WEP - Bridges
This month's theme for the Write Edit Publish challenge is Bridges. Hope you enjoy!
“They say it’s cursed,” Timmy whispered, his torch held up under his chin, making his face look skull-like. “Nobody who’s ever crossed it has ever come back.”
Annie shivered, inching closer to the fire in the middle of the camp. “That’s a lie,” she said. “Mr Jacobson crossed it once, didn’t he?”
Timmy sniggered. “Well it didn’t do him much good! He’s terrified of his own shadow!”
Carl shook his head. “Timmy’s right, he’s never been the same since. Nobody knows what happened to him, or what he saw! And he’s the only person who’s ever come back. Most people don’t even use it; they go around.”
“This is ridiculous,” Bernie said. “A cursed bridge, I’ve never heard of something so stupid. I’m going over it.”
“You can’t!” Sarah cried.
Bernie turned to her, sneering. “You’re not telling me you believe this nonsense? I thought you were smarter than that, Sarah.”
Sarah stiffened. “Of course I don’t. All I meant was, it’s the middle of the night. Shouldn’t you wait until morning, so that there’s light? We’re not allowed to leave the campsite.”
“Scared of the dark now too, are you?” Timmy said.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Fine, are we going now, then?”
“Let’s do it,” Bernie said. “Quietly; we don’t want to wake up the parents.”
The group stood up, everyone ducking into their tents for their torches, trying to be as quiet as they could. They walked through the woods, their boots crunching on twigs and leaves on the ground.
“So,” Annie whispered. “Why exactly is it cursed?”
“Legend has it, an old woman was traveling home one day,” Carl said. “It was cold and raining, and she just wanted to get home. The quickest way was over the bridge. Unfortunately for her, the bridge was pretty busy in those days, and there was a toll to get across. She didn’t have any money for the toll, so she had to turn back and go around, but then on her way home she stumbled and couldn’t get up again. By the time they found her, she was dead. It was after then that the trouble started on the bridge; they say she cursed it with her dying breath.”
“I heard that so many people have died by falling off the bridge, they all haunt it now and that’s why no one can cross it without something bad happening,” Timmy said.
“There are a lot of stories,” Bernie said. “But none of them are true. There’s no such thing as a curse. I’ll prove it to you.”
Carl threw out an arm to stop everyone. “We’re here.”
The ghostly shape of the bridge loomed out of the mists that always seemed to hang around it.
“So,” Timmy turned, a wicked grin on his face. “Who’s going first?”
“I will,” Bernie said. “I’ll prove to you that it’s just a bridge - there’s nothing scary about it!”
He walked forward into the mist until it swallowed him, and all they could hear was the sound of his footsteps.
“See,” his voice echoed from within the mist. “There’s nothing-”
His voice cut off, and all they could hear was the stream flowing beneath the bridge, and the sound of the nighttime creatures going about their business.
“Bernie?” Timmy called, his grin gone, face pale.
“Oh, very funny!” Snapped Sarah. “I should have known he’d pull something like this.”
“What do you mean?” Annie whispered, her eyes still transfixed on the spot where Bernie had vanished.
“He’s joking with us,” Sarah said. She started to walk forwards. “Very funny, Bernie! Absolutely hilarious!”
“Sarah, maybe you should wait…” Carl said.
“No, I’m going to drag him back!”
Soon Sarah was swallowed by the mists too.
“Sarah?” Annie called.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Timmy said. “Her, too? This isn’t funny any more!”
He strode forwards. Carl grabbed his arm. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
Timmy laughed. “They’ve really got to you, haven’t they? What do you think has happened to them? It’s a bridge! There’s no such thing as curses. They’re hiding at the other end.” He shook his arm free and headed into the mists. “See you on the other side,” he called back to them, before he disappeared from view.
Annie and Carl stood side by side, waiting for any sign of their friends, but there was nothing. Just the same woodland sounds as before; the stream running beneath the bridge, the occasional creaking of a branch, the snapping of twigs underneath small forest animals' feet.
It was Annie that broke the silence. “What should we do now?”
Carl peered into the mists, trying desperately to see where the others had gone. “I don’t know.” He took a step forward, ignoring the whimper that Annie let out as he moved away from her. “Guys, this isn’t funny any more! Come back, or we’re going home!”
“Should we go and get someone?” Annie whispered.
“What, and just leave them?” Carl replied. “They could have fallen, we don’t know what’s happened to them. If only it wasn’t so misty!”
Annie took a deep breath and stepped forward so she was next to Carl. “I guess there’s only one thing to do, then.” She took his hand, and they walked slowly forward into the mists, which swallowed them whole.
After a few minutes a shadow appeared, slowly forming in the mist. The woods became unnaturally quiet; the skittering of the creatures had stopped, there were no creaking branches, even the water in the stream seemed to be trickling slower than before. A cackling broke the silence, echoing from the shadow, carried through the forest by the winds. After a few minutes, the shadow disappeared into the mists once more, the cackling died away and the sounds of the forest returned.
Full critique welcome.