To Catch a Creature Part 1
The battery was dead. In a matter of seconds, all three cell phones were drained of their power. Mike looked up; daytime, but the overcast sky created an ominous canopy over the travelers. The road was a simple two-lane blacktop highway with very little traffic even though it should have been a busy time of day. A mile up, the road split; one route disappeared into a thick forest of trees while the other led to a small village set into the hills.
Mike ran his hand nervously through his thick dark hair and shoved the phone back into his pocket, frustrated that the device consistently failed when they were on a job. He was actually more upset with himself that once again he had gotten them into a situation without an easy exit. Even though they were willing participants, especially when the pay was good, he knew they relied on him for safety when dealing with a dangerous mark such as this particular creature.
He looked at his team, hoping they didn’t hate him too much. Nathan sat on the hood of the pickup truck smoking a cigarette, his shaggy sandy hair blowing in the slight breeze. Reina paced in front of the vehicle that brought them everywhere these days. When she stomped like this, her long, lanky frame looked even more rail thin.
Reina hated the old truck, but all of their equipment was in there and Mike refused to transfer it to her more comfortable and better-smelling Rogue. Every few steps she’d flip her pin-straight, unnaturally black hair out of her eyes. She’d then meet Mike’s gaze with a sneer, reminding him how angry she was.
The creature had been haunting this area for decades, but no group had ever been able to successfully track it down. Some teams had gone missing altogether, and judging by their lack of functioning communication devices, Mike could see how easy it would be to get lost forever. The locals, though grateful for another team trying to help them with their issue, also warned that it wouldn’t be easy. One elderly woman with cataracts in both eyes blessed all three of them before they got back into their car. Another handed them a talisman that was supposed to protect them from evil at all costs.
Mike asked if they had come to a decision. He was going to let them choose their path. Forest or hills. Nathan shrugged his shoulders, obviously annoyed that Mike wasn’t making the decision himself as their leader. Reina stopped pacing and stared at Mike as if she were ready to tackle and punch him senseless. Her reply of “whatever you want” oozed with sarcasm and anger. Mike reminded them both that they came willingly, and just like last time, they were paid well for their time.
Reina rolled her blue eyes and walked toward the passenger side door. She heaved it open and sat in the gray front seat, her tantrum particularly dramatic. Mike knew she was still mad at him for almost getting her killed when they faced the spirit in the old hospital. Nathan took one last drag from his cigarette, hopped off the hood, and extinguished the butt with his black combat boot. He mumbled something unintelligible before entering the truck. It was obvious Nathan still blamed him, too.
After taking one last look at their options, Mike opened the driver side door and got behind the wheel. The forest made more sense. It had more places for the creature to hide. Even though that meant it had more places for the creature to get the jump on them, he knew the hills weren’t the right choice. The creature wanted seclusion when it rested. It only headed to populated areas when it wanted to feed.