As time passed, John finally finished the current section of roof. He glanced at the exterior of the home. He noticed something strange. An eerie silence hovered. Sam wasn’t chattering anymore. Dogs were no longer barking or nosing around the truck. John hopped from the scaffolding, tossed his tools aside, and peered down the hillside. Tonka trucks had been abandoned along with the backpack of treats. Where was Sam? He quickly circled. He ran down the hill. He poked his head into the fort, only to find Sam’s winter hat and gloves- the items that the boy desperately wanted to take off- lying on the floor. Sometimes, he liked to tinker around the blue truck, so John peered inside- just another pack of beef jerky. His heart instantly faltered. The entire time he had been working on the roof, Sam stayed by the dirt with the dogs. Suddenly he was gone, but for how long? John couldn’t remember the last time he had heard the boy laugh or shout or make rumbling truck sounds. He yelled his name several times. Echoes followed. Hearing the ruffling of water, color drained from John’s face. Sam was a water baby. He loved swimming. He loved exploring the outdoors. One of the most important rules was to never go by the water, even if the dogs did.
John ran over to the bridge, glanced down. He searched for footprints as he stumbled down the slope. He studied the creek. Nothing suspicious caught his eye. If Sam had gone near the water, Snoop and Lucy would have been two steps behind. They would have been the first to dive in. He frantically circled while scanning the evergreens. Sam could have wandered anywhere. He could be miles into the Cascades by now. What if he had stumbled and gotten hurt? But where were the dogs! Panicking, John yelled the boy’s name repeatedly. Abbey would never forgive him if something happened to her son. She would never speak to him ever again. Snow began to circle down, reminding him that the weather was about to turn. Worry lined his eyes. Sam was a climber who moved around with no fear. He didn’t understand limitations. Needing a better view, John climbed the hillside. He scrambled from side to side while searching behind the trees. When Snoop and Lucy suddenly appeared, two steps behind him, confusion followed. Where did they come from? The dogs feverishly circled, barking repeatedly. Why? John shouted Sam’s name again. He scanned the skyline as his eyes darted. His heart immediately dropped when he caught a glimpse of the boy. Read More