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by william brownson

It made the most horrible screeching wail, the sound of a lost soul, or a creature of the dark regions looking for prey. Echoes of this fearsome cry reverberated and seemed to grow in intensity. Billy sat on a rock and cried not knowing that he had heard a wild turkey. He was going to die because he had not minded his daddy and had gone into the woods alone. He was too tired to run anymore. After he found out that he was lost he had run a lot, finding himself in darker and more evil looking places. So now he had to rest a while.

What was really bothering Billy was that it was getting dark? When it got dark, it got cold and sometimes the wind blew and it rained. He knew that Daddy was looking for him by now. If only he could remember which way he had came from. Trees were tall and Billy could not see very far. Walking in a straight line when you had to keep going around trees, rocks, stumps and even whole trees that were rotting on the ground was difficult. As if to confirm his suspicions a breeze stirred the brush. He felt a drop rain hit his face. It was a cold spot in a face full of warm tears. He knew that he had to do the right thing or he was going to have to be out with the monsters of the night.

Hiding is necessary to avoid monsters. Billy had to find a hidey-hole a place to keep warm and safe. He remembered the old tree that he had passed a while back. A huge and partly hollow stump covered with moss and brush. Playing in it would have been fun if he were not so afraid. Billy started back the way he had come to find the stump. Billy had no way of knowing that if he had forged ahead a few hundred yards, he would hit the logging road. The same road dad had driven the car on to get to the camping spot. He turned and went back in the woods. If he had just waited in about ten minutes, he would have heard daddy driving his car down the road screaming his name.

He backed-tracked toward the tree, first downhill and then up the rise on the other side. Going deeper into the forest with each step, Billy never found his hidey-hole. He did find a good spot under a tree that uprooted its gigantic stump when it fell. It was grown over with thick brush and had a dry spot underneath a small boy could crawl in. The monsters would not see him in there.

The exhausted boy fell asleep as soon as he was comfortable. Falling into a deep slumber, he did not hear the searchers that passed within a couple hundred yards of his hidey-hole. They shouted his name. The exhausted sleeping boy did not hear their shouts.

Hank, the ranger who was organizing the search had laid out the search plan on a map. He had estimated that a small boy like Billy might go a half-mile in an hour. Hank adjusted his compass to three miles using the key of his map and drawing the circle. He then divided it up into grids before dispatching his searchers. Too bad they did not have the dogs. It would not be until afternoon the next day that the searchers would have hounds. The hounds would find the hidey-hole. Billy would be much deeper into the forest by then.

Ted, Billy's dad, was frantic. He had spent the night driving up and down logging roads in his 4X4 Ford Bronco stopping every few hundred yards to get out and shout. Now his voice was raspy and ineffective. As day was breaking, he went to the ranger’s station to ask about the search. Hank, the ranger, was busy working with his map and speaking to the new group of volunteer searchers. Ted heard him say into his cell phone, "Drive up FS121 five miles to these co-ordinates (baffling string of numbers), head on a bearing of 44 degrees to . . . another string of numbers. Do a ninety to the west and go two hundred yards and backtrack on the same bearing. Call in when you complete the sweep. Keep alert."

Hank didn't want to say watch for bear with Ted standing there looking so distraught. Not wanting to interrupt the search, Billy's dad waited patiently until he was done talking before speaking. "They haven't found him have they?" The ranger lowered his head and shook it from side to side. He told Ted, "Hang in there buddy we'll get him. Dogs will be here in a few of hours."

Hank poured a cup of hot coffee and gave it to Ted saying, "Drink some of this you'll feel better." When he offered Ted a doughnut he refused saying, "I'm not hungry, damn! I have to do something. Do you have any suggestions?"

The ranger told him, "Go up to the place you were camping and think like your boy. You know him better than anyone. Track him by instinct." He pushed a bag with a couple of doughnuts into Ted's pocket and said. "You'll need these later. Just remember if you get lost yourself, head downhill. You'll eventually hit a logging road. We can spot you on the road using aircraft during daylight. I hope the little guy finds a road."

As he walked back to camp Ted could not repress the fleeting hope that Billy would be there when he got back. However, the tent stood empty, bringing tears to Ted's eyes. He thought, "I've got to get a grip on myself and think. Think like Billy." Standing in the middle of the camp and looking at the surrounding forest road and stream. Remembering what had happened, when he discovered that Billy wasn't there. He had checked the stream thoroughly. Wading all the way to the beaver dam shouting his name. One thing to be grateful for was that he hadn't found him floating in the water.

Across the creek, at the shallow part, there was a steep cliff. Billy couldn't have climbed that. Thick blackberry vines would have made going that way too difficult for a little boy.

Billy had gone into the national forest into a pristine wilderness that covered thirty square miles. Looking over the forest on the other side of the road, he saw it. It was a tiny game trail leading into the woods through a thicket of brush. Billy would have liked that. Ted ran to it now, he had to stoop to clear the brush. The boy could have walked in standing up. A tiny little trail just his size. Ted was sure of it; he had gone down this path.

Billy woke to total darkness and was too afraid to cry. It was cold and his back was sore where the stick had been poking him No matter how he tried to turn it still hurt. Crying would not help because Mommy wasn't here to hear it. It was cold though the days were still hot. He had awakened during the night, shivering and frightened. The monster was trying to find him, “She knew he was here.”

Whimpering under his breath, like a terrified puppy, Billy crawled toward the opening and the first light of morning. The rain had stopped but water dripped everywhere. Leaving his hidey-hole would mean getting wet but he had to do something. Billy was careful not to make any noise, the monsters could still be awake, and it was still real early. He knew that monsters slept in the daytime but wasn't sure just when they went to sleep.

Not having anything to eat for almost twelve hours had made him so hungry. He was thinking about his daddy and the bacon he had made for breakfast over the campfire. Daddy cooked the bacon in a long-handled skillet with some potato and eggs. The memory made his stomach growl. Eagerly, he pulled a chunk of bubble gum from his pocket, tore off the wrappings and threw them on the ground. The gum was wonderful, sweet and satisfying, too bad he had only one stick. Dad had stuffed it in his pocket after breakfast telling him that if he chewed it a long time he could blow big bubbles. He said, "You'll need this later."

Trying to figure out which way to go was hard for Billy. He didn't want to back into the dark forest, he was sure monsters lived in there. From where he was he could see high ground that didn't have many trees. Climbing up there he might be able to see something or someone a road, house or anything. However, this was a bad decision that would take him deeper into the undeveloped remote wilderness. He was walking out of the search area faster than Hank had thought he would. Picking a visible destination and heading for it, stopped the walking in circles.

Since waking this morning, Billy had traveled Hanks three-mile guess plus a mile or so in circles. The actual distance he had covered was only a mile and a quarter. Today Billy would do six miles before nightfall, which would put him seven and a half miles away. This was a mile and half outside the search area.

The collective consciousness of thousands of semi telepathic entities bombarded her mind with imagery, she found some worthy minds but most were full of self-serving greed. Focusing on the strongest and nearest she sensed fear in a young human. Yes she knew what they called themselves, people, humans, black, white and many similar and names. Thoughts of malice attached to these memories made her uneasy.

This was not the same civilization that had killed her mate so many years ago. Her precious trusting Tazariot killed by the inhabitants of this land so long ago. In many ways these new peoples were much worse. They killed each other and the ecosystem too. Hate, malice and above all self-serving greed made her so very sad. The old native people had needs too but they were simpler and more primitive. Most of them succumbed to the diseases, smallpox, diphtheria and influenza for which they had no immunities. She had grieved for them in their misery. Learning to avoid humans was a survival tactic. It was an easy thing to do considering the way they broadcast their primitive consciousness into the universal matrix.

Continued on Page 2...



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