Lost Child

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She is lost

The wind howls and whistles through the heavy branches of the tall pines that thickly cover the quickly darkening land. A tiny figure crouches at the foot of one of the tall trees and cries softly. Tears drip down half frozen lines on her cheeks and her lips are slightly blue.

“Mommy,” she sobs as the wind once more whips across her exposed legs, “where are you, mommy?”

The tiny child wraps herself into a tight ball at the base of the mighty tree and tries to warm her freezing limbs with the thin nightgown she wears. The wind traces a path through the darkness lurking beneath the trees creating whirlwinds of pine needles and old leaves that hit her and begin to bury her where she sits. Another cry escapes her lips, filled more with fear than pain, and then she falls silent. Nothing more can be heard except the crackling of the large branches as they moan and groan their secret messages to each other.

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Dawn

As dawn approaches, the forest sits in silent vigil. Snow has fallen heavily around the outskirts of the forest, but the trees have held much of the heavy flakes on their large high branches. Wind groans across the cold white plains whipping snow into dancing whirls of sparkling whites and blues. The child, now completely covered with old leaves and pine needles has been spared from the cold of the heavy snows. She wakes as the first rays of the sun worms its way through the branches to stab a beam of light into the darkness below.

“Mommy,” she cries softly, but no one answers her call except the cold harsh wind.

The child looks about her at the darkness that seems to seep from the roots of the trees and she shivers with fear and the cold. The leaves and needles have protected her from the wind and the trees have protected her from the heavy snows, but she does not realize that they have done so. She knows only that she is alone. Alone, cold and hungry; and there is no one to help her. She remembers her mommy shoving her out of the falling car and screaming at her to run. Knowing nothing but her mother’s last words, the child ran. Now she was alone and afraid.

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What should she do?

Strange crackling noises surround her and seem to seep from the darkness beneath the trees. The child fears to rise and walk within the darkness. She doesn’t know what dangers may lurk there. But thirst and hunger force her to rise and move once more into the unknown. Her bare feet stumble over branches and stones hidden beneath heavy pine needles; but they are nearly numb from the cold so she barely feels it. She falls many times, barely catching herself with half-frozen hands. Finally, cold, numb and exhausted, she falls one last time and fails to rise. She can no longer feel the biting cold, in fact she is beginning to feel warmth spread through her limbs and into her heart. She feels as though she is lying in a deep bed of warm soft blankets. She closes her eyes and begins to dream happy dreams of home.

A policeman sees something

On a road near the thick pine forest, a police cruiser stops to check out the deep grooves that mark a possible accident. Though snow fell the night before, the groves are deep enough to still be seen. He climbs from his cruiser and walks carefully to the edge of the cliff. There, he sees a gray car half-way down the cliff face. There is an eerie silence from the wreckage. He calls for assistance and runs the license plate numbers. The answer quickly comes back. The car belongs to a young mother who was kidnapped, along with her young daughter, from her home sometime during the night. The kidnappers had taken her car when they left the scene.

The officer is informed that the mother and her daughter have not been found. Blood was found at their home. The officer tries to carefully make his way down to the car to see who is inside, but the cliff face is too dangerous for him to maneuver, especially with the snow. He calls out, hoping to hear a reply, but only silence answers him. All he can do is wait for the heavy rescue vehicles to arrive. While he waits, he sits inside his car to stay warm

He finds himself thinking of his own two-year-old daughter who had hugged him tightly before he left for work that day. He smiles in remembrance of the evening before when she had climbed on his back for a ‘piggy back ride’ to bed. He hopes the young child and mother were somehow not in that wrecked car; yet, he knows his hopes are probably useless.

I purposely left out much of the personal things like names and such because i wanted the reader to be able to put their own interpretation to the story.

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The vehicle is rescued

The rescue vehicles arrive. Using ropes and pulleys, they are able to repel to the vehicle and attach chains to the axle. They then run the large winch that groans and moans in protest at the heavy load. The vehicle slowly lets go of the tree against which it had come to rest and begins to move upward. Pieces of metal and glass fall into the grooves as the car slowly slides back up the cliff face. Once the rescue vehicle gets the car back on the road, the officer and his back-up officers surround the vehicle to see who is inside. Medical crews are on stand-by in case they are needed.

Sitting at the wheel of the car is a young man of about 20 years of age. He appears to have hit his head on the steering wheel which appears to be covered in blood. The officer can find no pulse. In the passenger seat, there is another young man. His seatbelt is still secured. Though he appears to be unharmed, yet he also has no pulse. In the back seat, behind the driver, there is a young woman dressed in a bloody nightgown. She is alive, but only barely. Next to her in the car is another young man. He appears to have been unstrapped and apparently tossed about the vehicle. He also has no pulse.

Rescue workers remove the woman and begin life saving first aid. The woman regains consciousness as they moved her into the ambulance. She won't tell them her name or where she lives. All she will do is beg for her daughter. When the police asked her where her daughter is, all she can get out is that she told her to run. Fearing that the child is now lost in the forest on the other side of the road in the freezing cold, they called for more assistances so they could search for her.

The search begins

Even as John, the officer who first discovered the wreck, takes the lead, he advises the searchers and coordinators alike that the child has already spent one night in the forest. She was in a thin nightgown in below freezing temperatures. Sadly, they may be looking for her body and must be prepared for that. Then John sketched out a rough map of the forest and had the search teams spread out and search by sections. As the day wore on, the teams had no luck in finding the child. Word came back to them that the mother was stable and begging for her daughter, but they had not found her. Nor had they found any evidence of her traveling through the thick woods. Noon came and went and small flakes of snow began to fall. Still there was no sign of the child.

The search teams moved to a different section and resumed the search. As each hour passed with no success, the teams began to fear the worst. It was suggested that perhaps the child had been in the car and thrown out during the accident. Teams used ropes to repel back down to the scene of the accident to see if they could find the child. They had little hope of success since the police had already scoured the area for evidence. Stil they searched, but they found no evidence that the child had been there. They searched further down but their hearts were heavy with fear of failure.

Sometimes we hear about things that could never be and wonder how they exist. Sometimes we see things that are impossible and wonder how they could happen. Sometimes we know that miracles can happen because we have experienced them. Sometimes we just have to believe!

The snow, the wind, the darkness and bitter cold....

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Is she alive despite the odds?

A searcher, tired from traipsing through the deep piles of needles and old leaves, walked to a semi-sheltered clearing and sat down on what he thought was a large, leaf-covered stone. The stone turned out to be an old dead branch which cracked beneath his weight. He fell backwards into a hole in the base of the tree that had been hidden by the dead branch. He turned on his flashlight to see where he was and spied a wisp of white buried beneath a large pile of old needles and leaves. He reached for the white cloth and tugged gently.

A tiny hand reached out and grabbed his hand. “Are you here with my mommy?” asked a tiny voice.

The searcher gently wiped away the leaves and needles and found the young child. She had apparently crawled into the tree and buried herself in the needles and leaves to keep warm.

"No, child,” he said, “but we have been looking for you.”

“Do you know where my mommy is?” the child asked innocently as she rubbed sleep from her eyes.

“Yes,” the searcher said pulling off his coat and wrapping the child in it before calling out that he had found her. "And we will take you to her as soon as we can."

A statement is released

Three days had passed and mother and daughter were reunited and staying with family. News media had been hounding them to discover how the little girl had been put in such a dangerous situation and how she had survived. A social worker stepped out of the house and addressed the media.

“I have been given permission to give you the following information. Please do not ask questions, as no answers will be forthcoming. The statement is as follows:

Three men entered the home of Mrs. Edwin James and her daughter, Clarie. They stole money, food, knives, and the family car. They kidnapped the mother and child, intent unknown. During their escape, they stopped on a road near a steep cliff so one of them could relief himself. The mother took that moment to push her child out one of the back doors and told her to run. She then grabbed the gear shift and put the car in neutral. It was sitting at such an angle that it began to roll and the men were unable to stop it.”

As for the three men, who they were, why there was blood in the house, and how the men died, nothing was ever revealed. The police, after the men were examined by the coroner and a death certificate was issued, had the bodies creamated and buried in the section for unknowns. Officially, the men were never identified.

How did she survive? Was it Wood Nymphs, or Tree Fairies, or maybe Snow Fairies, or........hmmmmm, peaks my imagination-how about yours?

The child grows up and writes a book

Despite repeated attempts to get a better idea of what happened, no other information came out of this incident until several years later when the young child was an adult. She wrote a story about her time with the ‘bad’ men and her trials in the forest. She insisted that her story was fiction, and was only loosely based on what had really happened. She did a lot of personal appearances and book signing, but would add nothing to the actual situation.

In her story, she spoke of the men being from her neighbors trailer, which of course was false. She also described how forest dwellers had come to her and shown her where she could hide from the cold. They covered her to keep her warm until another human could find her. Her story was entertaining and a great read; but gave no further incite into what had actually happened on that cold, snowy night.

A rumor, or legend?

On the outskirts of town, in a rundown cabin, sit three men who are getting on in years. They have no electricity, no plumbing, and no internet. They hunt for their food or they go hungry. They have been outcasts from the town where they grew up ever since their boys overstepped their bounds. The Sheriff came to them on that horrible night and told them of the tragidy. He told them that their sons would remain unknown if they agree to a few things. They could no longer enter town. They could only hunt in the woods on the other side of the town. And they might want to think about moving somewhere far-away because some day the truth will come out. It always does.

One day many years later, one of the men looked at the other two and sighed, "Guess we had better go now. The road won't get any easier or warmer the longer we wait."

The other two agreed and folllowed the first through the door and into the cold snowy night. No one ever heard from them again; although rumors years later said that the woods on the other side of town were haunted by three men who were hunting for their sons and would kill anyone who couldn't give them the answers they sought.

© 2012 Cheryl Simonds

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I would hearing from you! 7 comments

JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Great story. Tense, dark and atmospheric at the beginning, but with a happy ending. Good Job.


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut Author

Thank you JKenny, I'm so glad you liked it. :)


dadibobs profile image

dadibobs 4 years ago from Manchester, England

This would make a fantastic book!

Even with the amount of detail you provide, enough is left for the reader to use their imagination.

Awesome and up!


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut Author

dadibobs, thank you so much for your kind comment. I truly appreciate it and I am glad you enjoyed the story.


krazikat profile image

krazikat 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Awesome story- your writing is so descriptive and full of emotion...I could picture the story unfolding in my mind as I read it. Great job!


carolinemd21 profile image

carolinemd21 4 years ago from Close to Heaven

Wonderful story Cheryl! So creative and I love your photos too. Loved it. Voted up!


cherylone profile image

cherylone 4 years ago from Connecticut Author

krazikat, thank you for your kind words, I was so down when I wrote the story that I think my emotions flowed into it.

carolinemd21, thank you for your votes and your kind comments. My photos were taken on a cold rainy day this Autumn and they just seemed to fit somehow.

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