Its going to
be ok, Mommy. Sara stroked her mothers cheek with
the breath of an angel. Its going to be ok.
Tara opened her eyes. She
was no longer in restraints, though it felt as though they
were still there. Her ankles burned from the gnashing of the
rope, and her wrists ached from her struggle. She reached
to feel her neck, then suddenly she jumped up and hugged her
Sara! Youre ok.
Of course, Mommy, why
wouldnt I be? Sara looked innocently up at her
Tara looked around the room
they were in. She did not recognize anything about it. It
seemed like a bedroom. She had woken in a bed. There were
no windows though, and it smelled damp like the basement.
Sara, how did you get
I woke up in here, same
as you, Mommy. Did you sleep well?
Tara looked at her ankles
and her wrists. The marks were still there; she had not imagined
it. A tear began to form in each eye, but she did not want
to lose composure in front of her daughter. Sara seemed to
Mommy, you stay here,
and Ill go get you something to drink. Sara got
up, walked across the room, and opened the door. Just as quickly
the door closed behind her and locked. Tara ran to the door,
grabbing at the handle and turning it to no avail. She shook
the door and beat on it, screaming all the while. Sara!
Sara! She kept banging on the door until her hands were
pink and raw from wear.
Theres no point,
Tara, a voice said from somewhere behind her. It was
so startling that she spun in her spot almost effortlessly.
Who is that?!
she screeched. Who are you? What do you want from us?!
Where is my son, and my daughter!? You bastard! Where is my
Calm, now. Your family
will be fine. You will stay here for now.
The voice was cold and distant,
and it seemed to be coming from inside the room, but Tara
could not see anyone, or anything.
Who are you?!
she screamed. Tara turned back to the door and pounded some
more. No one answered her.
Her mind was just spinning
in a million directions. Her eyes were flitting all over the
room, looking, for what, she did not know. With a calm deep
breath Tara composed herself. Her hand slipped over the medallion
she wore on a white gold chain. She wrapped her fingers around
it. It was a gift from Steven years ago. It was simple, a
silver flat sphere, donut shaped, with the words strength,
power, freedom inscribed along the edge in Runes on
one side, the other side inscribed with freely embraced
for eternity. This side she kept close to her heart.
It gave her strength and eased her mind whenever she needed
it. She searched the entire room for someone that might be
hiding, but found no one. She sat down on the bed and decided
to feel for her family.
There was a panic that had
been erupting in the pit of her stomach for a little while
now. She felt that the children were ok. She just knew this.
It was Steven she felt unsure of, worried. She couldnt
place it, or sense what was going on. All she knew was that
he was in trouble. The calm she felt for the children eased
her mind somewhat. She began searching the walls for a way
out, or something that would give her any indication of what
was going on. Was she still in the house? She hadnt
really thought of that yet.
Alongside the bed was a table.
The top was white marble, and the base was a painted wood.
It seemed very old, but it was solid. On the table was a lantern,
like the one she had seen in the attic. There were matches
in a box just to the left of it. She lit a match and lifted
the glass up on the lantern to light it. Someone had made
sure it was filled with enough oil.
She turned the knob on the
lantern and adjusted the flame to give her some additional
light. The room was a bit more lit up, and seemed almost friendlier.
Although the room smelled like a basement, it was actually
quite cozy. It was probably the size of a small living room,
and was decorated quite particularly.
There were several book shelves
on one side of the room that had wood hinged doors with glass
windows. It was very pretty. The walls were a combination
of stone and concrete, but it wasnt cold. There was
a small corner fireplace in the room. There were large quartz
pieces that encompassed it, and a small mantle above with
a small clay pot resting in the center. It looked like the
same pot she had seen in the attic, only a little larger.
Tara walked over to the fireplace
and rested the lantern on the mantle. She picked up the clay
pot and lifted the lid from its rest. Inside the pot were
what appeared to be very small beads. They didnt look
like anything she had seen before. Perhaps they were seeds?
Tara leaned her nose in closer to the pot and sniffed. There
was a scent, but it wasnt familiar at all. It wasnt
offensive, or particularly sweet. She really wasnt sure
what it was. She placed the lid back onto the pot and rested
it back in its place.
Tara walked over to the bookshelves
and tried to open one of the cabinets. The door wouldnt
open for her. There didnt seem to be a lock. It didnt
seem like it should be difficult to open at all, but it wasnt
Tara peered closer. She could
see through the glass at the markings on the books. A few
of them had what she thought might be the same symbols she
saw carved in the head frame of the bed in the house. She
still could not make out what it was. Maybe a different language,
or something archaic. Her finger traced one of the symbols
through the glass. She tried another cabinet door; this one
opened. Inside were several small wooden boxes. They too had
symbols carved into them. As she reached for the smallest
of the boxes, something stopped her. It wasnt anything
in particular, it was more like a force. She withdrew and
closed her eyes.
There is something here,
she thought to herself.
She reached in again, only
this time she imagined the box in her hand before she touched
it. She opened her eyes and found the box within the grasp
of her hand. A tranquility swept over her entire body. The
air was now sweet; fear was at rest.
The box was a dark wood carved
with symbols and vines. There was no latch, no hinge. She
lifted the top slowly while grasping the bottom with her other
hand. It was slow to come off, almost like it wanted her to
experience the anticipation of its contents.
Tara felt a wonderful sense
of power and desire. The box opened. Inside was a small round
pendant with symbols etched along the edges. The symbols were
in Runes. She could read them. They were familiar. Her eyes
sharply focused on the letters, on the words. Freedom. Power.
She looked at her own neck
and the ring that lay freely from its chain. Her eyes fixed.
They were the same, in reverse.
Her heart started pounding
fiercely, with passion, desire, then fear.
She dropped the box to the
floor. The pendant bounced from the box and slowly she watched
it tumble to the floor only to reveal the other side.
I give my soul to thee...
* * *
Charlie. Wake up, Charlie.
Charlie opened his eyes to
find his little sister crouched down looking at him with her
big bright blue eyes.
Sara. How did you find
We have to go. You have to come with me.
Charlie didnt know what
to make of it. He remembered falling asleep, but he didnt
fall asleep here. He looked up and around. They seemed to
be in a barn, in an actual hay loft. His little sister had
already started climbing down the ladder.
Were going to be late!
Late, for what? Where
are Mom and Dad?
Cmon, Mommy is
waiting for us. Daddy will be along soon.
* * *
I woke up with my head pounding,
and I wasnt on a cold, wet floor. What the hell?!
I sat up and rubbed my head.
I rubbed my eyes, then my head again. I looked around. I wasnt
in the tunnel anymore. OK. How the hell did I get out? Did
I whack myself so good that I cant remember how I got
from there to here? And where is here?
There was daylight streaming
in through the window. I was in what looked like a bedroom.
The décor looked somewhat familiar. It reminded me
of the house, only not as dusty. Was I in the guest cottage?
We hadnt even been over there yet.
I tried to get up, but my
legs felt like I had just gotten off of a lopsided ocean liner.
I could barely see straight. I didnt feel very good,
either. I felt like I had been drugged.
The door to the room opened
slightly. Someone was there.
The door opened more.
Sara, how did you
How are you feeling,
Daddy? Uncle Ben said you got a big bump on your head when
you went looking for Charlie.
Yeah, hes been
getting the place ready for us.
The door opened wider and
a very tall, friendly looking man stepped in.
Mr. Weaver. You sure
knocked your head good while you were down in the basement.
Good thing your daughter found you down there.
Im sorry. Do we
know each other?
Well, Im sorry,
I didnt know you were all coming out here to see the
place. My name is Ben Jenkins. Ive been living out here
for a long time taking care of the place for your Pop and
Grams. I was your father's brother-in-law. Remember?
Wow. I was seriously
scratching my head now. I had forgotten anybody was
out here. I didnt know you had stayed all these years.
Yup, been watchin' over
the place until somebody told me different. I figured since
I was family it was ok.
Ben, you said you found
me in the basement?
Yes, sir. You were on
the floor with a big old bump on your head.
stopped what I was going to say. I wasnt sure what was
going on. Better keep that to myself. Have you seen
my wife and my son?
Oh, theyre just
fine. Little Charlie got himself lost and fell asleep in the
barn. Sara found him.
* * *
As Tara watched the words
fall to the ground, she felt her whole life hitting the surface
of something she knew not what was beneath. Tears formed in
her eyes and trickled down the sides of her cheeks. She wiped
She reached down to the pendant
on the floor. She held it in her hand. Something is
wrong here. Her head shook back and forth as if she
was saying no to someone. It is not my husband.
She went over to the bed,
and sat down with the pendant still in her hand. She reached
behind her neck and unclasped her necklace and lay it on her
lap. She added the pendant to her chain and put the clasp
back in place behind her neck. Both pieces lay next to her
skin. She coveted both of them. She wasnt sure where
this thing came from, but there had to be something meaningful
Tara felt a wave of lightheadedness
take over. She fell asleep on the bed once more.
* * *
Mommy, wake up. Mommy. Sara tugged at her mother.
Cmon, Mommy, Uncle Ben is here. He found Daddy
in the basement with a bump on his head, but he is ok now,
and Charlie fell asleep like a Dupa in the barn. Were
going to have something to eat, Mommy.
Tara lifted her head from
the pillow. She looked around, a little bewildered. She was
back in the attic lying down on the perfect bed. She rubbed
her eyes and shook her head. Was I dreaming? She
quickly looked down at her chain. There was only one pendant
hanging from it. It seemed so real. God, it must be
this place or something. I hate it when I dream like that.
She felt wet on her cheeks. Her eyes were a little teary,
but that could have happened while she was sleeping, easily.
Sara yelled, already halfway down the stairs.
Tara stood up and walked down
the stairs behind Sara. Sara was already running through the
house to the kitchen, and out the side door.
Where are you going,
Sara kept running across the
field to the guest cottage.
Tara ran to catch up. Where
are you going? At this point she was just laughing and
running after her daughter.
Sara came up to the little
cottage and threw open the door. Daddy! Daddy, I found
Tara didnt even remember
seeing the guest cottage. How could she have missed that?
She stood there still for a moment looking around at the structure,
then approached the door.
From behind her, she heard
footsteps in the leaves. She quickly turned around, and standing
there was a very large man in suspenders, a large shovel in
his hand. Just as she was about to scream, the door opened
from behind her and Ben spoke.
Its ok, thats
my son Jack. Hes pretty harmless, Mrs. Weaver. Im
sorry," he reached his hand out to shake Taras
hand, "Im Ben Jenkins. Im your husbands
uncle, by marriage. We didnt mean to frighten you.
Oh. She shook
his hand. Umm
She turned to look back at
Jack, then back at Ben. Meanwhile Sara came running back out
Mommy, you met Uncle
Ben! And thats Uncle Jack. She grabbed Taras
hand and dragged her into the cottage.
Steven jumped from the sofa
and quickly got to Tara and hugged her tight. He whispered
in her ear, Im so glad you are ok." He kissed
Tara's eyes closed for a second.
She looked at him and was about to say something when Steven
gave her a wink.
Ben here has been living
on the property since I was a little kid. He stayed on to
take care of the place all of these years. He didnt
know we were coming by.
Oh, I think I do remember
you mentioning Ben now that I think about it.
Jack was coming through the
door when his father stopped him. Leave the shovel outside,
Jack. Youll get dirt all over the floor.
Yes, sir. He walked
back out the door and rested the shovel against the wall.
Mrs. Weaver. A little slow, but harmless. Its been just
the two of us since his mom passed away years ago. She used
to help Gram Weaver around the house and at church socials
Sara walked over to Jack and
tugged on his pant leg. She had to almost look straight up
at the ceiling to look at his face. Do you have any
I dunno. We can go look
in the icebox, though. Cmon into the kitchen, Sara.
Where is Charlie?
Tara was looking around the room.
Hes actually taking
a nap in one of the bedrooms. He was still pretty tired after
we found him in the hayloft, fast asleep.
Oh please, call me Tara.
Tara looked across the room to the mantle. There were some
family portraits that she hadnt seen before. She walked
over and picked one up. Is this Stevens mother
Yup, it is. That was
when they first got married. They used to spend a lot of time
out here before the accident.
Yes, of course. I would
imagine they visited quite a bit.
They lived just down
the road a bit. The house was part of this property for the
longest time, but then it got sold when Grams went to the
nursing home. It had about ten acres to it. Pretty little
house. The Marshalls own that place now. Theyre retired
folk. Dont see them much.
I didnt know your
parents and your grandparents lived here together? Tara
said as she turned to Steven.
I really dont
remember that too well. It must have been when I was really
small. I only remember visiting here.
Little Stevie used to
take off on the grounds a lot when he was young. Drove his
mom crazy. She was always looking for him. Thats probably
why they moved. Of course, they only moved down the road a
bit, but I guess it was far enough to keep Stevie out of trouble.
Didnt want him fallin' down a well or something. Would
you like some tea, Mrs. WeaverTara.?
Tara sighed. That sounds
wonderful. Im feeling a little woozy.
Sure thing. Be right
back. Would you like some too, Steven?
Just some water would
be great, Uncle Ben.
Comin' right up.
Ben joined Jack and Sara in
* * *
Steven, are you ok?
Tara rushed to his side on the sofa and looked at his head.
I dont really
know. I remember falling, but it wasnt in the basement,
Tara. God, I feel like Im losing my mind. Maybe we need
to just get out of here and go home and get some rest. What
time is it, anyway? Steven was now paying close attention
to the fact that an entire night had passed. Was I out
I dont know. Apparently
we all fell asleep at some point.
Mom? Dad? Charlie
came slowly into the room, rubbing his eyes. He climbed up
onto the sofa, wedging himself between the two of them. This
place is weird.
Tara tousled Charlies
hair, then held him close. It sure seems strange.
Did you fall asleep
Tara looked a little freaked
out by the question. Ya know, I think we all need to
go home and get some rest. Maybe our excitement got the best
Sara came running from the
kitchen with a big smile on her face, holding a dish of ice
cream. Look, Mommy, vanilla! She sat, contently
Tara and Steven looked at
each other, as if they were communicating.
Wouldnt it be
nice to be five again? Tara smiled at Steven. They both
I think we should be
getting back home, kids. We could get cleaned up and rested,
and come back tomorrow.
Oh Mommy, I want to
stay! Can I? Please? I can stay here with Uncle Ben and Uncle
Sara, I really think
we have imposed enough for today.
What does that mean?
Saras face twisted.
It means that Im
sure Uncle Ben and Uncle Jack have lots to do, and werent
planning on having any company. We should be nice guests and
say thank you and go home.
Saras face turned cold.
She became angry and stomped into the kitchen with her bowl
of ice cream.
In just a few seconds there
was a crashing sound from inside the kitchen: the sound of
glass breaking all over the floor. Everyone went running in
to see what happened.
Sara! Tara looked
around, looked on the ground at the broken glass, then looked
up where it had come from. The kitchen lantern that had been
hanging from the ceiling had come completely down and shattered
all over the floor.
Im sorry, Mommy,
Tara ran to her and held her.
It wasnt your fault, sweetheart. Its ok.
Sara sobbed until her nose
I think we're ready
to go home now, sweetie.
No! Sara suddenly
stopped crying and insisted they stay.
Im sorry, Sara,
but we have to go home. Tara was losing her patience
as Sara wriggled in her arms violently.
Sara, you can sleep
with me in my room tonight if you want to. Charlie was
trying to be the sweet big brother and comfort his sister.
Steven patted him on the head.
Cmon, Sara. Well be back. We all just need
to get some rest.
Why cant we rest
here? She kept screaming.
Sara, honey, me and
Uncle Jack will still be here, said Ben reassuringly.
When you move into the main house you can visit us anytime.
That is, if it is ok with Mommy and Daddy?
Tara suddenly felt awkward.
Aside from the fact that they seemed to know very little about
this place, it seemed odd that she would have relatives living
on the property. Were they expecting to stay forever? Surely
they knew they would have to leave someday.
(And thanks for putting
that suggestion into my kids head.) She politely smiled,
realizing she may have given herself away.