He got them to all go into the kitchen and sit around the table so that he could go over what they’d found. Mrs. Little offered him some coffee, which he was very grateful for. It’d been a long morning so far and he’d needed it. He took a sip and breathed deep through his nose. “Okay, here’s the deal. We’ve found several prints belonging to what we presume to be Sam’s shoes. The first one is right outside of his bedroom window.
The search and rescue canine was being led by his keeper. Rusty knew the best place to start was at the site of the footprint he spotted below Sam’s window. “Hey, Bill,” he motioned for the man controlling the German shepherd’s leash. “There’s a set of prints over here under the window. Might be a good start. And here,” he threw the balled up dirty socks and shoes at Bill who caught them easily. “Have Bear take this scent.”
(Sorry for the delay on Part 2. Life got a bit hectic around here. But onward we go…)
Rusty was sitting at his desk, pouring over paperwork that he’d put off for far too long. It was early in the morning. Earlier than he preferred, but he’d kissed his wife goodbye before the sun rose. She was still sleeping and he told her that he had work to get done. Now he was at work, sipping away at his third cup of coffee. He was mid-sip when the phone rang, startling him. He hadn’t expected it so early in the morning. He burned his tongue on the coffee and it dripped down his chin onto his tie.
He picked up the phone as he grabbed a tissue to sop up the coffee and answered, a bit frustrated. “Detective Shaw.”
“Hey Rusty. Sorry to bother you so early, but we have a report of a missing kid.” It was officer Thomas Perry. They’d been working together since day one at this station.
When writing the first book, I had a difficult time consistently wondering how Sam’s parents were handling his disappearance. As a parent of a ten-year old, I can only imagine the horrific things going through their minds and I empathized with them. It sounds silly, as they are indeed fictional characters. This story is set during the first book in the real world as we discover what happens to those on the outside who lose a child to Imagia.
“I’m very sorry, Mrs. Little. I wish there was more we could do, but I’m the only detective on the case. And as it stands, there are only two in the tri-county area with any experience in these situations.” The officer that sat across from Sarah and George Little looked worn as he tried to answer the same questions for the umpteenth time. He’d spent a lot of time on the case and his desk showed it. Countless fliers donning Sam Little’s face were haphazardly strewn about the desk along with an open file containing recent pictures of him and as much information as he could gather.
I must apologize for the delay in the final part of this story. Due to a quite sick toddler, I was unable to get on here and post it. But without further ado…the final part of Keesa’s story…
Weaving and bobbing through the thick underbrush should have been more difficult, but something new and powerful pushed Keesa and Zantu forward. They didn’t only run for themselves, but for each other and the future that desperately called to them.
The two ran together, Zantu leading only slightly as he knew the best course to take, but the sounds of the hounds were still too close behind them. Keesa could feel the familiarity of the path they were taking and wondered. If she was thinking the same thing he was, then would there be a possibility that it could work? She could sense the shadowy beasts still on their trail, but they weren’t quite fast enough to close the gap. Their howls were falling behind, but only barely.
Keesa’s muscles burned. She’d never run so fast before. Zantu didn’t look like he was struggling as much, but he was built for this. He was made to win these races. And when he looked to his side, he saw that Keesa was slowing. “Keep going!” he urged. “Not much further!”
Night fell in Imagia, the moon shining brighter than the night before. The forest had been thinning early into the evening and the group of captors and their prisoner now sat just beyond the edges of the trees. As the sun was setting behind the trees, the shadows began to swallow up the hounds. By the time the last shreds of light from the day left, they disappeared into the trees behind them leaving Zantu as Keesa’s sole guard.
She could feel the warmth of his body as he sat near her. It made her nervous, but not in the way that she expected. Her fur, though still warm from the smoky binding, hadn’t been singed at all. But she felt as though something dark still lingered there. She kept trying to avoid looking at Zantu, but her eyes would slip in that direction frequently.
“I know why you look at me like that,” he said.
She blinked quickly and looked away but didn’t say anything.
“I have no choice but to obey my master and he wills me to find beasts for his bidding.” There was a long minute where neither said anything. Then he said, “Disobedience is rewarded with pain.”
“Rewarded?” Keesa finally spoke. “Pain isn’t a reward.” She felt the burn of the smoky ropes no longer there and wondered how much pain Zantu had suffered before he submitted to this master.
Keesa opened her eyes to bright sun. She groaned as she moved. Every single muscle in her body screamed and the cut she suffered was throbbing. She blinked, trying to focus to the light. When she finally adjusted, she gasped at what she saw. Her attacker was staring at her a few feet away. His tail was twitching and he was scowling. Unsure what to say or do, she decided to sit up. She managed to do so without wincing visibly. Then she looked around nervously, certain that the seeker hounds would be there as well.
Realizing that they were, in fact, still alone, she decided that she needed to speak. She cleared her throat, “Um…are you alright?”
He continued to stare ominously.
The silence was uncomfortable and frightened her. “I think you hit your head. You nearly drowned as well.” When he didn’t speak yet again, she took a hesitant step backwards. “I was sure that –“
“Why?” He snapped at her.
Taken aback, she shook her head and said, “Pardon me?”
This time in a deadly quiet voice, he asked, “Why did you save me?”
She hadn’t expected that. In fact, she didn’t have an answer. She couldn’t even explain her actions to herself if she wanted to, let alone try to explain to him. Her eyes wandered as she looked for an answer. In the end, she simply shook her head and said, “I don’t know.” She looked down at the green grass. There would be no running away. Even the simplest act of shaking her head was painful.
The answer seemed to agitate him even further. Instead of asking more questions, he moved towards her, but not without difficulty. He was limping badly on his back right leg, barely putting any pressure down on it.
Keesa noticed. In an act that must have surprised him even more than she surprised herself, she moved towards him. “You’re hurt.”
His ears went flat against his head and the hackles on his back were standing nearly straight up. He growled as she approached him and snarled, “Get back!”
This is set a few years before “The Gateway to Imagia: The Tale of Sam Little”. As a mother figure for Sam, Keesa never shared much of her story to save him the pain. Though I didn’t realize she would have such an impact, she seems to be a bit of a fan favorite. So, why not give her the story she deserves?
The forest was a blur around her as she ran. She had reached her top speed some time ago and her lungs were burning. She’d grown up in the forests of Imagia. The very earth her claws dug into was almost one with her as she made her way through the wild paths. Any kupa cat could navigate the forest in their sleep on most days. Of course, most days they didn’t have to run for their lives.
* * * * * * * * *
I’ve decided that I stink at blogging. Yep. I’d love to have countless hours to just do whatever I want, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t. I have to divide my highly precious ‘me time’ into categories of what I want to do, should do, and will most likely actually accomplish. I should write more, but in order to do so, I must kick the what I want to do to the curb. And as a busy mom (yes…it’s true…moms can be busy) if I get an hour to myself, I treasure it and ultimately do what I want to do instead of the other options.
So lately, I’ve chosen to write, illustrate, or binge watch whatever show I’m obsessed with at the time. As I want to not have a three year gap between my most recent book and the last in the trilogy, I’ve opted to use my free time (however little there is) to write and illustrate. I’m working on the third Imagia book, a children’s book about fire safety, some art for a friend, and then some short stories that I will eventually compile into a book called “Tales from Imagia”. I’ve never really done short stories so this is a trial and error type of thing. BUT…it keeps the characters strong and fresh in my mind when I can’t really sit down for a long haul of writing.
So…that brings me to my next post that will be published directly after this one. I’m going to do something that my aunts (who think I’ll one day be famous for writing) would be very upset at me for. I’m giving my stories away for free. Yep. Free. I’m going to post them (sometimes in sections) to this very blog you’re currently visiting for anyone to enjoy and read. I’m starting with a short story about Keesa. If you haven’t read my books then you’ll have no idea who this is. Which only means that…well…you need to go read my books. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and read!