*warning this contains adult themes*
He didn’t just get lost. Charles ‘Charlie’ Buckton didn’t just lose his children. He also didn’t have favourites, and yet, Billy his youngest was such a sweet child. He loved his Daddy more than anything else and followed him everywhere. Maude hated when he brought the kids camping in the woods, yet so often relented for a quiet house from time to time.
Tramping through the woods, his muscles aching from weariness, Charlie ran the day over in his mind. He and his five children had been camping in Itasca State Park. An activity they did several times a year. While out hiking, his eldest David, had stopped to help Billy tie his shoe. Charlie and the rest had moved on ahead. He could still hear David, “Alright Billy I’ll race you back to the others. First one to touch Dad is the winner.” The laughter from both boys, the stomping of running feet, then the slowed uncertainty. “Billy?”
Charlie shuddered, his skin crawling. David, while only 13 years old, had blamed himself. “Dad I could hear him behind me the whole time until suddenly I couldn’t, I should have paid better attention.” Maude had held David as he sobbed in their small farmhouse’s kitchen. “It wasn’t your fault David, someone took him. Someone in those woods I’m sure of it.” Maude had looked at him reproachfully, her eyes begging him to stop.
His arm snagged on a tree branch causing him to stumble. Hiking normally brought him peace. Yet today all he could focus on was the day, one month previous when Billy had gone missing. Most people had given up, especially after they found his shoes a week later, sitting on a log in the woods. “Most likely animal predation.” The State cops had declared. They expressed their sympathies and called off the search. They were little Billy’s shoes alright, but they weren’t bloody or torn. So Charlie wasn’t giving up. He trudged on down the same trail from that fateful day.
Ellie had begged him not to go, “Daddy please don’t go back, what if the thing that took Billy takes you?” He looked down at his baby girl, only 1 year older than 6-year-old Billy, and smiled. “Don’t worry Princess, Daddy is big and strong, and nothing can hurt him.” He proceeded to lift her up and give her a good squeeze. “I should come with you Dad.” David had protested. “No Davey, this is no job for a kid…”
“Dad I can help…” David began.
“No. David. I need you to stay here. You’re the man of the house until I get back. You have to mind your Mama, Peter, Mary, and Ellie. You understand?”
He had understood, and although he had wished he had the company of his eldest, he thought it best not to bring him. The things he’d read online since Billy’s disappearance had shocked him to his core. Unexplained mysteries in National Parks all over the country? Not on his watch. Not with his kid.
Charlie felt his breathing grow laboured and worried that at the tender age of 35, he was having a heart attack. He then assessed his surroundings and realised he was back at the spot Billy had disappeared. The air was thick, still, and eerily silent. No wildlife rustling through the grass. No wind whistling through the trees. Sweat poured down Charlie’s back, soaking through his shirt. His eyes darted around the forest.
“Back for your child yes? People are so curious.”
He spun to meet the utterer of this sentence and felt faint. A tall, thin creature, shaped like a man, but was everything but. Its white skin was taut over its bones, it’s eyes sunken and fingernails like claws. “We take you to him, come.” Charlie frowned, patting the front breast of his coat. “Your human weapons won’t work here. We’ve shifted you to our plane now, come.” The creature turned and Charlie had no choice but to follow. Under his trouser leg on the right was his hunting knife. He’d be damned if that didn’t work here, where ever ‘here’ was.
The creature led Charlie to a camp. Surrounding a fire were more creatures. Not many, but enough to make his hand twitch towards the gun again. His eyes assessed the area realising the greyness of everything. It was the same forest he’d entered, but more barren. The trees seemed to droop. The sky though cloudless was grey, and the fire, provided no warmth. “Come, we show you.” It beckoned him to a stone altar where to his horror he was met with the bloodied corpse of his son. “Billy,” he bellowed. “No, my poor boy. My sweet boy. What have they done to you.” Billy’s lifeless eyes stared at the grey sky as Charlie wept over him.
When he finally looked up the creature’s face was covered in a grin. “We need blood. Young blood for the Gods you see, to please them, the dark ones. There is so little blood here on our plane, but so much on yours. You need to share.” Its grin stirred the reptile in Charlie’s brain and he lunged at it. They wrestled on the ground, it’s sharp teeth inches away from Charlie’s neck. He kicked it off him, pulled out his gun and pulled the trigger. Just as the creature had warned him it made but a soft popping noise, like a party item, and then no more. He threw it at the creature as he made for his hunting knife.
The rest of the group had descended on him now. As he brandished the knife, he reasoned. “Let me go, with my boy, and I won’t hurt any of you.” The grinning creature, now with a dark blood spot above its eyes simply shook its head. The others, in their hysteria, had grown all the more terrible. Their eyes darker, their manner more hunched, their claws glinting. “We can’t let you go. You will tell the others.” Charlie violently shook his head. “No, I won’t tell anyone, just please, let me and my boy go. My blood is no used to you, I’m not young.”
The grinning creature simply responded. “No, but your flesh is good to eat.” Charlie fought valiantly, killing one of the creatures in his struggle. He finally succumbed to death as the grinning creature tore at his neck with its teeth. His final thoughts were simply, “I’m coming for you Billy, my boy.”
Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved
*Inspired by David Paulides – The Missing 411.
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