THE BODIES WERE BEGINNING TO PILE UP IN THE PEACEFUL TOWN OF OASIS. SINCE THE SHERIFF AND HIS MEN WEREN’T INVESTIGATING THE DISTURBING DISAPPEARANCES AND DEATHS, THE RESIDENTS BEGAN TO DO SOME INVESTIGATING OF THEIR OWN.
The next day Shana entered the bookstore whistling, with a bright smile on her face. Linda knew that she looked this way only when she had a new plan up her sleeve.
Shana rubbed her hands together and said, “I’m ready to begin questioning everyone in town. We might be able to accomplish all this in one afternoon. This time around, we must ask tougher questions to force them to lower their guards.”
“How are we going to get invited to this mysterious party at Diane’s house?”
“Don’t worry, I have a few plans in the works.”
Linda was afraid to find out what those plans might be: her plans usually got them into trouble.
“Let’s begin with Hank, since we are the least familiar with him,” said Shana.
“Okay.” Linda followed her outside.
The bell over the door tinkled as they entered Hank’s Auto Body Shop. Hank came out from behind a car that he was working on to greet them. He has kind eyes. Linda watched him walk over. He was always so nice and friendly to everyone in town.
“What can I help you ladies with today?” asked Hank.
The store was noisy from all the work being done on the cars lined up along the two side walls. The front of the store had two large windows on either side of the door, while the back wall had a glass window to the back room. Hank had ten mechanics working for him up front, and around that many salesmen working in the back office, selling the new cars on the lot behind the store. Even though he was very busy managing his two groups of employees, he always had a ready smile for visitors.
“We’re questioning everyone in town about the party last Friday night. We don’t know who planned it, but it tragically ended with two of our friends missing. Maybe you saw or heard something that might help us?” asked Shana.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you with that. I went to bed early and heard only the storm outside.”
“What about the party this Friday night? I heard that Diane throws two parties each year on exactly the same dates. What goes on at her parties?” asked Linda.
“Diane’s parties are very innocent: there’s dancing and food; everyone gets a chance to get dressed up,” said Hank.
“Who are the strangers that are invited each year?” asked Shana.
“They’re not strangers, but Diane’s friends and business clients,” said Hank, beginning to sound annoyed with them.
“I guess we were misinformed,” said Linda. It didn’t look like they were going to get anything else from him. She looked around at the employees and noticed that all the mechanics had stopped working to glare at them. She could even see the salesmen watching them through the back window. The climate of the store had changed from a friendly workplace to an uncomfortable atmosphere full of distrust and suspicion.
Linda thanked Hank and hurried out of the store, pulling Shana along behind her. As soon as they returned to the coffee shop, Linda locked the door and slowly sank to the floor. Shana sat down beside her.
“I’m afraid that we’re never going to get a straight answer from anyone,” said Linda. “Even Sam and Todd are holding back vital information from us. I don’t want to have to leave this town.” Not when she was beginning to like Todd so much.
“We have to attend this party ourselves in order to find any answers. Hank wants us to believe that these parties only have food and dancing. He must think that we’re pretty stupid: any idiot could figure out from the last party that something evil is loose in town. Somehow, we must find a way to get invited to this party.”