Chapter Three
In which Emma takes a stroll and her trust is broken.

 

Finding Wonder

 

It was too early in the morning to be up. Or at least that’s what Emma thought as she sat on the porch, eating her so-called breakfast, with Adelle raddling on about her plans for the house that day.

“I was thinking we could start in the kitchen, so we’d have a decent place to eat-“

“-Better than sitting out here with biscuits-“

“-and then we could travel through the lower floor with the living room and bathroom.”
Emma groaned. How did she get into this again? She had two options, but she should have thought it through more. At least with camp, she wouldn’t have to deal with actual work. Just mosquitos and limited cell phone usage. But, no. She just had to try something new this summer. Bad choice.

“Oh, honey, are you alright?”

“Fine.”

“Are you sure? You don’t look so well.”

“I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” She thought back to the rat or bunny or whatever-it-was, eye twitching a little. She had stayed up nearly all night to see if it came back.

“Well, maybe you should take the morning off.”

She looked up at Adelle. “What?”

The woman nodded, smiling like she always did. “Survey the woods for me. It’s something I have to do anyway. But, at least now you’ll be able to get some fresh air.”

Emma looked towards the tree line, wondering how many animals were out in those woods and what might pop out in front of her if she went. Maybe it was better to stay here. . .

“And don’t worry about big animals. Those woods never had any creature deadly enough to hurt someone.”

“Are you sure? I’ve watched the Animal Channel before . . .”

“I’m sure. I used to play out in the woods while I was a girl. I would go all the way to the meadow and have little tea parties with myself and the neighbor boy.”

It wasn’t too hard to imagine that, considering the woman was just as ditzy as she probably was back then.

“Here.” The woman got up and walked back in the house.

Emma sat there, eating the last of her heated up biscuit. At least it was something to fill her crying stomach.

She stood up, dusting off her pants, as Adelle walked back outside.

“Take this.” Adelle placed her very expensive, very high-tech camera into Emma’s hands.

“Are you serious?!”

“Yes. Just don’t lose or break it. Take pictures of the surrounding area so I can choose some for the relisting.”

Emma had never been allowed to touch any of Adelle’s equipment. She had been promised her own – false words that were never fulfilled. But now she had a chance to work on her photo-skills. She wasn’t going to waste the opportunity.

Emma took off the lens cap and curled her fingers around the camera. She aimed it at the car, snapping a picture. The vehicle gleamed on the playback screen in high resolution. She squealed ever so lightly.

Without another word, she raced up to her room and grabbed her cellphone. She ran back down and rushed away from the house.

“Don’t go too far!” Adelle yelled after her.

Emma just waved her off, thankful she was able to escape.

She only stopped when she knew she was far enough away. She didn’t want to give Adelle the chance of changing her mind.

She let her heart slow to a normal pace before walking on.

Though it was just the beginning of summer, leaves were already falling. Back home, parks and people’s gardens would be thriving with all kinds of colors. But this place was different. There was no one to take care of it. But who would want to waste their time doing that?

Emma snapped pictures left and right, only capturing dead leaves and rotting stumps. There was no way Adelle could use these to persuade anyone to buy this dump. At least she wouldn’t have to stay here for too much longer. Summer would hopefully be over before she knew it.

A bush rustled.

Emma froze.

She wondered if Adelle had been wrong about these woods being safe.

It shook more and more.

Emma edged away from it. “Don’t kill me,” she whispered. “Don’t kill me. Don’t kill me.”

She readied herself to run away-

A small squirrel popped out.

Emma sighed. “Are you serious?”

She watched as it drug a rather large acorn across the ground.

“This place is going to give me a heart attack,” she mumbled, taking pictures of the little

squirrel’s struggles.

Another rustle, much further away, came to her ears. She lifted the camera to get another picture. But no squirrel was around.

“Where-“

She let go of the camera, its strap saving it from falling to the ground.

A big bear stood a few trees away from her. It was looking away from her, seeming to sniff at something on the ground.

She slowly backed away. Step by step. Ever so slow-

A branch cracked beneath her foot.

The bear’s head came up.

Emma didn’t move.

It turned around, its head bobbing, searching for the noise.

She shuffled back more but knocked into a tree. The tree shook, leaves trembling.

The animal spun around, catching Emma instantly.

Her breath went ragged.

It was staring right at her.

The bear – no, not a bear. The monster! It was staring right at her!

Her blood drained down into her stomach, sloshing around.

It growled.

Her heart thumped- thumped- thumped.

She prayed for it to just go away.

But it didn’t.

It came closer.

Emma eyed the woods around her.

She was alone, not even the squirrel staying around.

She had to get back to the house. To lock herself up.

She inched her foot a little to the left.

The beast roared, the deafening scream shaking the forest around them.

Emma bolted towards the house.

She could hear the loud pounding of its paws as it chased after her.

She willed herself to go faster, ignoring the camera as it held on for dear life.

The house was in view.

She looked back-

The monster was closer now!

She screamed, racing towards safety.

She saw Adelle come out onto the porch.

Emma dashed past the car and up the steps.

“Get in the house!”

“Emma! What are you-“

“Get in the house!”

“Wait- wait!”

Adelle grabbed onto her shoulders. Emma tried to pull away.

“The monster! It’s right behind me!”

“What monster? What are you talking about?”

She pointed towards the woods. “There!”

Adelle looked over, blue eyes scanning the tree line. “Honey . . . there is no monster.”

“No! I saw-“

“Just look.”

Emma, body still shaking, looked at the woods.

There was no monster.

“Oh, honey. Did you scare yourself?”

“But I saw-“

“It’s alright.”

Emma tore herself away from Adelle. She slammed open the door and stomped inside.

She knew what she saw.

She knew!

But then . . . where did it go?

She shook her head.

This house was making her crazier by the second.

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© E.N. Chaffin 2018. All rights reserved. Any reproduction without author permission is against the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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