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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story I wrote a few years ago. I am not sure if it would be classified as action or a thriller because this is out of my normal realm. (Suggestions welcome.)

It is about a teenager named Katherine whose normal life is turned upside down with the threat of an impending landslide. A series of choices leads her to the decision on whether or not to risk her life to save a young neighbor.

Hope you enjoy it. Feedback is always welcome.

Submitted: January 19, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 19, 2017



Katherine awoke to the soft tapping of rain on the windows. She groaned and rolled over. “Fourth day in a row. Gotta love Mother Nature,” she muttered. A beep from beside her made her glance at her cell phone. It was a message from Emma Smith asking if she wanted to get together and finish their economics project.  “Here’s hoping there’s no school. We are so far behind,” she muttered as she ran a brush through her raven hair. She threw on a pair of black jean shorts and a blue t-shirt before heading into the kitchen.

“Morning Mom. They cancel school again today?” Katherine grabbed a bagel and a glass of orange juice and looked over at her mother.

“Uh-huh,” her mother answered as she turned up the little weather radio on the counter. “Katherine, I want you to stay close to the house today.”

“But Mom, I was gonna meet up with Emma and work on our project. Mr. Larson said it will be due as soon as we get back,” Katherine complained as she took out her cell to text Emma back.

“No buts Katherine. This weather is making the mountain unstable. A slide can happen any second.”

Katherine rolled her eyes. “The rain is stopping, Mother.  It’s only a light drizzle now,” she said as she glanced out the window. The sky was lightening up for the first time in days.  The mountain the locals called “Bear” towered over the neighbors’ homes down the road. “Emma is just down the road. I won’t be far.”

“Emma is farther up the mountain. The danger isn’t over just because the rain is,” her mother replied as she tied her shoes. “I’m sure you and Emma can work on your project just fine over the computer. You seem to be able to do everything else on it.”

Katherine looked up from the cell phone and her bagel. “You’re going into work? After telling me to stay here?”

“Don’t be sassy with me, Katherine. I have to go man the phones at the 911 Center. Larry, Micah, and Rose are all stranded on the other side of the river. It’s just me and Josh in case something happens. Evacuate if you notice anything unusual: sagging trees, mud sliding down.”

Katherine tuned her mother out. It was all information she had heard before.  Every few years there was a landslide scare around Bear Mountain and nothing ever happened. She was tired of hearing it.

“…You hear me, Katherine?  The keys to the Honda are on the shelf in the hallway. Katherine!”

“Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Bye Mom,” Katherine retorted as she finished texting Emma. She had no intention of staying home; there was no way Emma could send her all those pages with their budgets and finances. Besides, she hadn’t seen her BFF in forever!

“I mean it, Katherine. I have a bad feeling about this.”

“I know, Mom. Just like you claim that everyone in the family sees dead relatives just before they are about to die,” Katherine snorted.

“Don’t joke about that! Your Uncle Henry saw your great grandfather two hours before his heart attack and your cousin Maria saw Aunt Sissy three days before….You know what, forget it. I’m going to be late,” her mom snapped as she headed out the door.

Katherine got up and stretched. “I cannot believe Mom still expects me to believe that story. How old does she think I am? Eight?” she muttered as she retrieved her book bag from her room.

She paused in the kitchen again and listened to the little white weather radio. There were warnings about floods in the valley from spotters, but nothing that would suggest Bear was in any danger of collapsing. Her mom was overreacting … again.

Katherine shook her head and turned off the radio. She had more important things to worry about, like getting all those numbers figured out so she and Emma didn’t fail Econ. If they failed, they wouldn’t be able to graduate and Katherine had worked too damn long to let one stupid class get in her way.

She slid her phone down into her pocket and hefted her heavy black book bag over her right shoulder. Who would have thought it only contained stuff for Econ; it was as heavy as the rest of her books combined. “I’ll be so glad when this evil class is over,” Katherine grumbled as she grabbed the keys on her way out the door.

She dumped the bag in the passenger seat of the blue Honda, slid into the driver’s seat, cranked up the volume of the CD player for Brantley Gilbert’s “Hell on Wheels,” and headed down the road.

About halfway to Emma’s house, Katherine noticed a white car pulled over on the side of the road. It looked like her friend’s family car. She pulled up behind it as seven cars passed her, heading down the mountain.

Emma’s father was standing on the Johnsons’ front pouch. As she got out, Katherine saw Emma jump out of the other car. “Kathy, I just tried to text you! You need to get outta here, girl!”

Katherine looked at her in confusion and noticed the fear in her friend’s blue eyes. “What’s going on? I thought we were getting together at your . . .”

“Grandpa thinks a landslide is imminent. We were headed down the mountain warning the neighbors. The Johnsons and the Murphys are the only ones we did not get ahold of yet,” Emma replied.

Katherine looked toward the porch where Emma’s father was talking to Mrs. Johnson, who was holding baby Peter. Katherine knew the whole family because she had often been their babysitter. Mrs. Johnson looked frantic as she started calling, “Robby! Robby, come here right now!”

Katherine and Emma looked at each other. Robby was the Johnsons’ eldest boy. The girls waited for the seven year old to appear, but no one did. Katherine looked back at the porch. “He wanted to go catch frogs. I told him no, but he must have took off anyway,” Mrs. Johnson explained. “I have to go find him.”

“No, I’ll find him,” Mr. Smith said firmly. “You need to get the baby and yourself out of here right now.” He grabbed her arm and started guiding her toward the family car.

“I’ll help you look for Robby,” Katherine volunteered as they got closer to the cars.

“No Katherine. You need to leave with Emma and the others. It’s not safe,” he said as they heard a soft rumble.

“What’s that?” Katherine asked, looking around.

“It’s the mountain. We need to get out of here. Get in the cars,” Emma’s dad ordered as he pushed Emma back towards the car.

“Robby doesn’t know you. He won’t come to strangers. You have to let me help,” Katherine pleaded.

Mr. Smith glanced over at Robby’s mom. “It’s true. Robby’s really shy. He loves Katherine though.”

He sighed. “Fine. The rest of you get out of here now and call 911. Katherine, stay close. Have your car keys ready,” he replied. “Where would he go to catch frogs?”

“There’s a big pond about 6 houses up the mountain. The boys always find frogs around there,” Katherine replied as they started running up the street. The other car left, speeding down the street.

As they got closer to the pond, Katherine noticed some of the dark evergreens leaning toward the road. She frowned, trying to remember if they were always tilted like that. She couldn’t remember. Mr. Smith was looking around. “I don’t see him. Call for him, Katherine.”

“Robby! Hey Robby, come here!” Katherine shouted. She winced, wondering whether you could trigger a landslide with a loud noise like an avalanche. She looked around, trying to see the boy. “Robby!” she said again.

A moment later, she saw a little boy with muddy clothes run up from the backyard. Robby was grinning, clutching a giant bullfrog in his tiny hands. “Kathy, look what I found!”

Katherine smiled in relief. “Cool, but we gotta go, Robby.”

Robby stopped and looked at Mr. Smith. “Who’s that? Why do we gotta go?”

“That is my friend’s dad. The weather is bad,” Katherine said as she picked the boy up. She staggered under his weight as they started back.  She tried to hand the boy to Mr. Smith, but he resisted, dropping the bullfrog to wrap his arms around her neck.

“Here, take my keys, Mr. Smith,” she said, awkwardly dropping them into his hand. “I won’t be able to unlock the car with him hanging on so tight.”

“The weather is not bad,” Robby complained as they kept going. Katherine ignored him, focusing all her attention on walking. She looked up as several sharp cracks filled the air.

“What is-” she started when Mr. Smith suddenly snatched Robby from her arms and started running. The movement was so sudden that the boy did not have time to react before he was in the stranger’s arms.

“The trees are giving out! Run,” he shouted. Katherine did as she was told, even as she glanced up to see trees high up the mountain disappearing from sight. Panic filled her. She realized that if she had listened to her mom she would have gotten Emma’s text at home and would have been safely down in the valley by now. But if she had listened who would have rescued Robby? Mrs. Johnson could not have run with two children in her arms, and Robby would not have gone to Mr. Smith if he had been alone.

She pushed her body to go faster as the distant rumbling and snapping of trees turned into a deafening roar. Mr. Smith was ahead of her with Robby and she could see his lips moving as he turned and tried to say something but she could not hear him.

A flash of orange from her left side caught her eye and she stopped suddenly, realizing there was another child still on the mountain. Katherine turned slightly and froze as she recognized her little cousin Maria. The blonde girl was wearing the same orange shirt she had had on when she had been hit by the car.

Katherine screamed just before her world went dark.

When consciousness reasserted itself, Katherine tried to open her eyes. Immediately she realized all she could see was blackness. She couldn’t see! Why couldn’t she see? She opened her mouth to scream and started choking as soft particles clogged her throat and nose.

She tried to move whatever it was that was on top of her and found it difficult to shift her arms. The substance around her crumbled against her fingers and felt slightly moist. Katherine coughed, straining to get air. She felt her heartbeat accelerating, although its distinctive lub-dub could barely be heard.

Katherine’s stomach felt as if it had dropped several nauseating feet as she grasped the situation. She was imprisoned under the earth. Her first instinct was to scream again but she bit her lip firmly to prevent it, knowing it would only fill her lungs with soil. She had to get out and quickly. She curled her fingers and started to claw at the dirt above her. Grains of earth slid across her face as she fought to break free. Her arms seemed to drag through an endless amount of dirt and they started to tremble. Katherine swallowed a glob of saliva that had accumulated in her throat and wondered where the air was. How far down could she be?

Katherine hoped that Mr. Smith and Robby had made it to her car, made it out. The image of her cousin in her bright shirt standing in the wet grass filled her with fear. All the tales about her family were true. They really did see dead relatives before they died.

She felt a burning sensation deep in her chest as her body demanded air. The urge to open her mouth or inhale through her mouth intensified as the agony in her chest sharpened until she gasped involuntarily and a river of dirt flowed into her lungs. Tears wet her cheeks and the particles of soil around her face and hands. She was going to die.

© Copyright 2020 TheresaVan18. All rights reserved.

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