The Secret Valley

Submitted into Contest #235 in response to: Start your story with one or two characters going for a run.... view prompt


Adventure Suspense Fiction

 “I’m going to beat you,” Ella teases over her shoulder as her feet pound against the Earth beneath her.

    “Yeah, because you’re a cheat!” Jess shouts out to her sister who had locked the car while Jess was getting out, giving Ella a head start of a couple seconds. 

    Both sisters ran up the mountain trail, eager to reach the lookout not too far ahead. The trail that they raced along was hidden, kept secret from most tourists, but was divulged to them by a flirty man in the local dive bar last night. It was a secret that wasn’t theirs, which made it more exciting. The thrill of the hike, the potential for what the destination was and could be, always made the experience so exciting. But to have access to a secret and a spot that was not knowledge that belonged to them made it so much more exciting.

    The last of the sun's rays were playfully cascading through the mountain peaks in streaks of burning light that bounced between the rocks and shimmered against the snow in a warm glow. As the the sun began its descent further between the twin mountains, a deepening shadow grew with every passing breath down into the valley below. 

    “Uh… Ella, we need to get off of this mountain or we will be stuck here for the night,” Jess anxiously whispers into the chilled air between the two girls. Her breath blows out and turns into a misted cloud of gray fog around her as she pants–most likely due to the elevation and its low oxygen concentration.    

    “Alright…” She trails off. “Wasn’t the hike worth the view, though?”

    Jess turns back toward the valley below them, taking one last look before we make our descent back to the car. Earlier, before it was coated in thick and slowly darkening shadows, the river that cut through the verdant valley below sparkled in a crystal blue that contrasted against the lush greenery surrounding it. Deer roamed through the valley, stopping at the icy river between it for a drink in between their exploration. The view was unlike anything she had ever seen before.

    “Oh, it was absolutely worth it. Now let's get back to the car,” Jess smiles at Ella while simultaneously hooking her arm through hers.

    “You’re the best sister,” She smiles back as the two girls make the first step toward the trail that will lead them to the beginning of the trail head, where Ella’s cherry red Subaru awaits them.

    We continue our walk through the slowly darkening forest, carrying on conversation about where we should go on our next hike.

    The girls continue their walk through the slowly darkening forest, picking the pace up every few steps in an attempt to race the shadows that are looming behind them.

    Their conversation continues as they make their way to the Subaru at the end of the trail. From the view of the valley, where they will stop for dinner, and where they should hike next.

    “We could always travel out of state,” Jess offers. “I know that you have mentioned wanting to visit Zion National Park.”

    “Jess! Oh gosh, yes. That’s it, that is where we will be going next. I have wanted to go there for years. I mean, could you imagine the views?” Ella chirps, her steps bouncing as excitement jolts through her. 

    “I know, I–” Jess is interrupted by the sound of heavy footsteps behind them. Both girls whip their heads around, expecting to find someone walking closely behind them. Instead, they find nothing besides their own footsteps. 

    “That was weird…” Jess starts. “I could have sworn I heard someone behind us. We should get going.” The girls lock their arms tighter as they turn around and pick their pace up again.

    The sisters, now speed walking down the mountain, try to make quiet conversation in order to distract themselves from the anxiety that is beginning to bloom through the both of them. Both girls had heard someone walking behind them. It could be a local, angry about two tourist girls who had discovered their protected secret. Or possibly just a harmless animal who had crossed over the path behind them. Either way, the darkening sky and growing shadows that nip at their ankles was not mixing well with the anxiety or the fact that they needed to get off of this mountain. Nighttime was in no way safe or smart for the girls to be hiking, especially on the side of a mountain. 

    The hike up had taken the sisters a little more than an hour. However, that was while they were running in broad daylight. 

    “We shouldn’t have stayed so long. We spent all day up there looking out into that valley,” Jess says with panic laced through her words.

    Footsteps sound behind them again. As the girls whip their heads around once more, they aren’t surprised that nothing is behind them again.

“I know. I’m sorry, I am so sorry. I wanted to stay. It’s my fault that we are about to be hiking in the dark,” Ella frowns at her sister as guilt burrows itself deep inside of her. 

    “Ella…” Jess trails off. “I think someone is following us.” Jess’s whisper is barely audible with how hushed she speaks. 

    “I’m sure it’s nothing, Jess. It’s our minds playing tricks on us because it’s dark,” Ella tries to assure her older sister as much as she is herself. 

    The girls pick their pace up once more. They speed walk down the mountain trail, stumbling over pebbles and slick leaves as the footsteps behind them sound more and more frequently. 

    A loud laugh sounds behind them, chilling Ella to her bones. The girls look at one another, the same wide-eyed panic in their matching blue eyes. 

    The cool air around them burns Jess’s lungs as her breathing turns uncontrolled and frequent. A constant cloud of foggy air hands near the girls as they race down the mountain trail. As their legs pump through the chilled air, the sisters find themselves struggling to stay upright. 

    “Immmmm gooooinnng tooooo geeeet yooouuu,” Words ring out between the trees, the syllables being drug out in a playful tone.

    The pace that the girls keep forces them to gain momentum as they race downhill. The uneven ground and pebbles slip under their feet, resulting in muscles that will be aching and sore tomorrow morning. Jess goes flying face first into the ground, but Ella grabs her and forces her to keep running down the trail. 

    “Jess. Jess, we have to go. Come on,” Ella whispers to her sister as whistling echoes between the trees surrounding them. 

    “We are being hunted, like animals,” Jess quietly cries to her sister. “What if we don’t make it to the car? We won’t get to go to Zion.”

“Jess, don’t talk like that. Come on,” Ella tightens her grip on her sister's arm, dragging her faster down the trail. 

    The sun is almost completely set, and the light within the forest is dimming with each passing second, with each step that the girls take to the safety of the Subaru.

    “It’s cold. It is so cold, and I am so scared, Ella,” Jess’s whimpering words strike Ella deep as the guilt surged through her. It was her fault that they stayed so late above the valley, watching its enchanting beauty. 

    “I’m sorry, Jess. I am so sorry,” Ella whispers to her sister as another sinister laugh sits in the air behind them. Every sound that their follower sends through the chilly air between them grows louder with each one, meaning that whoever it is, is getting closer to the girls.

    The girls make careful steps as they race down the trail, trying to stay upright and as silent as they can. 

    Time ticks by slowly, but the cold and dark comes quicker with each passing breath, each second feeling like a minute. 

    “The trailhead. Jess, the trailhead is right there,” Ella whispers to her sister as relief floods her body. A small smile spread across Ella’s wind bitten cheeks as she realized that her Subaru isn’t too far off from where they are now. 

    A scream escapes from both girls as Jess is dragged from where Ella has her arm linked through her sister’s arm. 

    “Get away, get away from her,” Ella screams as she charges the man who grasps her sister. The man is shaded with just enough shadows that his features are blurred from sight. Ella shakes with fear, but wrestles Jess from his grasp before the girls take off in an adrenaline induced run toward the car. 

    Another laugh sounds through the air as the girls reach the cherry red Subaru. “Stay off our trails, and never come back to this peak,” The man shouts through the air as the car is started. 

    Ella peels the car through the parking lot and races back onto the small mountain road that leads to the highway. 

    The sun has completely set, and darkness swallows them as the Subaru speeds through the night. The only light being the countless stars above them and the headlights of the car that slice through the night air like razor blades.

    Neither girl speaks until they reach the highway almost an hour later.

    “So…” Ella trails off, keeping her voice low, before speaking again. “Still up for Zion?”

January 27, 2024 20:45

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Hannah Anderson
03:22 Feb 09, 2024

I wasn't expecting this to be a horror story, but I loved it! It made my heart beat faster, and I felt like I was there. I have no idea why you don't have more comments on this. Such a great story! Thank you Mikaila! Also did you originally write this in first person and change it to third? Paragraph 11 is in first person, it was just a tiny bit distracting because everything else is in third. It's tiny, but thought you might want to know just in case you didn't:) Still so amazing!


01:38 Feb 11, 2024

Oh my gosh, thank you so much!! This was my first submission to Reedsy Prompts and I was so nervous about it. I usually write in first person, but I decided to write in third for this story. I wanted to expand on that skill, and I guess I had a slip up that I missed when I read through and edited.


Hannah Anderson
01:41 Mar 05, 2024

Yeah, I usually write in first person as well. It's kind of annoying to have to go through and switch it, or if you just start writing in first person by habit. But I agree with you, it's good to be able to write in third person as well. Thank you for the story:)


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