Assignment: Rupert Hills
Kate sighed as she viewed the landscape around her. Alex was as good as his word, not only securing her job, but getting her promoted from journalist to field reporter. She’d already received her first assignment and found herself here, on the outskirts of a town about 45 miles from home.
It was farm country here. Black dapples spread over lush green, their brown spotted white counterparts dispersed like a chess game among them. Large metal silos and red barns with big black roofs were a common site along the highway. The houses varied from small, simplistic ranch style homes to large plantation style homes. It seemed to Kate like the smaller the house, the larger the farm was. It was an interesting sight, and one she made sure to note in her notebook. She grew up on a farm, though hers was nothing like these. The farm she had grown up on was a dairy farm, a large development on very small land space. It had been a happy home though, and she delighted in chasing the chickens on a regular basis.
This time she was returning to farm country on a sour note. Crime reporting was a new step for Kate, but she met the challenge the same way she did everything else in life. She took it head on, ready to grab it by the horns and hang on for dear life. She was here to get the facts on a murder. The body was disposed of in a grain elevator. The victim was still unidentified, but it was her job to lean on the police department there for updated information. Her first stop was at the site where the body was found. They were sending a camera crew out in a few hours. Now was her time to find the best scenery to tell the story from, and she didn’t intend to let them down.
The grain elevator was old and abandoned- a tall wooden structure that reminded her of a bell tower. Metal slabs covered the wood, though there were gaps where the metal had been ripped off along the top. The orange of rust decorated the south facing wall, as if this part of the building had pissed Mother Nature off and bore the brunt of her fury. The building itself was placed on a flat parcel of land, the dying grass all around it giving it a particularly sinister appearance against an overcast sky. It looked like the place death would hang out at. The naked trees that clustered about the land parcel did nothing to persuade against the illusion. Sudden visions of Leatherface and chainsaws filled her thoughts and she shivered slightly as a cold wind carried itself up the back of her jacket.
The sliding door at the base of the grain elevator was left slightly ajar, as if it was inviting her to come in. From her position she could only see one other door, closed and bolted on the south wall. Light filtered in from the open windows at the top. She hesitantly took a step to the door and stuck her head in. The first thing that hit her was the smell. It was horribly repugnant, the smell of death mixed with rotting grain. She stepped just inside the door as she detected no danger within the walls of the grain elevator.
She saw gold in every direction. The gold had a gray tint covering it. Columns stood tall on each wall. The silver pipes shined brightly as they twisted and curved their way to the floor, a bright contrast to their surroundings that seemed unmarked by time. Chutes were revealed all over the room. There was black mire surrounding puddles on the floor underneath several chutes. These puddles were translucent, like mirrors, that lent a surreal look to otherwise dismal surroundings. Further down the room, underneath other chutes were piles of black awfulness, not exactly mud, and not exactly grain. It was probably the source of the horrible smell. There were copies of the black grossness scattered around as if it were playing hopscotch. Rainbows of graffiti were spray painted on the side of several columns, giving out a false sense of beauty to the eye of the beholder.
Her eyes were mere slits as she tried to see further into the building without breaching the darkness. She spied the yellow caution tape securing a far corner of the elevator. Stepping carefully, she journeyed to the site, noting the barrel that stood in the center, artfully reflected in the water below it. It was the barrel where the body had been found. Just as she suspected, there was no blood on the scene here. She also knew that it was anyone’s guess as to how long the body had actually been here. It was already in stages of decomposition but there’d been no release as to time of death yet. She felt the hair on the back of her neck lift up as a cold breeze whistled through the building, bringing the smell of death and decay with it.
“What are you doing here?” A man’s voice startled Kate, causing her to jump into the air. Her eyes drank in the tall form standing near her, the overhead light casting a longer shadow behind him. His face, long and skinny, was tight lipped, his hand on his waist as if he were ready to shoot. The overalls he wore revealed the stick thin body within it. He reminded Kate of the farmer from the American Gothic painting. She found herself looking for the pitchfork he holds in the painting. He was standing underneath a chute in the center of the black grossness, his tall black boots making it impossible to see where his feet ended and the mire began. It was as if he’d risen from the mire itself. She shivered again before speaking.
“I am investigating the body that was found here and the proposed murder that caused it.”
“Ah-hmm. The police were already here. They got everything they needed. So, again, what are you doing here?” The man looked even more sinister now with his eyebrows knitting together into one over the stab of his brown eyes.
“I am a reporter. I’ve been sent to investigate by the KGLW News center.”
“This is a dangerous place, lady. You shouldn’t be here alone.” He said, the stab of his eyes still shooting daggers in her direction. “There are some not so nice things here. You’d best move along before the sun sets or you’ll get a story you aren’t reckoning on. There’s not much time.” He held his hand out, as if to lead the way. Kate held hers out to indicate that she would follow. When she exited the building, the man turned and slid the door closed and bolted it shut.
“If you bolt it shut, then how did the body get in there?” she asked him.
“I told you. There are some not so nice things here. Doors mean nothing to them.” His head turned up and he looked at the sky for a moment. “We best get moving. They’ll be here soon. You don’t want to be here when they arrive. In fact, you don’t want to be here at all.” He opened her car door for her, made sure she was secured before closing it. He took one step back and stood there just waiting as she pulled off. She tried to watch from her rear view mirror to see where he’d come from, but the road ahead was in bad shape, and she had to focus on what was ahead instead of what was behind her.
Her cellphone buzzed as she hit the main highway, and it was at that precise moment that she realized there’d been no incoming calls the entire time she was at the grain elevator. More mystery was added to the whole thing, and she decided it would be worth investigating, even if it were on her own. She needed answers. She wasn’t going to head back there alone though. Whoever that man was, he’d been successful in creeping her out.
Kate found the KGLW camera crew waiting for her outside the sheriff’s office at the county courthouse. The county courthouse was a quaint looking two-story brick building reminiscent of the Alamo. It housed the sheriff’s office and the jail on the bottom floor, the justice of the peace’s offices on the main floor, and the courtroom itself and all its necessary offices took up the entire top floor.
Nestled snugly beside it was a white brick building which contained the city hall and the town bank, and chiseled stone engraved with the town’s birth year displayed proudly at the top center. Its architecture was phenomenal, lending an old west look to the building. Another building, a duplicate of the courthouse, stood next to the white one, giving all three buildings a connected look, only this building’s lower half was painted blue, and housed a thrift shop. Above the door was a wooden awning and galvanized blue metal sheeting. The top floor consisted of five half rounded windows that revealed a loft behind them. The windows were covered inside by a deep heavy fabric so no one could see into them. It was a typical small town in the Midwest, but the beauty of them never failed to take her breath away.
“Hi, gentlemen. I’m Kate.” They took her hand generously, introducing themselves as they did.
“I’m Andy, the cameraman.”
“And I’m Abe, the sound guy. We tried to get some info from the sheriff, but he wouldn’t tell us anything without you here. He said to come in when you’re ready; he’s got quite a tale for you.”
“Quite a tale, huh? Is it going to be worth our time though? That’s what I’m worried about.” She kept the loss of time to herself. This didn’t seem like something that should be shared, at least not until she’d gathered more facts. She doubted that anyone that lived here would willfully give them up in regards to the mysterious place. As her mind flicked back to the site, she suddenly realized no other vehicles were there and she had passed none on her way out. Just exactly how the man got there became an even bigger mystery. She planned to spend her free days solving it. It would be a good distraction while Martin was deployed.
At the beginning of the month, we asked you to “Show us your world.” Your instructions were: “Build a setting for a larger story. Start by showing us the world you are creating for your characters. Is it a city? A remote village? Far away planet? What time of year is it? What types of critters are indigenous to the area? You tell us…”. I had 1800 words to use, so I offer you 1755 here.
This is the main setting for my NaNo project, where the main part of the story centers around. Can you see it? Did I put you there? Feel free to share your thoughts with me. I always welcome critique.
Thank you for taking the time to read my piece. It means a lot to me.
Wikipedia: The Was (“power, dominion”) sceptre is a symbol that appeared often in relics, art and hieroglyphics associated with the Ancient Egyptian religion. →