The Legend of Sunny Hills
Terror, pure and unadulterated coursed through Charlie’s veins. The moon was full and his shoes made the crunching sound of bones being broken as he
dashed through the forest. Charlie stopped and hid behind a moss-covered rock as he gasped for breath. "The children laugh, the children play,
unaware that today is their last day. The wind drives them in, the wind blows them away, the darkness closes in, and it’s our time to play."
The strange poem cut through the forest’s silence like a hot knife through butter. Charlie stood up and started to run, but as he stood up a silent,
quick flash slid out from the darkness behind him. In one fell swoop Charlie's head was cleaved from his body.
**The Next Morning**
Detective Daniel I. Washington walked into his office. The walls were covered with pictures from past cases, his desk, an 18th century oak family
heirloom, was piled with papers. Daniel sighed at his workload, pulled out his chair and sat down. "You're late, again." Stated a smooth, jagged
edged voice. Daniel looked up from his desk and gazed uncaringly at his boss, David Claus. "If you keep this up I'm going to have to fire you."
Continued David. "Look Daniel, I don't want to fire you. You used to solve cases like nobody's business. It’s been, what, 2 months since you last
solved a case? You've got to pick yourself up, you didn't kill that kid." Daniel got out of his chair, his eyes boiling with rage and shame. "I
could've stopped it from happening and you know it. He didn't have to die and I could have stopped it."
Daniel sank back into his chair, pale and weak looking as if he had poured out his whole soul in those few words." That may very well be, but that
doesn't mean you killed him. Life goes on and you should too. Maybe you can turn it around with this case." David threw a folder on top of the mound
of paperwork. David turned around and closed the door behind him. Daniel opened the folder and read with semi-interest. Apparently, there was a body
in upper New York that had been decapitated. Head never recovered. Daniel murmured to himself, "Great, why did he send me on a trip case? Doesn't
look like my luck is improving."
**Arrival at Sunny Hills**
Daniel gazed sullenly at the melancholy scenery that flashed by his train window. Cornfields, the occasional farmhouse, forests, and empty lots all
had a dreary look about them. The rain didn't help make them look more cheerful either. Daniel looked around at the passengers surrounding him. All
of them seemed to be depressed. An attendant walked by his seat. "Excuse me ma'am, what time will we be arriving?" Daniel asked. "Well,"
responded the attendant sounding annoyed. "We will be arriving in about 5 minutes sir." Daniel thanked the attendant as she walked away, coldly
turning her back on him before he was finished. "These people are really polite."
Daniel grumbled to himself sarcastically. Daniel looked out the window again. A myriad of barren, seemingly sadistic branches flashed by the window.
Suddenly two bright red orbs glared out at him from the darkness beyond the branches. Daniel blinked and they were gone. Daniel shook his head and
murmured to himself, "This place gets creepier by the minute."
Suddenly, the forest was gone. The train had entered a small clearing, in the middle of the clearing sat a small rural town The buildings were
small, mostly two story and they seemed to project a dark and foreboding feeling. In a few minutes the train pulled into the train station. Daniel
stepped out, carrying his briefcase, onto the wooden platform, alone. Curious, Daniel turned around to see the people staring out at him from the
train. Then the train pulled out of the train station, everyone on it still gazing at him. As the train pulled out of sight he saw somebody on the
train cross their chest and start praying. Slightly creeped out, Daniel turned around and stared at the poor excuse for a town. All the houses were
made of wood and had an ancient feel about them. Daniel stared over the barren and empty town. "Well if this isn't the town that time forgot." With
that Daniel stepped away from the train station and walked into the towns muddy streets.
**Sunny Hills Town Mayor**
The bare lightbulb flickered as Daniel stepped into a pitiful excuse for a hotel room. The roof leaked, the floor was most likely being devoured by
termites, and the bed was a plain spring mattress generously covered with thick blankets. Daniel laid his briefcase on the bed and opened it. The
briefcase contained his clothes, a toothbrush, some paper, and all of his forensic equipment. Daniel closed it unenthusiastically and walked up to the
extraordinarily dirty window. After a few wipes of his sleeve he stared out onto the street. A little boy was playing with a red ball in his front
yard. The boy bounced the ball enthusiastically and after bouncing off the side of a building it passed over the brief section of land separating the
village from the forest. The ball came to a stop at the forest’s edge. Then the boy, saddened by losing his ball, ran after it. Suddenly, his mother
burst from the door and grabbed her son just as he left their front yard. After scolding him thoroughly, she picked him up and took him back inside.
Then someone knocked on the door. "Come in." Answered Daniel, suprised. The door opened to reveal a finely dressed man, who was slightly rotund and
carried himself like someone important. The man resembled a bird, as he had a rather long nose. "The Mayor, I presume?" Asked Daniel expectantly.
"Quite right, my name is Jonathan Crane but everyone here calls me Mayor JC." Said the Mayor with a smile. "I'm the one that sent for you. Word
of your brilliant detective work reached my ears and I immediately knew you'd be perfect for the case." "Why is that Mr. Crane?" Daniel
questioned. "Well, I reasoned you'd get this case closed as quickly as possible. As you no doubt have noticed, this is a small Amish town. Everybody
knows everybody. If someone doesn't find the murderer soon, then the people in this village will turn on each other. I don't need people killing
each other because they think they killed the killer. You understand my predicament?" The Mayor asked expectantly.
"Yes I do. I'll try my best to get this done with as soon as possible." Daniel responded. "Good. I'm glad we had this little talk." Replied
the Mayor with satisfaction." If you wish, I can take you for a town tour?" "That would be a great start. Just one moment while I get my things in
order." Asked Daniel. "I'll be waiting for you outside." Without another word the Mayor turned around and walked out the door. Daniel grabbed a
sheet of paper, sat down and wrote under suspects, Town Mayor.
**Sunny Hills Cemetery**
"This is the town cemetery." Said the Mayor as he lead Daniel into a muddy field that seemed to grow tombstones instead of flowers. The rain tapped
gently on Daniel's hat as Daniel bent over to examine some of the tombstones. "Are these all of the graves?" Asked Daniel curiously. Daniel counted
a total of 15 gravestones. "Good heavens no! This town was founded during the late 1700's. We had to make a new graveyard about 25 years ago."
Replied the Mayor matter of factly. "Where's the old one?" Asked Daniel while examining the rest of the tombstones. "I don't know. As every bit
of land we give up is conquered by the forest, the location was lost a long time ago." Daniel looked up from the tombstones and gazed at the Mayor in
a disbelieving way.
"You don't know what the forest looks like on the inside. The forest is a labyrinth of tree walls and fences of briar. Most people who go in never
come out again, and those that have come back told us that it’s nearly impossible to navigate using landmarks because the trees look exactly like
each other. The briar fences are everywhere and nearly impossible to get over. " The Mayor told Daniel. "So the railway is your only connection with
the outside world?" Asked Daniel looking back down at the tombstones. "Yes it is. Without the railway this place would have been forgotten a long
time ago." Replied the Mayor sadly. "Not to burst your bubble Mr. Crane, but I think this town was forgotten a long time ago." Said Daniel getting
up. "Now, where’s the body?"
**Sunny Hills, Forest Boulevard**
"It’s taken quite a bit of effort to secure and draw a map on how to get here so we don't lose the body before we bury it." Said the Mayor as
they stumbled into a clearing where on the far end hung a headless body. The body was stuck to the tree because at lest 5 hatchets had been placed
through the body and halfway into the tree. "Who was he?" Daniel asked. "He was the previous Mayor, Charlie Donnahan. He went out for his evening
walk and didn't come back." Replied the Mayor anxiously. "How'd you find him?" Questioned Daniel as he picked at the body. "His wife, Mary
Donnahan, insisted that we send a search party into the forest. I volunteered as well as Christopher Farid, David Donson, Gary Hudson, and Abe
Yehamen." Daniel immediately wrote down the names under the suspects heading. The Mayor's voice got suddenly more nervous. "Um.... I don't mean
to draw this investigation to a close so soon but its getting dark. I think we ought to get going."
"Huh?" Daniel looked up. The sky was darkening and the wind was picking up. "Yeah, I think we should get going, leave the rest for tomorrow."
Commented Daniel. Daniel picked up his instruments and took one of the hatchets out for later examination. "Let's go before it gets dark." the
Mayor spoke nervously. "Ssh!" Daniel shushed the Mayor. A velvety voice floated on the wind. It was so soft Daniel could barely hear it. "The
day fades... The night com.... The light wanes.... Our time to play.... The Hunt Begins...." " I think we ought to go, NOW." The Mayor grabbed
Daniel’s arm and started to pull him. "Stop pulling. I'm coming, okay." Daniel said, exasperated. Daniel bent over to pick up his bag. Daniel
heard a soft noise as if something had slid through the air. Then the Mayor let go and fell to the ground. "Sir!" Daniel grabbed the Mayor and
pulled him up. Daniel stared at the Mayor's incomplete form. Just before he passed out, Daniel mumbled to himself, "Oh, it appears that the Mayor
has lost his head."
**Sunny Hills Hotel Room 3A**
Daniel woke up back in his hotel room. It had stopped raining and the sun was shining outside. Daniel groggily observed someone dabbing warm water on
his forehead. "How long was I out?' Asked Daniel, still unable to focus his eyes enough to see who was tending to him. " Oh, your awake. Well
don't worry one bit, you’re going to be just fine. You were out for a couple of days. It took us a while to find you, out there in the forest."
Daniel’s suddenly slid into focus as he remembered what had happened. The beautiful young woman tending him was the innkeeper's daughter.
"What happened to the Mayor's body?" Asked Daniel suddenly as he sat up. "Oh, well we buried him. Quite a lovely funeral, actually." Replied
the women monotonously. "WHAT!" Daniel shouted. "I NEED TO EXAMINE THE BODY!" Daniel instantly stood up out of the bed and rushed to the door only
to find it locked. Daniel turned around slowly. "Why is the door locked?" "We locked it so that you wouldn't escape. You’re being charged with
the murderers of Charlie Donnahan and of Mayor Jonathan Crane." Replied the women shaking with fear. "What? How is that possible? I only arrived
here three days ago and Charlie Donnahan was dead when I got here. Wasn't he?"
**Sunny Hills Courtroom**
Daniel walked into the courtroom, handcuffed. "Well this is a first. I've seen this happen a million times but never dreamed it would happen to
me." Thought Daniel as he sat down in the defendant’s chair. Daniel had no lawyer because he thought that everything would be so obvious that he
didn't kill the two men. "All rise before the honorable Judge David Evans." Spoke the Bailiff loud and clearly. Everyone stood up as the Judge
walked into the courtroom. After everyone sat down the Bailiff stated in a cold voice, " This is the case of Daniel I. Washington against the State
of New York. Daniel I Washington is being charged with the murder of Charlie Donnahan, Mayor Jonathan Crane, and Mark Carol. " Mark Carol? Wait a
minute, he was the kid who got shot because of me." Daniel thought as the Hearing started.
"Judge Evans," Started the prosecution lawyer, Mr. Baldmen. "I have indisputable evidence that Daniel Washington murdered these two men and one
innocent child. Daniel Washington checked into the Sunny Hills Inn two days before he claims to have checked in. I'd like to submit the paperwork as
exhibit A." Mr. Baldmen continued as he passed the papers to the bailiff. "Also, Daniel didn't check in under the orders of his superiors in the
New York City Police Force. In fact Daniel had been pursued by the New York City Police force for two months after he murdered a twelve year-old boy
named Mark Carol." Daniel's mind raced. What was this guy talking about? He never pulled the trigger on the kid. In fact he had never had a gun to
the child’s face. None the less the Mr. Baldman continued. " We examined the axes that had been brutally embedded into Charlie Donnahan's chest.
Each handle had Daniel's finger prints on them."
"What?" Thought Daniel angrily. "I only touched one of the handles, how could my fingerprints be on all of them?" And yet Mr.
Baldmen continued." Also lets not forget the fact that we found Daniel Washington, passed out next to Mayor Crane's body, holding the murder weapon,
one of the axes he had pried from Charlie Donnahan's body. Personally, Judge Evans, I think that having this trial was just a waste of time. We
should throw this murderer in jail now and never give him the chance to see the light of day again." The prosecution sat down and awaited the
Judge's decision. "We are of the same mind Mr. Baldmen. Though it is not for us to decide. We gave him one more chance to redeem himself in the eyes
of this city and now its time for the defendant to speak." Daniel stood up, " Your Honor, I did not murder Charlie Donnahan or Mayor Jonathan Crane.
I had come on orders from my superiors to check out the murders in this small town. I showed up to examine Charlie Donnahan's body. How could I have
killed him if he was already dead when I got here? I arrived on October 31st and checked into the hotel on that very same day." "But these papers
say other wise. It says right here that you checked in on October 29th. How do you explain that?" Asked the Judge.
"Those papers must be fake, your Honor." Answered Daniel confidently. "Assuming your right, let’s explore the murder of Mayor Jonathan Crane,
who you were there for, even by "your" date of arrival." "Well your Honor I was examining the body of Charlie Donnahan when it began to get dark.
The Mayor started to get nervous and urged me to leave. I had just pried one of the hatchets from the body for later examination when I dropped my bag
causing some of my instruments to spill out. I bent over to pick everything up but I heard a faint whooshing sound and a loud thump. When I looked up
the Mayor had fallen on the ground. When I pulled him up he was headless. At this point I fainted." As Daniel finished his story the people in the
jury looked at him disbelievingly and some were trying to muffle a laugh. "Interesting tall tale, Mr. Washington. The Jury is dismissed to make their
decision." The Jury filed back into a room. Judge Evans leaned back in his chair. "I'd pray if I were you, Mr. Washington." Suddenly the Jury
filed back into the courtroom. "Back so soon? Are you sure you made the right choice?" Questioned Judge Evans. "Yes, your Honor." Said one of the
people in the jury as he stood up. "We find Mr. Washington guilty of all 3 murders." The man sat back down again. "I hear by sentence Mr.
Washington to life in prison, no perole." Judge Evans banged his gavel.
Life in prison no perole.... Those words echoed in Daniel’s head. Everything became blurry. Daniel struggled with the bailiff as he
escorted him out of the courtroom. Then Daniel remembered. He remembered shooting and decapitating that little kid remembered how he had begged for
his life. He remembered hunting down Charlie Donnahan and swinging the hatchet. Daniel remembered killing Mayor Crane, how Crane had begged for life
and told him he had a family. He remembered how he had smiled and delivered that final swing. And most of all he remembered where he had hid their
A week after that memorable day in the courtroom Daniel Washington was spending his time in an institute for the criminally insane. Locked in white,
windowless room Daniel sat eyes closed and motionless. No psychiatrist could diagnose with anything. They all said that their best guess was that his
mind was rehabilitating after it had to suddenly deal with a very big shock. Most said that his mind was gone forever and he would stay in this
vegetative state for the rest of his life. The staff jokingly called him, "The Headless Horseman" because of his "love" of decapitation. Everyone
thought his mind was gone forever.... But everyone has had a history of being wrong before.
Only time will tell.
EDIT: That was my story and I hope you people liked it. Post your opinions, please.
[edit on 29-10-2005 by Voidmaster]