This story is by Anna Savastano and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
Timmy Wilkins wondered away from the camp site, where his parents were hard at work setting up their tent. His plan was to scare them a little. They dragged him away from his electronic games for a camping trip this weekend, a voyage he never agreed too. He thought himself clever when he seized the occasion to run off as both his parents busied themselves with the chores of organizing their camp ground. Timmy ran as fast as his little five-year-old feet could take him into the forest. He came to an abrupt stop when he could no longer hear his father whistle while he worked.
Out of breath, Timmy plopped himself down onto the ground up against a big old boulder. He crossed his arms, while he waited for the moment where his parents would burst through the trees, worn out from worry. Some time went by, however, no one came looking for him. The wind blew a light breeze; the leaves rustled, the birds chirped, still no one came for him.
Frustrated, Timmy got to his feet and went deeper into the woods. If his folks still had not noticed he was gone, he would make it even harder for them to find him. After running for a good while, Timmy started feeling tired. Yawning, he plunked himself onto the ground against a maple tree and fell asleep.
Later, Timmy awakened to the clatter of thunder. A flash of light sparked in his eyes. The trees bent to the whipping force of the wind. Debris swept by little Timmy as he hugged the tree trunk trying to make himself almost invisible against it. His wild eyes marred his face. Tears spilled onto his cheeks. Timmy now wished he had never run off. He missed the safety of his mommy’s arms. The foliage of the tree brushed up against Timmy’s back. It temporally soothed him much in the same way his mommy’s caresses would.
The clouds in the sky grew more somber by the minute. Soon the whole forest would be immersed in darkness.
Timmy shouted out. “Mommy, Daddy, help me!”
Yet, the only response that echoed through the forest was the far away sound of his voice.
“Please, mommy, come get me!” He cried out once more. “I promise, I’ll be a good boy.”
But still, no one came. What Timmy did hear was a low, hissing sound from just above his head. When he looked up he met a pair of little, beady eyes which dangled upside down from a branch just above him. The long, scaly creature had a small, slippery tongue that slithered in and out of its mouth. Timmy knew his colors, but this particular color confused him for the creature’s skin edged towards a grayish blue. When the creature made a brisk movement towards Timmy, he let go of the tree trunk and ran off screaming. Dirt blew into Timmy’s face as he fought the tailwind which plowed into him.
The tempestuous weather appeased just as a colorful butterfly appeared. With Timmy’s woes gone for the moment he concentrated on his winged companion. Fascinated with the insect, Timmy tried to count all the different colors that bathed it. Timmy mimicked the butterfly as he too pretended to fly in circles.
“You’re so pretty.” He told his little fluttery friend.
While Timmy played, he heard a low timbered growl come from behind the shrubs just across from him. He felt a twinge at the nape of his neck which made him stop dead in his tracks. The grunting sounds did not suggest an amiable being. Even the butterfly went to settle up on a high tree branch. This gave Timmy an idea. At home, he had a big tree in the backyard and often he climbed it. Timmy decided that he might be safer high up in the air. Hence, he began to scale the same tree as his friend Mr. Butterfly. Before he scrambled up the tree trunk, Timmy scoured it for long, slippery critters.
Timmy steadied his foot in between the arc of the tree and pushed himself up. When he climbed onto the next branch, a furry gray beast barreled out of the shrubbery. Timmy knew exactly what this animal was. For he had asked his father to show him a picture of a real wolf, the day his dad read him, Little Red Riding Hood.
Timmy glowered at the snarling creature up on its hind legs against the very tree he continued to scale. The beast’s big bulging eyes spied him with ferocity. The wolf’s long tongue licked his mouth as spittle escaped it. Timmy caught sight of the animal’s canine teeth and started to quiver, almost faltering at his next step. He did not want to fall.
When Timmy came in the forest he did not think of the wild animals that could hurt him. All he thought of was how he could punish his parents for having taken him away from his games for the weekend. Now for the third time since he entered the forest, he found himself missing mommy’s tender arms. He wished his strong daddy was here to fight off this beast that threatened his existence. Timmy remained thankful to the butterfly for having shown him the way up to this safe haven.
A rabbit scurried by, then a deer. The wolf followed their scent, but doubled back. He appeared confused as to which prey he should actively pursue. When another deer zipped by, the wolf lost his interest in Timmy and began his hot pursuit of the animal.
Timmy worried about the deer. He hoped he would outrun the wolf. A barking German shepherd arrived at the bottom of the tree just as Timmy began his descent. Timmy misjudged his step, faltered and he found himself legs swinging in the air, holding onto a tree branch by his little tiny fingers. Down below the German shepherd appeared frantic. Timmy feared he would never see his parents again. If that dog got hold of him, he did not even want to think of the consequences.
Timmy heard a man’s voice call out. “Rosco.”
He listened as the loud thud of heavy boots neared. Timmy remembered his parents’ warnings about strangers. However, right now he thought he would have a better chance trusting a person, compared to a forest filled with wild animals.
“Help!” He squealed. “Help me!”
Timmy knew he could not hold on to the branch much longer. He felt his fingers slipping.
A big brawny man came running through the trees. “Good boy, Rosco. You found him.” The man patted his dog in passing but quickly made his way over to Timmy.
“I can’t hold on any longer,” Timmy yelped.
“Okay, Timmy I’ll stand right under you. You’re going to have to trust me to catch you.”
Timmy noticed the man had called him by his name. Maybe he was a relative or a family friend. At Christmas there were a lot of those, Timmy thought.
“Can you come get me?”
“There’s no time, Timmy. There’s just one of me. If you’re slipping I might be half way up the tree when you fall.”
Timmy agreed with the man. But he was scared to let go. What if the man did not catch him? Soon Timmy would not have a choice in the matter. His little arms could not hold on much longer. Therefore, before things got any worst Timmy closed his eyes, took in a breath, and let go of the branch.
Timmy hit the man’s arms with a thump. The big man wavered but did not lose his footing.
“There we are, you’re safe now. Your folks have been looking for you everywhere.”
“Yes Timmy, how else would I have known your name?”
“Mister, I’m sure glad you came for me.”
“Yeah, so am I kid.” The man smiled. “Besides it’s my job. I am a forest ranger. Little boy, you don’t know how close you came to disaster, today?”
The man put Timmy onto the ground. Timmy waited as the forest ranger dialed someone on his cell phone.
“Yeah, I got him. He’s fine. I think he got a big scare, otherwise, he seems fine. I’ll bring him in.” He said as he hung up.
“Timmy did you meet my friend Rosco? I think he deserves a good treat, for his excellent work in finding you. You want to give him the cookie?” The forest ranger said as he held out the dog treat for Timmy to take.
Timmy shook his head, while he clasped onto the ranger’s legs. Here was one boy that wouldn’t stray from home anytime soon, the ranger thought. Thank goodness, he was able to reach Timmy before harm had come to him.
“Come Timmy,” The forest ranger said. “Let’s get you home to your folks. Rosco, lead the way buddy.”