Today, we are proud to publish the winner of Ooligan’s Write To Publish Short Fiction Contest: “The High Points” by Craig Kenworthy. We were happy to partner with Ooligan Press again to present another piece of short fiction. In “The High Points,” a woman unexpectedly becomes the guardian of her niece when her sister is abducted by aliens. Together, our narrator and her niece journey to the highest peaks in search of their lost sister and mother.
“But when your mom disappears into outer space, why wouldn’t a six-year-old think the best place to look for her is the highest point in each state?”
It’s rude when people give you things you don’t want. Like a child, for instance. Sure, I told my sister that I would take care of her daughter if anything ever happened to her. But Elaine never smoked, always wore her seatbelt, and wore sensible shoes when crossing the street. What were the chances?
And who expects an alien abduction these days? But that’s what happened. Elaine was lifted into the air, along with seven other patrons of a Starbucks in Centralia, Washington. Right off the outdoor patio. The authorities didn’t even try to make up a cover story. Not after all those cell phone videos hit Twitter. Some people even posted that stuff while it was happening. You’d think one of them would have grabbed Elaine by the leg, tried to pull her down.
I didn’t tell my niece Anna any of that. Not that we talked much at first. It messes you up, becoming a celebrity because your mom involuntarily left Earth for Planet X. And you can blame me for that. But you try raising a kid on a nurse’s aide salary. So, yes, I sold Anna’s story to whoever would pay: tabloids, TV, even some weird website that claimed they had been in touch with the aliens for the past thirty years. All of that goes for college. That’s the deal I made with myself.
Six months after the abduction, Anna brought home a library book about the fifty states. I didn’t think anything of it until her school called to say that she had run off while on a field trip to Mount Rainier National Park. A ranger found her above an area called Paradise, heading toward the mountain, carrying a woman’s shoe. Elaine’s shoe, the one that fell off during the abduction. When Anna got home, she refused to tell me anything.