I will be heading up to my sisters house in Corona. We will all be hanging around the pool as we soak up the sun and laugh and talk and play. Its always so much fun to relax and catch up on everything.
I have decided to post another excerpt from my book, The Secret of Moonshine. The piece I selected is from chapter nine as our heroine Bronwyn, along with members of her stranded drama troupe, are taking a moonlight hike to the waterfalls. The hike is being led by the mysterious Travis.
“Hurry and change clothes” Bethany laced her shoe. “Travis is taking those of us who want to go on a moonlit hike to some waterfalls.”
“He is?” Bronwyn’s suspicion rose, remembering his private meeting with the smoking man. Perhaps they had been planning something devious that was soon to play out.
“I don’t know. It kind of sounds dangerous. Maybe we should stay here.”
“I’m just remembering the wild animals, you know, bears, that feed at night.”
“Oh come on, please. Travis wouldn’t have asked us to come if he thought we would be bear food. Now hurry and put your swim suit on. It ought to be fun. Travis said the falls were breathtaking.”
Bronwyn could not stop her heart from racing at the mention of Travis’s name. She scolded herself, again reminding herself that Travis was married… not to mention the lack of trust she now held toward him.
The offer was inviting in spite of her suspicions. The thought of a night hike to the waterfalls seemed thrilling in itself. As a night owl, evening was her favorite, along with dusk. The heat of the day would lesson, the first star of the evening would appear, and the moon would enter the night sky in fullest brilliance. She loved the moon whether it was full or waning. There was always something peaceful about it, not to mention romantic… there she was again, obsessing on Travis.
Bronwyn quickly changed her clothes and joined Bethany and Lillian on the back porch, along with the others. Travis was leaning on the railing, an unwilling captive audience to Walt’s legendary hospital story. Trent and Daniel were there, as well as an adventurous Karley, who said she was only going to scout out a secret place to dispose of Wilbur’s body after she was done with him. Carla Jo also joined the group. Her presence in the group eased Bronwyn’s mind, dispelling any suspicion of malice. Surely Travis would not bring a child along on a night massacre. Anna, Marcus and Wilbur had decided to stay behind resting in the comforts of the inn, choosing to do their hiking in the light of day.
Travis turned his attention away from Walt’s story, his eyes falling upon Bronwyn. Bethany noticed a slight smile turning at the corner of his mouth.
“Let’s go,” he said.
“Shouldn’t we take some flashlights?” Lillian asked, concern in her voice.
“The moon is brilliant tonight” Travis said. “You won’t need them.””
Travis led the way, skirting past the west side of the inn towards the river, the others trailing him while laughing and talking. Carla Jo giggled thrilled to be coming along. They reached the river’s edge, passing the small dock and grassy picnic area. Travis led them a bit further down the river bank, then stepped onto a narrow path that disappeared into the thick woods bordering the property. The hikers were now forced to walk two by two down the dirt trail, with Bethany and Bronwyn bringing up the rear. Travis led. Carla Jo cozied up to Trent directly behind Travis, Walt and Karley paired up following Trent and Carla Jo. Daniel and Lillian fell in line next leaving Bethany and Bronwyn last. For sometime, they wound in and out of the dense trees and down the sides of the river bank. The river snaked deep inside the forest. At times, the path would be blanketed in total darkness, as the light from the moon was unable to penetrate through the thick foliage of the trees. The darkness became so thick that at times, the hikers could actually feel it. Bronwyn placed her hand in front of her face. It was barely visible.
“This is why I wanted to bring a flashlight,” Lillian said, her nervous voice ringing out. The pace slowed as each person’s confidence diminished. Within seconds, the path wound into a partial clearing, moonlight flooding the area. Each time, the light appeared more splendid in contrast to the utter darkness that preceded it. Sighs and gleeful laughter often escaped the hiker’s mouths, only to be silenced by the path, as it again wound into total darkness. This pattern continued for most of the hike.
The last part of the walk took place in darkness, it seemed to last much longer than usual. The chatter diminished altogether and Bronwyn could sense anxiousness within the group. There was a noticeable air of uncertainty. The path narrowed even more, splitting up hiking partners as everyone walked single-file.
“Everyone grab a hand and stay close,” Travis boomed from the front of the line. Travis took Carla Jo’s hand who eagerly took Trent’s, who grabbed Karley’s, who reluctantly took Walt’s, who happily took Lillian’s, who gratefully took Daniel’s, who casually took Bethany’s, who took Bronwyn’s. Bronwyn desperately wanted to reach back and take Ryan’s, but again, there was nothing but emptiness behind her. She walked along in total darkness, clutching tightly to Bethany’s hand. The woods were alive with chirping crickets, croaking frogs, an occasional hooting owl and the lonesome howl of a coyote. The soothing sounds of nature being constantly interrupted by the whining cries of Lillian.
“You still with me?” Bethany whispered.
“Whose hand do you think you’re holding?”
“Just making sure. I’m not sure what we’ve gotten ourselves into.”
Bronwyn could hear the apprehension in Bethany’s voice. She had to admit, she did feel a little like a sheep being led to slaughter. She thought back to when she had stumbled upon Travis and the cloaked man in the garden. What if they had met to plan out tonight’s massacre? What if Travis was leading them to a hidden place, where a coven of knife-wielding hooded figures would come upon them and sacrifice the lot of them to some strange cult god of the mountains? But if that was the case, why bring along his little girl?
That offered small consolation, but not enough. Bronwyn’s heart sped up as she reprimanded her vivid imagination. The cheerful chatter of the group had dissipated. She could also sense everyone’s uncertainty. The darkness was now almost unbearable.
A presence behind her. A shiver up her spine.
Bronwyn glanced over her shoulder into the thick darkness. Her eyes could not focus on anything, yet she knew something was moving quietly along behind her. She took in a deep breath…that was it! The stale aroma of cigarettes. It was the familiar smell that clings to the clothes of smokers, one that overpowered the scents of pine and spruce. The smoking man was nearby; she was sure of it. Uneasiness overpowered her. She half expected to feel the cold blade of a knife dig into her flesh at any moment.