This is the 24th installment of the book I am currently writing. It is Sci-Fi/Adventure for young adult. It is not part of the Oz Chronicle series. The first draft is completed, and it is currently under review by my agent, so the final version of the book will most likely look a bit different than what you read here, but I thought you might like to see a work in progress. Happily my agent is busy with another one of my projects at the moment, and she hasn’t been able to give me feedback on “Lost Day”s as of yet. Click on the “Lost Days Book” category on the right to read from the beginning. Or you can click here.
Crew and his mother, Maggie, were headed home from the Cascade Mountains in Washington. It was a long trip back to their house in Bossburg, Washington. Against the advice of friends and family, Maggie left early in the morning in a snow storm, mostly at Hank’s insistence. He hadn’t seen his wife and son in two days, and he was anxious to have them home. He had outfitted the car with snow tires and maintained it himself. He was sure it was snow storm worthy. So early in the A.M., before the sun was even up, she buckled her four-year-old son in the passenger seat and they headed down the mountain.
Maggie was navigating the roads fine during the first 20 minutes of the trip. The sun was starting to rise, but the snow fall started to pick up, too. There were times when she couldn’t see past the beams of her headlights. During one of those times, she took a wrong turn and ended up on an old abandoned lumber road. By the time she realized it, she couldn’t find a place to turn around. She started backing out the way she came. She didn’t know that the road was built on the edge of the mountain. One miscalculation and they would be sent over the side of a steep cliff.
She made the miscalculation when she noticed that Crew had managed to unbuckle he seatbelt and was standing up in the seat. She reached over to buckle him back in, and turned the steering wheel just slightly to the left. The front wheel went over the edge of the cliff. She screamed, jerked it back to the right and caused the back wheel to go over the edge. They balanced long enough for her to believe that if she could just carefully crawl over to the passenger side, she could distribute the weight just enough to keep it from plummeting to the forest below. Just as she was visualizing exiting the car with Crew in hand, he hopped over to her lap. The car swayed gently and then slowly tumbled over the side.
It free fell for fifty feet until it rammed into towering ponderosa pines, bouncing through the treetops like a pinball. Crew says there are two memories from the crash itself that he cannot shake. One, the horrible crunching sound the car made as it plummeted through the trees. The other was the site of his mother being decapitated by a jagged, fractured section of the windshield.
The car soared downward, and was headed for a fatal collision with the forest floor when the axel snagged on a freakishly strong branch and jerked the car against the gravity that was pulling it down. The violent connection sent Crew sailing through the now glassless windshield. His limber frame plunged twenty feet and then landed in a pile of fallen and decaying pine needles. He was alive, and thrown into circumstances he could not comprehend. He lay on the forest floor for several minutes in shock staring at the mangled car swaying in the trees above him. His mother’s severed head stared back down at him, her hair caught on the deformed steering wheel.
It was a huffing sound that brought him out of his stunned state. He rolled over and pushed himself up with his chubby little arms. He was dazed, and had trouble keeping his feet once he was able to stand. His head was throbbing, and his vision was now blurred as the blood rushed to his head. A brown blob appeared from behind a row of trees. It sauntered toward him, lumbering, making the huffing noise that first stirred Crew. The dizzying effect slowly died and his vision cleared. The brown blob was a bear of gigantic proportions. At the age of four, he had no idea what kind of danger he was in. He staggered across the uneven ground and approached the animal with an unconcerned curiosity, even feeling a little hopeful. All he saw was something big. Something with more of a chance to reach his mother than him.
The bear stopped when it saw the small boy fearlessly approaching. It sniffed the air. The sound of the crash had stirred it from its slumber. It was as confused as the boy. The bear gave a warning grunt. The boy did not stop. The bear stood on two legs and extended its front paws. Still the boy approached.
“My mommy,” he said. “Get her down.”
The bear roared.
This was sufficient enough to frighten the boy. He began to cry. He took a tentative step back.
The bear got back down on all fours, shook its head violently and charged. It didn’t bite or claw at Crew. It head-butted him and sent the boy flying through the air.
Crew rolled across the ground. He massaged his ear, the part of his body that had taken the brunt of the impact. He stuck his bottom lip out and pouted in pain.
The bear swatted a massive paw in Crew’s direction, missing him, but only by the smallest of margins. It raised up again, and prepared to bring the full weight of its body down on Crew. Then the giant beast grunted and fell to the ground with an animal of equal size attached to its back.
Crew scrambled to his feet and ran to the nearest tree. Even at his age, he knew he should hide himself, but curiosity got the best of him. He wanted to see the two massive animals fight. He hugged the tree and watched the bear right itself. The other animal rolled across the rugged terrain and crashed into the underbrush. It grunted and made a strange warbling sound. The bear roared and pinned its ears back. It stood on two legs. The other animal emerged from the underbrush also standing on two legs. Then it walked on two legs. At first Crew thought it was a man, but it was covered in a thick pelt of hair. The shoulders were wide, and the neck was non-existent. It had a flat wide nose with very pronounced nostrils, and its head ended in a point. It was an ape, an ape that walked on two legs.
The bear, standing on two legs, was a good foot and a half taller than the ape. The two monsters squared off. The bear relaxed its posture and started to revert to an all-fours stance. The ape seemed to know that it had to act quickly. As long as the bear was on two legs, it had no balance. The ape charged, threw its shoulder into the bear’s ribcage, knocking it to the ground on its back. It flailed and frantically swiped at the cold air. The ape moved fast. It pounded the bear’s chest fiercely with its fists. The bear roared intensely as it rolled onto its feet and charged the ape. The ape moved to the side and grabbed a grapefruit-sized stone. It raised its hand in the air and smashed the stone down on the bear’s head in a blink of an eye. The bear yelped in pain. The ape repeated the death blow with lightning quick speed. The bear’s yelps now sounded like screams. Crew turned away just before the ape delivered the final blow.
Seconds after the forest grew silent, Crew slowly turned to watch the ape lifting the bear’s front leg and letting it fall, lifeless to the ground. He it did over and over again. The ape sniffed the bear’s paw and hoot-growled. He grabbed the dead bear by the scruff of the neck and started dragging it into the bush. Crew stepped away from the tree.
“Get my mommy down,” he said pointing up at the mangled car dangling in the trees.
The ape stopped. It looked at Crew and let out a short low-pitched whistle that ended with a pop.
Crew pointed up again. “Mommy.”
The ape looked up. It examined the object in the trees with great curiosity and then returned its attention to Crew. It grinned comically and nodded its pointed head.
Crew’s lower lip started to shake. He rubbed his eyes with his chubby little fingers and said “Mommy” for the last time.