The Year Was 1991 by ImSorryMichael
The year was 1991.
I can still remember walking through the school parking lot on that fateful day.
I had just pulled up and parked my car in the second to last spot down the line of other parked cars. As I exited my vehicle, my immediate attention was drawn to the school's field, but quickly shifted to a little boy. His little blue-hooded jacket fluttered in the wind as he ran to the playground about 25 meters away from the field. In the center of the open concrete of the parking lot, a dark colored van had just pulled up. But it wasn't in a proper parking spot. I remember it being parked over top of a hop-scotch outline.
I froze in my tracks when I saw a man dressed in a really low-quality bear suit emerge from the van.
This was obviously out of the ordinary. The school's field didn't have a big game or anything scheduled that day to the best of my prior knowledge. In fact, I came to the school in the first place to be with some family friends, and we were just going to toss a ball around on the field. I even had to be given directions, as I wasn't familiar with the area.
It had been just a few days since spring started, and there were families all over just having fun. So that man in the bear suit couldn't have been a mascot, since there weren't any actual events that day.
I was just going to approach the man when he stepped further and called out to the little boy in a hushed, muffled, but audible volume. What he said still haunts me to this day.
“Hey there, Michael!” he said.
The boy stopped halfway to the playground and looked at him.
“Do you remember me? Do you remember those toys I promised you last time?” he added, which gave the little boy a look of pure excitement.
He willingly ran up to the man and gave him a hug.
“Now, you’re the last of my friends! I didn't think I would have time to get to you! Now hurry up and get into the fun-mobile! The others are waiting for you back at the cellar!”
The boy certainly acted like he knew the man, but this definitely seemed odd. And all I was thinking about in that moment was the story of Adam Walsh, the boy who was abducted from a Sears department store many years before.
That boy’s fate was decapitation.
I was stunned.
And after a period of about 10 seconds that seemed like forever, the van drove off with the boy inside, and the man in the bear suit at the wheel. I quickly got into my car and tried to follow the van, but that was a huge mistake.
Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't know the area at all.
After a series of sharp turns, and long streets, I lost the van. I didn't even know how to get back to the school.
I punched 911 into my mobile phone and tried to explain to the operator what I had seen.
I was immediately surprised at the amateur response she gave me.
“We don’t appreciate prank calls. Please keep the lines open for real emergencies,” she said as she chuckled, and then hung up.
I didn't know what to do.
When I saw the news the next day, the broadcast was plastered with a story about how a 4 year old boy had just disappeared from a playground at a school the day before.
There were hundreds of people apparently helping to search for him. And the funny thing is, I tried to call in tips at first, but I didn't even have the mind in the moment to remember the license plate, so I had nothing. I had witnessed the boy go willingly into a dark van with a man dressed in a bear suit. This didn't help when the parents kept reiterating that their son would never just go with a stranger, or even somebody they knew without asking them first.
But I knew this to be untrue. And I've always worried that the boy’s fate ended up being much worse that of Adam Walsh’s.
His name was Michael Dunahee.
And Michael, I’m so sorry that I couldn’t do anything to save you.