Johnathon Sharp straightened his tie and rechecked the story on the teleprompter. He hated having to deliver bad news on Monday mornings. Monday’s were bad enough on their own. But it was still there, waiting for him to read when the light turned green.
“You ready?” the cameraman asked as he stepped out into the staging area.
“Uh, yeah. Sure. Let’s do this.” He cleared his throat and watched for the light change. “Good morning!” He smiled and then shifted his seat to stare at camera two. “We open this morning with news of tragedy. They have reported several people missing over the weekend. All were last known to be at Orange Peak, even with the warnings to stay away. Among the missing are cops that were patrolling the area. There hasn’t been any sign of where they could have wandered off to. A family of four has also not been heard from since they went up into the mountains and one solo hiker was reported missing by his girlfriend when he failed to return home this morning.”
He looked down and shifted back to camera one. “We go now to the base of the mountain where Lillian Plath is waiting to speak to a few campers that just made it out. Lillian?”
“Thanks, Johnathon.” Lillian came into view with Adam, Trey, Andrea, and Steven behind her. “These four young adults spent the weekend near Orange Peak and seem to have been here for the thrills. Let’s see what they have to say about their experience.”
Adam stepped forward to the microphone Lillian offered and grinned at the camera. “Yeah, we decided we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We put up cameras in the trees all around our campsite and waited it out. But nothing happened.”
“Not nothing!” Trey jumped forward and grabbed the mic out of Lillian’s hand. “We heard a scream.”
Steven joined him. “Yeah, and there were a bunch of weird noises the night of the full moon. Like singing or chanting or something.”
Andrea rolled her eyes and continued texting in the background. “You were imagining things. You two were both drunk most of the weekend.”
“Not true!” Trey spun on Andrea and Lillian snatched her microphone back.
“There you have it. Screams and weird chanting coming from the mountains. Search teams are up there now, trying to find any sign of the missing family and officers. Volunteers are welcome to come help while the tracks are fresh.”
“Thank you, Lillian.”
Eris held her face up to the sky with her eyes closed. Dried blood from her sacrifices covered every inch of her skin. Behind her, they hung from the roof of her cave over the fire pit, their skin roasting and falling off. Beyond them, Sasha struggled against her bonds and cried as the other girls poked at her and jeered into her face.
But Eris ignored them all. She only had time for the goddess now. She murmured under her breath, praising her and thanking her for the generosity of the full moon. And she begged to be forgiven and set free at last. But the goddess did not grant Eris her wish, and she would remain in the cave for another year to try again.