Luis Sanchez chewed on his pencil and then threw it against the table. It landed, bounced once, and then rolled off the side and onto the floor.
He looked out his office door and it was dark. His light was usually the only one on at this hour. He worked late because he was used to the big time, to the big cities, where action broke late and newsmen spent their nights prowling the streets looking for real dirt and copy. News was not made during the day. At least not interesting news. Yeah sure, he could always write a story about the latest political bullcrap, or copy the boxscores from last night's baseball game. But that wasn't real news, at least not to Luis. He was interested in the seamy side of humanity. The nitty gritty. He was into the innermost fantasies and secrets of the average Joe Smoe walking down the street. Sure, the guy looks clean cut and average, but if Luis had learned anything, it was that everyone had a dark side. Priests who molested little children, CEO's who sexually harassed their secretaries, and nice teacher's who would prefer to teach children sexual biology than the A's and B's.
Luis was interested in the lurid and the occult and he had found plenty. He had once received a tip about a prominent Boston businessman that was involved in some highly unusual trading. Luis followed him around for a month and eventually wound up at a warehouse. The warehouse was full of beautiful blonde women that the businessman had drugged and caged in advance of their being shipped to the Middle East as sex slaves. From outward appearances, the executive had appeared as an outstanding member of the community. The bust had been big and Luis had spent following month dwelving into the intricacies of the white slave trade.
And then something had happened. He wasn't sure what, but his biggest, most successful coup had somehow become his undoing. Perhaps it was his cockiness and brashness, or his aggressive nature, or perhaps, as he suspected, there was more to the story that led to his demotion and eventual banishment to Wellow Falls.
And so he had come to this small suburb twenty minutes outside of the Big City, population approximately 10,000 people. When he arrived, the first thing he had done was to go to the library and spend the day researching the town. It was his mantra to know the facts, and one of the central facts to any story he would write had to do with the history of where he was.
The history was rather drab. The town had originally been part of a larger neighboring town simply called Falls. As the area began to develop in the 1800's around the time of the civil war, Falls grew in size and eventually its West side seceded. The man who had led the secession was named Steven Wellow and thus, logically enough, the town was renamed Wellow Falls in 1871. Since then it had principally been a conservative, republican, white town - short on crime, and drugs, long on education and normalcy. Besides the Hanson deaths, the only other oddity he could find was a massive power outage that occurred about eighteen years ago. The power outage had no known cause, and for over three hours veiled the town in darkness. As mysteriously as it started, the outage was over. A cause had never been found.
There was one little spark of life in the sleepy little village of a town that he lived in. It was a twice a year celebration that occurred at a large resort hotel by the town's lake. The western side of Wellow Falls was bordered by a large spring lake that not only served as the border between the town and its original parent, but that brought substantial revenue. In the days of polio, a Dr. Milton Sagis has built a therapeutic center there. The center, much like FDR's polio recovery facilities down South consisted of a series of large, beautifully decorated buildings. Over time, with the scrounge of polio eliminated, the complex had been turned into the Sagis resort complex. Even before Luis had heard of Wellow Falls, he had heard of the complex. Friends and colleagues had vacationed there and had sworn that the crystal clear water was indeed a needed panacea to the tough modern world.
The resort had an international reputation, and Luis was constantly befuddled that such a sleepy, dead town, was actually home to such a widely known, world class resort. The highlights of the season revolved around opening of the resort on Memorial Day weekend, and the closing of the Sagis Complex on Labor Day for the winter. On those weekends, sleepy Wellow Falls Center woke-up and the streets were congested with cars and taxis, as visitors anxiously made their way towards the complex to participate in the ritual opening or closing festivities.
He had never gone and Luis supposed it was because if he went and enjoyed it, he might be forced into admitting that maybe Wellow Falls wasn't a total hole in the wall.
Even though the resort attracted the high and mighty, the wealthy and the rich, it, like the rest of Wellow Falls seemed to somehow avoid scandal. Wellow Falls did not seem to have any other demons for him to unearth and he had spent the last year writing about a variety of petty crimes. There were no white slavery rings or satanic cults to investigate. The scandalous dirt in the town revolved around which parents had allowed their children to attend the under-age drinking party at the Sprout's house. Ridiculous and utterly demeaning for a professional of his degree. But such were the sacrifices of journalism.
Things had been pretty damn dry, news talk for not much happening, until a few days ago. It changed when the poor Hanson boy had been found dead in his car. Murders didn't happen often in Wellow Falls, and when they did they were big news. Luis had seen plenty of murders, but he had been banished to the sleepy suburb for so long that his pulse actually blipped a beat when he heard about this one. A murder, an actual murder to investigate and write up in the Wellow Falls Daily Journal. Just saying it made him want to yawn. Most of the townspeople were aghast, but to Luis, Martin's death was pretty standard stuff compared to some of the things he had seen in the city. It looked like the kid had made the mistake of picking up a hitchhiker and had been paid for the ride with a stab through the chin. Grisly, but effective.
The story didn't get interesting until the following day, when Luis learned that not only had the kid's body been exhumed and stolen, but that his family had been brutally murdered in the same fashion as the son. A town that had been in shock, went catatonic. In two days, a decent family had been wiped off the map. The police didn't know who was responsible, and the force conjured up crazy theories about mafia connections or drug cartels. Please, Luis thought, the mafia and drug cartels wouldn't waste a second in this sleeper of a town. No, Luis sensed something more to this story, something that was beyond the ordinary. Here in Wellow Falls, he sensed that he had stumbled onto something as perverse and occultist as anything he had seen in the big city. After a year's ennui, he was determined not to let the story slip out of his grasp.
Because he had sniffed around for so long, his nose was usually right in sniffing out the trail. He would sense it, follow it, and finally grab it, not letting go until the whole story had spilled its guts and was on the front page. And in this case, his sense told him that the trail could be found at the cemetery. Whoever had taken the poor kid's corpse just might be back for mommy and daddy.
Luis got up from his desk and bent over to pick up the pencil. As he did, a light went on in the office next to his. He grabbed his jacket and walked out.
"Luis, working late?" The question came from Ramona, an overweight reporter that covered senior citizens events. She was sweet and good for a snack so Luis walked into her office. Predictably, she had a bag of open potato chips on her desk.
"Yeah, just trying to make something happen." Ramona guffawed.
"Keep trying Luis, keep trying. But remember, this isn't the big city."
"Yeah, no kidding," he said while chewing on chips and walking out.