Meant-to-Be Baby(2)

By: Lois Richer

Over there. She climbed a steep hill, reached the summit, gazed around her and then caught her breath. The dogs stood guard beside—a child?

While she descended the hill, Victoria tried to fathom out the situation. She saw no adult, no vehicle, nothing to indicate where the child had come from. When she got closer, she realized the child was a young boy, and he was crying.

“Hello,” she asked, squatting beside him. “I’m Victoria. Are you hurt?”

“Those dogs bited me,” he sobbed and held up his arm to show her a tiny tear in the fabric of his snowsuit. “They won’t let me help Unca Ben.”

Victoria rose, searched the snowy scape before her but saw nothing.

“Where is Uncle Ben, sweetie?” she asked, trying to conceal her concern.

“Over there. He got hurted.” The child pointed to the roadside but still Victoria saw only mounds of snow.

“What’s your name?”

“Mikey,” he sniffed and rubbed one mitten over his tear-covered cheek. “Those bad dogs won’t let me help Unca Ben. They bited me,” he repeated angrily.

“They were only trying to keep you safe. Spot and Dot won’t hurt you.” He clearly didn’t believe her so Victoria sought to ease his fear by grasping his hand. “We want to help you and Uncle Ben, but I can’t see him. Can you show me where he is?”

Mikey glared at the dogs so she gave a command. Immediately they sat and waited. Mikey studied them suspiciously for several more moments.

“Okay.” He finally relented as he looked at her. “But after we help Unca Ben, can I have a drink? I’m thirsty.”

“Sure you can, sweetie.” She patted his hand. “So, where’s your uncle?”

“Down there.” He walked a few steps before pointing downward.

Victoria had to peer through the gloom and whirling snow for several moments before she finally spotted the barely discernible fender of a white car that had clearly slipped off the road, down the embankment and into the forest. Its hood was crushed against a massive pine tree which also pinned the driver’s door closed.

“Good man, Mikey.” There was no signal on her phone. Frowning, Victoria spied a sheltered indentation in the rock face and led the boy there, figuring that since he was dressed warmly, he’d be okay for a bit. “You stay here, out of the wind. Don’t try to follow me,” she ordered firmly. “I’ll go talk to Uncle Ben then come back.”

Mikey frowned. “He’s sleepin’ an’ he won’t wake up.”

Unconscious? Victoria’s heart sank but praying was a habit she developed long ago. Lord? Even after what I’ve done, are You still with me?

“I’ll check on him but you still have to stay here, Mikey.”

“But what if a dinosaur comes? Or a crocodile?” he asked in a scared voice. “Or a bear?” He was so cute.

“Bears sleep in wintertime, honey. And crocodiles and dinosaurs don’t live anywhere near these mountains,” she promised. “Anyway, Spot and Dot won’t let any animals get near you.”

“Sure?” Mikey frowned when she nodded. “I don’t like those biting dogs.” He glared at them as he rubbed his arm.

“They didn’t bite you, honey. They just grabbed on to your coat, to keep you safe. They’re your friends, just like me. Understand?”

Mikey did not look convinced but finally, he nodded.

“I promise I’ll hurry as fast as I can.” After reassuring him again, Victoria slipped and slid her way down the embankment. Every so often, she called encouragements to Mikey and reminded him to stay put. She’d call for help as soon as she’d assessed the situation, after she checked on Uncle Ben. But she’d have to climb higher because there was no cell phone signal down here, either.

The car’s rear passenger door hung open. Probably how Mikey escaped. After ensuring that the vehicle was firmly wedged and would not move, Victoria swept away the snow and peered inside. A very good-looking man, in a military haircut that emphasized his strong jaw, lay sprawled in the driver’s seat with the airbag deployed around him. A bleeding gash marred his forehead, probably where he’d bashed into the cracked side window. He wore a dark fleece sweatshirt and jeans. His unzipped blue jacket looked new. She yanked open the front passenger door.

“Sir?” He didn’t answer. Glad of the first-aid courses her employers had insisted she complete, Victoria quickly checked his vitals. All good. “Uncle Ben?”

He groaned, shifted slightly. Thick brown lashes lifted slowly until big blue eyes met hers.

“Hello.” The slurred words were accompanied by a faint smile.

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