The young teenage girl and boy were biking down their neighborhood street, chatting amongst themselves cheerily. The two were an inseparable pair of best friends. They had rode for quite some time, until the boy said, “I have to go now. See you tomorrow?”

The girl nodded, “For sure.”

 

The next day, the boy rode his bike around, waiting for his friend. But she never came. He waited a few more minutes, but after that, he just couldn’t stand it anymore. So he decided to visit her house, to see what the hold up was.

When he arrived, he gave a quick rap on the door. A women, who must’ve been the girl’s mother answered.

“Why, hello! You must be that boy my daughter Beth always tells me about! What’s your name?”

“Uh, Aiden, ma’am.” The boy replied politely.

“Well nice to finally meet you! Beth’s upstairs in her room.” The mother to Aiden’s best friend smiled, and pointed up the staircase. Aiden nodded and stepped in, shutting the door behind him. The delicious aroma of a bubbling stew and cleanliness wafted through the air of the house in greeting. The scent of the food made Aiden’s mouth water.

Slowly, he began to ascend up the steps. He went straight to Beth’s bedroom and he lightly tapped on the door. “Beth? You in there?” He asked. There was no reply.

He waited a second, and then opened the door. No-one was there. That’s weird. He thought. The boy looked around. No Beth. Just then, a claw-like hand snatched him by the ankle from underneath the bed, and he fell over. His head knocked on the ground as everything around him turned pitch black.

 

Meanwhile, Beth paced back and forth aimlessly. She was entrapped within a metallic cage, which was tall and roomy, and shaped as though meant for a giant bird. The entire thing was dangling by a thick wire, keeping it from falling into the pit of burning red doom, hundreds of feet below. Other than the glow of the flames, it was rather dark. Everything smelled awful, like burning plastic in a mixture with the rotten smell of old dirt.

Suddenly, a blinding flash of white light burst through the bars of the cage, temporarily illuminating the place. The light only lasted for a second, but Beth kept her eyes squinted longer. When she forced her eyelids to peel open, she found Aiden lying there several meters away.

 

Aiden was groggily awakening from a strange dream of giant birds, when he heard a familiar girl’s voice calling his name. He kept his eyes shut, as he tried to recollect his memories. Then he remembered. His eyes shot open as rapidly as a bullet whistling through the air. He looked at his surroundings, confused on how he had gotten here in this strange place. He sat up, as Beth tackled him into a hug.

When she let go of him, she said, “We need to get outta here.” Aiden nodded and responded, “But how?”

His friend began mussing through her hair. She pulled out a bobby pin. “I know how to pick locks.” She replied with a grin. She stuck the pin into the lock of the cage, and it took a moment of adjusting it’s placement for the both of them to hear the unlocking “click” of freedom. The door swung open. But Aiden was still confused. There was no platform to walk on over the fire. He gave Beth a questioning look. “How are we going to escape? If we really wanted to escaped, we would need to have something that could help us fly over the fire.”

His best friend grinned, as her skin began to grow into feathers, and her size grew. “Oh, but we will escape. Or rather, I will. You see, I need a sacrifice to leave, and your little friend, ‘Beth’ just wouldn’t suffice.” She turned into her true form, replacing her disguise with a harpy. “Goodbye, little boy.” The harpy scooped Aiden up with her sharp knife-like claws, and dropped him to his doom. The last thought he had was that at least he’ll be in a better place, so then he’d be with the real Beth.

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