Nature Abhors a Vacuum
otherwise, which resulted in him being challenged to a race by his best friend.
â€œWhy bother, you're just going to lose anyway, Aiden,â€ Pacian said with a shrug as
they stood side-by-side on a field of long grass. â€œYou know I'm faster than you.â€
â€œIf you're so sure you're going to win, what are you worried about?â€ Aiden pointed
out with a sly grin. â€œBesides, it's my birthday and I reckon turning thirteen makes a
difference. I bet you a copper jack I beat you to the forest.â€
â€œMake it three and you're on,â€ Pacian countered, trying to bluff his way out of the
race, a fact Aiden was well aware of. Although the fastest kid in town when he applied
himself, Pacian lacked the stamina for greater distances and the tree line on the other side
of the field was very far away indeed.
â€œDeal,â€ Aiden agreed, much to Pacian's dismay. Unable to squirm his way out of this
one, he resigned himself to the race and befo re he knew it, they were both speeding
through the long grass towards the tree line. While he began with a burst of speed, Pacian
fell behind as Aiden, his dark hair flying wildly behind him, slowly inched his way past
and gradually left his friend far behind.
Aiden stumbled out of the field and leaned against a tree, his chest burning from the
effort as he grinned breathlessly at his mate, who had apparently been unable to keep up
with Aiden's new- found speed.
â€œPay up,â€ Aiden demanded between breaths. Pacian merely waved dismissively at
him as he staggered to a halt, unwilling to waste his breath by shouting across the dozen
yards that remained between them. It had been Pacianâ€Ÿs idea to ditch their chores in
favour of something more entertaining and although reluctant to abandon his
responsibilities, his friend had been very persuasive.
So theyâ€Ÿd left their home village of Coldstream far behind them. The two boys had
been friends since they were little, a source of some concern to Aiden's parents as Pacian
had a knack of getting into trouble and liked Aiden to be there when it happened.
â€œI let you win, since it's your birthday,â€ Pacian explained casually, taking the time to
tidy up his short blond hair and absently brush non-existent dirt from his tunic. â€œAny
other day I would have beaten the pants off you.â€
Aiden laughed scornfully, knowing that Pacian's pride wouldn't permit him to admit
defeat, but he decided to play along with this little fiction to spare his friendâ€Ÿs feelings.
â€œOkay, enough funâ€ Aiden sighed as the laughter subsided. â€œIf I stay away any
longer my parents are going to notice.â€
â€œJust before we go back,â€ Pacian responded, â€œI wanted to show you something.â€ He
started walking into the forest, evaporating Aiden's light mood in an instant.
â€œBut that's the Cairnwood,â€ he protested, gazing with trepidation at the dark shadows
in the thick forest. â€œWe're not supposed to go in there.â€
â€œI don't see anything dangerous about trees, do you?â€ Pace asked as he looked
â€œYouâ€Ÿve heard the stories. There's something in there besides trees. Something bad.â€
â€œSuch as?â€ his blond friend prompted. Aiden was at a loss. All his parents had ever
told him was that Cairnwood was a dangerous place, and sometimes people who went in
there never came out again. He was never told anything specific, such as if they were
eaten by bears or ghosts, or possibly the dreaded Ghost Bear Pacian had once told him