Sylvie stood at the bottom of the hill, looking up. Under her feet was the crumbled uneven remains of a cement walk; little more than rubble at points. Trees and bushes and weeds grew over it. Their roots dug down beneath. Where sun and wind couldn’t erode the walk from existence, water and vegetation did. The decrepit nature of the path gave the impression that it hadn’t been treaded in decades.
But Sylvie knew better.
She knew the grind of rocks under the soles of tennis shoes had broke the quiet sound of wind in leaves as Byron trudged upward.
But that had been hours ago.
He had climbed to the door dug into the side of the hill. Brick mortared into place on either side, holding the earth back. As if it wanted to devour this breach into it’s belly. Evidence of the bricks shifting under the Earth’s constant pressure was there in large cracks. The soil slowly regurgitating the structure out.
It was a door she had heard of. A place she had been warned never to go. An image from nightmares passed down to her in stories told over coffee. Her grandmother’s weathered hands holding her mug but Sylvie could still see them tremor.
This land. A familial ground. A curse.
She should turn around. Go back up the hill she had traveled to get to the bottom of this one.
Her next step would be atop it. The home her great grandfathered had buried into the ground. It was described as grand. A mansion if it had sat in the day light. A mansion with no windows or natural light. The exterior walls were poured concrete to withstand the never ending pressure of encroaching nature. She wondered if it had faired better than the walk she stood on.
The dome of the hill didn’t have any indentations that she could see. But there was a whole other half that could be caved in—hidden from her view. She’d have to walk all the way around it to know for sure.
Had Byron wandered to the opposite side of the embankment? Sylvie doubted it. She doubted he had second guessed himself at any point.
When she’d told him that on her family’s massive property, there was an abandoned home underground. He had been enchanted. But that was Byron. Ever the romantic. She hadn’t explicitly told him not to come here, she should have but she didn’t want to come off like she believed in her family’s whimsical notions.
But she did. Because standing here at the bottom of this hill closer to the door of her grandma’s childhood home than she had ever been before, Sylvie felt it.
Maybe she could just wait for him here. She’d sit in the tall grass and never get any closer.
He’d come out eventually. Most likely unchanged.
But even as Sylvie had the thought, she knew that wasn’t true.
He’d be changed. If he ever came out.