Lighting the Way

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man finds himself lost in the woods.

Submitted: August 30, 2013

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Submitted: August 30, 2013

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Jonah listened to the rhythm of his footsteps as he made his way down the long road. He could feel the heat radiate off the black surface and the ache of his feet begin to bother him. He didn’t know how he got to the road or even where he was before but something pushed him down the path that was laid out before him.

Hours went by as he watched car after car pass him, not even noticing him. Once the sun dipped below the tree line did he finally have some comfort. He wiped his head with his hand and looked around him as he noticed the birds chirping slowly fade until only the sound of the wind in the trees found his ears.

Silence.

Step by step he trudged on as the air cooled around him. The cover of trees became thicker and the canopy blocked out any light from the stars or the moon. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the lighter. He felt the cool, smooth surface of the metal, flipped it open and after a few ticks a spark came to life in front of his eyes.

He pushed his body down the road, hearing noises all around him. He could hear the sound of leaves crackling in the distance, and the faint sound of footsteps nearby. A slow white mist started to descend around him, making it harder to see.

“Hello,” he called out. No response. “I hear something out there, but I do not see you! Please show yourself,” he said, his voice shaking. Suddenly behind him he heard it.

Crack!

Without thinking twice, Jonah started to run down the road. He held the lighter in front of him, but the unsteadiness of his arm made it go out. Standing in total darkness, he fumbled with the lighter.

Click

Click

Finally, a spark shot out and standing only feet away from him was a shape of what appeared to be a man. He was hunched over, his head covered by a black cloak. Jonah noticed he was clutched something tightly. In a slow motion, the figure tapped the object revealing a bright light, brighter than an ordinary lantern, which lit up the area around them. It shined through the thick fog, moving it away as though it was being pushed by some unseen force.

The area had transformed from thick, round trees with green leaves to rows and rows of strange and twisted trees. They twisted around one another forming a wall on the side of the road. Each tree was armed with thick thorns like barbed wire. The sky above was completely black as though a blanket had been pulled over their heads.

The figure raised a hand, motioning for Jonah to follow. Jonah hesitated, staring at the figure and the light moving slowly down the road.

“Who are you?” Jonah said, his voice echoing around him as he followed.

The figure didn’t respond, but kept walking.

“I said, ‘who are you!’”

The figure stopped and as Jonah approached, it turned to reveal a wrinkled face of an old man, his eyes hollow and red.  White hair hung stringy over his face, and a long untidy beard masked his chin. His lips formed a grin unnerved him. He opened his mouth and a shrill voice spoke.

“I am the Charon,” the voice said. His lips parted in a bigger grin than before showing rows of rotten teeth. She let the words hang in the air before continuing, walking slowly, swinging the lantern in front of him.

Jonah went silent and watched the old man walk away from him. He followed behind him slowly. When he spoke this time, his voice was softer. “What is this place?”

He looked around looking for any kind of clue of where he was. Nothing around him looked familiar and it was although he had stepped into a different world.

Soon enough, up ahead was a small hut. The man slowly walked towards the hut, but when she approached the door, Jonah noticed that the door had neither door knob nor a way to open it. The man placed his wrinkled hand on the door, showing his long, dark finger nails. The door shook, dust and dirt falling from its rotting wood. It slowly opening making a long groan. 

The man placed the lantern on a table and it lit up the entire room.

The table was cluttered with different objects. Everything from rotting carcasses of small animals to cups filled with what looked like thick, black blood. Jonah covered his mouth as a smell of rotting flesh.  His eyes scanned the room to see a mess of rotten apples and what was left of a ravan; its wings were pulled apart and blood dripped from the wounds. In the far corner was a bed made not of cotton or blankets but of small rags that looked as though they were bloody.

After regaining his breath from the wretched smell, he managed to speak. “Where am I and how do I get out of whatever this place?” he asked watching the woman closely.

The woman gave a few coughs then spoke in a soft voice. “I know who you are Jonah,” he said. “I know that your wife crossed her soul to the other side,” she said giving another cough, this time it was deep and raspy.

“How do you know my name and my wife?” Jonah asked taking a step back, towards the door. “Who are you?” he said reached for the door, but couldn’t find any way to get out.

Charon looked at Jonah and his body started to tense up. His arms shot straight out to his side as he spoke again. This time his voice changed from a high and shrill voice to a low, gruff voice. It was as though it was someone or something else speaking.“You will never escape!” the voice turned into a cackle that rumbled the hut, shaking it violently like an earthquake.

Jonah banged on the wall. “Someone help me!” he shouted. He banged on the wall harder until the door swung open making him stumble through and land on his knees before hitting his body hard on the ground. The ground shook violently making the twisted trees shake around him. He jumped to his feet and started to run as fast as he could down the road, deeper into the darkness. As he slowed down, he could feel the earth slow down and all was still around him again.

Jonah pulled out his lighter again, flipping it open and flicking it. It sparked with each click until finally a small flame ignited.  He moved it around looking for any sign of the hut, but it was gone.

After what seemed like hours of walking, he could hear the soft sound of water. As he continued in the same direction, he noticed that the ground became soft and sandy. Closing the light, he leaned down and grabbed a hand full, letting it sift between his fingers. There was no wind, but the sound of water was greater now as though it was crashing into a wall.

Looking down the path he saw a light. As he approached it, he noticed it was a lamp, attached to the bow of a boat. A rope tethered the boat to a wooden dock which looked as though it hadn’t been used in years.

Taking a step onto the dock, he heard the creak of his weight on the wood. The wood boards groaned under his step as he made his way to the boat. Stepping carefully into the boat, he sat down. Instantly he noticed that there were no paddles.

“How am I supposed to get across the water if there are no paddles?” he said out loud. Suddenly, he felt a cool breeze blow across his skin. As though the wind was talking, he heard a female’s voice. A voice that was very familiar to him.

“Let go and trust me.”

Jonah looked around for the source of the voice, but no one was around. “Bella!” he said looking around. “Where are you?”

 There was silence around him again.

After a few seconds of doubt, the boat jerked forward, moving him from the bench of the boat. Looking up he could see a large metal chain rise from the water as it pulled the boat across the water.

In the corner of his eye he swore that he saw something. When he looked straight again, but this time he was sure that he saw something in the water. Carefully, he leaned over and peered into the water to see the ghostly appearances of people in the water. Some were almost skeleton-like, but others only floated by as though they were real.

“What is this?” Jonah said out loud. He stared at the people that floated by, they peered up at him as though they were lost.

Jonah scanned the hollow people hoping he would see someone he knew until he saw her. A woman in a long dress, beautiful long blonde hair and diamond earrings.

“Bella!” he said leaning over farther. He started to reach out for her, but pulled back when the boat started to rock. The ghostly woman gazed up at him, as though she was in agony. All Jonah could do was stare at her, mesmerized by her sight.

“I am sorry, my Bella,” he said softly as she floated alongside him. “I was not able to save you,” he said softly. He covered his face with his hands as he tried to stop the sadness that was building up inside him.

“Please, let me come with you,” he said looking at her again. He leaned towards the water again as the boat started to rock with his movements. He held out his hand as though Bella would just reach up and climb onto the boat with him. Her hand reached towards the surface of the water as though she knew what he wanted.

Not standing it anymore, he reached into the water and touched the cold hand. He felt his heart skip a beat and happiness overcame him.

Suddenly the cold hand turned black and grabbed his wrist. The boat began to rock as he struggled to pull away. The hand pulled him harder and harder until the boat was rocking so violently that it began to flip and Jonah was thrown head first into the icy cold water. The ghostly image of his wife disappeared as he started to sink lower and lower into the depth of the water. Above him he could see the light on the boat hover above him before going out, casting him into total darkness. He began to thrash and kick his legs, but no matter how he struggled, he couldn’t go up. It felt as though a weight was pulling him down into the black water.

The cold water numbed his body until he couldn’t feel his arms or legs. The numbness hugged his body as he lost the will to move and he felt the air in his lungs gasp one last time as his let himself

Opening his eyes, Jonah saw that he was sitting in his blue, rocking chair back in his apartment. The smell of home-baked cookies filled the air. He looked around him and saw bright blue streamers hanging from the ceiling on the table in front of him was a small white box with a blue bow on top.

Before he could reach down to grab the box, he heard footsteps and then he saw her standing there. She had bright blonde hair, lightly pale skin with red lipstick, just like he remembered her. Her deep green eyes lit up and a smile formed on her lips.

“Honey, I told you that you had to wait for me before you open,” Bella said walking into the room. She had on a white dress with a dark blue sash that went around her waist.

“I’m sorry Bella; I’m just so excited. It’s not every day I get to relax,” Jonah said with a smile.

Bella walked to the table and picked up the box and sat on his leg. Her warm hands softly grabbed his hand, turned it face up and placed it in his palm. Her small fingers touched his hand and it brought a smile to his face.

“Now you may open it,” Bella said with a grin.

Jonah nodded and pulled the bow off. Opening the box, he saw a metal lighter in the center. At first he wasn’t sure what to think, but when she saw his expression she explained.

“I know you don’t smoke, but I thought it was beautiful,” she explained. “I recently heard a myth that was very interesting. There was a woman a goddess that lived long ago, among the clouds with the rest of the mystical beings. She would come down to Earth every day to walk among the mortals. One day she saw a man so handsome that she would follow him around the cities, just so she could watch him. Eventually, she met with the man and they fell madly in love. The other Gods became jealous and demanded that she never visit him again,” She said, moving her body so she was straddling him.

“Before she returned to the heavens, she gave him a torch that was made out of iron from the heavens itself. She told him that whenever he needed to be guided, this torch would be so strong that it would light his way wherever he went. Eventually the man died, but the legend is that even today their love is so strong that it lights up the night sky.”

Jonah gave her a smile as he moved his thumb over the cool, metal lighter. He gave it a flick, but nothing happened. Two more flicks and no flame came out. Bella looked at it and frowned.

“I’m sorry, it worked fine in the shop,” she said looking at him. “Perhaps I will take it back tomorrow,” she said leaning in and kissing him softly on the lips. She moved his brown hair away from his eyes. Jonah only shook his head.

“No, it’s perfect the way it is,” he said with a grin. “I love it. Thank you.”

Bella nodded then stood up. “We need pack. Don’t want to oversleep and run into traffic at the lake,” she said walking towards the door.

As she walked, the room began to spin and everything began to dissolve away like smoke. Jonah watched it all float away until he was surrounded by blackness. Starting from far he could see what looked like a ball of light moving towards him. The ball bobbed up and down as though it was walking. As it grew closer the ball of light it transformed into a person that he recognized.

“Bella,” Jonah said watching her come closer. She wore the same dress she as on the day she died. It was red with white flowers, stopping down past her knees. She stepped towards him and placed a warm hand on his cheek.

“Jonah,” Bella said her voice drifting away. “You do not have to be afraid anymore.” Her words seemed to flow through him.

“Is this real?” Jonah asked putting his hand to hers. Her skin was warm against his hand. “

Bella gave a soft smile. “It can be if you want it to be.”

Jonah felt himself starting to cry as he looked into her eyes. “I’m sorry that I couldn’t save you,” he said. “The water was too rough and tour guide said it would fine–“

“I know. I forgive you honey,” Bella said. “I don’t have much time. You need to let go.”

“Let go? But—“ His voice was overturned by a loud sound of water rushing. He felt his body hit then picked up by a force rushing. He closed his eyes as he felt his body being flung into the air. The air rushed past his skin until he felt the cold water rushing around him.

Jonah opened his eyes and felt the cold black water was becoming calmer He kicked and swam hard through the water until he felt the sandy gravel on his hands and knees.

He turned his body over and looked up at the moon that hung above him Jonah slid his hand into his pocket felt the cool metal between his fingers. As he took it out, he wiped some of the water away. Flipping it open, he ran his fingers over the trigger as he stared at it. Holding his breath he flipped the switch.

Click

Click

Nothing. Jonah felt his breath slow as he took it in. Shoving the lighter back into his pocket, he stood feeling his legs become wobbly as he looked down the road that seemed to go on forever. At the fair end was a light that seemed to become brighter and brighter until he had to cover his eyes as it blinded him.

“Come” said a gentle woman.

Jonah had no control over his body as he began to walk towards the light. Slowly it overcame him as he felt his body relax and drift away. 


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