Tony finds himself on a journey to discover what information he can about the source of the evil atop the mountain. His adventure leads him from the decrepit cabin to the local gas station in search of answers to the creature that haunts Amanda. He listens to strange tales and personal accounts of the accursed place atop that scrag, and finds himself in trouble deeper than he could have ever imagined. Along the way he changes, but not for the better.
While Amanda was having her trials and fun during that tumultuous day, Tony had a hard time focusing on his work. He stood by the copier for a while pondering the coming duty he’d placed on his own shoulders. The thing was up there waiting for its next victim, and he didn’t doubt that he’d make a good appetizer for the creature if it could get its slimy tendrils on him.
“Cochran, what the hell are you doing in there for so long?” That was his boss yelling at the top of his lungs, which was his usual volume whenever he really wanted someone to obey him.
“Coming!” Truth be told Tony had stood in the copy room a little too long. His copies were done and cold when he picked them up and hurried out of there.
Tony felt the workday would never end, but like all nightmares he awoke when the clocks showed three. It was his promised hour to leave early, and he took it with all the gusto of a slave set free from their imprisonment.
He hurried to his car and slid into the driver’s seat, but his eyes settled on the rearview mirror. It had a perfect picture of the trunk where the rock was stashed, and he wasn’t sure he wanted the cursed thing out of sight.
The young man sighed, got out of his car and opened the trunk. The hunk of rock had shifted a little from his chauffeuring it to work, but other than that he found nothing suspicious with the thing. Tony picked it up and was still surprised by the weight. It felt so incredibly light in his hand for the size, but he supposed confusing the mind was a trick this creature pulled on everyone with whom it came into contact. He strode back to his seat and tossed the rock into the passenger area. Now he had a good view of the thing, and if anything funny happened, such as those tendrils beneath the cabin floor Amanda spoke about sprouting from the rock, then he could toss it out a window.
Tony made the trek straight to the mountain without a stop. He planned to stay at a local motel for the night and already booked a room in advance to guarantee his stay. All he needed to worry about was surviving the mountain so he could check into his room just after nightfall. That left him very few hours to climb the trail, inspect the cabin, climb back down and then make a quick stop at the gas station to speak with the owner. He only hoped the old man would be there to speak to.
Thankfully his stony passenger behaved itself and the drive was uneventful. He made good time by beating the traffic out of town and arrived at the foot of the trail a few hours before sunset. He would have to make a hurried hike up and down the path to avoid nightfall, but it wouldn’t be impossible. Tony opened his door and glanced at the rock still sitting in the passenger seat. Getting rid of that needed to be the first chore of his climb because it would slow down his efforts at hiking up the mountain at a quick pace.
Tony wrapped his fingers around the stone and lifted it from the seat. Without warning the stone, once light, now seemed to gain an unexplainable amount of weight. He found himself too surprised to keep a good grip on the sharp object, and the rock slipped from his fingers. One of the corners cut a deep gash into his hand from which poured a steady stream of blood. The rock itself clamored onto the seat and lay there with all the innocence of an inanimate object.
The young man clutched at his wrist with his good hand and clenched his teeth. The cut was deep and the blood thick, and he quickly went to the rear driver’s side door. He opened the door and grabbed his bag which lay on the back seat. Inside he found what he had most especially packed, a first aid kit, and pulled forth the sterilizing pads and gauze bandage. The wound was straight and clean, but he winced at the stinging pain from the pads. With one of his hands being the injured party he wasted quite a few minutes trying to wrap his palm, but he managed a satisfactory job.
With his hand taken care of, Tony returned his attention back to the rock in the front seat. He glanced into the car and his eyes widened. The rock was no longer on the seat. He couldn’t believe his eyes for a long moment, and like a confused child he padded down the seat and the floor to confirm what his eyes already told him. The stone had vanished.
Tony backed away from the car and glanced around at the woods that surrounded him. A light breeze blew passed him and escaped into the thick of those trees, blowing their skeletal branches and clanking them together like rattling bones. The chirping of the birds and squirrels were silenced and the parking lot was eerily quiet. He shivered against the horror rising inside of him, but an image of Amanda smiling at him firmed his resolve. Then his eyes narrowed and his teeth clamped together. He was doing this for the woman he loved, and he wouldn’t let some spooky trees and winds keep him from his mission.
With more determination than he’d ever felt, Tony grabbed his bag and swung it over his shoulders. All his supplies were inside including a flashlight and lighter with an aerosol can. If the cabin threatened him in any way, he was willing to go to drastic measures to make sure it never bothered anyone again. Then he put his feet on the first leg of the trail and climbed up the mountain toward his possessed destination.
Tony was quick to pass through the rattling trees and silent, watching rocks. He made up for the lost time at the car and reached the top of the mountain with an hour before sunset. He’d have to work quickly to avoid walking back down the trail in the dark, so he deposited his bag on the bare rock a few yards from the shadowed cabin. Everything was quiet like the last time he’d been up here with Amanda, and he didn’t trust that silence. He removed the flashlight and lighting tools, and crept up toward the open door.