Two weeks after the horrific and tragic death of the Glass family’s stoic elder, Clark Stewart and the puzzling disappearance of Jackson Glass’ youngest son, Harry the family was inconsolable with grief and worry however still hopeful that the young lad will be found.
One of the reasons why they still had hope was because of Harry himself whom from a young age he showed a lot of intelligence and promise so Jackson took it upon himself to teach him the game of chess to which Harry took to like a moth to a flame and in just under 6 months his insatiable hunger for self advancement finally succeeded as he checkmated his father for the first time but by no means the last.
Once Jackson lost a few too many times Clark stepped in and having being a veteran of the genius game he provided a unique challenge to the blooming savant. As much as he tried though he could not beat his grandfather, often becoming frustrated and angry as all young men become but instead of letting his son dwell on his losses Jackson bought him a little portable chess board so he can practice his strategies whenever he feels like.
The board and pieces where made from a North Indian rosewood coated in a varnish that Harry loved the scent of and would often clutch certain pieces while walking through town, this made him more confident and less shy having something that he knew he was great at grasped in his hand. With it he felt he could take on whatever the world could throw at him. It was one of these chess pieces that one of the townsfolk found on the fourteenth night of his disappearance.
That morning after the chess piece was found a very solemn looking portly man who used to be identified as Jackson’s close friend Jonathan Pitt but now looked completely different due to the dark circles under his eyes and pale complexion from lack of sleep showed up unannounced to Kraken Manor.
He knocked weakly on the great door but no one answered and from what Pitt gathered from how unkempt the front garden and porch was he guessed it hadn’t been cleaned since that fateful day. Pitt tried the handle which turned with ease and the door opened with the slightest push.
“Hello?” he enquired closing the door behind him but the only voice that came back to him was his own. He walked slowly down the main hall of the Manor, he must have been there a dozen or so times but every time he was taken aback by its astounding beauty and elegance.
Today was no exception as his eyes lifted up taking in all the artistry and architecture his mouth fell open in awe but he immediately snapped himself forward, ‘today is not a day for sightseeing’ he told himself.
Hurrying through the main hall trying his hardest not to look at all the Manor’s most grandeur designs which held high acclaim with the county’s rich and famous. With its ornate paintings and sculptures the room was largely used as a general meeting area and mostly considered as the heart of the entire Manor however now it seemed more vacant and dark echoing the ongoing emptiness and heart ache the family endured without the oldest and wisest of them and without the inspiring youngster whom everyone knew had a grand future.
This emptiness greatly concerned Pitt who instead of worrying about his close friend, decided to visit Jackson and raise his spirit with the news of the chess piece. Opening the doors to Jackson’s study he soon located his friend slumped over his desk with an empty bottle of rum close at hand.
Creeping closer to him so as not to startle him awake he noticed what the poor man was slumped over, it was a map of Winter Rose forest with the surrounding town. He looked down at his slumbering friend with concern etched on his face, a concern that if they didn’t find his son soon Jackson might be driven mad by grief so with immense care he slid the bottle from his grasp and softly rubbed the man’s back shaking him from his dreams
“Wha?… Who in God’s name?… Oh its only you Jonathan,” he said groggily but alert with every passing second, he steadied himself by placing a hand on Pitt’s shoulder “tell me my friend has there been any news?” he asked desperately with misery in his bloodshot eyes
“Yes there has been an advancement, Jackson, it’s neither good nor bad so just take a second to prepare yourself” he pleaded to Jackson who looked back down at the map, closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Ok Jonathan I’m ready” he said finally
“One of Harry’s chess pieces were found this morning. It was a white knight, does that mean anything to you?” he asked as Jackson’s eyes welled up with tears
“It was the piece he was holding when I last saw him,” Jackson suddenly collapsed into Jonathan’s arms and started to sob uncontrollably “Oh Jon where is my boy? I miss him so much!” Jon put a reassuring hand on his friends head. It was torture to see him like this and he could only imagine how tormented Jackson and his family was but all he could do to help right now is to hold his friend as he wept uncontrollably into his shoulder.
As the sobs died down though he felt it was the right time to tell him the other bit of news.
“Jackson my dear friend, you have suffered more in such a short amount of time than anyone I know. The whole town is worried about you and your family and due to this new evidence coming to light we think it only proper to hold a conference of sorts to reorganize the search party to cover more ground. I’m sure people in the ton would want to show their support also and may I say my friend you may need a lift in your spirits, and I don’t mean the alcoholic kind” he nodded to the stinking empty bottle to which Jackson followed his indication and nodded in agreement.
“I think that might be a good idea,” he relented “however I doubt Francine will be able to make attendance. She is suffering from a melancholy I have never seen in her before. She’s locked herself in Harry’s room and won’t come out. The staff leave her food outside the door and she snatches it up in an instant. I’ve tried everything Jon but she won’t come out or even answer me, I just thank the Lord every night that I can hear her sobbing in there because if I didn’t then I would be immensely concerned. Diana has had to sleep with Jessica in her room which is probably best since Jessica seems to be handling things well, better than her father for sure.” he said guiltily.
He stood up with some effort and some help from Jonathan, marched up to the mirror and studied himself for a moment.
“My son and I will make attendance I promise you, when is it?” he asked with added sternness in his voice, his demeaner recovering from the shallow night of drinking.
“Tonight, in fact a few hours from now,” he replied after viewing his watch but as he looked back to Jackson he saw his friend looking down with his eyebrows furrowed and his fists clenched, tears welled up in his bloodshot eyes once again. Jonathan rushed quickly to Jackson and looked right in his eyes
“We will find him Jackson I promise you, everyone in town still has faith that your son will return and they will never give up until he is found.” He said with conviction, so much so that Jackson immediately embraced Jonathan who was like a brother through this torment and managed a slight smile that had not been seen on his face for two whole weeks. Pitt knew this was a good sign since it told him that this good man was not broken or lost, he was strong and can bear the torture.
A few hours later Jackson and Wayne walked into the local tavern where a large gathering of townsfolk had already gathered inside. Try as he might he could not get through to his wife Francine who sat in solemn silence waiting for her son to come home and by her silence and isolation from him, Jackson believed that somehow Francine blamed him for their son’s disappearance.
Before giving up and leaving he made sure Jessica was alright looking after Diana to which Jessica emphatically agreed to since her father’s drinking of late had started to worry her and this might be the best for him tonight so she urged him to go out.
Standing at the tavern entrance, shocked by the amount of people who had come to show their support. A company of police officers huddled in a corner peering over a map, the lead officer, Sergeant Jacobs, pointed at various locations and discussed in hushed tones how they were going to scour the forest for the boy.
It was shocking to Jackson to see the outpouring of support and love the townspeople displayed. People whom Jackson vaguely recognized walked right up to him and embraced him with genuine affection and sympathy like a long lost brother who had fallen on hard times. It was hard for Jackson not to get emotional but he managed with every breathe not to crumble and used this comforting blast to raise himself from despair and let hope bloom in his heart once again as each and every one of them pledged to never give up looking for his son.
As everyone started to take their seat, Sergeant Jacobs took to the stage to start his presentation, this case was as high a profile can get so an air of professionalism surrounded the weathered Sergeant and from his stern and direct approach Jackson knew his son’s case was in the right hands. He started by informing the public of the news that they found the chess piece and marked a ’X’ where it had been found on the map which now hung on the far wall for everyone to see. Jackson noticed the place they found the white Knight was a fair distance away from Kraken Manor so it is still entirely plausible that his son was just lost and not deceased.
Then Jacobs took out a piece of chalk and drew a semi circle with the rim of it just hugging the ‘X’ and instructed everyone that this was their new search parameter. To Jackson’s dismay the semi circle covered quite a large area and to think his son was there now, cold and hungry made his stomach turn. His nausea quickly abated as he looked around the room at the determined but tired faces that he would never underestimate again. Jackson knew that most of them had already spent hours scouring the woods for young Harry to the point of exhaustion and a certain type of love for these people entered his heart as he understood that everyone single one of them was true to their word, they will never stop searching.
Meanwhile back at Kraken Manor in Jessica’s bedroom Diana was being read a bedtime story by Jessica who had hoped to distract the little girl’s mind from heavy thoughts about their missing brother but as she read on she felt like she was also in dire need of a distraction herself.
Soon the small girl’s breathing started to slow and Jessica could tell from the way she cradled her sister that her heart rate had slowed telling her that she had sweetly drifted off to sleep. She read on quietly for the next five minutes to make sure she was in a deep sleep before softly carrying her to her own bed. Jessica’s mother still hadn’t come out of the twin’s room where she waiting for Harry’s return, this worried Jessica greatly but one last look at the innocent slumbering child made her believe that in time the family will recover.
Jessica’s heart constantly ached for the return of her brother but like her father she was emotionally strong and found that by being there for her father and keeping herself busy with chores is her way of coping with the loss. She carefully closed the door to the bedroom making sure to make as little sound as possible and then crept downstairs with as much stealth as a cat but as she approached the last stair a scream echoed from behind her originating from her room.
She scrambled back up the stairs with no care for the noise her footsteps made since she knew that scream could only come from one person. The second she got to the door she flung it wide and gasped at the empty bed but looking around her room she was relieved when she saw her sister stood at the window with her face pressed up against the glass. Jessica approached her little sister intent on giving her a telling off for the false alarm but when Diana turned to her she knew something was wrong.
Diana’s face was full of fright and as pale as a sheet so Jessica relented on the scolding and instead hugged the scared child.
“Diana, what’s wrong? Why did you scream?” she asked urgently as she rubbed her cheek.
“I…I saw him Jessica,” she replied hesitantly still gripped by terror.
“Who Diana? Who did you see?” she asked with fear creeping in slightly.
“It was Harry! I saw Harry! He was just standing down there looking at me,” she pointed out the window and down to the forest below.
“Diana, Harry is still missing and people are combing the woods looking for him, if he came within a mile of here he would have been found” she tried to reassure Diana but she started to cry so Jessica pulled her towards her and hugged her again but this time she faced the window. Out of tempting curiosity she glanced down at the spot where Diana pointed and to her absolute shock she saw a dark figure the size of a small boy that could only be their lost brother. She gasped, ran out of the room and headed downstairs but not before telling her sister not to follow her.
Within seconds she made it outside to the spot where she saw the dark child-like figure but stood there panting and confused as there was no sign anyone or anything was there. Jessica stood listening and watching for any movement in the woods and after a minute she bit her lip and decided to venture deeper into the darkness with the need to solve her curiosity overriding her own personal safety, it was also starting to go dark which she noticed wasn’t going to help matters.
Back at the tavern the Glass father and son where sat at a dinner table across from Jonathan Pitt and his son. The older and wiser of them were still scouring over the map of the town and the adjacent woods whilst the younger and more rambunctious of them were engaged in what most men with vigor and youth usually did.
They had laid out a number of glasses of malt whiskey and took their turns drinking the foul liquid. It was Wayne’s turn so he picked up the glass, nodded to his opponent who he saw was starting to sway with inhebriation and downed the whiskey confidently before turning the shot glass over and slamming it back down on the table. He smiled defiantly at his opponent.
Thomas may have been swaying slightly in his seat but his eyes where locked onto Wayne’s as if he thought this drinking game was much more serious than it was.
“Y’see I c’n keep up with you rich boy” he said before raising a glass and downing the whiskey with verve and confidence. Wayne looked at him impressed as he had underestimated his opponent and he has made it further than any of the men at his old private school, he knew he would have to come up with some other tactic to get under this man’s skin.
“We’ll see ‘bout that, Pitt,” he raised the next shot towards his mouth but as it got to his chin he paused “Of course either way I’ll be going home with Kathleen” he winked and downed the glass after which he glared at Thomas menacingly waiting for him to make the next move. The strategy worked all to well as Thomas in his drunken state took the casual goading as too much of an offence and since Kathleen was the woman he loved he launched himself over the table at Wayne grabbing him and knocking them both down to the floor. Both fathers were taken aback by both their son’s sudden ferocity towards each other.
“Get off me you fool!” Wayne shouted cowardly as Thomas pinned him to the floor but before he could strike any blow Jonathan Pitt came from behind to drag the raging young man away keeping him from doing something he might regret. The next face Wayne saw however was his father’s with a look of maddening disappointment cast on it, he helped his son to his feet
“What in God’s name do you think you’re doing?” he shouted, “Today is about getting your little brother back but all you can do is drink yourself stupid and pick fights.”
“Me?” his son retorted, “he practically pounced on me,” he gestured towards Thomas who was also getting a stern telling off by his own father.
“So he just spontaneously decided to tackle you to the ground? Somehow I refuse to believe that it was unprovoked,” he gave his son a hard look to which Thomas immediately looked down in embarrassment.
“I apologize father,” he said with an earnest tone. “I got ahead of myself and I promise that it will never happen again.”
“It better not because if it does you won’t be coming back to Kraken Manor and I might not be there to drag you out of trouble again, understand?” he said sternly.
“Yes father,” he yielded.
“Ok good now I suggest you take a walk before you go back to the Manor, work off some of that excess alcohol in your system, do you agree?” Jackson asked rhetorically to which Thomas took the hint.
“Yes father I think that’s a good idea,” he turned to the door but before he walked out he looked back at Thomas who had calmed down considerably but still had a reddened face. “I’m sorry Thomas, truly I am” he said sincerely, Thomas nodded back at him indicating that he regretted his actions too and with that final admittance he walked out of the tavern into the dark but refreshingly chilly Autumn night.