The following piece of creative writing forms the final part of a three-part series that I have been writing over the past week. I have today managed to finish this mini-series with the help of another of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts. You can read part one of this story here, and part two here. Thank you for reading and I very much hope that you enjoy!
A sigh slipped through Danny’s cracked lips as he leaned back against the dense hedgerow behind him. He was sat atop a small hill that overlooked Alice’s street. From here, he could see her parents. They were still calling out to their daughter, still screaming her name as if there was any chance that she had not heard them; as if there was any chance that she would still come home.
Danny had decided that he was never going to see Alice again. He had searched for too long, asking almost every member of the neighbourhood whether they had glimpsed his little girl. No one had known anything. No one had seen anything. The surrounding security cameras had come up empty and now Danny sat, completely alone.
There was no ray of sunshine to light his grey clouds anymore. Alice was gone, and he was on his own again. He watched Alice’ mother sobbing on the grass below and, with a heavy sigh, he pulled himself to his feet. There was no point feeling sorry for himself. Alice was still out there somewhere, and even if he doubted that there was any chance that she could still be alive… well, he couldn’t give up.
He had just reached the house below when the noise of an approaching vehicle made him turn. A silky black car drew up to the house and the passenger door opened just a tiny slither. Something small and dark was flung onto the grass in front of Danny, and then the door was slammed shut and the car was driving away.
Danny watched it go, his mouth hanging slightly open.
“Did you get the number plate?”
It was Alice’s father, Mr. Mckenzie. He marched past Danny, not looking at him, and reached down to examine the object that had been thrown from the car.
“No,” Danny murmured, resenting his helplessness. Mr. Mckenzie sighed, still not looking at Danny. Then Mrs. Mckenzie was beside him and he revealed to her the object which he held in his hand. It was a small flip phone, the like of which Danny hadn’t seen in years.
Danny had just opened his mouth to speak when the phone in Mr. Mckenzie’s hand beeped loudly. He drew closer to read the message over the couple’s shoulders.
IF U WANT 2 C HER AGAIN, SEND £1MIL.
Beneath the message, bank details had been listed. Yet Danny had barely glanced at them when the phone beeped again, and they glimpsed a terrified image of Alice.
Alice was alive.
Danny didn’t seem able to focus on the couple’s conversation. He had turned around to stare into the setting sunlight. It wasn’t over yet. He was going to see her again.
He was brought back to reality by the shrieks of Mrs. Mckenzie. Danny turned to see her pulling on her husband’s arm, her eyes wide.
“That’s her, Greg. That’s really her… we have to pay!”
“We go to the police,” Mr. Mckenzie said shortly. “I don’t give into blackmail.”
“But we have the money!” his wife protested, her eyes growing wider still. “Greg, it’s Alice. It’s our daughter.” Mr. Mckenzie smiled a cool, dry smile, and Danny felt a shiver shoot down the back of his neck. He had glimpsed this darker side of Mr. Mckenzie once before, and he could tell that it was now rearing to the surface of his emotions as he looked straight into his wife’s eyes.
“You don’t have anything,” he said softly. “I have the money.” His eyes were fixed on the distant horizon as he smiled. “And Alice is your daughter.”
Mrs. Mckenzie’s mouth fell open, but her husband’s chain had finally snapped. He turned his back on her, marching back into the house.
“I have work to do,” he called as he slammed the door behind him.
Mrs. Mckenzie then turned, as Danny had always known that she would, to him. He merely shook his head sadly. He was barely managing to pay his own rent. Money was the one thing that Mr. Mckenzie had always had over him, and now he was gone.
Wanting something to do, he took the flip phone from Mrs. Mckenzie’s limp hands. He had to grit his teeth as he stared at the picture of Alice, taking in her small mouth and bright, wide eyes. Her hair had fallen in front of her face as the flash had gone off. It was getting in the way, just like it had when she was little… before she had found her feather.
Danny brought the camera closer to his eyes, squinting at the pixilated image. Then he felt his heart freeze in his chest as he turned on the spot and began to run.
He was so damn stupid.
There was no feather in Alice’s hair. She had lost her feather, and hadn’t he found a feather, just hours ago? He had assumed that it was another feather from another bird.
Within minutes, Danny was back at the entrance to the tunnel. He pummelled down it, his breaths coming out in heavy gasps as he rushed through the darkness, oblivious to his own fear, and oblivious to the fact that there could be a fearsome kidnapper waiting for him at the other end of the tunnel.
When he reached the chamber, he came to an abrupt halt, his heart banging wildly. Then, by complete chance, he happened to glance down at his feet. Threaded between them was a dirt-spattered, red ribbon. His heart seemed to beat faster still and he was urged on by his own certainty that he was seconds away from finding his daughter.
He stumbled forwards, quite forgetting about the pile of mangled skeletons stacked in the centre of the room. He fell into them, landing face first onto something soft.
It was as though Danny’s consciousness had left his body. He watched, as if he was no longer inside of himself, as the person who had fallen into the bone pile reached down and picked up their six-year-old daughter. He watched him whirl her around, tears in his eyes, as he kissed her all over.
Then he was running again, out of the tunnel and into the dying light of the sunset. It didn’t matter that he had failed to find her the first time. Alice was safe. She was in his arms, and he was never, ever going to let her go again.
Word Count: 1079.
Well, you asked for a happier ending, and there it is! Thank you so, so much to everyone who has followed this story. You are greatly appreciated.