A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art

Leave No Trace



My snowshoes flattened the sheets of snow beneath me and I could hear Abby and Ray laughing behind me, trudging along past the green trees dusted with a sprinkling of snow as the sun shined behind the misty grey clouds.

“Where are we even going Cara, do you have a clue?” Ray asked and poked me on the shoulder to get my attention. I turned around and smiled at him, glancing at Ray’s other hand that was grasping Abby’s. They had been dating for at least two years now, and they were my best friends. It had been Ray’s idea to come out and “go on an adventure” together before school started again and everyday life took over.

I didn’t realize how soon I would regret taking him up on that offer.

  “Not a clue,” I responded and smiled at him and Abby. Her face was partially obscured by a thick red scarf, but her cheeks were still bright red from the cold. She looked like a small pixie in the white snow.

“Fantastic!” He said sarcastically and bounded up the hill, even though I knew that he loved getting lost and finding new things. He held his arms above his head and tried to catch snowflakes on his tongue. Ray was always a blast to be around and I loved when we all had to chance to hang out together, and it saddened me that school was approaching so fast.

I grinned and looked at Abby as we got the same idea and two large snowballs landed soundlessly right on his bare face. He coughed and laughed, tears brimming his eyes from the extreme cold.

“Hey that’s not fair I’m outnumbered!” He exclaimed and pouted, crossing his arms in protest.

“Come on Ray let’s keep going,” I said, laughing, and kept going up the hill. I looked behind me and saw that Abby was glancing around warily.

She was the only one to realize that something was wrong, but by then it was far too late.

“Hey, guys come look at this!” Ray said. Abby and I ran up the rest of the way the best we could in our wide snowshoes.

“What is it?” Abby asked quietly yet sweetly as we neared Ray. He pointed up the hill.

“What do you think that is?” He asked, breathing fast from exhaustion. I looked up at what he was pointed at and my interest spiked. Sticking out from the snow a few hundred yards up was a long carved totem pole.

“How the hell did something like that get all the way out here?” I asked and Ray shrugged, as clueless as we were.

“Wanna go check it out?” He asked, wiggling his eyebrows and started to walk towards it. I went after him and glanced back at Abby who remained where she was.

“Don’t you wanna come look?” I asked but she shook her head.

“I really don’t think you should go over there.” She said and there was something in her voice that almost made me stop. Instead, I smiled and told her to just stay where she was, we would come back in a minute.

That was the last time I saw her alive.

“Cara hurry up!” Ray said and I rushed after him. By the time I fully caught up with him we had reached the totem pole.

“It’s gorgeous isn’t it?” I said, huffing out long clouds of steam from my mouth. Looking up I studied the intricate carvings on the pole. The main figures weren’t animals at all, but people. I hadn’t seen anything like it. I knew it wasn’t a traditional Native American totem pole, otherwise, I would have left the land in peace. It was so detailed that I was in awe. The people’s faces were strained and they almost looked like they were trying to escape the carving. The eyes looked haunted and the mouths were open as if they were captured in the last moment of life. The paints used were vibrant, and the wood was old and cracked, I had no idea how old it was but it looked ancient. The sunlight shone down through the bare spots in the branches and almost blinded me as I stood there, quietly staring.

“Shit, Cara this is actually kind of freaky, Abby was right we shouldn’t have come over here. Let’s leave already it’s giving me the creeps.” Ray said suddenly and turned around to head back. I went with him but glanced back at the totem pole one last time. There was Abby.

“Ray wait!” I yelled and pointed. He quickly whipped around, startled by my voice. The lowest carving had an uncanny resemblance to Abby. Her cheeks were still red and the red scarf hid part of her face just like I had seen not that long ago. Ray looked at the carving and his mouth dropped open.

“That wasn’t there a moment ago Cara and you know it.” He said softly and trailed off as he looked into the forest. I nodded, and I could feel panic surging in my throat.

“Where is Abby?” He asked and started to run back to where we had left her. I followed him and was near breathless when we finally reached the top of the hill we had just partially came down.

“Abby?!” Ray screamed and looked frantically all over. I had no idea where she was, and I started to get a really bad feeling.

I shouldn’t have left her alone I thought to myself as I scanned the trees for any signs of life.

“Lets circle around the area, she has to be around here somewhere, try not to get too freaked out just yet.” I said and set off to the right, walking along the ridge of the hill. The landscape had changed and it seemed sinister now. Branches scraped through my clothes and grabbed at my snowshoes as if trying to keep me from going any farther than I already had. I could hear Ray in the distance calling out for Abby and I briefly wondered why I wasn’t doing the same. Then I understood.

I wasn’t calling out because I didn’t believe that Abby was here. She was on the totem pole and I think Ray understood it too but was still in denial. I fell down suddenly from shock, for when I looked up I was surrounded by totem poles instead of trees. I must be hallucinating. There was no way that this was happening. I had no idea how far from the road I was but I suddenly wanted to go home. The faces carved into them seemed to look down on me scornfully. They were all people, and all had a different expression of terror or fear marked in them. I had no doubt now that these were in fact real people that had stumbled upon this sacred ground and had somehow gotten sucked into these things. I could feel the trees bristle with wind around me and the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I looked behind me as one of the poles slid into me and knocked me back. I stared up and saw Ray’s face stare back at me accusingly almost as if saying: You left Abby alone and now me, look what you did. Look at what you are responsible for! I wanted to cry them, and I choked up suddenly. The world swirled around me suddenly and when it focused again the poles had returned to trees.

Something was wrong. Something wasn’t right. I couldn’t move. I wanted to scream and yell for help but I couldn’t move my mouth. I was completely frozen. I felt as my heart stopped and my limbs froze as the world faded away.


The totem pole stood in the forest and without anyone to see it shifted into a tree. But. If you looked close enough you could make out an eye and maybe even a face in the knotted wood.

About the Author

Elena Hazzard attends Redmond Proficiency Academy in Bend, Oregon.  She wrote this little horror in the car on the way to the coast with her mom. She was staring out of the window when she saw a small side road covered in snow, with a bare tree in the distance. She could have sworn that she saw the carving of an eye in  bark.

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2019 by in Fiction and tagged , , , .
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