Distractions are a solace for those with heavy hearts and confused minds, and Amanda finds herself one in the form of her friend, Sylvia. She wishes to forget, if only for a moment, that her boyfriend Tony is braving the mountain on her behalf. Unfortunately every waking and dormant moment can’t be occupied, especially when something dark wishes to have her full attention.
The sun outside her window and sound of movement outside her door awoke Amanda to the next day. She slowly opened her eyes and stretched her limbs. The night had been blissfully uneventful, with nary an unknown sound nor a haunting, seductive nightmare. She sat up and listened to the normal sounds of Tony preparing for his day of work and the trip he was to take. The young woman meant to see him off before his dangerous journey, so she tossed aside the covers and dressed herself.
Tony was surprised and pleased when Amanda stepped out of her bedroom. She looked less pale than yesterday and there was a chipper smile on her lips. He was just finishing up his bowl of cereal at the kitchen counter, and so gave her a toothy grin filled with runny milk and bits of bran. Amanda stopped in her tracks and glared at him.
“That’s not exactly the kind of greeting I want to see this early in the morning,” she pointed out.
“Sorry, kind of in a hurry.
If I get to work early I can block out early.” He scarfed down the rest of his food and slid off his stool, but Amanda stopped him before he could get into the kitchen. She put a hand on his chest, and peered into his pale face and blood-shot eyes.
“Did you stay up all night doing research?” she asked him. He sheepishly grinned, which was all she needed knot see to know her guess was right. “Did you really have to do that? It’s just going to mean you’re even more tired after work when you’re driving up there.”
“I had to at least catch up to what you’ve been reading,” he defended his actions. Tony stepped around her and slid over to the sink to clean his bowl. “Besides, I was looking at some of the maps of the area. I don’t really want to get lost.”
“And will you?” Other than the direct road to the mountain, she wasn’t that familiar with the area.
“Well, I might have if I hadn’t taken a look at all those roads. It’s a pretty confusing area, what with all those back roads and small pockets of civilization. They’ve got a lot of old buildings up there, and even a couple of cemeteries I could look into.” At mention of such a gloomy place, Amanda wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. Tony noticed her action, and went over to set his hands on her shoulders. “It’ll be all right, it’s not like I’m planning on joining those locals any time soon.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better,” she scolded him.
“Then just remember my promise about coming back and you’ll be fine.” He planted a soft kiss on her forehead, and then pulled back to look into her eyes. “I’ll call you when I reach the gas station before I head up to the mountain and after. Would that make you feel more comfortable?”
“It would be a start.” She’d rather he stay away from the mountain and stick with researching at the local libraries, but this is what she’d decided on yesterday. Tony had given her the choice to decide whether he should even go there or not, and she chose answers over safety. There was no going back now. “But keep care of yourself, all right? Don’t do anything risky.”
“Me? Take risks?” His nose was upturned and there was a fake expression of horror on his face. Then he brushed away her words with a wave of his hand. “I’d never do any such thing. What sort of uncivilized man do you think I am?”
“The kind that got milk all over his shirt.” She nodded down at the aforementioned clothing, and he followed her gaze to the spots of white liquid.
“Oops, better get changed and get out of here.”
Tony rushed to his room to put on a cleaner shirt, leaving Amanda to think over his trip one final time before it began. Her boyfriend would be stepping foot onto that dangerous mountain to appease his curiosity and find the answer to her nightmares. She couldn’t help but admire his courage, particularly since he’d felt what lay up there, waiting for some naive or foolish human to trespass on that rocky ground which surrounded the decrepit cabin. Tony fit the description of the foolish type, but she hoped his forewarning of the dangers would at least keep him off the possessed mountain when night fell.
Just then Tony emerged from his room with a new shirt and his bag slung over his shoulder. He also carried his laptop carrying case in his free hand, and he noticed she was curious about his taking the machine. Tony stopped in front of her and set the laptop down on the floor.
“I saved a few directions on the thing and some notes, so if I get lost or get some time to read I figured I could use it,” he explained to her.
Then there was a moment of awkward silence between them, as each was weighed down by the dangers Tony was to face. Amanda feared that if she spoke only tears would be her words, and Tony noticed those pooling bits of salt water on the tips of her eyes. He smiled and reached up to brush a hand on her cheek.
“It’ll be all right, Mandy, I’ll be back before you know it,” he promised her. “Besides, you’ll be having too much fun with Sylvia to think much abut me.”
“You know that’s not true,” she countered, but in a gentle voice. “I’ll be lucky to get any food down me until you call to tell me you’re off that horrible mountain.”
“I promise I’ll be off of it long before it gets dark. I don’t want to be up there with that thing any more than I have to, but there might be something important in the cabin that could help us figure out something about the creature.”
“I know, but I’m still going to worry about you.”
“Then I’ll be extra careful and call on time.” Tony leaned down and planted a soft kiss on her lips. When they parted he was glad to see her eyes were closed and there was a soft blush across her cheeks. “Now be a good girl and enjoy your last day of vacation.”
“Thanks for reminding me,” she dryly commented. He tapped her nose with a finger and grinned.
“Always glad to help.” Then Tony glanced at his watch and groaned. He picked up his laptop and shuffled to the door as though his legs were clamped together in manacles. “Time to go to the old slave fields. Now you try to behave while I’m gone, young lady, and don’t forget to lock up.”
“You just worry about yourself,” Amanda insisted as she followed him to the entrance. She opened the door and he paused in the doorway for one last look over her. His eyes were so scrutinizing that she squirmed beneath his thorough gaze. “What? Find something wrong?”
“Just wanted to remind myself why I’m doing this, that’s all.”
“And did you think it’s still worth it?” Amanda wasn’t sure if she was thrilled or annoyed when a lecherous grin slipped onto his lips.
“Uh-hunh, well, I think it’s time you got to work.” She turned him to face down the hall and gave him a push for encouragement. “And remember to call me!”
“I will, don’t worry about it,” he called back.
“It’s not that I’m worried about…” she replied in a voice too low for him to hear.