In every day, in every event, there is a story. Most of them are too mundane to tell. Many of them lift the heart, or enrapture the mind, inspiring the listener or reader to great heights. And then there are those which have the opposite effect. Terrify rather than inspire.
There was no better day for a birthday picnic, not in little Usa's mind. There was a nice breeze, just enough clouds in the sky, and, best of all, all of her good friends were there. Not that she'd tell Usagi that she was counted as one of the pink haired girl's friends. Acquaintance at best. But she liked Minako, and Makoto, and Ami and Rei.
Her best friend, ever since the Mistress 9 debacle, Hotaru, was also there, and that made the day better.
"Okay, kids," called Makoto, clapping her hands. "It's time to play a game while we set up for Usa's party!"
That was one of the things that Usa liked about the older girls (even Usagi, but she wouldn't tell her that). They never treated her or her friends like they were only children, but they still played games.
Makoto quickly organized a game of hide and seek, and another girl from their class, Hanae, was chosen to be it first. Usa began to worry. Hanae was good at finding, and she was the fastest girl in the class. Everyone else had already scattered. It was going to be tough to find a good hiding spot, and hiding was her only real option.
There were woods nearby, and that was where Usa started. Many of the other girls were there already. She could tell by the random giggles that they were in the outskirts. Usa went deeper.
She was still looking for a good place, plotting a way to dash when Hanae passed her, when she heard the words that she dreaded.
"Ready or not, here I come!"
She hadn't even hidden herself! She was going to be caught! Casting frantically around, she scurried deeper into the woods. It was getting harder to see, as the trees, closer together here, obscured the sun.
She could hear crunching of leaves, and whipped her head back and forth, trying to see if Hanae were behind her, while also looking for a place to hide.
She felt a small hand close around her wrist, and spun toward the feeling, reaching inside of her blouse for her compact. If someone was trying to kidnap her, they were going to get a face full of Pink Sugar Heart Attack! She stopped, however, when she saw a head of familiar black hair.
"Hotaru!" Usa gasped. "I have to find a place to hide! Hanae's coming!"
"Don't worry," the girl said, not turning around. "I know a place. They'll never find you."
Usa looked behind her, allowing her friend to pull her along. After a while, she looked around. The forest was even darker here, and Usa looked back toward where she thought the party was. She could not see the tree line.
"Hotaru, aren't we going to deep?" Usa tried to keep her voice from shaking, but she had never really liked the dark.
"Don't worry," the other girl whispered, still not looking back. "We're almost there."
"And it's a good place to hide?"
"They'll never find you."
Usa's brow furrowed, but she did nothing else. It was Hotaru. Her best friend. If she couldn't trust her, who could she trust?
Before long, they came upon a small, long shack, twice as long as it was wide. The door, set on a short side, had steps leading up to it, set firmly under a thatched roof. It looked like a small, abandoned shrine.
Usa was, temporarily, distracted from her uneasiness. "What is this place? I didn't know there was a place like this out here..."
Her friend did not answer, but slid the door open and stepped inside. Usa stood in the clearing, looking at the open doorway. The inside of the little shack was nearly pitch black. There were windows that allowed light inside, but they were small and did not completely eliminate the darkness inside.
Usa looked up and saw that her friend had turned, and was beckoning her inside. Her face was covered in shadow. The effect was creepy.
"Are you sure about this, Hotaru?"
"Come on, don't worry." Her hand waved, patient and slow, and Usa stepped toward her. "Don't worry."
Usa looked up at her partner, then tried to smile and nodded. "I'm not worried!"
As she stepped in, the door closed behind her, casting them in shadows. Usa couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive.
They waited. Usa looked around, but looking around, she saw that her friend was not so inclined. Time passed, and Usa cleared her throat.
"It's..." Usa swallowed, finding her throat dry. "It's really quiet in here. I can't even hear anything from outside." She glanced over, but Hotaru's head was bathed in shadow, and she neither moved nor responded.
Usa's kicked her legs out from the bench they sat on, letting them swing. "When do you think we can come out of our hiding places," she asked. Surely Hanae had found almost everyone by now.
Her friend did not respond. Usa swallowed.
The girl's voice came out in a whisper, like it always had, shaky, soft, but in the quiet room it was like a roar. "They will never find you here."
Something about the ways she said it made her heart grow cold. "Hotaru?"
The girl turned to face her, whispering, once more, "Never." She leaned forward, into the light, as if contemplating the pink haired girl, and Usa gasped.
The face staring back at her had no eyes, no mouth, no nose, no distinguishable features whatsoever. Usa's eyes filled with tears as the form faded. She ran to the door, screaming, but no matter how hard she pulled it, it would not open.
"You can stop hiding now, Usa!"
"Hotaru, have you seen Usa?"
"No! I looked everywhere!"
Some stories terrify, and it would be understandable if you were afraid. Even if you wanted to hide. Come. Take my hand. Don't worry.
I know a place where they will never find you.