In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?

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3. Three

My breath expelled a pale white cloud. The bitter wind bit at my legs and arms beneath my clothing, which I had layered on until I vaguely resembled a snowman.

I checked my watch, seeing the hands ticking towards midnight. They would probably be out in the woods by now; at least I hoped they would be.

There was no moon to light my path and many of the sequin stars were not visible behind the frosty clouds that rolled slowly over the black quilted sky. A street light flickered yellow, alone, yet still standing tall, almost proudly. It became a little unnerving how the glow sputtered and came in golden bursts, yet comforted me at the same time, acting as my guiding light.

I compared myself to the street light at that moment, thinking how similar we were in reality. We were both alone at that point, both stuttering and searching for comfort in the darkness of the night, hunting for warmth and a place we both belonged. We both belonged on that street, I decided, a small smile unconsciously curling its way onto my chapped lips. My heart squeezed in my chest as I realised I was not the only thing alone and trying to find something that night. It made everything seem more real in a way, as if what I was doing was reasonable and a viable excuse to be out at this hour of the night.

I had never really liked the night all that much; too many shadows and dark corners that you couldn’t see into. Many people say what you can’t see can’t hurt you, but for me, what I can’t see is what bothers me. It is the thought of the unknown and what it could potentially do that keeps me up all night, my eyes squeezed tightly together, vivid nightmares flashing over my lids. Most of the time, it was just me being paranoid and over thinking things. I always did that. I knew in my head that none of the things I dreamed up were physically possible, but to me at the time, they were as real as myself. Therefore, what I couldn’t see hurt me the most.

I glanced about every shadow in the forest, regretting not bringing a torch with me now. I had left the lone street light behind, back on the dimly lit concrete. I was now on the dirt track, which led through the pitch black forest.

During the day, I found this place magical, with the light shining through the leaves and the animals flying about and darting amongst the trees. I could see them all then, every last colour and living thing in all its glory. At night, however, it was a completely different story. The leaves rustled gently in the breeze, hissing at me with through from their branches through crinkly teeth. Unidentified creatures skittered in the bushes, rustling and creating minuscule movements that caught my eye. Something darted across the path, displacing a mountain of leaves from on the side of the path, creating a cavernous whooshing sound as it leapt across the path. The sound seemed to last forever in the hollow night, echoing around all the trees among all the other sounds that would be normally be inaudible but were as clear as crystal in the silent night.

Talking. Voices. Those were the next things I heard. Splashing from the lake came next, making me think that maybe this man wasn’t so batty after all. Or maybe it’s just some drunken skinny dippers my common sense put in, making me go back to the doubt that I had experienced before.

I didn’t want to get too close to the people in the lake, for fear of being noticed, so I steered clear of the bench that I would have probably sat on. It was a prime spot to just sit and stare at the lake, but whoever was in the lake would also be able to see me, and I didn’t want that.

I found an adequately sized bush that could hide me comfortably out of sight. I glued my eyes to the ground, trying to spot any twigs that could reveal me if I accidentally stepped on one of them. I managed to safely; soundlessly reach my destination, peering through the web of branches to see the lake.

I could shadows of heads and bodies swimming about, splashing as they paddled around the lake. There was nothing abnormal about the people as far as I could tell but then I saw the give-away. A tail shape flicked up behind one of the people, clearly attached to their body and propelling them around the water.

“Mermaids” I whispered softly to myself, realising the seemingly crazy old man had actually been right all along.

I heard snuffling behind me. I whipped around; wanting to know what could possibly be behind me. A howl echoed across the clearing. It was the wolves.

I stayed as still as a statue, not wanting to be noticed by the creatures. I could still here them, padding around amongst the leaves, seeming to almost be circling me. I could see their shapes now, their broad shoulders and pointed snout and ears. There were around seven of them from what I could see, all sniffing the ground as if they had picked up a scent.

One came excruciatingly close to me, mere feet from my hiding spot. I held my breath, not knowing how receptive their hearing was but knowing from the nature programmes that my mum sometimes watched that it was pretty good.

One of them looked my way. Its olive eyes glinted, as it seemed to stare right at me. I stared right back at it, hoping to communicate that I wanted to remain hidden with a desperate look.

Stupid girl my conscience said it is only a wolf. It will not understand you. To my surprise, the creature, with a subtle nod of its head, turned around. The look in its eyes was almost human, as if it understood more than I thought it did. Maybe they were some kind of phenomenon as well.

I had heard of werewolves before, maybe there was a small possibility they could be them, not actual wolves.

Things that once seemed worlds away now seemed more real, as if they actually could exist. If you had asked me a few months ago if I thought there were mermaids and werewolves in the local park, would have asked you about the condition of your mental health and directed you to the nearest asylum. Nowadays, I would probably be more likely to let you continue your tale and believe you a little more.

This discovery had definitely widened my perspective on the world; made me think more about all the bizarre possibilities out there. The chance of another world or dimension being out there had also sprung to mind, something I would never have even considered before.

Tomorrow, I would have to tell Saff and Aaron about my quest and what I had discovered tonight at the park. I thought about how I could possibly get evidence without drawing attention to myself. I couldn’t use my phone’s camera; it was too dark so all you would be able to see would be a black screen. I couldn’t even use the flash as that would draw attention to me.

I had to get back home, before I was spotted. I could hear the distant bells of midnight chiming from the church in the centre of Lockley. I slowly rose from my position on the ground, and then took a few steps back, into one of the darkest parts of the forest. I couldn’t see a thing myself, but hopefully I was well concealed from the prying eyes of the wolves and merfolk.

I stole one last glance in their direction, pinching myself just to check I wasn’t dreaming. I stayed there, awake as ever. This was not a dream.

I took off, running as fast as I could, the bells still chiming in the distance. A wolf howled from where I had been. I didn’t look back. It was too dangerous to look back.

My spark of adrenaline soon dwindled to an ember of energy. I was panting like a dog from the exertion, now having to slow from my rapid sprint to a rushed walk.

I burst out of the tree line seconds later, clutching my knees then curling one arm around my stomach. I had a stitch that burned. It felt like I was being tortured by a million flaming torches in my side. I half expected to find blistering skin there in the morning. That’s if I survived ‘til morning. I still had no guarantee that the wolves and others were not following me.

I now ignored the shadows that had me paranoid before, dashing home as fast as my adrenaline fuelled body could take me. I could feel the heat of my blood pulsing round my body, the powerful surges of my heartbeats and the raspy, uneven breaths from my lungs.

 Finally, I reached my doorstep, yanking open the door, then quietly slamming it shut and locking it as fast as was humanly possible. 

My breath was ragged and uneven, as I leant my back against the now closed door, looking out of the stained glass to the driveway. I could see nothing out there at the moment, but I couldn’t be sure that they wouldn’t follow me home.

I waited. Ten minutes went by, with me staring, unblinking, out of the window.

Another 5 minutes passed with no sign of life on the driveway. I was safe for the night I decided and trudged up the stairs off to bed.

My eye lids were drooping, weighed down with the burden of what I had seen in the park.

It shocked me to discover that Othello had been right all along, there were things in the park; things that only existed in fairy tales and nightmares. It was unbelievable. Except I had to believe it now. I had seen it with my own eyes, heard the howls of the wolves and the splashes of the merfolk’s tails splashing in the lake.

I decided I had to take a similar path to Othello and document my findings somewhere. I picked up a notebook from off my desk, flicking through the pages to see if it contained anything of major importance. It was bare. 

I picked up a pen off my desk, scrawling the date at the top of the page and beginning my first entry.

 

Dear reader,

 

If you are reading this, it means you already know of Othello McCain’s theory of the foreign land of Philia. I am Louisa McCain, and I have taken on the task of completing the Philia research and finally answering the main questions that Othello McCain had yet to answer. 

Tonight, I made a visit to Lockley Park to test Othello McCain’s theory of there being wolves and people in the lake on the night of the new moon. I have confirmed this, sighting creatures in Lockley Lake and wolves in the vicinity as well. The creatures in the lake that Othello McCain named as people were in fact merfolk, as I saw at least one of the creatures in the lake owned a tail instead of legs and feet. 

I also believe that the wolves are not actually wolves. I made eye contact with one of them and it appeared to be more conscious of me than an average animal would. Therefore, I have theorized that these wolves are in fact werewolves, humans that can take the form of a wolf at will. I do not definitely know this for a fact, yet believe this to be highly likely.

I hope to continue to read through the remains of Othello McCain’s diary where I hope to unfold more clues to discovering the actual portal that must exist. It is believed by Othello McCain that there is a portal in existence that links Earth to Philia, allowing the creatures to have access to Lockley Park on the night of the new moon. It is believed that this portal opens every new moon, allowing the Philians to get to Earth. Theoretically, we should be able to travel to their world; however, the location of the portal itself is still unknown.

That is my next objective, to find the location of the portal. Hopefully then I will be able to concoct a plan to get to Philia and tell you all about the foreign land that has been unknown to us thus far. 

 

Louisa McCain

 

At this point, my head just dropped onto the wooden surface of my desk, my eye lids fluttering closed with pure exhaustion. Today had been a long and eventful day, filled with important discoveries and there revealing of truths that I had never even imagined could be possible.

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