A Car In The Woods: Chapter Four
“Schatzi. C’mon. This way.”
She had been too large for Timmy to carry out of the ravine. He scooted along the edge, finding a rocky path just out of site where the Impala landed. The German shepherd followed him; she found the outcropping and jumped from rock to rock. Schatzi stopped a third of the way from the top. Sitting down, she barked until Timmy’s head crested the lip of the gorge. With Deb crabbing behind him, Timmy found another set that looked more like planned steps. He gulped and went over the side.
Deb screamed, then called out some choice words.
“I’m telling Mom.”
“You idiot, I’m going to tell Mom,” she paused. With a lowered voice: “When we find her. After. We will find her.”
She watched as Timmy guided Schatzi up the new path. They both made it up to the last ledge, but it was too much of a distance for the dog. Deb laid down, her arms dangling over the edge; Timmy boosted Schatzi up as far as he could. It was enough. He pushed, Deb lifted, and Schatzi was on solid, icy ground. Timmy climbed out, also with Deb’s assistance.
They looked at each other, brushing off the dirt and snow that covered them.
Walking back to where they originally climbed out, Deb started looking for any sign of their mother. There were some footprints that cracked through the ice cover. She smiled and pulled Timmy along.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Patricia walked, slid, fell, repeating the pattern more than she liked. They had gone further off the road than she at first thought. It could have been a lot worse. Somehow, they missed all the trees. If that huge bank of snow hadn’t settled in the ravine, well, she didn’t want to think about that. The kids were banged up but fine. Her head hurt like the dickens, and she had a pull in her left side. She wanted to stop and rest a bit, but that was not going to get the help they all needed.
The wind gusted up and then died down just as quick as she moved along. What skin showed on her face hurt, her eyes teared up, and it was a losing battle trying to protect them. Patricia plodded on, looking for salvation.
Then she heard her name. Thought she did, but…no, that was impossible. She stopped to listen, but the howl of the wind came instead. “Pat, no. It wasn’t him,” played on a painful loop in her head. Her body shuddered, pushing her to keep on. Patricia hadn’t wanted to admit to herself that they wound up in the area she never wanted to see again. Looking towards her left, she saw the horrible familiar sights. “No, no, no.”
“STOP THIS,” she screamed, breaking into a dash. The tears fell this time, soaking into the scarf just wrapped below her eyes. “Stop,” she cried out.
Looking behind her as she ran was a mistake: Patricia thought she saw something, someone, but that thought was cut short as she stumbled into a tree and knocked herself out.
If she had been awake, she would have heard the crunching of the icy ground coming closer.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Schatzi went sniffing, cutting between Timmy and Deb, running behind them, surging ahead. She’d jump into a pile of snow and then pop out, tongue lolling out as she investigated a new tree, bush, and a log. When she was told to heel she did, but it only lasted a few eye blinks, and then off she went again.
Deb’s voice was hoarse, and Timmy was getting quieter, as they called out and looked for their mom. They had come to a dead end, losing sight of her footprints at a small copse. She didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to tell Timmy that.
“I’m cold,” he whined, leaning over, looking for any prints that continued past the tree. Deb did the unmentionable: she took him in a big bear hug. He returned it in kind. She thought she’d start crying, and almost did. Schatzi stopped that before any tear fell.
She began barking like mad, intermittent with low hissing growls. Timmy went to her, but she bounded off across the icy ground and into the trees beyond where they rested.
“Schatzi, get back here, now,” Deb yelled. Timmy called as well, but when their dog didn’t stop, he broke free of his sister and started running after.
“Timmy. NO!” She kicked the tree, a little too hard, and gave chase. Her big toe began to throb; it didn’t slow her pace.
Schatzi was faster than either of them. Timmy lost sight of her as she jetted away, but he followed her barking. Deb kept Timmy in her sight, begging him to stop. Schatzi barked. Timmy ran. Deb followed.
Then the barking stopped.
“This way, Deb. She’s this way.” He was pointing off to the right. She caught up to him, and they both stopped, catching their breaths. Deb took notice of where they were. The trees are larger than when they started out. How close they all were to each other. Looking up, the canopy of branches were thick and intertwined. It filtered the sunlight, breaking it apart into hundreds of solo rays.
“We should not be here, Tim. C’mon. Schatzi will find us. C’mon.” She pulled his arm. He resisted.
“Stop it. I’m not going anywhere. Schatzi! Schatzi!”
He broke free and ran into the gathering of trees.
Deb had no choice but to follow.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Patricia groggily came awake. Her eyes fluttered, not wanting to open them. She realized she was warm, very warm. There was no howl from the wind, only some beeps, someone moving around.
“Pat, sweetie, hi. Wake up, ok? It’s ok.”
Patricia came to, her eyesight a bit fuzzy but soon cleared enough to see June standing over her. June, her neighbor, her friend. A nurse. Patricia’s face began to scrunch up, tears beginning to fall.
“Shhh, you’re ok, sweetie. You’re in the clinic. You were near frozen solid when the Sheriff brought you in. We got you just in time.” June stroked Patricia’s hair, sitting down next to her, then took Patricia’s hands in hers and rubbed them tenderly.
Patricia looked around the room. There wasn’t anyone else there besides the two of them.
“Where? Debra. Timmy. Where are they?”
“Sweetie, they should be in school. The Sheriff went to fetch them just a little while ago. The roads are bad. A tree fell and it was the dickens removing it. Took way longer than it should have.”
“No. They were with me. In the woods. They missed the bus. We skidded off the road. Fell into a ravine. In the woods. I went to find help. I…I…what time…what time is it?” Her voice rose in pitch, coming out faster. She was shaking, but not from the cold.
When she heard the time, Patricia screamed and tried to get out of the bed.
A bit more than two hours had passed since she left them. June tried to hold her frantic friend down, tried to calm her, but Patricia’s frenzy was too high. A needle pierced her skin.
“Please. Get the Sheriff. Anybody,” she drifted back against the pillows. “My babies are out there. June. Please.”
June left in a hurry. The beeping and behind her, the noise outside by the nurse’s desk, her breathing slowing, her eyes feeling heavy, Patricia whispered: “Please, God, Please.”
“Ju…June?” She looked through half closed eyes.
June wasn’t there.
“No,” she mumbled. “You’re…” and the sedative did its job.
There is more to this tale, and it will be told.
The tempest to come will soon unfold.
Patience, patience, the time will soon fall
When the rest will be given, given in all.
There was a car in the woods.