The wind was blowing through the trees while Ari was getting down from the treehouse, hearing her friends talking with each other above her. She was going to walk a bit through the woods, since she was getting bored in their little hut. The walk was meant to calm her down, even though it didn’t help as well as she hoped. Although she had told Cassidy she didn’t believe in the strange things people claimed about this place, she didn’t even believe herself. Instead, she could remember that she had decided to go there herself once when she found skulls from people. But when she returned there with Duncan, it was all gone.
Perhaps she’d find it back now? Did she even want that? She wasn’t sure, really. She didn’t wish to come across any corpses, but she just wanted answers! Was that too much to ask for?! Probably, since it most of the time is, isn’t it? Whatever, it didn’t matter.
Out of a sudden, it got silent. Dead silent. It made her feel uncomfortable. The wind was still blowing, but there was no sound of leaves. No birds chirping. Nothing. Until there seemed to be walking something behind her. Probably just someone taking a little walk, right? Though, it felt unsettling. The fact that it was completely quiet out there besides the footsteps gave her goosebumps. It sent shivers down her spine. But the footsteps were coming closer. She turned around, but didn’t see anyone. Still, they came closer... And closer... And closer... Ari felt like she was being surrounded, but there was nobody there. She could hear her heartbeat and feel how she breathed faster and faster, panicking. Without a second thought, she ran away from the footsteps. Better safe than sorry. She wasn’t going to take any risk! Although, taking a walk through the woods on her own maybe was a risk all along. She should just turn back now. It isn’t a good idea to stay here for long.
But when she was walking back again, she came across a strange place. It was just a normal part of the forest, expect for the posters hanging on the trees. Posters of missing people. Girls, boys, children, adults, they were everywhere! The trees with the posters also seemed to be the only ones without any leaves. Now, there actually were sounds. Whispers. Screams. Once again, she felt like she was getting surrounded. There still was nothing to be seemed, but it was like those missing people had already deceased. And their spirits were surrounding her now. She really wanted to leave, but the posters seemed to be calling out her name. Still feeling unsettled, Ari decided to take one with her. Only one to show her friends and tell what she’d seen. After she had also taken a photo of the place, she grabbed one of the posters and scanned it. Impulsively, she looked at her left, being sure she saw a shadow walking across, out of the corner of her eye. But there was nothing. Must have been her imagination, then. She looked at the smiling girl in the picture. She had short, blond hair and dark green eyes. She truly seemed happy and was probably only eight or nine years old. “Amy Johnson”. Got missing not long ago, only two years. When Ari looked into the eyes of the young kid, she heard a voice in her ear. An unsettling and disembodied voice.
“They killed us. They hurt us. Please. End this. Don’t let anyone else feel what I’ve felt.”
Ari wanted to scream, but instead she did the first thing she could think of. Run. She ran and ran and ran until she finally was at the treehouse again. Kelsey was standing against the tree, chewing on his gum while playing a game on his phone. As soon as he saw Ari coming, he seemed to know something wasn’t right.
‘What happened?’ he asked. What was it that made him think something was wrong? Did she have fear in her eyes? Was it because she was running towards him? Was she sweating? ‘Ari, what’s wrong?’ She didn’t respond and just showed him the poster. He raised one of his eyebrows, quite confused. ‘Where did you find this?’
‘Where do you think I found this?’ Ari snapped. ‘In the McDonalds?’ Kelsey only sighed and kept staring at the poster.
‘What’s going on?’ Cassidy put her head through the window and Miles came down, looking at them concerned.
Kelsey showed them the poster and Ari later the photo she’d made too. They looked at each other before staring at Ari again. Kelsey looked worried and Miles didn’t really show one emotion. It was more like an overload of confusion, sadness and fear. But Cassidy was obviously excited.
‘Oh my god!’ she shouted. ‘What did you see? Did you smell anything weird? Was it cold at some places, but you couldn’t explain that? Tell me!’
‘I heard whispers.’ Ari said. She told everything else. The strange screams, the footsteps, the girl she heard talking, etc. When she mentioned the talking girl though, Cassidy looked at the poster and smiled.
‘Maybe that was this girl! And the shadow you saw was one of the ghosts of the missing people!’ The first thing might be possible, but the last thing just didn’t feel right. It was probably just her mind messing with her. It wouldn’t be the first time.
‘You shouldn’t go to the forest on your own again, Ari.’ Kelsey said seriously, looking at her strictly. ‘Next time I’ll go with you.’
As a response, Ari rolled her eyes and sighed. ‘You’re not my mom or anything.’ she snapped. ‘And don’t act like some tough guy that doesn’t fear anything. We all know that isn’t true.’ Kelsey only sighed and growled annoyed.
‘Let’s just leave.’ Miles said. ‘I don’t feel comfortable talking about this here. Let’s go home and call each other, okay?’
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