A Touch of Madness - Chapter One - Part 1 of 5
A Touch of Madness - Chapter One - Part 1 of 5 crime stories
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A call is placed to the local sheriff station in small town Ashbourne, IL. What is first thought to be a prank call is soon discovered to be something far more sinister.

A Touch of Madness - Chapter One - Part 1 of 5

October 29, 2016

11:22 PM

Ashbourne, IL

Ash, like snow, drifted through the cool autumn air as the small fire gave a brilliant, but flickering glow to the campground.

The leaves had changed from their summer green to a colorful display of yellows, oranges,

and reds before finally falling; leaving the branches of the trees bare and resembling twisted and evil claws,

the likes of which are those in the stories that old men would tell to scare their grandchildren.

Aside from the crackling of the burning wood, the only sounds to be heard were small crickets and the occasional hoot of an owl in the distance.

Despite the four tents circling the fire, only one man sits by the quickly dying flames.

His glassy blue eyes reflect every move the flames make, dying to stay alive; dying not to be snuffed out. The flames flicker and go out one by one and the man makes no effort to reignite them.

He simply stares as little by little the small dancing light of the camp fire begins to fade.

Moments later, nothing but the glow of embers remained.

The crackling of the fire has ceased as has the hooting of the owl, perhaps it had eyed some small prey to chase and devour, but the crickets continue to play their songs.

The man, now distorted by shadows meeting the soft glimmer of the embers, begins to sing softly at first but growing ever louder, almost to the point of a scream.

"You can run on for a long time, run on for a long time, run on for a long time, sooner or later God'll cut you down, sooner or later God'll cut you down."

The crickets went silent at this sudden outburst of noise, after all, they don't want to attract any predators that may be lurking just out of sight.

Their chirping is replaced by rustling inside each of the four tents. Whispers can be heard from within the tents and eventually one of the occupants emerged from his hideaway.

It was a young man, no older than twenty-two, he was without his shirt. His bare chest and left arm revealed a tribal like tattoo.

His dark hair flowed from left to right with only a few hairs out of place on the back of his head where he had slept.

His eyes were still heavy with sleep, but they were aware of the man sitting by the fire.

The young man's spine sent a chill through his body while his mind searched frantically for a memory of this stranger but found none.

He stared at the figure by the fire and watched as five others climbed out of their tents in a hurry, hoping to find the source of the singing.

A woman had followed the young man with the tribal tattoo out of the tent in a sleepy haze.

"What's going on Scott?

Who's singing this late at --" she stopped mid-sentence as her eyes adjusted, catching a glimpse of the man whose figure was only visible now by the dim light of the dying coals.

"Wh- Who's that Scott?" Her question was met by silence.

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee." said the man seated by fire, his eyes still not leaving the ever cooling embers. "But sooner or later God'll cut you down.

" A smile crept over his face unveiling his sparkling white teeth.

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