AFTER BIDDING HIS parents farewell, Daniel was to drive back home, but a few miles down the road he stopped the car. Sitting next to him was Allison, feeling tired and flustered by his determination to visit Megan’s grave again so soon.
“But we’ve just buried her.”
“You can wait here if you want, but I’m going,” he said, opening the door and getting out.
She did likewise and followed him to the trunk of the car. “Aren’t you at least going to drive back to the farmhouse first? We are in the middle of nowhere.”
“No. I know a quick way from here,” he insisted, a flashlight in his hand.
She looked across the solitary road at the forest of tall birch trees extending over many miles, and then behind her, more trees.
“You are not serious.”
“Like I said, you can wait in the car and I’ll be right back.”
Without time for her to formulate a response, off he went following a narrow path leading deep into the woods. She quickly checked the car trunk for another flashlight but found none. Despite not being able to see clearly, she went after him. A stupid decision it seemed, as she had become lost fast, rushing by tree after tree after tree… But, not far along the way, a small flame glowing within reach guided her to a great circle of fire burning up to her knees.
“Hello? Is anyone out here? Dan?” she called out, wanting a response badly. Just then, a brisk of wind ran by her ear. She did a one eighty, saw no one behind her but the woodland from which she came. In the next second, she felt a hard thrust to her chest and consequently fell backward into the pit amid the scorching ring, a pit so deep that looked to have no bottom.
She never thought to land safely onto the ground after such a fall, but she did. Right away trembling cold, she wrapped her arms around herself and looked up at the opening appearing far out of reach. Not wasting another minute, she approached the slimy mud wall and began to climb using her bare hands. Though time and time again she tried, each attempt she would lose grip a few feet from ground. The flimsy tree roots out-curved from some spots hardly support her weight, and one by one they snapped, making her fall miserably.
As if things were not yet bad enough down in the dark, freezing hole. She was just recuperating momentarily when her hands felt something sticking out from beneath her. She moved off to kneel next to it, leaning so to study the object closely. Barely seeing it, she began to dig around this bulging thing, exerting herself to remove all the soil covering it in chunks until unearthing it entirely.
Lightning suddenly flashed across the sky, lending her a moment of clarity. It was then she found out what was lying in front of her — a female corpse, half-decayed, purple with blisters all over her winkled, frosty skin. Maggots had eaten her eyes while the rest of her facial features remained oddly untouched. On spotting the birthmark below her right cheekbone, there was no denying that she was, in fact, Megan.
The realization hit her in panic. She scooted away from the corpse till her back smacked the wall. There, she cowered, screaming at the top of her lungs, “HEEELP!!! HEEELP!!!” and then stopped to listen for signs of assistance.
In the middle of it, something crept her direction. She picked out a shadowy figure and felt its rimy hand curved around her neck, absolutely frightened.
“Meg… Megan is dead! She’s… dead!”
While struggling to break free, a voice, distinctively Megan’s, responded in a clear whisper to her ear: “You should have been the one to die…”
She tried to scream till she was choked out of sound. As those cadaverous fingers tightened their grip, in due time, she passed out.