Nothing marked the path she saw in front of her. Unless, of course, she considered the fence posts and the trees, which lined the sides. Abigail wasn’t sure if she should continue on. The trail was untrodden, not a single footprint, not even that of a doe’s, was anywhere to be seen.
“I don’t think we should go any further”, she said, “Maybe we should turn back.”
“Why?” asked her best friend, Caroline, who had made the trip to the countryside just to go hiking in the snow.
“I don’t know. I have a funny feeling about this. Look around. Do you see any other markings that would indicate others had been through this way?”
“Ummm, no”, said Caroline, looking around, “I don’t. But that doesn’t mean anything. I know we’ve never hiked this trail before, but the snow is fresh. Maybe we’re just lucky and are the first ones to make it up here.”
Abigail still wasn’t sure. What Caroline said made perfect sense, but she still got an eerie feeling from the air around her. At first she thought it was the cold, but soon realized it to be far more than that. Her grandmother had told her stories about this area, stories of the spirits who roamed these paths, never leaving a trail. As a child, she thought her grandmother mad to speak of such things. Now she wasn’t so sure.
Looking further ahead, she tried to make out a gathering. It looked much like a stone foundation in the form of a square. The stones. Grandmother often spoke of the powerful magic of the stones. Lost in thought, she hadn’t realized that Caroline had been jabbering this whole time. Snapping out of it, Abigail just nodded as if she actually knew what Caroline was talking about. With a heavy sigh, Abigail turned around, ready to head back home. But Caroline wanted nothing to do with those plans.
“Are you kidding?” she asked. “I didn’t come all this way for you to wimp out on me based on a lack of footprints in some snow. I’m going on. You can go home, if you want. I’ll see you later.” And with that, Caroline was on her way, heading straight for the pure white snow ahead. Caroline remembered she was told to never hike alone. Dark fell fast in the hills. You didn’t want to be caught wandering after the sun set.
Not really knowing what to do, she turned to head toward Caroline, but when she did, Caroline was gone. Panic began to set in, as she looked left and right, ahead and behind her, but she couldn’t see her friend anywhere. Mumbling to herself, admonishing for allowing Caroline to go off on her own, she started for the path and the stone structure that lied ahead. As she began to cross the path, she felt an air around her, as if it was lifting her off the ground. Looking down, she saw her feet weren’t touching the ground. She tried to scream, but no sound could be heard.
Before she knew it, she was inside the stone structure, no footprints anywhere, and no Caroline either. She called out to her friend, but was met with silence. Perhaps Grandmother was telling the truth all those years. Perhaps there really were spirits who dwell in these woods. But the one thing Grandmother never told her…whether or not the spirits were friendly… or evil…
©2018 Dorinda Duclos All Rights Reserved
Photo ©Sue Vincent – Untrodden