Writing Prompt submission:


Written by Tim Yingling

“Is that? It can’t belong to….”

“I do believe it does, Deputy,” Detective Travis Martin said. “You better head back and radio for the sheriff to get out here. The Tyler case is getting reopened.”

The deputy didn’t argue the order given. He took off as Martin continued to stare at the rusted, waterlogged ten-speed mountain bike. Why a kid wanted a mountain bike in the plains of Indiana never made any sense to Martin, but most of the kids from the area loved to ride them in the country.

The memory of the case came back to haunt Martin more times than he could count over the last sixteen years. It was the first big case he worked after joining the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

Andrew Tyler left Eastern Greene County High School at the same time as every other kid. He wasn’t old enough to drive yet, but he loved to ride his bike everywhere he went from the reports. One of his friends said Andrew went to the bogs north of Solsbury. No one could figure out why Andrew went out there, though. Rumors surfaced that a body could be out there, but after the search for Andrew, they found nothing – neither Andrew nor another body.

His parents didn’t call the Sheriff’s Department until the next morning. They figured Andrew stayed at a friend’s house without telling, which he’s done before. After calling everyone they knew he would stay with, they realized their son had gone missing. Normally, the Sheriff’s Department would wait for a full twenty-four hours before filing a missing person’s report, but seeing as the person missing was someone under eighteen, they acted immediately.

The search started at the family home. Of course, the parents protested this as he never went home the night before. The detective at the time needed to let them know it was just procedure, and they didn’t think the parents had any involvement in Andrew going missing. The department stayed at the parents’ house for a matter of an hour, finding nothing that would give a hint as to where Andrew could have gone. With the parents’ permission, the department took Andrew’s laptop to have tech personnel look through it.

While the tech personnel looked through the computer, the detective went to the high school to interview Andrew’s friends. Everyone said the same story: Andrew went to the bogs to look at something, but they didn’t know exactly what or where. That at least gave the department a starting point to work with. The detective requested a helicopter from the State Police to scan the area. Two hours of searching in the helicopter resulted in nothing they could use.

By the time the detective landed, the tech personnel got into the computer and found something that may help. An old campfire story resurfaced a couple of weeks before Andrew went missing of a beast making its home in the bogs. The detective went back to work talking to Andrew’s friends to see if they had heard the story, which all of them did but didn’t believe. It seemed only Andrew believed the story to be true.

The working theory at the time was that Andrew believed the story so much he decided to go out to the bogs to investigate and got lost. It was still early in the day when this theory came to light, giving the Sheriff’s Department plenty of time to organize a search party. The Adam Alert went out to all agencies with a request to assist in the search for the missing child. More than two hundred people helped in the search. Some showed up with their canoes or fishing boats to help.

The Sheriff needed to make sure they did this in an organized manner. He instructed the detective to head up the ground search party while he took the boats into the bogs to search. After three days of searching from sunrise to sunset, they found no trace of Andrew in the bogs. Sure, on the first day, they found bike tracks leading to the bogs, but that wasn’t too uncommon – a lot of kids loved to ride out there. They didn’t think anything of it.

Flyers went out to every county in the state, as well as the four connecting states to Indiana. After three months of nothing to show for the investigation, the Sheriff moved the case to the cold cases section.

The detective kept tabs for any information he could gather over the next ten years, but nothing ever came to help him. When Detective Travis Martin took over as the department detective, he continued with the process his predecessor implemented. Every year on the anniversary of Andrew Tyler’s, Martin sent out a public service announcement over the radio and TV stations for any information on the disappearance. At first, people sent in information that could possibly help, only to find out the leads led nowhere. By the time Martin took over, no information came in.

That was until now. Someone heard the public service announcement and remembered something he saw while out noodling in the bogs. It was the part in the announcement of the mountain bike Andrew rode. He didn’t think it would help, but he called the Sheriff’s Department to Detective Martin. Martin took the note down and grabbed one of the deputies to go with him to the bogs. They searched for almost an hour before they found the bike. It took less than two minutes to realize the bike belonged to Andrew Tyle, seeing as how they found his faded name written under the bike seat.

Martin had to wait thirty minutes for Sheriff Potter to get to him. Potter arrived with Mr. Tyler in tow to examine the bike. The man broke down, only being able to nod the bike belonged to his boy. Sheriff Potter motioned for one of the two deputies he brought along to take Mr. Tyler away.

“What do you plan to do now?” Potter asked of Martin.

Martin didn’t answer right off. He stared out to the bogs, thinking. There’s nothing to say Andrew’s body could be out in the bogs, but that didn’t mean they still shouldn’t check.

“I hope you have over boots in your cruiser,” Martin said. “The lack of rain we received this summer helped in the recession of the bogs. We should be able to walk this one looking for the body.”

“I agree,” Potter said.

The men didn’t need to say anything else to each other. One deputy stayed with Mr. Tyler while the other four moved out to the bog. They started at the bike, staying five meters apart, and walked in an east-northeast trajectory through the bog. After seventy meters, the deputy on the far right found Andrew’s backpack. He lifted it to show Martin and Potter how torn to shreds it looked – almost as if an animal ripped it apart.

Potter ordered the deputy to keep a hold of the bag, not realizing it was the deputy’s downfall. They traveled another fifteen meters only to find clothes torn to shreds as well. No one could tell what the clothes consisted of due to their sixteen years in the bog. They left the clothes where they were and continued.

After another hundred and ten yards, they started to find the bones of animals – most of them crushed. Martin was beginning to understand what he saw. He stopped everyone from going any further.

“What’s the issue?” Potter asked.

Martin pointed forward to his left (a spot between himself and Potter, almost in the middle of their search party). “That’s an alligator hole.”

Potter looked to the spot and realized they had possibly made a mistake. “Okay, guys, let’s start backing up.”

No one argued the order. The four men turned and made their way back. The deputy carrying the bag only made it two steps before he fell. Everyone stopped to check on him, only for him to say, “It’s okay. I just found a hole.”

He tried to stand, only to get knocked down again – this time from the front. None of them saw the alligator hidden in the weeds of the bog. It shot out, taking the deputy’s leg and dragging him along the water. The others pulled their pistols but didn’t take a shot at the alligator, fearing they’d hit the other man.

Still, they lost track of where they were looking. Another alligator took Martin down and dragged him to the alligator hole. Potter didn’t waste time yelling for the last man with him to run. They didn’t make it, though.

Mr. Tyler waited in the cruiser for two hours before anyone arrived. He told the new deputies what Sheriff Potter and the others did after they discovered the bike. The deputies went out looking for Sheriff Potter but never came back. Another hour later, Mr. Potter finally got out of the cruiser. He instantly wished he didn’t when the hissing noise from two feet to his left.

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