Cursed XVI~

[16] — Ascension

The foliage of the pine forest obscured the mountain. The darkness was complete, save for the weak shine of our phone’s lights. Jason had an actual flashlight tucked in his center console; otherwise, we were ill-prepared for whatever Kiera had planned. We wandered up the slopes in silence. The blue emissions in the sky had darkened forebodingly.

My hands shook; Autumn nights were cold. A harsh rain overcame the valley, but the trees blocked most the torrent from reaching us. I touched the hilt of the knife. The leather was soft, inviting my fingers to linger, feeling the delicacy of the dagger.

The only sounds were the crunch of our boots against the fallen leaves. Across the lake, we saw the twinkling lights of the festival persist through the light shower. Distant meteors twinkled across the sky like wayward dinghy’s caught amidst a dark storm; they hurdled brightly away into obscurity.

Another pair of feet in the distance caused us to pause, and collectively hold our breath. We shut off our flashlights, and hid to the side of the trail, while the noise came closer.

It was only a moment later that I breathed a sigh of relief, recognizing the light, bounding steps as Stella’s.

I turned my flashlight on, returning to the trail, “Stella.” I whispered.

“Sister?” Stella responded, emerging from the foliage.

“Stella, I’m here.” I said.

“Just in time for us to leave.” She said clutching my hands. Claire and Jason relit their lanterns illuminating the surrounding path.

“She has Sam.” I said, “She has Euphoria; there is more in that mountain.”

“It is not worth it.” Ignoring what I said, “You won’t make it through.”

“What is she talking about?” Claire said.

“He is corrupted.” Stella said.

“Great, let’s get the idiot and leave.” Jason said.

Claire touched my hand, “Jason’s right.”

“Stella, what were you and Alice here for if not this?” I asked.

“This was Alice; her body torments her soul, but this was never the way.” Stella said, “She did nothing to me, but strip away any ownership I once held onto. Do not go in there. You will find nothing of value.”

“Except the one thing that has brought the smallest semblance of relief I had felt in my entire existence. No,” I exclaimed, “I can’t go back, that will quicken my death.”

“She wants you here. She wants us to die.”

“That doesn’t make sense.” I said, “What would she get from killing us? Wouldn’t that hurt them?”

“I am not going to speculate toward the reasonings of a witch, she never wanted to serve anyone but herself, but she is coming, and I do not want to end up like one of those things.”

“All she has is Sam, and he is our friend.” I affirmed to no one other than myself.

“No.” She stood defiant, “I won’t go back in there.”

“Back?” I asked surprised, “Stella, this is the only way.”

“Not for me.” She said, “I told Alice, before we came, that I would not go near the monsters, nor would I go into the caverns. It is corrupted.”

“Where is Alice?” I asked to which she offered no response.

I scanned her eyes. The purplish hue stood prominent despite the night’s clutches, “I know what is in the mountain, Stella.” I whispered.

The purple spirals expanded in shock. A million galaxies exploding as golden specks around her iris, “It was Keira’s to begin with. Alice wanted to save the seed, she said it could help her, and when it blooms…” Stella’s eyes casted on the ground, “I didn’t want you to pin your hopes on it, like Alice has. Life isn’t magical, and the magical things are bound in strings and tape.” Her eyes met mine for a brief moment, “I won’t be a part of your death. Turn around, tell your parents, and live as you should. Hope leads to madness, sister.”

Stella gave me a mournful look before continuing her descent toward the trainyards. I stared at her dress disappearing in the foliage, my hands shook as I fought back tears.

Claire approached and put her hand in mine, “Fuck her.” She said, “You are the strongest person I know, Alex. If anyone can get that flower to bloom, its you.”

“Yea.” Jason said, “We’re getting our friend.” Claire and Jason pushed me on to lead the rest of the way to the grove.

We clambered down one of the sunken pitfalls in the valley. Sharp rocks scraped my torso as I toed my way along the edges. It was not a long fall, but landing wrong would shred my hands and legs. I hopped off the remaining ledge and collected myself at the bottom of the path. It was only half a dozen feet inward, but it was enough to stifle the sounds of the storm.

I brushed myself off as Claire joined us at the bottom. I waved us on through the thick rocky gorges of the valley. Ahead we spotted one of the mine tunnels that laid into the mountain. It was nothing more than a slit on the side of Savage. The rage of the storm was slightly dampened in this ravine. We navigated the pitfalls like a maze of protection against the storm. The rocky sides were lined with vines and flowers. The water began flooding the bottom of the floor sinking out boots in a puddle of water.

A wall of fallen stone barricaded the way forward as we rounded the turn. With little choice Jason and I pushed Claire to the surface. Jason followed and then he helped me. Ahead of me was the shore of the Hogsneck. We were in the bog. The land had changed subtlety.

I led the group through the crags and down a rocky ravine until we emerged through the edges of the Hogsneck. The mud smelled fierce. Frogs were congregating within the muck. There was another smell, something foul.

Ahead a crack of lightening showed the silhouette of Sam. We approached him.

“Sam.” Jason called out, “Sam.”

As we rounded the bend to the path uphill Sam’s silhouette blobbed the purple glow emitting from the mountainside. The meteor shower was in full effect. Dazzling beams of light crashed far into the distance. I wished this night could have been different. We could have been getting drunk by a campfire, and nothing could have changed. Nothing had to change, except one little thing, yet it was enough to level my life to the foundation.

I stayed back, but Jason trekked forward casting Sam’s face in a bright beam of light. His face dripped black tar from his nostrils and eyes. Blood drizzled from the corners of his mouth.

Jason, upon seeing this, recoiled back. “Sam, what the fuck happened?” he asked shocked.

“It’s going to be you.” He whispered, “It’s going to be you.”

“What are you saying?” Jason said.

A glint of steel flashed in blue light of the moon. Sam lunged past Jason toward my throat, thankfully, Jason was quicker. He struck perpendicularly to Sam. The pair crashed into the bog. Mud splattered across Claire’s jeans.

“Sam! Sam, what are you doing?” Claire screamed as the boys traded blows. Fists punished undefended flesh and bone.

Sam got on top and instead of continuing the assault leapt at me. I ran back just as Claire hit him with a stick. Sam’s momentum was interrupted, but was otherwise unfazed.

“Go, Alex.” Jason commanded as he grabbed ahold of Sam’s legs. The two collapsed again. Mud was thrown violently across the trees and ground. The flashlight’s muddied lenses lit their barbarous shadows, which were caught in an endless, dark battle.

The purple glow littered the forest. I could not imagine how a light such as this had gone unnoticed for so long. I blocked the light from my peripherals as I pushed through the tree line.

Daring a peak, I looked up and was blinded by a sudden bloom of flowers across the once-empty clearing. Purple patches with blue fluttering specks lit the clearing just as the comets lit the sky.

The holes, which I had to squeeze my body through, were now giant craters, opening to bask in the moon’s reflected light.

I ran forward, figuring this was the best chance to get down to the grove. The sounds of wet fists making contact filled the void left in between cracks of thunder. I examined the cavern below. The grove was brightly illuminated in puddles of Euphoria sap, which spurted from the wounded vines. A familiar, putrid odor intermingled with the sap’s perfume to create a nauseating mist. The fumes were heavy, and lied close to the ground of the cave.

The suckling noises were ferocious and violent. A hunger that could not be quenched. The barricade, which had once held the creatures within, was now broken, discarded to the side.

The impact of my body hitting the soil sent a sprayed the cavern’s wall with droplets of the black, gunk. The heartbeat, within the mountain, was replaced by a deep, resonating croak. The petrified wood appeared to move as well; their roots ripping from the soil, twirling towards me slowly, yet menacingly. The slow hateful movements were animated.

I wrapped my scarf around my mouth as a feeble attempt to ward off the fumes from entering my lungs. I did not know if smoking Euphoria was a thing, but I had no intention to find out tonight.


The grove stretched around me with new vigor, flexing its muscles under the tender light of the night sky. Storm clouds had rolled closer, blocking the view of the comets. Only their tails flashed in between the gaps of clouds. The trees were warped and sorrowful. No leaves grew upon their branches. The eyes on their bark dripping with yellow and black sap. The trees glowed softly as bioluminescent mushrooms sprouted from the roots.

The darkness of the forest allowed my mind to conjure up images. Monsters hid behind the trees as every crunched leaf was the sound of a throat being crushed. My hands would brush against trees and shrubbery. I would walk through spiderwebs.

I clawed my way to my feet and walked through the grove. The moon shone through the thickets of dead branches; however, I was wrong. The trees were alive. As I continued my search for Stella’s grave the roots began to shift and moan with a violent temperament. I ran until darkness took over one more.

Occasionally the canopy would break and moonlight would spill into the depths of the dark forest. I took one look at a tree, and covered my mouth in horror. The bark had almost liquified. Men, women, children, and occasionally animals would be reaching out to me. Some were angry, others were sobbing and pleading, some did nothing but stare. The lifeless features of their eyes sinking into me as if to ask what It was that I was doing. I grabbed one child’s hands, their skin was covered in malleable bark as petrified as the tree and yet liquified. She reached to me and grabbed onto my wrist. It was as if an iron wench had wound itself around my arm, I pulled with all my strength, but there was nothing I could do. The woman released my arm and disappeared into the tree. Her figure reintegrating within the root system. I ran past her and continued my way through.

I approached silently around, until I smelled the rotted sap that congealed from the corpses of the trees. It was so foul, disturbing, and gross.

It’s roots barely into the ground. As she disappeared I approached the tree. Carved into the bark sent shivers down my spine. A name, not Stella’s, was carved into the bark. Sorrow filled my brain for now coming across this knowledge. Damn whoever did this.

“There is a price, Little Bird.” Keira’s voice echoed through the dead trees, “Stella knew it, just as you do now.”

“Her body—Stella’s real body—is buried here?” I asked dumbfounded.

“An offering.” Kiera emerged beside me; her dark cloak covered her body from head to toe as the fabric’s shadow concealed her face, “For the bloom; a concept, your feral friends, would never understand.”

“There.” She pointed to a patch of black flowers growing around her body. They mingled within her flesh causing barbed, black wires to cut into the lifeless, yet preserved body of Stella. I reached down and severed the heads of the flowers. Black puss; similar to that of that other tree poured out. I filled a ceramic bowl with the liquid cutting each flower off. Soon Stella’s body looked asleep, wrapped in black wire.


“Why would she not?” Kiera asked, “Why would any of us, not? No longer would we feel like an exotic animal on display every time we enter the public, nor would we be burdened with the monetary cost just to get to a point where living is manageable. At the cost of a favor?” Stella balked, “I gave her much longer than I should have.”

“What right do you have giving us timelines, or making deals? Why are you so twisted?”

“That is the nature of this world, Little Bird. To survive, others must suffer. It is not my fault you are weak. I am like you, and like Stella, and as much as it pains me to admit it, am just like the other one, who denied my gift; only, I am stronger. I did not allow myself to become a victim.”

“Your daddy owned a mountain.” I spat, “You used what you were given to confuse and fuck us up. How much can you hate yourself?” I asked, which appeared to have taken Kiera off-guard.

“Yes.” Kiera said, “And another sapling to add to the grove.”

Fear cut through me as those words slid from her smirking mouth, “You have Alice?”

“I have done nothing, but sit here in my grove. If a trespasser fell into harm within the caverns of a dilapidated, mining operation; then, no one would know for—well, in her case, forever.”

The dagger made itself known by a tickle on my hip. I thought of taking it out, but I was no murderer, and I wouldn’t have known what to do to begin with. Except for treating her as I had treated myself.

I turned my back to the witch and fled toward the mountain. I would deal with whatever lied within. The scratching and slurping noises made themselves known.

Ahead of me bore the entrance to Savage. A flood of flower-covered vines fell over the opening. A lantern lay smashed beside it. I took the source of light and lit the candle with my lighter. There was no choice. If I did not go inside the mountain; then, my fate lied in the hands of public-opinion. Fuck that.

My feet pushed me unwittingly forward; until, the darkness was all but complete, save for the little light of my lantern, pulsing across the cavern’s stone walls.

[Previous Chapter] *** [Next Chapter]

3 thoughts on “Cursed XVI~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s