It was the best place to play hide and go seek.
At least, that’s what they wanted him to think.
It was also the best place to go missing.
Not that they’d tell him. …
He had no reason to suspect anything was amiss. Not when the whole troop of them had ran together all the way to the weathered monoliths that dotted the small glens by the ancient cliffs. Not when the game had ensued with much merry running and grabbing and stone-circling. Not even when most of the children had headed back home for supper as dusk neared, but he was invited to stay “and play a bit longer” with a handful of the most popular kids.
He was new in town. He felt included. He felt welcomed.
He should have felt scared.
“He just disappeared,” they later said. “We thought he’d gone home with the others.”
“It has happened before,” their parents nodded, wrapping arms around the shoulders of their feet-shuffling children and forming a united wall against the ashen faces of the boy’s parents, the newcomers who never should have come, who never could belong. “The boy must have wandered away in faded light and fallen into a sinkhole.”