“Not tonight Harp. I have a bad feeling feeling…” he started while running his hand through his thick dark hair, then saw Harper’s smile turned to disappointment. “Well… I guess one race can’t hurt,” and he took off before Harper even had a chance comprehend what he had said.
“That’s a dirty trick!” she called from behind him, trying to catch up.
Racing home from school after soccer was something that Aaron and Harper had been doing for years. Their house was about three miles away, and out of the hundreds of times that they had raced, Harper had beat him twice. Aaron wasn’t about to just let his little sister win, and Harper didn’t mind; she liked the competition. He glanced back at his thirteen-year-old sister who had a look of sheer determination on her face, and she was starting to close the distance between them.
Aaron tried to put an extra spring in his step to stay ahead, but just a few seconds later he heard Harper scream. He stopped and turned around to see that she had fallen. Aaron raced to her side and saw that she had her hand pressed on her foot, trying to keep from crying.
“I… I don’t know what happened. I tripped over something I guess. Now I think I’ve sprained my ankle,” she said weakly.
He tried to help her stand up, but when she put weight on her foot, Harper winced in pain.
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Just lean on me.” Aaron said as she placed her arm around his shoulder and they slowly moved forward.
There was a strike of lightning followed by a booming thunder, and both Aaron and Harper looked up to see that the entire sky had been covered in a dark blanket within minutes.
“Home is still two miles away. We’ll never make it before this storm hits,” Aaron said worriedly.
Then they came to the park. A park that everyone enjoyed during the day, but no one dared to go near at night. There was a legend of an insane woman who haunted the park and wouldn’t let anyone come out alive if they entered it without the light of day.
“Aaron, let’s cut through here. It’ll save us time,” said Harper.
“Are you crazy? There’s no way that we’re going to walk through there now,” Aaron exclaimed.
“Oh do you really believe in that stupid ghost story?” said Harper laughing. “Come on, we’ll be fine. Home is just on the other side of the park.”
They took the path that led directly into the park. Aaron would never admit to Harper that he afraid, but he couldn’t help feeling that something horrible was about to happen. There were lamp posts lined up along the path that helped them see their way in the dark.
“See, this isn’t so bad,” Harper said, trying to keep from showing how much pain she was in. “We’ll be back in no…”
They both stopped. They could hear eerie music from a flute carrying all through the forest. The wind blowing through the trees from the storm made it impossible to tell where the music was coming from.
“Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…” said Aaron shaking.
Suddenly, a lamp post about two hundred feet away from them went out. And so did the next one. And the next one.
Harper was trying to breathe slowly. Aaron was impressed that she seemed more relaxed than he was.
“We need to stay calm,” she whispered.
Finally, the only lamp post that was still lit was the one that was three feet away from them. Then the music stopped.
“We’re going to make a run for it,” Aaron said, and just as he picked up Harper in his arms, the last light was extinguished.
Aaron bolted with Harper and ran as fast as he could. It was pitch black now, and thunder boomed over their heads making the ground shake beneath them. Aaron could barely see where he was going. He almost tripped on rocks and branches as he raced through the park. Then all of a sudden, he stopped, dropping Harper. He was frozen in his tracks and when Harper turned around, her face went white.
Standing right in front of them was a thin, pale woman with a red cloak draped around her.
She stared at them, not making a sound. Then she whispered in a raspy voice, “I hope now you children realize that coming here was…” she paused, then smiled saying, “… a mistake.”
Her eyes turned black, and she pulled out a knife, lunging towards them. Aaron grabbed a branch and smacked the woman on the head which caused her to fall to the ground.
“Run!” Aaron screamed as he and Harper both got to their feet. Harper dashed through the trees and got back onto the path. She could feel pain searing through her, but she didn’t stop. She let her feet carry her faster than she had ever run before and never looked back.
Finally, Harper reached the end of the path. She had made it out of the park and could see their house just a few hundred yards away.
“We made it, Aaron,” she sighed with relief.
Then her heart stopped. She turned around, but Aaron was nowhere to be seen.
“Oh no, no, no, no….” Harper gasped, walking back towards the park. “Aaron! Aaron where are you?!? Please Aaron!” she screamed, tears streaming down her cheek.
It had started raining. Harper raced through the mud to her neighborhood, screaming for help and praying that someone would hear her.
Search parties were sent, but to no avail. Aaron was never found. Harper never saw her brother again, and neither did she set foot inside that park as long as she lived.