"So, this is Devil's Tower," Ivey stopped near the hiking trail entrance to stare up at the monument, protruding from the ground. "I've never really been here before. It's not all that impressive."
The area appeared to have been struck hard this winter, with snow piling up all four to five inches off the ground. A blanket of barren white covered the landscape filled with trees and more trees. Animal tracks, large and small, were visible on top of the snow. Since it was late February, the number of visitors to the park were few and far between.
"One of the many unlisted wonders of the world," Seymour spoke behind her. "Its form still unexplainable."
"I didn't imagine someone like you would know about it in this day and age," Ivey glanced back at him. Something was telling her the man beside her was older than he appeared. Much, much older. "So, how would you even know?"
"You're right," he stepped out in front of her. "I'm not from this day and age."
Ivey glanced around just to see who might be listening in on their conversation.
No sense in anyone else thinking we're crazy.
However, the few tourists that were brave enough to come out were more outdoor enthusiast or runners. No one paid any attention to them. There were a few with cameras, but even those were eventually put away for warmer gloves.
"No one's listening," he took a few more steps forward and stopped, waiting for Ivey to follow. "Even if they wanted to, they wouldn't be able to hear us."
"Why not?" Her eyes focused on some of the trees along the trail. Waving in the wind, tied to the branches, were either pieces or strings of cloth in various colors. A few of them fastened here and there along the trail. Most of them, however, were primarily bound farther away with trees veering off the path. The clothes were of different colors, shapes, and sizes, and some of them even had ornaments attached.
"Tributes," Seymour saw where her eyes went. When she didn't respond, he elaborated further, "Think of them as tribute or offerings to the Gods for a wish or a prayer."
"Does it really work?" Her voice was a little skeptical.
"You don't believe?"
She ignored the grayish-blue hues of his eyes, glancing up at the immense monument that stood before her.
Within the last day or so, she had encountered many unexplained matters and experienced things that would have gotten her locked up in a mental institution. The information that she witnessed and felt, the breadth and emotions of how real they were, were enough to make her wonder about her own mental state of health.
Ivey spoke honestly, "I don't know what to believe anymore."
On top of it all, she still had no way of contacting her parents, knowing they were probably out of their minds with worry. In fact, she could very well be dead now, and this was her soul wandering the earth with a made-up stranger she had never seen before but was somehow familiar. Ivey heard stories of alien abductions and Souls that would roam the land for all eternity. She never thought much of it, or if there was any truth behind it. After all, she had never experienced anything like it before—until now.
But...this Seymour guy is far too delicious to be an alien...or maybe he's part of the bait?
The stranger was more lean than bulky. His shoulders vast, the legs relatively long and powerful. Thinking about his legs brought her attention to his hands. Hands were large and capable, firm when needed, considerate when required. She had felt—and experienced—them first hand, no pun intended.
She couldn't tell before, but now out in the sunshine, his hair was entirely black with hints of blues where the rays struck. Ivey didn't realize how long it was, flowing past his shoulders to stop just above the waist; the strands dancing along with the breeze, swirling around his face. From his distinctive cheekbones to his clean, cut jawline, his face was haunting, seductive...
Her heart sped up.
He was a wild, dangerous, addicting. The unbridled and untamed figure in front of Ivey should have made him more feminine, but it didn't. The look captured his essence.
"Just like your last name, you do look like a wolf," Ivey startled, realizing she had spoken her thoughts out loud.
Seymour gave no indication that he heard her. Instead, she found him already next to her, one arm around her waist.
"The third time's the charm," he spoke quietly near her ear before stomping the ground twice with his left heel.
Ivey could only muster a quiet gasp as the soil remarkably cracked underneath them. Instinctively, she flung her arms around his neck to keep from falling.
The first time Ivey entered the portal, there was an initial perception of standing on top of the tallest cliff before falling to one's doom. Ivey prepared herself for those very same emotions; however, this time, it never came. Instead, as soon as the earth shattered underneath, another layer of soil came up to settle at their feet.
Ivey barely had time to blink before it was all over. A few breathless seconds ticked by before she scowled up at him. Is this another one of your tricks?
A hint of a smile danced across his face. Seymour knowingly lowered his head slightly at her, as if to ask 'yes'?
Somewhat annoyed Ivey tore away from him until she saw that the sky was closer than before, and the ground was farther…much farther down. She could make out miles and miles of snow plowed roads and the empty, barren land that stretched as far as the eyes could see.
Realization hit. I'm standing at the top of the tower!
Ivey took a dizzying step forward and would have collapsed if it weren't for Seymour.
"You can't even see the edge."
Breathing profoundly, half relying on Seymour's body to stand, she glanced up at him to see whether or not he was making fun of her. However, all she observed was his calm face.
Devil's Tower's peak was probably about the size of a football field with quite a bit of distance still between her and the edge. The thought did little to appease her. Instead, the more she thought about being at the side of the summit, the more her anxiety grew, and the quicker her breathing became.
Fear of heights...one of my worst enemies.
Ignoring Seymour, Ivey went back to concentrate on her breathing. Looking up at the sky or out across the landscape only increased her anxiety. All Ivey could do was keep her face down towards the hard-packed snow and clutch Seymour tightly against her.
Did she mention she had a fear of heights? It was one of her worst enemies, if not the top three or four on her list.
"Hold on tight," Seymour's soft voice reverberated through the air. At the same time, Ivey's ears caught the rumbling of rocks falling and smashing collectively.
Her eyes first widened, confused, and then in panic as the terrain below their feet began to tremble. This time Ivey hurled herself into Seymour's arms—the only thing stable at the moment—as the racket of tumbled rocks enveloped them. Both of Seymour's arms settled around her waist, comforting.
An Earthquake...a freaking earthquake...is this real?! Either that or the summit is collapsing—how lucky!
The ground began fluctuating heavily.
"Seymour?" Ivey gasped, shutting her eyes. She jumped, knowing intuitively that he'd catch her and keep her feet off the ground.
And he did, one arm around her, the other going under both her legs.
"What's happening? Are we going to die? Is this an earthquake that is happening, or is this place falling apart?" Ivey refrained from opening her eyes as she felt the world sinking…or was she doing the falling?
Not giving Seymour a chance to respond, she demanded, "Quick! Teleport us out of here!"
"We're almost there," he assured her. "It's not an earthquake but a lift."
With the noises fading away, Ivey could now hear a quiet hum in the background. Like a machine switching on. It reminded her of the quiet buzz from a refrigerator.
It was now eerily quiet besides the low humming beneath Seymour's feet. The right arm of his arm supported her back while her legs dangled from his left. Ivey had no idea how her arms arranged itself around his neck. It was probably when she heard the rocks falling—or was it when she felt the trembling beneath her feet?
But oh, what a surprise! An elevator at the top of the summit! And now I'm riding it to go down. Inside the tower!
The lift itself was about a foot or two in length and height, circular. It was also black except for the patch of roundabout dirt lodged by their feet earlier. Ivey tried not to study it too carefully since they were still quite a distance from the ground.
Now that things (herself) were a bit calmer, and no one was on the brink of dying, Ivey studied her surroundings. The lift—or elevator—was slowly descending. Unable to see anything but a bottomless pit of darkness, Ivey gazed up. It was the same there as well. Her eyes saw nothing but black shadows all around.
"What is going on here? Where are you taking me?" Ivey finally tore her gaze from the ceiling to glance at Seymour, who had been standing there the whole time silently watching her. His gaze was unsettling, studying her reaction, and comparing them to something—or someone?
"Would you believe me if I tell you?" He answered her question with another.
Ivey thought about it, "No…yes…maybe?"
"Then I won't say anything at all."
Who was she kidding? After everything, what else is there to say? Ivey sigh, "It depends on how believable you make it."
At this point, she'd take anything other than the unknown.
Seymour thought about it for a while, as if he was trying to come up with a believable response. Or maybe he was just buying time? Ivey didn't care. She was determined to get an answer out of him, yet when suddenly, they both stopped moving.
"Doesn't matter," he took a step forward, "We're here."
As if on cue, female voices greeted them, synchronously, "Young Master Seymour, Lady Ivey, welcome home!"
Ivey lowered her head towards her chest, lamenting helplessly between frustration and shock.
There are people down here?!
More and more unexplained things.