A ghostly mist rose out of the river, shrouding the campsite in a blanket of grey, and muffled the clumsy footsteps that echoed in the deathly silence. Marley was running, stumbling over loose rocks, cutting her arms and legs on the tree branches that appeared in her path, and blindly searched for her family.
The air was humid, laced with a strong earthy smell, and it weigh heavily – like an old, itchy blanket – on her skin. Her dirty clothes, a mass of tattered grey fabric, clung tightly to her body.
“Marley…Marley…” a ghostly whisper drifted from the distance.
A sudden chill ran down her spine, erecting the hair on the back of her neck, but she mustered the courage to take a cautious step forward. She stretched out her trembling hand, sweeping her long fingers through the plume of translucent grey, and peered into the dense mist.
Her eyes widen in shock when she uncovered a body – shrouded in rags – lying on the cold, damp ground.
The face was buried in one of the ragged sleeves and hidden by a mane of frizzy, tangled knots. Marley took slow and hesitant step forward.
Suddenly, the body stirred.
Marley pierced the spooky silence with a high-pitched scream, took a terrified step back and tripped on a rock. She fell into the nearby bushes and scraped her sweaty palms against the prickly tree branches.
She quickly sprung to her feet, balled up her fists and cast a nervous glance around the deserted patch of land.
The body was gone.
“Marley…Marley…” a voice, as sweet as honey, poured out from the eerie mist.
Marley broke out in cold sweat, and when a skeletal hand touched her shoulder she let out a deafening scream and leapt forward. She whirled around, her heart thrashing inside of her ribcage, and stared into a pair of wild, green eyes.
The woman was pale, her face drawn and sickly, but her eyes burned with the ferocity of a caged tiger. She twisted her bluish-purple lips into a manic grin and spat out, “Beware of the light, Marley. Beware.”
Marley swallowed a thorny lump that suddenly spawned in her dry throat.
The woman shoved her back and screeched, “BEWARE OF THE LIGHT!”
Marley scrambled to her feet and took off into the mist. Her chest burned, her sides ached and tears spilled down her cheeks, but she didn’t dare to stop. A wave of guilt washed over Marley and her insides twisted into a cherry knot as she thought about her lost family.
Suddenly, she lost her footing and tumbled into a deep, murky river. She opened her mouth to scream and invited the water into her lungs. She tried to kick with her arms and legs but they felt like noodles.
The time was running out and the last ounce of oxygen was slipping away.
Marley knew she was drowning. Her body was slowly sinking into her grave at the bottom of the river when she saw the light. It gently kissed the surface of her pale cheeks and a soft, calming voice whispered, “Be brave, Marley.”
Marley woke up with a start, the sound of her heart ringing inside of her ears. She quickly sat up in bed and glanced around the dark room.
She heaved a deep sigh of relief when she realized that it was just a bad dream.