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Caribbean Sea—Devil’s Island
hy did the last work crew leave?” Curtis asked John as he caught up to him.
John didn’t answer for a moment as he hacked his way through the overgrown jungle trail that led up to the Thornhill Manor. Curtis backed up a few feet away from John, away from the swing of his blade.
“Why would they just leave like that?” Curtis asked again.
“There were some accidents,” John answered as he cut at the brush in their way.
“What kind of accidents?” Curtis asked.
Curtis fell back a few more steps. He could tell that John wasn’t going to say any more on the subject, and he wasn’t going to press him. Curtis carried a duffel bag with supplies inside that they would need for their seven hour stay on Devil’s Island: metal clipboards, paper, pens, digital cameras, various handheld tools, flashlights, energy bars, a first-aid kit, and three battery-powered walkie-talkies. Rob carried a cooler full of bottles of water and Gatorade.
They had made the twelve mile journey to the island by boat, and Curtis was still feeling a little queasy from the bunny-hopping jaunt across the Caribbean waves. They had tied the boat next to a rickety pier that ran a hundred feet out into the water, and then they began their trek up this trail that wound its way to the top of the hill where the Thornhill Manor waited for them. The Manor was abandoned, empty now for nearly seventy years. But the locals that Curtis had spoken to before getting on the boat told him that just because people didn’t live on this island didn’t mean that it was uninhabited; they told him that there was something on this island, something very bad. Curtis had passed the stories off as locals trying to scare an outsider and figured they were all having a good laugh about it right now. But now that he was here on the island, their warnings seemed somehow plausible. There was a feeling of dread here, like a pressure on his chest. Of course the relentless humidity and the altitude of the hill they were climbing might also have something to do with the pressure on his chest.
The day was already hot, the muggy air stifling—Curtis felt like he was trying to breathe through a wet towel. The world around them was silent except for the sea breeze rustling through the leaves and a few seagulls screeching from somewhere up in the endless blue sky above the canopy of the trees. Curtis lifted his hardhat up and wiped at the sweat on his forehead.
“You doing okay?” Rob asked Curtis.
Curtis nodded even though he still felt sick to his stomach. They were only going to stay on Devil’s Island long enough to document things and see where Templeton Enterprises stood with this renovation project at the moment—a seven hour stay at the most. Two work crews had come to renovate the Thornhill Manor over the last few months and both of those crews had abandoned the project abruptly without getting much work done. He couldn’t wait for this little trip to be over with. He wasn’t happy that Mr. Templeton had pulled him away from a project in Atlanta, but when Mr. Templeton personally requested you, well, then you packed your bags or you could start looking for a new employer.