Ellis felt the patter of raindrops scatter across his skin. He quickly covered his camera with his jacket and trudged along the path left in Avery’s wake. A flicker of regret flashed through his mind. Of course, she would play this sort of game. Everyone who had ever entered this field had a different story to tell about what lay inside it once they emerged. Now, standing beneath the makings of a thunderstorm, he wasn’t so sure about following her here.
The cornstalks rose higher the farther he walked, the line between the crops and her steps becoming more distinct with each stride he took. Whispering winds blew the sweet smell of summer through the maze. He looked up. The clouds were gathering; the sky ever darkening. Suddenly, he heard her. Turning slowly, his dirty Converse rotating in the freshly created mud, he scanned the line of crops for that fleeting glimpse of dark hair he’d been chasing all afternoon. Nothing appeared, and disappointment sank in his gut. Leaving her alone wasn’t an option but trailing someone who didn’t want to be found was beginning to wear him down.
A bobbing in the distance caught his eye. Thirty feet ahead he could make out the brown of the hat she’d stolen from him when they’d stood outside the sprawling corn earlier that morning. He broke into a run, trying to dissect that mysterious thing she’d said before plunging headfirst into the crops:
“I told you not to come. This isn’t something you should be a part of. Just—don’t follow me. We can work on the photos later.”
It had seemed like she meant something more by excluding him from whatever the “something” happened to be. He’d never been particularly fond of being told what to do, and Avery was always assuming she knew what was best for him.
A startled yelp sounded to his right.
Spinning quickly, he saw her hazily through a few feet of leaves, her back to him, perfectly framed by the greenery. At least he’d manage to get a good shot for his portfolio.
Eye pressed to the viewfinder, he centered her and clicked down just as he noticed the silhouette of a woman across her shoulder. Her voice bristled across his skin as the words the woman spoke reached him, “I’ve already seen it; there’s nothing to be done.”
He didn’t know who she was, but whatever was going on, he knew they had to get out. He steeled himself to speak.
“Let’s go, Aves. I’m done chasing you. We need to get out of here.”
Avery looked back at him, a warning lurking in her eyes.
“I told you not to come.”
A clap of thunder sounded in the sky and the woman peered around his friend. She was old. Very old. And wearing only a light pink nightgown with little flowers curling up and down the sides. On her feet was a pair of slippers. The white fluff of her hair was matted down with the rain. And her eyes, piercing and green and alert as they come, were trained on him.
“This is a surprise; I wasn’t expecting two.”
Edited by London Koffler