Lightning crackles overhead, threatening my island home. My hair stands on end from the static electricity in the air, letting me know I should seek shelter, but not until I find Toby.
Five hours! Five hours, how could they not find Toby in all that time? The island is only 1284 acres, just 2 miles in width and length. We are surrounded by water and the mainland is a mile away. He couldn’t have left the island, he was too young to power a boat and he knew to stay away from the water.
I never should have let Peter talk me into moving here! The idea of moving to an island where services such as; doctors, hospitals, law enforcement, and stores, are a mile away, across the sea, frightens me. I hate feeling scared and I hate the thought of living on an island. I told my husband of my worries, what would we do if one of us gets sick or injured? What would we do about severe weather? We’d be stranded. My husband Peter, teased me for being overly dramatic. This island is his inheritance; it has been passed down from his uncle. An uncle he hadn’t even known existed until last year, when he’d received the letter from the lawyers.
We had been happy living in Arizona, then the letter came. Peter flew to Washington to meet with the lawyers and learn the terms of the will. After he came back, he was a changed man. He went on and on about the island. We have to live there for a year, before it’s will be completely mine. He cheerfully told us all. I refused adamantly at first. Our family is a close knit one. We live close to each other; we aren’t one of those families that only spend holidays together. We are together for every thing, weekends, shopping and just because. Our children are best friends; I didn’t want to lose that.
Peter, however over came my objections by inviting the whole family to go with us. He offered a new home for both of his brothers and their families and to my sister and her family. They agreed readily, it was an exciting adventure to them. It seemed like I was the only one with reservations. Over the next year, we visited to island several times. The first trip was to see where our siblings wanted their homes built. I have to admit I was enchanted with the beauty of the place. It was heavily forested with deer and other small creatures, wild berries grew every where.
A wide trail led into the forest from the dock, about twenty feet in the trees parted into a wide spacious meadow. A large manor house sat at one end. It was a rambling two story home with a wrap around porch and a balcony off the master bedroom. It needed major renovation because of how long it had been vacant, but I saw the enormous potential. It was agreed by all our family to build in the vast meadow, leaving the rest of the island pristine. I later learned that was part of the condition of the will. It stated that No buildings or roads could be put on the eastern 500 acres of the island and it was marked with no trespassing signs and fenced off. I thought this very strange since the whole island was given to my husband.
The building and renovations commenced with nary a hitch and by August, we all moved to our new home. My husband contracted with the ferry service to deliver our belongings and to return weekly. So, now my worries over shopping and doctors was dealt with. A week after we were all settled in, we decided to have a barbeque. We set up tables in the center of the meadow. The children, all eight of them, played tag at the edge of the clearing. My twins, Toby and Tori, were eight and the oldest of all the cousins. They were fearless and totally at home in the forest surrounding our new home. I however worried about their exploring, but Peter assured me there were no predators on the island. The deer had been brought over by family member’s years ago, according to the papers that had been given to my husband. They were mostly reports of expenses, dating back hundreds of years. Several diaries were thrown in as well. They were what interested me.
About three weeks after the picnic, authorities visited the island. It seems one of the workman that had been on the island had vanished. The foreman assumed he just left, but then the man's family reported him missing. The detectives had traced his movements to the island, the last time he’d been seen was a Saturday, he’d told a co-workers he was going to explore the island, but had never returned. They briefly questioned my family, but since we weren’t living here at the time there wasn’t much we could tell them.
Now my Toby was missing, Peter’s brother had found Tori wondering in the forest east of the meadow. She was tattered and disoriented; she couldn’t tell us where she’d been or where her brother was. Terrified she whispered about a moaning monster in the woods that sucked her brother into hell. It made no sense, but that’s all we could get out of her before she started screaming and clawing at anyone who got near her. My sister had been a nurse and gave her something to calm her. Now she won’t talk, she just mumbles to herself and cries. We have been searching the island ever since.
It was starting to get dark when Peter returned to the house. The threatening storm had dissipated, thank God; darkness added enough difficulty to our search. I met Peter on the porch, he didn’t need to say anything, I could tell by his eyes that he’d found nothing.
“We need to call the police! We can’t find him by ourselves.” I cried out. Despair filled my heart thinking of my baby out there all by himself.
“I already did, but they won’t be here till morning.” Peter sadly said. “Don’t worry, Toby is resilient and brave, we’ll find him in the morning, laughing over his adventure.”
Peter and I stayed on the porch all night, refusing to go inside while our son was out there. Several teams showed up early the next morning, they already had a map of the island and had divided it up for the teams.
“Which team am I going to be with?” I asked the lead officer, he was one of the authorities that had been to the island before, now he was coordinating the search.
“Ma’am, I need you here.” He said firmly.
“NO! I’ve been here; I need to be out looking for my son.”
“No Ma’am, you are staying here. I need all my men focused on finding your son; I can’t spare anyone to watch you. I’m not trying to be mean, but I do mean what I say. Will you let me do my job and find your boy?”
I stared into his eyes, he was being sincere. I nodded to him and went into the house. These last two days have taken a toll on me; I haven’t slept since Toby went missing. I don’t even know if I can now, either. I go up to my room and lay down. I lay staring at the ceiling; I can’t even close my eyes. Its then that I notice the light streaming through the curtains, the beams form a silhouette of a cross. I can’t drag my eyes away from it. My parents took me to church as a child, but I quit going when I was about twelve. I thought I was too old to be dragged to church and my parents didn’t force me to continue. Since then until now, I can honestly say I haven’t even thought about God or Jesus. Now however I desperately long to know if he is real. I try to remember how to pray, but my mind is blank. I vaguely remember seeing pictures and statues of people on their knees.
The cross beckons me, I feel a presence calling to me. I sink to my knees but I don’t bow my head, I keep my eyes on the cross.
“Dear God, I know I’ve forgotten about you most my life. I’ve been arrogant and proud, thinking I was in control of everything. Please forgive me. I know I’m desperate now because my son is lost, but somehow I feel you’re trying to reach me. I’m empty, hollow Lord. I can’t help myself let alone my son and daughter. I need you in my life, not only now but from now on. Please show me you’re there and please become my savior and Pl-ee- asee Jesus save my son. I pray in your Holy name, Amen.
I slump down unto my face, sobbing loudly as a peace enters my body. I slowly sit up, my eyes dry and calmness fills me. I don't understand it, but I welcome it. I have sudden knowledge, beyond a shadow of a doubt that my son will be found. My lips curve into a smile; I raise my eyes to the cross and thank God for his Grace and mercies.
I go into my daughter’s room and gather her into my arms and let her know everything will be alright. I should have been there to comfort her from the beginning, but I am here now. When I go back to my room, one of the diaries is open, lying on the bed. Curiously I pick it up; I know I didn’t put it there. I start to put it back in the box when my eyes landed on the writing on the page.
1684, June 4
The Yamikas have attacked again; it’s the fourth time in the last six months. We have a truce with the Nez Perce and the Okanogan tribes, but they never come to this island, they call it ‘Imawi de palaxsiks sa’xi’, Island of the White Widow. They say she lures the unwary into her woven web, then sucks their souls from them. They said when you hear her wails to beware, that is when she is searching for victims. The Yamikas, however, worship the White Widow. They consider this island sacred ground.
1684, July 8
We lost Johnson and Barclay during the attack last night. The attacks are becoming more vicious. We are trying to make peace with the Yamikas through the Sahaptin tribe, but so far we are at an impasse. They demand we leave the island and that is something I refuse to do. I pray we can find a solution.
1684, Aug 15
Last night two of my sons have disappeared. We searched the island but can find no trace of them. So tonight, I take the battle to the Yamikas.
1684, Aug 16
I am sick to my soul, how could I have become worse than the savages I rail against?
My men and I attacked the Yamika village last night and we showed no mercy.
While they slept, we massacred every soul, but the chief and his family.
“Where are my sons?” I screamed. He silently glared at me. His wife was dragged out of the tent and I cut her throat.
“Where are my sons?” I screamed again. The chief just stared at his wife in horror. It wasn’t until I had my men drag out his three children, did he break.
“Palaxsiks Sa’xi! Palaxsiks Sa’xi!” he cried.
“I don’t believe in the White Widow!”
“Yu no believe of her, but she believe of yu!” he uttered sadly.
“Where are my boys!” I yelled in his face.
“I no took boys! But Palaxsiks Sa’ki wails this moon, yu go to end where sun rises, maybe there yu find boys, but beware for she hunts still!” Disgusted with his superstitious ramblings, I threw up my hands. My men thought I was giving the order and killed the children. In a crazed fury the old chief attacked and we were forced to kill him too. There is blood on my hands and I know I am now bound for hell, but first I need to find my boys.
We trekked to the eastern most part of the island; we heard sounds that caused my flesh to crawl. The eerie wailing set all the men with me into a panic. When they tried to retreat, I fired my musket into the air.
“The next one who tries to flee will end up with a ball in the back!” I shouted. The farther we trekked, the louder the wails became. I had lived on this island for over a year and never have I heard such a noise. Soon the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks mingled with the wails, but I made the men keep marching. I heard a shriek and turned to see one of my men get sucked into the earth. Terrified my men scattered, I ran down to the beach. There I found my boys. They were entangled in a woven web of drift wood; it looked like an intricate wooden spider web. Behind the web was the low mouth of a sea cave. I now know it is the home of the White Widow. Her home impenetrable, except during extreme low tides, when she comes out to hunt. We took down my boys and brought them home for a proper burial. I’ve also forbidden anyone to enter the east end of the island. It belongs to the White Widow. I pray she will leave us in peace if we never trespass near her home. I will demand this of all who live here from this moment and for as long as my descendants live on this island.
That was the end of the journal, I shook at the horror I had just read, but then I realized I knew where Toby was. I ran out of the house and jumped on one of our four wheelers and raced into the forest. I was almost to the fenced east end of the property when I came across my husband and the detective’s group.
“I know where Toby is! I know where Toby is!” I yelled in excitement.
“You found him?” My husband happily shouted.
“Not yet, but I know where he is. We have to hurry before the tide comes in.”
“I don’t understand.” He said in frustration.
“Please, we’re running out of time! Cut the fence down, we need to get to the beach.”
They men quit questioning me and did as I asked. I prayed to God that I had understood what he was telling me as we rushed to the shore. There right in front of us was the wooden web; it was blocking the entrance to a sea cave. The wind was blowing through the cave and making eerie wailing sounds. I understood how the tribes could fear the sound. I ran to the web, I tried to crawl through it but it was to tightly fitted together.
“Toby! Toby! Can you hear me!”
“Instantly I heard Toby’s voice. “Mom! I’m in here! Is it really you?”
“Yes honey, it’s me. We’ll get you out of there in a moment.” My husband ran to me and through his arms around me. The men started cheering.
“Some day you need to tell me how you figured out where he was.” He murmured into my ear.
I kissed him, “Someday I’ll tell you everything.”
“Mom, there’s a man in here with me, he’s pretty weak and will need help to get out.”
Toby said as he came to the wooden barricade; I reached through it and squeezed his hand.
“Ma’am, I need you to move so we can cut through the drift wood.”
I didn’t want to let go of Toby, but he is safe now. I step back with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
“Thank You Lord for saving my son and my giving me a new life to live,”