by J.P. Fischer
Time is running out, as a desperate girl calls for help.
| "Hello?" Squeaked the voice from the other end of the line, a young girl. "Are you a policemen?"
Howard looked uncertainly towards Anna, who nodded vigorously.
"Yes, this is a policeman," He said, not quite sure how to address a minor. "What's wrong... little girl?" He added awkwardly. The other party bristled with silence for a moment, before;
"There's a man outside my window sir." She said, her voice laced with fear. Howard glanced at Anna again, who mouthed the word 'Dyatlov'. He looked away, snatching up some paper and a pen.
"What's your name?" He queried.
"My name's Benet. May a policeman please come and help?" She added politely.
"Benet, are you home alone?" He added, his heart pumping furiously. He hadn't doubted Dyatlov's threat, but then it had seemed so far away, different to the feeling he had now. An innocent child may have been about to die.
"My daddy's home, but he went outside to feed Sam."
"Sam?" Howard asked, his fear giving way to confusion for a moment.
"He's our doggy." She stated matter-of-factly
"Has he been gone long?" He said, as the roof started rattling with huge plunks. It had started raining. Silence for a moment, then;
"I'm not sure." It sounded like she was almost crying, though it was hard to tell. He could hear the rain, even on her end.
"Benet, could you please describe this man to me?" He said, some excitement mixing with his anxiety now. An appearance could lead to a composite, which would be their biggest lead yet. More silence, then;
"He's wearing a big, long jumper, and he has a scary-, a-a mask on." She stuttered, as his spirits dropped.
"Is he tall? Fat?"
"He's tall, but he's kind of skinny. May a policeman please come soon? He's... He's scaring me." He looked uncertainly at Anna, who nodded grimly.
"I can only reach you if I know where you live Benet. Do you know your address? A number, on your house perhaps?"
"There's a number on our letter box." She said uncertainly.
"What number is it?" He said, pen and paper at the ready. He heard her shifting for a moment, then;
"27, great." He nodded at Anna, who started shovelling equipment into her handbag.
"Now Benet, you're going to have to follow my next instructions very carefully, he said, as slowly as he could.
"I want you to look out your window. Is the man still there?"
"Yes." She said, her voice cracking with fear this time.
"I want you to ignore him Benet, just for a moment. Now, look along the road outside. Is there a street sign somewhere?"
"Yes, at the corner of the road."
"What does it say? Can you read it?"
"I think so.. Greenshaw.. errd."
"Errd?" He asked. "What are the letters?"
"R and d."
He glanced at Anna, who mouthed 'road'.
"OK Benet, now I want you to do one last thing. Is the man still there? In the same place?"
"Yes. Please come soon!"
"I will," He reassured her. "Now, grab some food and water." He heard her shuffling around, and the fizzle of water spraying out of a tap.
"Now I want you to go into the bathroom, and lock yourself in." He said slowly but calmly.
"Can I take a book?" She asked.
"Of course. Now, are you in there?"
"Now I want you to lock yourself in. Don't come out until you hear me say 'Howard.' OK? What was the word?"
"Howard." She said. She sounded slightly calmer now.
"OK Benet, a friend and I are on our way. Try to be quiet, OK?"
"OK." She said nervously.
"I'm going to hang up now, but I swear, I will be there soon!" He said, grabbing a local map off the shelves and shovelling her details into his coat pocket.
"Wait!" She said, rather loudly. "Are you a real police officer?" Howard hesitated for a moment, then said. "Of course I am. Sit tight Benet, we'll be there soon." There was silence for a moment, followed by the piercing sound of a telephone's beeping.