Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mystery on Blood Mountain - Preview

Mystery on Blood Mountain


Authored by Hubert Clark Crowell
Edition: 1
Unexplained lights on the side of the mountain were only the beginning of strange things that stirred up the residents of the small east Tennessee community. Matthew, Clair, John and Joann, the characters of "Drawn to Darkness", try to solve the mystery on the mountain.

Publication Date:
Feb 16 2015
1505606195 / 9781505606195
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
6" x 9"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Action & Adventure


Chapter 1 Lights on Blood Mountain



Clair sat on the porch and watched the sky as the moon slowly rose over the top of Blood Mountain. She had watched it rise many times before, but this time something seemed different. There was a strange glow coming from the top of the mountain. At first Clair thought that she was seeing things or that her eyes were playing tricks on her. The light lasted for only a few minutes, then it disappeared.

Clair lived with her parents in a modest country home on the edge of Lippersville. She enjoyed exploring the river and the mountains around her Tennessee home. Clair considered herself a tomboy, and she tried to outdo the boys whenever she had the chance. She thought about the fun she had last year exploring the big new cave with Matthew, John and Joann. It was exciting to find the Indian mummy and to see all the reporters coming to town. Things had quieted down since then and were back normal again, but she wouldn’t mind another adventure.

Blood Mountain was east of town and was one of the taller mountains visible from Lippersville. A long time ago there was a battle on the mountain between two Indian tribes in which so much blood was spilled that the Indians named it Blood Mountain.

The mountain was nestled among several others that were not as high. They were all steep mountains with no roads, except one old logging road that led to an old rock quarry on the far side of Blood Mountain. The quarry was located on federal land and was posted with “No Trespassing” signs. Not even hunters were allowed in the area. People said that it was a wildlife reserve.

All four of the teens were very close after their caving adventure the previous year. Since then they had explored other caves and any other place of interest they could find. They were always looking for another adventure.

A few days after Clair saw the strange light, everyone was at her house playing cards on the porch when the light appeared again on the mountain.

“Look! Over there on the top of Blood Mountain!” she yelled as she jumped up and turned off the porch light so everyone could see better. The glow was dim and seemed to pulse, bright, dim, bright, dim. It lasted only a few minutes, and then it was gone.

“What in the world was that?” asked Matthew.

“I saw the same thing two nights ago, about the same time,” Clair said.

Joann and John sat speechlessly, staring at the mountain off in the distance. Finally John said, “It’s probably lost hunters or trespassers on that government property.”

The four of them studied the mountain, watching for more lights; but after a long time, Matthew, John, and Joann headed home. Clair stayed a little while longer, but when her eyelids began to droop, she called it a night.  

Clair noted that both times she had seen the lights, it had occurred just after dark and had only lasted for a few minutes. Over the next week, she went out on the porch every night at sunset and watched for the lights, but the mountain was dark. At school, Clair and her friends talked about the lights and discussed how they might be able to explore the area.

“We should just go over there this weekend and see what we can find!” John was always ready to charge ahead.

“We have to be careful, after all it is posted with no trespassing signs,” said Joann.

“We need to first find out exactly where it is on the mountain before we go. I could take some sightings and triangulate the location.” Matthew had proven his excellent mapping and plotting skills on their other explorations. “The problem is that we never know when the lights are going to appear.”

“I could call you when I see them again,” said Clair, “and you could get a sighting with your compass from your house. Better yet, John lives out of town quite a ways, up on a hill. He could get a better view, and the wider angle would give us a more accurate location.”

They made a trip to the army surplus store to find a World War II transit with a built-in compass. The transit could be aligned to north with the built-in compass; then by sighting to a point in the distance, you could measure the angle from north. Matthew helped John set it up on his back porch, pointing it in the general direction of Blood Mountain. This would be their first position from which to get a reading. Matthew took his compass and set it on the windowsill of his upstairs bedroom. This would be their second position. He was able to get a good third compass reading from Clair’s house as he remembered where on the mountain he had seen the light. All that remained now was to wait for a night call from Clair and hope that the light would remain long enough to get some good sightings.

That night Clair sat on the porch, reading until past midnight, looking up often to check for lights. She dozed off for a few minutes, and when she looked up, she saw the glow on the mountain. As she reached for the phone, suddenly it was dark again.

Obviously they would need a faster way of communicating. The next day at lunch, they agreed that one quick ring would be the signal. Joann said that she would stay a few nights with Clair to help her keep watch.

The next evening was foggy and dark.

“Clair, it’s a cloudy night. Let’s give up and get to bed early,” said Joann.

Clair agreed, so they both headed inside and went to bed early. They were tired after staying up late every night that week. 

Around midnight they both awoke to a loud rumble. Clair ran out on the porch to see red lights flashing through the clouds.

“That sounds like more than one chopper to me!” she said.

“They are heading toward Blood Mountain!” Joann cried.

As the sound died down, a light rain began to fall, hiding the mountain. They would not be able to see anything until the weather cleared. Clair and Joann went back inside, eagerly discussing this new development in their mystery. Why would choppers be heading to Blood Mountain? Did it have anything to do with the strange lights? Was Blood Mountain really a wildlife preserve, or was something else going on there?

No phone call signals were necessary in the nights following the chopper incident. Matthew, John, Joann and Clair each devoutly kept watch until well after midnight every night. The four were very observant, looking for any clues to the strange things going on.

“We need to keep this a secret,” Matthew said at school one day.

“But Matthew, people are starting to question what is going on.” John was tired of the waiting. “We’re missing ballgames and not hanging out with our other friends like before.”

The obsession with the mountain lights was taking over all their free time; even their grades were falling off.

“Something has got to break soon,” Matthew said as they boarded the school bus. “Maybe we should do like John said and just pack up and go check it out!”

“Matthew and I could hike over to the mountain, and you girls could pick us up  when we come out of the woods,” said John. “We will need some walkie-talkies from the hardware store in case we get separated.”

“So you and Matthew will have all the fun while we just wait around!” Clair objected.

“Okay, Clair. We will all go,” Matthew said. “The under-brush is really thick out there. We may need a machete, and be sure to wear long sleeves.”

Between the hardware store and the army surplus place, they stocked up on hiking supplies, walkie-talkies, two machetes, and fresh batteries for their lights.

“I can pick up everyone at six this Saturday,” John volunteered. “My car is running good now.”

“Then Saturday it is,” Matthew commented. “We will be ready at six.”

On Saturday they drove out to the edge of the preserve and parked the car. They jacked up one side of the car and removed the tire, placing it in the trunk to make it look like they had a flat tire.

“What are we going to say if we get caught?” asked Joann.

“Just tell them that we are ridge walking and looking for new caves to explore,” said John. “Who knows, we may find one!”  

They walked for a long time in silence, enjoying the scenery but keeping their ears open for sounds of other people. The undergrowth made progress difficult, with bushes, thorns, and weeds preventing a clear trail to follow.

 “I know that the road is around here somewhere; I have been hunting on it before,” John complained as he cut through the undergrowth with the machete.

They came to the edge of a deep ravine containing two strange looking metal tanks.

“Looks like a whisky still to me,” John noted. “I don’t believe that it is still being used.” He pointed through the trees. “That may be the logging road there along the side of the hill.”

“Great,” Joann said, out of breath from fighting the bushes. “Maybe it will be easer  going along the old road.”

They followed the logging road for a while, making better time without all of the undergrowth. At last they found a sign saying, “KEEP OUT. GOVERNMENT PROPERTY.”

“Well, this is the end of the old logging road.”

Joann was disgusted with the plan of just charging into the wild. “We don’t even know where we’re going. We don’t even have a map!”

John charged on, whacking at the brush with his machete. They followed a trail which twisted around the first mountain and ended at a deep ravine. On the other side of the ravine was a high chain link fence with a dirt road running along the inside. The road looked like it was well used, as least several times a day.

“I think we had better head back. It is getting late, and it looks like someone has been patrolling that road,” Matthew said.

“Not yet!” said John. “I want to see where this fence and road lead to.”

“I would like to know were the lights are located before we go much further,” said Matthew, “and we need to be back before dinner.”

“Let’s turn around in another hour,” suggested Clair.

“Great, we didn’t even bring lunch, and I’m getting hungry,” Joann added.

They walked for another hour, and then headed back to the car. Since they had already blazed a trail, it did not take them nearly as long to walk back.

Once they reached the car, John opened the trunk and put the tire back on. “Sure glad no one messed with the car,” he said when he was finished. He wiped his hands on a rag and casually asked, “What about a movie tonight, Joann?”

“Are you asking me out on a date?”

“Well, yes, uh, maybe Matthew and Clair would like to join us?”

“Are you paying?” joked Matthew.

“I don’t want to miss finding out what happened to Gene Autry in the old serial Mystery Mountain,” said John. A local theater showed old movies every week, sometimes drawing in more customers than the latest Hollywood releases.

“What! We have a real mystery right here on Blood Mountain and you’re watching one of those old black-and-white westerns at the movies?” said Clair, giving John a hard time.

The four of them enjoyed the movie and even stayed through the 1930’s serial the theater ran each week. After a stop for pizza, they went back to Clair’s house to watch for the lights on Blood Mountain.

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