Pamela drove slowly up the tree lined avenue. Time could have stood still for all she knew. Nothing much had changed since she had last been in Spring Creek a decade ago. An area that housed working class families from the nearby jewellery factory, Crystal Jewells and the local mining factory was a huge employer during Pamela’s childhood of which her father was Managing Director. She became teary-eyed as she travelled along the street where she grew up before her family moved cross country. She felt nostalgic as memories came flooding back. She saw the kerb where she fell off her bike and broke her arm and the tree where the neighbourhood children would hang a tyre from and swing each other high into the sky. Pamela had always loved Springs Creek, but her family relocated due to her father’s job, albeit quite abruptly in Pamela’s opinion. She did always wonder why they had to move midyear in school, it had to be done over a weekend and why they never said goodbye properly to their wonderful neighbours especially Maisie McDonald, a dear friend of the family who lived three doors away from them.
Maisie held a special place in Pamela’s heart so when she saw a news bulletin that Maisie McDonald has been missing for more than one week, Pamela decided she would travel to Spring Creek to join the Search and Rescue Team. As dawn broke, light red dotted the overcast morning sky. “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds warning” Pamela mumbled to herself. As she packed the trunk of her car for the five-hour road trip, she received a phone call from her father who was rather anxious that she didn’t return to Spring Creek. “I never told you this before dear, but Maisie’s estranged brother is a shady character. He was wheeling and dealing in all sorts. We had 48 hours to vacate from our house back when you were a little girl. I don’t want him or his associates knowing one of the Mason’s is back in town” exclaimed Bill Mason, her worried daddy. “But Dad, I have to help look for her, she was such a kind lady” pleaded Pamela. Bill Mason repeated his plea and continued with details of how Maisie’s brother had a nickname of Squealer, as in he would blackmail wealthy businesses or business people and threaten made up stories of them that he would go to the cops about if they didn’t pay him vast amounts. Bill Mason’s mining company had the unfortunate bad luck of being sucked into Squealer McDonald’s twisted blackmail games and were under investigation if they didn’t hand over what he wanted. A few poor decisions on Bill Mason’s part led to Squealer giving the Mason family 48 hours to leave town or else Bill would be sorry.
Pamela’s stomach turned. Her quivering chin and chattering teeth just about enabled her to mumble a hazy reply to her daddy and she hung up. She doesn’t remember what she said but she knew she was determined more than ever to help find Maisie now. Pamela slowed down to second gear as she waved at Mrs Preston who was walking her dog, the Jacksons cats were roaming around the kitchen window of their neighbours’ house, for Maisie McDonald always baked prize-winning cakes and if they purred gently enough she would take pity on them. Maisie was an interesting character, a tall, thin woman with auburn hair always tied up in a pony tail. Her high cheekbones always polished with pink blusher, to hide her freckles she would say. Her skin showing more wrinkles than her sixty-six years deserved. Many people misunderstood her as she was private and looked like she would cut through you as her smile was rare, but she portrayed a lot of the characteristics that Pamela herself had; she was conscientious, helpful and loves all the simple things in life. She was wealthy from a successful career as a seamstress. People would travel from near and far to have Maisie design or alter their clothes. It was to Maisie’s house that Pamela first cycled her bike to. However, today Maisie’s house was dark, blinds down and cops were dusting for finger prints around her front door.
Pamela felt emotional as she recalled her days in the Girl Scouts and how roaming the mountains and trails were for fun. This time she was being reunited with her old neighbourhood kids, all now grown up, and being sent on the Creek Waterfall pathway by Chief Inspector Lionel Kale. The group knew this route like the back of their hand. Of course, Pamela the safety conscious level-headed woman that she is even used her compass to find north, and subsequently drew it on her arm.
Pamela carried the flash light through the disused rail tunnel, the stench of rust lingered even after all these years. Oh, how it was so much fun to explore as a young child but today her heart was broken with worry about dear old Maisie. “I see light, we are at the end of the tunnel” announced Pamela to all her old neighbourhood friends, Jason, Andrea, Chad, Noah and Brianna, who were following behind. Passing through that tunnel is uphill and brings you nearer to Golden Sun Point, an idyllic picnic area that many hikers visit for noon, when the sun is shining its brightest and delights people with a panoramic vista overlooking Creek Waterfall and the surrounding mountains.
Pamela immediately turned to the other five when they exited the tunnel, pointing to a route that looked disturbed as felled trees blocked the pathway known to the group. Heavy boulders looked strategically placed as if to prevent people continuing the trail. Jason inspected footprint marks that were visible around the edge of a slope. All the brown branches, mulch and descending mist was making the group disorientated. Andrea started crying with the confusion, Pamela had a knot in her stomach. She took a deep breath, trying to allay her thumping heartbeat. As she pulled up her sleeve and held out her arm, a terrorising scream echoed around the mountains.
Swoosh. The front door blew open. As I sat at the coffee table unwrapping house warming presents, I could not believe it was happening again. The third time today. It wasn’t a good omen for the first day in my new home. The dog barked furiously. The humid autumn air was quick to spread around the house as I checked the door handle and lock for faults. A ramble outside would put my mind at ease I hoped. Would the fading evening sun light illuminate the garden to provide the security I desperately yearned? A gusty evening perhaps, I thought to myself wiping my sweaty palms off my tee shirt? I didn’t need this inconvenience today above any other days, not on Sam’s anniversary of being five years missing. Sam crossed my mind today which was unusual as I had always tried to block out any memory that attempted to remind me of her.
My wellies were still a bit damp from an earlier walk, so I had to make-do with my boots. Jessie was growling incessantly, in a way that distinguished he wasn’t wasting his breath on the neighbours’ cats or the screechy wind chime that was hanging on the apple tree planted years ago by the previous owners.
Hmmm. A glance outside at the trees proved the weather was still as they were not swaying, it was so still and quiet that I was certain my pounding heart was audible around the village. The front gate was a mere five metres away, but it felt like it was on the other side of the village. A clock on the shop front across the road confirmed for me that the villagers would be at evening service at the church, hence why the main street seemed to quiet. My Saturday was becoming more action packed than I had intended. I grabbed my back pack as it had my hoodie, the dog leash, my camera and phone, “I may as well take Jesse for another walk” I mumbled to the laurel hedge that cared to listen. Again, I rubbed my palms off my tee shirt, taking a deep breath in as I finished. After I took a few steps, a strange feeling came over me. “Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”.
Jesse bolted out the gate and down the road, stopping suddenly at the dilapidated corner house. His tail arched, and that unnerving growling started again before he sprinted around the back of the house. Stupidly, I took chase after him. “Jesse” I roared. A sharp bark came from a rather odd looking shed at the rear of the abandoned property. The wood creaked as I put my foot on the first of the three steps. Another sharp yelp from Jesse was audible as I stood on the second step. I heard a growl as I put both feet together at the top of the steps. I tip-toed anxiously over to the door, eager to check if Jesse was okay but fearful of what I was to see. I crouched down on my knees and opened the door. “Wow” I shrieked.