Lucy walked briskly through the woods, letting her dogs run free. This early in the morning the paths were almost empty and Lucy thought how wise people were to stay in bed. She longed to be back in the dry warmth instead of out here in the freezing damp.
Winter had arrived over night shaking away the mild glorious autumn. A thick frost covered the ground turning everything white. Small puddles were iced over and tree trunks were splattered with water crystal patterns. A thin fog hung high between the tree tops, hills and clear bright blue sky.
Lucy’s breath misted before her face and no matter how much she tried she couldn’t stay warm. Her boots scuffed over the stone pathway then she turned off and walked up a slope of grass into large group of trees. The frosty grass and fallen leaves crunched under her in nice crispy sounds. Ahead, she heard dogs barking and as she walked passed the first tree, she saw her four dogs fighting over a large branch.
The big husky was yanking one end of the branch whilst the border collie cross and cocker spaniel had the other. The jack russel was stood in the middle barking his head off.
Laughing, Lucy took out her phone and snapped some photos. Then calling the dogs to her, she carried on walking. The jack russel was the first to come to her heels. Encouraging him on, the others gave chase and they all vanished into the trees once more. Following the path upwards, she walked her normal route.
However, as Lucy reached the top of the hill she decided to go left instead of right and take the shorter way back. Calling the dogs to her, she headed into a more dense part of the woods. The tree branches were bare above her and arching upwards to the sky. There were less leaves covering the floor up here and the ground was hard. Hurrying on and making sure she had all the dogs with her, Lucy noticed something.
Above her was an exposed rocky section of the hill and there was a doorway a meter further down.
‘What is that? I’ve never seen it before,’ Lucy spoke aloud.
Interested, she walked towards it and came to a stop before the doorway. It was made of white stones and seemed to lead into somewhere. It was too dark to see though. Walking on, she wondered if there was a pathway along there. Forgetting about the cold, she headed on and when the path came to lead off in a few directions, she turned left on a path that rose up and matched the one she had been on.
The dogs were barking in the distance and for a moment she wonder what trouble they were causing. Her eyes spotted the white doorway and all other thoughts left her mind. The doorway was low and narrow, but she could fit inside. Digging out her phone again, she turned on the torch and shone it in.
A passageway led further in, the walls, floor and ceiling were white like the doorway. Lucy stood up and glanced around. She thought about calling the dogs back to her. If there was something dangerous in there they could defend her. However, they were bound to get in the way. Shrugging, Lucy walked inside.
A few steps and the passageway opened into a small room. Objects were scattered everywhere; dried and dead flowers, statues of fairies and angels, coins, a small plastic waterfall, burnt out candles, teddy bears, tea cups and note cards.
Puzzled, Lucy shone the light around more then bent to look at one of the note cards. It was in a child’s handwriting and she could hardly read it because of the bad spelling. It seemed to be a wish of some kind. Lucy looked at the next few and they all seemed to be wishes.
Something wet pressed against her hand. Lucy cried and jump twisted around.
‘Benny!’ she cried at the jack russel, ‘don’t do that!’
The little dog wagged his tail and barked.
Lucy patted his head and looked around again.
‘What is this place?’ she asked.
Benny barked and jumped up at her.
Scrubbing his ears, Lucy heard her other dogs scuffling outside. Sighing, she headed back out. Dusting herself off, she walked back along the pathway, wondering about the tiny cave, the offerings and the wishes left inside.
(Story inspired from: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/24/thursday-photo-prompt-mystery-writephoto/ with thanks. Click to read stories other writers wrote.)