Originally posted 2016-01-15 08:00:13.
Sven unzipped his pack and started pulling out the days clothes. Thermal underware (the expensive kind, not the stuff from Wally World), wool socks, some sweat pants, and a long-sleeved shirt. As he began to get dressing, Erik stirred next to him.
“Already?” Erik said exhaustively.
“Have to get a good start in order to make the ridge by tonight.” Sven stated. Erik let out a sigh and followed suit. They put their old clothes on a string strung across their packs allowing them to dry as they walked. Seeing as how today’s weather was going to be good it was not an issue.
“Do you think we will find her?” ask Erik.
Sven hesitated, “I don’t know, but I promised her I would come back.” Sven knew that Erik had given up hope years ago and if he wasn’t such a loyal friend, he would have stopped coming along. They have hiked just about every square mile of these mountains with no luck, not even a trace of her.
“When we get to the ridge, which way are we going?” asked Erik.
“South, to the Devil’s Trap.”
“You really think she made it that far?”
“I think she was a survivor and with the size of the storm that hit, she would have headed south to get off the mountains.” Sven said.
“She also knew about the Devil’s Trap and how dangerous it was,” Erik stated.
They hiked a good part of the morning, stopping for lunch and carried on into the late evening before they arrived at Hell’s Lookout. “Let’s set up camp. The weather should cooperate tomorrow,”Sven said. Erik began unpacking and setting up the site as usual.
Sven sat and thought back several years to a time when Hilda was still here. In fact, she was standing in the spot right next to him.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Hilda exclaimed.
“Yes,” Sven said.
“What’s the matter?”
“The weather is turning too quick,” answered Sven.
“We will be fine. It is only a few days to the top and we can take pictures of the Trap.”
“I am not worried about getting there, I am worried about -“
“Sven!” Erik shouted. Sven snapped out of his day dream and found Erik staring at him. “You OK man?”
“Yeah,” Sven stammered. “This is close to where we last saw her.”
“I know, I remember she was so excited to get to the top. Her dream was making it up there there to get a picture of the Trap.”
“That damn thing is cursed,” Sven spat.
“Maybe, the stories all say the same thing,” Erik continued. “Up in the hills there is a devil trapped between the five peaks. Between the peaks are there are five valleys that lead to the center. In this you will see the devil himself walking at thee. Do not stare too long or you will soon know despair as the trap now takes you unaware.There is only one way to escape and it lies in a mare. She must be fine and unspoiled. She must be clean and free. This is the only way the trap will let you free.”
“That’s bullshit. It is only a fairy tale to scare away the kids and tourists,” Sven said angrily.
“Right, of course. Sorry. Let’s talk about something else shall we?” Erik said uneasily.
“I’m just going to bed” Sven said as he walked into the tent.
Devil’s Trap, which was just five peaks and a valley that looked like an ancient devil’s trap on a topographical map. This place is a heavy tourist spot in spite of the dangers and numerous disappearances that happen around it. It was given the name from a couple that was hiking around the ridge, what is now known as Hell’s Lookout. The girlfriend slipped and slid to the trap, dragging her boyfriend with her. The boyfriend, the sole survivor said, “There is a devil in there and he is trapped.” When asked what happened to his girlfriend, he said nothing.
“Where are we heading this morning?” questioned Erik.
“Into the trap,” stated Sven as he stared of into the valley below Hell’s Lookout.
“Hmm, do you think that is a good idea?”
“I think that is our last option.”
“Down we go then,” Erik said as he jumped up and began tearing down the tent. Sven started to make breakfast which included some bread, dried meats, and one of those fancy Quest bars. They never took their eyes off the valley.
“Let’s go.” Sven stated. Erik nodded and they began down the mountain side, into the valley.
“The Hall of Lucifer, that is what they call this valley.” Erik observed. Sven stayed quiet. “If we follow this to the center, the throne will appear and we can make a deal with the devil himself.” Erik said laughing.
“I’m counting on it,” Sven whispered.
“Nothing. I just said that is just a scare tactic.”
“I guess we will find out,” said Erik.
As they came to the valley floor, the terrain began to change, the temperature increase being the most noticeable. It was easily 20-25 degrees warmer down here than on the mountain side. Not so strange except the lookout and the valley floor is roughly 800 feet. Also the floor here almost seems of ash instead of snow. The feeling of thousands of eyes watching is something one cannot get used too.
“Where’s the lookout?” asked Erik. Hell’s Lookout just seemed to vanish behind a cloud.
“Cloud cover. That storm is moving in.”
“Man that was fast.”
Erik and Sven both started shedding clothes to counter the rising temperature. Their breathing became labored from whatever the hell covered the sky. It was not clouds.
“We need to hurry,” Erik said, sounding worried.
“Right, let’s go.” Sven directed up the valley. As they walked deeper into the Devil’s Trap the heat began to overtake them. Feeling more like a desert than a snowy mountain top.
“What the hell is going on here?” Erik asked, concerned.
“Sven!?” Looking in all directions and seeing nothing but darkness and ashes blowing all around him, isolating him in a cloudy maze where direction seemed to not exist.”
“Erik!” Sven yelled.
Voices lost in the wind, never finding their intended orifice. As the two wondered aimlessly though the valley, another voice was yelling. Only this one could be heard.
“Sven,” a guttural voice enticed. “Come home and I can help you.”
Sven followed the sound gaining more and more distance from Erik. As he came upon the voice, the soft smell of lavender and spring filled his nose. A reminder of his dear Hilda. “Hilda?” he yelled. So much more a question than anything.
“Yes, come Father.” the voice said, sounding as if it was a mere 50 feet away.
“I’m coming baby! Just hold on.” Sven whispered. Sven came to the end of the storm and before him stood Hilda. “Hilda!” Sven exclaimed.
Hilda said nothing, only motioned for Sven to come closer.
“How have you survived?” he asked.
“Save me Father,” a voice from Hilda said.
“How honey? How do I save you?”
“Sven,” Erik’s voice yells from the storm.
“You must give me your friend,” Hilda said in a soft voice.
“What? What do you mean?”
“He won’t let me leave unless he gets something in return. he is always watching Daddy.”
Finally, Erik makes it to where his friend is standing and on one knee hears the voice coming from Hilda, only something is different. The voice is raspy, almost foreign.
“Hilda, Erik is my brother. I cannot let this so called “him” take Erik. You are coming with me,” he says as he holds out a hand for Hilda to take.
A scream belts out from Sven as he pulls his now charred hand back from Hilda. “What was that!” he screams in pain.
“I told you Papa, he will not let me go unless you give him Erik,” tears stream down Hilda’s face.
Sven’s eyes fill with burden, a simple choice. One sibling for a daughter. His precious daughter who he has dedicated the last seven years to finding. Now, she stands before him, just as frail as the day he lost her.
“Sven, no.It’s not her!” Erik faintly said. “Sven…” Erik fell to his knees, the scene laid out before him. Hilda standing before her father. Only Hilda was grotesquely disfigured, looking almost as if she was made…No she was. It was bodies, a giant pile of bodies and at the center was the small, pale face of Hilda. “Sven please!”
Nothing was heard.
“Take him.” Sven whispered, tears running down his face.
Erik would have never though it was possible as the final octave rang through the valley. He began to convulse rapidly, with beads of sweat falling off his face. Erik then started to shiver uncontrollably.
“Welcome to the Devil’s Trap Erik,” a voice whispered in his ear.