He sat in the car, in the front seat. He loved it there. He loved to watch things through the windscreen and see how the road ahead of them swerved slightly. Now, though, it was scary. His mother was driving so fast and she remained silent beside him.
He clutched Rocky, his toy dog, tight to his chest with hot, clammy fingers. What was going on? They had been driving for hours now. He looked up at his mother. She was trembling. She had been since she’d picked him up from his friend’s house that afternoon.
“We have to go,” she’d told him as she dragged him away from David’s Nintendo and into their car.
She pushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and looked into the rear view mirror. She kept doing that. It was almost as if she were frightened of what she would see.
“Mommy, I’m scared,” he finally said.
His mother didn’t answer. She didn’t speak to him much. She never had done. She reached out a hand and patted him clumsily on the head. “You’ll be okay, Sammy,” she said. After a moment she added, “You know that I do love you, don’t you? I may not show it but I do care about you.”
Sammy nodded. She was his mother. Of course she loved him. Even when she hit him, he knew that she must love him. It was his fault every time he’d been hit. He shouldn’t have been annoying her.
He held Rocky close and stared out of the window. It was dark now but from the headlights he could see that there was a thick clump of trees either side of the road. He wondered where they were going. Maybe she was taking him to some place fun?
“Where we going?” he said. “Nice place?” he added hopefully.
She said nothing and Sammy’s brow creased in confusion as she ignored his question. Instead her eyes darted nervously to the rear view mirror. Sammy felt his heart beginning to beat faster and faster.
Suddenly, his mother’s mobile phone rang. The tune Sammy had chosen when she had allowed him to play with her phone. He usually sang the song that went with the tune but something inside of him was telling him that something was wrong. That same something seemed to be stopping him from singing.
His mother picked it up. “Hello?” she asked nervously, her voice trembling slightly.
Sammy couldn’t hear the voice on the other end but his mother could. It made her face go white. Made tears come to her eyes. She put the phone down.
“Who was that, mommy?” Sammy whispered.
She didn’t answer and he could see the fear in her eyes. He could feel what seemed like an icy ball sitting inside of his stomach that made his whole body tremble.
Suddenly, she slammed the brakes on so suddenly that it made Sammy jump and halted the car by the edge of the road.
“Sammy, get out,” she instructed.
He did as he was told and then waited by the edge of the road holding Rocky tight to his chest.
“Now listen, if you see a white van come along this road, hide. You got that? When it’s passed you, look for help. Promise me you’ll be okay, Sammy?”
“M – mommy?” Sammy stammered, feeling his fingers tighten around his toy as his heart hammered faster with fear.
“I – I promise.”
She shut the door. Then she started the engine up and left him.
“Mommy? Mommy!” he screamed. “Come back!”
She didn’t turn around. And then he could see her no more. She had been swallowed up by the darkness.
Fear filled him and his tears began to fall. Why had she left him here? Why? She had to be coming back, she was his mother! He waited, alone in the dark. She was going to come for him. His mother would not leave him all alone.
But she didn’t come.
Then he heard another car coming. Sammy, remembering his mother’s words, stumbled towards the wood. Blinded by tears, he clambered over the fence and crouched down by a tree. There was a rumble as a dirty, white van zoomed by at a frightening speed. Then it was gone. Just like his mother.
Thinking of her made him sob. He ran back out into the road, screaming and crying. He didn’t want to be alone. He wanted her. His mommy.
“Mommy!” he screamed. “Mommy!”
He stared at the darkness around him and whimpered. He hated the dark, it scared him. Now he was alone. That was even more frightening than the night as it closed around him.
“Mommy!” he cried, tears stinging his eyes and falling in little streams down his cheeks.
He began to sob and his wails of despair carried out into the night. Why had she left him? What had he done wrong?
He was so busy crying that he didn’t hear the vehicle behind him. When he turned he saw a huge, black monster bearing down upon him. The headlights shone in the darkness and illuminated his terrified face. He screamed and tried to run but he slipped over. He covered his face with his hands and pulled his knees up to his stomach as the monster came to a halt above him, two wheels either side of him. He heard a door slam and the sound of footsteps. He gave a small cry as he curled himself up into a tighter ball and clasped Rocky with trembling fingers.
“Is he all right?”
“He was standing right in the middle of the road. I didn’t see him in time…”
Sammy sniffed and held his breath in the darkness. What if they hurt him?
“Aww, he’s only a baby! You okay, kid?”
Sammy turned his head. Someone was peering underneath the vehicle at him. Sammy didn’t move.
“Can you move? We need to get you out of there.”
Sammy continued to stare at the man in pure terror, the tears still ran down his face.
“Come on,” the gentle voice said. “We’re not going to hurt you.”
A hand was stretched out towards him. Sammy slowly extended his own hand and the man gripped it gently. Sammy felt the warmth as his hand was squeezed and he clasped it tightly as his heart pounded inside of him.
“Brian, is he all right?” a voice from above called, urgently.
“I don’t think we hit him. He’s real scared, though. Henry, back the bus up slowly.” Sammy’s friend looked back down at him. “Just stay where you are and don’t move. We’re gonna back the bus up so that we can get you out of there. Then we’ll take a look at you, okay?”
Sammy nodded and was rewarded with a smile. The man let go of his hand and disappeared out of view. Sammy whimpered slightly as he was left alone again. He did not want to be alone. His hand felt cold without the comforting feel of his friend.
“Okay, back up Henry!”
Sammy pulled himself into an even smaller ball as the wheels moved either side of him. Soon, the roof overhead was gone, leaving him curled up in the road. His friend came back over as soon as the bus was out of the way. He lent down next to him.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
Sammy shook his head, but it was a lie. His mother had left him. That feeling hurt so much. It hurt more than when he had cut his arm and it seemed to be inside of him. He felt a tear rolling down his cheek.
“Hey, don’t cry,” the man whispered softly.
Sammy looked into his eyes. They were blue, just like his mothers had been. He reached out his hand to his ‘mother’ who took it. Then Sammy began sobbing his heart out as he pulled himself closer and nuzzled into the warmth of a fluffy jersey.
“It’s okay,” Blue eyes said, scooping him up into his arms. “I’ve gotcha.”
“Poor kid. Is he hurt anywhere? It doesn’t look as if he’s broken anything,” another man asked.
“Do you think we should call an ambulance?” someone else said.
“I think he’s okay. Just scared. Anyway, Howie, we’re in the middle of nowhere and it’d take hours for an ambulance to get here. We’ll just take him to the hospital when we get into town,” his friend said, still holding him close.
“Where’d he come from? I don’t see any parked cars around. You think there’s any campers around somewhere?”
“I don’t know. Be impossible to find them in the dark anyway.”
Sammy clung tightly to his blue eyed friend and buried his face in the man’s soft jersey again, wanting to try and shield himself from the pain. A few splatters of rain began to fall. The world was crying with him.
“Come on, let’s get him inside.”