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Today's cabin in the woods.
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"Wanna See My Drawing?"
Jimmy Larson, twelve years old, lies on Amanda Walter's bed drawing a picture. He is laughing, then turns on his back and looks up at his drawing. "That should be fun. I think she'll like this one."
Amanda's mother knocks on the door, then enters the room looking around. "Where's Amanda Jimmy?"
"I don't know Mrs. Walters."
"I thought you two were playing."
"We were. Wanna see my drawing?"
"Then where did she go?" Walking over to the bed.
"She didn't say," reaching out with his drawing. "Here, look."
"What is this?" Looking over the drawing.
"It's Amanda."
"Ya. Can't you see?"
"What am I suppose to see Jimmy? It just looks like some kind of monster cut in pieces with blood all over. I don't understand," staring down at him.
'Well, I gotta go. My mom's probably fixing dinner," slipping down off the bed. "I'll leave my drawing. Tell Amanda I'll see her later," leaving the room towards the front door.

A few minutes later Amanda's mom let out a horrid scream yelling for her husband Jack.
"! Jack! Dropping to the floor screaming through her tears. "Jack!"
Jack immediately appeared at the door. "What's going on? Joyce?" Leaning down next to her. "What's wrong?"
Coughing through her tears she points towards the closest. "In there."
Jack stood up and stepped over to the closet. Slowly, he opened the right side door. Looking around, then back at Joyce; "There's nothing there but her clothes and shoes."
"Can't you see? She's there on the floor cut up in pieces...the blood, it's everywhere!"
"Joyce," Jack kneeling down. "Amanda's not there."
"She is!" Standing up reaching for the closet, panicking. "Omg, where is she? I swear Jack, she was here," looking back. "It was just like Jimmy's drawing..."
"What drawing?" Jack staring at her.
"It's over on the bed. Go look for yourself."
Taking up the drawing and looking it over he said, "It's just the kid's imagination. You know how boys are," dropping the paper back on the bed.
"So where's is she then?"
"I'll take a drive around the neighborhood and see if I can find her, then stop at Jimmy's house. She might of gone across the street into woods. She always likes to play around that old mansion. I'll call you."
"Please find my baby Jack. Please!"
"Now you just stay here by the phone. Okay?"
"Ya, okay. Call me."
"I will," walking out of the room towards the garage.

Jack pushed the doorbell on the Larson's front door. Grace Larson unlocked the latch and opened the door.
"I'm sorry to bother you so late Grace, I was just wondering if Amanda was here."
"Why no Jack. Is there a problem?"
"We can't seem to find her," hesitating. "I know Jimmy was over at our place..."
"Come on in, I'll get him," closing the door. "He's in watching television," leading the way into the family room. Jimmy was sitting on the floor drawing. He looked up and noticed his mom and Jack standing by the sofa.
"Hey Mr. Walters. Did you find Amanda yet?"
"That's why Jack's here. Have you seen her?"
"Just when I was over playing with her at their house," standing up with a drawing in his hand. "Wanna see my drawing Mr. Walters? Thought you might like it," handing the drawing to him.
"What is this Jimmy?"
"I saw a car crash in the woods on TV, so I thought I'd draw it. Cool huh."
"Thanks Jimmy, but you can keep it," turning to Mrs. Larson. "Let me know if you see her," stepping into the hallway by the front door.
"I will Jack. Keep me posted too," closing the door behind him.

Thirty minutes later two police officers knocked on the Walters' front door.
"Yes," Mrs Walters asked.
"May we come in ma'am?"
"Yes, of course. Did you find my daughter?"
"That's not why we're here ma'am. Does your husband own a white, 2016 Ford?"
"Yes...why would you ask?"
"There's been an accident."
"Accident? What do you mean? Is he okay?"
"The vehicle drove off a cliff into the woods. When we arrived at the scene he wasn't in the vehicle. Is he here?"
" he's not here. He must be at the hospital."
"No ma'am, we already checked. One of your neighbors mentioned he was at their house about an hour ago."
"You mean the Larsons?"
"That's right. Their son Jimmy gave us a drawing," handing it to Mrs. Walters. "He said you would understand. Does it mean anything to you?"
"Omg, Jimmy drew a car accident in the woods, just like...., you'll have to excuse me officers..."
"Ma'am, we'll need a statement from you."
"Ah...yes, of course...I will later. Thank you officers," closing the door.

"The woods," Mrs. Walters thought to herself. "Amanda always likes playing by that old abandoned mansion," reaching for her coat and a flashlight, glancing at the drawing again. "If his car was found there," thinking, "Jack has to be there with her," pulling up her coat closing the door behind her.

Dark layers of mist hovered over the forest, as melting layers of fog drifted through deep shadows crawling across the landscape. An old abandoned mansion loomed in the distance. Mrs. Walters kneeled down, hearing pieces of leaves being crushed...steps coming closer. "Come play with us mommy..." a child running across her path.
"Amanda? Is that you?"
"Mommy...I'm here," again a child running through the trees. Laughter could be heard in the distance echoing through the walls of the stone mansion.
"Amanda? Where are you?" Moving forward down a path of crushed leaves and twigs. A tree was just up ahead. There was something hanging from a branch. Mrs. Walters cautiously narrowed her approach to the tree. She pulled down on the small branch. Snap! The branch falling to the ground. There resting in the leaves was a drawing.
Kneeling down she picked up the paper. It was a drawing of a woman hanging from a tree with a rope around her neck.
"It's you mommy," Amanda peeking from around the tree trunk. "It's you..." running back into the forest laughing.
Instantly she felt a noose around her neck...growing tighter.
"That should do it," her husband Jack standing behind her.
"Jack! What are you doing?"
"Hanging you...what'd ya think," grabbing the rope over his shoulder then pacing his steps down the path until the rope stopped. He tied the end to a tree. In the distance Mrs. Walter's screams slowly faded into silence.

The next morning the police found Mrs. Walters hanging from the tree with a drawing nailed into her chest. Jack was also found wrapped around some mangled steel after his car had fallen off a cliff into the forest brush. A drawing was also nailed to his chest.

Police Headquarters.
"Here's the forensic report Lieutenant," Sargeant Abrams dropping a file on his desk. "Kinda strange.."
"Alright, let's see what we got," reading over the file. "The father's time of death was was approximately thirty minutes before his wife was hung...found early this morning in his car which crashed," reading the lower paragraph. "Husband's fingerprints were found around the wife's neck," looking up at the Sargeant. "He hung the wife?"
"The prints do match the husband."
"That's impossible. He was already dead."
"Ya I know. Kinda weird huh?"
"It just doesn't make sense. So where's the daughter?"
"Officer Hagen mentioned she was over at the Larson house when he checked in to the office this morning."
"Think I'll go over and break the news. Clean up the mess here will ya Sam?"
"Sure thing Lieutenant."

The Lieutenant knocked on the Larson door. Mrs. Larson answered. "Please, come in Lieutenant," stepping back from the door. "I told Amanda. She didn't seem too upset. Probably in shock."
"I'll go up and talk with her Grace," moving past her towards the stairs, then pausing. "How long has she been here?"
"I'm not sure. But she was here when we got up this morning."
"Okay, thanks," moving up the stairs towards the bedroom. Slowly opening the door, the Lieutenant saw both Amanda and Johnny laying back on the bed holding a piece of paper laughing.
"Amanda?" The Lieutenant stepping into the room. "Are you okay?"
"Sure," glancing over at the Lieutenant.
"How about you coming with me for awhile. You can talk with Miss Harris."
"She's a social worker."
"No thanks. Jimmy and I are kinda busy right now."
"Well, okay sweetheart, but I'll be back later," turning towards the door.
"Mr. Policeman," Amanda raising her voice. "We have something for you."
"And what would that be," turning around.
"It's a drawing we put on the wall of that old mansion in the forest. It has your name on it."
"Alright, I'll check it out," leaving the room.

'Who's next Jimmy. Any ideas," snuggling up next to him.
"Ya, make a drawing of know, like the one I did for you."
"Better watch out, it's gonna be real bloody. And don't forget, it'll make your parents kinda go crazy and die."
"I know...but I'll be back, just like you."
"Then we can go to that place we talked about."
"Ya, nobody will ever find us there."

● Story by Abbie Stewart
● Photo: Abandoned Mansion in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Photographer unknown.

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Ten more minutes to head on out of the salt mines.

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Extraordinary heights. A place so vast I could not explore it all.
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