I was a writer, and was working on my latest suspense/thriller novel, and I was staying in a large, log cabin in the woods, right on a gorgeous lake. Across the lake there was a large campground, and I could hear boats and children playing across the water. I spent most of my time staring out the window, watching the families in the distance, and trying to think of what to write.
One morning, I woke up to silence. I peered out the window while making coffee, and saw police lights, and officers coming the beaches of the lake. I frowned, wondering what happened.
I sat at my desk and continued typing on my computer, but stopped suddenly when I heard a noise coming from the bushes outside my the large bay window in my kitchen. I tensed up and walked to the window, I was immediately face-to-face with a young man, around 18 years old.
“Please, can you hide me?” He asked me, panic in his voice.
“I… who are you? How did you get here?” I asked him, suddenly terrified. My cabin was in the middle of the wilderness, a large lake, and thousands of trees, separating me from society. How had he gotten here?
“Please,” he repeated, tugging at his shirt nervously, “I need to hide.” He continued to pull at his shirt, and I realized now that he was soaking wet. He swam here.
“I’m sorry, this is private property, I need you to leave,” I said, reaching to shut the window, “I can’t help you, sorry.”
I pulled the window closed, and the young man took off running around the side of the house. I cursed loudly, unsure of where he was going. I ran to the front door, but it was too late, he was already standing in the doorway, dripping lake water onto the wood flooring.
“I’m not going to hurt you, I promise, please, I just need somewhere to hide.”
“Hide from what…?” I asked cautiously. Just then, I heard a news report on the TV in the living room.
“The body of 13-year-old Elizabeth Moran was found in Great Bear Lake this morning by her parents, Jacob and Theresa Moran. Witnesses say that they heard screaming coming from the beach early this morning, and witnessed a tall male running from the beach. Elizabeth’s 18-year-old brother, Derek, is currently missing and wanted for questioning. If you have any information…”
My eyes widened and I felt my heart beating rapidly in my chest. The young man stared at me intently, terror and sadness in his eyes.
“Are you… are you Derek?” I asked quietly.
He nodded sadly, “I didn’t hurt my sister. I heard it all. I saw a man, running out of the water. I saw her body, but it was too late. I panicked and ran, but there were people everywhere. They saw me, and then they were on their phones, calling the police. I had to run.”
I hook my head. If he hadn’t done anything wrong, couldn’t he just tell the police that? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of tires on the dirt road leading up to my cabin. Through the trees I could see two police cars driving slowly up the road. Without thinking, I pulled the young man into the house, hissing at him to hide. He obliged, running down the hall and out of my sight.
There was a knock at the door only moments later, and I opened it, greeting the two officers standing there with a smile.
“We’re sorry to bother you, Mrs. Dalton, but we’re looking for a young man who is wanted for questioning in the drowning death of a young girl from just across the lake. Have you seen him?”
I tried my best to look shocked and horrified, “Oh, god! No! That’s tragic! I haven’t seen anyone officers, just been here working on my book. I will certainly let you know though!”
The officer who had been talking to me stared at me quizzically. I could tell he knew something was up. They thanked me for my time and turned to leave. I realized that his eyes briefly flickered over the puddle of water that they had been standing in.
“Better clean that up, ma’am,” the officer said to me, with a hint of warning, “You wouldn’t want to slip.”
My heart felt like it was going to explode as I watched them drive away.
“I didn’t hurt her,” Derek said quietly, walking back into the hall, “I wouldn’t.”
I nodded, and walked back to the kitchen. My coffee had gotten cold.
Derek stayed with me for two days, and in that time, I grew to believe his story. The more he repeated it to me, the more I believed in his innocence. But he couldn’t stay in my cabin forever, so we made a plan to get him away.
I was driving through the woods in the dark, Derek was in the back seat with a blanket over him, hidden from the world. We got to a highway, and I gave him an envelope with some money in it, and told him to keep the blanket. He took off, and I turned in the opposite direction, but stopped.
There was a large, black lab sitting in the middle of the road. After a few seconds, a man stepped out from the shadowy bushes to my left, and I realized that it was the officer who had come to my cabin two days earlier. I hit the gas, swerving around the man and the dog, and drove.
About a mile down the road, I turned off, driving through grass and wilderness, avoiding trees in the darkness. Something caught my eye, distracting me for just a moment, and I crashed my car into a tree. The airbag hit me in the face, and my nose started to bleed.
I climbed out of my car in a daze, and could hear dogs barking nearby. I started to run through the woods until I made it back to the lake, and followed the rocky shore to my cabin. I locked myself inside, and retreated to the basement.
I was terrified at what would happen to me for helping a wanted man to escape, but I knew he was innocent. I sat there in the dark, waiting for the police to break my door down, but no one ever came.
So I walked back up the stairs, and sat at my desk. The sun was starting to come up, and I could hear birds singing. I started to type, continuing with my story.
And then I woke up.