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Hidden Truths

The dark underbelly of a community

By Jaidah HodgePublished 29 days ago 5 min read
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Hidden Truths
Photo by Nikola Knezevic on Unsplash

It’s known that the small, sleepy town of Whispering Pines lies in the heart of the Appalachians. Nestled between towering trees, rolling hills, and mountains that touched the sky, it exuded a quaint charm that masked a darker truth beneath its serene facade.

At first glance, Whispering Pines appeared like any other picturesque town: cozy cottages, friendly neighbors, and a bustling town square. But, if you paid close attention, you would notice some peculiarities—the hushed conversations that ceased when outsiders approached, the wary glances exchanged among the townsfolk, and the air thick with unspoken tension.

Visitors are always welcome and shown the beautiful aspects of their private way of life. But on one of these visits, a journalist joined in, wanting to get the scoop on why this community always seemed… perfect. Jazmine had always heard about Whispering Pines but never really had the opportunity to visit it, but today was her lucky day since her friend Emily asked her to come along with her. Jazmine was a young woman who always sought out the truth in the world, and for this week-long visit, that’s precisely what she would do for this secluded paradise.

On Sunday morning, Jazmine, Emily, a married couple with three children, and two other couples entered the town; things felt odd to Jazmine. The air felt clean, the streets had just enough people not to be crowded, the shops lined the road uniformly, and the person who greeted their group seemed too happy and excited for visitors at 9 a.m. The guide smiled as she introduced herself to the group as Megan and told us some facts about the town. As the guide walked the group through the town, Jazmine was busy picking out places that seemed to interest her for later investigation.

As Jazmine started her investigation later in the day, wanting to learn more about the town, she found nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Still, the fact that she had never heard one negative thing about the town only spurred her curiosity. But as night time drew closer and the wind began to blow, Jazmine would hear and see things that wouldn’t fit the “picture perfect” look that Whispering Pines was known for, a lone woman in a cloak walking the empty streets, a light on one of the shops flickering a few times before bursting, and a hushed voice down an alleyway that beckoned Jazmine to it. With a cold sweat running down her face, Jazmine returned to where the other visitors and Emily stayed.

As the week went on, Jazmine heard bits of whispered conversations about children having gone missing the night before. She witnessed suspicious moments like a woman in the distance, seemingly burning something in an open field. When Jazmine asked about the missing children, she was only met with more guarded and whispered responses. Jazmine would later approach the woman from the field hours later to ask her what she was doing. The woman would deflect the question and talk about something else. These two instances, coupled with the mysterious disappearances of the two couples that came as visitors, seemingly left because they only went for the weekend; everything left Jazmine with more questions than answers.

Jazmine continued to push on, wanting to uncover the town's secrets that seemed to be losing people every few nights, much to the townspeople's growing unease and displeasure. One day, while walking through the town shopping area, a young woman bumped into Jazmine and profusely started to apologize. She asked Jazmine to accompany her so the young woman could treat her to something. Unsure of what to do, Jazmine, for some unknown reason, agreed and followed the woman to her house.

Once in the woman’s house, Jazmine is shown the dining table, where she starts preparing a pot of tea for her. While they wait for the tea, the woman tries to make small talk with Jazmine, asking her how she feels about the town and how her visit has been going so far. Jazmine answered with half-truths about her experiences. While Jazmine spoke, the woman put several books on the table and some old newspaper clippings about the town’s past. Caught off guard by the books and clippings, Jazmine looks to the woman curiously as the woman explains that she’s heard about Jazmine and how she’s been asking “too” many questions from other residents. Jazmine looks through the clippings and reads about an old, abandoned house just past the mountains that surround the town. Hearing the stories that the woman has to tell about how the town isn’t like most people think it is, Jazmine thanks the woman and leaves, wanting to investigate this abandoned house.

Back at the visitor lodging, as Jazmine packed a small bag, Emily came over to her worried. She explained that one of the couple's children had been missing since this morning. The news only heightened Jazmine’s interest in wanting to investigate, so with light feet, she made her way out of the town and past the all-enclosing mountains.

Once she saw the old, run-down house, Jazmine could feel a cold sweat running down her face as she stepped closer. But with her curiosity piqued, Emily ventured into the dilapidated house, its crumbling walls bearing the truth of its age and vast experiences held with it, covered in dust and spiderwebs. She continued to explore its shadowy corridors and uncovered evidence pointing to a clandestine society within Whispering Pines, which thrived on dark rituals and sacrifices. Shocked by her findings, Jazmine hears a scream from another part of the house and goes to check it out.

Jazmine follows the screams to the basement, where she finds the couple’s missing child being strapped to a chair as a group of hooded figures surround the young boy. Upon realizing her unwanted presence, the hooded figures try to capture Jazmine, wanting to get rid of the nuisance and " cleanse the town's sacred grounds with fresh blood.” Jazmine manages to lock the figures in a separate room from the young boy as she quickly frees the boy and makes their way out of the house and back towards the town for the rest of the visitors.

Fearing for her and the other visitor’s lives, Emily raced against time to expose the darkness within Whispering Pines, knowing that the truth could either shatter the town's fragile peace or make the townspeople turn on them once they found out that Jazmine knew the truth. Thankfully, as Jazmine and the young boy entered the visitor’s lodging, Emily and the married couple with their other two kids were still there. With fear laced through their voices, they urged everybody to pack their bags.

Emily started to pack, but the family were reluctant to leave, but when they heard how scared and panicked their son sounds, they finally relented and started to pack. After that the group made their way out of the town with the loud cries of the townspeople chasing after them with guns firing at them and stones being thrown at them. As they jump in the family’s vehicle, Jazmine makes her story of the once “perfect town” that’s now discovered to be harboring a dark truth that everybody in the town was in on to keep secret. She was going to expose this visitor attraction for the two-faced scam and endangerment that it was.

Short Storythriller
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Jaidah Hodge

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  • Judey Kalchik 2 months ago

    Hello, AI is permitted on Vocal. It is a Vocal policy that content created with AI is identified as such at the start of the story/article. Your article/story has many hallmarks of AI-assisted/generated content. You can find the details of the Vocal policy here: https://vocal.media/resources/an-update-from-vocal-on-ai-generated-content, Please amend your piece to be in compliance. If you are not a Vocal+ member you will need to contact Vocal here ([email protected]) and ask them to send your content back into your 'Drafts' where you can edit your story/article/poem. If you don’t correct this the content may be removed by Vocal and/or you may be deleted from the platform. This has been reported to Vocal.

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