It’s been a few hours since the amber alert was first dispatched. 7- year-old Jason-Jay Jackson or J.J. by his family and friends, went missing in the dense forest not far from their farm, while playing hide and seek with his older brother and sister. When they couldn’t find him during his turn to hide they started to get worried. They called out his name over and over and then worried turned to fear. They ran back home as quickly as they could yelling out to their parents both extremely distraught. Mom frantically called 911 giving a detailed description of J.J. and headed out with a very concerned Dad to search for J.J.
At first, J.J. wasn’t too concerned that he may have wandered too far away to find a great hiding place. As time passed by and his brother and sister still hadn’t found him he started to get a bit disgruntled and bored waiting for them. He decided he would give up and make his way back to them. Although, it seemed the more he walked the more unfamiliar the forest was getting. He was getting more and more scared by the minute. He kept trying to remember which direction he came from but he was only getting more confused. He kept calling out for his brother and sister hoping that they would hear him.
“Can you hear me!”
“Where are you!” J.J. yelled out.
His throat was getting sore and he was trying really hard to hold back the tears. He tried again to shout for help.
“Can anybody hear me!”
“Can you hear me!” His voice cracking in desperation.
“Why did I wander so far away?” He whimpered to himself.
Back at the farm, the local police and fire department arrived. Family, neighbours, and friends showed up to help with the search. Food and beverages were being prepared for everyone returning from the search. Only to head right back out to continue. The biggest concern on everyone’s mind is the lateness of the day. The fading light was turning into early evening, but it will seem much darker being lost in the forest. The further you went into the forest the denser it became with so many trails to pick.
Ricky and Haley were feeling sick with guilt for losing their brother. They wanted to be outside helping with the search, but they were told it would be safer and help them more by staying inside. They both felt the tension in the air as they could hear the echoes of J.J.’s name being called out into the ascending night.
J.J. was getting tired and decided to hunker down next to a huge tree that had branches that could almost reach the clouds, with a patch of springy grass. He looked around with wide eyes. Since he was not moving anymore he could hear all kinds of noises and he noticed that it was starting to get dark. He was getting cold and gave a slight shiver. J.J. wrapped his arms around his legs and leaned his head on his knees and finally let go and quietly cried. When his sobs slowly subsided he heard a rustling sound coming from the leaves above him and then “hoot, hoot, hoot.” A fluttering of wings and next to him landed an awesome barn owl.
“Wow!” J.J. expressed with fascination.
“Are you lost too?”
“I can’t find my way home.” J.J. let his brand new friend know with sadness.
J.J. kept very still watching his new companion with caution. The owl nudged closer to him and leaned against his leg. J.J. reached out his hand and gently stroked the owl's feathers.
“You’re so soft.” He said with wonder.
“My name is J.J.”
“Do you have a name?”
“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“I think you look like a boy, so I will call you Barney.” J.J. revealed.
“I just want to get home Barney.”
Barney hooted a few times and backed away. He looked at J.J. with his big eyes and hooted again. He started to walk away and slowly turned to look at J.J.and hooted. Barney walked a little further away, turned, looked and hooted again. J.J. got up and curiously started to follow Barney.
“You want me to follow you, Barney?”
Barney flew up into a tree and landed on a branch and hooted. He flew from tree-branch to tree-branch hooting, all the while J.J. was running to keep up. J.J. didn’t know where he was going but he instinctively knew he needed to trust Barney. J.J. pushed branches out of his way as he zigzagged in and out of trails keeping a constant eye on Barney. Suddenly, J.J. found himself in a clearing and it looked familiar. In the distance, he could hear his name being called out.
“That’s my family, Barney!” Exclaimed J.J. excitedly.
Barney continued flying from tree to tree hooting into the night, so J.J. could still follow him in the dark. He could tell they were getting closer because the voices yelling his name were much clearer than before.
“I’m here!” J.J. hollered loudly.
J.J. heard his Dad’s voice barreling over everyone else’s.
“J.J. we hear you! Stay where you are. We’re coming!”
Barney flew quickly through the air with acute speed to cut through the distance between him and the search party. Once he was close enough he hooted. J.J. understanding what Barney had in mind and bellowed.
“Mom... Dad...follow the barn owl. Follow Barney!”
Barney made himself heard with more hoots and luckily he was visible with his white feathers that stood out in the night. The search party was able to follow Barney who brought them right to where he had left him. His mother and father came bursting through a trail and saw J.J. there unharmed and their relief was immeasurable.
J.J.’s mom was crying and hugging him and crying and hugging him really tight.
“Mommy, Mom! I can’t breathe.”
“I’m sorry, baby. I’m just so glad you’re okay.”
“Let’s get you home big guy.” His Dad said as he tousled his hair.
Once he was home he had supper, a hot bath and retold his adventure in the forest to Ricky and Hayley. Now he was snuggled in bed and was starting to fall asleep when he heard from outside his window.
“Hoot, hoot, hoot.”
J.J. slipped out of bed and went over to his window and opened it. He stuck his head out and saw Barney perched on a branch of a nearby tree.
“Thank you for rescuing me.” He whispered gratefully.
“Hoot, hoot, hoot.”