They were nearly out of breath now, at the limits of how fast their legs could carry them through the tall grass beyond the fence. Cecelia turned her head, looking back toward the house, raising the lantern to extend her view. But it was of no use, there was nothing to see, even as the ground shook with every footfall of the thing that followed them. Hester called to her… “Faster, Cis! This way!” …and they spent what little energy they had left in a mad rush for the cover of the forest. The leaves crunched underfoot, betraying their direction, and they ducked under a fallen tree, huddled together, shivering in the cold night air. A thick mist hung low to the ground, obscuring the girls from view, and they took care to stay beneath it in hopes of evading the thing that pursued them. What it was they did not know.
It had all started out innocently enough, weeks ago, when Cecelia noticed a few things out of place. First, there was the tea cup on the counter that she had been sure wasn’t there when she went to bed. Then the painting on the floor of the hall that had fallen off its hook for no reason she could tell. That in itself wasn’t terribly odd, except that she continued to find it on the floor each day, and each day she returned it to its rightful place on the wall. Hester hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that her hairbrush had gone missing from the vanity in her room or that the cupboard doors were left open in the kitchen. But the dead birds in the yard drew their suspicion and when the sisters began to hear whispers in the dark, they worried. Tonight, though, the worry turned to fear.
Cecelia lay awake in her bed when she felt it shudder. It was an odd feeling and, as she hadn’t moved herself, she was confused for a moment. It shuddered again. She was tired, though, and managed to dismiss the unusual movement as a construct of her mind as it drifted half way between reality and sleep. There was a faint whisper; both girls heard it this time, though neither could make it out. There it was again. What had it said? “Hurry?” Fully awake now, Cecelia and Hester listened intently, staring into the darkness. “Hurry” it insisted, this time more urgently. “Hurry!”
Bewildered and frightened, the girls scrambled from their beds, unsure of what to do. And then they felt it…the house rumbled and shook and took on a life of its own. They were neither welcome nor safe here any longer and they fled down the stairs and out the front door, still in their bed-clothes, into the cool night air. The moon was full and lit their way across the field and into the forest. Hiding here, beneath the fog, they gathered themselves and tried to make sense of what was happening. “Quiet” they heard the whisper say. Hester tried to calm herself, to slow and quiet her breathing and implored her sister to do the same. Terrified, the girls sat as silently as they could, careful not to move for fear of snapping a twig or rustling a leaf and betraying their position. Their legs ached and their fingers grew numb from the cold but they remained still. “Stay” the whisper warned. Slowly the mist began to rise higher, and the girls looked at each other in fear. The ground stopped shaking and whatever it was stood still. They could hear it breathing, waiting, stalking. “Sshhhh” the whisper cautioned, even more quietly than before. The hairs on Hester’s arms stood up and a shiver ran up Cecelia’s spine so cold it was as if her blood had turned to ice. It was upon them now, close. “RUN!” The whisper was no longer a whisper as it commanded them to flee and guided them through the forest. They ran as hard as they could, their feet finding every stone and thorn along the way. Cecelia grew tired and started to fall behind. “RUN!” the whisper commanded. “RUN!” She gasped for breath and forced herself to continue, the branches pulling at her hair as she fled. They pulled harder now, entangling her and she felt the touch of fingers grasping at her back. She watched as her sister faded into the mist ahead, desperate to keep up as she fell further and further behind. She dared not call to her for fear of slowing her down. The fingers had her shoulder now. She turned to slip away but their grasp was too firm and the world went black. Cecelia opened her eyes and found herself sitting in the middle of a blue-black lake, surrounded by mist, unharmed but utterly alone.
© Kelly Rainey and 500wordsandcounting.wordpress.com, 2015.
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