We’ve been searching for twelve hours now.
The volunteers from the village have taken three hour shifts, but officers, friends, family have worked through.
I sent Baker away two hours ago. He’s got a six-month-old daughter so he can’t remember what a good night’s sleep feels like.
‘I wanna stay,’ he said, though even in full sun he looked green, pouches of grey under his eyes. ‘I know how I’d feel …’
‘I know, son,’ I said. ‘But you’re no use to me half dead. What if you miss something because your body’s moving but your brain’s asleep?’
That was what made him go. He’d hate to be the one that missed something important. Wouldn’t we all.
Still, I can’t take my own advice. Couldn’t sleep if I left now, anyway. May as well be useful.
Harris is standing three feet away. I can’t see his size 12 boots for snow. Flakes have gathered on his shoulders and I imagine the wind whipping drifts against his collar.
The look in his eyes snaps me alert.
‘Down there,’ he says, pointing to the trickle of water the locals call Shimmy’s Brook.
Choked with twigs and dead leaves, snarled in the ice is a scrap of something blue.
I inhale crisp, clean air, know this will be the last time these woods will feel clean.
‘Come on then, son,’ I say. ‘Show me what you’ve found.’