Only a few fires still crackled as Lowell went through the campground, setting one foot in front of the other. He felt warm though the night was cold—it was September and it must have been less than forty degrees, way up in these hills. The whiskey he’d drunk earlier flowed through his veins like blood and his eyes had adjusted to the darkness, allowing him to keep his flashlight crammed into his back pocket. He was searching for the trailhead he’d noticed earlier that day when he’d pulled into the campground, sick of driving and praying for an empty site.
An ember popped lethargically somewhere in the campground. A car door slammed shut. Lowell studied the darkness encircling the campsite, looking for a break, and finally located the trailhead all of twenty yards beyond the campground’s last site.
The gravel path was designated only by a small wooden sign. Lowell clicked on his flashlight—the sign read SKY TRAIL (4 Miles) and offered no further information. He started down the trail, remembering something he’d read somewhere about a man who’d made a list of people he wanted to kill and then wrote “sky” beside each of their names after he’d killed them. He decided to keep his flashlight on, since he was beyond the campground now and the light wouldn’t bother anyone. Gravel crunched beneath his boots.