by Jo Sorensen
The cry woke me up. Instantly my whole body was on alert. What was it, that eerie sound that had jolted me out of my sleep?
The sound came again, a wailing cry, desperate and forlorn. It came from somewhere below the window of our upper-story room. My mind picked up the sound and tried to place it, and then I knew what it was--it was a child's cry. Someone was kidnapping a girl from this dorm where my sister Gwen and I were sleeping. Mother had left us here only hours before, and now our lives were in terrible danger.
I huddled as far down under the covers as I could, quaking. There were five girls in the room to which Gwen and I had been assigned, all 4th or 5th graders like we were. Surely if the kidnapper came back he'd go to a different room, or if he came in our room he'd grab a different child. Not Gwennie, though--she'd put up too fierce a fight. I wasn't as good a fighter; I pushed myself even farther under the blankets.
The cry came again, muffled by the covers but sounding farther away now, as though it came from down the hill behind the dorm. The kidnapper was escaping and taking the child with him. Wasn't anyone going to rescue her? I threw aside the blankets and sat up. Where was the matron? Should I wake her? But I was too frightened to get out of bed and go down the long scary hallway to her room. And it might NOT be a child being kidnapped and then I'd be in trouble for getting her up needlessly. Should I wake Gwen and tell her about it or, better yet, should I climb in bed with her so I would feel safe?
The cry had ceased. I lay back down, tense, waiting to hear it again but all was quiet. As I listened for any sign of the kidnapper returning, I drifted into a restless sleep, unaware that there would be many more nights of hearing the sound of a child being kidnapped--the sound of a jackal beneath the window.
And so I managed to survive my first night in Boyer Hall.