Chapter 2 || Where is Sam?


The library was quiet, as Halley shuffled through the pages of the book called “ History of Tempus” to check some facts about the town. Browsing through some previous records, she found out that there have been cases of such mysterious disappearances before, just like her mom. Halley’s head was spinning, her thoughts started twisting. “Maybe there is an underground bunker or a secret cave, where these missing people have been trapped. But they aren’t being held as hostages because the kidnappers aren’t calling us asking for money or something valuable in exchange.”, confused Halley said to herself. “ This feeling is driving me crazy, it’s like my stupid brain is playing games with me.”, she said, as she pushed a pile of books off the table angrily. Harry heard the upper floor shudder. He stomped up the stairs. “What the hell is wrong with you, Halley? She looked at Harry with tears rolling down her pink cheeks and said, “ I don’t know. Do you ever feel like mom is still here, somewhere around us? He said, “ To be honest, yes actually. But she isn’t here, that’s impossible. If she was really here, wouldn’t we know it?” “ Look at you being all calm and mature. But I guess you might be right. We are just denying the worst that she isn’t alive anymore.”

A cold breeze gushed by, the ground started shaking a little. Halley’s coffee mug shattered, the coffee left a big stain on the library floor. It was a small tremor as usual. Harry ran downstairs to see everything else was okay. Whereas, Halley pulled out a wet cloth and started cleaning the stained tiles. She remembered the tremor they felt a day after their mom went missing. Tremors weren’t new in Tempus, the town was prone to them. But this one awakened the last memory of her mom. She started reminiscing…

[FLASHBACK]

Samantha packed her stuff and left right before the summer break for her long-awaited adventure. Mike wished her, “ Happy Journey my love! Travel safe and return soon.” He kissed her goodbye and Sam shut the door behind her. She pulled out her car and drove away into the wilderness. By the way, Sam had been looking forward to this expedition for a long time. The plan was chalked out. Her goal was to travel alone to the outskirts of Tempus and interview the local folks there. To make their voices heard through her upcoming magazine article, she was excited to learn about their culture, lifestyle, and staple diet. However, the outskirts of Tempus were pretty far from where she lived. She reached the woods well before nightfall. Gathering food, lighting a fire, and pitching a tent to sleep in were some of the chores she completed. Thick black clouds trapped the moonlight, which was pretty unpredictable because it was summer. However, Sam was prepared for a bad rainy night ahead of her.

An early sunrise gave birth to a windy, yet pleasant day. Sam was well-rested, she packed up her stuff, had her morning supper, and continued her journey. By noon, Sam had arrived at the locality. Jumping out of her car, she ran up to the closely constructed houses. A few people already knew her as a very humble journalist, who not only concentrated on celebrities but also gave importance to a common man’s life. They extended a warm welcome and offered her hot beverages made with love. By evening, she was done with most of the interviews. Sam decided to call it a day and started looking for a quiet and peaceful place to pitch her tent, where she could sit and write down the responses she got during the interview.

There was a nice spot under a huge elm tree, near the raised cliff of Tempus. Sam thought it was perfect. She started walking towards it, her mind was busy contemplating. Suddenly she heard a soft “Tk, Tk” sound. Out of nowhere, emerged a short old woman, with frizzy white hair standing her front on her, banging her wooden stick on the ground. “ Are you okay? Anything I can do for you?”, startled Sam asked the old lady who looked really sad. “ No my dear. Just remember, when one door closes another one opens.”, she replied and walked away. Sam was rendered speechless but the old woman had disappeared into the night, leaving her questions unanswered. It was almost midnight now, Sam did not have much time to write all about her day. But this part about the old woman was pretty weird, so she noted it down and pulled out the sleeping bag from her luggage. When she was minutes away from falling asleep, she heard a whisper calling her name. Sam could feel something drawing her closer, as she left the tent to follow the voice. Nothing was visible up until she reached the end of the cliff. Suddenly, there was a strong breeze almost like a storm. It swept Sam off her feet. She screamed at the top of her voice, but the wind was too loud for anyone to hear it. She descended into the dark.

The next morning, a local man brought tea for Sam. She wasn’t there but all her belongings were. They started searching for her. After a few tiresome hours, they gave in and filed a missing report at the local police station. No one could spot her in the town. Ultimately, the police decided to search the valley because her tent was near the cliff. The chances were slim, but they considered the possibility of her falling into the valley. They sent a search party there. A few hours passed, the exhausted search party returned in vain. "Sam's body was nowhere to be found…"


Author ~ Pranoti Abhyankar

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