Tacenda – Chapter Three



(adj.) eerie, uncomfortably weird

The figure was a girl. Around eight years old, Amber guessed, all red hair and freckles. Amber bit back a curse, willing her racing heart to still.

“Was that you, just now?” she snapped, almost wincing at the harshness of her tone.

The girl didn’t seem cowed; she jutted out her chin and narrowed her eyes. “What’s it to you?” she replied, crossing her arms across her chest.

Amber muttered a curse, letting go of her suitcase and rubbing her hand over her eyes. Fucking kids…

“Are you even supposed to be out here?” she said.

The girl didn’t answer that. She hadn’t moved an inch and Amber sighed.

“No, we aren’t,” the girl said and that made Amber frown.

We?” she asked.

Another giggle behind her and Amber turned—to see the same girl.

Her gaze flicked rapidly from one to the other and she took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing heart. Twins. Of course. Creepy twins in this creepy forest because it was too much to ask that her day go well.

“Who’re you?” the second girl asked. She looked more curious than the first girl, who was still frowning some way ahead of her. Amber shrugged—what could it hurt?

“I’m Amber.”

“Amber,” the girl repeated, like she was trying to taste Amber’s name. “I’m Felicity,” she announced. The first girl groaned.

“Fliss!” she all but shrieked, and Felicity stuck out her tongue.

Alex,” she said in return, mimicking her sister’s voice. Her voice.

Amber rolled her eyes. “Look,” she said. “I’m trying to get to Lower Cwealm. You know it?”

Alex’s eyes widened but Felicity nodded without hesitation. “We live there!” she said. “You’ve just gotta keep walking.”

“Why’re you going there?” Alex asked. She walked around Amber, standing next to her sister. If not for the fact that they were wearing different outfits, Amber wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Every freckle was in the same place, each a picture-perfect copy of the other.

“I’m moving there,” Amber replied. She shrugged her backpack further up on her shoulders again. “My aunt used to live there.”

“You’re moving in?” Alex said. She sounded astonished—then she and Felicity burst into giggles. Every hair on Amber’s skin stood on end.

“What’s so funny?” she asked.

Alex shrugged and Felicity held onto her sister, still laughing. “Nothing,” Alex said.

Amber rolled her eyes and grabbed her suitcase again, ready to leave the two giggling girls behind. She paused though when she thought of something.

“Hey… either of you wouldn’t happen to know if there’s a hotel in the village?”

Felicity straightened up, staring at Amber intently, pale eyes a little too sharp, but it was Alex who spoke.

“There’s a B&B,” she said. “The Chandes run it. They’re nice, they give us weird sweets.”

“Thanks,” Amber replied.

“You’d better not tell anyone you saw us here,” Alex said as Amber started wheeling her case away. Amber paused and looked at the girl. “Or we’ll curse you.”

Felicity nodded solemnly at her side. “We will.”

Amber bit back a smile. She remembered being a kid. “Alright,” she said, seriously as she could manage. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

“Don’t,” Felicity said, and her eyes were sharp green flints again, like they could see right through her. Amber held her gaze, suppressing the urge to shiver.

Something in the trees rustled, and where Amber looked up, startled, the girls turned to each other with a grin. Whatever was out there, it seemed larger than any fox Amber had ever seen in the city. Alex went running for the trees first, but Felicity smiled up at Amber.

“Bye,” she said, almost shyly, before she followed her sister into the shadows.

“Bye,” Amber muttered. The darkness swallowed the two girls up and Amber turned back to the road, squaring her shoulders. Not much further now. She could make it.


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