By Sophia Belgiorno (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
The headline of the newspaper read, “Fourth Local Resident Missing: New Evidence?” They bounced up and down in Mallory’s bike basket. After launching the papers at every house in the neighborhood, she took one copy for herself and read it as she walked her bike home. Her eyes bulged out of her head when she read the article about the new evidence. She could not believe that the police had discovered four strange structures built in a field close to her house. Her jaw dropped when she found out that the structures were about fifteen feet tall and shaped like human bodies. She finally approached her house and darted inside.
“Mom, the cops found these huge things in the field down the street! Can I please go investigate? I’m good at this stuff,” Mallory pleaded.
“I’m sorry, Mallory; it’s too dangerous. Let the cops do their jobs. They’re trained for these kinds of things,” her mother responded. Mallory pouted and stomped up to her room, carrying the newspaper, to continue her research.
After studying every aspect of the structures, Mallory had almost put all of the pieces together. She felt in her gut that the structures were not built by the kidnapper; it would be too risky to take the chance of getting caught. But then, who would have built them? It didn’t add up. Mallory could not hold the weight of her eyelids up any longer. She walked over to her bed and lifted up the plain white pillow resting there. Hidden under it was her favorite colorful pillow that she had been using since she was a baby. She put the white pillow over it so anyone visiting would not know that she slept with a baby pillow.
Just then, the gears in Mallory’s head started turning, and all of the pieces fit together to form a perfect picture. The structures were decoys made to lead the cops off of the kidnapper’s trail. The logical place to look was far away from the field, but not too far. Chills crept down Mallory’s spine as she discovered the place she was thinking of. It was the woods right behind her house. She knew she had to look around, but her mother would never let her with a kidnapper out there. There was no way Mallory could fall asleep with all the information buzzing around in her head, so it was the perfect opportunity to carry out her plan. She jammed boots on her feet and hesitantly climbed out through the bedroom window.
After snooping around in the woods for a while, she realized that she was lost. She ran around, looking for anything familiar. She came along a path and noticed a small door hidden behind some leaves. Curiosity replaced her fear as she crawled through it. The other side did not look any different from the regular woods at first. She explored the area and discovered an oak tree with tiny windows all over it. She took small steps farther and saw a tree with a wooden cage in it. She heard a cracking sound, and her head jerked down to see something running away from her. She bent over and squinted at the object. When it turned its head towards her, she recognized it as a toy gnome. Then she realized, toys do not move on their own, and everything went dark.
As consciousness returned to her, Mallory looked around to see four people huddled together in a corner. She recognized them as the four missing residents. She was in the cage she had seen earlier. In that moment, she knew that her name would be the headline of the next day’s newspapers, but there would be no one to deliver them.