I couldn't sleep. I had been twisting and turning for three hours. It was always like that when I was traveling. I couldn't relax. It was a rainy night, I could hear thunder in the distance. This is what the locals down at the foot of the mountains were joking about. There's nothing but rain and snow up here, or at least the downpour seemed a lot heavier. Me and my fiancé, Eliza, came here to see the beautiful vistas. We'd both been swamped at work, and just wanted to get some time alone.
Eliza had heard from a friend that these mountains were the perfect place to find some solitude. I got out of bed and walked to the window. Couldn't see a thing, too dark. Every once in a while the thunderstorm would give some light and reveal the enormous peaks. The peaks we were climbing tomorrow.
We started walking west. According to the receptionist at the hotel most people tended to hike north. To the north was a village, renowned for their hospitality and beer. To the west though, was the sea. We wanted to see where mountainside met the waters below. The path to the west was rough, the routes and bridges seemed as if they hadn't been used for decades. We saw shacks and old mines that seemed to have been abandoned for much longer than even that. The mountains seemed desolate.
After five hours of walking we came across a little valley almost encapsulated by a large ridge covered in yellow grass. The valley was filled with gravel and a few boulders. In the middle of it all was a pond with water clear as glass, and at the south end, built into the side of the ridge, there was a small cabin with boarded up windows.
“Do you wanna rest in the cabin for a while?” I asked.
“I have a better idea,” she said. "Let's go for a swim."
I don't usually do that kind of thing. It's not that I'm insecure, but I always feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone seeing me. However, seeing as to how there was not a soul for at least a mile I figured, “Fuck it.”
The water was warm. It was the middle of summer so I wasn't too surprised. Eliza wouldn't have cared either way, she never over-thinked those sorts of things. She'd been in the water before I even got my boots off. We must have been in the water for an hour or so before we realized the clouds were getting dark. It started getting cold.
“Maybe we should get inside,” I said.
“You feeling cold?” Eliza responded with a bit of laughter in her voice.
She started walking out of the water. I heard a metallic noise coming from beneath. What looked like metal claws shot out of the water and grabbed Eliza by the ankle. A bear trap. She screamed out in agonizing pain as she fell down into the water. I ran to her. I couldn't think clearly, Eliza looked as if she was about to pass out. The blood was everywhere and God knows if the wound was infected or not. With all my strength I pried the bear trap open, and carried her into the cabin.
It was small, not more than a single room. Just like everything else out here it seemed to have been abandoned for quite some time. The floor seemed as if it was rotting. It looked like someone had tried to carve out parts of it, and other parts seemed to have all but rotted away. There was a bed in the right most inner corner of the room, next to a little cupboard. By the left wall there was a table with an old lantern on top, next to a fireplace. I put Eliza down on the bed, and lit the lantern.
“I'll be right back, I just need to go get our things.”
I got outside. The clouds were getting dark. I picked up our clothes and our backpacks, took another look up at the clouds, it looked as if they were about to start pouring down. But as I was looking at the clouds I saw something in the corner of my eye. Up on the ridge there was a figure. Not like a tree or anything. It looked like there was someone up there.
I shouted, “Hey, we need help! There's been an accident!”
No response, not even any movement. I stood there and screamed for help but there was just no response. I didn't have time for this, Eliza was losing blood, she needed help. I went back inside the cabin.
“Who were you yelling at?” Eliza asked.
“I'm not sure if I was yelling at anyone, could have been a formation of rocks for all I know.”
The valley was getting dark, looking out the window to the west I could see the sun setting. I had bandaged up Eliza's wound and put some disinfectant in it. Eliza really had thought to pack anything that might be of use. Whereas I only packed clothes, food, and some matches. She was a bit worried, wondering how we were going to get back home. I didn't know what to tell her. We were in a part of the mountains which we both realized must have been abandoned for quite some time. I told Eliza to get some rest, she'd been through a lot. I decided to make use of the fireplace.
After lighting the fire I sat down by the window. I peeked through the planks, up to where I'd seen the figure. The light from the setting sun brought a glow to the top of the ridge, and there it was. It came up over the ridge, and just stood there. A humanoid figure, that seemed like it would tower over most men. It wore only a bit of cloth over its waist, its skin seemed almost gray. He just stood there looking down at the cabin.
“What is it?”
I turned around. Eliza was awake. I quickly looked up towards the ridge again, it was walking away. I turned back to Eliza.
“Nothing really, the sun setting.”
I didn't want to alarm her. She had enough to worry about.
“Go back to sleep.”
I went over to the bed and I started looking through the little cupboard. Not much in it. Just some pens, a cup, and a few books. The books mostly consisted of various scientific doctrines, with the exceptions being a few old journals.
I decided to take out one of the journals and read them. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep, especially not after seeing that thing on the ridge. I couldn't find the name of any previous owner, but from the first few pages I picked up that it was a male, and a geologist. He'd come here to study the plantlife in the mountains. His last entry was on October 7th, 1843.
We decided to rest in a little cabin, about four miles inland. The cabin is located in a valley surrounded by a large ridge all but to the east, conveniently close to a pond. We were hoping to get a bit further before camping, but Fredric thought it would be a good idea to rest a day to refill our water supply and wash our clothes in the pond, since the water is so clear. He seems to be going back on his decision now though. He says he has seen figures on the ridges surrounding the valley.
Fredric says he's sure he saw one of the figures. It stood up on the ridge looking down on him. He tells me it had gray cracked skin, was taller than any man he'd ever met, had long sharp fingers, with only a piece of cloth hanging over its waist. I'm not sure what to make of it. Fredric has never been one to lie, much less hallucinate.
I've seen them. They're here. The gray-skinned. They're just outside the cabin, but they aren't trying to get in. I can hear their skin crackle as they walk. I can hear their whispering. The words they speak make no sense to me.
Fredric is just sitting on the bed. He doesn't look well. His skin is pale white, he's shaking. He wont respond to anything I say.
I heard something. A crackling sound just outside the cabin. I peeked through the wooden planks covering the window. It was so dark I could barely see a thing. The crackling sound got closer. I heard something new. A whisper. Strong yet silent it echoed in the cabin. I could feel how the room got colder. It whispered, “Outlander.” Over and over again, “Outlander.” I covered my ears and tried to imagine I was somewhere else, anywhere else. "Outlander."
The room got colder and colder, and even though pressed my hands were pressed against my ears so hard I couldn't hear myself breathe I could still hear the whisper, “Outlander.” For what felt like an hour I could hear the whisper, each time getting louder, "Outlander." In panic I screamed at the top of my lungs “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” For a moment it was silent, and then I could hear it again. The crackling sound outside. Except, there wasn't just the one source of the sound anymore. There was a plethra of crackling coming from the west. The sounds were distant, but I had a feeling I knew what was coming for us. Eliza had woken up, no doubt due to my screaming. She looked at me in confusion, still very tired.
"We need to go.”
I opened the door, carrying lantern in one hand, and helping Eliza with the other. Most of the them were still out of sight. I started hastily walking towards the east, and there it was. The one that had been just outside the cabin. To see it for the first time in the light of the lantern, the image is still stuck in my head. Its cracked gray skin, the eyes with irises like obsidian. The coldness of the skin as I pushed it out of the way felt almost like touching solid, frozen rock. I began running. I looked up on the ridges, they were everywhere.
Dozens upon dozens of them. I ran and I ran with Eliza hanging, trying to jump with one leg and hold the other one with her free arm. I looked up on the ridges and the hills as I ran towards the east, and wherever I looked I saw them. Behind every boulder, every heap of rocks, there they were. The further I got, the more and the closer to me they seemed to get. I could hear a humming in between the mountain peaks, they were humming. It echoed through the mountain, and I could feel the cold come with it.
I felt their grasp on my foot. It felt as if the mountain itself took a hold of me, and refues to let go. I fell with Eliza to the ground. I started kicking and screaming, and somehow I managed to kick myself free. I looked at Eliza, and I knew there was no turning back. I started running, and as I ran I could hear... nothing. I couldn't hear my feet touch the ground, I couldn't hear the wind blowing past my ears, not even the screaming. I ran, until my throat was torn and I could feel lactic acid burning in my legs. I ran until I could no longer hear the humming, until the sun warmed my skin, and I knew it was over.
I didn't know what had happened to Eliza. I didn't know if she was dead, though that's what I assumed at the time. I didn't know what the things that took her were, I had so many questions. It was only when I the sun was in the high in the sky that I finally pulled myself together. It was also only now that I noticed I still had the journal in my pocket. I wondered if the journal had answers to my many questions.
I fear this might be my last entry, so before I leave this journal here for coming residents to pick up I feel I must explain why. They are just outside the cabin, the grayskinned. At first they were just standing, doing nothing. Fredric was still sitting on the bed when it started, the humming. But as they began, he slowly rose up and hummed with them. I tried to get some sense into him, to get him to sit down. But no matter what I he woudln't budge. He wouldn't even acknowledge my presence. If anyone finds this, leave before they come. Leave before the humming begins, or you won't stand a chance.
I turned a page to see if there was anything else. But that really was his last entry. I put it back in my pocket. But as I let go of the book I felt something. A loose page from the journal. It must have dropped out while I was running. I took it out of my pocket, hoping it would hold answers. It said:
They are the mountain. We must heed their calling.