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Where is James now?” A question among the welcoming party of the boys’ own mother. His aunt, Elizabeth, stares across the empty plains of land across their property. “he must come back at some point, mustn’t he?” She asks her husband, the boy’s uncle, “he won’t want to miss his mother’s return.”

It is only the usual for the boy to run off into the bush on the outskirts of their property. It is only unknown as to where exactly that is. “All but the thorn bushes!” His mother would always say. All in the land around their magnificent, four-story high mansion, created by hand-carved stone and stained-glass windows is centred in the middle of fourteen acres of land and bush.

The isolated house is houses to only two people, the mother and her son. Of course, the boy did not stay on his own while his mother was overseas on business, but the boy lived at his home accompanied by his aunt and uncle, Elizabeth and Peter.

James was often away from home, to the despise of his mother, Meredith, as opposed to doing what he is told by his mother and his current caretakers, who tell him to stay inside of the house and in close range to them so that they can keep an eye on him.

James is a troubled child, there was no doubt among the people that know him or have witnessed his harsh personality. Ever since the disappearance of his father earlier that year, he has supposedly been looking for him wherever he goes.

A creeping shadow, full of rage and frustration from the unsolved case of his missing father creeps into the emptiness of his heart every day of his life. He loved his father dearly, and with every new day, and with every new breath he takes, he looks for him.

Meredith tried her hardest to settle him, life as a single mother at a time like this was hard, having to care for a child that was already disturbed, out on an isolated property like this was hard on its own but to constantly be questioned by the people in the nearest town made her job so much harder.

Surely, it was a tragedy that he had become missing on those early February days, and the boy could not cope with the thought that he still may be out there, fending for himself in the bush on those hot days, and freezing on those cold nights.

A flaw that laid in the father of the boy was that he was what some say, “too connected to his job.” An Ornithologist, and his eyes as well as his heart were drawn too strongly to the beauty of the world that was around him. He loved to be surrounded more by the birds he cared for than his family. But most of all, he had one bird in mind, the bird he had set out to find, a creature no one man had ever heard of. It had possessed his mind completely, even though he had not yet played his eyes upon the creature.

The people called him mad, they thought he was strange when he went into the town, they couldn’t understand how someone could be so obsessed with something they all thought to be false. The bird was a legend around here, only few had seen it.

This bird was the reason that they had moved to this location, it was said to be the only place where the bird could be found. And locals called it a myth but he knew that one day he would find it. Finding this bird would mean an amazing number of opportunities being opened for him, and a chance for him to be finally recognised as a leading figure in his field. He could not live a fulfilled life if he had not seen the bird with his own two eyes.

Meredith of course felt that it was all her fault that her husband had no more lust for her and love for his family, she had not shown her affectionate love to her husband for years, she had surely bored him with her presence, she thought. And he made no moves of the romantic kind towards her. She was old, she had a few of her first grey hairs come in, she had slight wrinkles upon her face and she had nothing appealing to offer but a slim figure. She had always tried to find her husband, she still loved him dearly, but she was too old and too tired to look for him nowadays.

So, the boy made an effort to look for him every day, and not a day would go by that he did not look, until the day that his father was found, and that he could return back home to him.

His theory was unlikely but would not be questioned by the people around him, not baring to see the damage done to him when he would find out that his father would have not survived, and the shadow would completely consume his heart.

Nothing could have stopped this boy from looking. Not even when he broke his arm in autumn on a swing set in their back garden. He still went out and looked for him every day until he could take his cast off, and still then he looked.

Along the dirt road leading to their house on the hill, the boy’s mother approached in a carriage. The horse’s hoofs treaded one the dirt and sticks and made it sound as if there were a stampede coming their way, and could be heard from all the way up to the house.

At this time, it would be questioned as to why the boy’s mother would have worked, and why she would have not just lived off of the money that had been left by her husband in case of an event such as his disappearance, where he would no longer be able to provide for his family. But Meredith, the boy’s mother, was an independent woman herself, and cared greatly about the livelihood of family, and worked to provide for her family even after the inheritance was left for her, although she would be questioned for madness in doing so.

When she had arrived, and stepped from out of the carriage, she had known from the first instant that her son was missing.

Nothing worried her more than the wellbeing of her son, and knowing the whereabouts of his location at all times, especially when she was away and could not comfort him, and no amount of comfort from her sister and her sister’s husband could ever compare to the comfort of a mother towards her own son.

She immediately called a search for him; they must find him before it was night. The red burning sun had already started to set from the horizon of the distant trees, and waves of warmth could be felt upon their skins. She knew that there was no time to wait, and was worried for the worst for her son.

They set off, the three of them, as the carriage had already been set off and was too far in the distance to see, or to call for them to come back.

So, they looked in the usual places, as the sun rapidly went down faster by the second. They looked for him and called out for his name, but they could not find him anywhere.

By the time they had searched their property, it was dark, and the half crescent moon only provided the trio with a small amount of light.

They decided that they must go back to the house to collect lanterns, to provide any more source of light to give them any smaller chance of finding the boy.

This is the part where the deathly realisation hit the mother of the boy… they had checked all but one place, this one place being somewhere James had been told to never go, as the consequences could be deadly to anyone who entered.

The thorn bushes.

The ghastly, deadly thorn bushes.

It was the only place left to look.

They quickly set off to the area, in the far west of the house.

They ran so quickly that they had forgotten all of the surrounding landmarks around them, until they were almost completely lost in the deadly, unkempt bushes.

Although they had searched this land and lived in it for many years, all that they had once known was something entirely different to what was around them now. All they could hear around them is the sounds of their own breaths, their hearts beating, the sticks and leaves being crushed under their feet, and the death squawk of the birds in the area that surrounded them.

Meredith was sure that she had heard every bird on her property, she was married to a bird scientist after all, but she had never heard any of the sorts of what she could hear now. What ghastly sounds could be made by anything she had ever heard before?

Eventually, when they thought they had finally arrived at the thorn bushes, their lanterns went dark, all that showed them where they were going was a small amount of moon light to guide them. The thorns ripped at their clothes, tearing them, and cut their skin, making them bleed and red drops appeared upon their white torn clothes.

Finally, she stopped, and heard the faint crying of who she was sure was the sound of her son, crying for help. It was not a cry yelling “save me!” No, it was a sound of pure devastation.

Her heart felt as though it was ripped out of her body. She could not have felt more broken and she had not even seen what state the boy was even in. No mother would want to hear her child sound like that, cry like there is no hope left in them, like there is no air in their lungs to go on screaming.

She cried out in pain, tears running from her face as fast as the three of them had run to find the boy. She ran towards the sound of her son, she called out his name over and over in a shriek scream. She only had to search for a few frantic minutes for she found him.

What she had felt before… was nothing compared to what she felt at this point…

She could not make out much from her surroundings, but from the blood streaming down her son’s face, she could see was reflected on by the moon, as if the world was trying to show her what she had done. As if it were trying to punish her for her sins.

His eyes were no longer in their sockets, and had disappeared from all that was around them.

And next to her son, she found the dead, horribly decayed body of her husband, and with empty sockets too, with only bones left of him.

She grasped at the boy and fell to the flaw in utter heartbreak. A punishment it was. All that went through her head was the thoughts of every mistake that she had made in her life. She could surely not go on without her closest loved ones.

As the boy approached certain death, she held him in her arms and sang him a lullaby. No one could hurt him in her arms, he was safe now, as if that's any consolation for the pain he had endured before her arrival. Eventually, his moans got softer, and he passed in her arms.

She could not go on any longer, she had died from heartbreak, and in her final moments, she looked upon the branches of the thorn bushes, and she saw the bird, the bird sitting there, feathers glossy and glowing in the moonlight, and she heard its violent squawk, and she knew whose lives it had taken.

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