492 words (1 minute read)

Chapter One

‘She wants to know why we’re here?’ Paul translated when the woman across the aisle finished speaking. His language skills bordered on fluent.

‘A study holiday.’ He told her, smiling too. ‘We have huge work to get done.’

The woman’s husband chuckled and raised his thumbs to them. Good luck.

‘Thank you.’ Paul said, turning back to the group.

‘Can’t believe you brought that book with you.’ Dave said to Sarah. Laughing as she began repacking her backpack.

‘It’s important, it has the ritual in.’ she grinned.

‘Why are we even doing this?’ Paul asked.

‘It’s an experiment for my thesis.’ She said. ‘And it might just give us some superhuman abilities.’

‘Turn us into animals you mean.’ Dave laughed.

‘You’re already animals.’ Sarah was quick to respond.

‘We’re about thirty minutes away.’ Alice pointed out glancing at her watch.

They began gathering up their things, returning books and phones to their backpacks and clearing away their collective rubbish. Excited to see the town and wander through the shops. As they got up to leave the train the old woman shrugged, breaking off the heated, but hushed, conversation with her husband and looked across at the group. Speaking slowly to make sure Paul picked up everything she said.

‘She said we have to be careful not to go into the woods at night. There have been rumours of wolves.’ Paul translated for the others.

‘Oh, I’d love to see some wolves.’ Sarah said.

‘She says, it’s important not to…not to… I don’t know…’ he frowned.

‘Be alone.’ Alice supplied. Her Grandmother had lived in this part of the world her whole life. It had been a long time since Alice had been though, not since her Grandmother’s funeral. Smiling she reached across to shake the woman’s hand, saying thank you. The woman looked a little worried, like she wanted to say more, and glanced at the old man. But her husband shrugged and went back to looking out the window. Clearly content they’d said all that needed to be said.

Dave led the way onto the platform and into the bright sunshine. Despite the clear skies and late blossoming flowers, the air was icy and they each pulled on hats and scarves. The few locals also getting off the train paid them very little attention, this place was used to hikers and tourists. Although it was a little late in the year for it, it wasn’t unusual. The town was beautiful in the winter.

‘It’s only a few minutes’ walk.’ Paul said, having consulted a map he’d plucked from a nearby carousel.

‘Well the sooner we can find somewhere to eat the better, I’m starving.’ Dave clapped him on the back and set off. The girls followed.