M L Gammella’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Wrong Direction
“I think we are headed in the wrong direction,” David said, his flashlight swinging from side to side through the trees.
“I’m telling you, we are fine. I know these woods like the back of my hand,” Colton insisted.
“Dude, you could get lost in a wet paper bag.” He sighed. “I don’t know why agreed to this.”
“Because you love adventure.”
David sighed again and stopped, moving his flashlight around the small clearing. Colton stopped a few feet in front of him, his flashlight hanging limp in his hand.
“I love a warm bed and a hot meal too, and at this rate I’m going to have either.”
“Ye of little faith,” Colton chided as he consulted his compass.
David remained silent as he looked around. All the trees looked the same. They had been in the woods for over an hour, on a hike that Colton claimed wouldn’t take any longer than 45 minutes. He wasn’t a real big outdoorsman. Sure, he liked going on ‘adventures’ as Colton called it, but he preferred the urban kind. Being this far from a city --at least it felt like he was far from a city-- made him nervous.
Colton turned around, using his flashlight to examine a few of the trees. His brow was furrowed and didn’t look happy about something. A bad feeling weighed on David’s shoulders. He really wished he had told Colton he didn’t want to go when he still had the chance.
A twig snapped nearby. David whirled around and shined his flashlight in the direction of the noise. Nothing was there, just more trees melting into the darkness. His heart began to pound.
“Yeah?” his friend replied, as he continued to look at a particular tree with interest.
“What exactly were we out here for again?”
“There is supposed to be an old Indian burial site around here. I’ve been searching for it for years.”
“What makes you think we can find it now, and in the dark no less?”
“I got a tip from someone to help me refine my search.”
This idea was sounding worse and worse. “Who gave you the tip?”
“I’m not actually sure. It was from someone on an site I go to for stuff like this. He responded to a thread I posted.”
“Oh, great,” David spat, turning to face his friend. “We are out here in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night based on some asshole’s random tip? Who knows what is really out here or who? This could just be a ploy to get two dumb schmucks out here to do who knows what to us.”
Colton raised his arms in a peaceful gesture. “Relax, David. I’ve gotten lots of tips like this over the years from that site and they have never been wrong.”
“Pessimist,” Colton countered.
“Maybe, but it beats being a dead optimist.”
Colton shrugged and looked at his compass one final time. “We’re off track slightly. We need to continue to the north-west about 500 yards.”
David swallowed his apprehension and followed his friend. He kept a sharp eye out for anything unusual while they walked, his ears perked for the slightest noise. The only thing he heard were their footfalls through the brush. It still didn’t help him feel any more comfortable.
“Aha! It’s here! It’s really here!” Colton crowed ahead of him. “David, come here! Quickly! We found it!”
David trotted to where Colton was standing, shifting his weight eagerly from side to side. Colton’s flashlight illuminated another small clearing, the ground covered with mounds. The mounds weren’t in orderly rows like in normal cemeteries. The mounds were in some kind of pattern not visible by the ground.
“Wow,” David whispered. There weren’t any animals chittering or insects buzzing. There was an odd hush to the air, like someone or something was waiting.
Colton moved to step into the clearing and David grabbed his arm to stop him. “Wait, are you sure we should go out there?”
“Are you kidding? This is a gold mine!”
“But, aren’t these burial grounds considered sacred?”
“Maybe to the Indians, but they are all gone. The only thing left is their bones.” Colton pulled his arm from David’s grasp and walked into the clearing, stopping at the first mound.
David felt a very strong sense of wrongness in entering the burial ground. The Indians may be dead, but something was out there.
“David, come on. I need your help,” Colton called as he knelt on the ground.
Reluctantly, David joined his friend in the clearing. The wrongness he felt did not go away, but increased. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. This was such a bad idea.
“Can you hold your flashlight on the mound here?” Colton asked, as he pulled out a camp shovel out of his pack.
David complied and watched in horror as Colton began to dig at the base of the mound.
“Colton!” David hissed. “What are you doing?”
“Making us very rich!” Colton replied, a huge smile on his face.
David desperately wanted to get out of there but didn’t want to leave his friend. He felt very exposed and his gut was screaming for him to get out of dodge, that danger was very, very near.
“Colton, I don’t think this is a good idea. Let’s come back during the day,” David offered.
“I’ll never find this place again if I try.”
David shook his head and fought against everything that was telling him to leave. Colton had dug about two feet down when David began to hear drums.
“Colt, do you hear that?” David asked.
“Drums, like Indian drums?”
Colton laughed, the barking sound obscene in the quiet of the clearing. “David, you are hearing things.”
“I’m not hearing things. You really don’t hear that?” The drums slowly increased in volume.
“No, the only thing I hear is you, acting like a scared little girl.”
“Asshole,” David muttered. Something was out there, he knew it, and they weren’t happy about his and Colton’s presence.
“Man up, David. No one is out here except us.”
Another twig snapped behind David. He turned to the sound and his flashlight hit the ground.
“David, what are you do-” Colton froze mid-speech as he watched the body of his friend crumble, his head a bloody mess and hairless. He had been scalped. An Indian stood behind him, a bloody tomahawk in his hand.
Colton dropped his shovel and wiped his eyes, trying to make sense of what he was seeing. The Indian was still there, except Colt could see the trees and brush right behind him, right through him.
“Hey man, I- I, uh, I’m sorry. I’ll just leave …” Colton stuttered as he slowly stood.
The Indian held up his hand, his face dark and full of fury. As he stepped toward Colton, Colt bolted for the safety of the trees.
He barely heard the sound of a tomahawk whistling through the air before it thumped into his back, cutting his spinal cord, and knocking him to the ground.
The last thing Colton saw was the moccasin covered feet of an Indian long dead, seeking revenge for the desecration of his tribe’s burial lands.
M L Gammella lives in Ohio with her husband and their three pets. She is currently working on her first novel, a paranormal suspense based in Maine. Please follow her at @MLGammella and visit her website at Onward to the Written Word.