Deputy Samantha Cody just won her third professional boxing match and expects a relaxing, stress-free visit to her friend’s new B and B in the tiny mountain community of Gold Creek, Colorado. Those expectations are immediately dashed when she stumbles upon a brutal killing by a massive figure. Two more murders follow and Sam finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being both witness and investigator. Some vacation. Police Chief Forrest Wade’s primary suspect, a bear-like mountain man, matches the killer’s description, but he’s not the only suspicious lead. A shadowy creature has been seen roaming the mountain slopes, terrorizing hikers, and mutilating cattle. A defunct pharmaceutical research lab, tucked into the deepest recesses of Gold Creek Valley plays a role in these bizarre occurrences, and the stroke-ravaged mind of past Nobel nominee and medical researcher Dr. Edgar Locke holds answers to these questions as well. Sam must survive the harsh mountains, deep hard-rock mines, and a conspiracy of greed and corruption long enough to uncover the truth.
“Anybody in here?” she shouted. No answer. She panned the light around the room, its narrow beam stabbing into the darkness. Nothing appeared out of place.
The odor of cordite commingled with the remnants of the intruder’s musty smell, both now laced with another aroma. What was it? She knew it, had smelled it before, but couldn’t identify it.
She swiped the wall beside the door, searching for a light switch, finding none. A desk with brass lamp sat to her left. She yanked the pull chain; the light pushed back some of the shadows.
The room was wide and deep, with soaring ceilings. Racks and tables of clothing and supplies filled most of the floor and wall space. Everything appeared in order, quiet, until she looked down. Several bloody shoe prints on the hardwood floor led from behind a rack of flannel shirts, past where she stood, and out the door.
Despite the cold, sweat trickled down her neck, between her breasts, and slicked the palms of her hands. Her gun pointed the way as she circled the rack of shirts, stepping carefully around the shoe prints to avoid damaging the evidence. The blood added a healthy dose of caution and fear to her every movement.
The thought that she had no business being there crossed her mind.
She rounded the display rack and froze. A body lay on the floor. A man, on his back, unmoving, wearing a red and yellow checked flannel shirt and beige down vest. A pool of black cherry blood fanned out from his left ear, which like the entire left side of his face, was crushed and discolored. Two eyes as black as pools of oil stared up at her. She directed the light beam at them. No pupillary reaction.