“The bright early winter sun shone through a small crack in the deep burgundy curtains piercing the sound sleep that had fallen over Jacki Melborn just a few short hours ago. She squinted, rolled away from the window, and pulled her comforter up over her head.
It was early December in the small mountain town of Calamity Falls. Most of the fair weather tourist had packed up and headed home for the season, and all that was left was a handful of locals and the die hard ski fans. Most of whom Jacki had no desire to associate with. If it were up to her, she would stay in her warm little cabin home and hibernate like a grizzly. Unfortunately being the town sheriff it was pretty much impossible to avoid the tourist or the locals. Which she was reminded as her phone began to ring.
She stayed snuggled under her covers for a few moments, hoping that this phone call wasn’t anything important and that her single deputy on duty this morning could handle whatever calamity had befallen her small little town so early in the morning. The phone grew silent as it clicked over to voice mail. She waited listening for the dreaded second call, which would signal that she needed to make her way into town as soon as possible. The room remained silent, except for Jacki’s sigh of relief.
It wasn’t that she didn’t love her job, or her this special, complicated town, but she had been out on a search and rescue mission until the wee hours of the morning. She needed to recover from a night tromping through three feet of snow in Dead Man’s Pass before she could properly do her job.
Dwayne, her one and only faithful deputy, could handle just about anything that came up for a few hours. He had lived and worked in this town for fifty years. The only reason he wasn’t sheriff was because he didn’t want the political responsibility.
Jacki had been a decorated State Police officer before she was elected as the Calamity Falls Sheriff just a few years prior. At first she was excited about all of the opportunities afforded by getting a chance to make a difference in a small town. She had heard all the stories and rumors about the infamous Calamity Falls since she was a child, but she always thought they were more legend than fact. She thought that until she was in the thick of it.
Calamity Falls did not receive it’s name by accident. In Jacki’s first few months as acting sheriff there were sixteen hikers that went missing, twenty four skiing accidents, and thirty six fatal car accidents all of indeterminate cause. Some called the little stretch of mountain road that ran through Calamity Falls a cursed stretch of road, and anyone who dared to drive up through Dead Man’s Pass was practically suicidal.
It was amazing that the town had survived at all with all of the annual fatalities. Jacki suspected that a lot of the tourism was brought here by such outlandish numbers, thrill seekers, conspiracy theorist, paranormal research and the grief stricken families when one of the aforementioned went missing. The air about the town was thick with sadness and depression. It was only slightly offset by the breath taking beauty of the surroundings. During the Spring and Summer you couldn’t find a more beautiful valley in all of the mountain ranges of the world.
As Jacki was just about to doze back into blissful dreams of Summer, the phone began to ring again.
“I better answer this one.” Jacki mumbled to herself as she threw back the covers and made her way across her bedroom to her cell phone ringing and bouncing back and forth on her dresser.
“Hello?” Jacki yawned.
“Jacki, it’s Dwayne. We’ve got a bit of a situation down here at the station. If you could come in as soon as possible I would really appreciate it.” Dwayne said a note of extreme irritation in his voice.
“What’s going on, Dwayne?” Jacki asked, now more alert than before.
“I think you better come down and see the situation for yourself. No one’s in danger or been hurt, but… you just need to come down here.”
“Good Lord, Dwayne. Is it another reporter from Dallas about this missing kid in Dead Man’s Pass?” Jacki asked trying to get as much information as possible out of Dwayne before she made up her mind about traveling down from her seclusion into town.
“You could say that. Trust me Jacki.” Was all Dwayne said before gently hanging up the phone.
If it had been any other deputy in any other town, Jacki would have been furious for being disrespected with a hang up, but this was Dwayne, and this was Calamity Falls. Getting hung up on here wasn’t a sign of disrespect, but a silent message of urgency. In fact if some one actually took the time to end a phone call politely, it usually meant they were hiding something.
She supposed it had something to do with the constant flow of angry family coming to look for their lost loved ones. Manners were the last of their worries, and a lot of their impatience and lack of tact had eventually rubbed off onto the local community.
Jacki padded from her bedroom into the small kitchenette and started making herself a pot of coffee. As she was standing in front of the coffee maker measuring out the correct amount of grounds, she glanced up and looked out the small window above her sink. It had snowed again in the few hours she had been asleep. Just a light dusting, but it was enough to give the pines and bare maples an almost mystic quality. The early morning sunlight reflected off the small snow covered branches and made the empty barren forest feel alive with possibilities. If she were awake at this time of morning for any other reason she would have admired the beauty, but because she was in a hurry she merely got a glimpse before she turned around and headed back to the bedroom as she left the coffee to percolate.
She started to grab a uniform out of her closet, but considering she still didn’t know exactly what was going on down at the station she opted for a smart looking black pinstripe suit. She was going for political instead of authoritarian. Hopefully if it was just a reporter or some upset family member of the most recent victim of Calamity Falls it would have more of a calming effect instead of giving off the err of superiority from the uniform.
Not taking the time to shower, Jacki dashed from the bedroom to the bathroom, gave her hair a quick blow dry, and tucked it up in a smart little bun. She quickly threw on some foundation and mascara, and returned to her bedroom gracefully sliding into the suit. She quickly filled a thermos with her fresh coffee, grabbed a jacket and made her way out to her large department 4×4.
She climbed into the drivers seat, and not bothering to let the engine warm up started down the winding snow covered road. She wasn’t driving fast by any means, but she wasn’t creeping as she normally did when leaving the house. She was more intrigued than worried, but she was still in a hurry to figure out what was going on.”
To read more about Jacki and Calamity Falls check out Novelties: A Collection of Unfinished Short Stories. Available Now!
Copyright R. MacCeile 2018