Indie Book Spotlight: Who Will Find Her?, by Ryan Young
It's been one year since the disappearance of beloved high school track star Melody Anderson. The small town of Hawksboro, North Carolina, has only started to recover from the media frenzy that's being fueled by a self-serving news anchor. As the case goes eerily cold, her suspected captor, a known predator with a history of violence, hasn't been seen in months. On a crisp autumn night, tragedy strikes again.
During a packed high school football game, 14-year-old Cheyenne Holt vanishes from a park bench while spectators cheer on the home team. The sheriff is stunned and incapable of reliving the nightmare of the past year. He immediately labels her a runaway, killing any chances of a public outcry or coordinated search effort.
No one is coming to help.
With the weight of injustice pressing down on her family and friends, those closest to Cheyenne vow to find her by any means necessary. Four friends venture into the vast wilderness searching for answers and willing to face whatever monsters await. Whether it's the lead suspect in Melody's case or someone worse and far more dangerous.
Someone closer to home.
A light sprinkle drops between the branches and dampens the dusty path before her feet. She can see the growing dark orbs of water among the lighter, dry dirt. A rumble of thunder makes her think twice about continuing. Melody has run plenty of times in the rain, in fact, she finds it to be a refreshing and exhilarating experience, but she knows enough to not mess around with lightning. She can always turn back.
Fifteen minutes down the trail and the thunder has grown louder and the flashes more frequent. Melody is getting nervous but can see the turnaround loop up ahead. There’s a small bench with a roof and a worn, faded map of connecting trails above it. As she makes it to the dead end, lightning explodes around her. The instant crack of thunder rattles her wet and shivering body. Her socks are saturated but haven’t started to rub to the point of blisters. She wonders if she should wait under the small roof for the storm to pass or run through it and get back before sundown. The clouds have sucked the majority of the light out of the forest, advancing the darkness by an hour or more.
Melody feels for her phone and digs it out of the waist pouch. She rests her back against the upright log that serves as the support for the wood-shingle roof. Another terrifying explosion of lighting causes her to wince and cower. She fumbles with her phone, trying to bring up the call list. Scrolling through the RECENTS, she searches for DAD. He won’t be happy but she should be able to get back to the trailhead by the time he can get there to pick her up.
Her hair stands on end and she cowers, waiting for the boom of thunder but realizes there was no lightning, but a cough. Or someone clearing their throat. Melody whips around and peers into the thick growth, water running over her eyes and reddened cheeks.
“Hello?” Her lips quiver as the dampness extracts the heat from her core. “I’m on the phone with my Dad, do you need a ride?” She calls out, bluffing.
A shape moves among the depth of the trees. She can’t tell if it’s a shadow or a coat, or nothing at all. It’s obscured by sheets of falling water. Melody releases a long exhale to try to calm herself. Her thumbs slide over the phone to wake it up. Water has dripped onto the screen and she can’t get it unlocked. It vibrates with each failed attempt. She thinks about hitting the EMERGENCY CALL option but decides against it. She’s never done it and doesn’t even know what it would do. Does it open the call app? Does it call 911 immediately? She doesn’t want that, how embarrassing that would be.
“Shit!” She wipes the water from her forehead and tries to dry her hand on her shorts.
Branches crack or settle, in the downpour. Melody can’t be sure. The woods and storm are playing with her mind. She’ll laugh about this once she’s in the warm cab of her dad’s truck.
“Come on, come on.” Melody finally gets the phone to open and scrolls once more to see DAD on the list. She presses down on the name and the CALL, TEXT, VIDEO options appear.
The sound is distinct and horrifying. But it can’t be real. She’s alone. Until she realizes that she’s not.
She pushes her thumb down on the CALL button but it doesn’t register. Before she can try again, a gloved hand covers her mouth and yanks her into the darkness. The phone falls into a muddy puddle at the base of the bench, accumulating raindrops on the still-active screen. One drip hits above the CALL button and slides down the glass. As she fights, grabbing and kicking while being pulled backward, her eyes never leave the phone. She prays the call will go through. Wills the water to make the selection. Then the screen goes to sleep and the number is left undialed. Her hope and consciousness fade as one.
About the Author
Ryan Young is a writer and video producer with nearly twenty years of experience in the creative industry. After graduating from the inaugural Film Bachelor's program at Full Sail University, he fell in love with writing, producing, directing, and editing. Ryan lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife and daughter. When he's not writing or filming, he enjoys cooking, working out, and traveling to places with some elevation. His debut novel, KEEPER OF THE DEAD, was released in September of 2022 in paperback and an audiobook is forthcoming.
Purchase & Connect
Buy Links for Who Will Find Her?
Purchase in hardcover, paperback, or read FREE with Kindle Unlimited
Purchase in paperback or hardcover at Barnes & Nobles
Buy links for Keeper Of The Dead
Purchase in paperback or Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited
Purchase in paperback at Barnes & Nobles
Social Media Links
Check out Ryan Young's debut novel: Keeper Of The Dead