The first day was probably the worst, in terms of raw number of people affected. By the time the fog had blown off, his phone had been ringing off the hook with calls from the concerned citizens.
Fortunately, the effects of that first wave weren’t too bad – after he headed out, the lights on top of his Jeep cutting through the few whispers of remaining fog, the folks he found just appeared to be stoned out of their damn minds.
After he got them into the back of his vehicle, they immediately started to calm down, but he ended up hauling them back to the station’s single holding cell anyway, just in case. By the time they arrived, the sun had burned off the remaining slivers of fog, and they were all protesting pretty vehemently. “Sheriff Carter, really!” insisted Lynette Jones, her bright orange hair still up in curlers. “Is this truly necessary?”
Carter sighed as he pulled the cell’s door shut. “Lynette, I found you with your bathroom open, trying to climb a tree so you could go after a squirrel,” he said. “I’m thinking that maybe you should lie down and take it easy for a little while.”
The woman just huffed and turned away, although most of the other patrons of the holding cell refused to meet her gaze. Carter gave them all a last, long look, and then headed upstairs.
The town didn’t have the capability to do blood tests, and whatever was in the peoples’ system was gone by lunch. Carter ended up letting them all out with a stern warning, although he wasn’t sure what exactly he was warning them against. Aside from stepping out into the fog in the morning, nothing seemed the same across their different stories – or, at least, what they remembered.
The next day, things didn’t go so well.
By the time the fog was gone, three people were dead – Mr. Henson, out on the outskirts, shot a vagrant attempting to break into his barns. Although Carter didn’t feel that it was necessary for him to shoot the poor transient six times, including two in the head. The shotgun made it just overkill.
More tragic was the death of Sally Clovers, who had just turned eighteen a few days previously. Although the way that Jeffrey Temmerson, the still half-shocked general storekeeper, described the scene, he hadn’t had much of a choice.
“She was clawing at me, at herself, screaming like a wild thing,” he managed to get out as Carter held his pen to his notepad. “Sheriff, she was possessed! I just meant to shoot over her head, scare her off – I swear I did! – but she moved, and, sheriff, I didn’t mean to…”
Carter wasn’t quite sure what to make of the story, but he added Jeffrey to the cells. And, just as a safety measure, he cautioned the assembled crowd from the public that they should stay out of the morning fog.
“Just until we get things all figured out,” he emphasized.
The next day, Carter crawled out of bed at the earliest he’d ever risen, groggily rubbing his eyes. The clock beside his bed read 3:45 AM. Staring out the window, the streetlight outside his house still revealed an empty town. Setting the pot of coffee on the boil, he sat and waited.
He didn’t have to wait long.
Fifteen minutes later, just as his clocked dinged the hour, waves of fog began to roll up the streets. They looked especially thick, tendrils snaking around the buildings and seeming to crawl as if alive. Carter sipped at his coffee and watched, thankful that the windows were shut.
Something wasn’t right, he decided after a while. This didn’t seem right. But this was definitely more than a small-town sheriff could handle.
He was going to have to call for help…