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Lurking in the Woods
The wind was blowing hard and the sun was nowhere in sight. The trees slowly swayed back and forth. Some leaves fell off the tree and gracefully fell to the cold December ground. As I looked back at the sky, snowflakes started to fall. I smiled as a couple landed on my face and instantly melted. I was always in a better mood whenever it snowed but it wasn’t because we had a chance of getting out of school, just seeing it snow spread joy through my body. I walked slowly through the trees and when I found a good spot to set up my camera. I looked around for the perfect picture opportunity and that’s when I saw a cardinal fly through the trees. It flew around a little before landing softly on the ground in front of me. I snapped a picture and it flew away. I looked back at the picture and smiled knowing that it was one of my best pictures. I looked around for another picture, saw an icicle glazed tree and snapped a picture. The snow started falling faster, so I decided to pack up and walk back home.
When I got home, I showed my mother the picture of the cardinal. She smiled and congratulated me. I took my camera to my room, printed the picture and I examined it. I loved the bright red bird against the white snow. I started to put the picture away when I saw something.
It looked like a shadow of a person just at the edge of the picture. I tried to remember if I saw anyone in the woods, but nothing came to my mind. It surprised me that someone was so close and I didn’t even notice them. I decided to go back into my woods to see if the person was still there. I told my mom I would be back later and she said okay. I didn’t want our woods to be destroyed from police looking for someone in them. The woods were where I took a lot of pictures so I went by myself. I slowly walked into the woods. They became darker and cooler but it had stopped snowing. As I got closer to the spot where I took pictures at, I saw three pairs of footprints. Two were mine but the third one belonged to someone else who was still in the woods. I followed the footprints farther into the woods and the farther I went into the woods, the more scared I felt.
I heard a girl scream and my whole body froze with fear for a few seconds before I started running back to my house. I pushed through tree branches and ran as fast as I could. I finally made it back to my house and when I got there Joe, the town sheriff, was walking out of our house.
“Well if you hear anything else, just call us Joe. Nice seeing you again. Hopefully you will find him,” my mom told him as he walked out. He turned around and stopped.
“Okay Mary. Thanks for everything. Nice seeing you as well. If I hear anything, I will contact you immediately. Bye Mary,” he said as he walked out. He got into his car and drove away.
“Why was Joe here mom?” I asked confused. She turned around surprised that I was back.
“Him and the search team are looking for an escaped criminal. I told him that we haven’t see him or heard anything. I hope they find him,” she said as she said as she shook her head, “Haylee, I don’t want you walking around in those woods anymore. He could be anywhere.”
“Why did he go to jail?” I asked her.
“He kidnapped teenage girls,” she said. I told her what I heard in the woods and she called Joe to tell him. I asked what he did with the girls and she said she didn’t know. The search team came and searched for him for awhile and they didn’t find anything. They told us that they would stay on the lookout. I decided that since they didn’t find him I was safe and that the kidnapper just moved to another person’s woods. I flopped down on the couch and turned on the TV. I switched through the channels and stopped on the news station. There was a picture of a girl that looked a little like me. She was seventeen like me as well. Her name was Elizabeth Evandale and she went to Indiana School of Arts with me, but I never really talked to her. I felt bad that she was kidnapped and thought about how she could have been the one who screamed. I turned off the television and went to bed.
When I woke up, the sun was out and most of the snow had melted. It was a Monday and when I got to school all of my classes went quick. I zoomed through all of the classes and then it was time for my favorite class, photography. In photography I turned in the picture of the icicle glazed tree. I got an A- on it, because of course, the strange shadow was in the photo as well. My teacher told me that I was her best photographer in the class and scolded me for getting my shadow in the picture. She told us that the next assignment was to get a picture of an animal but the animal couldn’t be one we see all the time like birds or insects. She explained she wanted us to find something that was more tricky. The final bell rang and everyone ran out of class and to their lockers. As I walked to mine, I heard everyone talking about Elizabeth Evandale. My friend, Alexis, asked me if I heard anything about the kidnapper and I told her what happened.
“Aren’t you scared Haylee?” she asked.
“No, I told you that the police searched my woods,” I said.
While shaking her head she said, “Like you said. You didn’t know he was so close. He could be lurking anywhere.” I told her that I would be careful and she said okay. I got on the bus and didn’t talk to anybody on the ride home.
When I got home, my mom was asleep. I looked outside in my back yard and saw a deer peaking through the trees. I thought of how hard it would be to capture the photo and I decided that was my animal I was going to take a picture of. As I walked towards it, it turned and walked farther into the woods. Without even thinking about it, I followed it deeper into the woods. The deer finally stopped at a creek and started drinking the water. I lifted my camera and snapped the picture.
I looked at the picture. It looked pretty good except for the shadow in the corner. My heart started beating faster. I slowly looked around at all my surroundings as I prepared to run. I heard a twig snap and I started running. A tall man jumped out in front of me and grabbed me. I started kicking, screaming and biting his arms but he was too strong for me. He lifted a cloth to my face dosed with chloroform. I knew what he had on the cloth so I tried not to breathe in. I kicked him a couple more times trying to get away and when it didn’t work, I took a deep breathe in. I felt light-lighted and everything went black.
The air smelt of mildew and the room was dark. I looked around trying to figure out where I was and how to escape. I remembered being grabbed and knocked out so I assumed that this was the kidnappers basement where he took the people he kidnapped, As I looked around the room I noticed that there was no one else in the basement with me. In the far corner, there was a table with a picture of a girl surrounded with candles and flowers. I wondered if that was the last girl he kidnapped. I stood up and tried to take a step when I noticed that my feet were in chains. I looked around for anything that could help me escape and I found nothing. I sat back down and waited, not knowing what could happen next.
After a couple hours the kidnapper came in with a plate of food with spaghetti, garlic bread, and a cup of milk. I didn’t want to eat anything that came from the kidnapper but I realized I was hungry as my stomach started to growl. I decided I needed the food and energy if I was ever going to escape. I ate the food, being suspicious of what he could of slipped into it, but the food wasn’t that bad. The milk tasted normal as well. After I was done with the milk and food, I curled up on the cold basement floor. I watched the door waiting for him to come back. After about an hour I drifted into a deep sleep.
When I woke up, I looked around the room to see if anything had changed while I was asleep. Nothing was different except the pancakes and syrup with a cup of orange juice on the floor. I sat up and ate the food, which was delicious. Underneath the plate was a book. I picked up the book and saw that it was a diary. I started flipping the pages knowing it belonged to a teenage girl and her name was Bethany Gardner. The first few pages were like things you would find in any other diary. They were about the boy Bethany liked, her brother named David, and her friends from school. I thought that there might have been clues in it that would help me escape, so I read it.
I read about her life, about her typical crush, and about her dear brother Dave who would do anything for her. Those were only in the first ten pages though. On the eleventh page, Bethany started talking about how a strange man followed her from school. She talked about how she told her mother but her mother didn’t believe her. The next day, the same man followed her when she was hanging with her friends at the mall. She tried to show her friends but when she looked back, he was gone. She wrote about her day at school and how she hoped she wouldn’t see him again. That was the last thing she wrote.
I closed the diary and stared at it. I realized that he probably showed this to every girl he kidnapped. I didn't know how it all connected though. I decided that I was going to try to last as long as possible and hopefully someone would find me. He came in with a grilled cheese sandwich and some tomato soup.
He set it on the floor and as he started walking away I said, “Thank you.”
He turned around and said, “You’re welcome Bethany.” I tilted my head and told him my name was Haylee not Bethany and then I remembered that Bethany was the one who wrote in the diary. I looked over at the picture surrounded with candles and realized that was Bethany. The puzzle pieces started clicking into place and I realized that she died and this was probably Dave.
“Why are you always saying your name isn’t Bethany? It isn’t funny. I get angry when you say that,” He said while lifting his fist. I shook in fear.
“I’m sorry Dave. I won’t do it again,” I said. He lowered his fist. He said that I needed to be punished so I wouldn’t do it again. Before I could move out of the way, he lifted his fist and hit me on the side of the head. My head hit the floor and everything went black.
When Dave came in with meatloaf and corn, I asked him if he could unlock me. He thought for a second. I saw that he didn’t want to trust me and he had good reason to. He told me no, set down the plate and walked away. I tried to be good and trustworthy but as we followed the same routine for a week, I decided that if I was ever going to escape, something needed to change.
He brought my usual plate of food in, which was a cheeseburger and fries. I said thank you and he nodded his head. I asked him to unlock me and he said no so as he was almost out the door, I started screaming. He turned around and threw his hands over his ears.
“Stop it Bethany! Stop it! I hate when you scream!” Dave tried to yell over me.
“When you unlock me I'll stop!” I yelled then continued screaming. He started crying and I was just about to stop when he said okay.
“Fine! Is Bethany going to be good?” He asked. I shook my head yes. He said okay and unlocked the locks. I stood up and rubbed where the lock was. I looked back up and Dave was walking out. I ran past him and tried to slip through the doors. He turned to me, grabbed me, and threw me into a wall. I stood up and tried to run, but I tripped and fell. He grabbed me and I bit into his arm with all my strength. He threw me into another wall and walked up slowly. As he lifted his fist, I ducked under him and ran out the door. He turned around and tried to grab me again but I dodged him. I ran up the stairs and into the house and started looking around looking for any doors leading to the outside. I heard his feet stomping up the steps and decided that I had to move quick. I ran through the first door which ended up being a closet. I pushed through the clothes that were hanging up and when I reached the back of the closet, I fell to the floor and curled into a ball.
“Bethany, oh Bethany. Come out, come out wherever you are,” he said teasingly, “You know you can’t hide forever.” I watched as his feet stepped past the door. He turned towards the closet, stopped, and started laughing. I listened to his evil laugh and froze in fear. I didn’t move a muscle and I didn’t breath.
“You shouldn’t have ran from me Bethany. I was only trying to help. I wanted you to be safe and not run away from me. I tried to protect you from the bad people and you run away. Why do you always run from me? It’s not nice to run away. See and now I have to punish you,” he said with sadness in his voice. I flinched as I heard a click. The doorknob turned and the door opened wide. I tried to kick him but as I kicked out my feet he grabbed them and dragged me out. I screamed for help as he lifted me by my foot. I looked out a window that I didn’t see before and smiled as I saw the search team and dogs running toward the house. He looked to see what I was smiling at and as he tried to look back I started punching and kicking him. He dropped me knowing that it was over. He ran out the back door of his house.
The search team ran towards me and made sure I was okay. They looked around searching for Dave. One took me back to the car while the other one searched for Dave and I told the one that took me back what happened. He told me that everything would be okay that they would find him. After searching for him, they did. He fell into a hole, broke his neck and died. They showed him to me so I could feel safe at night but I felt bad for him. I figured out by the end that he just wanted to protect his sister from all the bad people even though he was one of the bad people. He probably even thought it was his fault his sister died. Even though I felt bad for him and knew that he was crazy, I was different from that point on. I was always alert, always suspicious of everything, and I never went into my woods again because you never know what could be lurking.