The moon had risen, hanging high overhead and the mist had rolled through the valleys covering the forest when the six youths reached Hallow’s Valley. It was known as thus due to the high number of rumors accumulated over the years of the strange occurrences that took place in the deserted, treacherous valley every year on Halloween. Everything from disappearances to animal attacks, hallucinations to injury had occurred here, and the villagers had learned to stay far away from it, especially on Halloween. This year however, Robb and his friends were determined to reveal the stories for what they really were: just stories.
They all stood looking nervously down from the rise of the hill that would lead into the Valley. Brin and Morgan watched the other four’s nervous faces. Both of the girls were only here to the other villagers that Robb and the other three really had gone into the Valley, otherwise they would never be believed.
“Well, are you going or not?” Morgan said, her voice much higher than usual. Robb looked at her angrily.
“Of course, we’re going. Come on guys,” he said, and took five brave strides into the forest, turning around to see if they followed. Aleena came next, following him with a determined look on her face. Ashamed that a girl had gone in before him, Eli was soon to follow with Sean trailing behind. They all looked back at the two shadows on the hill; Brin was hugging herself, whether from the cold or fear, they could not tell, while Morgan stood still and silent.
“We’ll be back by morning,” Robb called up to them, and Brin called “Luck!” back to them. The four headed down in to the Valley, wincing at every branch that crunched under their feet, and when an owl hooted unexpectedly, Aleena let out a shriek. She laughed nervously, looking sheepish when the three boys looked back at her startled.
They walked for about an hour down deeper into the valley, and we’re beginning to relax as nothing more than night animals bothered them. That’s when they began to see the lights. Small and barely visible at firsts, little flashes of light sparkled through the trees, like a beacon. At first, they all attempted to ignore them, putting them off as figments of their imagination. Soon, however, the lights were stronger, and floated around them in circles before heading off, always in the same direction. Sean swallowed nervously.
“What do you think they are?”
“I don’t know,” Robb replied, with a forced bravado. “Perhaps we should try following them.”
“Are you crazy? Who knows what’s out there?” Eli interrupted. Aleena couldn’t help but agree with Eli. While the lights didn’t appear to be harmful, who had ever heard of lights floating around on their own? Surely they couldn’t be good news. Robb, on the other hand, looked at him coolly.
“I thought we don’t believe in ghosts and hauntings?” he mocked, and Sean nodded behind him. Eli blushed slightly but still looked unwilling to follow the lights.
“How about you and Sean follow the lights and Eli and I will head off in the other direction?” Aleena offered. Protests arose from the two boys. Her eyebrows rose.
“I thought you two didn’t believe in ghosts? Anyway, if we’re planning on exploring the whole valley, we’re going to have to split up eventually. Sean and Robb looked uneasy, but agreed reluctantly; Aleena and Eli watched them walk away, following the wispy bulbs of light. Robb gave one last glance back behind him, watching Aleena grab Eli’s sleeve and pull him in the opposite direction, looking around wearily all the while. They continued following the lights for another mile, occasionally attempting to catch or touch them, but they always flittered just out of reach, constantly calling them on and on, deeper and deeper into the forest. Sean glanced back behind him and gave out a yell of shock.
“Robb! The lights, they’re all around us!”
Robb turned back and saw to his dismay that the lights had formed a row behind them. He spun around slowly, but could see no gap between the lights. They couldn’t see anything beyond the well lit area surrounding them, as the lights were now too bright to see past. They continued walking, more cautiously now, watching as more and more lights joined the others, now blocking out the night sky as well. Robb cried out in shock when his foot plunged into the beginning of a bog, mud and grime now covering his leg as he pulled it out, looking in disgust.
“They’ve led us to a bog,” he cried in dismay, still not able to see what might lay beyond the lights.
“Maybe we should turn around, Robb,” Sean said, fear evident in his voice. At first Robb hesitated, still thinking about what the others would think when he nodded reluctantly. They turned around and heading towards the wall of light, but when they reached it, they found it wouldn’t give way. They tried pushing on it, climbing it, kicking it but nothing caused it to budge. Now the boys were growing frantic, and began crying out for help, hoping the others would come—but no one did.
Forced to continue, they walked slowly through the bog, the water and mud making it difficult to traverse. They had only gone a hundred yards when the lights went out with a sound like a deep breath. The boys grabbed each other in shock, waiting for their eyes to adjust to the new lighting, but couldn’t.
“Sean, why are there no stars?” Robb asked, his voice little more than a whisper. Sean looked up at the sky and was horrified to find no stars, no moon, nothing but blackness.
“Let’s just keep moving,” he responded, thinking maybe the tree coverage here was to strong to let any light through. They hadn’t gone more than ten feet when Sean gave out a cry, quickly muffled, and Robb was left in silence completely alone.
“Sean?” he yelled, holding out his arms and walking around, hoping to find his friend. After five minutes of frantic looking, Robb felt something grab his leg; crying out and looking down at his leg, he saw what looked like quicksand, except it formed a hand as it grabbed him and pulled him under. Scratching at the ground to try to keep himself above wasn’t enough, and he was soon pulled under, taking one last gasping breath before the quicksand covered him.
On the other side of the valley, Aleena and Eli heard the yells of fright, and froze where they were, listening intently for any other sound from their companions. Aleena clutched Eli’s arm, begging the other boys to let them know if they were okay. When they heard nothing, they hoped that they’d been able to fend off whatever it was. Aleena gulped and slowly continued walking, following the small track they’d found only a half hour ago.
They continued through the forest, still listening to any noise that would let them know the fate of the others when the trees ending abruptly and they stumbled out into a clearing. A small, wooden house, run down and ugly stood in the middle, completely dark with no sign of life. Aleena and Eli looked at each other nervously, wondering if they should approach it. Before they could decide, Aleena shrieked in fright as a light appeared in one of the top windows, flickering as if a candle had been lit. A shadow crossed past the window, and Eli and Aleena backed away slowly, horrified to go closer. When they heard the door creep open, they ran back towards the cover of the trees. Eli sighed with relief when they crossed through the trees and then gasped in horror when they ran right back out into the clearing. The door was wide open, but there was no one there. Wondering how they could have gotten so turned around so quickly, they plunged back into the trees only to find themselves back in the clearing again.
“I think we have to go in,” Aleena whispered, voice cracking with fright.
Eli looked terrified, but obviously running away was going to do nothing. He nodded slowly and they approached the house slowly and cautiously. The light was still on in the top window, but there was no shadow in sight. They entered the house, and before they could see more than broken furniture, destroyed walls and a run down staircase, they door slammed shut behind them, and at the same time the light went out, plunging the house into darkness. They both yelled and turned around, trying to open the door, which they now found locked, and as hard as they banged on it, and yanked the handle, it would not budge.
They heard the creaking of a floorboard and turned around, breathing raggedly, ears straining to hear where, and what, was coming towards them. They heard nothing. Slowly, Eli began to move towards where the sound came from.
“What are you doing?” Aleena hissed, clutching at his sleeve.
“If we can’t get out from here, there must be another way,” he whispered back.
They slowly began to walk down the hallway. Suddenly, there was empty space below their feet, and as Eli’s heart lurched, and stomach dropped from the sudden feeling of falling, he could feel Aleena falling beside him, screaming. They tried to find something to grab as they fell, but could not feel anything in reach of their fingers as they fell ever downwards.
When the sun finally rose over the Valley, Brin and Morgan were forced to conclude that the others were not coming back. While at first everything had seemed fine, no noises of disturbances, they’d heard Robb and Sean’s frightened cries sometime a few hours after they separated, and a bright flash of light had lit up the right side of the valley. They had stared at each other horrified, wondering what had happened, but did not have much time to guess when the screams of Eli and Aleena echoed back to them, seeming to grow louder and louder across the Valley.
They’d debated for hours about whether or not they should go after them, and considered the possibility that they were just trying to frighten them. Now however, this late into the morning, they surely would have been back, the Valley, after all, was not that large. Morgan thought they should go search for them, since now it was light and they’d be able to see anything coming, but Brin was too terrified, remembering the sound of their screams echoing towards them. As they turned back towards the village to share the news of the latest disappearances from Hallow Valley, they heard the howling of wolves, lonely and bitter. Shuddering, they picked up their pace, hoping only for the safety of the village.
H U F F L E P U F F P R I D E