Then she was lying at the bottom of the hill, unconscious and bloody. My heart hurt for her. I could barely wrap my mind around the pain she must be in with her leg broken in such a way. For all intents and purposes, she looked very much dead. I could almost believe she was. As I felt myself losing hold on the dream, it occurred to me; If I didn’t tell the cops where to find her soon, she would be.
I woke up feeling extreme panic. My heart was pounding and I felt absolutely sick. That dream. Poor Hailey was in bad shape; and with my dream, I knew just what had happened. What was more, I knew where she was. I once had a friend who once lived out by that creek. I was familiar with the sometimes steep incline.
Unfortunately, knowing where she was didn’t solve my dilemma. Now I had to figure out how to talk to someone at the Austin Police station about where she was and how to find her. That was a sobering thought. How do I do that? Or actually, the right question was; how do I tell the cops how to find her without giving away my secret?
Sitting up, I threw back the covers and walked soundlessly to my closet. This had to be one of the craziest ideas I had ever had, but it was the only thing I could think to do. After getting dressed, I pulled my hair into a ponytail and left my room quietly.
Grabbing Mom’s keys off the counter I wrote her a quick note explaining I knew where the girl was and that she was still alive. If she woke up, I had my cell phone. She could call and grumble at me. But I silently hoped she’d sleep through and I’d be back in my bed as soon as humanly possible. I still had school tomorrow, after all.
When I got behind the wheel of my mothers wonderful car, I sat there for a minute just contemplating what I was going to do. When I called the cops, exactly what was I going to say? How was I going to play this off as something oh-so-NOT- mystical.
With a quick shake of my head, I started the car. I just needed to shut up and do this. When it came down to it, I knew Hailey’s mother would care less how I found her and more that she was safe. At least I hoped she was.
I drove from Buda to Austin in silence. I didn’t want or need any distractions. My mother may have been an understanding woman, but if I had done any damage to her car in my late night escapade, I might be in danger of becoming a ghost myself.
Although it was night, the traffic on I-35 was busy and I had to let my attention stay on the traffic around me. When I finally reached the exit onto William Cannon, I was relieved to be getting off the busy interstate. Of course, that relief was foreshadowed by my feelings of impending doom I was dealing with.
It didn’t get any better. Actually, as every mile took me closer to the turn-off leading to the creek my already raw nerves had my entire body shaking worse than I would have if I had been stuck in the middle of a blizzard.
William Cannon was a fairly busy road too. I was pretty sure the first turn I needed to take to get me close to where Hailey had fallen was Onion Creek Drive. As I turned down that street, I took the drive that would lead me closer to the creek.
There was a dirt road; it went in closer to the creek. I was certain, that was the road Hailey had been on, so I took it. My friend had used that same road on her way to and from school all the time. She always told me it wasn’t necessarily the safest place to be, but it beat taking the long way around. If you were walking to school, it saved you a good twenty minutes when it came to getting to classes in time.
I clicked my tongue when I thought of Tara, wishing I had done a better job keeping in touch with her. We had met in church when we had moved out here. We had become pretty good friends. I had gotten familiar with the area because I used to spend almost every other weekend with her for a few years. Honestly, that was a while back now. I hadn’t seen her in so long, I found myself wondering how she was now. Her parents had taken her and moved to Seattle about a year ago and I had lost touch with her.
My eyes narrowed on a certain spot on the dirt road. Slowing down, I pulled up close enough to keep my headlights on the area. This seemed familiar. I recognized it from both my dream and my past. I sighed as I reached into the glove compartment. I’d never tell her, but Hailey was lucky I was familiar with this place. I may seem like a wayward teenager sometimes, but there was no way I would be out here, trudging around in the forest surrounding the creek in the dark if I didn’t have at least a vague memory of where the hell I was!
I made sure my cell phone was in my pocket. I checked the flashlight to make sure it worked, grabbed the bag of water and food I had brought with me. It was nothing fancy; saltine crackers, some grapes, and four twenty ounce bottles of water. Worst case scenario; she’d be unconscious and I wouldn’t need it. Best possibility; she would wake up when I reached her and be extremely thirsty.
Turning off my headlights, I put the car keys in the other pocket of my jeans as I got out of the car and locked the door. “Here goes nothin’.” I whispered as I began to make my way cautiously down toward the area where I thought she might be. I used the flashlight to watch where I was going and before I knew it, I was standing at the edge of what could have been a steep incline.
It was actually the edge of where the river would normally meet the bank. But because all of Texas has gone without a decent amount of rain lately and we are in the middle of a drought, the water level of the creek was down extremely low. Lately, there had been some rain, but so far, all it had accomplished is to make a muddy mess of places like this. Riverbed mud is not like regular mud. In some cases, it’s really quite like quicksand.
“Okay, Hailey,” I whispered. “If you’re down here, I need you to show me where.” I moved my hand slowly, watching where the beam of light touched to see if I saw anything that resembled a ten year old girl.
When my light found that very girl, standing at the bottom of the riverbed, I had to catch myself to keep from screaming. She was staring up at me with a troubled expression.
She waved at me then pointed to her right. My gaze followed suit and what I saw brought tears to my eyes. Hailey was lying unconscious . Her head rested near a rather large rock. There was a substantial amount of blood on it.
Looking back toward her, I saw that her entire leg was at a seriously odd angle from the rest of her body. I grimaced at the sight and looked down to try to decide the safest route for me to take to get down to her. This was bad; really bad. The ground below me was solid mud. Or, that’s not accurate, is it? Mud is not a solid. But this mud was thick; the kind of thick that if you weren’t careful, you could easily step out of your shoes.
Watching the girl’s unmoving form, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone. Dialing 911, I waited for the operator to pick up. When she did, I explained as thoroughly as I could where I was at and what I believe I may have found.
She asked me if I could tell if the girl was still alive. I answered honestly. “I really don’t know. I haven’t gone down to her yet. I wanted to call for help first. This embankment is wet, muddy and slippery and if anything happened before I reached her, I just wanted to know you already have someone on the way.”
The operator suggested I just stay where I was so I could direct the ambulance and police when they got there. I smiled tightly and told my first real lie. “Okay, I will.” Yes, it was a lie! I knew that Hailey’s life was really hanging in the balance tonight. If I didn’t get the water I had in my bag to her now, she may not be alive when they got here. I didn’t know how I knew. But I was certain.
Once I hung up and put the phone back in my pocket, I slowly started down the muddy incline. Where were the Angels now? Did they really need an invitation? “What the hell?” I asked out loud, throwing caution to the wind. “For all the paramedics know, I slipped.”
Of course, that wasn’t going to be a lie either. My right foot slid right out from underneath me and I screeched and squeezed my eyes shut as I braced to tumble down the incline. I swear, my hands touched the ground but my rump never did.
With my hands caked in the mud, I felt my t-shirt yanked from the shoulder. Gasping, I swung my head around and looked up into Trehvar’s eyes. I opened my mouth to ask him what took him so long, but the look on his face gave me pause. “Do you never consider the fact that you should not be doing this all by yourself? Or do you simply not realize you are mortal?"