Chapter One

Chapter One

Gravel crunched underneath the tires. Gloomy shadows stretched across the road and over the hood of the car. Bright headlights penetrated through the darkness for an easy view. The sound of thunder rumbled so loud Kegan felt it beneath him in the seat. Paint on the car had been chipped off from neglect through the years.

Deep ditches with countless rocks was a sign of death if too close.

A road map marked with a red circle laid behind the steering wheel.

Sprinkle’s landed on the windshield once at a time then a cluster of them.

Kegan pressed a button by the radio as the wipers pushed most of the rain away.

Flashes of lighting illuminated past the skinny trees in the distance.

Kegan looked down at the map and followed the doted road, lifting his foot off the pedal.

In the passenger seat, Terrance inhaled from a cigarette as he ran a hand through his dark brown hair. It was time for a new haircut.

“Where are we going?” Terrance asked then handed the cigarette over to Neav who sat behind him.

Kegan placed the map back behind the steering wheel and pressed his foot on the gas pedal. “You’ll see when we get there.”

“Why are we even out here?” he slide himself down in the seat. He pulled the sweatshirt up to cover his neck. “It’s so dark and creepy.” Long sleeve shirts always kept him warm.

“I thought getting out of the house would do us good. Okay.”

“What were you doing on the computer?”

“You’ll find out.”

Neav’s black hair dangled on his forehead and past his pierced ears. He inhaled the cigarette then pasted it to Horace beside him. “Don’t worry Terrance, little red riding hood will bring you something good to eat.”

“Shut up, Neav. Listen to your hard core music.”

With a beer bottle in hand and the cigarette in the other, Horace’s brown hair mixed with some blond was a mess as if he’d had just woken up. Wet spots from drinking too many beers showed on his shirt and jeans that had holes and rips.

The car came to a stop on the side of the road. The headlights pointed toward a small open trail and a Do Not Cross sign.

Flashes of lighting had stopped and the rain lightened up. The moon peaked out from behind the thick clouds.

Kegan shut the car off and got out. He inhaled the fresh scent of pine and soil. The smell was better than cigarettes. He got out and walked over to the sign and stopped.

Rain drizzled down the blue raincoat he wore. After his dad Liam had died, he kept it, so he had something in memory of his. He still had things of dad’s, but this was the most treasured item. He remembered as a child running around in the front yard in a circle with both arms out like an eagle in the pouring rain. The sleeves had been too long and his little feet had tripped over the bottom of it.

A clash of thunder boomed through the sky and rumbled under his shoes. His heart thudded as his body and arms stiffened.

   Dang these storms. I hate it when that happens.

He had never been a big fan of storms since the fifth grade. His sister Maddisyn, one year older then him use to laugh when he would get scared.  To get away from it, he use to hide in the tub and cover himself with as many blankets and pillows as he could. Their house was the only one without a basement in the neighborhood.

   A cold beer would be great right now.

A cold drink always put his nerves at a calm pace. The thought had him wanting more.

“Kegan,” Terrance called from the passenger seat. “What’d you doing man, get back in the car.”

“Yeah, you’ll get all yet,” Neav said.

Kegan heard, but ignored them. He was on a mission.

Heat still remained behind after the storm. His eye’s burned and stung from the humidity.

He removed the hood from his head, took the jacket off and shook it. Little droplets leaped in the air landing on the ground.

Walking back to the car he ran a hand through his blond hair to keep it from his face then set the coat between him and Terrance.

The tall, dark trees stretched under the starless sky. Wet leaves stuck to the sneakers he took from his dad’s closet. They were a little big, but they fit. The only way to keep them on was to tie them tight so they won’t slip off or come loose.

Twigs grabbed hold of the laces.

He set down in the driver’s seat with his back to the boys while picking the leaves and the twigs off.

He looked at the wet leaf in his hand as a memory from a long time ago took him back to when he was a little boy, raking the front yard with dad. Mushroom hunting with him and Maddisyn in the woods. It’d been six years now, but the pain and loneliness still hurt inside. Sometimes he would catch himself crying and go hide so nobody would see it.

He dropped the leaf and breathed out.

Kegan was never a hardcore smoker like his friends. The smoke always bothered him. He grabbed the newspaper from behind the steering wheel and walked back over to the Do Not Cross sign. “Are you guys coming or not?” Kegan called out. “Get over here.”

Neav and the other two got out of the car one by one.

Terrance fell behind. His eyes were bloodshot. He apparently needed something to keep his balance, but instead, he tripped over a rock and fell flat on the ground.

Horace and Neav laughed.

Kegan walked over and pulled him up under the arms. “You dummy. No more beer for you. And,” he took the pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket and tossed it as far as he could across the gravel road. It landed in the ditch. “No more smoking. You’ve had three already.”

Terrance’s red eyes widened. “Heeeeeeeyyyyyy maaaannnn.” He reached out toward Kegan, but missed and fell to the ground on his side and belched.

Kegan rolled his eyes and helped him back up on his feet then tapped him on the cheek to get his attention. “Terr, snap out of it.” He sighed. “I’m not babysitting you all night.” He turned and looked at Horace and Neav. “Watch him.”

Kegan walked through the bushes with his back to the others. When he was a little boy, he remembered he wandered around the woods while his dad walked with his stick that he had carved years ago. Maddisyn always ran ahead because she always wanted to find the first mushroom before they did.

The memories were a good thing for him. It was a way to remember his dad again. Other times it was just too painful, and he would have to leave. No question about it. But he knew coming into the woods it would bring back a lot of memories because they spent their time there the most. He should be doing homework, but instead he wanted to find this so-called witch house he read about on the web.

Before Kegan made his way he pulled out little flashlights and handed them out one by one to the others.

The boys including Kegan walked through the patch of woods and came to a stop.

With the flashlight pointed up by the branches, the sound of wings fluttered. Birds darted from the treetops. Brown dried leaves and twigs caked the ground.

Eyes glowed from the bushes surrounded by the dimness. Frogs croaked.

The flashlight gave Kegan a way of direction. He stepped over the rotting tree stumps, and oversized roots then came to a stop.

Terrence bumped into him from behind.

It didn’t faze Kegan one bit. He pointed the flashlight forward and said, “There it is.” A moment of excitement had his heart pumping.

Kegan couldn’t believe it was still here. After what happened with that young girl and the woman, he was sure the house would be knocked down at some point.

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