tagErotic HorrorThe Gathering at Harvest Hill

The Gathering at Harvest Hill

bySecondCircle©

This story is an entry in the 2014 Literotica Halloween Story Contest. Don't forget to cast your vote and thanks for reading.

****

"Who says I can't start a good fire?"

Wayne was standing right in front of the billowing bonfire with his arms spread and a proud smile on his face. Andrea watched him from her spot on the tailgate of the truck, wondering if he was already drunk enough to fall into the flames. He looked as though he'd just given all mankind the gift of warmth and light.

A beer can bounced off the back of his head. The entire group of friends laughed at him. Andrea cracked a smile.

"Get away from the fire, Prometheus!" Erica yelled to him. "I'm not putting you out if you fall in."

Andrea didn't know Erica, but really, she didn't know half of them. She squinted past the fire, trying to catch a good look at the girl. The redhead seemed like the loudest one at the bonfire the whole night. Andrea didn't really care for her. She was just too snarky. Her place on the tailgate was suiting her better and better as the night went on.

"Man, it is dark as hell up here," she heard Ryan say.

"You mean aside from the gigantic fire that Tom Hanks made for us?" Someone asked.

Wayne spilled beer down his goatee before retorting, "You know, I remember a lot of people, not very long ago, whining about... what was it... being cold or something like that?"

Ryan, who Andrea remembered was Tab's brother, ignored the rest of the gaggle and said, "No, seriously. There wasn't a single house or street light or anything out on the road. I went to piss a minute ago and I couldn't even see my dick, man."

"Well, that's not because it's dark," Erica said giggling. The two girls behind her and Ryan also went into fits.

Andrea kept quiet, like she always did. The group of friends were strangers to her. She couldn't keep track of them. She'd sworn to herself that she'd open up to these people, to have some drinks and have fun for a change.

It was why she invited them here.

She chewed her lip, watching the group of drunks. Invited was probably a strong word. Andrea was listening to a story that Wayne was telling about some "lame" Halloween costume contest the year prior, when Tab emerged from the trees beside the truck. Andrea felt her insides glow with relief. Tabitha glanced at the fire before turning a grin toward her.

"Geez, how much stuff is he going to burn?" Tab said with a laugh.

Andrea smiled. She could feel her cheeks getting warm, even though her skin was ice cold. Tab pushed herself up onto the tailgate right beside Andrea. She could feel Tab's eyes on her, but she found it hard to look at the other girl. Instead her eyes were fluttering into the flames. She tried not to think about how close Tab was sitting. No one ever sat that close to her.

"You're not cold sitting back here?" Tab asked, ducking her head and peeking into Andrea's gaze.

Andrea blinked and glanced at her. "I'm... I'm fine."

Tab smiled. "You sure? You look pretty cold."

"I'm alright."

"Okay," Tab said.

She leaned back and reached into the bed of her brother's truck and produced a half empty bottle of alcohol. Andrea eyed the amber colored liquid and her stomach did a little twist.

"You can't drink cold beer tonight," Tab told her. "This stuff will burn when it goes down, but it'll keep you warm, girl. Well... it'll make you feel like you're warm anyway."

Andrea's heart was already beating faster. "No, that's okay-"

"And you don't get to say no," Tab interrupted. "You can't say no to me tonight, remember? It's Halloween, Andrea! Break loose for a change!"

Andrea snickered. She remembered agreeing to Tab's terms. The large bottle was in her lap suddenly. Tab's hand was touching her jeans. Andrea took the bottle from her and cleared her throat nervously.

"I'm... I don't really drink that much," Andrea said.

"If you wind up naked and puking, I'll hold your hair back and keep Wayne away from you," Tab told her.

Andrea laughed. It felt good to laugh. She'd been laughing a lot lately, and it was usually around Tab. Ever since they'd met some weeks ago, Andrea had been doing a lot of things differently. It seemed likeTab just knew how to push her buttons.

Andrea had just put her lips to the bottle when she heard Ryan say her name from across the fire.

"Nah, it's Andrea's old place or something," he said.

"Holy crap," Erica barked. "This is Lovergirl's home?"

As the alcohol burned a trail to her stomach, Andrea had to fight the urge to cough. All eyes had turned toward her. She dared not give them the ammunition to call her a "lightweight". "Uh, yeah," she told the group. "I used to live up here when I was little. M-my family did."

"Well this is just cozy, Lovergirl," Wayne said. He was nodding and looking around sarcastically.

"I think it's badass," Ryan said, pulling Erica close to him. "No cops, no angry neighbors, no anything. We can do whatever the hell we want up here. I should have brought some guns to shoot or something."

"Guns and alcohol," Tab said nodding. "Real smart bro."

Just as Andrea began to think she was slinking out of the spotlight, Erica spoke up again.

"So your tribe used to live up here in the woods?" She asked.

Ryan nudged her. Ignoring the girl's tone, Andrea licked her lips and answered.

"My grandparents had a trailer just up the way," she explained. "It's still there, but it's run down. They had a little farm here back in the day. After they passed it went to my... my other family... m-my aunt, but she hasn't really done much with it."

Erica looked around at the darkness in the trees beyond the fire. "I'll say."

"It's pretty cool," said a voice to their side. His name was Shane, as Andrea remembered. Or Shawn, maybe. "Bunch of the guys that work at the garage say this whole hill was 'haunted' or cursed or something like that. I think they're full of shit, but it is creepy up here. Fitting for Halloween night, you know?"

Wayne's eyes got big. "That's awesome."

Erica groaned. "Here we go with the 'it's haunted' stuff. Yeah it's creepy up here. If it was Christmas time, you'd all be saying it was magical out tonight."

"Who cares?" Tab blurted. "It's better than hanging around your uppity sorority sisters and yelling across the street to those pervy ass jocks."

"Easy there, Tabby Cat, you know I'm just kidding around," Erica said with a smug grin. Her eyes flickered over to Andrea. "So where's the Indian burial grounds, Lovergirl?"

Andrea swallowed and shook her head. "It's not haunted. I... I d-don't know how that got started. I think it's because my Grandpa was, like, really mean or something."

"You said their trailer is still up here?" Tab asked.

Andrea turned a surprised look at her friend. "Uh, yeah. There's a path back behind us. We aren't too far from it."

Tab hopped down from the tailgate, dusting off her jeans. "Let's go see it."

Her heart leapt into her throat as Tab motioned to her. "I don't know... are you sure? It's pretty dark."

"It's dark as shit, Tab," Ryan called to his sister. "You will definitely get lost and I will definitely leave you behind in the morning."

"C'mon," Tab persisted. "Bring that rum. I wanna see this place."

Andrea glanced around at the woods. A walk through the dark woods was not something she was excited about. Already her head was whipping up frightening images. She felt eyes peering out from the black beyond the limbs. Shadows clawed at the night as the flames licked the sky. That cold feeling hit her chest again. This place had always done this to her.

Her eyes found Tab's, and everything seemed less menacing. She'd be walking with Tab, away from the rest of the wild bunch. Tab had a way of making her try things, of putting her at ease. She watched the taller girl pull the zipper up on her hooded sweatshirt. Tab slid her hands beside her head and swept the waves of chocolate hair out of the hood.

Andrea slid off of the tailgate. "Well, I guess... I guess I can't let you go alone."

"Um, ladies? I just would like to point out," Wayne called, "that this is the part of the night where you go exploring in the dark on Halloween night and get murdered in the woods. When we hear your screams, we're just, uh... you know, gonna stay right here."

A few of the others chuckled.

Tab took the bottle from Andrea's hands. Their fingers brushed for just a second....

"Stay by the fire, Wayne," Tab said with a grin. "I know you're too chickenshit to go anyway."

Her comment made Andrea smile and drew a chorus of whoops and laughter from the rest of the group. Andrea hesitated for only a second, staring into the black beyond the fire. She took a breath and followed Tab into the woods.

****

A brilliant light flooded across the ground in front of Tab. Andrea peered down.

"Flashlight app?" She asked.

"Yep." Tab pointed her phone to the narrow path in front of them. "Is this it?"

Andrea rubbed her arms through the thin sweatshirt. "Yeah. If we follow this it should lead right to the trailer."

"And this little bitty path is still here?"

Andrea balked for a second. "Uh huh. I come up here from time to time. S-so does my aunt. The bonfire is actually where they used to burn trash and stuff."

"You should tell Wayne that your family were cultists that used to burn people for sacrifices."

Tab laughed at her own idea. Andrea snickered timidly as well. There were a few seconds of silence. Andrea followed the light from the phone, but her eyes couldn't help drift to the pitch black around them and wonder. Somehow, that bright white light made the woods seem even creepier. It illuminated the path and the branches before them, but the darkness surrounding them seemed even darker. She dared not turn behind to look. She stayed close to Tab and trudged on.

"They like you, ya'know."

Andrea glanced over at Tab's smooth shadowed face. She was smiling. Tab was so pretty when she smiled.

"I'm sorry?"

"They may not be the best at expressing it, but Ryan and Wayne and the others really like you," Tab said. "You'll come around, too. I thought it was awesome of you to bring us up here."

Andrea nodded. "Why does Erica call me Lovergirl?"

"Because she's a bitch," Tab said with one of her soothing laughs. "That's less about you and more about me. I don't really like her all that much but Ryan is crazy for her. So I tolerate the little ginger troll."

It surprised even Andrea to hear herself burst out laughing.

"Don't pay attention to her," Tab warned. "I don't."

"What... what did you mean by 'it's more about you'?"

Andrea searched the girl's round features in the dark. Tab sighed and said, "We used to be friends. Me, her, and another girl, Jennifer. She didn't like me and Jennifer being closer than we were with her... basically... and she started this big thing. I don't know, it's stupid."

It wasn't much to go on. Andrea didn't press the issue. She didn't really like thinking about Erica anyway.

"Here."

Andrea looked down and saw the silhouette of the bottle of rum. Deciding not to resist, Andrea took the alcohol. She might as well let go a little bit. It wasn't often she was exploring in the dark with a friend. She knew she needed to have more fun. For some reason, it was just easier to see that beside Tabatha.

She put the bottle to her lips and took a sip.

"No, that's not how you do it," Tab told her.

Before Andrea could lower the bottle, she felt Tabatha's fingers lifting the bottom higher. Andrea managed two gulps before the burn was too much. She sputtered and coughed. At about the same time, her foot caught a root and she stumbled forward. Andrea was barely able to catch herself against the rough bark of a tree.

"Shit, Andrea!"

When she turned, Tab was there. The girl was practically on top of her. Andrea felt Tab's hand on her side, as though to brace her.

"I'm so sorry, are you alright?"

Andrea nodded feebly and offered a smile. For some reason the silliness of it felt good to her. She leaned back against the tree and blew out a long breath. Tab was right in front of her. It was as if she were worried Andrea would fall again. She realized that it was the closest she'd ever been to Tab, or to anyone.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that," Tab told her. "Bright side is you're not a lightweight."

Andrea raised an eyebrow. "What?"

She could feel Tab's breath when she spoke. "I mean, you didn't spill a drop. That counts for something."

Andrea stared at her for a few seconds before she burst out laughing. The absurdity had caught her off guard. She couldn't stop. She caught sight of Tab's smile, and went into a deeper fit of giggles. There was something inside of her that was expelled. She didn't know if it it was nerves or fear or worry, but Andrea felt herself opening to actual joy.

When at last she caught her breath, it hung in her chest. Tab's big beautiful smile was inches from her face. The light from her phone was down by their side, but the shadows kissed her round cheeks. Her brown hair appeared as dark velvety curtains to Andrea. She realized that Tab still held her waist gently. No one had touched her like that, and she found that she didn't want the other girl's hand to leave.

Andrea didn't see Tab's chest rising and falling, but she felt it. The darkness of the trees both fell away and rushed toward her in the same moment. A realization hit her deep in the chest and fired on like a piston. Tab's eyes searched hers, but flitted down to her lips. Andrea was frozen in shock... or perhaps she was flattered? She couldn't decide what she was feeling. She didn't know what to do. Tab's lips parted so slightly....

The motion behind Tab took Andrea's eyes away.

It was the shadows at first, the flicker of black against the light from the phone. Andrea went rigid. She saw it hunkering down. She watched it vanish into the trees. She couldn't stifle her gasp.

Tab drew back from her, confused at first, studying Andrea's expression. Something in her eyes spoke of rejection. It was when the leaves crunched and rustled that the taller girl spun. Her arm rose, spilling bright light across the woods behind them.

"What the hell?" She cried.

Andrea looked on wide eyed, frozen against the tree. Tab whirled as she scanned the branches.

"Did you see someone?" She asked.

Andrea stayed silent.

"Hey!" Tab yelled into the dark. "If you wanted to come with us you just had to say so!"

She glanced back at Andrea and grinned. Even such a pretty smile, with round dimpled cheeks and shining eyes, did little to put Andrea at ease. Tab put a hand beside her lips and whispered to her in the shadows.

"It's just Wayne," she hissed. "He's the worst freaking prankster and an even worse pervert."

The last word should have carried meaning with Andrea. Yet she was trying to blink away the image in her head, the paleness that had crept away into the woods, as lithe as a cat. That was not Wayne, could not have been Wayne. She couldn't say that to Tab. She'd sound like a nutjob, or a scared little girl. No, she couldn't tell Tab....

"Hey, is that it?"

Andrea followed the other girl's gaze and the white light through the trees. She searched for a figure, for a glimpse of the prowler. Tab was staring up the path. She realized what Tab was talking about, and took only a glance for Andrea to confirm. She could see the old rotten screened in porch that her grandpa had build so long ago.

"Y-yeah, that's the trailer."

Tab turned her excited eyes back to her. She lunged and took Andrea by the hand.

"C'mon, let's check it out," Tab said. Then, she added with a whisper, "Maybe we can hideout and scare the crap outta Wayne. He's still out here somewhere."

Andrea didn't respond. She did well not to drop the bottle of rum as Tab pulled her along up the path.

The clearing was dark. The sky was black. The girls came to stand before the squatting eyeless structure. Andrea glanced over to gauge Tab's expression. She saw no fear or uncertainty there. Even after all the years of this place, Andrea still got butterflies in her stomach, most especially at night. Ryan had been right. Everything on the hill was dark. It was so black and remote and silent, it made Andrea want to turn and run.

"This is creepy," Tab said with a smile. She looked at Andrea and gave her hand a squeeze. "Let's go inside."

Andrea licked her dry lips. "I... I don't... maybe we shouldn't."

Tab was already pulling her along again. The old sagging trailer seemed to crack a smile in the shadows of the blinding light.

"You can't say no tonight." Tab grinned. "Let's freak those guys out. We could get in there and start screaming and banging on stuff or something. Wayne will shit his pants for sure."

Andrea's eyes darted around. Useless. She couldn't see anything in the darkness. Her mind, however, disagreed. Just beyond where the tendrils of the shadows reached, she imagined pale forms slinking about, and heard the rustle of dry leaves. She drew up close to Tab. She couldn't let Tab see her that way.

Tab approached the wooden steps to the screen door. As the light of her phone swept over the deck on the back of the trailer, Andrea recognized the broken shambles of wood and torn screen. The screen door itself hung from a single hinge, and was bent and leaning half open. Andrea tried to peek up into the porch, but saw only a pile of junk furniture and trash.

"Well, the door is open," Tab said. She turned to Andrea and cast the light under her chin. "Spooky...."

Andrea realized she was referencing the back door of the trailer. Tab was right. She didn't see a door at all. Tab wasted no time. She shoved the screen door aside just enough to slip into the porch, then held the door open for Andrea. Even as her weak legs climbed the creaking steps, she could feel them shaking. She looked at the pile of trash in the porch as she eased inside, but Tab's light was already shining into the trailer itself.

"Holy crap."

Tab stooped and made her way inside the trailer. Andrea had her arms crossed beneath her breasts. She clutched her thin sweatshirt in trembling hands. Following closely beside Tab, she examined her surroundings. It all seemed so familiar. The kitchen, the roosters on the placemats, the cubpoards where her tin milk cup stayed until Grandma put it in the freezer to chill. The bar was there, splitting the tiny kitchen from the living room. She remembered sitting at that bar sipping juice from a straw.

"This place is trashed," Tab said as she inched through the kitchen.

It was a wreck. Newspaper, insulation, and other random garbage was strewn across the scarred linoleum. A single broken stool was sitting near the bar. The refrigerator was gone. Someone had shattered every window in the place. Andrea saw the carpet was shredded in the living room. For what reason, she couldn't imagine. The big couch was there. She had actually called it "the big couch" as a little girl. Grandpa's chair still sat against the other wall. Andrea couldn't count the nights she had run into that room at night to curl up in Grandpa's lap.

"What happened to this place?" Tab asked spinning around.

Andrea shook her head, still staring at the mess. "No one keeps it up anymore. Technically, m-my aunt owns it. She doesn't come up here too much, though."

Tab stepped into view. Andrea tensed.

"Why is that?" Tab asked her.

"She just... sh-she just doesn't." Andrea fumbled for the right words. "Mama doesn't... they don't get along really."

Tab cocked her head. "You've never talked about your mother before. About any of your family, actually."

Andrea tried to ignore the question. The chill nibbled at her thin sweater, and she rubbed her arms.

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