Into the Mist
He kept his head down as he walked, eyes on the sidewalk. He’d taken this route to school many times, but the fog obscured his vision to all sides. Trusting the sidewalk to guide him was the only way to avoid getting lost. This stretch of concrete led from his house straight to the school. No way to get turned around in the fog if he just kept his eyes on the sidewalk.
After what seemed like an hour, he began to get concerned. He should have reached the school long ago. He risked a second to look up, but still saw nothing but fog in any direction. Deciding that the fog was also messing with his sense of time, he forged onward, eyes on the ground in front of him. Just follow the sidewalk, he told himself. Can’t get lost if he follows the sidewalk.
A low, rumbling noise off to the left made him jump. At first he thought it was a passing car, but then he recognized it for what it was: a growl. Did the Hendersons’ dog get out again?
The Hendersons’ dog didn’t scare him, so he kept walking. Without warning, the sidewalk ended. Had he passed the school? No, he couldn’t have; the sidewalk had a distinctive turn at the entrance to the school parking lot. There’s no way he could have missed it, even in this dense fog.
Then he heard it again. The growl. This time lower, deeper. Closer. Damn those Hendersons.
He turned back to retrace his steps and find the school, only to discover that the sidewalk was gone. He now stood in a damp patch of mud and roots, surrounded by fog. There was no forest in their little suburb…. Where was he?
The growling grew closer, accompanied by more feral sounds. Whatever was out there, it wasn’t just the Hendersons’ dog. A shiver that had nothing to do with the cold of the fog trickled down his spine.
Later that day, the news reported an unknown boy’s body found deep in the woods three towns away.
The weather report for the area had been clear and sunny.