Image by Bárdos Veronika Györ
In a rural town in a small country somewhere in eastern Europe, there's a superstition that warns against leaving the house between midnight and one in the morning on the first of January.
No one really knows where the story comes from or who started it. We only know that it's been around for decades and it's taken very seriously by the people who live in the village.
Every year, between the hours of twelve and one, everyone in the village stay in their houses and lock the doors. At one o'clock exactly, distant church bells ring out seventeen times and the villagers know that it's once again safe to leave their houses.
There are no other villages for dozens of miles and the bell of the one tiny church was removed twenty years ago. Yet the bells still ring out, somehow, every single year. Seventeen times.
Last year, two teenagers were feeling a little daring. They had always obeyed when they'd been told to stay inside, but they'd never believed the legend, not really. Who would? It's just a silly old wives' tale.
So as soon as the clock struck midnight and it turned January first, the two teenagers left their houses and met for a midnight walk through the village.
They were never seen again.
Next year, the bells will ring out again, at one o'clock exactly, nineteen times.