Sacred Grove IV

‘Woods of swirling mist clouded Evynne’s vision as she ran from her unseen attacker. Chest heaving, tears streaming she prayed she could get away. It was right behind her its rancid breath heavy on the back of her neck.

From the mist, a black clawed hand struck her sending her flying into a tree. She gasped in pain as blood ran down her arm. She heard it coming, leaves and twigs snapped under its weight, its growl echoing in the still air.’

Evynne jerked awake screaming as the nightmare released its grip on her subconscious. Panting she quickly bolted running into the unknown, behind her she swore she heard someone call her name. The white walls threaten to encase her as she ran, black floor reflected her pale form drawing her into their depths.

Suddenly strong arms took hold of her pulling her off ground. She screamed, kicked at her capture.

“Honey, it’s me! Jethro!”

“She’s having a panic attack!” another voice cried.

“Don’t hurt me!” she heard herself scream.

The grip tightens as she continued to struggle, it was almost crushing. Several long minutes passed when finally Evynne’s surrounds level out and became clear.

“Jethro? Where am I?” she barely whispered.

Jethro’s grip loosened slightly, “You’re in the hospital, Cameron said you fainted.”

Evynne glanced over her shoulder, Jethro’s brown eyes hinted with worry. Taking a breath she glared at the doctor in front of her.

“Jethro, can you put me down?”

Jethro lowered her to the ground, his right hand ghosting her shoulder. “Are you sure you’re feeling alright Evynne? Maybe we should go back to your room.”

“No! I mean I feel fine, can we please go home?”

Jethro glance at the doctor, “As her guardian, I’m going to sign her released form.”

“I would advise against it, we still don’t know what the cause of her fainting spell.”

“Evynne says she’s fine, now please bring me the form.”

With all the forms signed Evynne raced ahead to burst from the hospital. The sterile air had confined her for too long, she missed the fresh air.

“Get in the car Evynne, Martha has been worried about and that is not good for her health.”

The ride home was a silent and a long one. She was happy when they pulled in front of the house with its perfect white fence.  She got out and wandered to the door wondering what awaited her inside. The house was oddly quiet, her footsteps seemed to echo on the wood floors. She made the way to the living room, hoping to find someone in here.

“Welcome home!” shouted Cameron jumping out from behind the sofa.

“Yes welcome home darling” giggled Martha wheeling out of the kitchen, “Are you feeling alright dear?”

“Ya, I’m just glad to be out of there. How long was I in there anyway?”

Cameron scratched the back his head nervously “Since last night. I didn’t realize you weren’t with me until I got to the spring. My bad.”

“What about the man? Has he been recovered?”

“What man honey? Cameron said you were laying in the meadow unconscious, you probably got overheated. Now come to the kitchen dearie you must be starving.” Martha cooed as she wheeled into the kitchen.

Evynne smiled and followed, only to stand in the doorway slacked jaw. The counters and the table were covered in many types of dishes. Heavenly aroma rolled off every one of them.

“I didn’t know what you would want so I made serval different types.”

“Martha love you shouldn’t have strained yourself.” Jethro sighed as he stroked his wife’s hair.

“It wasn’t any trouble I just want the best for my growing family. I finally got my wish, my son has come home and I now have a daughter. And then to top it off I have my strong man by my side.” beamed Martha as she gripped Jethro’s shirt to pull him down for a kiss.

Cameron chuckled and quickly covered Evynne eyes, “PDA, shield your eyes child!”

Evynne laughed as she playfully struggles with Cameron who acted like he was being overpowered by her meek frame.

Supper was warm, the conversation light and airy. Evynne couldn’t remember the last time she had so much enjoyment with a family meal. The meal was cut short when Jethro picked up a giggling Martha and headed to their bedroom.

“God, now if I could find a man like father, I would never complain about life ever again.”

“They seemed to really love each other.”

“Of course they do! They are the definition of marriage!”

“Perhaps, so you really didn’t see anyone else? What about the blood? There was so much of it, how you could not have seen it?”

Cameron gave a one shoulder shrug and took another bite of his cake. Evynne sighed and swirled her ice cream, could it have all been in her head?

She helped Cameron clean up their feast and said goodnight. Her room which gave her solitary now seemed a little too quiet after the noise at dinner. Snuggling deep within her blankets Evynne drifted off to sleep.

Downstairs the grandfather clock chimed waking her from her slumber. She stretched and groaned when she saw that the room was still swallowed in darkness. With a grunt, she repositioned herself and tried to go back to sleep. But sleep was not going to come.

Something cold and wet dripped and ran down her cheek. The first drop she wiped away, it was not till multiple drips splattered onto her face. Sitting up she turned on the bedside lamp to discover a thick black substance staining her hand.

“What the?”

Shakily she slowly looked up to see what the source was. She screamed as the creature with the white face hurled itself down at her. Throwing herself from the bed she slid across the floor as she tried to make it down the stairs. At the top of the stairs, a thick mist rolled up with black arms reaching hoping to ensnare her.

“No!”

Quickly she ran to the window and open it and crawled down the tree. She panted as creature oozed out and came after her. She fled into the woods behind the house.
She kept running as the mist became thick and hard see through. Tears formed in her eyes as a haunting almost familiar sensation crept into her being. This was her nightmare, she was living her nightmare.

“I don’t want to die! Someone, please help me!”

From the mist, a clawed hand struck her. The force sends her flying into a tree. She screamed in pain and gripped her shoulder, as the sound of the creature echoed as it came closer. It growled and lunged forward jaws open wide.


Sacred Grove V

Sacred Grove III

The chorus of birds arose Evynne from her slumber. Blinking she tried to comprehend her white washed surroundings.

“Oh, yeah I’m in the Kingston’s house. I wonder what time….” she paused as a sweet aroma drifted up the stairs.

Evynne smiled and quickly changed and hurried down the stairs to the kitchen. The kitchen was filled with natural light, with one dark a brooding cloud of tension above the table where Cameron an unknown man sat.

“Oh Evynne you’re awake. Jethro darling this is Evynne.”

Evynne jumped as Martha wheeled pass her to husband, said husband glance up at her with dark brown eyes. He stood and stuck out his hand, which she shook. His grip was tight and unfriendly.

“Jethro Kingston, chief of police, I’m sorry I was unable to pick you up at the station. I’ve been drowning in my work for the past few months.”

“It’s okay, Cameron walked with me here, he’s a real lifesaver.”

At the table Cameron blushed and quickly took a bite of his eggs. Martha beamed at her blushing son, while his father leveled a glare.

” I see. At least he’s a the slow path of redemption, come your breakfast is getting cold.”

Evynne quickly took her seat next to Cameron, who passed her a stack of pancakes and syrup. Breakfast was intense as the two males ate in silence while Martha chit-chatted oblivious to the elephant in the room.

“I have a great idea!” exclaimed Martha suddenly, “Jethro how about you take the kids on a tour of the town.”

Cameron winched as he shot pleading looks at his mother, almost begging her to reconsider. Martha only smiled and batter her eyes at her husband, who in grunted in response.

After breakfast cleared and cleaned up Jethro kissed Martha and shooed the kids out the door.  Outside Evynne froze as Jethro held open the backdoor of his police cruiser.

“I take it you’ve been in the back a few of these aye?” he chuckled as she slowly got inside.

She only smiled in response as she fastened her seatbelt, praying that this was going to be a soothing trip.

She was wrong.

As they drove the tense brooding cloud hung in front part of the cruiser ready to explode at any given moment. And it did, when Jethro let out a sigh.

“Damn it! Out with it already! C’mon father let me know what is whirling in the pissed off brain of yours! I mean honestly are we really going to just sit here and ignore the elephant in the room?” exploded Cameron throwing up his hands.

Evynne squeak at the sudden outburst and pushed herself into the seat wishing that she could anywhere but here.

“Damn right I’m pissed! Ten damn years you’ve been gone with not even a letter to soothe your mother’s worries!  After all we did to raise and care for you and that’s how you repay us? By leaving with a god damn drifter, who was three times your age!”

“I was an adult! I could go and do whatever I wanted, and you had no right to tell me otherwise!”
“And yet here you are back in your forgotten mother’s bosom. Your prince wasn’t all he was cracked up to be aye? I see you have no bag, just the clothes on your back.  So tell me was he worth it?”

Cameron bit his lip and turn his to look out the window, “At first yes, but then he….changed.”

Evynne eyes widen when Cameron shoulders started to shake, and to see his tears fall freely.

“He raped and beat me, and cheated on me. I couldn’t get away from him. I was a prisoner, in my own house. So yes, you were right about him. You right about every damn thing. I had no where else to go, and so came here where knew I would be welcomed. Or so I thought, if you want me to leave I will.”

Jethro sat there speechless, as the cruiser rolled to a stop on the side of the road.

“Get out of the car Cameron.” Jethro ordered.

Cameron blinked, tears still trailing down his tan face, “What?”

“Don’t make me say it again.”

Sobbing Cameron got out along with Jethro, which made Evynne highly concerned. With heavy steps Jethro made his way to Cameron’s side of the cruiser, and without warning threw his arms around his wayward son. After a brief pause Cameron returned the embrace and cried into his father’s shoulder.

“No matter what you do your mother and I will always love you. Don’t ever forget that you hear? And that goes for you to Evynne, I hope one day you can call upon us to be your family.”

Evynne sat there in shock, was he serious? Jethro’s looked confirmed her suspensions, again as she thought to herself perhaps these family could hers.

Once everyone calmed and settled their composure the tour began. It was a short tour since the biggest thing in Sacred Grove was courthouse. Evynne was surprised though to see several different little stores, that lined the main street. They seemed to have everything. From Daisy Organic Grocery Store, to Mike and Bill’s Pastries. Though out of the blue Cameron order to stop in front a store called Prince Finest.

Cameron almost flew into the store with Jethro and Evynne on his heels. Inside there was a loud crash.

“Cameron? Is that you! Whoa, whoa hey get off of me! You’re going to ruin my painting!” Evynne stood in the doorway amused as she watch Cameron rub on a pink hair boy, who was trying to escape his grasp.

“God Prince you haven’t changed a bit!” exclaimed Cameron as he continued his snuggling.

“Ya, ya I know I haven’t changed but for the love of god get off me!” yelled Prince as he finally freed himself. Prince’s hazel eyes narrowed as he straighten his shirt, “Be thankful you didn’t ruin my painting, or there would have been blood to pay.”

Evynne rolled her eyes as she bypassed the boys to look at the half-painted painting. The background scenery was breathtaking with no detail left wanting, it was to beautiful to put into words. But it was the center image that had her staring, upon a ledge was the giant white stag she saw from the train. Prince had captured its every detail, for the moss and vines to the branching antlers.

“Ah, I know that look. You’ve seen him to no? An honor that, he rarely shows himself, especially to outsiders.”

She whipped around only to have Prince chest to chest with her, “What do mean by him?”

“Folklore says he’s the Lord of the Forest, the Guardian of Sacred Grove.” Jethro explained, “that is if you believe in such tales.”

“Folklore is laced with truth, remember that Jethro. You are nothing but sprout in this great forest.” Prince hissed as he resumed his painting.

“Oh no the paintbrush has meet the canvas, it time to leave if you value your lives. Prince gets very serious when he paints.” Cameron whispered as he hurried his father and Evynne out of the shop.

Jethro shook his head, “Prince has always been a unique character of Sacred Grove, I always thought that you and him would become a couple.”

“Ha, no chance in hell. That boy is straighter than the Halo River.” laughed Cameron as he held the car door open for Evynne.

They continued on their drive, when suddenly the police radio went off.

‘Chief Kingston, do you copy?’

“Ya, Murray what’s the situation?” Jethro replayed

‘We have an 10-68 up at Old Kelly Farm on route 1.’

“Shit, I told Luther to keep those damn sheep in fence. 10-4 Kingston out.”

Jethro sighed as he glanced at his passengers, “Hey, I have some sheep wrangling to do. Do you two want me to drop you both at house or…”
“Can you drop us out at Arrow’s Point? I want to give Evynne a tour of some the woods while it’s still light out.” Cameron cut in.

Arrow’s Point was a nature trail that whined itself through the ancient woods. They ambled along with the sound of wildlife cocooning the them in serenity.

“A few miles ahead, there is a spring and one of the best swimming holes. Some other time I’ll show you the hot spring, and my secret sanctuary.”

Evynne smile as Cameron went on and on about how he was the best guide of the forest when Evynne heard a cry on the wind. She froze as the cry echoed again, it was coming from her left.

Without thinking she darted towards the cry, down a hill and through a grove of trees. The trees thinned to a meadow on fire from the setting sun,  and stained with blood. In the center a man was been dragged by a creature its massive claws completely through his torso.

The wind whooshed in her ears as the lumbering creature snapped its head to look at her its face white with no features. It pulsed power shaking the ground, Evynne stumbled and collapsed. The world swirled as the darkness quickly swallowed her.


Sacred Grove IV

Sacred Grove II

Their arrival at station seemed almost storybook, as they sat and watched the train retreat back into the darkness. The other passengers had moved on into the town, leaving Evynne and Cameron sitting under a flickering streetlight.

“Someone was suppose to pick you up at the station right?”

“I thought there would be someone. What time is it?”

The blast of light that came from Cameron’s phone made him jerk and squint, “It 1:00 am damn, no wonder no one is here. Jethro is probably working late.”

“What about Martha?”

“Her meds knocks her out around eight.”

Evynne frowned as she shifted her backpack to her back, “Well I’m not sleeping on a bench, you’re a local right? Can we walk to the Kingston’s house?”

“It’s across town, but it’s manageable. At least you’ll get a nighttime view of the town.”

The symphony  of crickets provide ambience as they walked through the sleeping town. It was odd for Evynne to not be bombarded by the blaring car horns, and not to have the pungent smell of the factories fill her nostrils. It was soothing, she couldn’t help but take in a deep breath.

Beside her Cameron chuckled.

“What?”

“Oh, it’s nothing. It’s just seeing a city girl embracing the country lifestyle is amusing.”

She huffed as she looked up to the masterpiece in the night sky. Even the stars here were brighter.

“Maybe I can give you a tour of the woods, they say spirits like to linger. People have claimed to see them, well the stronger ones at least. But know I where to find a killer hot spring, and the sweetest fruits.”

“Sounds great, amazing in fact. Hopefully I get enjoy the scenery for awhile.”

Cameron paused, his green eyes studied her, “Why wouldn’t you?”

Evynne eyes closed as she debated on how to respond, “I’ve not  been greatest foster kid, to be honest this is my last chance.”

“Ah, well the Kingston’s are good people and if you meet them halfway they’ll gladly meet you there as well.” he said as he playfully bumped his hip with hers.

She manage a small smile as she bumped him back. Maybe he was right. This place could be her home, all now she had to worry about were the people.

When they finally reached the house it was no surprise to see all the lights were off. It was a modern two-story house with a white fence and garden to boot. Cameron hummed as he fiddle with the mailbox.

“Ha, they haven’t change.” he whispered as pulled out a key and unlocked the door.

Evynne entered behind him as was greeted with the sweet scent of freshly made pies. The décor was quaint obviously a couple live there childless.

Cameron lead her to the living room where a  raven haired woman in a wheelchair slept soundly, a book of nursery rhymes rested on her lap.

“Martha” he whispered as he gently stroked the woman’s cheek.

Martha’s blue eyes lazily opened, but come to life when she saw Cameron.

“By spirits of these woods, if this is dream don’t ever wake me up.”

“It’s no dream, I’m back, and I’ve brought company. Martha this is Evynne, Evynne, Martha.”

“It’s a pleasure meet you Mrs. Kingston.”

“Oh my beautiful flower, you call me Martha for now. Perhaps mum at a later date?”

Evynne blinked and just curtly nodded, which made Martha smile.

“Evynne, Cameron my darlings where is Jethro? He picked you up at the station right?”

Cameron threw back his head and laughed, “We walked here! I guess Jethro had to work late.”

Martha frowned as she wheeled herself to the grandfather clock, “Perhaps, I’m sorry you had to walk. But now that your here how about some pie? It’s your favorite Cameron.”

Evynne smiled  as she watched Cameron lick his lips and greedily rubbed his hands together.

“Pie sounds good Mrs. Kingston…I mean Martha.” Evynne stammered when Martha and Cameron gave  her a look.

“The pie was delicious! Better than I remember!” exclaimed Cameron helping himself to a third slice of blackberry pie.

“Ya! I’ve never tasted a pie like this before, your an amazing cook Martha.”

“I’m happy you like it. Cameron didn’t your partner make you any while you were with him?”

Silence dropped over the table as Cameron fiddled with the remaining pie on his plate. Evynne glanced between them feeling cut out of the conversation. She opened her mouth to say something but the words caught in her throat.

“I don’t want to talk about him. Hey I’m beat is it ok if I’m going to turn in I mean that is if you haven’t changed my room.”

“It’s still the same, sleep tight.” Martha said as Cameron left the room

“He has a room here?”

Martha covered her mouth to hide a giggle.

“Of course he does, after all  he once lived here. Cameron was Jethro’s and I first foster child. He only ten when we came into our lives. So in every way that matters he’s your brother. That is if you want to call him that.”

“I’ll think about it. Hey Martha, it’s really late where is my room?”

“Oh, course where are my manners. The attic is all yours darling, sleep well.”

“Ya, you to I’ll talk to you later.”

Evynne walked down hallway, and up the stairs. The floor plan of the attic was extremely open expect for an area where she assumed held a bathroom.

She threw her backpack on to the bed and wander to the to window, only to have her breath taken away by the view. The forest  was at her window to point that she could sneak out down a tree without anyone noticing.

“Idiot, what about last chance you don’t understand?” she hissed to herself.

She sighed and pushed away from the window. This was her last and only chance of hopefully being part of a family.

Collapsing on the bed she stare up at the ceiling, wondering what type of man Jethro will be. Martha was a pleasant woman, hopefully Jethro will be the same.

“I shouldn’t worry, I’ll soon meet him.” she yawn as she drifted off to sleep.


Sacred Grove III

Sacred Grove I

They say when you begin a journey you’re supposed to feel ecstatic, hopeful. What happens when, at journey’s end, you must start another? For what if home is not permanent? It was a constant, internal battle Evynne knew all to well.

As she sat in the train on her way to her new “home,” she clenched her backpack knowing she wouldn’t be lingering in this town. She hated it. She was not some object people could give up when they no longer wanted her. Each and every one of her previous families told her they loved her, that she was the apple of  their eye.

But she couldn’t utter those sacred words.

Mother and Father.

She remembered her parents, images that flashed, blurry for a toddler she had been, when they had left her on the stairs of the orphanage. Evynne remembered crying and reaching for those now faint images, wondering why they had left her behind.

Her fifteenth birthday was just around the corner. She wondered if she would be celebrating with her new parents or on a returning train. She sighed as she ran her fingers through her short, choppy platinum hair. Light blue eyes gazed out the window at the land that was beginning to be swallowed in twilight.

The hustle and the bustle of the city almost seemed like a distant memory as the forest consumed much from view. Evynne frowned. She didn’t care much for the forest. Too many bugs. Hopefully her new home had bug spray.

Her train of thought came to a halt as she caught eye of a massive stag. Time itself seemed to slow as the giant creature emerged from the forest, its rack branching out more than some of the trees around it. Moss clung to its antlers while vines draped beside its face.

Its muscles rippled as birds landed on its white hide as its blue eyes surveyed the path laid before it. Never before had she seen such a magnificent animal.

It was almost…magical.

“Hey, Earth to moron!” A shrewd voice bellowed, knocking her out of her trance.

Evynne blinked and turned to see two boys, one of them grabbing her backpack. She shot to her feet, eyes narrowed.

“Give it back!” When her demand was met with laughter, she threw herself at the older boy. He laughed and shoved her back into her seat. He was grinning as his smaller accomplice spat to the side, voice like an incensed snake as he asked, “What’s a boy like you doing on this train?”

“It’s almost disturbing to see an outsider board the train to Sacred Grove.”

Evynne eyes darkened, pale fingers grasping the smooth handle of her hunting knife, “I’m no…”

“Darling, there you are!”

The two boys froze as a man approached. Clearly the elder boy was not a welcomed site; the smaller boy seemed to curl into himself as the other said, “I thought you were in Linntown with your bitch, Cameron.”

Cameron smiled devilishly, “My living arrangements were Substandard, at best. Now, if you please, give back my friend’s belongings. It would be appreciated.”

Both boys gulped and looked at each other before they threw her backpack to Cameron, who smiled and helped himself to the seat beside her. Evynne glanced over at him, an awkward smile pulling on her lips.

“Thanks, I’m Evynne.”

“Cameron. I’m at your service, my lady.” He purred, a smile pulling at his lips as he took and kissed the top of her hand.

Evynne eyes narrowed, reached for her knife and paused.

Her fingers brushed against her bare ankle.

“Looking for this?” Cameron asked with the knife playfully being tossed from one hand to the other. “You should really be more aware of your surroundings.”

Her breath caught in her chest as she pressed against the window.

“Oh, don’t give me that look. I’m only messing  with you.”

Gently he offered the knife back hilt first. Evynne quickly snatched it and sheathed it, her eyes never leaving the brown-haired stranger sitting beside her.

“Oh, darling, you’re not my type, you don’t have the right equipment to satisfy me. To me you would be like a toothbrush without toothpaste.”

“Oh, ok I thought…I mean…”

“That I was a pedophile who tries to get a little girl’s pants while they are traveling on a train? Ironically, I get that a lot, being gay in a small town gets rumors started.”

“I… um sorry?”

“Eh, I’m used to it, so why are you heading to Sacred Grove?”

“I’m on my way to meet my new foster family.”

“Oh! Which lucky family gets a gem like you?”

“Uh, their names are Jethro and Martha Kingston? Ya that’s their names.”

Silence dropped heavily upon them as Cameron’s green eyes narrowed,” Kingston, you say? Remind me to call the undertaker when we reach the station.”

“What? Why?” stammered Evynne as she began to fidget.

“Ya, Mr. Kingston is a psychopath, and don’t get me started on his wife.”

“Are…. you…. serious?”

Cameron’s eye stayed narrow but the corners of his mouth began to twitch, “Nah I’m just yanking your chain. Jethro is actually the chief of police and Martha runs a book club.”

Evynne let out a sigh of relief.

“You really gave me scare there. I thought I was entering another bad….” Evynne  paused as she absently rubbed her right shoulder.

“Are you still a virgin?”

His question caught her off guard. She frowned as she said, “That’s none of your business.”

“I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just some foster kids get abused by their foster family. Myself include. If you aren’t, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. But don’t be like me and throw yourself to the first person who says ‘I love you.'”

Cameron chuckled nervously as he stretch his arms above his head, “That’s what got me on this return home train in the first place. My ex was a drifter with a silver tongue, he swept me off my feet and spirited me away to Linntown. Worst mistake I’ve made in my twenty-eight years”

Evynne stared at him in shock, it was odd talking with someone who got out of the system. She still had three years until she could become an independent. Perhaps Cameron wasn’t like the others she had meet during her many transfers.

“I’m still am a virgin. One of my foster brothers tried and I sent him to the ER.”

Cameron hummed in approval.

They chatted for hours as the train made its way down the tracks. Twilight had now became dark with the only lights of the moon and the lights of the train to pierce it.


Sacred Grove II