Missing

 

“I’ll check it out,” Justin said into his radio.

 

He had received a call about a missing child last seen entering an abandoned house near where the boy lived. The parents had looked inside the house and around it, but when they weren’t able to find the boy, they called 911.

 

Justin pulled in front of the abandoned house where the parents stood waiting.

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Williamson?” he asked pulling out his notepad.

 

“Yes,” they answered in unison.

 

“I’m Officer Schneider,” he continued. “You said you saw your son, Sean, enter this abandoned house, and you haven’t seen him come out?”

 

“That’s correct,” the father answered. “Is the Fire Department coming, or other Police officers?”

 

“For now, I’m going to conduct an initial search,” Justin replied, still writing down notes. “Once I’ve completed that, I’ll determine what resources we need to continue the search.”

 

He gave them a reassuring smile, and said, “Remain calm, we’ll find him. Now, please wait outside while I go in and take a look.”

 

As he walked into the house, he updated the dispatcher that he was beginning his search.

 

He pulled out his flashlight, and slowly opened the door to the house. He methodically moved from room to room on the first floor, clearing each one before continuing his search onto the second floor.

 

The abandoned house was full of dust, so he scanned the floor for footprints, and the walls for smudges.

 

As he completed his circular search of the first floor, he saw tiny footprints.

 

Seeing them, he began to follow their path as he softly called out Sean’s name. He didn’t want to be too loud, in case it frightened the boy, instead of reassuring him.

 

The footprints led upstairs, and he quickly followed them, leading with his flashlight.

 

“Sean?” he called out. “I’m Officer Schneider. Your parents are very worried. Let me know where you’re at, so I can find you.”

 

“Here,” Sean replied from the last room at the end of the hallway.

 

“I’m coming,” Justin assured him. “Just stay where you’re at, and I’ll come to you.”

 

“Don’t let the man hurt me,” the boy said.

 

Justin pulled out his gun and asked, “Is someone with you, Sean?”

 

“No, but he’ll find me,” the boy said. “I know he will.”

 

Justin entered the room where he found the boy hiding behind a bed. Justin cleared the room, and once he was sure they were alone, he moved to where the boy was huddled, re-holstering his gun.

 

“Hi, Sean,” Justin said. “I’m Officer Schneider. Your parents are outside. I’m going to take you to them. How does that sound?”

 

Sean replied with a shy smile.

 

Justin took the boy’s hand in his and began to lead him out of the room.

 

Suddenly, the boy screamed, looking at something behind Justin.

 

He instinctively drew his gun as he turned to face a creepy, ghostly old man in a black suit.

 

Keeping his gun trained on the stranger, Justin slowly backed up towards the door, inching the boy out of the room.

 

As soon as the boy was out of the room, the door slammed shut, and the Sean began banging on the door.

 

“Sean!” Justin shouted. “Your parents are right outside. Go to them. I’ll be right behind you!”

 

He heard the boy’s pattering feet as he ran down the hallway and down the stairs.

 

Now that the boy was safe, Justin was able to focus on the creepy old man in front of him.

 

“Keep your hands visible and tell me who you are,” Justin ordered.

 

The man only stood there and stared at him.

 

A fog started to fill the room, though Justin couldn’t tell where it was coming from. It seemed to just be materializing from nothing.

 

“Sir,” Justin continued. “I’m going to need you to answer my questions, or I’m going to have to take you in.”

 

The man kept his gaze, but then smiled to reveal very sharp teeth.

 

“That’s it, hands behind your head,” Justin ordered. “Turn around and get on your knees.”

 

The man only stared baring his sharp teeth.

 

Justin knew he was at a standoff and tried to determine his next step.

 

He used one hand to operate his radio and tried to request backup from dispatch, but he was met with only static.

 

The man’s smile grew into a growl, and he began moving toward him.

 

“Sir,” Justin said, muscles tightening. “Stop moving, or I’ll have to treat you like a threat.”

 

The man continued to slowly walk towards him.

 

Justin fired a warning shot into the wall behind the man, but the old man kept walking forward towards him.

 

Seeing no other alternative, Justin fired a round into the man’s shoulder. The man didn’t even flinch. It seemed to go right through him and hit the wall behind him.

 

‘What the hell?’ Justin thought.

 

Justin backed up towards the door, opened it, and stepped through.

 

The hallway was filled with the same mysterious fog, but he didn’t have time to think about it.

 

He continued to walk slowly down the hallway, checking periodically to make sure he didn’t lose his footing.

 

When he arrived at the stairs, he saw that the man wasn’t following him, so he turned to quickly walk down the stairs, and to the front door, where he had entered.

 

He got to the door, but it wouldn’t open, no matter how much he pulled on it.

 

He ran to the nearest window and looked out.

 

He could see the parents with there son, and they were talking to another officer that had arrived. They were standing in the same fog that was in the house, though they seemed unconcerned.

 

He banged on the window to get the other officer’s attention, but none of them seemed to hear him, or notice him at the window.

 

Nobody, except the boy. The boy was pointing to the window where Justin was standing, but when the others looked to where he was pointing, they didn’t seem to see him.

 

Suddenly, the boy’s eyes filled with fear, and he began to motion to Justin to look behind him.

 

Justin turned around and saw the old man, standing only a foot in front of him, wearing the same evil, sharp toothed smile that he was wearing upstairs.

 

Even though he knew it was pointless, instinct still led Justin to take aim with his gun again.

 

“Who are you?” Justin demanded.

 

“I am the current resident of this house,” the old man said flatly. “I usually feed on squatters. People no one would miss, but it has been a while, and when that boy stumbled into my home, I knew it wouldn’t be long before others came looking for him.

 

“No that you’re here, I’m sure others will enter to search for you. I’ll trap them as well, and save them for later.”

 

The man licked his lips.

 

Justin emptied his clip, but with no effect.

 

He then threw the gun at the man and attempted to tackle him. Right when he was going to make contact, the man turned into a puff of smoke, and Justin flew through him and fell to the ground.

 

When he stood up the man had solidified once again, and was facing him wearing the same sharp tooth smile as before.

 

Justin began to frantically look for a way out. While he was concerned about his own life, he desperately wanted to find a way to keep the others from entering the house.

 

Every time Justin rounded a corner, the man appeared.

 

Outside, Sean snuck away from his parents and the other officer, who was still taking their statement. He slowly opened the door and stepped inside.

 

Through the fog, Justin could see Sean by the front door behind the old man.

 

Sean didn’t see any fog, but could see Justin and the old man standing in the hallway, though they looked translucent.

 

Sean didn’t want to attract the attention of the old man, so he tipped toed to a door leading to the cellar, opened it and stepped through, motioning Justin to follow him.

 

Justin was beginning to feel weak. He couldn’t explain it, but it was as if the fog was absorbing him slowly.

 

The old man had seemed hungry when Justin had first encountered him, but he didn’t seem to be in a rush to attack him, so that only helped confirm Justin’s suspicion of the fog being the way he consumed the living.

 

Justin gathered what energy he could and once again charged the man. As before, the man became like vapor as Justin charged through him.

 

His legs weak, Justin made it to the cellar door, and went through.

 

He saw Sean at the bottom of the stairs. He seemed to be leading him somewhere.

 

The fog was thicker in the basement, and Justin had trouble seeing where the boy had gone.

 

Then he saw him. The boy was standing next to a hole in the wall, pointing at something inside.

 

“What is it?” he asked he boy when he joined him at the hole.

“It’s that man,” Sean replied.

 

“How do you know?” Justin asked.

 

“I snuck in to play. When I came down here,” the boy explained. “The brick was loose, and I saw the bones. Then the fog came, and I saw the man. He was mad that I found his bones.”

 

As if on cue, the old man appeared in the basement with them, but instead of a smile, he we clearly angry that they were there.

 

So far, the old man hadn’t touched either one of them, and Justin was sure that he couldn’t.

 

Though he assumed the old man couldn’t touch them, he also knew that the fog was draining him, though the boy seemed to be unaffected so far.

 

Justin looked around the room for a way to burn the bones. He didn’t know if that would work, but he thought was a good start.

 

He grabbed the sack the bones rested in and yanked them out. He saw the old man let out a growl.

 

“Put those back, or I will make you both suffer!” the old man yelled.

 

“Come on, Sean,” Justin said, grabbing the boy by the hand and leading him upstairs.

 

When they made it to the front door, Justin was still unable to open it.

 

The old man laughed as he watched them try to escape.

 

Justin could feel himself getting continuously weaker.

 

“How did you get in?” Justin asked the boy.

 

“Through the door,” the boy answered.

 

“Okay, you try it,” Justin said.

 

The boy tried to open the door but was unable as well.

 

‘The old man must be keeping the door closed somehow,’ Justin thought.

 

Then he had an idea.

 

“Sean,” he whispered to the by. “I’m going to distract the man. When I do, I want you to run out this door. I think when he’s distracted, he can’t focus on keeping the door closed.”

 

The boy nodded his understanding.

 

Justin thought of giving the bones to the boy to burn, but while he could probably get the boy out with them, there was no guarantee that he would be able to find a way to burn them. More than likely, the other officer would take them, and turn them in to the forensics team.

 

He was also worried that the old man may be able to follow the bones wherever they went.

 

Justin knew there was only one option. Destroy the bones there, but he didn’t know how.

 

And then it came to him.

 

“Here,” Justin said, handing the keys to his cruiser to the boy, and whispered his instructions.

 

The boy again nodded.

 

“Okay, here we go,” Justin said. “You stand right here.”

 

Justin slowly moved as if he was trying to sneak around the old man, and the old man followed him, ignoring the boy.

 

Justin went into the kitchen and began looking for something to start a fire with.

 

The old man watched as he rummaged through the drawers. His smile never faded as he watched Justin continue to get weaker.

 

“It won’t be long before you won’t even be able to stand,” the old man said.

 

“Don’t worry. I just have to stand long enough to find something to burn these bones with,” Justin explained.

 

The old man laughed. “There is nothing for you here. You’re going to die, and soon so will anyone who comes looking for you.”

 

 Not finding anything, Justin walked back into the living room, and looked out the window. It was foggy outside, and he could see the officer and the parents talking to the boy.

 

He saw Sean point towards the house, and when they all looked, he snuck away from them and went to the trunk of Justin’s cruiser.

 

When they looked around and saw the boy gone, they began to look for him.

 

“Enjoying your last sunset,” the old man said, half laughing.

 

Justin didn’t want him to look outside and see what the boy was up to, so he turned his attention to the old man.

 

He was so weak, that he could no longer stand. He sat, leaning against the wall.

 

The old man enjoyed watching the life slowly slip away from him, feeding him.

 

The man jumped when something came crashing through the window and landed on the floor.

 

He didn’t know what it was, but he knew it couldn’t be good, as Justin began crawling to whatever it was.

 

Sean had gotten to the trunk of the cruiser, used the keys to open it, and found the flares.

 

He snatched them, and before the other officer, or his parents could stop him, he ran to the house and threw one through the front window.

 

Justin smiled at the old man as he lit the flare and burned the sack of bones, which in turn burned the old man.

 

The officer outside was barely able to pull Sean back in time, before the entire house went up in flames.

 

Smoke exploded through all the windows, and it wasn’t long before the entire house was on fire.

 

Sean watched with tears streaming down his cheeks.

 

He was the only one who knew what had happened in that house, and it would be years before he would be able to write his story for others to know what a hero Officer Justin Schneider was, and how he had saved Sean’s and everybody else’s lives.