McIntosh Trail

Bethel

Austin Glennie, Staff Writer

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We trudged through the icy plain towards the warm and welcoming town of Bethel. With our obedient and snow covered huskies at our side, we were able to stay safe in the cold and unforgiving wilderness. Bethel was a town like no other. The small village held friendly people who all dressed in a similar fashion, with warm, blue coats and black robes underneath that seemed to portray some sort of depth. Some birds, of a strange and unfamiliar breed, flew above the town singing a haunting tune that left a numbing, cold wind behind. The town altogether was small and eerie in the way it functioned. Every man and woman of Bethel wore the same clothing, lived in the same style houses, and all shared the same resources they would gather. The black robes they wore stretched down to their feet and the blue coats were wrapped around their freezing faces.

The citizens seemed almost too friendly as my sled partner Boro and I scaled down the icy slope where we left our dogs to rest. As soon as we walked into the brightly lit square of the village, the atmosphere went from complete silence to a horde of bodies asking if we wanted the warmth of a fire. Me and Boro chose, at random, a man with long brown hair that went down to his mid back. He was very short and had unusually large feet. He acted as if he knew us from somewhere in his past and invited us into his house, which was bigger than most in Bethel, and showed us to a room in the rear of his house. We walked through a dimly lit hallway that was shockingly cold, sending a freezing sensation through my body as if I had been cut by chilled metal. We finally came to the room after walking for what felt like an eternity. The room was absurdly small with a large bed that leaned back against a window, taking up most of the room. Next to the bed there was an oil lamp standing on top of a nightstand that provided the only source of light in the wintery night. Aster, which was the name he had given us, left us to ourselves to regain our energy and restore our body heat in the light of the lamp. He soon returned with a basket of freshly cooked bread and icy bottles of milk, of which the animal of origin was unknown to me. We were immensely tired and I found sleep in my grasp at last.

I was woken up in what appeared to be the middle of the night by a loud crash. It sounded like two pieces of metal grinding together as if they were clashing in a battle over someone’s life, coming and going with strange patterns. I took the lamp, which had grown more dim throughout the night, off the oaken nightstand and tiptoed down the creaky hallway. The sound was extremely quiet at that point, but it still sent a chill down my spine and into my bare feet every time it started back up. Halfway down the shadowy and unforgiving hallway, the lamp started to flicker. That was when I noticed the thick oil leaking from a crack in the base of the lamp I hadn’t noticed before, and it had been dripping down the hallway. The brown oil seemed to have its own current as it looked to be pulled down the hallway and under the basement door. I followed the oil trail out of complete curiosity. By the time I arrived at the basement door, the oil in the lamp had already all drained and it left me in the pitch black darkness of a lifeless home. I persisted. I followed the syrupy path of taunting, brown oil down towards the basement door. That door was different than any other in the house. It was made from an almost black wood that seemed to scream out a warning to anyone who dared come close to its poison ridden knob. I reached for the doorknob and ripped the door open as fast as my arm could manage. A huge gust of air blew against my chest and forced my back against the wall. Something about the air frightened me as it sought to close my vision. The dark had almost finished its duty, but I forced myself away from the shadowy comfort of the wall and worked my way to the basement stairs beyond the black door. Looking into that stairwell was like looking into an abyssal tunnel that led straight to Hell itself. One could almost see the tendrils of some demon ready to grab whoever came down into its domain. Looking down into the dark stairwell focused my senses on the grinding of metal. It had become louder than ever and had come to be something of a distorted mess. I took my first wary steps down into the creaky stairwell. The scraping of metal got louder as I inched closer to the bottom of the steps, almost to the point of deafness, but soon it completely stopped. The darkness was so powerful I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I stepped in the oil as it flowed down the stairs and my feet were soon soaked, which was the only sense I had in the blackness of the wooden stairwell. It looked as if I was halfway down the stairs when a group of three eyes joined me in the dark of the stairwell. My body locked up in terror as my eyes met the gaze of a creature never meant to be created. Its face was shrouded by the gaseous air and its body still hidden by the dark. The fiend started taking heavy and spiteful steps up the stairs towards me. The oil from the lamp soon inexplicably caught flame downstairs. I ran as fast as humanly possible up the stairs, trying to escape the flames that were darting towards my feet. I ran up to grab the door, but I slipped in the flaming oil on the ground and became one with the dark.

I soon woke up in the tiny room with the oversized bed; my partner was resting next to me. The clashing of metal started up once more. This time though, I thought it was best not to disturb whatever lie beyond the black, disturbed, basement door.

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