Tractors and Lost Children

The bright afternoon sun barely penetrated the overlapping branches of the pine trees. The forest was dense and even though there was no wind, a cold chill permeated it. I rubbed my arms for warmth as I ventured deeper.

“Charlie!” I called out. My voice came out quiet; muffled.

I hoped that Nadya was lying or mistaken, but had to assume that someone had kidnapped my son.

There weren’t any footprints in the loose dirt of the forest floor, nor any sign of anyone having ever been there. Surely if someone had been this way, there would be something to see.

Looking around, a spot of yellow drew my eye. At the base of a thick bush, a tiny yellow tractor lay on it’s side. It was Charlie’s favorite toy. He even slept with it under his pillow.
I crept forward, quietly.

The bush trembled, its leaves imitating the sound of rain. Inside, I thought I saw naked flesh.

My heart beat faster and I picked up a fist-sized rock from the ground. If anyone had hurt my child, they were going to pay.

“Charlie?” I whispered.

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