Come on an adventure with Jack and follow along as he writes his new book in real time! Here is chapter 17.
by JACK DEY
A whisper from the wilderness calling.
Taking a break and sitting on the remains of an ancient wooden gate, Ish and Caylin were quiet as they rested their feet, each trying to reflect on the hollow findings of the past five hours. Ish stared up at the brilliance of the starry host, silently asking for guidance, but the night was unusually troubled and the God he relied so much upon had fallen unnervingly silent, almost out of reach. This strange new assignment was already stretching both Ish and Dani and testing their faith to the breaking point. Turning his attention in the direction of the farmhouse, Ish could no longer see the homely glow from the trailer floodlights and he prayed that it was just the undulating terrain and the distance that was the culprit. As he’d expected her to do, Dani had cranked up the generator as soon as it had gotten dark, flooding the ruins and a small part of the search area with light in case Lisa returned, a tactic he would’ve used himself. He knew Dani would be safe locked inside their home, but it still bothered him that he could no longer see the floodlight glow from where they were. Whispering another covering prayer for Dani—the thousandth for the night—Ish refocused onto Caylin’s bedraggled form morosely staring at the ground.
Caylin’s voice strained and interrupted the quiet and when he spoke, the emotion almost choked him, but he managed to reign it in. “What… uhum… do you think’s happened to Lisa, Ish?” The defeat hung like the poised blade of a guillotine threatening the slender man as if his neck rested in its stock.
Ish inhaled loudly, buying himself time before he answered, but Caylin continued on as if he’d already replied.
“Has she run off with that Goliath bloke? It’s obvious she’s nowhere out here.”
“No, Caylin, she hasn’t. The fear and hatred associated with what he did to her was real, and far too great for it to be an act. I don’t understand where she’s gone or why, but I know my God does, and I’ve got a feeling in my spirit that she’s still somewhere on the property or close by. Trust God we’ll find her, Caylin. Lean on your faith. She’s in Papa’s hands.”
Caylin’s accusing glare pinpointed all of his learnt unbelief on Ish as he tried to swallow the empty lines he’d heard so many times before in church. When the trusting believer didn’t get whatever they were asking from god, the elders were quick to harangue and abuse them, calling their faith into doubt, but always pinning the blame on the believer and not their suspect teaching and leadership.
Quietly begging God for a clue and scrutinising a significant piece of evidence, Ish went silent. At one point as they’d crossed a deep, dry and rocky riverbed almost cutting the main paddock in two, there were pertinent indicators of human footprints encased in dry mud, but the river had obviously been dry for quite some time and although the footprints were concerning, it would be a massive stretch to connect them to Lisa’s disappearance. Tired, hungry and eager to end the fruitless search, Ish called to Caylin, “Come on. Let’s take a look in the forest and then we’re probably better off calling it for the night. We could be walking right by her and might not see her.”
Ish didn’t understand why God seemed so evasive and tacit. Was He stretching Ish’s faith while still expecting him to mentor Caylin? Somewhere In the pit of his gut, Ish began to feel uneasy. Something was dreadfully wrong and he suspected Lisa was at the core of it. Changing tack and crashing into the thick, vegetative undergrowth, the searchers pushed a path into the rugged neighbouring forest directly opposite the farm’s northernmost fenceline and the furthest point from the homestead ruins. The two men had examined every nook and cranny and under every stone within the boundary of the Palphry Brook Lane estate… at least twice. To all intents and purposes and as far as Lisa was concerned, the farm was clean, with no evidence of a scuffle or anything suspicious that would indicate she had been taken by force or against her will. However, it was still possible they’d missed something important, but God still wasn’t telling Ish.
Ducking and weaving around the extreme vegetative barrier, they trekked deeper into the forest, their booted feet crunching and snapping fallen branches as they blazed the path. If anyone untoward was hiding in the maze of green, they would’ve heard them coming a long time back and escaped before they were discovered. As Ish swept the torch beam in a wide arc, the trees reflected the light back into his eyes and it made them feel increasingly itchy and tired. Suddenly pausing, Ish dowsed the torch and listened to the haunting calls of the night. An owl had been tracking them, watching with advanced night vision—courtesy of its creator—from the canopy and every now and then had added a deep, sonorous ‘hoot’ just to keep them alert. Caylin’s view ahead had been blocked by Ish’s massive frame. Exhausted himself and verging on frustration, Caylin huffed but continued shuffling, making a kerfuffle with his agitated movements and wondering why Ish was acting so weird.
“Sshhh!” Ish finally hissed, bringing Caylin’s fidgeting to an abrupt halt.
It took many seconds for Caylin’s eyes to adjust to the starlight, but he could see now the reason for Ish’s concern. Directly ahead and clearly visible from their veiled hiding place, the searchers had come across a suspicious clearing. After awhile and convinced they were alone, Ish flicked on the torch again. Watching as Ish focused the beam, first on a fire pit and then to the extremities of a bizarre circle to a collection of roughly placed wooden lean-to’s, Caylin wondered if he’d actually found something terrible in the old bush camp and wasn’t letting on.
“What is it?” Caylin whispered harshly, tensing and expecting the worst but wanting an answer, no matter how testing.
“We gotta get outta here, Caylin! This aint no place to be in the dark,” Ish rasped, but before Caylin could object, Ish had pushed past him and was noisily heading for the farm.
Taking a glance at the bush camp behind him, Caylin saw nothing but darkness. Figuring Ish meant business and with the torchlight swiftly moving away from him, Caylin had no choice but to pick up speed and try to catch the big man before he lost orientation in the forest gloom. Crashing through the tangled undergrowth, unconcerned with the level of noise he was making, Caylin didn’t seem to understand the significance of Ish’s find or his aversion to the old bush camp, but he was sure it didn’t have anything to do with Lisa. If it did, Ish would’ve told him, no matter how gruelling and would be acting differently than this. Now Caylin had to face the fact his wife was still missing, and the thought of a sleepless night knowing she may be hurt, in deep trouble—or worse—while he rested, didn’t sit well with him.
Without waiting for Caylin to follow, Ish was making a determined stride for the farmhouse ruins and Dani.
Focusing on the key and trying to work up the courage to extinguish the generator and the floodlights, Dani swallowed hard, praying fervently for protection and for Ish to return. The strange light aura had frightened her to the point of panicking. With its ability to appear and vanish, she still wasn’t sure that complete darkness was the appropriate thing to do. Kneeling on the floor and expecting a burst of bravery, she prepared to pounce, but before she could flex another muscle, something scraped and then bounced off the outside of the roof. Seconds later, the gentle hum that had kept her company throughout the whole ordeal began to falter, and with it, the lights surged and flickered. Terrified as the power fluctuated and strobed the scene outside the kitchen window—dark..light, dark..light—Dani began to tremble. Suddenly, everything went black and eerily silent as the generator failed completely and left her in complete despair.
“What on earth is going on?!” With her body tingling with fear, Dani dropped back to the floor, lying flat and holding her breath, wondering how this would end and praying like she’d never prayed before.
Yak back to Jack