“Please come with me.” Mia begged. “I don’t want to go alone.” She cried as she shook my arm. “Grandma sent you to pick up the bread.” I said as I continued to mop the floor. “Yes but the bakers daughter was taken last night and I know I’m going to be awkward and not know what to say. Don’t you remember what happened when the Gina was taken.” I laughed “oh I remember.”
“Grandma please don’t let me go to this funeral, I can’t go. Death makes me weird.” Mia pleaded. As much as I hate being disrespectful, I agreed with Mia.
She didn’t really have a way with words. She was very awkward especially in serious situations like these. I was about to reason with my grandma but she spoke first. “No. I don’t want to be rude to the Cross family. They lost their daughter, don’t you want people to attend your funeral?” My grandma asked as she opened the door, we followed her out the house. “I’d rather not have a funeral at all.” Mia muttered.
When we got the funeral home everyone was paying their respects to the Cross family. When it was my turn I just said a simple “My condolences. Gina was a beautiful soul, she will be very missed.” I hugged Gina’s mother and shook her fathers hand. “Thank you Valerie. Your kind words mean a lot.” I nodded and gave one last smile before I walked away. I stopped and waited for Mia. “I’m so sorry she’s…dead. Hey I don’t know if you know this but Gina hasn’t, well now she can’t, but she never returned the earrings I lent her. Could you look through her things and possibly give them back-” My eyes widened and I felt my face flush with embarrassment. I quickly walked over and grabbed Mia. “I’m so sorry for her disrespect. And again I’m so sorry for your loss.”
As we walked away I pinched Mia’s arm. “Ow!” She howled as she rubbed her arm. “Not the time or the place Mia.”
“You’re right it’s better if I go with you.” I agreed. She skipped out the door happily. I rolled my eyes. We walked into the village and it looked quite normal. After so many disappearances everyone has gotten used to all the kidnappings.
When we got to the bakery we were greeted by the bakers niece, Gloria. “Where’s Mr. Tate?” Mia asked. She looked down at her feet and shuffled uncomfortably. “He’s gonna be gone for a bit. I don’t know if you know this but Meg was kidnapped last night.” She looked sad and she had every right to be. Her cousin was gone. I remember seeing how close they were. They were practically sisters. Mia was friends with Gloria so the situation wasn’t so awkward. “I’m so sorry Gloria.” Mia said as she grabbed her hand. “I found her bracelet in the woods. I think she left it behind for me to find. She could still be alive.” Gloria had hope in her eyes. But I didn’t. All the missing girls haven’t been found and I highly doubt they ever will be. “I’m going to go look for her tonight.” My gaze quickly turned to her. “You’re not serious are you?” I asked. With all the disappearances it was clear the stories about the demons were true. Whatever was taking these girls, isn’t human. It’s something else. Something sinister.
“I would never take something like this lightly.” She snapped. “It’s dangerous, especially for you.” Whatever is taking the women doesn’t seem to have an interest in men. “I found the bracelet at a spot in the woods that only she and I know about. She had to have left it for me to find. She’s probably hoping that I do find her. I’m going to look for her. Mia? Are you coming with me?” She asked. I didn’t care about Gloria going in the woods. But the fact that she was dragging Mia into this made me furious. “Mia won’t be going with you.” I made sure to sound stern. She can do what she wants with her life but I won’t let her put others in danger. “Valerie.” Mia said. I could tell she looked sad and wanted to help but I wasn’t going to cave in. “My sister will have no part in this search of yours. I couldn’t care less what you do but don’t you dare guilt my sister into risking her life for the sake of someone she hardly knew.” I grabbed the bread and left the money on the counter, then I took Mia’s hand and got out of the bakery. “I can’t believe you said that!” Mia yelled after we were far away enough for no one to hear . She was angry but she didn’t have any reason to be. I was protecting her. “What were you thinking agreeing to something like that?! If you went missing I don’t know what I’d do.” I yelled back. Mia looked taken aback. “No matter what your intentions were it still doesn’t justify the fact that you were rude and cold. She just lost someone close to her of course she’d want to go look for Meg!” Mia scowled at me. My anger turned into disdain. “She told you to go into the woods her. She’s obviously going to search at night. She doesn’t deserve my consideration, not when she tried to take you with her.” Arguing with Mia isn’t something I like to do but I had to make it clear how dangerous this is. She’s playing with her life. “Aren’t you scared of what’s out there?” I asked, my voice cracked and my hands began to tremble. Just thinking about those creatures makes my anxiety go up but talking about them out in the open made me want to vomit.
I was studying in my room and began to think back on what happened today. The guilt started to consume me. I know what it’s like to lose someone to those creatures and I think that’s what made me react so cruelly to Gloria’s actions. I decided to make it right. ‘I’m gonna go apologize.’
I made sure to leave the house when Mia wasn’t paying attention. When I stepped out the house it was almost sunset. My heartbeat started to quicken. ‘I have to do this fast.’
I followed the path to the bakery when I walked in the fresh smell of cakes flooded my nostrils. “Gloria.” I called out. Gloria quickly came out from the kitchen and when she noticed it was me she gave me a hostile glare. Her jaw tightened and I grew ashamed of the words I said earlier. “I came to say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things earlier. It was rude and inconsiderate of me. I came to explain myself and my behavior.”
She wiped her flour coated hands on a rag and said “So explain.”
“Our mother was taken when we were little.” I told her quietly. Her angry expression turned into pity.
“My father never recovered. He was still with us but not really there. He was so depressed. My dad never got over our mothers disappearance. One day he couldn’t take it anymore and he took his own life. I worry that if I lose Mia, I too will have the same fate. She’s all I have left and I’m very protective of her.”
Gloria nodded and sighed. “I didn’t know that. Thank you for telling me. Now I know why you got so defensive.” She laughed nervously. “But you’re also right about going out there. I shouldn’t have asked Mia to go with me. I should go alone. I don’t want anyone to get hurt because of me.”
Don’t Valerie. Don’t you dare say you’ll go with her. Just walk out and go home. It’s getting dark go home.
“I’ll go with you.” I gave her a small smile. “I don’t want you to feel like I’m forcing you-” I interrupted before she could finish her sentence. “I’ll go with you.” I insisted. ‘You’re stupid.’ I internally groaned.
“Um okay. Thank you.” She smiled. “Really thank you, it means a lot.” Gloria said before disappeared into the kitchen. I’m glad I told her everything but I’m so mad I volunteered to go with her. What is wrong with me?
What was I thinking? What if something happens to me?
‘Stay calm.’ I told myself. If anything happens leave Gloria and run for the hills.
“Are you ready?”
I jumped in fear. Gloria laughed “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Let’s go!” She grabbed a lantern and led me out the door. It had already gotten dark and I began to regret my decision in joining her.
As we ventured further into forest I began to study Gloria more closely. Her black curls bounced as she walked. The hem of her dress was worn and her brown leather corset was loose fitting. Her side profile was beautiful. The corners of her mouth were slightly upturned and her nose had a small bump that complimented her features nicely.
We stopped at a tall cobblestone wall indicating not to go further. There was a small entrance big enough for one person to get through. “You go first.”
The entrance was tight but I made my way through rather quickly. I looked around and could tell this was the hideout Gloria talked about earlier. There was a small poorly built shed and chairs gathered around a fire pit. Then I noticed large chains next to a tree. What did they need those for? I was just about to ask but then I felt a something hit my head. My vision started to blur and the last thing I saw was Gloria holding a rock.