Jim locked at the lock. It was huge, sturdy, and probably completely indestructible. Even if he had a bolt cutter, which the piece of shit police car didn’t have, he wouldn’t be able to get it off. He couldn’t shoot it off, even if he felt like getting fired for improper use of his firearm.
“Well, shit,” he said.
He trudged back into the car and got inside, tried to get Nellie on the radio. Nothing. He tried the other channels. Nothing. He smacked the thing a couple of times with the flat or his hand. Percussive maintenance. Still nothing. He stared at the cable across the lane, and gave some brief thought to just ramming it with the car, but there was the matter of getting fired, although he figured that Emm might actually be glad to get rid one of these cheap ass pieces of shit they called police cars.
He shut off the car and stepped out into the snow. He zipped his jacket up the whole way and clicked on his flashlight and began walking up the lane. He wasn’t what you would call especially happy about the whole thing, and halfway up the lane he was starting to puff.
Shit. He was too young to be out of breath walking up the hill, but he’d been a two pack a day smoker since he was sixteen and, these days, was carrying around thirty pounds more than he ought to have been. He stopped for a second, standing under a tree to keep some of the snow off of him.
He realized that he’d automatically started to reach for a cigarette and had the pack half way out of his pocket before he stopped himself. He was taken, very suddenly, by the feeling that he was being watched.
He stood up straight and turned around, swinging the flashlight in a circle around him. He didn’t see anything, but then, there wasn’t much of anything to see. He shrugged it off and started walking up the hill.
Jim shrugged his shoulders against the snow and trudged on. The air around him felt wrong. He couldn’t quite explain it. He was close to forty years old and he swore at himself for getting creeped out by being alone in the dark. He’d spent more than one night alone out in the woods during hunting season.
But he still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was watching him. He felt movement out in the woods, somewhere in the dark and snow. Every so often he swung the flashlight off the road. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but the weight of the gun on his hip was assuring.
Jim could just about see the Pritchard house in the darkness. Without outside lighting, a night like this made the landscape nearly invisible. As he got closer, something was nagging at him about the house.
There were no lights. No the house lights, he knew those were off. But the house was completely dark. There should be some light in there. Candles, flashlights, something. There was no way they were just going to be sitting there in the dark. The house was dark and it shouldn’t have been.