This is a flash fiction I wrote in response to a picture prompt in one of our groups. I hope you enjoy it.
Jamie had followed his footprints since he’d left the road. It’s not like she was a professional tracker but there was a path and once in a while she’d spot where he’d stepped in a wet spot and left a print. The forest here was sothick, overgrown and tangled that if he chose to leave this track he’d need a machete and maybe a chainsaw. The track ended.
Jamie was standing in the middle of a tiny clearing, maybe ten feet across. She looked all around her but all she saw was an impenetrable wall of trees, brambles, and bushes. “Grandpa! Where are you? Grandpa!” Jamie stood and listened for a minute but all she could hear were normal forest noises. She walked to the center of the tiny clearing and found where her Grandpa had stood but couldn’t find any sign of where he’d gone next. “Grandpa?”
A coyote began to howl. Jamie hated coyotes. She’d had a nightmare once where a pack of coyotes was hunting her and she’d been afraid of them every day since. She was frustrated and tears began to well up in her eyes. She stared straight up above her. The sky was beginning to darken. It would be pitch black in a few minutes. “Grandpa? ‘What do I do?” She looked down at the ground and tears streaked down her face.
A twig snapped. Jamie felt the panic swelling up inside her. Someone had followed her and now she was trapped. There was nowhere to run! She could see dark silhouette of a man but couldn’t make out his face. She looked around for a tree branch or something to defend herself. The figure stepped into the clearing.
“Stop!” Jamie yelled. My grandpa will be right back and he’s got a gun!”
The dark figure clicked the flashlight he was carrying and pointed the beam at his face. “It’s me honey.“
“Yes, Jamie. It’s me. I thought I saw you. What are you doing out here honey?”
“It’s Grandpa. He’s wandered off again Daddy.”
“Jamie? Your Grandpa isn’t out here honey.”
“Yes he is! I followed his footprints!” Jamie ran over to where she’d seen the footprints before. “See Daddy?”
Her dad pointed the flashlight where Jamie was standing. “Honey?”
“But Daddy! They were there! They really were!”
“Jamie, your Grandpa is gone. I know it’s hard, but he is gone.” He put his arm around Jamie and gave her a gentle squeeze. “Let’s get home honey. Mom will be getting worried.”
“I miss him Daddy.”
“I know Jamie. We all do.”