“Elisha, where are you? You know we’re not suppose to be here!” Beth slipped on a smooth rock in the trail. Her phone flew out of hand as the young woman fell into the brush.
“Ouch! Ah man! Elisha! This isn’t funny!” Beth clambered back onto her feet, dusting her jeans off as she looked around. Sunlight shifted between the trees, illuminating the already golden vegetation.
“Elisha come on! I’ve lost my phone, this isn’t funny anymore. We’ve got to get back home, the other’s are waiting for us.
A bird twittered on a branch further up the path. An unseen thing scuttled away into the grass. Beth felt her arm twitch as silence pressed in around her.
It was unnerving to hear her own breaths.
“Elisha?” She called, realizing the loudness of her voice felt to harsh for her surroundings.
Beth looked around one last time for her phone and then continued on up the trail. Brush gave way to fields of grass. The hill she walked on grew steep as the mountains grew before her. She turned back to see where she had come.
I didn’t think we’d come this far. She thought as sunlight glinted back from roofs and cars. The city below spread through the hills and off into the distance. It was spectacular, or would have been if Beth didn’t feel a sudden sense of urgency. The day was waxing on.
Grunting with the effort of climbing the ever-increasing slope, she paused for a minute. Looking around she glanced at the fall leaves.
“I’ve gone to far, she couldn’t have made it up here.” Beth half whispered to herself as took a swig from her water bottle. A flash of reflected light crossed over her face and Beth help up a hand. And as if a magician had pulled a cloth away from a hidden object, she saw it.
“What the?” She blinked a few times, trying to clear her eyes. Has that been there the entire time?
Rough rock walls peered between trees as glass windows shone bright. The house stood in the midst of a cluster of trees. It’s slanted roofs and pitch walls cut a sinister line in the rolling foothills.
Really, how could I miss this? Beth’s face flushed as she realized it didn’t matter. What matters is me finding Elisha and getting off this hill before sundown.
“Come on!” She jumped at her on voice and determination. But it was silly to think that anything more was going on around her. Irritation flared within Beth, and for an instant fear took hold of her.
Just find Elisha and get back down. This is stupid, we should have never walked up this path, or even gone near this mountain. Haven’t they told us not to go up here? And here you are, stupid girl, here on the mountain side, wish some freak house staring at me.
Beth stomped up the path, kicking dirt and rock.
She’s going to be hiding around one of these corners, I know it. Just waiting for me to jump and scream. I’ve had it with all this!
“Elisha enough! I’m turning around right now if you don’t come out from wherever your hiding. This is scaring me!” The words flew from Beth’s mouth and to her horror shook the empty glade. The house continued to stare, wavering in a slight heat.
The young woman tucked her hair behind each ear. She took a calming breath, and then continued on her way.
Only to find that her way blocked by a fence. A black fence, made with some kind of curved wood.
“What is this? Hello is someone just playing a trick on me? Elisha?”
Nothing. The fence crossed the path, which had twisted back in on itself. In the distance she could see a faint line reaching to the house.
“How? What? She stopped an arm’s length from the fence. It was burnt black, with white stones attached to strings. They were lining each bar of the fence, hundreds of them.
Beth licked her lips, knowing something wasn’t right. A fine mist pervaded around it, like a coiled snake waiting to pounce.
Touch it. Whether it was her voice or someone else, she knew not. A burning, no trembling sensation to find out grabbed her. It was then, as she was looking side to side the form hanging above the fence, off the beaten path.
“Elisha!!” She screamed, seeing her friend in the air. Elisha stood tall, with palms facing up, hands spread wide to either. Beth scrambled over rock and grass clump to get to her friend. But when she stood before the figure, it took all her control not to scream at Elisha’s face.
It was gaunt, vacant and distorted Her jaw hung open, in a silent scream, eyes rolled up behind their lids.
“Elisha! Elisha, please be alright! Don’t be dead!” Beth crashed through the underbrush beside the fence. She reach out trying to pull Elisha down onto the ground. But she stopped, short as her hand seared with pain. Jumping back from the pain Beth realized her friends body hung in the air without suspension. Nothing.
“Please all I want to do his help my friend.” Again Beth felt white-hot stab of pain as she reached out for Elisha.
It was at this moment that Beth looked int he houses direction again. She gave a small cry. The house had moved, closer. The glade was now behind the house and it’s windows looked down on Elisha and herself.
And as if electrified, Elisha straightened, shifting in the air. Her mouth closed, forming words with her mouth. All the while glassy eyes stared out onto the world.
The scent of burning flesh intensified as soot and ashes sifted from the blackened fence.
Beth screamed, Elisha shook. And then she disappeared into the sky, body disintegrating to nothing.
Beth could only hear screaming. Searing heat enveloped her. And in the middle of her cry Beth heard the voice again speak, “Touch it.”
Her feet lifted from the ground, and like a child controlling her limbs she moved. Her hand reached for the fence, each finger wrapping around the smooth blackened surface.
With a final gasp Beth felt hair begin to burn. It was hers.
Then she too succumbed to fire.