Chapter three- In the dead of the night
It was pitch black outside when we left the house. I’d quickly changed into my jogging clothes, as going out in my pyjamas in the middle of the night was too much even for me. I’d never been out this late before. The silence laid over this part of town was frightening; I heard every step I took, every branch that snapped twice as loudly as normal.
I saw Milow look at me, almost as if to say: where do you think you’re going this late at night? It was a risk, I’ll admit that, but it wasn’t as if I was just going to roam around town until I found what I was looking for.
I knew exactly where I was going. After all, the dream had showed me.
The graveyard was indescribably more frightening at night than during the day. The lanterns cast big, moving shadows everywhere and the rustling of leaves made me jump in fright multiple times. An eerie fog covered it all. Next to me, Milow let out a soft whimper.
‘It’s okay,’ I muttered. ‘It’s just a bunch of gravestones. Nothing to be afraid of.’
It didn’t sound very convincing. I slowly exhaled and entered the graveyard, keeping Milow close to me. Just in case.
It wasn’t long before I started recognising things from my dream. That gate, the bench, and the bushes around them – they were exactly the same. I was on the right path.
‘Come on, Milow. This way.’
I cautiously walked through the opening in the wall, looking left and right for any suspicious movement, sims of otherwise. I hoped it were other sims. Plumbob knew what other creatures roamed the graveyard at night, or the dark hills behind it that I was about to enter.
Another familiar sight. I noticed Milow was all-out guarding me now, from the way he kept walking in circles around me, with his hairs standing straight up. Something was making him very nervous. And me, too. But I’d come all this way now already. There was no way I’d turn back now.
Eventually, the barely visible path I was taking split into two.
On my left, there was a nice, properly fenced trail going uphill, with trees on the side and a good visibility. I knew joggers often used that path on their morning runs.
To my right, there was an animal trail heading deeper into the hills, where it disappeared out of sight. The trees cast long, dark shadows everywhere. I’d never followed that path before, and didn’t know where it ended. It could go all the way to the other side of the hills.
There had been hills in my dream.
I knew which way to go.
Before I could even take two steps in that direction, though, Milow ran right in front of me and pressed his paws against my chest as if to stop me. He looked up at me with big, pleading eyes and I instantly realised what it was he was trying to tell me.
Don’t go that way…
‘I’m sorry, Milow. I have to go there.’
I took his paws off of my vest and pat his head while he fell back on the ground. My dog looked at me with a sad expression in his eyes.
‘Just a little further. Come on.’
Milow, knowing I wouldn’t turn around anymore, whimpered again and followed me. We took the trail heading deeper into the hills, walking slowly and cautiously. The air around us became cold and almost heavy with tension. Something was going to happen.
There was something at the end of this path. I could feel it. What exactly, I did not know, but my skin was crawling all over and my heart was pounding nervously in my throat. I put a step forward… another one…
I turned the corner…
It was the end of the trail. Steep hills surrounded me wherever I looked and to my left were only more bushes. But what interested me was the thing on my right.
A brown, completely wrecked car was lying half underneath a bush. It probably was abandoned long ago, but why was it in a desolate place like this? People never came here. There were no roads nearby, if you didn’t count that little jogger- and horse trail. Why would someone go through the trouble of dragging it all the way out here?
I walked closer to the vehicle, curious as for what it was doing here.
That’s when I saw.
There was a body lying on the other side.
My heart stopped. I recognised those clothes. They were just like the clothes of that boy on the picture… just like the ones that thing wore.
I had found little Gerry Custard.
‘Oh, fudge… I… I didn’t know…’
A second later I got over the first shock and ran around the piece of metal, towards the little boy. The upper half of his body was inside of the car, or what was left of it.
‘Kid! Hey, kid! Gerry Custard! Can you hear me?!’
He was cold. Ice cold. I tried to lift his arm from the ground, but it felt weird and thick and not… not like a living arm.
I checked his pulse. Nothing. Panic was bubbling to the surface as I laid a finger on the vein in his neck and felt nothing there, as well. There was no heartbeat.
‘Fudge. Oh, fudge. Fudge, fudge, what am I supposed to do?!’
‘Who said that?!’ I screamed, turning around. My eyes frantically searched the bushes for the sound of the noise, at the same time that Milow began to growl. Hairs straight up, he bared his teeth and produced one of the most threatening noises I’d ever heard him made.
That’s when I finally decided to be wise.
I turned around and ran.
Even though my watch told me only ten minutes had gone by, it felt like an eternity until I finally entered the safety of my backyard again. My legs were shaking from the long run, and next to me Milow had hung his tongue out as far as possible. I stopped walking and leaned against the wall of my house for a while, until my breathing had gone back to normal and my fear level was back down. That’s when the guilt kicked in.
I had fled a crime scene.
Not doing anything now would make me just as guilty as the person who did this. I had to call the police. Tell them where the body was, which route to take to get to him…
And how was I supposed to answer their questions? It was way too early to say I was on a morning jog, and a quick dog walk didn’t go that far into the hills as well. Would they believe me if I just told them the truth?
… No way.
This is what I was going to do. I’d hide my number while calling them. That way I’d be an anonymous caller, and they wouldn’t be able to ask me any questions. Yes. That would work. I pressed a few buttons and then dialled the number.
‘Sunset Valley emergency line. What is your emergency?’
‘Ah- I, I…’ I stuttered, gave myself a mental hit in the face and started over.
‘Listen, there’s a body at the base of the hills. You have to follow the old jogger’s path, and then go right near the fencing. He- the boy, Gerry Custard – is right next to a wrecked, rusty car.’
‘Who is this? Miss, are you-‘
I hung up.
It felt like a giant load dropped off my shoulders the second I pressed the cancel-button on my phone. There. They knew where he was. I’d done my civil duty, and from this point on the investigation would be in the hands of the police. Nothing for me to worry about anymore… right?
But why had I known where he was in the first place? It hadn’t just been a guess, I knew the exact spot where Gerry’s body was. And that vision of him earlier today… it just didn’t make sense. Something like this has never happened before, not even in my dreams. I’d discarded it as fatigue all day long, but it wasn’t. This was real. And with that realisation, a different thought slowly rose to the surface:
If I’d called the police right away… would that boy still be alive?