but the biscuits and the company were. I promised Edna that I’d be back for more, and she warned me that she had a strict three-biscuit rule.

“No more than three a week for anybody,” she said. “I won’t have another man’s death on my conscience.”

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