Loneliness has the ability to eat a person up. It has the ability to devour the mind whole and breech any sense of control and power. It is a disease. Ivy understood this. Curtains drawn and surrendered by blankets and pillows, the room seemed like a haven to her. However, the room could not shut out every distressing situation. Loneliness had made its way past her fortress and crept its way into her thoughts.

She had been feeling this way since her parents found it best to move her and her brothers to a new state, new house, and new school. However, with the new everything, there were no new friends. Her parents told her to give it time, but three months seemed long enough.

Ivy looked around her room. As much as she loved it and how neat it was, no one could mistake how old and long-lived it looked. The high ceiling, wooden flooring, and vintage wallpaper all justified the house being over a century old. Ivy didn’t mind. In fact, she loved history and spent most of her hours diving into history books and learning anything about everything. It was all she could do to keep the thoughts from nesting in her brain. Sometimes she worried that it was too late for her. That she was too far gone and weird to be liked. Maybe, she was born without a purpose. Alright, that’s enough she thought. It was time for a change in scenery. She heard a creak and groan as she slid off her bed and towards the door.

Although her family had been in the home for three months now, they had not yet been acclimated with it entirely. It was a huge house. Only the trees managed to tower over it. Ivy considered the home to be an adventure in and of itself. As she made her way to the bottom of the stairs, she reached the new hallways and entry at her disposal. Which adventure will I take today she pondered. And then a thought popped in her head. The basement! She had not yet been down there because her father told her not to for safety reasons. The stairs were old and there was always a chance they could break with a shift of weight on them. That was a risk Ivy was willing to take. Better than being stuck in her room. So she yanked the basement door open and quickly pulled it behind her. She couldn’t be gone too long, in case one of her family members went looking for her. On the side of the wall, sat a handy flashlight. Once Ivy grabbed it and flicked it on, she saw the neglected and dingy room that had once been of use. Besides there being a few boxes and kits lining the floor and shelves, there wasn’t much to look at. Slowly, Ivy descended the wooden stairs, careful not to break the platform.

Ivy wasn’t sure what she expected. There weren’t any treasure chests full of lost photos or books and journals timing an old century. It wasn’t even creepy. Disappointed and fearful of returning to her room, she decided to stay anyways. Then, something caught Ivy’s line of sight. A rusty key sat on the lowest shelf. On closer inspection, Ivy noticed that this wasn’t any ordinary key. This was an old mortice key. It must go to a door in the house Ivy thought excitedly. In a jumble of refreshed excitement, Ivy rushed for the stairs. However, before she could reach the first step, the flashlight slipped from her hand and collided into the stone floor. Ivy cringed at the noise, hoping her parents couldn’t hear. Before Ivy could bend down to pick the light up, she noticed what now reflected in the light. An arched door stood prominent amongst the dilapidated shelves. It took her a moment to process what she was seeing. Ivy hadn’t noticed a door there on entry into the basement. Either she was losing her mind or something magical had just happened. Whatever it was, Ivy was grateful for it. Twiddling the key in her hand, Ivy made her way to the mysterious door. She reached out to touch the door knob. The smooth, antiquated knob had a similar burnish to the key. She held her breath as she turned the key in the keyhole. Once she heard the click of the lock, she knew that her next adventure was just about to begin. She could practically feel the elation filling her veins once she gained entry. 

Stairs. A long staircase sank into the abyss of darkness. And as quickly as that elation came, it disappeared. Fear for what lay underneath her home replaced it. She couldn’t quite comprehend why there was a cellar below the basement. She had never heard of such a house. But it was too late to turn back now. Her curiosity would never lay to rest if she left the basement without answers. So with all the courage she could muster, Ivy trekked her way into the obscurity that was the cellar. 

Her only companion being the handy flashlight, Ivy clutched it tight in her hands. She wouldn’t dare let it slip from her grasp again. Finally she saw the bottom to what seemed to be the longest staircase ever. She felt as if she was a million miles from her home and family. The feeling felt similar to what it must feel like to be stuck in the darkest, coldest spot of the ocean, far away from any speck of light. 

The room was small, practically the size of a walk-in closet. However, the room was filled with bottles. Ivy had never seen anything like it. They weren’t like medicine or wine bottles. They ranged from every size to every shape and color. Ivy realized that they were old apothecary bottles and vials. Ivy picked up a tiny blue vial, smaller than her hand. There wasn’t a label on it or any indication as to what the dark liquid was inside the vial. Ivy held up her flashlight to inspect the liquid. Slowly, the dark liquid turned into a swampy green. She felt every hair on her body stand on end. Something didn’t feel right. She needed to leave. Now. She dug the vial into her pocket and started to climb the long staircase. It was so dark, she could barely see the outline of the door. All of a sudden, the door she so longed to escape through, slammed shut. An unexplainably small cry choked Ivy’s throat. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but something deep inside her told her this was the end. In every horror movie, Ivy had ever seen, mysterious passageways and slamming doors were nothing but bad omens. She wasn’t getting out of this alive. How could she be so stupid? Every nerve in her body pushed her to run with the fastest speed towards the door. Screaming while pushing and pulling on the door knob, Ivy prayed for someone to hear her and release her from this nightmare. The unmistakable inkling of fear shook her to turn around. Upon turning, Ivy noticed that there were more bottles from before. They were breaching the bottom step of the stairs. Like the flick of a switch, the bottles began to duplicate and pile on top of each other. The now rising tower of bottles prompted a shriek from Ivy. She continued to push and pull on the unmovable door. It was no use, the door was as solid and stationary as stone.

But just as she was about to give up and let herself sink into the river of bottles, the door opened. A blinding light strung out on the walls and blinded Ivy. At that moment, Ivy went into a coma-like state of only pure and blazing light. She couldn’t tell the difference between seconds and minutes. Her body felt numb and disconnected from her mind. And just as quickly as it appeared, the light was gone. Ivy collapsed onto the ground. Blinking through her recovery, she tried to catch her breath. It took her a moment to recognize the unmistakable mud beneath her. Her hands practically sunk into the dark earth. She yanked away her hands and stood up despite not having any balance. Ivy fell back and hit her head against a solid, rigid surface. There was no doubt in her mind that she was outside. She was surrounded by trees. Why in the world was she in a forest? How did she get there? Where was the basement? The last thing she remembered was trying to break out of the stairwell. She was the flashlight she had before cast out on the ground before her. Quickly, she grabbed it and drew it close to her chest. Desperately, she hoped for whatever mystical force brought her here, would take her back. But nothing happened. At least give me some answers she thought. In the distance, Ivy could hear the clatter of hooves and heavy breathing of what she assumed to be horses. She shakely stood up, fear tearing at her insides. She watched the fog where the noise came from. Four finely groomed black horses and four strange riders protruded from the fog. The black mares were practically identical in size. All four were big and somber. The four riders wore black to match their horses and wore matching masks that covered their mouths and noses. The masks were checkered and tied in knots at the back of their heads. 

Three of them were men and one was a woman. The woman was trailing ahead of the others. It was the strangest image Ivy had ever seen in real life, if this was real life anyway. She stood there in shocked silence as the riders halted to a stop along the trail. They had spotted her. Ivy wasn’t sure if she should run away or scream for their help. Basing her decision on the fact that the riders looked like a family of grim reapers, she decided to run. However, she couldn’t. Her fear had paralized her to her very core. Unable to move an inch, she watched the woman of death descend from her horse like a ghost. The woman had long gray hair wrapped in a coil of dark ribbon. Her black eyes pierced into Ivy’s soul, seeing every private increment of her memory. 

“What is this?” the woman of death asked to no one in particular. Her eyes roamed Ivy like a tigress sizing up her prey. Ivy felt like snapping like a twig under her gaze.

“Who are you?” The woman asked in a presumptuous tone. Ivy regained her focus and built enough courage to answer the question.

“My name is Ivy. Please tell me where I am. I’m lost and need to find my way back home” she faltered, not sure if she gave too much information.

“Could you just tell me where I am?” she added. The four riders looked at her like she was the strangest life form on planet earth. A mix of confusion and antipathy and a trace of dread. One of the male riders dismounted his horse and made his way over to the woman.

“She isn’t wearing a mask” he grumbled to the woman. She never took her eyes off of me. 

“Berta, this isn’t a good time for this. The girl is clearly infected” he said with more fervor in his voice. Infected?? Ivy hadn’t an idea of what he was talking about.

“Please, let’s just continue to the field and-” the woman raised her hand to stop him. 

“Darling Ivy, how long have you been without a mask?” she asked in an accent Ivy couldn’t quite understand. Ivy was taken aback by this change in tone. It wasn’t quite caring, but it wasn’t grim as before. 

“I’m sorry...” Ivy said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Why would I need a mask?” The four of the riders looked more complexed than they had before.

“Berta, she's deranged; we need to get away from her.” the man said while pulling on the woman’s sleeve. The woman’s eyes narrowed on my outfit.

“Ivy, you’re not from around here, are you?” she asked, fully aware of the answer. Ivy thought about her question for a second. She hadn’t a clue where she was, but she knew one thing for certain: She couldn’t just wait for someone to save her. She needed to work with what she had. 

“No, I don’t think so.” she answered. “Can I come with you?” The woman’s eyes lit up with vigor. 

“Are you crazy??” the man questioned. “She’s outside without a mask! She surely has the plague now.”

“Hush” she smiled. “Come with us Ivy, we will find you a proper mask and clothes. You remind me of someone from my childhood, you know”. Ivy was taken aback by her generosity and odd comment. Before she knew it, the man and woman mounted their horses. One of the male riders rode up to me and offered her his hand.

Ivy had nothing left to lose. So, with a grab of a hand and with little thought, she was on to her next adventure.

(Sorry this was short. I am continuing this story because I became interested in the concept)

March 28, 2020 03:53

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נιмму 🤎
20:01 Jul 24, 2020

This is another great story. It really draws the reader in. I love getting interested from the very first sentence, and you did that very well! I especially love your paragraph about loneliness: so true. This reminds me of what's going on now too


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Laura Watts
06:59 May 13, 2020

Wow! It's a really great story! I your first sentence "Loneliness has the ability to eat a person up", it really drew me in and made me want to read more!


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