It’s the morning of Halloween in Mockingbird Heights.
Mockingbird Heights is a sleepy little hollow that is nestled in between Haddonfield and Savoy. It has been said often that you can get there from anywhere.
With a population of 7,000 inhabitants, Mockingbird Heights has big city appeal, but with a small town’s charm.
Mayor Arnie Cunningham devotes a lot of time to his mayoral duties, but it is an elected part-time position. His “real job” is as a supervisor for a railroad maintenance crew.
It is a community that is made up of working moms and dads who have a couple of kids looking forward to going off to college upon graduation from Bates High School.
There are very few houses for sale, properties are well kept and serious crime is non-existent.
The motels in town see a steady business year-round, because Lake Crystal is nearby, where you can boat, fish, hunt, hike and ski.
Lee Brackett leads a police department of six full-time and four part-time officers.
Rick Grimes is the chief of the combination fire department, where firefighters also serve as EMTs for medical first response. The county hospital provides the ambulance service and has strategically placed paramedic ambulances throughout the county.
For the kids in town, there are playgrounds at two, city parks, baseball fields, a soccer facility, bike path and a skate park.
So, it is a city that is doing what it can to keep its residents and to attract new ones.
Chief Grimes was enjoying his Saturday, working the leaves in his yard towards his garden patch, when he got a call on his cell phone.
“Rick; it’s Lou. We have a situation here at the station”, said Lou.
“What you got?” asked Rick.
“It’s Gomez. He didn’t wake up”, said Lou.
“I’m not following you, Lou”, said Rick.
“Adam was unresponsive. He must have died in his sleep”, said Lou.
“He was in great shape. He just had his physical. He was good to go”, said Rick.
“I can’t explain it, but you need to come down”, said Lou.
“I’m on my way”, said Rick, as he put his phone away.
Chief Grimes was driving to the station and was trying to make sense of the situation. His firefighters were all in good shape; benefitting from the weight/exercise room at the fire station. Even the older guys were doing cardio, but Gomez was a stud. He was benching 350 and he could ride the stationary bike for an hour and barely break sweat! He was only 25 years old and just one year ago; he and Billy Nolan were recognized for their efforts to save a homeless person from a burning, abandoned farmhouse.
IT MADE NO SENSE!
Chief Grimes got to the station and the paramedics and coroner were already there. They recorded the death of Adam Gomez at 7:40 am.
“Any thoughts, Bob?” asked Rick.
Robert “English Bob” England had been coroner for many years and had pretty good instincts, but this death even baffled him.
“Hmm; an otherwise healthy, young male who appears to have died in his sleep? Doesn’t happen every day, for sure”, said Bob.
“I’m going to take him to the medical examiner and once the ME has done the autopsy, we’ll take him to the Goodbury and Graves Funeral Home”, said Bob.
Lou asked, “What about the Halloween Parade? Do we still want to lead things with the engine?”
“Yeah; we need to go about our business until we get some answers from the ME”, said Rick.
Jason was your typical teenager. He was a senior at Bates High School. He had a part-time job after school at Brooks and Boyle Hardware Store, but he had worked the past two summers as a counselor at Camp Crystal Lake. He had saved enough money to buy a good, used car. His dad was a certified auto mechanic, so there was no question that Jason was getting a “cherry”.
Like most Saturdays, Jason would drive over to Haddonfield, do a little shopping and eat a burger. Today, he would take Munster Road as always and pick up his costume for the Halloween party at Chucky’s.
He was listening to some Rob Zombie when his cell phone rang.
As he reached over into the seat to get his phone, he ever-so-briefly took his eyes off of the road and when he looked up, he swerved, leaving the road and striking a tree head on. Everything went black, as a hideous laugh could be heard coming from his phone.
The tones dropped at the fire station for a 10-50 PI on Munster Road.
Billy Nolan got into his gear, had his helmet in his left hand and jumped to the step on the officer’s side of the engine, as he had done countless times.
But this time, his right foot slipped, he lost his grip on the grab handle, struck his forehead violently on the step and then, he fell back and struck the back of his head on the concrete floor. Billy would not regain consciousness.
Jason was extricated and transported to Thorndike Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
Chief Grimes is having a major meltdown!
In less than 24 hours, he has lost two of his best firefighters and answers were elusive.
He was at the hospital with many of his firefighters, holding vigil over Billy, but the conversations in the hall flew between Billy Nolan, then Adam Gomez.
“How/why; how/why” was on everyone’s tongues; all questions and no answers.
Police chief Brackett was there with the county investigator, Jack Cassidy, taking statements and trying to link something/anything to this strange chain of events.
Then, Jason was brought in and immediately taken into surgery. Jason was being combative and yelling; symptomatic of a head injury.
Lewis “Lou” King thought that he heard Jason say, “I set THAT fire!”
Lou went to Chief Grimes and asked him, “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” asked Rick.
“What that kid said as the medics wheeled him by”, said Lou.
“Naw; too much stuff going on”, said Rick.
“I think he said, ‘I set that fire’, said Lou.
Lou and Rick looked at each other, but said not a word. Their trance was broken by Wolfie, the station dog, who was standing near an exit door and barking like crazy, but no one was there or at least one that could be SEEN.
“Rick? Rick! Do you think he was talking about that fire last Halloween at the old Otteson farm?” asked Lou.
“Well, it IS the only fire in the last couple of years…” as Rick’s voice trails off. “I’m going to the station and pull the reports.”
On October 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm, a fire was reported in the vacant house at the old Otteson farm.
As crews arrived, the house was well involved and screams with the force and fury of a train whistle could be heard coming from inside of the upstairs of the house.
With no time to lose, Adam Gomez and Billy Nolan, without benefit of a charged hose line and in full turnout, including SCBAs, entered the back door, crawled through the laundry room, kitchen, living room and to the stairway that led to the upstairs.
As they reached the top of the stairs, they could see a person laying in the fetal position on a bedroom floor.
Just as they were starting to crawl down the hallway, they heard the engine’s air horn sounding the evacuation signal. Nolan had to forcibly pull Gomez back. As he did, a badly burned head looked up and straight at them, opened its mouth and took one last breath.
As Gomez and Nolan got to the stair’s landing, they broke the window, rolled out onto a porch roof and then jumped/fell to the ground; their turnout gear and face pieces completely destroyed by the heat.
The fire was determined to be accidental in nature, caused by a transient named Edward Gein. Several liquor bottles were found in the burned out rubble, it was cold and it is believed that Gein passed out after starting a fire to keep warm.
At least; it made sense at the time.
Gomez and Nolan were both awarded medals of valor by the governor for their efforts to save the victim.
Gomez was dead, Nolan was comatose, barely clinging to life and a kid who may not survive his injuries may be admitting to setting a fire that killed a homeless person.
Was the present series of events just bad luck, coincidence or maybe, just maybe; revenge from the angry spirit of Edward Gein?
Did Adam Gomez receive a “visit” while he slept? Did something so horrific scare him into a medical emergency?
Why did Jason swerve suddenly, as if there was something in the road that he was about to hit with his car? Who called him and why were they laughing into the phone?
Did Billy Nolan “slip” while getting into the engine or was he tripped?
Why was Wolfie barking at the hospital’s exit door? Was it the wind or was it something that goes bump in the night?
Will others die in a mysterious and unexplainable manner?
It would seem that only Edward Gein would know the answers.
Say “hi”. That just might be him in the picture that was taken at the Otteson farmhouse. Really!
Disclaimer: It’s all fiction and a product of my imagination. Any similarities to persons, places or ghosts are purely coincidental. This is not a teachable moment; it is escapism and entertainment. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Oh and it’s copyrighted under The Adventures of Jake and Vinnie© umbrella.