I pointed at my one last bite with my fork. “When Nick and Carter were in Sydney back in 1955, they rented a house from a woman named Mrs. Tutwiler. She made them something called lamingtons. It’s an Australian cake that’s kinda like this, although usually they’re more like snack cakes.”
“I’ve heard of those,” said Dwayne.
“You have?” asked Billy as another boom of thunder echoed around the canyon.
“There was an episode about them on that Australian show we both liked. You know, piggy. The one about the doctor?”
Billy nodded. “The Doctor Blake Mysteries.” He looked at the cake and poked at it with his fork. “But I think this is backwards. The cake is supposed to be vanilla and the icing is chocolate. The coconut is right, though.”
I said, “This may be the version that Nick’s cook came up with after they got back from Australia.”
We were all standing side-by-side with our backs to the door and the front windows. That was the only spot that wasn’t getting rained on as the wind blew the drops in different directions.
“What was the cook’s name?” I mused to myself. “She’d been a famous chef in Paris before and during the war.” As I was trying to remember, I looked off in the distance. I couldn’t see much further than the lodge because of the sheets of rain. “Mrs. Strakova?” I asked out loud. I stabbed the last bite and then ate it. As I was swallowing, I thought I saw something move. I pointed with my fork. “Something or someone’s down there on the ridge.”
Dwayne was suddenly all business. He grabbed my plate and Whit’s plate and threw them out into the rain.
Billy who’d been standing in front of the door, quickly opened it and waved us inside.
Apparently, Whit and I weren’t moving fast enough because Dwayne shoved from behind, pushing me against Whit.
Surprisingly, he and I had enough sense not to say anything until we were in the cabin.
Dwayne shut and locked the door as Billy closed all the curtains.
“What—?” asked Whit.
I said, “Hush,” in a whisper. My heart was racing, and I was scared but I had this intensely weird feeling that was almost a déjà vu. I felt like I’d been preparing for that particular moment all my life. I couldn’t immediately figure out why. But, if nothing else, I knew to keep quiet and to let Dwayne and Billy take care of things.
It took less than a minute for Billy to close all the curtains. While he did that, Dwayne disappeared down the hall.
After a few seconds, Whit muttered, “Oh, right.” He looked at me, his face full of worry and concern, and tilted his head towards the hallway. “Follow me, Eddie.”
I did that, wondering if we were going to make a run over to the lodge through the French doors that led out to the swimming hole.
About halfway down the hall, Whit suddenly stopped, and I bumped into him, my belly pressing into his ass. “What—?”
Before I could say another word, Whit had slid around and was behind me.
I could see a grim-faced Dwayne standing in front of a plywood door and next to a dark opening that confused me. Had there been a closet there and I’d just not noticed it?
I started to ask Dwayne about that when, without saying a word, Whit pushed me from behind.
At first, I didn’t resist. In three steps, I was in front of the closet opening, or whatever it was.
Whit grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me to the left. All I saw was a dark nothing in front of me. Then, in a flash, I realized what he was doing and where we were going. Without even thinking, I instinctively stuck my hands out to either side so that he wouldn’t be able to shove me inside. Like I was in a nightmare, I tried to scream, “No!” but only a croak got out.
“It’s OK, Eddie,” said Whit as he yanked my left arm behind me while Dwayne did the same with my right arm. The two of them were way too strong for me to stop them, so in I went.
Whit was right behind me, pushing me forward, and I had no choice but to keep going. Somewhere, in the recess of my mind, it occurred to me that I could have dropped to my knees and rolled into a ball or something like that. But part of me knew that I needed to let what was happening actually happen.
The door closed. All light was gone. I heard an awful metal-on-metal sound. When it finally stopped, I tried to scream again. And, again, all that came out was a croak.
More About Frank W Butterfield
Butterfield is the Amazon best-selling author of over 20 books and counting in the Nick Williams Mystery series, stories about Nick & Carter, a private dick and a fireman who live and love in San Francisco.
To learn more about Frank W. Butterfield’s novels, Nick & Carter and their ongoing adventures, click here for his website.