TITLE: BABY DOE
One wintery night in the woods, a baby is wrenched from the arms of a teenage girl. Searching for the infant in a town of depravity and secrets, young car salesman Bucky Ontario unearths more than he bargained for.
Wayberry, Oklahoma, December 1956
The girl tore through the dark woods to save her baby.
Ignoring her bleeding feet, she raced until she slipped on loose leaves and crashed headlong into a shrub, dropping the newborn. Stunned, she lay still in the biting cold and heard her father yelling and crashing through the brush behind her. She snatched up the wailing baby and pressed leaves against its mouth.
And she raced again, undergrowth tearing at her bare legs. She broke through onto the road leading to the highway. Hesitated, turned, and threw herself across the open stretch and into the brush. She found herself in thick, thorny blackberry bushes. Came out onto a narrow path that she knew would lead back around to her hiding place in the burnt-out hollow of an oak tree.
Weakening now, she sucked in air with a loud, rasping noise. Muscles aching, legs wobbling. She heard her father fighting through the blackberry bushes and flung herself forward with her remaining strength.
She reached the oak and scrambled inside. Pulled up her T-shirt, pressed her baby’s mouth, encrusted with leaves and dirt, to her nipple, and tried to quiet her own breathing. Minutes later, her heart still pounding, she heard the crunching sound of footsteps approach, then stop.
“Come on out, I know you’re in there.” His voice softened. “I’ve never harmed you.”
“You’ll hurt my baby.” She peered through tangled branches into the starry sky. Then blackness swept across like a curtain. Hands reached in and wrenched the infant from her grasp.
“No,” she screamed, scrambling from the tree, clawing at her father’s shirt, reaching for her baby held above his head.
“There shall be no sinful memory, my daughter.”