It was supposed to be fun.
The grand adventure just because we were bored.
I always prided myself on my high intellect but this went very wrong.
I’d done my research because I am an overachiever and competitive.
I want to say it was Jake’s idea but I am definitely half to blame.
The truth is I did not understand that it was all an unmitigated lie.
The research showed that Unpleasantville was a town of mystery.
Who doesn’t love a mystery and trying to solve the puzzle?
I’d never seen such a deep lake as water was scarce where I lived.
Nor had I ever actually seen a forest where those who entered disappeared.
I really wanted to see the place where they burned the witches.
Also, I had never actually visited a real graveyard or a crypt.
It gave me excited chills just to imagine seeing such a place.
When we arrived in town, we were carefully watched as strangers.
Not unexpected in a town where the forest whispered dark tales
and the unrepentant ancestors of the witch burners still thrived.
Jake was responsible for creating our papers to validate our identities.
He did an excellent job and provided a great backstory for our team.
I still halfway believed that we were on a scientific investigation.
We stayed in the Grimley hotel at first until the money ran out and we opted for the StayIn motel.
It was a seedy, roach-ridden place, but I tolerated it like any explorer might have done.
The townspeople chattered about the magnificent recent arrival of electrical connectivity.
This had occurred in 2010, as Unpleasantville was hidden away and forgotten.
Despite that, this place had a significant population, mostly imports from somewhere else.
Those who were born in Unpleasantville rightfully ruled the town and they made the rules.
I later understood that it was hidden for many reasons and turning the lights on did not improve it.
Towards the end, our money was almost gone and we had to figure out a way to earn a living.
Not so easy in a town that considered strangers to be the enemy until they proved themselves.
The flooding became problematic and thousands of souls drowned despite fair warning.
There were whispers about that and people clammed up as soon as I tried to listen.
Whispers of sacrifices to be made to the river for those murders that had occurred long ago.
The witch burnings were now commemorated by a black monolith at the town’s center.
When I examined this provocative structure, I could not determine if it was a true memorial
or if it was a symbol of a great battle that had been won against the forces of darkness.
Living in Unpleasantville, required a significant adjustment for both of us.
The townspeople wanted us to prove that we were married before we could sleep in the hotel.
Jake provided the appropriate marriage license to quiet their suspicions but it was not authentic.
An archaic marriage was not something either one of us had ever even contemplated.
It had also taken me a while to adjust to the name that Jake had given me on my papers.
The clothing was so heavy and burdensome, though necessary in the cold of winter.
When we visited the graveyard, I was stunned by the ancient dates and early demise
of some citizens, some actually noting the cause of death and some providing headstones
where no body actually rested beneath the weight of those identifying markers.
Many bodies had never been recovered, swallowed by the river or the brooding forest.
As Jake and I progressed along our timeline, we found it difficult to earn money and
it began to look like we would end up sleeping in the forest as there was nowhere else to go.
There was still the possibility that we could return home but I was unequivocally opposed.
Still, my curiosity was unrequited as I searched for more information about the witches.
Their tragic deaths had been the main factor in my decision to initiate this journey.
We were actually beginning to experience hunger for the first time in our lives.
Jake tried to insist we call the expedition and put Unpleasantville in our rearview mirror.
I persuaded him to remain at least until Sah win, commonly known as Halloween.
If only I had the ability to see into the future but even that might not have saved us.
I was under the misconception that the witches were victims and still haunting this place.
Some scientists will go to great lengths to prove their favored hypothesis.
Jake and I were both scientists as well as equitable companions with high intelligence.
Perhaps it was also that arrogance we possessed when we traveled from the year 2666,
believing nothing could harm us and that we would solve the mystery of this town.
That moonlit night when the veil between the worlds was fragile and enticing,
we entered the woods, having been promised we would finally know the secret.
The burning times continue but now it is the witches who ignite the fires.
There is a headstone upon my grave but nothing lies beneath the stone.
My ashes now wander on the wind and cling to the mystical dark trees.
Linda Sparks, author and poet, has published 19 books and been published in numerous anthologies. She served as Editor for Valkyrie Magazine. Her favorite genres are horror and science fiction. Her book titles include: The Goblin Hour, The Scent of Ghosts and Magic, and The Ghosts of Space. The Hour of the Witch will soon be published. Facebook: Linda Sparks Author. Her Amazon author page: https://www:amazon.com/Linda-Sparks/e/B06XYTYPXY.