Mistica Chronicles

Welcome to Issue 47

Skinnies Winning Entry

There is a time in the night when everything changes from what is normal; the animals, even those who are still awake, make no noise or movement; the moon shines brightly through the thickest of clouds and casts long shadows of ghastly trees across the ground. It is only in a very special forest that has this time of the night. Why does this happen? It only happens for one night each year, the night of New Years. It only happens at this time on that day because on New Years there is an extra hour between eleven at night and twelve in the morning. This hour is the hour in which at the mythological creatures of the legends and fairy tales come out to play, and enjoy their moment in that land. Of course it's not that they don't get to play in other places; the world does have different time zones; but Darkwood Hollow seemed to be their favorite, maybe because Darkwood Hollow was a little bit more magical than the other places, and maybe because time seemed to pass a bit more slower.
Not everyone knows about this extra hour; only the eldest of the elders seem to know a thing or two about it. They try to pass it down, but many of their descendants either don't believe them or don't understand.
Haile Anderson was one of the few who did understand. She would frequently ask her grandmother questions concerning the extra hour; but her grandmother didn't know everything. At one point, Haile got so frustrated with her lack of knowledge that she decided that the next new year she would venture out and learn more. When the opportunity arose, she fell asleep before she could go out.
The year of her sixteenth birthday was the year she finally was able to explore the extra hour. She arose from her bed in her night clothes, and silently crept out of her house. Usually the grownups would be awake to take hold of each other once the clock struck twelve, but Momma was not home and Daddy was drunk. Their relationship seemed to be failing more and more every year.
Haile glanced at her watch; it was eleven fourty-five. She stood before Darkwood Hollow, eagerly awaiting her fifteen minutes to pass by faster. Another ten later, Haile found herself in the heart of the forest, shaded by a large tree. She thought she could hear whispers in the night around her, but couldn't place her eyes on anything.
At last the moment arrived, and everything slowed down. Haile glanced at her watch and found that it seemed eternally frozen at 11:59. She sighed and looked around her. Everything seemed much bigger than she had remembered. Her clothes had changed; she now wore a short, pink dress. Her hair was up, messily, and there was a crown of leaves circling her head. She also realized she was floating. This was the point in which she starting to panic. What had happened? And now, other glowing things that resembled her where starting to appear, as well as other things she thought to have not existed. She slowly floated backwards until she hit a tree, where she stayed until one of the little people approached her.
"You are not one of us," it said.
Haile froze. What did it mean? She noticed other little 'fairies' starting to gather around. What would they do to her? They were very quiet.
Another one spoke to the one that originally spoken: "She must stay now, there is no way back." The leader nodded, and came closer to Haile. "Wear this; the guardians will not catch you, and you will be able to safely return home." He handed Haile a glistening blue bracelet, and Haile put in on her wrist.
Then she spoke: "Will I get home?" Her voice cracked on 'will'.
"You must wait out the hour. If you're lucky you will return to your normal self."
Haile nodded, but didn't speak any longer. She realized she had ruined their time here by coming, and she might now even return home. Later, the sprite told her that they too had ventured out at the extra hour, but they did not return home. Haile was scared; it was a long hour in the forest of Darkwood Hollow.
At some point in the night, Haile must have fallen asleep, for the next day she awoke in her bed, everything returned to normal. 'It was a dream,' she thought, while arising from bed. As she was brushing her teeth, she looked into the mirror and saw a blue mark around her wrist, but no object.