Luke McCord had lived in this area all his life, just getting by. People had come and gone in his life but Hellsprings remained. He wasn’t sure why. He’d been an only child, his father had disappeared before he was born and he wasn’t a mixer. Most of the people who had come into his life were transitory. Girlfriends had come and gone, usually migrant workers from outside who had come to work in the local tourist spots. That was just the way Luke liked it. He wasn’t one for getting into commitment. He stayed well clear of that.
Not that any woman would give him a second glance now. The years had not been kind to Luke McCord. He shrugged his well worn shoulders as he reflected on his current, lonely state. When he’d been a young man and passably good looking, getting women wasn’t a problem. It was now, though. His job didn’t help either, out of the environs of the town, the lone watchman for Hellsprings. Dang it, hardly anyone came here. Yeah, a trip into town was on the cards.
He was a terrible sleeper so in many ways, the job suited him. Sitting outside his shotgun shack in the early morning, a large cup of coffee in front of him, he blinked his eyes in surprise. Someone was coming. Coming to the spring. No-one usually did that. Not this early. Not even in the days when the town had been a somewhat prominent tourist destination in the region.
Luke observed a tall, dark figure emerging out of the horizon. What was more, the figure was hooded. Good grief! Some weirdo. Probably up to some kind of mischief, he reckoned. He decided that he’d better check out what was going on. That was his job, after all.
The tall dark hooded man, wearing what seemed like a heck of a long overcoat, paused in front of the spring, his gaze fixed on it directly.
“Hey, what’s going on? You got some business here?”
“Yes,” came the reply. To Luke’s dismay, the voice seemed somewhat other worldly. Whatever that meant.
“Well, I’m sorry,” replied Luke. “But you don’t need to come back here until……yeah, nine o’clock. Got that?”
“Please do not worry. My work will only take a few seconds. I shall not disturb you.”
“Now, hold on a minute. What exactly do you mean by that?”
“Stand what? What exactly did you say?”
“I said ‘stand clear’. That means stand far away from me. I don’t wish to hurt you or cause you any disturbance. Now please get back.” The commanding tone in the voice was unmistakable, but this was Luke McCord’s territory. An outsider couldn’t just breeze in and take over….
“Wait a minute! What do you mean by…..”
“Exactly what I said. I’ve warned you. The rest is up to you….”
An unexpected blast knocked Luke backwards. There was a fiery radiation from the stranger’s direction. Luke was thrown clear of the scene. He was even unconscious for a couple of minutes.
And when he came around,the ground was scorched where the mysterious stranger had been standing. The stranger was gone. And Luke had a thundering headache, not to mention an aching back and a pain in the neck.
Just what the heck is going on here?