A little girl lost

Posted: July 22, 2011 in #fridayflash, Short stories

The flock of birds dispensed together like a dozen darts being flung in the air, shooting up, in a V-shape formation, into the blue cloudy skies. Something must have unsettled them. Tina took hold of Jasper’s lead. He had begun to pull with intent to go further into the field as soon as the birds took to the sky. She pulled him back slightly and began to walk in the direction Jasper’s nose pointed them.

Through the tall tickley grass and masses of dense weeds underfoot, she allowed Jasper to lead the way. Jasper soon began to pick up pace.

There she lay. The girl from the papers; her photo on the news and lampposts across the County.

Delilah Rose. Ten years old. From the neighbouring town of Ashborough.

Tina fumbled in her pockets for her phone. She knelt down to the little girl’s side, and put two fingers to the girl’s neck. She had a pulse and was breathing.

“Hello police please,” Tina said nervously as she tried to roll the little figure that lay before her over onto her back. “Yes, yes this is an emergency. My name’s Tina Baker and I’ve found the little girl, Delilah, Delilah Rose from Ashborough. She needs an ambulance and the police.”

She sounded calm as she spoke the lady on the operating desk, but her heart was pumping so fast she could barely hear herself think. It was as if someone was playing a bass drum in head. She began to take off her coat, juggling the mobile telephone in between hands and propping it under her chin, so as not to miss any instructions. She gave the location and then promptly wrapped her coat around Delilah’s shoulders, as she hung onto the line.

She could hear sirens in the distance.

Soon the field was buzzing with police and the noises and disturbed atmosphere must have woken Delilah from a cocoon-type sleep. Her eyes began to focus on her surroundings and the look of confusion and panic must have hit her like a mallet to the gut.

“I’m waiting for Tony!” she explained in a sleepy tone. She was clearly cold and disorientated.

“Whose Tony sweetie?” Tina ask kneeling down to her level.

“He’s my friend. I talk to him on my mum’s laptop”, she said rubbing her eyes and gasping at the sight of a policewoman standing next to Tina. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not in trouble Delilah, but your mum and the police have been looking for you all night. We thought you’d run away. Let’s get you back to police station and get you warmed up, then you can tell us what’s been going on.”

“I should wait for Tony. He needs me.” She looked anxious.

“Is he a school friend?” the police woman asked.

“No, I told you, he’s my friend from the internet. He’s 8 and I’m his only friend. But…” she hesitated and gulped back the rest of the sentence.

“You can tell us Delilah, its ok,” the policewoman said helping her to her feet gently.

“I’m not supposed to tell anyone, I promised.”

“Ok sweetie,” the policewoman took her hand “We’ll sort it all out at the station, ok.”

All the way to the station Tina couldn’t help think of the night, the poor little girl spent in the cold. Vulnerable to preying offenders, like a lone mouse in an alleyway full of cats, waiting to pounce. A rush of relief washed over Tina. Her eyes prickled from the heat of her tears, thinking of ‘what ifs’ of the situation she’d just been in.

After giving her own statement Tina decided to wait outside. She was soon joined by a large collection of news readers and camera men who began camping out on the street adjacent to the police station entrance.

Flash photography and a hive of activity erupted around her, as three police cars arrived simultaneously, pulling up outside one by one like thorough-breed horses lining up to begin a race.

From the middle police car, a policeman jumped out of either side. The one to the left then opened the back door and a man, in his mid-thirties emerged and automatically covered his face from the flashes and microphones. He looked scruffy, shy and somewhat guilty. “I bet that was him, the so called Tony!” Tina thought to herself. Hatred, rage and utter disgust grew inside her like a food blender without its lid being secured before switching it to its full liquidising speed.

Tina couldn’t hear who he was or what questions the twenty or so reports appeared to be asking him. The police escorted him quickly into the building and the media frenzy died down as quickly as it had started, as if someone had suddenly removed everyone’s overcharged batteries.

Who is he? She asked the nearby female reporter.

“That’s Anthony Jerome,” she replied.

“I knew it!” Tina roared, “that’s the nasty, twisted bastard who tried to lure that poor little girl into his clutches. Don’t question him, tie-him-up and leave him for dead!” she screamed in the direction of the double doors of where he had been scuttled through.

The reporter shook her head, “No, no, you’ve got it wrong. That’s Anthony Jerome. Father of Anthony Jerome Junior. His little lad also went missing last night after a violent domestic occurred between the mother and father. No-one had reported is until this morning, because they hadn’t realised he had gone from his bed.”

  1. Sonia Lal says:

    I wasn’t expecting that ending! Nice! It needs a part 2, about the boy.

  2. John Wiswell says:

    Quite grim! Put me in the mind of the original “When a Stranger Calls.” I could imagine another episode, or a parallel episode following another perspective.

    Minor typo in paragraph 11 – “Who’s” for “Whose” – “Whose” is a possession thing

  3. Anke Wehner says:

    I like it.

    I’m relly tired of the “anybody you get to know on the internet is a dangerous criminal” trope, and it’s nice to see it deconstructed.

  4. Icy Sedgwick says:

    For a second I wondered if her 8 year old friend from the Internet was really 8, so the ending made a really change to the cliched stories.

  5. It’s different. I think the large amount of description at the beginning lessons some of the impact.

  6. Chris Lynch says:

    Good bait and switch.

  7. Nice ending carries this age-old moral. I like the style and tone. It lends to the character well.

  8. You lured me in with the promise of that old internet stalker card, but then you delightfully pulled the rug out from all of us. I liked that a lot.

  9. ~Tim says:

    Nice twist. I thought you were going for the Internet predator thing too.

    I don’t think the race horse simile works, but either way they’re Thoroughbred horses.

  10. I’m so happy to see a story veer from its expected path. And you really sucked me in, putting me right into finding that child with the characters. This would be a brilliant start to a crime novel.

  11. Steve Green says:

    Quite a harrowing story in its way, a reflection of one of the downsides of our modern society, and species.

    Nicely written, with a nice twist in the tail.

  12. Helen says:

    I too wondered if the 8 year old was actually 8 – nice twist in the end. Good story!

  13. ganymeder says:

    I agree. I didn’t expect that twist. It was a good switch!

  14. Stephen says:

    It was there all along. Because of social and media programming, however, I think most of us went in the wrong direction, including me. It is sad, though–how the young ones can be so easily lost.

  15. W.G. Cambron says:

    The ending made my jaw drop. The liuttle girl did meet an 8 year old… Whhoa. Good dialouge and the whole scene was blended well. Poor girl being left in the cold. That sucks. Glad she’s fine now…. or is she?

  16. Oh yeah; as soon as she said “I’m waiting for Tony” I pictured a fat, hairy-armed forty-year-old with father-figure issues. I was seething. Good job getting my hackles up.

  17. Richard Bon says:

    As the father of a young daughter, this story touched a nerve with me. I generally like when some details are left up to the reader, but in this case I’d love to see a part 2 to learn how the girl went missing and what happened to Tony Jr.

  18. Richard Bon says:

    Think I screwed up the link to my blog in my last comment, sorry, should work this time. Thanks for sharing this well crafted story!

  19. I think your choice to keep dialogue to a minimum adds to the atmosphere and tension. It also puts the focus on the girls experience. The mc’s reaction to the older Tony comes across as a bit cliched, but it’s a small point.

  20. akweelife says:

    Oh wow, you’ve got a lot of very interesting twists and turns in this one. Excellent story! I wonder if you are going to follow this one with another taking the story further. You are a great story teller and convey such intensity without any gratuitous adjectives. To me, that is the mark of a truly good writer.

    This is my Nameless “Serial” I have going and the rest of my Flash Fiction Kwee Writings. I hate to (and am not good at) “pimping” my stuff. I thank you for sharing your work.

  21. Lara Dunning says:

    You had me questioning friend vs. pedator. Nicely set up.

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