A couple of hours later and Minnie pulled up in front of their family’s vacation home. “We’re here.” Juniper was more hesitant to get too close, but she followed anyway.
Once they had dragged their suitcases with them to the front door, their Uncle Isaac swung the door open to greet them. His smile was wide as he took the two suitcases.
Minnie raised her eyebrows.
“We came as soon as we could.”
“I knew you would. No one else in town wanted to come over here. It’s been so long since someone’s gone missing; I think they just want to pretend it wasn’t happening."
He had told the girls over the phone that the police had wanted to wait a little longer before they could start looking for her.
Juniper only shrugged. “You’d think someone would come by. It would be good for the tours at least.” The two sisters followed their uncle up the stairs.
He led them to the rooms they shared every family vacation of their lives. Although it had been a while since either of them returned here.
After their mother disappeared Juniper wasn’t in a hurry to return.
Isaac plastered the grin back on his face as he gestured around the room. It faltered when he didn’t get a response.
After realizing her mistake, Minnie did her best to give a genuine smile and asked him if anyone else was expected to turn up anytime soon.
“Like I said, the rest of the family thinks I’m just being paranoid and that she’ll turn up sooner or later.” He shifted his gaze over to Juniper.
“I think this is the same thing that happened to Isabella.” At her mother’s name, Minnie sighed and left the room. Juniper finally met her uncle’s gaze. She nodded in agreement.
“She still thinks we’re making it all up. She never believed any of the legends.” Juniper looked out the window as she spoke.
Near the fence, to the forest one of the signs for the tour still stood. After more people started to actually believe the legends, groups begun to form.
With whole organizations that believed that there was a forest god in the small town, it turned into an attraction.
Film crews from supernatural shows drove into town and asked citizens if they had ever seen Viridios. And even if they never had they nodded and described him.
They all started to give similar descriptions. He was an unnaturally tall man, his skin was brown and green, like dirt.
Thick vines wrapped around him and he was clothed in robes that shielded his face. One show even brought in a sketch artist to draw him.
With these TV shows came tourists, and with the tourists came a booming tourism industry. The groups in town started giving tours, stopping anywhere in town they thought was creepy.
They only officially went into the forest once, when someone disappeared. Unfortunately, this just brought in bigger crowds.
Isaac gave an understanding grunt and tapped at the old family picture hanging on the wall behind where Minnie was standing.
Their large family was posing all together in the yard behind the cabin. Minnie and Juniper were standing on either side of their mother.
The rest of their aunts and uncles and cousins mixed together around them. That was the last and only time the entire family was able to get together.
It was also one of the last times Juniper saw her mother.
Their family wasn’t from this town, so they didn’t know much about the legends. Because of this, they didn’t know to stay away from the forest.
So, later on, that night Isabella had decided to go for a stroll behind the cabin. Juniper and Isaac had been looking for frogs in the back garden when she went out of their sight.
When she still hadn’t gotten back the next morning Isaac and Ellie went report that his sister was missing. They asked if she would have had any reason to run away.
They still looked around town for her in case she had shown up somewhere else.
When everyone was leaving, the old man a few doors down showed up to tell Isaac that Isabella had been taken by the forest. Most of the family thought this was ridiculous.
“Ellie and I insisted on taking you girls in after all that happened.
For a while, I thought that she had just grown tired of taking care of you by herself, but when she never turned up anywhere I had to accept it.”
“And now it’s happening again.” She did her best to give him a reassuring look. “Maybe we’ll even find her this time if we go looking.”
By then Minnie had returned. “Or not. Honestly, she’ll probably turn up on her own. Do you even know if she actually went into the forest at all? Nobody goes in there.” Juniper rolled her eyes.
“It’s not like she would be the first one to not leave the forest.”
“I was just trying to help, Juniper.”
Isaac rested a hand on her shoulder. “And you’re right. I’m sure she’ll turn back up soon.” He patted her shoulder a couple times before leaving the room.