Quartz Falls is like any other New England town, except for the fact that it’s not. On the outside it looks like a beautiful and quaint town. Yet once you find yourself in its core, you will soon realize you are in for way more than beautiful places to pose for pictures and whimsical places to shop. Formed in the 1600’s, it is rich with history. Generations have come, gone, and some have stayed. Throughout the years it has been a tourist attraction. Quartz Falls is aptly named for a stunning waterfall that flows into Quartz Falls Lake. As it streams down the rocks, the water shimmers like quartz crystals in the sun and moonlight. The lake is home to lots of visitors throughout the summer and autumn seasons.
It was a brisk night in early December. Ava Burke was making her way down Spring Eagle Path on the east side of the lake. Ava is a lifelong resident of Quartz Falls. Home for winter break from university, she decided to do something most everyone she knows would advise against. The east side of Quartz Falls Lake was considered the “less desirable” side for visitors. Its beach was rockier and the trees blocked the sun for half of the afternoon. The view of the waterfall was also not as pleasing, however if you wanted to go behind the falls than this was exactly the way to go.
Ava pulled her jacket up, as a cool breeze came by. The trail was pretty quiet, except for a few dedicated runners. Most people wouldn’t be walking in the woods at twilight in late autumn, but Ava didn’t care. The pathway was light up for the most part and the town recently installed video cameras along the way. With all the folklore and urban legends involving the lake, many people stayed away from it after dark. Yet, this is exactly what was driving Ava to it.
All her life she had been told the stories about the spirit of the lake. How if you were brave enough to summon her she, could grant you a wish or show you your future. However, you never knew what mood she would be in. On a good day, she would grant your request with little to no price paid. But on a bad day, all the locals said was, “you don’t ever want to find out.” Anytime someone went missing people said it was because they stupidly attempted to communicate with the lake spirit and paid the price. Other than you don’t want to find out, it was claimed that the spirit of the lake took the souls of those of angered her to her domain in the deepest depths of the water. There they remained a prisoner for eternity.
Ava considered most of this to be utter crap. Ghost stories drummed up throughout the years. That was until two nights ago when she was driving home from university. Her last exam was late in the day, so Ava got a late start heading home. The traffic was terrible on the parkway, so her two hour drive turned into four and a half adventure. The main road into Quartz Falls passes the lake and the waterfall. It was about 10:30 p.m. when she saw it. Behind the falls for just a second it looked like a lightening strike. Only in that one spot, right where someone would be standing if they were there. It was so bright, there was no way Ava’s eyes played a trick on her. There were no light displays on the waterfall and it was a perfectly clear night. Not a raindrop or cloud in sight. So Ava was convinced she saw something, but what that was she had no idea of.
Yet, nothing seemed out of the ordinary once she got home. Even the next morning things were as they should be. That was until she checked her social media feed. Valerie Anderson had been announced as the new owner of Barringer Estate. Ava couldn’t believe what she just read. Valerie was her age and she knew her family did not have that kind of money. Growing up Valerie always said she would own that house. Everyone just kind of laughed it off, she wasn’t the type that one would consider motivated. The Barringer estate had been empty for years, the family had moved away only sending people over the keep up maintenance on the house when needed. The Barringer's never even considered offers to purchase the estate. They didn’t need the money. Buyers came and went throughout the years, but they never sold it. So Ava knew something had to be up. Seeing the light at the falls last night and now this news was no coincidence.
The other thing that Ava found suspicious was that no one else thought this was weird. Everyone was just congratulating her like this was expected. Even Ava’s mother wasn’t shocked. Only Ava herself seemed to think this was off. She decided this had to do with the fact what she saw last night. Some how it made her immune to whatever was going on.
Ava now found herself rounding a curve in the path. She was about a quarter of a mile from the entrance to the cave behind the falls. Her stomach churned a bit, as she got closer the few nerves she had started to kick in. A group of teenagers passed by her, she wondered what they were up to. They were laughing and acting like normal youth. Ava envied them for a second. As dumb as teenagers could be they weren’t about to try and summon some water spirit.
The cold mist from the falls flowed into Ava’s face. It gave her goosebumps, since the air was so chilly. The entrance to the rocks was just ahead. She stopped for a second. “What am I doing?” She thought. ‘”This is ridiculous. There is probably a completely logical explanation to all of this.” Then Ava shook her shoulders, “No, we are doing this. We are finding out the truth. No backing out!” She straightened her jacket and headed towards to the entrance.
The entry way was tighter than it appeared. Ava had never actually ventured back here. Her parents always told her it was dangerous. They weren’t lying. It wasn’t exactly just a walk into the back of the falls, more like a climb through a tunnel. However, once you got there it was magnificent. Even from behind the waterfall glistened in the moonlight.
After admiring the view, she remembered why she was there. Ava pulled out her phone to look up her notes. She didn’t remember the exact ritual that was required to summon the spirit of the lake. There were a few versions but this one was the one Ava remembered hearing the most growing up. The instructions stated that one needed a strand of his/her hair, a clear quartz crystal and then they needed to say the following incantation. “ Oh, Marcelline guardian of the waters. I call upon thee, to let me see or grant a wish to me. I offer you a part of me, so you can judge my character and a crystal as a gift. I’ll pay the price whatever it maybe. Please let me see or grant this wish to me. Oh, Marcelline.” After that you need to toss your hair and crystal offering into the falls, close your eyes and wait. You will know when to open them.
Ava did this and waited with her eyes closed tightly for about two minutes. She felt absolutely nothing. Ava opened her eyes and disgusted with herself. How stupid was she? The legend was utter garbage like she always thought. She rolled her eyes and decided she wanted to get out of there. Ava didn’t want anyone to know what she did. That she fell for tale. Valerie probably won the lotto or something, that’s completely logical. The Barringer family probably decided it was time to sell so they did. Nothing strange. The weird light was probably nothing but a reflection or just Ava’s imagination.
Ava turned around and headed towards the entrance. “Disappointing. I thought you had more in you.” Said a deep female voice. Ava stopped dead in her tracks. She turned around so fast, her hair smacked her in the face. Brushing it aside, she couldn’t believe what was right in front of her. A woman with a blue iridescent glow, hovered in the waterfall. She was beautiful. Her hair was an icy silver and skin glistened like crushed diamonds. Her eyes were deepest blue Ava had ever seen. Her white gown was covered in crystals and pearls and flowed like her hair. Although in the falls, she wasn’t wet. The ethereal woman appeared to somehow stay dry.
Ava stood there, flabbergasted. She couldn’t form words. “Mmmaamar…” she stuttered.
“Yes. I am Marcelline. I’m the spirit of the lake.” The woman answered. Her tone wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t friendly either.
“I don’t know what to say. I just.”
“I know. You wanted to prove I was nothing but a tale. A story told to scare or fascinate people. But, alas I am not. I am real.” Marcelline stared at Ava. Her gaze was piercing. Ava could feel her looking into her soul.
At first Ava was terrified, but then she just gave the piercing stare back. This creature wasn’t scary. She was just some water fairy. Ava relaxed and put her hand on her hip.
“Look, this is great. But I’m not here for some fairy games. I just have one question. How.” Marcelline flicked her hand a spark came out and stopped Ava from speaking. She wasn’t hurt but she just couldn’t say anything.
“That’s exactly how she said you would be.” Replied Marcelline. Ava looked at her confused.
“Valerie, the sweet girl. She said when you came. She said Ava would be nothing but rude.” Ava furrowed her brows, she was completely lost. “I can see you are confused. Let me enlighten you. Valerie the girl you thought was a joke, whom you and your friends made fun of. Thought she was lazy because she didn’t partake in all the extra curriculars that you did. Thought she wasn’t ambitious because she went to a local state school rather than a fancy private university. The girl you just brushed off when she asked for help because you didn’t feel like driving an extra five minutes to give her a ride home. That Valerie came to me just like you did.”
Ava still wasn’t following what did this all have to do with her? Ava felt a release, she could speak again. “I’m sorry, but what does this have to do with me? I know the history. I was there.”
“Yes, yes you were.” Answered Marcelline her tone was soft, but stern. “Valerie was so broken. She couldn’t afford the next semester at school and she was already working two jobs. Just like in high school. While you all did everything, she was working. Ignored because she didn’t join in. None of you ever stopped to think why. You all just assumed she wasn’t worthy of your time. After all her house wasn’t a big and new as yours right?”
Ava was started to get annoyed. What was this? She knew Valerie wasn’t in the same social class as her. Why should she care? That was not her problem.
“That’s right it’s not your problem.” Ava looked at Marcelline stunned. “Yes I can read your mind. It’s not your problem, but you are the solution.”
“What?” questioned Ava?
Marcelline sighed and then continued. “See all my wishes come with a price. I am not the one who requires it. Nature must always be balanced. So how can I change one life and not another?” Marcelline tilted her head and gave a sinister smirk to Ava.
Ava’s whole body tensed up. She wanted to turn to run away but found she couldn’t move at all.
“You see, you are the price. Valerie had to pick one person she could live with paying her price. Even though your soul is as black as coal, Valerie still felt bad giving me your name. Then she remembered junior high. ‘Valeria Malaria’, you thought that was so clever. You and your group tormented her with that. You laughed and she cried. What do you have to say?”
Ava still couldn’t move, but she could speak. “Are you kidding me? I’m being punished because of some dumb name? This is such a joke. I bet this whole thing is a set up.” Ava could turn her head back and forth and as she did she shouted with sarcasm “Valerie, Valerie come out now! You got me. I’m sooo sorry.” Then she just laughed. This was so dumb. Valerie really was as pathetic as she remembered her. How much of a loser do you have to be not to get over some dumb nickname?
Be quiet snapped Marcelline. “You’re not being punished for that, your being judged for everything and you’ve been found guilty and worthy of paying Valerie’s price. You have no conscience. Your heart is as cold as ice, your soul is darker than night. Ava you have no remorse for anything. You’ve caused pain to Valerie and so many others it’s time you paid for it.”
“Wait! What no! This is absurd!” Shouted Ava as she felt herself being pulled towards the falls. “My family will come looking for me. People will actually care that I’m missing.” She continued as she uselessly struggled against Marcelline’s power.
Marcelline let out an icy laugh. “Oh Ava, no one will look for you. No one will remember you. You will be just as invisible as Valerie was to you. Stop fighting. Accept your fate.” With that a spark of light flashed. Marcelline and Ava disappeared along with any trace she ever existed.