Story Archive

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Ti gingerly inserted the last key into the padlock hanging from the rusted hasp. It fit. She turned the key. With a loud click, the padlock disengaged and fell to the dusty floor. The door swung ajar with a heaving moan. 

Ti stood staring into the inky black darkness and felt the goosebumps raise across her skin. She couldn't quite identify the smell. It was a cross between rotting wood and wet dog...Why had she been led to this abandoned ghost town?

She took a step forward, but hesitated, unsure if it was safe. The smell attacked her nostrils with ease now that the door was open. She paused momentarily. Only long enough for her eyes to adjust absence of light. At the other end of the room a shape appeared. Her heart pounded faster. 'Did that shape just move' she thought. She debated going back but just then the door slammed trapping her.

Ti's breathing quickened in panic. The shape across the room began to speak to her, calling her name in a familiar voice. 'It couldn't be...' She held her breath for a count of three, willing her heart to slow. 'It was just the acoustics playing tricks.'

"Grandma?" she called out tentatively.

Acaba de comenzar, y habrá muchos obstáculos en tu camino, recuerda tu promesa. Go now.

Ti's heart caught in her throat. Her hand instinctively reached out to the woman she had missed for so long. And just like that, she (or IT) was gone.

"No, Wait!" She yelled out but it was no use. 'Remember my promise?' She remembered promising a lot of things but nothing stood out. She began fumbling around the room. Searching for some clue as to where she was, and why.

Ti tried the door, which now yielded to her gentle tug. Outside, the Andalusian countryside baked in the hot afternoon sun. She walked away from the building until she was out of its shadow. A deep breath replaced the smell of fetid wood with berry fields. She pondered the strange occurrence in the building and wondered if that thing was really her grandmother or if it was some trick.

Ti instinctively opened her phone and was surprised to see this. She didn't recall having read it before. An entire village, free? There had to be something wrong with it. Just then her phone buzzed. It was a text from her father.

"PLS HELP"

Ti's phone buzzed once more. Another text from her father:

"they have found me..."

'No! How did they find us again?' Quickly, she threw her phone as far as she could, knowing they could trace her, 'Dad.. pls be ok..' Ti thought about the last time she saw her father, and about the promise she made to him then. Was that what her abuela meant? She raced down the hill towards her bicycle. She got on it and started pedaling towards home fast. She had to fulfill her promise. Nerves frayed, the shadows of the trees seemed to claw at the road; reaching out as if to pull her into the now sinister woods.

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"Tica va a cuidar de ti, Paco. Ella me prometió." Paco looked at his mother but said nothing. He had to leave, and leave soon. Furrows of protestation showed on Paco’s brow, but he remained silent. His sister's absence already had them pacing the floor.

Paco's mother teetered, her energy drained from pacing. Now that she was back in her home country, she let her sickness consume her. Crying out, Paco ran to his mother. To no avail, she was gone. In anger he wondered why Ti had not returned yet.

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Ti stopped. She had to think. Her father was in trouble. She had come to Spain to find him, but she didn't know where to look.

Ti pulled a scrap of paper from her pocket containing coordinates from her father. She it thought said 38°N.


Ti typed them into her phone. Unnamed road. Wait... This was just SW of a village for "sale" mentioned in that article! As she pedaled, her mind scrambled to connect the pieces. Abandoned villages, her abuela, promises…Paco. Ti picked up her pace. Ti headed back to the Casa do Charambelo. Her search for her father will begin tomorrow.
 
As Ti rushed on she couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.


Ti awoke to the sound of the caretaker making breakfast. She was the only guest at the aging posada, and she had a mission. Feeling refreshed from a night of sleep she remembers, today is the day. Today, she finds her father! Her heart quickens.

Ti gets out her phone and dwnlds a GPS ap. Ti loads the text from her dad and it gives her coordinates, straight to the town for sale. The ancient road carried Ti between the olive groves. Her heartbeat quickened with each passing kilometer.


Focused, Ti didn't notice smoke coming from the small cottage at the edge of town--or the old woman sitting at the rough-hewn table. As she rounded the last bend before the Casa comes into view, Ti saw an old lady flagging her down. Should she stop? Normally her upbringing would demand she at least speak with the elderly woman, but with all the odd things going on...

The old lady waved even more vehemently & Ti could see a scrying bowl at the woman's feet. "I knew you'd come!" the old woman said. She motioned for Ti to look into the bowl. At first Ti saw only her own reflection. Continuing her gaze ripples appeared followed by an oily sheen. Her patience soon ran out. “I’m sorry,” Ti confessed, “I don’t see anything.” The woman motioned back to the bowl.

This time instead of the same oily sheen, Ti saw a figure appear. One that she knew all too well! "¡Papá!" she cried--but of course, the figure in the bowl could not hear her. He was looking over his shoulder, seemingly scared. Through tear filled eyes she stared into the bowl, desperately searching for a clue as to the location of her father.
 
As she watches a masked man shows up. With quick precision the man grabs her father and cuts his throat. The mask slips to reveal Ti's brother, Paco. 

In horror and disbelief she thought, "Did I really see that?" Once again she gazed into the bowl. "The bowl shows us the future, not the present," the old woman said. "What you have seen has not yet happened."

At one and the same time Ti felt relief and dread. She hadn't failed her father, but her goal seemed immeasurably farther away. Suddenly she recalled seeing a statue behind her brother in the vision. She knew where her father was! She knew where she had to go. Excusing herself with thankyous and goodbyes, Ti raced to her bicycle and returned to the road. When would future become present?

As Ti pedaled furiously she planned her trip to The Courtyard of the Lions. Ti couldn't believe her brother would just kill their father. Was that really Paco in the vision, and if it was, why attack?
 
She was now in a race to save her father's life. A buzz emanated from her coat pocket and without slowing, she reached for her phone.

Ti slowed enough to check her phone. On the screen she saw ❤️DAD. "I'm not too late!" Excitedly she answered, but the voice was shrill and demanding, "How far are you from the target?"...
 

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