The Walker on the Hills, Chapter 3

It was a long drive to Coldwell, and we didn’t get started until late, so it was getting dark as we drove into town. Perhaps not the most auspicious beginning.

The town itself was set well back from the interstate, a good five miles down a winding county road. It had apparently been on the old highway, before the interstate, and was still hanging on, even though there wasn’t much to keep it alive. There weren’t even many farms in the vicinity, though a sign just as we turned off the interstate, lit up by our headlights, announced the presence of the Bar-13 ranch, about ten miles in the other direction.

Mostly it was five miles of rolling hills, sagebrush, bunchgrass, and the occasional stand of trees in the low ground where there was more water. The trees were already clumps of darkness against the grasslands that were already going gray in the growing twilight.

There weren’t a lot of lights on in Coldwell. There was a gas station on the edge of town. As I got a good look at it, I thought Ray had been rather overly charitable in calling it a “truck stop.” The pumps were ancient and rusty, and the building behind them was dingy, the paint peeling where it wasn’t dirty enough to turn from white to gray. It looked like the windows hadn’t been cleaned in a quarter century at least. At least the lights over the pumps were on, though the building itself was dark.

Only about three streetlights were lit down the main drag. They didn’t help. All they seemed to do was show the decay. Sidewalks were overgrown with weeds, and more were growing out of cracks in the street. Several of the old storefronts were boarded up, and one was visibly sagging toward the street. Another was burned out, black sweeps of soot staining the dingy paint as well as the buildings closest to it.

It wasn’t that late, so there were still a few people out and about, but most towns I’d been in still showed more activity. The place almost looked like a ghost town, with a few scavengers still going through the detritus. But it was still, as far as we knew, a living town, albeit for certain values of “living.”

Continue reading “The Walker on the Hills, Chapter 3”

Caveat Emptor: Oris and Force Reconnaissance UPDATE

UPDATE: Oris’ CEO has written to the CO of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, and is seeking to donate to Recon non-profits.  It appears that they are sincere, and got led down the wrong path.  Good on ’em.


Recently, the Swiss watch company Oris announced that they have entered into a partnership with Marine Force Reconnaissance, and are selling a watch with the Force Recon logo on it.  The truth is, Oris is NOT in any way actually partnered with the Force Reconnaissance community.

Continue reading “Caveat Emptor: Oris and Force Reconnaissance UPDATE”

The Walker on the Hills, Chapter 2

Gravel crunched under my truck’s tires as we rolled up Ray’s long driveway in the dying light of the next day. Eryn was half asleep in the passenger seat, her head lolling against the window. It had been a long day.

There had been a lot of questions in the Forth Police Department. A lot. And no surprise, really. They had a missing kid, bleached human bones, a weird pile of ash and greasy rags, three very traumatized teenagers, gunshots, and two people from out of town who weren’t terribly forthcoming as to what they were doing there with the kids or what they’d been shooting at. Any cop worth his or her salt would be inclined to throw everybody in jail until they had answers.

Fortunately, we were saved a lot of time and heartburn by a curious side-effect of the hag’s spell. While the kids had appeared comatose, they were in fact completely aware of their surroundings the entire time. Hags are cruel creatures.

Continue reading “The Walker on the Hills, Chapter 2”

The Walker On The Hills, Chapter 1

Eryn sniffed the air as we stepped inside the entryway. “Do you smell that?” she asked.

I couldn’t very well have missed it. The stench, like a mix of mold, formaldehyde, and rotten eggs, had slapped me in the face as soon as we’d opened the door. “Oh, yeah,” I said. “Hag. Crap.” I took a deep breath, redolent of the stink, and steeled myself as I closed the creaky door behind us. “I just hope it hasn’t fed yet.”

The house could have been on a “Haunted Houses R Us” poster. Three stories, abandoned, with the porch sagging off the front of the house, all the paint peeling off, and not an unbroken window in sight, it was, of course, a prime attraction for the teenagers in Forth. The locals had stopped even bothering to try to lock the place up, since every padlock they put on the door ended up getting cut off with bolt cutters. Even if it hadn’t, the ground floor windows didn’t have any glass in them, so there really wasn’t any keeping people out, without putting a 24/7 guard on the place.

Eryn and I had gotten the call about this one because there was some suspicion that something more dangerous than just teenagers trying to scare each other in the dark was going on.

Continue reading “The Walker On The Hills, Chapter 1”