“That Night” by Isabell Jorge

Isabell Jorge

The sky was ablaze with splashes of pinks and oranges and light purples spread across a blue canvas. It was one of those picture-perfect moments where the light was being quickly sucked out of the sky, lightly touching everything on its way out as if trying to grab on to everything in its path. The very tops of the fir trees glowed gold and the little bit of snow left on the ground glittered as the light touched it.

Yet the other side of the world was already being engulfed by the darkness, where the light had already gone past, unable to grab and hold on to anything as it went. This created long shadows where the light still was, contrasting the darkness even more. It really was a beautiful scene, and Alexa breathed in every moment of it.

               As she breathed out, she could see her breath cloud up in front of her face. She adjusted her fur coat on her shoulders and brushed back her dark hair. Her eyelashes felt heavy, and she wondered whether she’d gotten enough sleep last night.

She let out another breath and looked over her shoulder at her house. It looked so peaceful, standing in the last of the sun’s light. The new coat of blue her whole family had spent so long painting really made a difference. She found herself smiling at it, for some strange reason, and then turned away and started walking.

               She checked her bag again, making sure the book was still there. She’d been doing this all afternoon, as if it were going to magically disappear from the bag she specifically remembered putting it in. Maybe it was because the book felt so weird. Whenever she read it, a strange feeling would come over her. It spoke of magic, so there was no telling what it was capable of. Maybe it was possible for it to float out of her bag and disappear. In ten-year-old Alexa’s mind, anything was possible.

               It was a book the librarian had given her and her friends one day. The strange thing about it was that it wasn’t just sitting on a shelf waiting to be chosen like most library books. This one was locked in a chest that was covered in dust. The librarian had told them that it was a special book for three special kids. At first, they had assumed it was just an adult being extra nice to them, but after reading it, Alexa didn’t really know what to think.

               ‘A secret lurks inside the trees 

               Follow the whispers in the breeze 

               A danger lies behind the truth 

               A gifted past 

               A troubled youth 

               A magic hidden in the cave 

               Beware, for it could be your grave’ 

               It was just a book. It wasn’t real, they convinced themselves.

               That was it. It was only three pages long. On a different page was a strange, grainy photo of a group of five teenagers sitting next to each other and smiling. But there was something strange about their smiles. They looked fake, forced, even. And there was fear in their eyes.

               It was such a strange concept to the three kids that they had to investigate it. The book was written here, and the photo was taken here as well. So, the forest it was talking about had to be Spring woods. They lived right next to it. Yet not Alexa nor any of her friends had ever been in it. It was private property. Alexa didn’t know who owned it, but everyone in the city was very firm about the rule that no one is allowed inside.

               But this book….

               It had messed with their minds. They needed to investigate.

               It was all set up. Alexa’s family thought she was staying at Addison’s house for the night, Nicole’s family thought she was staying at Alexa’s house, and Addison’s family thought she was staying at Nicole’s house.

               They would only be gone for a few hours, and upon returning from the woods they would all disperse into their chosen houses. It was a perfect plan, they thought.

               Alexa found her way to Addison’s house where her and Nicole would be waiting. Her feet left half-snow, half-dirt footprints on the ground as she walked, lost in thought. Addi’s house was only a block away and she had walked this trail so many times she didn’t even have to think about the way there.

               By the time she reached the tall white house, the sun had disappeared from the sky and the block was consumed by a somewhat gentle darkness, leaving nothing but a few thin pink clouds as evidence that it had ever been there at all.

               “LEX!” She heard a voice call.

               She breathed out a cloud of warm air and turned toward the underground cellar door where the voice had come from. The cellar actually led to the basement of Addison’s house, but it had been closed off years ago. So, the girls had turned the cellar into their secret hang-out spot.

               “Coming!” She called back as she crouched down in front of the cellar.

               One of the two metal doors was already open. She swung open the second one and stepped slowly inside, keeping her hands on her knees, and then swung the door closed again as quietly as she could.

               It was a small space, but they had made it look quite cozy. In one corner was a large triangle shaped sofa which they had padded with a dozen small pillows and fluffy blankets. On the opposite side of the room was a small wooden table with two chairs on either side and a pinky-red colored candle on the top. The entire wall beside the table was covered in poems and quotes and drawings and artwork and photographs of them making silly faces. And they had strung LED lights all around the room, just below the ceiling, that changed color every few minutes. Currently it was a calm gold color.

               Nicole was sitting on the sofa, beaming in the gold light, her arms wrapped tightly around her legs. Her light, wavy blond hair was flipped to side and streamed down her shoulder like a waterfall of sunlight. Her lips were looking extra pink and glossy and her soft blue eyes were wide with curiosity and excitement as Lex found her way into the room.

               Addison was standing anxiously by the table with a lighter in her hand, gripped tightly by her long fingernails. Her curly red hair was tied neatly into a tight bun and her slender brown eyes looked bright and fierce in the light.

               “Are you all ready?” Nick asked, giving her a quick smile.

               Addi looked her over, awaiting a response. When Alexa nodded, she leaned over and lit the candle. “Do you have the book?”

               “In the bag.” Lex nodded and patted the bag on her back.

               “And Flashlights?” Addi added.

               “All ready.” Lex patted the bag again.

               Addi looked her over again, clearly thinking hard. “An….And rope?” She asked. “Just in case?”

               Lex hesitated. “A small one.” She replied. “I couldn’t find any others.”

               The lights slowly shifted to a dark pink.

               “It’s fine.” Nick assured her, fiddling with the end of her grey blanket. “What do you think is going to happen out there, Addi?”

               “You never know. It could be dangerous.”

               Nick turned back to Alexa, patting the space next to her

               “Did you bring snacks?” She asked, smiling. “You know, in case we get stuck in a cave and starve to death.”

               “Not funny, Nick.” Addison mumbled, rolling her eyes.

               Lex grinned and pulled out six plastic-wrapped Brownie Bars from her bag to show her.

               “Your favorite.” She said.

               Nick smiled and nodded appreciably as Lex pushed a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear.

               “Are you okay, Addi?” Lex asked as she frowned skeptically at the Brownie Bars.

               “Are you sure we should be doing this?” Addison asked after a moment.

               “Addi, we promised we’d be very careful.” Nick reminded her soothingly. “And we’ll think about what we do before we do it.”

               The lights slowly shifted to bright green.

               “Besides, you’re curious, right?” Lex pushed.

               Addi nodded. “Yes, of course.” She breathed.

               “Good.” Lex replied, hoping she would distract her before she changed her mind. “Then let’s go before it gets too late.”

               Nicole jumped up and Addi shoved another flashlight into Lex’s bag ‘just in case’. And then the three of them hurried out the door and down the road that led towards Spring Woods. They had never gone before, but it wasn’t hard to find. All they had to do was head in the direction of the tree tips they could see in the distance and follow the scent of fir.

               The road became slightly lighter while they walked, as the moon rose in the sky, creating a bright, misty Halo around it. A sleek brown bird let out a trill as it flapped from one side of the road to the other, making Addi jump. Nick laughed and look her hand.

               They stopped when they reached the intracity carved wooden sign, which read ‘Welcome to Spring Wood’. And below the words were many small carved trees, painted light green, but the paint was starting to chip off.

               However, next to the large wooden sign was a small, metal sign which said ‘Restricted Area. Keep out.’ This, in Alexa’s opinion, kind of contradicted the Welcome sign.

               “Hey Lex, get the book.” Addi said, waving her long pointed fingernails at Alexa’s bag.

               Lex let out a cloudy breath, swung one part of the bag off her shoulder, and pulled out the Mysterious book. She felt the soft leather cover with her finger and flipped it open.

               “Second page.” Addi ordered, peering over her shoulder. As usual, she smelled like flowers.

               The first page was the poem, the one that gave Lex a creepy feeling whenever she read it. She quickly flipped past that page and on to the second. This was a full page that talked about Spring Woods. It talked about the types of fir and oak trees, and the river that ran through the forest, how the Diamond cave was created, and it told the story of a group of five teenagers who went into the forest almost twenty years ago, and only one of them came out. His name was James Marin. No one knows what happened in there, but after that day, the forest had been off limits to the public.

               “There.” Addi said, pointing at one line. “To find Diamond Cave, all we have to do is follow the river.”

               “I can hear it.” Nick declared, turning in the direction of the sound of running water.

               “Okay, let’s go.” Addi said slowly, and the girls stepped into the dark, misty forest. “And quickly! I don’t want to be out here all night.”