I haven’t posted a prompt in a while, so here you all go. This one was written a little while ago, but I love it. I think I might even continue it someday. Who knows? Tell me what you think in the comments! FYI, this is 100% unedited. I didn’t know I was going to share it with you all until just a moment ago and all my writing time is being spent on my nano novel…which you will learn more about tomorrow!
PROMPT: Your character picks up a hitch-hiker on his/her way home from work. The hitch-hiker tries to persuade your character to leave everything and drive her across the country.
The sun was setting but the humid air was still scorching as though it were still high noon. Craig continually had to push his shaggy brown hair from his eyes as the wind pummeling through the open windows whipped it around. His old dented pickup truck’s air conditioning gave out about 20,000 miles prior and he didn’t have the money to get it fixed or buy a new one.
The radio crackled through an old country western song and Craig couldn’t help but think back on the conversation he had with his boss right before he left for the night.
“I’m sorry, Craig. There isn’t enough business to keep you on. But don’t worry, I’m sure you will be fine.”
“And how do you figure that?”
“You are a good ranch hand. Another farm will be lucky to have you. I can put in a call to the Millers Dairy Farm if you like?”
“Yeah, thanks. I guess I’ll be back to get my check on Friday.”
The rest of the conversation turned out more like an argument. Craig wasn’t sure how he was going to pay the rent unless he got work soon. He wasn’t some kid who could work for next to nothing. He was a grown man of 32 and he had bills and responsibilities. While he didn’t have a family of his own, he had a very ill father living in a home that could provide the medical assistance and company his dad needed.
The road before him was a country road. There were trees and telephone polls and the occasional animal. Never once had he ever passed anyone as he was leaving or arriving to the farm he worked on for the last 3 years. That all changed as he saw the figure of a person walking along the deserted road. As he got closer he slowed down and was able to make out the small frame and long hair.
Thinking this girl was rather out of place, he pulled over hoping to be able to help her. As soon as he stopped his car, the girl stopped too. She began looking around frantically as if she wished there were somewhere to hide, anywhere to hide. Something is very wrong, he thought.
“Are you okay? Are you lost?” he asked in as gentle a tone as he could manage. He was after all a rather large farm hand. Gentle wasn’t something that came easily to him.
She simply stared at him, her skin began to pale and her limbs began to visibly shake. “Can I call someone for you?” he continued.
The young girl shook her head almost violently. She still had not moved an inch. “My name is Craig. What’s yours?” he asked, hoping to get a response. He stepped a little closer and she took a step back. As she stepped back, the light of the moon found her and he could finally see her clearly.
She was young. She looked no older than 12 or 13. She was dirty and looked like her clothing had been stained with blood. He knew that even if she didn’t want him to call anyone, he had to. “Okay, you don’t have to talk to me, but I need to get you some help. I’m just going to get back to my truck and phone the local sheriff. He can help you, okay?” Craig turned around to walk back to the truck but before he could open the door, he heard the girl speak.
“Please, don’t call!” He turned around and gave her a sad smile. “Please, please, please” she continued saying over and over under her breath.
“What would you like me to do? I can’t just leave you out here. It will be getting rather cold tonight and a child shouldn’t be out alone in the dark anyway.”
“Could you take me home? Please? I know my parents must miss me.”
“Sure, come on.” He motioned to the truck and she slowly, very slowly made her way to the door. Craig opened the door for her and she climbed in, but with a noticeable limp. He watched how she moved and could tell she was favoring her left side.
He closed the door once she was in and made his way to the other side. As soon as he turned the engine on, he blasted the heat hoping to make her more comfortable. “So, what is your name?”
“Okay, Beth, Where are we headed?” He really wanted to ask how she got out in the middle of nowhere, or why she was covered in dirt and blood, or what happened to her left side that had her being so careful, but he was honestly afraid of getting too involved.
“Helena.” Craig looked at the girl, puzzled. He had never heard of the city. It must be some small community that gets lumped in with the bigger cities, he thought
“What city is that near?”
“It’s kinda near Great Falls.” It was at this point he knew something was wrong. There was no city by the name of Great Falls anywhere close.
“Beth, Are you sure? There is no such city around here.”
She looked devastated. As she stared out the window, Craig could hear the sniffles that had started. When she turned to him, the tears were rolling down her cheeks. “Where am I?”
“We are between Houston and San Antonio. Is Great Falls in northern Texas?”
“No.” She turned away from him and rested her head against the window.
“Well, then where is it?”
“Montana? How the hell did you get here? What is going on?”
“What day is it?”
“Its Tuesday. What does that have to do with anything?”
“I mean what is the date?”
“It’s November 3rd”
“Can’t be, it was the 13th of January just a bit ago. It can’t be November.”
“Beth, you need to tell me what’s going on or I will head straight to the Sherriffs department.” He was planning on going anyway, but he wanted to know anyway.
“He took me. He took me on the 13th. You can’t take me to the sheriffs department, please, I just want to go home. Please, you said you would take me home.” The tears had turned into sobs and Craig didn’t know what to do. He pulled the car over and pulled out his phone.
“NO!” she screamed, “YOU PROMISED!” She tried to take the phone from his hands, but was unsuccessful.
“Relax, just relax. I am just trying to look up who your parents are. What are their names?” He opened the internet browser on his phone and opened the search engine. He might as well call her parents and explain to them what was going on and let them call the police. He would take her where ever they wanted him to. It’s not like he was going to just drop the child off on the side of the road. He had too much of a conscience for that.
“Mark and Vivian Carson.”
He typed the names in and almost immediately, the results came back. News pages and help pages and missing persons pages. He simply clicked on one that looked to be a blog run by the parents to search for Beth. The only thing that registered with him when he saw the page was the giant lettering at the top.
250,000 dollar reward for anyone who can help us find our daughter.