Dawn awoke, its head buried in pillows of thick wet fog. News that the resort’s restaurant had burned down two years ago not a surprise. Needing gas and breakfast the couple shared the map with the bleary-eyed night auditor propped up all elbows at the front desk.
“Jeez, I’m not familiar with this map at all,” puzzled lips, dull feigned interest.
“Now if you go back ’bout thirty miles you’ll find the lake and another lodge. Restaurant there,” waking slightly.
“Or,” offering a different solution, sensing the pairs skepticism, “you could head twelve maybe thirteen miles that direction,” thumb bent north. “There’s a quick stop place, mostly bait, tackle, hunting supplies, but they should have something, some beers.”
Fog hung low, heavy near the ground, quicker lighter near things, swirled about. Leaving trace moisture on surfaces, droplets on leaves and dead petals, wisps prying at seals picking at locks, waiting at the car.
Feeling more like fifty-seven miles fighting visibility the midnight blue Subaru was angling into the first of four crudely marked parking spots off the side of a silvered shed of smooth wind polished cedar. STO L crudely hand-painted in an arc above a tilted threshold. Front door refusing to close, refusing to open, undecided, buffeted by a new breeze.
Adjacent to the Subaru, but by two of four white lines, a black Ford F-150, mud encrusted, tailgate secured though not closed completely, the result of severe damage to the left rear of the vehicle. A thick wrought iron chain finished that business. Strapped down in the center of the truck’s black vinyl bed were four one-hundred quart coolers, stark white and in shocking contrast to the bottomless hue of the vehicle. Refrigeration assured with the addition of heavy silver duct tape strapping. Act complete with .308 Winchester racked across the rear cab window.
Exiting on the right between the Subaru and the truck, it happened before the woman had even closed the car door. Sound of cold iron chain raked against rigid steel, claws scratching seeking purchase on slick vinyl bed-lining, saliva flying, fangs bared, sick yellow breath. Jaws snapping tight within inches of her head at the furthest limit of the chain’s protection.