With every step closer, the mood and atmosphere seemed to change. The name calling and wrestling was replaced with the seriousness of the mission we were marching toward. The memory from a few days earlier, the panic, the quick escape, had formed vividly in the center of my mind. I kept replaying those startling moments, over and over. I felt my heart thump loudly in my ears, and a lump was forming in my throat.
Kayla glanced over at me, “everything ok?”
“Yeah. I’m good” I lied.
I immediately snapped back into that place in my mind. I used it to focus. To channel my energy on what I was about to do. Every step I took was deliberate. I slowed my heart down. I took over control of time. I made the world behave on my terms. I was in the zone.
It was a warm afternoon, when the sun peaked out from behind the partially cloudy sky. I was perspiring under this heavy coat and hat. But, as we got closer to the house, the clouds increased, hiding the warmth of the sun. I wondered if it was always cloudy over this depressing farm. With the layer of sweat I was wearing, and the lack of sunlight, I became cold, and shivered.
We stopped at the group of trees, our headquarters, about 100 yards from the side of the house. I pulled out two bottles of water and, of course, an oat-n-honey granola bar. This time when I offered one to Kayla, she accepted. There’s a first time for everything.
We sat behind a fallen tree trunk and perched our elbows on top. We had a perfect view of the side window. As well as the front entrance. I cleared a few low branches and some brush, and we could also see the two barns and silo. We sighted in Kayla’s binoculars, and I hung mine over my neck. We got the hopper loaded in the paintball gun, and attached the air chamber. I was locked and loaded, and ready to go. We went over the plan one last time. I leaned in and kissed Kayla goodbye, as if I might not return.
I slowly walked toward the house, crouched down, as if it would matter. I guess it was symbolic of how heavy this situation was weighing on my head. I doubt anybody would believe me, or even understand. There is something purely evil about this place. It hangs in the air. I can feel it in my bones. I can smell it. It says nothing more than, “get the fuck out if here!” Yet, here I am.
I crawled in behind some angry looking shrubbery, halfway between the house and Kayla’s perch. I took a look around with the binoculars, to see if anything was moving around me. Then I took the safety off on the paintball gun and aimed for the second floor window. The bullet went off with a hollow pop as a blue splotch of paint exploded on the worn out white siding. A good 10 feet below the curtained window. I cursed silently. I didn’t think the gun would have the range I was hoping for, and it didn’t. This was the closest, covered position to the house. I now had to expose myself (not as in strip naked) in order to hit my target.
I started my low, creep-walk toward the dreaded house once again. I didn’t want to risk coming up short again, and making a bunch of noise, so I went in closer than I needed to.
I brought the gun up and sighted the window. I held steady and exhaled all the air out of my lungs. Then I squeezed off a good 10 rounds of balled paint. Every one of them hitting my intended target, with a loud, repeated thud.
I quickly retreated all the way back to where Kayla was, behind the fallen log. She was looking intently, silently, scanning the window and door. Without a word, I dropped in beside her and did the same thing. The window was coated with paint on the lower left corner, just like I intended. If someone was looking out from it, we wanted to see them.
We looked around for about a minute. Enough time for my heart to slow back down, and the adrenaline to subside. I was just about to say “what now?” as it seemed like nothing was going to happen, when we heard, and then saw, a large flock of birds, scream their way out if the barn. The same way they did the other day, when we invaded their privacy.
I was instantly overcome with a kind of anxious fear. My eyes flew open and I got just a little bit closer to Kayla, who was also second guessing what we decided to do.
Then, not more than 20 yards from us, a bouquet of pheasants took to the air, in a chaotic squall, as the sky took to a darker shade.
As I scrambled to pack up our belongings, Kayla took to surveying the house again, through her binoculars.
“Daniel!” she screamed. “Look!”
I tipped up the binoculars up from my neck and looked toward the window, as Kayla instructed. The thin, wispy curtains were parted and being held open, but by whom, I could not tell. Neither of us saw anybody there, holding the curtains open. Suddenly, the curtains lazily closed back shut.
“What the hell? Who was holding them open?” I pleaded.
“I don’t know” Kayla replied. “I was looking up there, and they just kind of opened on their own.”
Just as she finished her confession, we heard the sound of wood cracking, very loudly, inside one of the barns. I grabbed Kayla by the elbow and said “come on. We got to get the fuck out if here.”
Within seconds, we were both on our feet and running from this cursed place, for the second time in two days. We ran back to the edge of the forest and collapsed, both of us sucking wind.
I looked over toward Kayla and asked, “can we please NOT go back there again? I don’t think I can handle this anymore.”
“It’s just so strange. That place. I don’t think we’ll ever know what’s going on there.”
“Kayla. All that shit that just went down. I don’t know, it felt like a warning to me. Like stay away or else. Did you feel that?”
“Yeah and like it was saying I am way more powerful than you are. Daniel? Do you know anybody else who’s been there? It seems weird there’s not a bunch of people saying what happened when they went there.”
“I don’t know. Maybe Sid has been there. I don’t think my sister would go there. Anyway. I am done. That place freaks me out and I don’t want to go back.”
“I just wish I knew who was in there and why we couldn’t see them” Kayla trailed off, as if not satisfied with staying away.
In the short while I’ve known her, it seems like Kayla gets what she wants. Not in a spoiled way, but in a determined and stubborn kind of way. I am not fully convinced that she got the message from the evil farm, or if she won’t press to visit there again. I told her my feelings on going back, but I don’t think that really matters either. She didn’t agree to not go back, artfully avoiding the answer, by asking more questions. I don’t think she feels the same horror that I do about the place.
The direction my thoughts were taking me was not a fun destination. Not a place I like to visit. One negative thought can lead to another, and another. Until my head is filled with so much self doubt and worry, that I become a cocoon of uselessness. The discovery I made about Kayla led me to more dark places. Made me ask myself more questions about her, me, and us. I couldn’t do this right now. Not here. Not with her present. I had to get away.
Kayla sensed my struggle, asking “are you okay Daniel? You seem…I don’t know…like you’ve got a lot on your mind.”
“Ah…I’m okay. Just…I don’t feel the greatest. I don’t know, maybe the running, I don’t know, but I think I need to go home.”
Kayla wasn’t convinced, but seemed to go along with it. “Umm…ok, I hope you feel better. See you later? Maybe?”
“Yeah…sure. I’ll umm…email you or something.”
With that, we got up silently, and walked the trail back to my house.