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Spring, 2008
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!

TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:

She thought she heard water trickling over rocks and turned toward the sound, ignoring the thorns that sliced her short, chubby legs. She sat down, drinking as fast as she could. She jumped up when she once again heard all those strangers calling her name, somewhere behind her, higher up. She wasn't sure. She quickly stepped back and her hair got tangled on a low branch. She wrenched it free, her panic having dulled all pain hours ago. The forest canopy swallowed her as she sobbed and stumbled, repeatedly whispering to herself...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.


Those Dreams
By Mimi Schaper, Milwaukie, Oregon

My cell phone is ringing in the kitchen. I run for it since it woke me up from one of Those Dreams. I knew it was Jeb.

"Mamie? Jeb here. We need you to get over here as soon as you can. We've got a missing 3-year-old girl."

"I'm on my way."

I hurry back to the bedroom where Stan's sleeping undisturbed. I envy him. Since the chemo and menopause, sleep is a fragile gift for me.

"Hey, gotta go. I'm on another case, a 3-year-old girl."

"Oh, can't you stay in bed just a little longer, and press those sweet, warm things against my back?"

"No, didn't you hear me? I've got a case. Please, can you wake up? Will you check on Nana and Papa and give them their meds before you go to work? I don't know how long I'll be."

Stan rolled over and sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm just not awake yet. Make a list before you go."

I'd rather do my five minute make-up than make him a list but I'm learning not to fight the way things are. I'm practicing being in the now, like Oprah and Eckhart Tolle.

I dress in clean girl jockeys and a bra, jeans and t-shirt I find on the floor from last night. I stop by the bathroom to pee and do my one-minute version of make-up: warm rag to the face and pits, deodorant, moisturizer, cover rosacea with bare minerals, brush teeth, put on lip gloss and grab a warm hoodie.

I let Binky and Spooky, my two toy poodles, out of their kennel and bend over so they can kiss me on the lips for 10 seconds. Then I make Stan's list:

parents' meds (see kitchen counter),
lock door,
get lunch,
love you,
Mamie.

I tape it on the front door up high so he can't miss it.

It took a while to figure out Those Dreams. I began to suspect they meant something when the hikers were lost on Mount Hood. I Saw them off and on for days. I'm not a news junky, so I didn't make the connection until it was too late. Later, when I saw the picture of the missing boy and realized I had Seen him, I took the risk to call it in. Dispatch transferred my call to Detective Jeb Gates. I was surprised to get through. I guess it was meant to be. When I mentioned some unpublicized details, like Justin's Spiderman backpack and the birthmark on his right hand, he asked me to come in. Since then, we've worked together to find three more missing children, two still alive. My Receiver is clearest when children are involved.

I hop in my metallic teal and cream '66 Chevy truck and head out. I drove it for years, peeling and ugly, but when Stan tripled his income in group health sales, he had it fixed up for me, just like they do on "Pimp My Ride". It's hard for him to keep a secret, but one day he told me he was getting the oil changed and surprised me. For me, it was better than a three-karat diamond ring.

Don't judge me for thinking about make-up, doggies, and my pimp truck while heading out to find a missing child. Let me explain. This Seeing thing is totally out of my control. The only thing I can do to let Those Dreams come is NOTHING, which is the hardest thing in the world for me. So when they start, and Jeb calls, I take three conscious breaths, thank Eckhart and Oprah, then Jesus, and try to be normal.

While stopped at a red light, I See the little girl on a muddy bank near a stream. She looks scared to death. Her blonde hair is knotted with mud and twigs. Her chubby legs are covered with scratches. I'd swear she's saying my name in a weak baby whisper. The light changes. Wow, she must have gone missing in the night, maybe her folks didn't notice until this morning.

"Hey, Jed, what have we got?" He's glad to see me.

"Mamie, this family who lives near Johnson Creek woke up this morning to find their three-year-old missing. It's hard to tell if there's fowl play because they found their back patio door ajar. McKenna is precocious. She could have opened it. The whole PD, all their neighbors, friends from church, and yellow alert volunteers have been combing the area since 6am. There's no sign of her. Have you Seen her yet?"

"I have." I had the feeling he already knew that. "Let's go."

We head out in Jeb's squad car. I tell him what I'd seen on the way. We know as we move toward the area the Seeing will get stronger.

Just as we are rounding the corner of Johnson Creek Road and 53rd I start to shiver. This is new to me but I had a hint of it on our last search. I'm freezing and wet from my waist down - shaking from cold and fear. My feet are completely numb.

"She's in the creek, Jeb." He speeds toward Johnson creek. I can hardly talk for shaking. I'm fighting to communicate and stay with McKenna at the same time. "We're getting closer."

We are on foot now, on the Corridor Trail. How could everyone miss her? I See her in a cement culvert. She is losing consciousness, her little head slipping to the left, dangerously close to the creek water.

"In the culvert!"

Then it all went black.

I wake up to paramedics covering me with warming blankets they use to treat hypothermia. I look over to see a small person getting the same treatment. As they roll her by me, she turns her tiny, muddy face toward mine.

"Mamie, I thaw you; I knew you'd find me."


What Mimi won:

$250 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

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