Chapter Two

The hole lead to darkness.

Will kept his hand on the wall of the cabin, sliding it along it as he walked ever so slowly down into the unknown.

It suddenly turned cold.

Earlier today it had been the usual warmth of Seacliff, Araluen. It was not too hot but a nice moderate temperature, with bright clear skies. In the morning, Will had not expected this.

Will wondered if the temperature had gone down so many degrees everywhere or if it was just him.

The wall was wet and slimy, cold to the touch. He removed his fingers away from the wall, trying to see what was on his fingers. But he could only see darkness. It was nothing but black. Everywhere he looked it was black.

Then he heard the sound of water freezing, turning into solid ice. But it was too quick this time. Water never became ice that quickly. But it did.

Will's eyes looked desperately around the dark tunnel. He could not see a thing and the thought did not make the Ranger at all comfortable. He was used to being able to everything from afar, nobody ever noticing he's there but always being able to know what was going on. This wasn't normal.

"Hello?"

Will yelled the words, louder and more calm than he felt inside.

"Who is there?" Will asked to nobody in particular.

No answer came. It was all silence, everywhere. Will's breathing was becoming more and more frequent as he slipped and tripped down the tunnel of darkness. His breathing was coming in ragged gasps. It smelled horrible in the darkened tunnel. The scent of rust and dirt burned in his nostrils, making him grimace.

He suddenly felt cold everywhere. Will walked faster, using his left arm to hold against his chest as the other ran along the shivering wall.

Then he heard sounds. A scream, a woman by the sound of it. A baby screeching in pain. A dog moaning. Will gasped, looking rapidly for the source.

Then all went black. The Ranger hit the ground with a muted thud.

******

"Will?"

Will opened his brown eyes slowly, trying to remember what had happened. She came into the focus of his blurred eyes surprising quickly.

It was Edwina.

Her usual wide and welcoming smile was not present anymore. He brilliant green eyes were filled with worry, her soft lips pushed hard together as she knelt caringly beside her young friend.

"Edwina?"

He croaked the words out, sounding horrible. The older woman's eyes then began to show relief and a tiny smile began to form on her beautiful face.

"Will, you're on the floor, all wet. Are you alright?" Edwina whispered.

Will got up from the cold floor and straightened up his clothing. His brown eyes observed his cottage with a keen eye. It was just as normal. The semi-clean home was as usual. There were bright yellow flowers on his dining table. He could smell their bright scent from where he was standing.

"I'm fine, Edwina." He smiled.

She returned his smile gratefully then frowned, looking at the floor. Her hair covered her tanned face so he could not see her expression when she asked the young man her next question.

"But what were you going on the floor?"

Will shrugged. "I must have taken a fall." He offered no more explanation than that.

The older woman smiled, seeming to accept his answer and used one hand to point towards the countertop of his kitchen.

"I brought you stew, Will." Her green eyes sparkled.

The scent suddenly came to him. It was off fresh vegetables and meat. Carrots, celery, and meat was all easy to identify. He moved his gaze away from his dinner to smile broadly at the motherly lady and nodded his thanks.

"Thank you, Edwina." Will smiled. "It smells delicious."

Edwina smiled widely; proud of her skills before announcing she was needed to be back at the inn.

Will accepted the fact and said goodbye. Then he walked towards the stew and as he did, it all came back him.

The hole. The cold. The writing. The tunnel.

The Ranger stopped and looked towards the hole. Except there was no hole. At least, he thought to himself, not anymore.

The wall was as it would have been before. It was white, solid, and hard. Will shook his head, confused before realizing what he was stepping in.

Water was everywhere.

Puddles and puddles of it were on his flooring. Will walked gently, listening hard to faint and harsh sounds of his feet as he walked.

Then he saw the red.

It was a line, almost perfectly drawn across the cold floor. It lead on for a while until it finally stopped in the kitchen, next to where the stew was steaming, hot with flavors.

It was blood, he realized.

Will gasped, his heart hammering in his chest faster and faster. He saw something new that he had not noticed a few seconds ago when he had first noticed the trail of red. It was red, blood-stained, and battered.

It looked to be a piece of parchment. Or a note of some kind.

Will walked slowly towards it and picked it up in his trembling hands, shaking as he tried to read the contents.

She's here.

That's all the note said. Angry, Will turned the parchment over in his rapidly shaking hands, seeking more to it. He was confused and the words made no sense. But that's all the note said. It was written sloppily in black ink, seeming to stick out hugely from the darkened red.

She's here.

Then Will heard the breathing. It was ragged, loud and low. Will looked up quickly. His hands moved toward his knife in an instant. He clutched the weapon with confidence, ready to point it at whatever was coming. The noise was joined by another one. It was different. But this one was just as unwelcome as the first.

Footsteps, deep and loud. Coming closer and getting louder.