Flickering Out part IV

A cold wind rushed down from the ice tipped crags into the mountain valley, buffeting the two explorers peering at the stone and timber estate. The sky was a blue-black with faint stars that shone between late-sunset clouds. Dark and black shadows from clumps of trees formed an arc around the meadow, seeming to wrap around them. The sole way out: a trail ahead into ruins. Unless you're the type to turn back. Classia wasn't sure how she felt about that.

‘Summer breeze,’ she said, folding her arms around her. 'Isn't so summery.'

And something caught her attention. Movement, perhaps. It wasn't far away. Another loud crack broke the evening silence and Billie jumped, grasping Jeff's arm to keep from stumbling. They stood silently for several minutes, listening into the night.  Billie scanned across the meadow and back, looking into the shadows for something when inside a dark copse of trees she noticed the distinct glow of a cigarette.


‘There’s someone up there.'

‘You think he can see us?’

‘We're in the shadows and there's not much moonlight because of these clouds. Good thing we doused the lantern.'

‘There is that. Just don't light it.'

‘Might not be alone,’ Jeff said. ‘I don’t know. There’s a path that rings the meadow.  We crossed it when we first came in.  My guess is that kids are goofing off up there.  Maybe they’re scaring each other before bedtime.  Dad's probably getting some fresh air. Simple as that.’

'Of course,' Billie said, not sure If Jeff was joking.  'And my judgement was sound when I agreed to this.' Wait, did I agree to this?

‘Judgement?’ Jeff chuckled.

Classia thought it was cute he said that. But, someone is watching us. Her arms felt ice cold from the wind. ‘Your're not worried Jeff?’

‘Come on. whoever is out there they’re far enough away it would take at least ten minutes to reach us. If they wanted to. Ease up. We’re not the only ones who like the woods.'

‘The woods? Right now, not so much.' Then she felt sorry for herself. 'I guess I fell into thinking this was our own private adventure.' She rolled her eyes. 'Didn't you?'


They studied what remained of the old mansion. The left stone wall stood erect and was a good forty feet high. The front of the structure wasn’t much but stones around two large square window holes set high and wide to either side of a crumbling, raised entry way. The frame of a double size door was in place, although crooked. The doors were long gone. Dark stone walls loomed upward.  They were cracking and breaking away in places. Almost the entire right side of the mansion was open to the elements, the walls but stubby foundations that could be easily leapt over.

Large stones and pieces of mortar could be seen in the mud.  Remnants of an exposed and crumbling chimney with rusted, round metal tubes jutting out of broken away chimney cap of stone bricks at the top.  The tubes could be seen here and there along the length of the column where stone fell away to the ground.  Looking past the broken, graffiti covered walls, perched on a raised area on the right side of the mansion was a once grand brick fireplace. Set in the center, the fireplace looked like it was once the focal point of a very large living room.  Now it was ruined and stained black.  She could see trash and debris in and around it, some old beer cans.  Obviously others had since used it.

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