The trees and bushes seemed endless, as Jane Darcy tramped through the forest at a steady clip. Not far behind her were her pursuers; their presence frightened her, and the man especially.
A refugee with an unknown past; and a strange woman with a determination to stop at nothing. Jane wished the moon were brighter and provided her with more light; but it would have only revealed her exact where-a-bouts in the woods. Her skirt caught on a thick bramble, tearing a hole in it and causing her to slow up. She noticed the flashlights were further away in the dark, and began to shine in various directions.
“They must have lost me,” Jane thought quietly to herself, “If only I could find Margaret.”
Breathless she stood still, quietly sinking down a tree trunk and behind a large bush. One of the flashlights turned off, and it appeared the other one was headed back for the house. Jane could finally let her heart catch up, and her thoughts unwind.
After a few minutes of rest and watching as the flashlight entered the back door and flickered out, she decided it was time to find her way back to the road.
Turning the direction she hoped the street would be in, she crossed her fingers and began her slow, cautious, catlike journey through the overgrowth once more.
The last thing she wanted to do, was come close to Sadie’s house on her way back to the sedan. She decided to take a sweeping route back to the road, and hopefully come out on another street. In the darkness, all the trees seemed the same; and Jane couldn’t help but feel a little lost in the pitch black labyrinth.
After what felt close to an hour, she saw the headlights of a passing car shine through the trees, and turn away.
Trudging onward towards the direction of the light, she stepped out into a dirt clearing. It wasn’t a road at all, in fact; it was behind the empty old shack she had seen with Margaret on their trip to Candlewood Lane.
Although the shack before had seemed very deserted; it was far from it now. The lights were on, and as she regarded it, she saw a flash of color at one of the windows; someone was assuredly inside.
Sneaking discreetly up to the window, she gazed through the bottom pane. The room was filled with smoke, sparsely furnished and an antique green lamp hung overhead. There were three men, playing cards at a scuffed table, and one of them had off their jacket; revealing a shoulder holster and revolver.
Could this have been the “old gang” Sadie had mentioned? Could Ted have been a part of this gang?
Another man, undoubtedly the one who was driving the automobile Jane had seen a few moments ago, opened the door and stepped into the creaky space. He was broad shouldered, his face concealed by a hat; and when he closed the door he left the old wooden wall clattering.
“Fellas,” the gruff man exhaled as he pulled a chair up close to the table, “I’ve got news. Ted’s sprung the pen, and he’s on the loose.”
Jane reached for her purse to pull the camera out of it; when her hand groped at the vacant pocket within. Her camera was gone; thinking back, Jane realized she must have lost it in the struggle.
Without an ability to take any pictures, she studied the faces of the men to try and remember them later, in hopes of describing them to the sheriff and getting to the bottom of this mystery. She listened closer, but the men were barely audible.
She picked up the words of the gruff man occasionally, but nothing could be pieced together. She decided not to press her luck, and retreat to safety while she still had the chance. Hopefully Margaret had gotten away, and wasn’t picked up by the police, discovered by Sadie, or worse.
What she needed now were answers; there were too many questions, and too many clues leading to various conclusions. When Jane Darcy stepped out into the paved road, she was immediately surprised by the screeching tires and blinding lights of an oncoming vehicle!