“Follow me!” Jacob whispered, waving his hand at his friend. “Come on! Hurry and be quiet!” He turned and squeezed himself between the rusty old plow and the faded, leaning barn in his Grandma’s back pasture.
“I can’t fit!” Gretchen was trying as hard as she could, but her bulky sweater and coat weren’t going to let her fit in the same place as her friend’s had. She tugged and felt her coat tear on the old farm equipment. Tears came to her eyes. “I don’t want to do this, Jacob. I told you we shouldn’t do this.”
“Don’t be such a baby, Gretchen.” Jacob’s voice turned hard. The way it did when things didn’t go his way. When people didn’t do what he wanted. He trudged back towards Gretchen, who was now sobbing and yanking at her coat to free herself. “Stop crying. I’ll help.” Jacob lent his strength to her efforts and soon her jacket tore free.
Gretchen wanted nothing more than to turn back, but Jacob’s help had pulled her through the tight opening. She really didn’t want to try squeezing back again, so she turned and took Jacob’s hand, following him behind the barn. “Are you sure we won’t get in trouble for being back here Jake?”
With a sound that was nearly a growl, he replied, ‘No, Gretchen. I told you twenty times, I know what I’m doing.” He yanked her hand, causing her to nearly fall. “Come ON!”
Gretchen was trying not to cry, but she was worried about her coat. Worried about being where she’d been told not to go. She was supposed to be at home, in quarantine with her family. Her mother and father had gotten sick and she’d heard her mom crying because her little sister was barely hanging onto life.
When Jacob had sneaked into her window and offered her an escape, she’d taken him up on it without even thinking. She just had to get out of that sickly house where everything was dark and sad.
Now as she followed her friend around the back of the barn, she wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. The dead and dried weeds caught at her tights, leaving scratches and making her itch. The chill in the air bit through her heavy coat and the sky was growing dark.
“It’s getting dark, Jacob, I’d best get back before my parents find out I’m gone.”
“Don’t worry, Gretchen, they aren’t going to be mad. I promise. They’re probably too worried about your sister to care much about you right now.”
Gretchen felt a stab of pain at his ruthless observation. ‘Still,’ she thought, ‘he’s probably right.’ She ignored the feeling that she shouldn’t be there and trudged along behind him resolutely. Determined to do something fun for once, without worrying about her sister or what her parents might think.
She heard the sound before she saw it. A small mewling sound, “Jacob! Is that what I think it is?” Her troubles forgotten, she nearly ran ahead towards the sound. Jacob was following her now.
“I think it must be a new litter. You should go see, Gretchen. I bet a new kitten would make you feel better!” His voice has a tinge of something that might have sent a chill through her, if she’d been paying attention. Gretchen was far too distracted by the little bundles of fur she saw through a crack in the old barn door.
“Oh Jacob! They’re so tiny and cute! Come help me get this door open!” Gretchen was straining against the door, trying to pry it open far enough to squeeze through.
“I think you need to take your coat off or you’re never going to fit.” Jacob grabbed her sleeve. “Here, give it to me to hold so you don’t tear it again. Then you can squeeze through and hand the kittens out to me.”
Gretchen immediately unbuttoned her coat and gave it to her friend. All of her attention was on those sweet little kittens. “Hurry, Jacob. They’re going to freeze if we leave them here.” She threw her coat at Jacob and squeezed through the small space as Jacob held the door open as far as he could.
As soon as she was through, the door slammed shut. A loud grating sound of metal on metal sounded and thudded against the door. There was a deep silence, marked only by the mewling of the tiny animales.
“Jacob?” Gretchen’s voice was thready, scared and quiet. “Jacob? What happened? Are you okay?”
There was no reply. She pushed against the door with all of her strength until she realized that there was no give. Something had fallen against the door. Something heavy. “JACOB! Help! I can’t get out!” She looked around her in a panic.
She was in some sort of small storage room at the back of the old barn. The cat had come here to birth her babies in an old wooden inbox from someone’s office, but there was no way out. Gretchen was completely and utterly trapped, with no coat, in the cold, soon to be dark winter night.
With a frantic burst of energy, she beat on the old wooden door until her hands were bleeding and raw. She sank to the hard packed dirt floor as exhaustion and cold wore her down.
Wrapping her arms about her small body, she shivered, the shudder working its way down through her bones. He’d trapped her here on purpose and it was already getting colder. No one would have a clue where to find her, once they noticed that she was gone. She didn’t have a chance.
This is my freewrite using three 5 minute prompts from this week.
You can read more of Jacob & Samuel’s Story here