Co-authored by Micah Trampe & Nathan Trampe
“We’re coming in now Mr. Yates,” the pilot’s voice crackled through the headphones Chuck wore on his head.
“You can see Wells right over there,” he pointed.
Chuck Yates sat in the helicopter flying high above the Bighorn Mountains.
He could see the town now as they flew over the last mountain peak.
“Wow, sure is beautiful here,” Chuck yelled over the beat of the helicopter blades. “A bit different from my office view of New York.”
“I bet! Gonna be a culture shock when you see the town. There’s maybe 20 people, and some live out of town a ways. Then there’s a hotel and post office, a restaurant, and a gas station. You can get your groceries there. The only paved road runs right through the middle of town.”
Chuck was taking a vacation to relax, think and hunt. In just a few minutes they would land next to the little town of Wells, where he would unload his gear and rent a room at the hotel. The next day, he would hike into the wilderness to find a spot to set up camp to hunt.
“It’s going be good to get away for a while. I’ve needed some time off to relax. My job gets pretty hectic sometimes, and dealing with crazy New York drivers doesn’t help!” he chuckled.
“Well, you’re not gonna have to worry about that here. You’ll be lucky if you meet anyone else on the road every half hour. Not too many people brave the wilderness to live in its beauty.”
Soon it would be just Chuck against nature, and he planned on winning. Chuck needed to win at something. At home, his life was shattering, and winning a fight against nature would give him a sense of accomplishment. Chuck had recently broken off his engagement with a woman he thought would be his future wife, and his job with the FBI as an intelligence analyst consumed all his time. Feeling empty inside, he had decided it was time for a vacation.
The helicopter began its descent and was soon sitting in a field just behind the town’s hotel. Chuck got out and began to grab his stuff from the luggage compartment.
“Let me help you with that. You’re just goin’ into the hotel, right?”
“Yeah. I’m going to spend the night there and pick up some supplies. Thanks for the hand. I’m hoping to get a decent start tomorrow morning. Any recommendations for a good spot to set up camp?”
“Head that way,” he turned and pointed. “See that ridge? Just on the other side of it, deer like to graze in the valley. That’d prolly be your best bet.”
“Alright, thanks for everything. Hopefully my load will be a little heavier on the way back!” he laughed as he set the bags down in the hotel lobby.
“No problem. I’ll be back to pick you up in a week. Good luck to ya!”
Chuck shook the man’s hand and walked up to the front desk of the hotel. An older man, eyes shut, sat leaning in a chair against the wall with his feet propped up on the desk. The man looked as if he were in his late fifties. Clearing his throat, Chuck received no response from the sleeping desk clerk.
“Excuse me, sir?”
Still no response. Chuck saw the bell sitting on the edge of the desk and decided it would be his best bet for waking the sleeping man.
Chuck slapped his hand on the bell several times before the man finally stirred.
“Oh sorry, son. You need somethin’?” the man yawned and wiped the sleep from his eyes. “Not usually too busy round here. Never hurts to get some shut eye when ya can! Name’s Jack. Jack Flemington.”
“Nice to meet you. I’m Chuck. Just passing through before I make my way out into the hills! I was wondering if I could get a room for the night? I’m planning on getting a good start in the morning.”
Chuck shook the man’s hand.
“Sure! Nice to see a new face in town. We don’t got too many visitors, but we always enjoy it when we do. Adds a little bit more excitement to the place,” he cackled.
“I’m glad I could help you out then! I can’t imagine why you don’t though, it’s so beautiful here!”
“Especially this time of year, just the right temperature for me,” Jack said.
“About that room though…” Chuck trailed off. He was ready to unload his gear and get something to eat.
“Ah yes. It’s $50 a night, but if you stay a week we make it $40!”
“Okay, well, I think I’ll only be needing it one night for now.”
Jack reached behind him and found a key.
“You’ll be up the stairs, first door on the right.”
Thanking Jack, Chuck grabbed the key, managed to gather all his gear into his arms, and started up the stairs to the left of the desk. He made it to the top and unlocked the door. The room looked as old as the town, yet it was kept very clean. It consisted of a bed, a dresser with a mirror, a closet and an old TV that looked as if it had seen its fair share of Bonanza episodes. Chuck set his stuff down on the floor beside the bed. He walked over to the window, shaded by curtains that matched the bed, and looked outside.
“This town looks like something right out of an old western,” he thought to himself. “It’s a completely different world here…”
Looking across the street, Chuck saw the restaurant the pilot had mentioned. He grabbed his coat and exited the room, locking the old deadbolt with his tarnished key.
“So, how’s the food at the restaurant across the street?” he asked Jack, slinging his coat over his shoulder.
“Oh, Wally’s? Best place in town! Not like you have another choice…” Jack slapped his knee at his own joke. “The chicken fried steak is the best. That’s what I get every time.”
“Alright, I’ll give it a try. Can’t go wrong with steak and gravy. Thanks for the recommendation!”
Chuck walked out the door and headed across the street to fill his stomach. He had not eaten since he boarded the helicopter at four that morning. Now it was noon.
Wally’s resembled an old saloon. Chuck entered the restaurant and, to his disbelief, the inside appeared that way too. He couldn’t tell if the look was intentional or just seemed to be that way due to lack of renovation. Either way, he liked the rustic look. The newest innovation, by the looks of the room, was a big screen TV that hung on the wall. It was blaring Fox News. The signal must have been poor, because the picture kept flickering.
A man welcomed him as he stepped up to the bar.
“Hey! Welcome to Wells. I’m Wally. Hence the restaurant’s name, Wally’s,” he said, stating the obvious. “What can I do ya for?”
Wally had one light blue eye and one brown eye. The brown eye followed Chuck, but the blue one stared astray.
“Well, I heard the chicken fried steak is the best on the menu, so I think that’s what I’ll have. Oh, and a glass of iced tea if you have it.”
“Alrighty, sounds good. Comin’ right up! You must have already talked to Jack, eh?” said Wally as he stepped into the back. “How many rings of that bell did it take you to wake that old geezer?”
The two must have known each other for quite some time, Chuck assumed.
“Thanks. Do you by any chance have a restroom I could use?”
“Sure. Take that hallway all the way back over there, and it’s the last door you’ll see on the left.”
Wally pointed with a crooked finger that looked as if it had been smashed one too many times.
The floorboards creaked as Chuck sauntered down the dimly lit hallway.
As he reached the back of the hallway and twisted the bathroom knob, he felt a sting on his hand. A piercing light seared his eyes and a doorway he hadn’t noticed before ripped open. In the doorway stood a bearded old man, gasping for air. Sweat stained his overalls. They looked as if they came straight off an 1800’s gold miner.
His beady eyes locked on Chuck and he wheezed, “Make haste, we haven’t much time!”
Make sure to check back for Chapter 2 of Death Trip!