A loud clashing of light and thunder surrounded her. The pathway was wrecked and left almost indistinguishable from her dirt-ridden shoes. Rain blotted her vision, and her hair nearly choked her before she noticed the slight opening of a cave. Shelter. She dove in, the process smashing her already soaked communicator from her hands and into the merciless sides of the mountain. The device scattered further into the new sanctuary she found.

The soft glow of the luminescent crystal she discovered stared mockingly back at her, lighting the dark cavern in fragments that encompassed her form ten times over. Its steady flare did little to ail her escalating concerns from disturbingly short hours prior, when she still cradled the hope of escape and believed that the hike to her usual spot on the mountain would constitute no more than a relaxed mind and empty thoughts. Any sunlight that escaped the clouds’ grasp was dim and hiding behind the fury of bullet-sized raindrops. Her cracked reflection in the broken communicator she brought mirrored her sigh as she fell back into the rough embrace of the wall.

“What a consequence it is to have forgotten a simple, significant thing. Isn’t it child?”

The distinctly soft and melodic voice seemed to frown mid-sentence at the girl’s predictability, while her intake of breath and posture pushed her ever closer to the wall. Her eyes searched for the source of the voice, but remained fruitless in their efforts. The silence lasted only a moment, but the unending vertigo the girl experienced created a decade’s time standing awkwardly between the two.

“Do you know if there is anyway to contact someone from here?”

“Yes, but it too, comes with a consequence.”

“What do you mean?”

“Step over to the opening of the cavern and I will give you the answer you seek.”

Receding from her original position, the youth pushed up against the wall, and headed towards the rush of the wind’s pace.To the left of the opening was a sharp drop where the archway to a now fragmented path used to lay. On the other side was a sharply jutting rock with an angle that appeared to be scalable from this height—if one were to take a leap of faith.

The girl found herself almost amused at the fickle way the terrain’s nature led her to be stranded by an unforeseen mudslide.

A swift movement in her peripheral drew her eyes towards the quiet shadow, which now stood beside her. The creature had no one distinct face, but its body consisted of multiple bones, human and not, and this time, it answered the girl’s gasp with a rasp, echoing:

“Who would you like to speak to? Everyone is listening.”

That was when the girl noticed her disfigured face amongst the others on its body and saw, to her horror, that the rest of her torso and limbs were now rotting flesh underneath the ripped fabric of her dress which lay in a heap on the wall she pushed away from.

 

Amanda Valinoti is a first-year Advertising major at SVA. She was born and raised in New Jersey.