Tyler Zempel is a 35-year-old writer, poet and novelist who resides in Grandville, Michigan with his Fiancé, Danielle and his daughter, Jimmie. He began writing stories as a child and got into writing poetry in high school. Tyler is a huge fan of heavy metal music and loves going to concerts. He is also an adrenaline junkie and loves visiting amusement parks and riding all of the roller coasters. Music, roller coasters and writing are his three passions in life.
Escape is a novel about a man named Landon Blake who experiences an unexpected break down in the wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during a cross country road trip. A friendly stranger stops to offer him assistance and gets Landon to what he presumes is safety in the village of Rust Lake. Landon is made promises of his car getting fixed in a timely matter and on with his trip, but as he soon finds out, not everything is what it seems in Rust Lake. While everyone in town is friendly towards him at first, the town quickly turns on him after the unexplained disappearance of the town’s pastor’s wife, Lauren, a woman that is loved and looked up highly upon in the town. Landon is quickly painted as the number one suspect in Lauren’s disappearance by the town’s sheriff, Lance Johnson, due to her last public appearance being at the local bar with Landon. Landon then goes through a series of events in an attempt to piece together the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance and clear his name of any wrong doing. In the process, he stumbles upon a dark town legend surrounding an old abandoned house just outside of town and looks into the house and “evil” curse he hears about it holding over the town. The deeper he digs into the mysteries of the town and the mystery of Lauren’s disappearance, the more danger he faces. The owner of the motel he is staying at, an outsider within the town himself, comes to his aid to protect him from harm the town folk attempt to inflect on him. They blame him for Lauren’s disappearance despite the lack of any evidence and will go to any lengths to get a confession out of him. With the town turned completely against him, a dark secrets emerging, Landon must put up the fight of his life if he wants to escape from the village of Rust Lake. Landon will come face to face with his deepest fears, will go through unimaginable struggles and become a hero in unexpected ways, all while fighting to escape the troubles he finds himself in and reclaim his life and freedom. Friends will become foes and foes will become friends during the thrilling series of events that unfolds in Rust Lake.
Chapter 1 The sun begins to set on another beautiful but hot September day, as a 2013 Black Honda Civic drives peacefully down a quiet country road through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The driver, and sole occupant of the vehicle, Landon Blake has the music blaring as he continues on his cross-country road trip that began in Bangor Maine, his hometown, and will conclude in Los Angeles before returning home. It’s not rap or country that Landon is blaring, it’s metalcore, a sub-genre of heavy metal that he is particularly fond of. His current metalcore drug of choice is a band from the United Kingdom named Architects. As Sam Carter screams and sings loudly throughout the car, Landon head bangs and screams right along with him. Most people look at him crossed eyed as they pass him on the road, but for Landon, who is on his dream vacation, a road trip covering much of the continental United States, it helps him pass the time and keeps his attention sharp and focused on the drive that he has left in front of him. This trip started out as a day dream a decade ago that Landon has thought about and researched thoroughly over the course of the past ten years, coming to the realization that now, at the age of 33 and in the middle of a pandemic, it was the right time to take his dream trip. With no marriage or kids to tie him down yet and two weeks of vacation time to use up, if not now, then when? It’s a question Landon thought privately to himself in the weeks leading up to the trip. Landon is gradually making his way out west in no real hurry, by traveling through the northern states before heading down south to Los Angeles before coming back east. He has plans to stop and see many different cities and sights along the way and has already made stops in New York City, Pittsburg and Detroit. The upper peninsula of Michigan reminds Landon somewhat of his home state of Maine. The U.P. as referred to by Michiganders, similar to Maine, has no enormous cities around and offers a considerable number of forests, lakes and natural beauty that Landon can zone out and get lost in. He has chosen deliberately to take just back roads throughout the duration of his upper peninsula drive, avoiding freeways to maximize just how much of its natural beauty he can see and take in. With night time approaching and the sun beginning to set off in the horizon, Landon plans to stop somewhere over the course of the next few hours to sleep. It will most likely be a night spent in his car, since hotels seem to be out of the question with the route he currently finds himself driving along. Landon passes a sign, “Village of Rust Lake, population 1,400, 8 miles ahead.” He doubts any decent hotels will be in a town of that size and plans to drive right on through it without giving it a second thought. He may pass through some bigger towns over the next couple of hours, but is not too hopeful of that scenario playing out in his favor. One mile later and with Architects 2016 album “All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us” on its final track, his cars check engine light comes on. His 2016 Civic immediately loses power as smoke begins to spew out from its engine. Irritated and now terrified that he may be stranded in the middle of nowhere in a state he’s never been to before now, Landon pulls his car over to the side of the road as it loses speed rapidly from the loss of power. “Shit, maybe the Gods have abandoned me,” he yells out loud to himself as he slams his hands against his stirring wheel in frustration. He grabs his flash light that he has stored in a bag full of emergency supplies he packed ahead of time that he thought he may end up needing on the trip in case something goes wrong. He never dreamed of anything actually going wrong, but now something has now gone wrong, o so very wrong. He takes a deep breath in an attempt to regain his composure and exits the vehicle to have a look beneath his hood. Smoke suffocates him as he lifts open the hood and forces him to drop back away from the car in a coughing fit. The car may very well be done for, Landon fears, and he doesn’t have the slightest clue where he would go out here to purchase a new one. Forget a new one for the moment, he has no earthly idea what he is going to do with the current one that sits dying on the side of a desolate road surrounded by a forest. A few minutes later with the smoke from the engine beginning to die out a bit, head lights of an approaching care appear from down the road. The car, obviously speeding down the quiet road, promptly nears Landon’s location and begins to slow as his broken-down car comes into view. The car drives by Landon and pulls over to the side of the road just up ahead of him. Landon, who has never been a gun owner, begins thinking that now might be a good time to have one in his possession. He had a passing thought before the trip to purchase one for the just in case scenario that he needs one to get out of a dangerous situation, but decided in the end not to. Would that decision come back to haunt him? He sure hopes not. From the front of his broken-down car, Landon can see a man sitting in the car that has pulled over, but he’s not sure if the man means well and has stopped to help him, or has stopped to make a bad situation even worse. If this was a horror movie, option B would definitely be the correct answer. A well-dressed man appearing to be in his early to mid-20’s steps out of the vehicle, an older and rusting blue Ford Focus. He is dressed in a shirt and tie, dress pants, dress shoes and has a necklace of a cross around his neck. He smiles big as he approaches Landon, a smile that makes him feel uneasy. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing,” Landon thinks to himself believing that what the man’s smile says. “Hello sir,” the stranger speaks as he approaches Landon, “it appears you are having some car troubles, is there anything I can do to help?” Landon takes a step back still feeling uneasy about the situation. “Where are my manners, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Allow me to properly introduce myself, my name is Adam Milton.” Adam offers his hand to Landon. Landon shakes it introducing himself as well. “Landon is the name and my car here seems to have died on me. If you don’t mind me asking Adam, are you some sort of Pastor? I ask because of how nice you are dressed and because of the cross necklace?” “Yes, I am, Landon, I’m one of the Pastors at the church just up the road in Rust Lake.” “If you don’t mind me asking, what has you out here in the middle of nowhere on a Friday night?” Adam looks strangely at Landon and responds, “quite the untrusting fellow aren’t you mister Landon? I never did get your last name. My church is made up mainly of elderly folks, some who no longer can safely drive and make it in for Sunday service. I was out doing a house call for an elderly married couple who fits that bill, providing them with an abbreviated service and with communion. The weekends are busy with preparations for the Sunday service, so week days and nights work the best for making these types of visits.” Landon studies Adam for a moment the responds, “the last name is Blake and that makes sense, but to be fair, I am stranded quite literally in the middle of nowhere on a road I haven’t seen another vehicle on in some time. In horror movies, breaking down in a spot like this always means the person who stops to help you is a killer or some shit. No offense Adam.” “Touché Mr. Blake and no offense taken. I’m sure you are under a magnitude of stress given your car situation here and didn’t expect anyone helpful to ever come along.” “I do hope you can be helpful Mr. Milton. What can you tell me about Rust Lake? Is there anything that I will find to be useful in help solving my current predicament in that town?” “As a matter of fact, there is! Rust Lake is a small village that only offers up the church, a motel, a bar, a restaurant, grocery store and the like, but it does have a place called Tony’s Gas and Auto. It not only serves as the only gas station in town, but it’s also an auto repair shop and Tony owns a tow truck as well! He doesn’t work weekends, however, but I will give him a call and tell him about your car situation and he will get it towed to his shop first thing tomorrow morning. I can also get you a room at the motel for the weekend for a great price.” Still doubtful of Adam, Landon asks, “it’s that easy for you to get my car towed into town and get me a room at the motel? And what happens if a cop drives by and sees my car abandoned here, won’t he give me a ticket?” “Rust Lake only has one cop that polices the entire county and he won’t be out this way tonight, so there is no need to worry about getting a ticket. And yes, I can do these services for you because Rust Lake is a very small town where everyone knows everyone and we don’t hesitate to help each other out. I noticed your car has a Maine plate so I’m sure you’ve been to a small town or two in your life time and have seen firsthand how they operate.” “I’ve been to many small towns over the course of my life and they all tend to be the same. All full of drama with people constantly being up each other’s asses and knowing all of their personal shit. I’m guessing this town is full of far-right conservatives that still believe Trump won reelection, that go to your church on Sundays acting like they are such great people and at the same time leave church to go gossip and talk bad about each other over breakfast at the local restaurant. Drug use runs rapid among the youth and suicide rates are higher than the national average. Am I on to something here?” “You’re a fisty one Mr. Blake, not afraid to speak your mind. I can appreciate that quality in a person. Trump did win reelection and he spoke the truth on election night when he told the entire country the election was rigged, but that’s beside the point. I’m here to help you and that is what I’m going to do. Excuse me for a minute while I make a phone call.” Landon shakes his head as Adam takes out his cell phone from his pocket to place a call. He still feels very uneasy about the entire situation and hopes that his car can be repaired in a timely matter. Either that or he will be able to purchase a new one somewhere. He’s not overly confident a car dealership exists in Rust Lake, but maybe he will come across someone who is looking to sell an old rust beater for a cheap price. An old rust beater being sold in Rust Lake, wouldn’t that be something? “He Tony its Adam. I’m currently with a gentleman named Landon Blake whose car has broken down out on Old Rust Lake HWY about 7 miles east of town. Would you be able to pick it up in the morning and tow it back to your shop?” Adam listens for a moment then responds, “you can that’s great! I will let Mr. Blake know. Thank you, Tony.” “Sounds like he will be picking up my car in the morning.” That’s Landon. “He sure will be Mr. Blake, now how about I take you to town and get you the nicest room at the motel for a very cheap rate?” “Sounds like the only option I have at this point Mr. Milton, let’s go.”
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