She heard her name being called. It was the third time now, but she would continue to pretend that she hadn’t heard a thing until the older woman would be forced to come all the way down the hill from the house and find her. She wasn’t ready to go in just yet.
“Look, Violet!” The doll dangled from her hand by one arm as she scrambled from her knees to run forward and pick a small bunch of the bright red wildflowers for her Aunt as she heard the woman call her name yet again. She was getting closer. The flowers would soften the scolding she would no doubt receive as a result of not returning to the house immediately.
Plucking the flowers quickly, she had a small fistful of them by the time she heard her Aunt’s footsteps running down the hill behind her, and she giggled as she reached to pick just one more.
She didn’t sound angry like she usually did now, but something else. There was panic in her voice, a shrill, hurried tone to it, and the girl frowned and turned to look up at the woman’s face, feeling frightened as soon as she saw that she had gone pale, and she followed her glance up at the sky, not even noticing that the flowers she had just picked had instantly wilted and now lay limp in her hand.
Had she been paying attention to anything but what was right in front of her all of the time she had been down by the river, Solara would have noticed that while she played the sky had slowly begun to grow darker and the atmosphere itself had grown thicker with it. Though it shouldn’t have. It was barely past midday. The only time the sky ever grew so dark was when a vicious and sudden storm was just on the horizon.
“Come, child, take my hand, hurry!”
But she was swiftly and a little roughly pulled by her arm and onto her feet before she even had a chance to do as she was told.
It had hurt her, and she began to cry.
“It’s just a storm, Aunt Raine…”she sniffled, her small face red and wet, her voice shaking and full of confusion. The grass rustled behind her as a sudden cold wind whistled through the valley, chilling her to the bone, and leaves from the trees showered over her onto the ground at her feet. Leaves that should have been hues of red, orange and golden yellow for this time of year, but they were dead, and crunched underfoot. Her little eyes widened at the sudden and complete blackening of the sky then, and the first bolts of lightning started.
At least, it looked like lightning, but it was much larger, louder, grander than anything she had seen before.
“Come now, Solara! Run!”
Her Aunt tugged at her arm again, and for a moment, she resisted as she stood and stared up at the sky, both horrified and mesmerized at once, for she knew that this was no storm, not when the lightning turned to tentacles that grew and moved and reached down from the very sky itself.
Sounds, too. They were whispers at first, and she couldn’t tell where they were coming from. They seemed to be coming from everywhere. The very air groaned and whispered and taunted her, but there were no words, just terrible sounds that made her head ache and her legs feel heavy and it wasn’t until the sharp sting of her Aunt’s hand to her cheek snapped her out of it that she saw it.
No less than a foot in front of her, the creature cocked it’s head to one side, and grinned at her as it hissed her name, reaching out for her with it’s bony hand. She stumbled backwards and landed heavily on her backside right after it’s clawed hand brushed her stinging cheek.
“Get UP!” She was pulled onto her feet again, and all she could hear was screaming. Her own. And then Aunt Raine was in front of her, a shield between her and the creature and she shoved the girl roughly, a look of pure terror in her eyes.
“Run, Solara. Run and don’t stop. Go now … GO NOW!”