A sunset-red car zoomed past Carla, grey tails of exhaust trailing behind like dusty snakes. Carla scowled. So they thought it was better to have fancy sports car then a fuel-free environment? Ha! That was a bizarre idea to Carla, walking along in her dull brown gypsy dress and apron, feet dirtied by the dust and dirt of the near-road track.. Yes, walking was fine for Carla.
Looking up, Carla noticed that the sun was high in the sky…she was running late. Making sure that her basket of apples was securely tucked under her left arm, Carla started sprinting towards the nearing woods.
The forest was dark green all around except on its crisp auburn floor, leaves of orange and red and brown patterned the ground. Carla’s bare feet caused indents in the soft ground and, although she was getting rather dirty scratching her hands on the rough bark trees, Carla enjoyed the fresh scent of life.
Suddenly, hearing a footstep behind her, Carla stopped just by a decaying wagon, abandoned in the forest carelessly. She peered through the darkness to observe a shape jump behind a tree.
“Hello, who’s there?” She called warily. She crept towards the tree and peered around it, but was not greeted by any unusual sight. The surrounding area did not look like it had been touched either. Puzzled, Carla returned on her journey through the forest.
Through the dense foliage, Carla spotted three large stones, possibly marking the edge of a cliff or large ex-mining hole, which were common among these centuries-old trees. These were certainly not an unusual sight.
Then she saw what was tied to the central stone. A frail tissue-like piece of cloth, paper-white and blowing slowly in the wind. A mysterious shadow descended on the rock so Carla looked up. Straight into the eyes of the figure who had been in the sports car. She had a sudden realization that he had been the one following her, and perhaps the one who had attached the cloth to the stone. But why?
Laughing at her expression, the guy leaned forward and plucked the white cloth off the stone, as though he knew exactly how it had been tied. He watched as the fabric slowly floated to the ground, as dainty and as light as a feather.
“Am I?” Teased the man. He had wavy brown hair that swayed in the wind with the piece of material and golden brown eyes, flecked with icy silver, and glistening. Also when he talked his accent was that of West Montana.
Carla fumed as she leant down to pick up the ‘rubbish’ from the floor.
“Why is this cloth here anyway?”
“It’s said that the ghost who lives down the deep mining hole often leaves little markers for its next victims.”
“But you put this here!”
“No, I didn’t…”
“But…weren’t you tailing me in the woods?”
The man’s face was the picture of innocence.
“I’ve only just arrived here…” He grinned, “It must have been the ghost!”
“I don’t believe you. Those are just silly rumours…” But Carla could feel her childlike self return as the nightmares she used to have visualized themselves again. Yes, she had heard tales of the countless victims lured to join ‘The Ghost’ in death; a handsome madman who used to run rampant in the old village which was said to be hidden deep in the soil under the leaves, who killed anyone who messed with him, until he himself was killed by one woman who managed to defy him. Apparently, he still roamed the woods trying to find the descendants of that woman, and then eliminating them. But why would he want Carla?
“I thought that was just a myth?” She said out loud.
When she didn’t receive a reply, she quickly looked around but she was alone in the clearing. The young man was nowhere to be seen and it seemed that Carla had been talking to herself all this time. There was no trace of his presence at all; no trace of spicy accent, no glimmer of his intelligent eyes, no flutter of his locks in the still air.
Maybe he was just a myth too…
Turning back to the rock, Carla’s eyes widened in surprise.
The piece of white cloth still clung to the rock-face, enticing her on.