A mother is horrified when her son vanishes in the woods while on a fishing trip with her second husband whom the boy has complained about. She has a terrible suspicion.
Family can be the most wonderful thing in the world -- or the worse nightmare. For thirteen-year-old Luke Kerrick, heaven had turned into hell when his mother Alice married Jim Langton.
Jim loved his mom, Luke could see that, but he hated Luke. He didn't understand why. He tried really hard to please his stepfather and was obedient and polite, but he could see the hatred in Jim's eyes. Maybe it was because Alice loved Luke so much. Luke thought that maybe Jim wanted to be Alice's one and only love...
Alice believed her new husband loved her son. | Source: Unsplash
Jim was always careful to be ostensibly kind to Luke when Alice was present. It was when his mother was away that the nightmare began. Jim would push Luke around, and once he'd fallen down the stairs and broken his arm.
Being mistreated by an adult is not something children lie about.
Jim had glared at Luke. "One word to your mother and you are DEAD!" he'd hissed in the emergency room, so when the doctor asked Luke what happened, he said he'd slipped on a marble.
That night, Jim came into Luke's bedroom after Alice was asleep. He stood in the doorway, a huge dark shadow. "You keep your mouth shut, boy," Jim had hissed. "Or you and your mama are out on the streets. You want your mama going hungry? 'Cause I promise you that if you open that lying mouth of yours that's what will happen."
Luke knew that Jim hated him. | Source: Unsplash
So Luke kept quiet, and Jim's hidden malice grew and spread and poisoned his every waking moment. If Luke had a favorite toy, it broke. His friends were afraid to play with him, and Jim complained to Alice that her son was lazy.
"Oh, Jim!" Alice sighed. "I wish you and Luke would be closer."
Jim's eyes lit up. "I have an idea!" he said. "I used to go camping and fishing up at the lake with my dad and it was great! Maybe I should take Luke..."
"That's a wonderful idea!" Alice said delightedly. "Just be careful because there are those mine shafts from the old gold prospectors up in those woods."
Luke never told anyone how he hurt his arm. | Source: Unsplash
"I'll take good care of Luke," Jim said. "I promise."
Luke hated the idea of spending a whole weekend alone with Jim, especially isolated up in the woods. He was afraid something bad could happen. "Mom," Luke said the day before the trip. "I don't want to go with Jim. Sometimes...Jim isn't very nice to me at all. He's nasty."
"Oh, Luke!" Alice laughed. "I know you'd rather be home with your books, but you'll have FUN! That's what you and Jim need. A little time alone to get to know each other better."
Jim told Alice he wanted to take Luke camping in the mountains. | Source: Unsplash
"I know him, mom!" Luke protested. "YOU don't know him!"
"That's enough, Luke!" Alice said crossly. "You're going and that's that!"
The trip was just as bad as Luke had imagined it would be. Jim was unpleasant and sarcastic and made nasty jokes. He called Luke useless and a loser because he didn't know how to set up a tent or bait a hook. Luke just kept quiet and kept his head down. It was the best he could do.
On the second day, Jim sent him into the woods to gather wood and that was when the accident happened.
At the mountains, Jim became even more unpleasant. | Source: Unsplash
Luke fell into an old mine shaft and lay there, six feet down, clinging to an old, crumbling timber. He screamed and screamed because his leg hurt and because he was afraid.
Finally, Jim came. "What's all this hollering?" he asked, and then he saw Luke and he hunkered down. He smiled and rubbed his face. "Well now," he said. "This is a pickle and no mistake! A boy who fell down a shaft might never be found again even if a hundred people searched these woods -- especially if he couldn't scream -- and by morning you won't be able to make a sound..."
Then Jim grinned. "I'm just kidding, Luke! I'll get the rope."
Luke watched as he walked away, but the hours passed and Jim didn't come back. It started to get really dark and cold and Luke was very frightened.
Luke went into the woods to gather wood. | Source: Unsplash
He tried to move a little and discovered that he could pull himself up a little at a time if he clung to the old timbers that lined the shaft. It took him most of the night, but he got out.
Luke's leg was badly hurt, but he managed to stumble among the trees toward where he thought their camp might be. He didn't find the camp, but he did find a very old log cabin with a water pump outside.
The pump still worked, and Luke drank some water and washed his leg. Then he tried the cabin door and discovered that it was open. The cabin was dirty and full of cobwebs and bugs but it was a place to rest and Luke lay down on the floor and fell asleep.
He woke up hours later when he heard his mother's voice calling his name over and over again. Luke struggled to his feet and opened the cabin door. "MOM!" he screamed as loud as he could. "MOM! I'm here!"
Luke fell down an old mine shaft. | Source: Unsplash
A few minutes later, he heard the sound of running feet and saw his mom and Jim come running into the clearing. "Oh, Luke!" Alice cried. "I'm so glad you're okay! Jim told me you'd disappeared in the woods..."
"I fell down a mine shaft," Luke explained and showed her his bloodied leg. "But I managed to get out..."
"As soon as Jim phoned me, I drove up!" Alice gasped. "Poor Jim was worried sick!" But Jim didn't look worried, he looked furious.
"Jim knew where I was, mom," Luke said bravely, even as his stepfather glared at him over his mom's shoulder. "He left me there. He wanted me to die."
Alice turned to stare at Jim."Is this true?" she asked, horrified.
Luke found shelter in a cabin in the woods. | Source: Unsplash
"I told you to keep your mouth shut!" Jim screamed at Luke. "Now you and your mother will be out on the street!"
"No, we won't!" Luke smiled. "You see, that cabin belonged to an old prospector and I found his stash of gold. We're going to be just fine!"
"That gold is MINE!" cried Jim and he pushed past Alice and Luke and rushed into the cabin. As soon as he was inside, Luke slammed the door shut and wedged a thick branch against it.
Alice and Luke ran down to the camp where she'd left her car, and by the time Jim had managed to get the door open, they were long gone. Alice sued Jim for a divorce, found herself a good job in a new town, and she and Luke were a happy family again.
Alice and Luke left Jim alone in the woods. | Source: Unsplash
What can we learn from this story?
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who is abandoned by the stepson he raised as his own after his wife died, and is rescued in the most unexpected way.
This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org