The markings before him were scratched into the ground with a stick. They were big but unconsolidated as if the person who wrote them was in a hurry.
They read, “help.” The man glanced at his son, whose brows furrowed. Hoping it was a prank, he came to his feet with a smile and walked away. What he’d find in the cabin would have him running back.
Henry and his son, Albert, were camping in their favorite forest when they made a startling find. The day had begun well for them, with the father-son hunting duo leaving their house early in the morning.
They’d expected to hunt some deer while enjoying the outdoors and bonding. But what the day would bring to their feet would make them their town’s heroes.
Henry Yanes was your average dad who loved, more than anything, spending time with his son in the wilderness.
When Albert was seven, Henry took him to the forest, camping with him under the beautiful skylight as they hunted his first deer. That experience would turn into a tradition for the two of them. Who knew the good that it would result in down the road?
Albert was in his senior year of high school when it happened. Hunting season was right around the corner, and he and his dad were glad to jump into the experience.
They had a cabin in the woods that acted as their base of operations: a home away from home. Unknown to them, it would form the most notable piece of evidence for their heroic find.
It was a fine Saturday morning at the end of fall when the father-son duo packed their hunting equipment and hopped into their truck for a weekend of their favorite activity.
It had been a while since they spent time together, given that Albert’s school life had seemingly eaten through his personal life. He was glad to get time to hang out with his dad.
The drive into the forest was long, but it wasn’t long until the two reached the massive stretch of trees that housed most of their state’s wildlife.
They packed their vehicle near a hotel, opting to continue the rest of their journey on foot. Such a simple decision would lead them to a sign they didn’t think they’d find.
Since fall was coming to an end, paving the way for winter, the winds around the forest were chilly. Henry and Albert didn’t mind the cold at all, but this was because they had layers of clothes protecting them from the harsh elements.
They were a stone’s throw away from their cabin when they saw the markings on the dirt. They stopped in their tracks.
For a long time, Henry had heard stories of people getting lost in the forest. As a native of the area, he’d been a part of numerous search and rescue teams that tracked campers who got lost.
His brows furrowed as he stared at the markings in the dirt. Was someone playing with him and his son? He’d heard of college kids taking part in such pranks for videos. Still, he went down on his knees to assess everything.
The markings before Henry were scratched into the ground with a stick. They were big but unconsolidated, as if the person who wrote them was in a hurry.
They read “help.” Henry glanced at Albert, whose brows furrowed. Hoping it was a prank, Henry came to his feet with a smile and walked away. What he’d find in the cabin would have him running back.
Henry and Albert dismissed the markings in the dirt, agreeing it must’ve been a prank. Still, each remained alert while carrying their hunting equipment to their cabin.
But as Henry unlocked the door, he saw that the front glass window was broken, and the door opened from the inside. Someone had forced their way inside his property.
Henry removed the rifle slung over his shoulder, hoping to at least scare whoever was in his cabin. He pushed the door open and, without making a sound, took a step in.
He motioned Albert to remain outside, gesturing for him to keep an eye on the cabin’s surroundings. But Henry wasn’t in the house for a second when he saw the truth.
The cabin’s inside was as Henry had left it over six months prior. But the intruder had raided his kitchen for food and used his couch as a bed. They’d also taken one of the cabin’s blankets.
Then, Henry remembered reading about a teenage girl who got lost in the forest about two days before he and Albert embarked on their journey. He raced out of the house, asking his son to search around the perimeter for any signs of human life.
Henry made it to the spot with the markings in the dirt. He studied them carefully, realizing that whoever wrote them must have been the same person who broke into the cabin.
He tried his best to remember the girl’s name in the story he read. “Brittany,” he mumbled with uncertainty. Was that truly the girl’s name?
“Brittany?” Henry called out, his voice shooting through the cold forest. “Brittany!” he shouted again, but this time heard a small voice answering to him. It was a girl crying back.
“Brittany!” Henry shouted once more, slinging his rifle over his back and starting toward the girl’s voice. He’d find her if it were the last thing he did.
Using his tracking skills and with Albert by his side, Henry searched through the woods until he found a teenage girl wrapped in the missing blanket from his cabin. She was covered in dirt and barely lucid. He helped her back to the cabin as Albert called 911.
Later, the two learned that the girl, Brittany, had lost her way in the labyrinthine forest after being separated from her camping friends by a wolf. She’d taken refuge in Henry’s cabin and ran away after seeing them approach the place, fearing they’d yell at her for breaking in. Henry didn’t mind it at all. He was only glad he’d gotten to her in time. Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.