Hey, all! So I'm starting a new horror story here, and I'm taking a page from Stephen King and taking time to develop my characters before I get into the horror, so these first chapters may seem slow. I've tried to keep the characterization interesting, though, so, yeah.

This story is dedicated to Richard Matheson, who pioneered the basic concept of this story. He's one of the greatest horror writers of all time (ever since the 1950s), and he's still at it.


Dalton Burwell came to Lenora Street and entered its folklore on the same day. It all started before his moving van was even empty. Samuel Tucker, the watchman of the street, was the first to see the yellow moving van in front of Mr. Powers' old house and, being the good-hearted man he was, assembled a team of the strongest men on the street and led the way across the asphalt toward the van.

Burwell was inside, talking to the driver of the van, when his eyes caught something outside. His already ruddy face turned cherry-red in anger and his huge hands curled into big, rock-hard fists. Burwell turned on the heel of his cowboy boots and marched to the door, moving quickly for the big man he was. Burwell threw the front door open and it banged against the wall, booming like a cannon. Burwell thundered down his front walk toward the four men who were stealing his stuff out of his moving van.

Burwell got to Sam Tucker first. He lifted the Tucker off the ground like a feather and dropped him onto the concrete driveway. Tucker landed like a sack of bricks. Tucker tried to crawl away, but Burwell grabbed him and jerked him to his feet. Tucker's legs wobbled like jello, but they stopped and started kicking as Burwell grabbed the two ends of Tucker's knotted neckerchief and started tightening the knot. Burwell's face went from red to purple to blue as he struggled for breath. Right as Tucker began knocking on death's door, Burwell noticed Norm Robinson running down the driveway and let Tucker go. Tucker sprawled onto the grass, clutching at his neckerchief knot, loosening it as he watched Burwell grab Robinson at the end of the driveway and land a haymaker on Robinson's jaw. The bottom half of Robinson's face skewed into a funny angle and Robinson fell to the ground, moaning. Everett Sloan and Carl Mendez had managed to get home by now and watched this unpleasant scene from the safety of their front windows.

Sam Tucker ended up with a permanent strangulation scar on his neck and Norm Robinson ended up with a glass jaw from the ordeal. Something even more lasting started that day, though. The legends of Dalton Burwell began.

xxx

The stories behind Dalton Burwell came thick and fast and got wilder and woollier as time went on. Most of them were crazy enough to be discounted immediately, but others were enough to make some people wonder.

One thing that was certain was that Burwell had come from Appalachia country and had worked in the coal mines. Some people said that the reason for Burwell's short temper was that he had been in a cave-in in the mines and a huge timber had snapped down and beaned Burwell hard on the head. Dr. Duvall claimed that a good smash to the cranium could conceivably shorten one's temper, so this was one story that stayed around.

Some people noted Burwell's resemblance to John Dillinger and claimed Burwell was Dillinger reincarnated; others stated that it wasn't Dillinger but Jesse James or John Wesley Hardin. These rumors came to being right at the height of a "mystical" trend on Lenora Street, with books like Life after Life, The Search for Bridey Murphy, and Audrey Rose being bandied about like candy. Some of the more level-headed that lived on the street noticed this odd correlation and threw out the reincarnation ideas like last week's garbage; as the mystical trend receded, so did the reincarnation theories. Burwell was definitely himself and himself only.

The most viable theory, and the one with the most credence, was the one that placed Burwell as the notorious "High Tower" murderer. Over the few months before Burwell had arrived on Lenora Street, San Francisco had been seized with terror over a sniper who had been picking off young women in the streets, assumedly from the Transamerica Tower. The fact that the murders stopped at right around the same time that Burwell gave Robinson his glass jaw made a lot of Lenora Street residents wonder.

Whatever Burwell was, all the residents knew what Burwell was now: a tough, mean man who was the cranky old man of the neighborhood although he was only twenty-eight. At any rate, the residents of Lenora Street were ready to just let bygones be bygones, to live and let live.

All that changed when Gail Hollinger moved onto the street.