Welcome to GoMC's Story Fest! For the next couple of weeks (possibly) I'll be posting my writings, only breaking for weekends and Fridays, when I do Randomness Friday.
If you missed the first four parts, go to the following links, or just scroll down to part one.
“Dawn, are you alright?”
Dawn jumped and stared into Mr. Patterson’s green eyes. “Yeah, sure.” She fidgeted anxiously. “Why do you ask?”
“You’ve seemed tense lately, that’s all. But you’re usually laid back and relaxed, so your mom asked me to talk to you.”
Dawn shrugged and stared out the window. Mrs. Patterson always had a knack of reading Dawn’s mind.
He pulled up near the double doors of the big brick building. “Have a good day.”
“I will,” Dawn managed a smile as she lugged her backpack out.
Dawn sighed. “Love you too,” she murmured, even though he couldn’t hear her.
The early bell rang as Dawn entered Kingston High. She glanced back at Mr. Patterson’s red car. Josh had told her to tell him the truth, but Dawn couldn’t build up the nerve. She headed over to her friends’ usual bench to find Emily sitting there, looking as prim and organized as always.
Emily winced when Dawn told her what had happened. “Call animal control, girl.”
She couldn’t help but tug at a horse charm on her favorite bracelet. “But, Em…What about Halo?”
“Hello!” Emily rolled her eyes. “That lady can’t even lay a finger on your horse if she’s in prison. Seriously,” she tapped her temple with a finger. “Think!”
“I don’t know the number!” she protested.
Emily pulled out a slip of paper from a barely wrinkled envelope. “I got you covered.”
Dawn shifted her weight from her right foot to her left foot.
Emily rested her chin in her hands with a triumphant look.
“Okay, okay, I will. Even if I’m risking a lot!”
“It’s the animals, my dear Watson.” Emily looked pointedly at a payphone.
“No way,” Dawn held out her hands helplessly. “I want to tell Mr. and Mrs. Patterson first.”
Emily glanced at her watch. “Suit yourself, but I’d better head to class. My English teacher hates tardiness. Especially during our section on Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’.” She started walking away, but she turned around and dramatically said, “Do not vex thyself, troubled maiden! I shall see you at the midday meal.”
Her ponytail hair bounced as she jogged to her class.
Dawn shook her head and started towards her locker. In her own weird way, Emily could always cheer someone up.
Dawn looked out of her window for the thirtieth time and huffed impatiently. Josh said he would come at exactly five o’clock, but then again, it was Josh. He probably got distracted by a pencil or his little sister’s new pet gecko.
They were going to tell Mr. and Mrs. Patterson the truth this time. Dawn had asked him to come early, because Mr. Patterson’s schedule varied, so at times he could be at home as early as three. Mrs. Patterson had gone to the grocery store, so they had time to plan everything out before they spoke to Dawn’s parents.
Dawn pulled on her lip. Maybe she should have told him what they were going to do. Josh probably thought she had called him to go riding.
“Dawn? You in there?”
She climbed off of her bed and opened the door. “Hey, Sean.”
“Hey yourself!” His huge blue eyes, rimmed with the longest lashes ever, sparkled like the nearby Cedars Lake under a full moon. Sean knew what was coming.
“Naw, I’d rather hay the horses.” Dawn ruffled his hair and opened the door wider.
He plopped into her favorite beanbag chair. “Your boyfriend called.”
“Sean, Josh is most definitely not my boyfriend.” Dawn fixed him with her plant-withering glare.
“Then how’d you know I was talkin’ about him?” He smirked. “Just because you stay with him all the time doesn’t mean anything.”
Dawn examined her fingernails. “So,” she asked nonchalantly, “What did he say?”
“That he would be late. I was watching TV, so I didn’t really listen.”
Dawn sighed. “When did he call?”
Sean suddenly looked guilty. “About thirty minutes ago.”
“Sorry! He said something about visiting a bug, though!” Sean shook his head. “Never knew you were interested in those insect scientist types.”
“What? He went to visit Bugs?” Dawn felt as if an electrical jolt went through her. She dug her hand in her jeans pocket and pulled out a slip of paper.
“Sean, I’m going to go find Josh. If I’m not back in thirty minutes, call the police and animal control and tell them all about the abandoned farm and what we saw there.” She handed him the paper and put on her coat. “While you’re at it, call Mom and Dad.”
“Dawn? What is going on?”
“Josh went to the abandoned farm, Sean! I should’ve told him about the woman’s threat.” She shook her head. “There’s so much I should have done.”
“What? Someone threatened you?” Sean suddenly stood up, and Dawn thought he looked very much like a bulldog.
“Just forget it,” She ran out to the front door. “Please, call everyone I told you to if I don’t come back in thirty minutes.”
Dawn was thankful that it was so easy to get Halo ready and get going. As they went through the woods like a swift centaur, Dawn began calming herself. Josh had just gone as usual, right? They’ve gotten away with going to the farm before, and he could be perfectly safe, sitting under the trees and joking with Bugs.
Yet the sinking feeling she had wouldn’t go away.
Halo pulled up to a tree, and Dawn quickly put a rope around her neck to tie her up. Sure enough, Josh’s horse, Caddy, was there looking as placid as a crocodile. Obviously, Josh had been gone for quite a long time for the sweet horse to be in such a grumpy mood.
“Stay here, you two. I’ll be back soon.”
She walked for a couple of minutes until seeing the ramshackle building. The feeling of scaly leaves tickled her arms until she emerged through the bushes to see the horses milling around. They looked worse than before, with fresh wounds. Bugs glanced up at her when she approached and immediately turned his tail on her.
Panting, Dawn fell to her knees. Was this some kind of warped nightmare?
Josh wasn’t there.
“No, no, no!” she buried her face in her hands. Josh wouldn’t ever leave Caddy, his prized jumper. Could she have accidentally passed him on her way here? The forest was a huge place. Slowly nodding to herself, Dawn stood. Josh was probably waiting for her with his usual goofy grin.
She was just about to head in the direction of the horses when a jolt of pain traveled down her body, and everything went melted into a world of black.