At a picnic in the mountains in 1891, three children run into the forest to play and are never seen again. More than a hundred years later, Mogi Franklin and his sister, Jennifer, discover a series of clues that bring them to the brink of solving the mystery, only to be thwarted by a resort-building billionaire eager to sacrifice an entire town to build a playground for the rich.
Hanging from girders attached halfway up the canyon wall, the walkway led through a tall, winding, narrow canyon. There couldn’t have been more than twenty or thirty feet between the two walls, but it was a hundred feet high. Scalloped, twisted, sweeping up and around, the walls looked like the curves of frosting on the sides of a cake, smooth and graceful as if a heavenly knife had swirled its way through the rock.
It grew darker as he continued along the walkway, the canyon slowly filling with mist and a thundering noise. At the end, a stairway led Mogi down to the gravel banks of a rushing stream, a few feet in front of a cascading torrent of water crashing into a large pool at the bottom.
The river had cut the canyon, he realized. That’s why the walls were so curved and shaped in swirls. It started way out near the valley and carved itself its own canyon. Close to the bottom of the falls, showered with mist, Mogi’s senses were overwhelmed. The roar of the falls dominated all sound. The cold spray of the water covered his face—the wetness was all he could smell—and the pounding of the water shook his whole body. The longer he stood, the worse it got. He couldn’t think.
He closed his eyes.
Three children at the bottom of a waterfall. Couldn’t hear, see, or think.
Would three children have walked into the falls?
Would they have walked behind the falls?
Mogi’s eyes jerked open and he fell backward, splaying out on the gravel with his feet sliding into the stream. A couple hurried over to help him up while two kids high on the walkway started laughing.
Red in the face, Mogi struggled up, signaled that he was all right, and moved back to the stairs and up to the walkway, looking off to the side or down or anywhere except at the chuckling boys passing him by.
Still red and sweating from embarrassment, Mogi was halfway to the entrance before he remembered the image.
Behind the waterfall.
He felt both elated and doomed.
He wasn’t sure he could afford all the coffee it would take to get Jennifer back up to Thunder Falls.
About the Author
Donald Willerton was raised in a small oil boomtown in the Panhandle of Texas, becoming familiar through family vacations with the northern New Mexico area where he now makes his home.
After earning a degree in physics from Midwestern State University in Texas and a master’s in computer science and electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico, he worked for Los Alamos National Laboratory for almost three decades.
During his career there, Willerton was a supercomputer programmer for a number of years and a manager after that for “way too long,” and also worked on information policy and cyber-security.
He finds focusing on only one thing very difficult among such varied interests as home building, climbing Colorado’s tallest peaks, and rafting the rivers of the Southwest (including the Colorado through Grand Canyon). Willerton also has owned a handyman business for a number of years, rebuilt old cars, and made furniture in his woodshop.
He is a wanderer in both mind and body, fascinated with history and its landscape, varied peoples and their cultures, good mysteries, secrets, and seeking out treasure. Most of all, he loves the outdoors and the places he finds in the Southwest where spirits live and ghosts dance. Weaving it all together to share with readers has been the driving force of Willerton’s writing over the past twenty years.
Praise for The Lost Children
The Lost Children is a consistently entertaining read from cover to cover and highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both school and community library General Fiction collections for young readers ages 8 to 14. —Midwest Book Review, April 2017 _____________
This is an exciting mystery—an exceptionally fun read for anyone familiar with the area around Ouray, Colorado, but a page turner for everyone! —Charles McCown ____________
Death, greed, missing kids, the ghost of a mysterious crazy miner, and the fabulous mountains of Colorado combine with the legends of the glory days of the gold rush in a story of adventure and intrigue. This second book of the exciting Mogi series takes the teen-ager into another mystery as he tries to solve a puzzle a hundred years old. Told with humor and a detailed description of the old mining country, this is a well-written work by an up-and-coming new author. —R. Montz