I’ve decided to do something I don’t do often, and that’s continue an existing flash fic story, but I think this photo prompt will do nicely. I’m hoping that you’ll be able just pick up here and read if you haven’t read the others. But, just in case, here are parts one, two, and three.
Eion’s muttered “fuck me swinging” was still ringing in Hollis’ ears as she blinked, trying to make sense of what she was seeing.
“Hello,” she called out.
The figure on the rock froze then leapt forward and vanished, the golden glow swallowing it. They scrambled toward the light, stopping abruptly, as the glow becoming the warm shades of an autumnal forest. Somehow, in this room, in the sub-basement of the university’s library, was not only a cave system, but an entire forest. At least, it looked like there was an entire forest.
They stepped from the shelter of the rock formation, into crisp leaves and sharp air. It not only looked like there was an entire forest, it smelled like it, too. The sharp fragrance of fallen leaves mingled with the more pungent scents of long decayed vegetation and dank earth. And the figure they’d seen was nowhere to be found. At this point, she was beginning to wonder if she’d imagined it altogether.
Brilliant red oak leaves blanketed the forest floor, while mist slithered through the tree trunks and the bare, low-hanging branches. The sky was that odd greenish-gray color it only ever seemed to turn in autumn–right before an early snowstorm. A cool, damp breeze brushed her cheek, lifting her hair slightly and sending a chill down her spine. She pulled the sleeves of her oversized sweater over her suddenly cold hands. There’d better not be an early snowstorm while they were…wherever they were.
She glanced at Eion. His blue eyes were wide, and his lips were parted slightly as he looked around, seemingly taking in everything around them. “What the actual merciless fuck is this place?” His tone accusatory, he turned to face her.
“How the hell would I know?”
“You’re the one with the bloody key.”
“Well, I didn’t know it would lead here. Besides, didn’t you say something about Faery?”
“That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have said it,” he muttered more to himself than to her.
He reached out, and his fingers brushed across her neck as he caught the cord the key hung on and pulled it from inside her sweater. She tried not to shiver again.
“Where did you get this, anyway?”
“My grandmother kind of willed it to me when she died.”
Standing far closer to her than was entirely comfortable, he turned the key over and over in his long fingers, inspecting it from every angle. “How does someone kind of will something?”
Hollis explained about her cousin and the trade they’d made in the lawyer’s office.
Eion frowned. “Who would have a tantrum about an inheritance?”
“Kylie Edgerton. Back row of the eight am session of History 101.”
Eion laughed. “You two share DNA?”
“Not willingly,” she muttered, snatching the key from his hand and turning away. She needed to put some space between them. He was even more attractive up close, and the last thing she needed was for her TA to realize yet another college freshman had a crush on him.
Glancing up, she realized that the mist had crept closer, swallowing the few evergreens that grew in amongst the oaks. “Eion?”
“I think it’s getting darker.”
He glanced around. “It’s definitely getting creepier.”
“Maybe…” she willed her voice not to shake, “we should go back the way we came. Maybe the door’s back and we can come back and explore later–you know…during the day?”
He glanced around, his unease apparent. “How do I know you won’t come back without me?”
“Really? You think I’m going to go to a spooky magical forest by my damn self?”
His eyes widened, and he looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “I don’t recall anyone forcing you to sneak down to the sub-basement and open one of these doors, love.”
Okay, he wasn’t wrong about that. “Well, I don’t know that I would have gone in if not for you and whoever was coming down the elevator.”
Crossing his arm over his chest, he raised an eyebrow at her. “Right.”
“Fine,” she muttered. “I promise I won’t come back without you.”
They turned back toward the cave, and Hollis’ lurched forward, her head swimming violently. Eion caught her, tugging her into his side as they both stood there and stared. The opening they’d come through was gone as if it had never been there.
The opening was gone.
The cave was gone.
The rocky outcropping was gone.
There was nothing but blood-red leaves and creeping fog all around them. And in the distance, a shadowy figure darted between the trunks of trees