The Tragic Tale of Abby Campbell, Part 5, THE END

The Tragic Tale of Abby Campbell, Part 5 for October Frights Blog Hop.

Final section…we’ve reached the end for Abby…

Park rangers and police organize into two search parties. They peer at a map, dividing the search and rescue perimeter into two parts. Rob peels in and parks behind a police car.  He dashes to the rangers, waving his arms to get the attention of the authorities, while another cop chases him, demanding that he move his car.

Rob arrives at the rangers’ ad-hoc central command out of breath, sweating and teary.  His sadness for whatever has happened to Amy is compounded by the fact that he dismissed his suspicions about Amy immediately and now another baby is at-risk.  But if he is right, the Abby he knew was gone and an evil version of Abby had taken her place.

He relays his concerns to the rangers who immediately set out to search the blue trail and march to the cottage. They find the stroller and an alarm rings out.  Rangers, police and citizens charge up the blue trail. The police try to pull the residents back, but it is too late. The witch hunt is on.

Abby hears the cacophony surging up the blue trail. She is feeding the baby a bottle but the little girl is used to breast feeding and is having trouble grasping the nipple. The interruption angers Abby, who wants to feed the baby in peace.  The trail is closed, she thinks. These people shouldn’t be here! They needed to leave her alone!

The discordant clanging in Abby’s brain becomes louder and the steady hum grows sharper until it shrieks like a badly-tuned violin. She snatches the baby up, runs back in the house and lays her in the box near the bed, placing a blanket loosely over the top.  The baby will be safe there while she spies on these interlopers.

Abby sneaks out the front door, circles around the trail and hides from the mob storming up the trail toward her house. She climbs a tree and manages to crawl from its longer branch to a different oak, just barely keeping balance as the bough narrows out. Up here, she can listen to the crowd below and observe the people who have invaded her space. A dry twig snaps as she belly crawls along the branches.

It is Rob who hears the noise overhead and looks up.  As soon as his head turns, others note and look in the same direction. They spy Abby, wild-haired and filthy, hanging from the tree limbs above.

Rob pushes to the front of the pack and holds the locals back.

“Abby!” he pleads.  “Come down and lead us to the baby. We know you don’t want to hurt her, but that baby doesn’t belong to you!  Her mother is scared.  You know what that feels like, don’t you?  You can’t take another woman’s baby.”

Abby screams, “She took my baby!  That baby is Holly and she belongs to me! This trail is closed.  You shouldn’t be here!  Leave me and Holly alone!” Abby swings from one branch to another like a squirrel, leaping from a larger branch to a smaller one in order to get away. She has this overwhelming urge to hide.  She crawls out on the narrower limb until she overhangs the lake.

Rob entreats, “Please, Abby, come down and show us where the baby is. Her name is Melinda, not Holly and her momma wants her back.  I know this is very confusing for you right now but we can straighten this out when you come down.”

“No!  The baby is safe and she is mine.  You want to get me, you come after me.  All of you blamed me for killing Holly and the truth is that you hid her from me the whole time.”  Abby’s voice rises. “How could you?  Why would you?” Abby wails.

Rob can no longer hold back the crowd or police. Men push through the vegetation mad as hell and looking to lay down some pain.  The police swarm after them, pulling irate citizens back to the trail, herding them back down toward the campground.  One officer shoves his way through the undergrowth and trains his gun on Abby.

“NO!” yells Rob, as he struggles against the tide of people and police.  “Don’t shoot her”

Abby’s world goes strangely quiet.  In what feels like slow-motion, she looks from the gun to the lake. She sees Holly’s face peering up at her from under the surface, and with an unexpected clarity realizes that her Holly is gone. The lake took her. The baby in her house isn’t hers after all.  She reaches out one hand toward Holly’s visage.

The cop sees her arm move and fires twice.

Abby’s body tilts on the branch as she loses her grip. She rolls over as her strength leaves, dropping into the lake, bleeding from her shoulder and right side. The lake swallows her whole, accepting its final tribute.

The crowd watches in silence, until her body is under the water. Then, a shout goes up. The baby is fine, safe in the cottage.

***

No one else truly remembered the story of Abby Campbell, but her death left a hole in Rob’s life.  Twice a month he found himself watching the door, expecting her to walk in, but there was only a blank space where she once stood.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Other blogs participating in the blog hop: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.ca/2017/09/join-october-frights-blog-hop.html

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