Tuesday, July 7th

Tuesday, July 7th, my parents moved us out to this middle of nowhere subdivision. There was a small city nearby, with most of the other neighborhoods crowded around it. Supposedly, there were plans to build more, but when the economy crashed, many were left abandoned and unfinished. Our neighborhood just barely managed to miss that, and stands as the only finished neighborhood for miles. The land itself gave us a constant reminder of that. This place was built on a series of large hills, our house towering over the others, and the highest point casting a shadow on our backyard. From the front door, there was a perfect view of the skeletal structures beyond the looped roads lined with white fences and three story homes. My room faced that high point. The smallest bedroom in the house was always my lot. Five bedrooms and a finished basement, and my parents had plans for everything. Not that I minded much. I never cared for being stuck inside four walls. But I thought maybe this time, I would get a choice. Summer meant I was free from school, but with no friends around, it also meant complete isolation. I'm starting to get used to it at this point. We've moved so many times now, it's hard to make friends at all. So, I've been spending my days outside wandering. I've already explored all of the neighborhood and a lot of the abandoned places below. There was only one place left. The other side of that monstrous hill. My dad told me not to go up there, but he's always paranoid about everything I do. I took my jacket with me again. Since we've moved here, the weather's been shifting between windy overcast and heavy rain. Mom says this is the wettest time of the year for this area. I don't mind the rain. At least it's always hot here. The last place was frigid practically year round. I had a vague idea of what to expect on the other side. Moss growing over half-built living rooms and paved roads that circled to nothing, or maybe another neighborhood like ours standing out in the middle of those half-built places. There were a few pine trees along the top and some tall grass, but I had a feeling I wouldn't be finding a vast forest or meadow. Something seemed completely off about that idea entirely. Perhaps it was because of how much this land had already been stripped bare. Why would they stop here? It must have continued. But, on the other side, I didn't find anything at all. This side wasn't hilly. It was completely flat and empty. Aside from a small jump down from the hill, everything was the same in all directions. Not a single patch of grass or tree, no roads, no houses...only red clay and the dark gray sky. That didn't match with what my parents told me about this state's landscape. Were they misinformed? When I crossed back into my yard, I hurried inside and pulled up Google Earth to see how far out it went. What I saw didn't match with what I had seen outside The images displayed on my computer showed a forest and a mountain range. A mall or some houses not being where they should be would be one thing. Images can be out of date. But an entire mountain can't disappear. What was going on here? At dinner, I asked my dad what was on the other side of the hill. "I told you, you don't need to be snooping over there." He was angry that I brought it up again. "I won't. I was just curious what was over there." "It's private property. Besides, it's too dangerous for you to be climbing up something that high and steep. You could get hurt. Stay away from there." "I will..." Private property? I didn't believe that. The next day, I went out there again. I took my 3DS with me to record how much I had walked and a small notebook for observations. For the first day, I walked an hour out. There was nothing different that I could see from the top of the hill. Every day, I intended to go out another hour farther. When I got to four hours out, something came into view in the distance. Something pitch black on the ground. There wasn't enough time for me to investigate it further, so I headed back to plan. I woke up early the following day and carried my bike up the hill. When I got to where I had left off previously, I still had plenty of time to spare for more exploring. As I got closer to it, the black spot became clearer and more terrifying. Despite the unsettling nature of it, I rode right up to it. That black spot in the distance was an enormous sinkhole. I couldn't see the bottom, and didn't seem to have filled with any of the water all the rain had poured into it. To test its depth, I dropped some rocks into it and waited. I never heard anything. On my return, I devised a way to calculate the size of it. I prepared some flag markers to place every twenty feet and measured out a length of rope twenty feet long to judge the distance. At sunrise, I snuck out with my bike and supplies. I arrived earlier than I expected, by a full thirty minutes. I didn't think anything of it. I presumed I must have just pedaled harder from excitement. After a few hours, I had measured around it. The entire hole was one thousand feet around. There was no way I could get the distance across, but judging by sight, I estimated it was far over several hundred feet. That was the best estimate I could get. I recorded all my data in my notebook. There was barely enough time to return without missing dinner. I couldn't go out the next day. There was another massive thunderstorm. Most of my day was spent researching sinkholes while tornado and flood watches sounded off on my TV. I couldn't find any information about sinkholes in this general area, recent or historical. There didn't seem to be any record of one in this part of the state. That night, the sky had a red glow to it above the hill. The front was the usual green when the air was right for a tornado. The red glow was so bright it illuminated my room even when I had the blinds and curtains closed. It stayed like that for the entire time I was awake. When morning came, the red and the rain had left the sky. I went out to the sinkhole again. It took me an hour less time than the last time. There was no way that was possible. I checked the 3DS, and it read that I hadn't gone as far. Was it getting bigger? I brought the rope the next time I went out, which ended up being a week later due to another big storm coming through. The red stayed in the sky above the hill every night. This time when I crossed the hill, I could see the hole in the distance. There was no question now. I measured around it to record it's exact size. It took so long that it was sunset when I finished. I rushed back home. My parents didn't even notice I missed dinner. There was no rain that night, but my window still glowed red. I hung a blanket over the curtains to block it out more, but it didn't help any. When morning came, I saw something strange outside my window. The hill had moved. It was only a few feet behind my window now, and much taller. Sunlight couldn't come through my window anymore. I ran downstairs to tell my parents. "Sarah, it's always been like that. You're still sleepy." My mother said. I ran to the front of the house. The entire neighborhood had tilted upward. Something suddenly dawned on me. In all the time we had been here, I hadn't seen anyone else besides my parents. Those white fences and long driveways kept in houses with doors that never opened and cars that stayed parked. Not a single person since the first day. Now that I thought about it, I hadn't once seen my parents leave either. They could have gone somewhere when I was over the hill and I wouldn't have known, but my father used to always leave for work around the same time I went to school. He wasn't on vacation. We only moved here to begin with for his job. I ran around back and climbed the hill. I wasn't prepared for what I saw on the other side. Just below the other side of the hill and everything else I could see past it was the hole. The horizon was completely black touching with the dark gray of the clouds. A red hue dyed the point where the two met, suggesting there was still something far beyond it. I went back inside to tell my parents. "Sarah, I told you never to go over there!" My father yelled. "I'm sorry, but we have to leave. If we stay, we'll die!" My parents ignored my warnings and sent me to my room. Terrified, I packed my things to run away. The hill's shadow darkened everything around me. I pulled off the previous day on my daily calendar and wrote "goodbye" on today's date. I won't ever forget that day. Tuesday, July 7th.