This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
It was a dark and stormy night. Along a rain-drenched highway, a worn white Land Rover rumbled through the puddles and ripples, its headlights penetrating the overwhelming darkness a short distance ahead. Inside the car, the driver and passenger talked in quiet tones.
"Are you sure it's around here, Junior?"
"Positive. Chet gave me the directions, even wrote them down on a piece of paper."
"So where is this piece of paper?"
A pause. "I lost it." A moment later: "But I made I memorized 'em first. So don't worry, Roy. I know that camp is around here somewhere." John Gage leaned over the steering wheel and squinted, trying to pierce through the pounding rain and make their destination appear by sheer willpower.
Roy DeSoto restrained a sigh and leaned back in his seat. He'd known this was too good to be true. Joanne had insisted on taking the kids to see her mother, and if not for his partner's perfect timing in suggesting this weekend camping trip, he'd have been stuck going to see the old battleaxe too. Ever since that day he'd been thinking that sooner or later, he'd pay for such good fortune, and at the moment it looked like someone was about to collect, with interest.
Something--a sign, perhaps--caught his attention. "Junior. Over there," he said, pointing up ahead and to the left. "What's that say?"
Gage slowed the car and squinted again. "Can't tell. The rain's coming down too hard to make it out." His face brightened. "Hey, maybe it's the camp! I told you we were close!"
DeSoto weighed the possibilities. Either it was in fact the site--another 'too good to be true' situation--or it wasn't, in which case they could possibly rent a cabin for the night and find this Happydale Campgrounds Chet had so raved about in the morning. And if the place was full up--which, given this weather, he seriously doubted--he could at least find a bathroom, get a good cup of coffee, and perhaps directions.
"Let's head on up and see," he said to Gage.
* * * * *
"…Happydale?" echoed the woman behind the desk. "Oh, no. This is the K/S Corral Campground. You're about an hour's drive south of Happydale." She bent down behind the desk and fished around for an area roadmap. "Myra, have you seen the maps?"
The other clerk, who was working in a back room, poked her head out. "Second drawer on the right, Clara."
While Gage waited to get directions, DeSoto stood nearby, a cup of coffee in his hand. He wandered aimlessly around the room, wishing that there was a better radio station on. He'd never cared for the song "Sometimes When We Touch". And he had to wonder who on earth had decorated this place--the collection of Greek urns that seemed to be everywhere just didn't fit the overall décor.
"Roy?" At the sound of Gage's voice calling him, DeSoto looked up. "According to this, we took a wrong turn about forty-five miles back. We'd have to backtrack to the turnoff, then drive another half-hour or so to get to Happydale." Gage sighed. "Whattya want to do?"
DeSoto walked over to the desk. "Ma'am, do you have any cabins available for tonight?"
Clara nodded, an odd, almost eager smile on her lips. "As a matter of fact, sir, we do. The price would be seventy-seven dollars--our standard price plus eight more."
"What do you think?" DeSoto asked Gage.
"Well, to be honest, I'm kind of tired, and I'm really not looking forward to driving in that rain some more." Gage rubbed his neck. "Let's stay here tonight and find the place tomorrow."
"Sounds good." DeSoto handed the woman four twenties.
She smiled brightly--a bit too brightly--and handed him a key. "Thank you very much. You've got cabin sixty-nine, sir." She tapped a cabin layout map that lay beneath the desk glass. "Down a bit that way and to the left. Have a good night's sleep, and enjoy your stay at the K/S Corral!"
The two men nodded and were about to head back to their car when something caught Gage's attention. "Excuse me," he said to Myra, who had replaced her co-worker at the desk and was rummaging around in the desk drawers. "I couldn't help but notice you've got cameras all around the camp?" He pointed to a bank of TV sets, most of which displayed exterior shots, but a few were showing the insides of cabins.
"Nothing to worry about, sir," Myra smiled. "Merely security precautions. We want to make sure nothing disturbs our guests. Oh," she added as an apparent afterthought. "You'll want to lock your car doors and cabin door tonight."
"Oh?" DeSoto asked.
"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing," the clerk said with a dismissive wave. "There's just some reports of a felon on the loose."
The two men froze in their tracks "A felon?" Gage asked.
"So they said on the radio. Some crazy slasher type."
* * * * *
Despite being soaked to the skin, Gage made very very sure the door was securely locked before proceding. DeSoto, meanwhile, had made the first unpleasant discovery. "John, there's only one bed in here," he said.
"What?" Gage came over and shook his head. "Well, that's stupid! Why did she give us this room when she could see there were two of us? I mean, come on!"
"Maybe it was the only one available."
"Did you see any other cars out there?" Gage demanded.
"Well, no," DeSoto replied after a moment.
"I ought to call her and demand another room! Man, this ticks me off…"
DeSoto shook his head. "Look, it's late, it's bad out there, and I don't feel like going all the way back up there, getting a key, and coming all the way back." He pointed over to the far wall. "There's a sofa. One of us gets the bed, the other gets the sofa. Okay?"
"Okay." Gage thought about it a moment. "Who gets the bed?"
"You drove. Go ahead." DeSoto started to peel off his soaked clothes. "I'm going to take a quick hot shower, okay?"
"Sure thing." Gage reached down and pressed down upon the mattress; it responded with a loud, resounding squeak. "Geez, when's the last time they replaced the furnishings?" He sat down, briefly bouncing up again before settling down, and looked around the room before glancing down at the bedside table. Having nothing better to do, he opened the drawer and looked inside. "Weird," he muttered, pulling out a huge jar of Vaseline. "Usually people leave Bibles in there."
The sound of muffled cursing came from the shower. "You okay in there?" Gage called.
"I'm fine," DeSoto yelled back. "The soap keeps squirting out of my hands, though, that's all."
* * * * *
DeSoto turned the lights out and headed for the couch. He could hear the incredibly loud sqeals of the bedsprings that indicated his partner was settling into bed. The springs made getting to sleep difficult; every time DeSoto was just about to drift off, Gage would shift position, starting a squeaky symphony that took a minute or two to die down. Sighing, DeSoto rolled over on his side, away from the bed, and closed his eyes.
A drop of water hit his neck. Seconds later, another drop struck. The assault continued in random intervals, making it a perfect example of the Chinese Water Torture. DeSoto groaned and rolled over into a sitting position. It figured. It really did. Well, there was an easy solution to this. He rose to his feet and bent down to pull the sofa away from the leak.
A minute of futile tugging passed before he discovered the sofa had been bolted to the floor. "What kind of place is this?" DeSoto muttered as he sat back down to consider his next move.
DeSoto looked over at Gage, sound asleep in the bed that suddenly to his viewpoint had just enough room to comfortably hold two men. Barely enough. Probably.
Gage stirred sleepily. "Hmmph?"
"There's a leak in the roof, over the sofa. And the stupid thing's bolted to the floor. I can't move it."
Gage set up, accompanied by the springs section of the orchestra. "You're kidding."
"I wish I was."
"So what are you going to do?" Gage asked, scratching his head.
"Well," DeSoto said slowly, "if we squeezed together…"
"Here?" Gage said uncomfortably. "With me?"
"Junior…" There was a no-nonsense tone in DeSoto's voice that said don't even start down that path of thinking, because I'm not in the mood for it.
"Okay, okay." Gage scooted as far over to the left side as he could; DeSoto did likewise on the right side. As it was, their backsides barely touched each other, but it was the best they could do under the circumstances.
"This place is nuts," Gage muttered over the springs as he settled down to sleep.
"Got that right," DeSoto said back.
* * * * *
Gage's scream and the subsequent wailing of bedsprings shocked DeSoto out of a deep, sound sleep. "What, what, what?" he cried out, trying to get his bearings. He remembered something about a crazy slasher and wondered if the madman had tried to make his move on his partner.
"YOU WERE NIBBLING ON MY SHOULDER!!!!" Gage screamed at the top of his lungs. He was standing by the far wall, the bedsheet wrapped around him like a toga.
"Wha…?" DeSoto sat up and tried to think. He'd been having a dream about Joanne; she had been wearing that silk nightie that she saved for 'special occasions', and was playing hard to get, but he'd always known what to do to make her give in…oh God.
"Junior," he began, "I was dreaming…"
"Oh yeah!" Gage bellowed. "I don't wanna know about what! Man--and you're married!"
"I thought you were Joanne!"
"GAH!" Gage scrambled to wrap the sheet even more tightly around him.
"John, for God's sake…"
"I'm sleeping in the bathtub!"
DeSoto sighed. "John, it's a shower in there."
Gage paused, then headed for the door. "Where are you going?" DeSoto asked.
"I’m going to sleep in the car!"
"Don't be an idiot! It's raining, and there's that slasher…"
"I'm safer with him than with you!" The door flew open, then slammed shut; DeSoto listened for the sound of a car door opening and closing, then sighed again and settled back in the bed.
"There had better be a decent cup of coffee in the morning," he muttered as he went back to sleep.
* * * * *
Clara and Myra watched the Land Rover all but roar out of the main drive. "Well, they were certainly disappointing, in my view," Clara clucked.
"I know. And such potential there, too, even if it was just for a moment." Myra sighed sadly and reached for the master keys. "I suppose I'd best go tidy the room up…" Her voice drifted away as a police car rolled up the drive into view. "Oh my…what could this be about?"
"I don't know, Myra." The women hurried outside and greeted the two clean-cut officers, who were just emerging from their squad car. "Can we help you?"
The driver, an older, red-haired man with kindly if bland features, doffed his cap. "How do you do, ladies?" he said politely. "I'm Officer Malloy, this is my partner Reed. We've been assisting on this manhunt…"
"Oh," Clara beamed. "The mad slasher!"
"That's correct, ma'am," Malloy nodded. "Anyway, we've been out searching all night and need a place to rest for awhile. One of your local officers…I believe his name was Harris…suggested your cabins."
"Would you have anything available?" Reed asked.
Myra and Clara glanced at one another, then smiled brightly. "As a matter of fact, we do," Clara said. "Myra was just about to tidy the cabin up, and then it's all yours. Right this way, and we'll get you checked in…."