“Tell me where to go, rookie!” Lowell demands while you fumble with a map of the area and listen to the muffled voices from the 911 call, replaying through the tiny speaker of an old cassette recorder. Lowell drives aggressively, leaning forward and squinting his eyes, trying to concentrate on the road ahead. The storm continues to beat down, the Chrysler’s headlights only penetrating a dozen feet through the thick lines of rain. You hold the recorder up to your ear and focus, trying to hear past the rain beating on the windshield like a drum.
The jungle gym and a house on a hill, lots of trees, and the sound of AC? It could be nearly anywhere, except- There! If that droning sound was the sound of water, her line of sight must have come from the wooded area surrounding a park near the river. You direct Lowell to turn sharply down a narrow access road and the trees suddenly loom over you as the Chrysler speeds along. Lowell slams the brakes and skids as you reach a dead end. “Keep your eyes peeled.” He reaches in the glove compartment for a Maglight and opens the door, running out into the storm.
You step out yourself and become instantly drenched, the rain pounding down on your black windbreaker. The rushing sound of the storm, the constant tapping against your hood and Lowell’s swinging flashlight have you disoriented until you steady yourself and turn your own light towards the shadowed tree line.
“There. Let’s go.” Lowell shouts, his beam revealing a thin separation in the trees indicating a trail. He rushes in without waiting for you, drawn to the chase. You follow as closely as you can, trodding through thick mud while the sound of the raging river begins to overwhelm the sound of the storm. You look behind momentarily and watch the Chrysler’s headlights fade into darkness as you progress further into the depths of the forest.
Another shout from Lowell brings your attention back to the path ahead. “I got something!” He rushes ahead again, while you do your best to keep up without losing your footing. You reach his side and Lowell crouches down to collect a torn and sodden piece of red fabric. You turn your light from the fabric to Lowell, and the look on his face is frightening. His skin has gone to ash, his eyes wide and his mouth agape as he stares frozen at the piece of fabric in his hand. You can see his mind trying to grasp at straws, searching for a way to make sense of what he just discovered.
You open your mouth to ask what’s happening, when a scream pierces through the storm like an arrow. Lowell’s head jerks up, shaken from his trance. With linebacker speed Lowell takes off back towards the car. You begin to chase after him, but he bellows over his shoulder, “GO SAVE HER!”.
You slide to a stop, still unsure, but he’s right about that at least. Turning back towards the river, you try to determine where the shriek came from. You can barely make out a small building on the other side, but the river is too deep and fast to cross here. You begin walking upstream, searching for a way across.