The Cabin in the Woods is a fanfiction written by TheLoneClone. It is going to be focused around several VenturianTale roleplay characters as teenagers trying to survive alone in an eerie cabin in an eerie forest.
The Cabin in the Woods (TCITW) is a story that I've been developing in my mind for a while. It has a more serious, and a bit darker tone than other VT content in the past. It follows a group of our favorite roleplay characters as teenagers, all going away for one week during the summer to a cabin in the woods.
You can see the list of characters in the scrollbox in the appearances section and read about them on their pages. This is also a project that I want to collaborate and talk to you guys about. In that I mean you guys may edit character pages and update relationship sections and other parts that pertain to info revealed in this story. (Please do not add anything to their backstory unless, as I said, it was mentioned in the story. You may leave suggestions if you have any concerning backstories in the comments, and who knows, they might just become canon.)
I also want you guys to let me know your thoughts and speculations as the story goes on, be it concerning possible plot twists, deaths, and the like. Speaking of deaths, people WILL DIE in this story...some that are even from the VT roleplay universe.
That out of the way, you may check one of my recent forums in the "Fun and Games" thread section to help me find "actors" to "portray" my three OCs Aaron Martin, Jack Gordon, and Emilia Bates. The thread is called "TCITW characters".
The story will begin production soon, so be looking out for updates in the coming days. Thank you all for your patience regarding this project and your help. I really appreciate it. Your actor suggestions have come in handy and many of them are just as I pictured them in real-life. Until the first chapter rolls out, discuss your thoughts and predictions, read up on character backstories, and let me know what you're excited to see! Until next time.
Rating Poll Edit
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is rated "M" for "Mature" for the following: strong violence, bloody situations, mild language, and suggestive themes.
ONE | The Plans Are Set Edit
Johnny Toast sat with his back facing the wall in the school's library, tipping his back up against the wall as he read the last page in the chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird he needed to read for his school project. As he began to start the next sentence, his best friend--Johnny Ghost--plopped into the wooden seat beside him, letting out a loud sigh.
Toast smiled as he slid his thin bookmark into the book, closing it. "All right, John, what is it?"
Ghost turned to face his friend and arched an eyebrow. "What? What is what, Johnny?"
"You know what," the British teenager said, chuckling. "Whatever it is you're groaning about over there." Ghost let out a slight smile, realizing his attempt at acting nonchalant was failing--miserably.
"I'm not too good at keeping a straight face, am I?"
The older Johnny shook his head. "Not one bit."
Both laughed slightly as Toast glanced up. "What is it, John?" Ghost--who had taken up the shortened name John so as to avoid confusion--sighed again, resting his elbows on the library's table.
Toast nodded. "Ah, yes. Very specific. Not at all a broad word." He rolled his eyes when Ghost didn't respond to him. "Please, use a little more detail, John. What exactly is the problem?"
John leaned back, looking to the ceiling. "It's just...different things. My grades aren't the greatest, I got slammed into a locker again and I think I got my senses knocked loose a little, and..." He glanced up slightly to see the third party in the trio that he and Johnny were apart of. "...Her."
Johnny glanced up, smirking slightly as the dark-haired Katrina Evans entered the library, a smile spreading across her face as she caught sight of Ghost and Toast at the library's corner table.
For as long as he could remember, Johnny knew that Ghost was lovesick over Katrina--badly. It seemed almost as if he was going to die if he didn't ask her out or something, but he never did. Johnny felt horrible when he found out that Katrina liked him, of all people.
"Why me?" he had asked himself mentally. "It could've been John, it could've been that Raven-what's-his-face guy, it could've been Fred, but, oh no, it had to be me! Jonathan Toast, Junior. Of all people, why me?!"
Luckily, he had been able to act oblivious to Katrina's feelings to him, being able to avoid any problems between the three of them. Katrina seemed to lost interest--slightly--when Johnny got involved with Mary Petrova, the new girl who had transferred from another school.
And, boy, did Johnny get involved.
In nearly one month, the two had gotten close--very close--and were soon dating. Johnny knew that it might cause a rift in his relationship with Katrina and John, which it did. Thankfully, he was able to mend whatever ties had been broken in the following months and since then they had all been one happy family again.
Katrina walked over to the table, pulling one of the chairs out. She turned it around before sitting on it so she could sit with her black backpack still on, without it rubbing on the back of the chair. "What's going on?" she asked, the slightest hint of a British accent in her voice. Somebody on her mother's side was of British descent, and because of that they had lived in England for a few years as she grew up. When they moved back to America, Katrina's British tones had disappeared for the most part, but the slightest twinge of British tongue was heard as she spoke.
John sat, looking at her for several moments, before shaking his head. "Oh...well...we were just talking about this book!" he said, quickly passing his hand over the cover of Harper Lee's classic. Toast smiled as John acted as if he knew exactly what he was talking about.
"Oh, I love To Kill a Mockingbird!" Katrina exclaimed, snatching it up. "How d'you like the court scene?" she asked.
John's face fell. "Erm...court scene?" He glanced to Johnny for help, but Toast wasn't about to offer any. "Well...it was...very suspenseful."
Katrina's excitement slightly deteriorated. "Oh...that's...all you've got to say about it?" she asked, a sad tinge in her voice. Ghost gulped, tapping the table's surface repeatedly. "Well..."
He suddenly looked to his right and saw Fred Spooker on his knees, reaching for a book on the bottom of a shelf. "Hey, Spook!" Ghost called out.
Spooker turned around, looking to Ghost. "Yeah? What is it, John?" The teenager stepped forward, rubbing a hand across his stubbled face.
"What're you doing here?" Ghost asked.
Spooker brandished the book he had picked out from the shelf. "Oh, just getting a book." He quickly tucked it down, keeping the cover from view.
"What is it?" Johnny asked, his curiosity piqued.
Spooker shrugged. "Just...a book."
"Is it The Fault in Our Stars, by any chance?" Katrina asked, on the verge of laughter.
Spooker's jaw dropped before he snapped it shut again. "How did you--well...I mean...yes, it is." Ghost turned to look at Katrina in admiration.
"How did you know?" he asked.
Katrina shrugged. "Just a hunch. Partly because it is Emilia Bates's favorite book." Spooker was now growing red in the face, shifting from one foot to the other.
"Emilia Bates, is it, Spooker?" Toast asked, smiling humorously at his friend.
Spooker sighed. "All right, fine, you guys win. Yes, I'm getting it because it's Emilia's favorite book. Yes, I like her. Yes, I know it's stupid." He turned away, looking out the window. "Just...please, don't tell anybody. Especially not that...that Jack."
The three friends exchanged glances. "Well...we won't say anything, Spook," John said. "But...just one question. Why is it so important we don't tell anyone?"
Spooker looked as if he was going to answer them before waving them off. "It--it's fine. Just...please, keep it between us, huh?"
Toast raised a palm up, trying to show him all was fine. "Whatever you say, Spooker. We'll keep it under our hats." Spooker smiled quickly, showing his thanks. He then turned around and went for the library checkout desk before exiting the room.
"Well, hello there," a voice sounded from the right of the table. All three turned their heads to the newcomer. Katrina kept her mouth in a thin line, while Ghost flashed a second-long smile and Toast nodded briskly.
"Hello, Jack," Toast said to Jack Gordon, one of the most popular--and most annoying to many--people in the school. He nodded to both Ghost and Toast and smiled suspiciously to Katrina, keeping his eyes glued to hers for several seconds. She just kept looking at him with a steely glare.
Ghost squirmed in his chair uncomfortably as Toast cleared his throat. Since Katrina and Jack had broken up, things were always...tense when he showed up to speak to someone near her. "What...erm...what can we help you with, Jack?" Toast asked.
Jack blinked once, turning his eyes away from Katrina and placing them on Johnny. "I had a suggestion for this coming week. Being the first week of summer, I thought we could...celebrate by having a week out in the woods at my family's cabin, just us and a couple of other friends."
"Like who?" It was John who asked this question.
"Oh, the Acachallas--you know, Billy and Sally. Their brother--," he chuckled, quickly putting in, "--their sister, I guess, Sue, is pretty cool. And I'd assume their little bro Spencer would have to come. Sally's boyfriend, Aaron, said he would as well. Fred, Chris, and Maddie could come as well, and you can bring Mary, Johnny." He lifted his eyes to Katrina. "And I'm referring to all three of you. You're all welcome."
The trio exchanged glances. "What'd you say?" Ghost asked. The question was mostly directed to Katrina, but he asked it as if it was to Johnny as well.
Katrina looked up to Jack, who was smirking at her. "Sounds like fun," she muttered. "I'd be up for it."
Johnny smiled. "Sounds like it's all set then."
Before Jack could speak, the blond-haired Emilia Bates--a girl that several of the guys at school had crushed on before--walked up. "Hi," she said quietly, stopping next to Jack. "What's up?"
Jack smiled. "Oh," he said, wrapping a muscular arm around her waist, "nothing much. I was just telling them about the idea I had, for the week out in the woods."
Emilia's face sparked up. "Oh. Oh! Do you guys like the idea? I think it sounds like we'd all have a good time up there, getting able to bond together more."
Jack nudged her, winking suggestively. "Yeah. I'd even dare to say a great time." John grunted, a bit disturbed by the undertones he sensed in their conversation.
"Well," he started, "I'll have to check with my mom. She'll most likely say yes, though." He looked to Johnny. "I can give you a call, and you can let Jack know."
Jack nodded. "All right, sounds good."
Emilia stepped away from him. "Speaking of moms, mine's waiting outside in the car. I've gotta run. See ya," she said, before Jack leaned forward and planted a kiss on her forehead.
"All right. See you later, babe."
The four watched as Emilia walked away. "So," Johnny started, letting his mouth drop slightly, "is there something going on between you two?"
Jack grinned broadly. "You bet there is. We've gotten along greatly. She's a wonderful girl." He lowered his gaze to Katrina, to see if there was any reaction from her. She was biting her lip, and Jack smiled because of it. "Well, I've gotta go too. Let me know if you all can go. Later." He walked away, whistling happily to himself.
Little did he know that Katrina wasn't gnawing on her lip because of what he had just said. It was because Spooker had walked up to speak to Emilia before he caught drift of what was going on between her and Jack.
And it hurt her to almost hear his heart crack.
+ + +
"Come on, Mom. It'll only be one week!"
Sarah Ghost, a thirty-eight year old widow, sighed, rubbing her forehead in uncertainty. One half of her wanted to show her son that she trusted him enough to let him go off for a week with only his friends, but the other half of her wanted to say no, because she felt that it would be just begging for something bad to go down.
"Well...who did you say was the oldest person there?"
"Sue Acachalla, we think."
"Come on, Mom! He's twenty years old," John pleaded.
Sarah sighed. "But, Johnny, he's fresh out of high school. And I just don't know about those Acachallas...they don't seem like the greatest influence."
"They're not so bad, Mom. Sue and Billy are nice guys, and I'm sure Spence and Sally are too."
"That's another thing," Sarah said, turning around. "How many girls are going to be going on this little trip? Just Sally? Or more than her?"
John scratched his chin. "Let's see..." He counted on his fingers, mouthing each number as he went. "Five have been invited. I'd assume they're all coming."
Sarah muttered under her breath, "Five." She rubbed her forehead. "What do all the other parents say about this whole thing?"
"They're all for it, I'm pretty sure. At least the Acachallas, Jack's parents, and Emilia's. Johnny, Katrina, and the others were gonna ask tonight."
Sarah smirked. "Oh, so Katrina's going?"
Ghost blushed slightly, ruffling his head of brown hair. "Well...yeah, she's been invited."
Sarah laughed quietly. She absolutely loved to tease her son over his crush on Katrina, which she thought was just adorable--which John was upset about.
Sarah sighed and crossed her arms, leaning against a countertop. "Well...I guess you can go." A large grin broke out across John's face. Sarah sent an arm out. "Just...please--be wise, mature, and responsible. Don't do anything with a girl--or with anything, for that matter--that might result in some dire consequences, got it?"
John chuckled. "All right, I won't." He raised a hand in a mock swearing of honor. "I promise." He then wrapped his arms around his mom, hugging her tightly. "Thanks, Mom. For everything. I love you."
Sarah smiled, wishing that that moment would never end. "I love you too, Johnny. More than anything else in the entire world."
TWO | Permissions Edit
Johnny walked into the Toast family home, pushing his car keys into his pocket. "Mum, Dad, I'm home," he called out. He closed the door behind him as he stepped into the house, taking off his shoes and stashing them under an endtable.
He was met by his twin brother, Gavin. The older twin walked into the hallway and leaned up against the doorframe from the living room. "Well, well, well. The brother arrives."
Johnny sighed. "Hello, Gavin." He started to walk past his brother before Gavin stretched out an arm, stopping Johnny from going by him. Slowly, Gavin turned to look at his brother, face-to-face.
"What took you so long to get home today?" Gavin asked. "I got home an hour ago."
"I was with some of my friends."
Gavin snorted. "Oh, right. Mary."
Johnny nodded. "Yes. Mary." He brushed Gavin's hand off of his arm before marching past, going into the living room. Gavin smirked triumphantly before turning on his heel, entering the room after him. "Where's Mum and Dad?" Toast asked.
Gavin shrugged. "I dunno. Dad's off doing some business thing, of course. Mum went to a store I think."
Johnny nodded. "I see." He sat down on the living room's black couch before speaking: "You doing anything this coming week?"
Gavin shook his head. "No, nothing." He paused, flicking his eyes over to his twin. "Are you?"
"Yes. Jack Gordon invited me and a few others over to his family's vacation cabin up in the mountains."
His brother let out a slight chuckle. "Ah." He let the silence build up for a few seconds before saying, "Was...I invited, perchance?"
Johnny lifted his eyes up. "Well...no, you weren't."
Gavin faked a smile. "Oh. I see." He got up from the couch and walked towards the doorway.
Johnny raised a hand to stop him. "Look, Gavin...if you want to come, I can talk to Jack and arrange for--"
"No, don't worry about it." Gavin chuckled, keeping his steely glare on his brother. "I could care less about it. It's not like you're much of a brother anyways."
Johnny rolled his eyes. "Look, Gavin." But his brother was already moving out of the room and up the stairs.
+ + +
Billy Acachalla, his sister Sally, and their brother Spencer entered the Acachalla home, where their adoptive father, known only as "Papa", sat on his couch, lounging as he watched reruns of Jeopardy on his flatscreen TV.
"Hey, Papa," Billy said, taking his backpack off of his shoulder. Papa grunted what Billy supposed was a hello and resituated himself, reaching for his bottle of root beer on the coffee table.
Sally walked past, listening to something through her earbuds, which were plugged into her pink-cased cell phone, her eyes glued to the screen. Much like her phone case, her jacket was of a dark purple hue.
"Hello, Sally!" Gertrude, her adoptive mother, called out. Sally didn't hear her due to the music she was listening to and walked past, marching up the stairs. Gertrude let out a quiet sigh and rubbed her forehead.
Spencer rushed past. "How are you, Spencer?" Gertrude asked.
Spencer skidded to a stop. "Fine, but I must go and conquer the world in World of Warcraft!" he yelled with a lisp before taking off again.
Gertrude laughed, watching her youngest child dart into the family room, quickly powering up his self-constructed gaming computer.
Billy walked into the living room, where Papa slowly turned his eyes to his son. "What is it, Billy?" he asked.
Billy scratched the back of his head. "Well...you see, Papa, this guy at our school...Jack Gordon...he was just wondering if we could...if we could go to his family's cabin for the coming week."
Papa hit the mute button the TV remote, leaning forward. "The whole week?" Billy nodded.
The oldest Acachalla leaned back, stroking his beard. "I see." He glanced to his son. "Is Sue going?"
Just as he spoke, the oldest of the Acachalla children walked past the doorway. Born a male but wrongly adopted as a female, Sue was often the subject of ridicule at first meetings, but he quickly proved that he was no person to be picked on. "Am I going where?" he asked.
Both Billy and Papa looked up to Sue. "With us to the cabin next week."
"Oh," Sue said. "Yeah, I figured it might be fun. As long as no kids annoy me."
Billy rolled his eyes. "We're not kids. They're the same age as I am!"
Sue smirked. "Like I said: kids."
"Hey, that's not--!"
Papa waved his hands. "All right, guys, calm down! I get the picture." He laughed. "This is fine with me. Just ask your mother and see what she says about it."
Billy smiled, exuberantly, and turned around and darted from the den. He sure hoped that the trip was fine with his mother.
+ + +
Katrina stormed down the hall after her mother. "Look, Mom," she said, trying to make her voice sound more serious, "I'm old enough to go on this trip. I won't do anything wrong."
Karen Evans sighed, turning to face her daughter. "It isn't that, Katrina. It's just that...didn't you say that Jack was going to be there?"
Katrina rolled her eyes, sighing. "Yes, Mom. But he won't do anything -- Johnny and John will be there. Besides, I think the water has calmed between us both. He seemed pretty chill about it in school today."
Karen rubbed her forehead. "Look, sweetheart, I don't know if..."
Her daughter smiled, stepping to her mother. "Mom, I'll be safe. I can guarantee that. Neither one of them -- nor anyone else there, for that matter -- would let anything happen to me." Karen smiled. She was glad that her daughter could place so much trust into her friends.
"Well...if you're sure you'll be fine."
Katrina nodded. "I will. I will!"
Karen laughed quietly. "Very well. You can go. Who do you need to tell about you coming?"
"I'll tell Johnny. He said he would relay all of our answers to Jack."
Karen nodded. "All right then." She patted her daughter's back. "You'd better get packed up then." Katrina beamed at her mother and ran up the stairs of their house to her bedroom.
"Thank you Mom!"
Karen chuckled, shaking her head. "You're welcome!"
+ + +
"Great!" Johnny said, smiling. "I'm glad you can come."
Katrina laughed. "Me too. I'm looking forward to it."
Silence for several seconds. "Look, Katrina, if you feel uncomfortable about Jack at any time --"
"Don't worry, it'll be fine." Katrina sounded sure of her answer. "Besides, I've got you and John there to watch my back." She began to giggle, and Toast let out a light laugh.
"So..." Katrina thought of something to say. "Is John going, then?"
Johnny nodded. "Yes. His mum said he could come, as long as he was well-behaved."
Katrina laughed. "That is the exact same thing my mom said!"
Both of them laughed for several seconds. "Well, I'd better get going. I've got to finish reading this last chapter to finish my school project."
"Okay," Katrina replied. "When do we have to leave?"
"Jack said for everyone to meet at the entrance to the campgrounds. You know where they are, right?" Johnny asked.
"Of course," Katrina said. "I went there once, back when...you know."
"Yeah," Johnny nodded, although he knew Katrina couldn't see him. "Well...I'll let you go."
"All right. Bye Johnny."
THREE | Arrival Edit
It was the day that the trip began. One week had passed, and school was done. Johnny had finished his book report and got a passing mark, rounding out a job well done overall for his school year. He had just been informed upon completion, however, that he was going to be moving back to London after the summer. He had gotten a little moody towards his mom, dad, and siblings when he initially heard this information, but he soon decided it'd be best to not get too uptight about it.
John, Katrina, and Mary all took the news heavily. They had all grown accustomed to having Johnny there by their sides, and now that he was gone...they didn't know how they would handle it.
Karen pulled her trusty old car up to the entryway of the campgrounds to the Arabon Mountains. At the small station on the road leading into the camp area, a young forest ranger -- Katrina guessed he wasn't much older than her -- was checking visitors in.
When the car pulled to a stop, the ranger smiled and leaned against the wall of his station. "Hello there," he said, keeping his eyes on Katrina. "How might I help you?"
Karen looked from her daughter to the ranger. "Well...I was dropping my daughter off here to meet with some friends. They were going to be staying at the Gordon cabin."
The ranger -- his pin had the name B. Miles printed onto it -- nodded. "Some of them got here ahead of you and let us know you all were coming." He sighed, looking down the road before the car. "Not too many visitors this time of year, the beginning of summer. They usually come about two or three weeks in."
Karen nodded. "I see. How much is the charge to get in?"
The forest ranger crossed his arms. "Oh, no charge. The Gordon family paid for everyone's way into the campgrounds for the week."
Karen smiled. "Oh. Well, that's nice." She put her car into drive and started to go forward. "Well, thank you."
Miles nodded. "Don't mention it. Any time." He waved quickly to Katrina, who waved back to him as her mom drove the car down the road.
As they rode on, Katrina looked out the window into the lush, green forest to her right. She wasn't generally one to be outside very often -- she dabbled in reading or something to do with her computer, most of the time. Johnny and John were the same way. They all enjoyed reading stories involving the supernatural, both fiction and nonfiction.
The leaves rustled. Katrina smiled, picturing some sort of animal -- a squirrel or rabbit, perhaps -- busting through the terrain, rushing home to their family. Wind blew more leaves through the air, piling them up on the ground.
A worn sign, with the numbers "231" written on it, sat near a dark, leaf-covered road. As Karen prepared to drive up, Katrina pressed a hand on her arm. "Hold on, Mom. If you don't mind, I'd like to walk up here." When she saw that her mother was about to ask why, Katrina continued, "I want to get used to walking around in nature for a while. I mean, I'll be doing it the next week, so I might as well get some practice."
Karen smiled. "All right. You sure you'll be fine?"
Katrina nodded. "Yes, Mom." She reached into the back seat, pulling out her black backpack and slinging it over one shoulder as she got out of the car. Karen did so as well as Katrina walked to the back of the car, her mother following suit. Once they got there, Karen popped open the trunk and Katrina reached inside and grabbed another small bag, tossing it over her other shoulder.
Karen walked over to her daughter, resting both hands on her shoulders. After several seconds, Karen leaned forward and kissed her daughter on her forehead. "I love you so much," she said, wrapping her arms tightly around Katrina. Her daughter returned the embrace.
"I love you too, Mom," she replied. They both pulled apart and Karen smiled broadly.
"If you need anything, don't hesitate to call me."
Katrina nodded. "I won't, Mom. Goodbye." She turned and started walking up the trail, her bags slung tightly against her back. As she started up the steep hill, she turned to her mother and gave her one final wave before embarking on her march along the trail.
She was tempted to pull out her cell phone, but decided against it. If I'm going to be getting used to nature this week, I might as well get started and not have my eyes glued to my phone.
She continued up the path, her hands wrapped around her backpack straps. The leaves rustled -- from animals or wind, she didn't know, but she still enjoyed the sound of it. As she walked she heard a heavier thud in the leaves. A loud crunch.
She stopped in her tracks, turning around. It sounded like...a footstep. She stared into the woods, looking for any sign of something larger than the average squirrel in the midst of the trees and brush.
She stared for several moments, but she didn't hear a thing. Must be my imagination, she thought to herself, turning back and continuing up the path.
As she walked, she heard a humming come from the path down below her. She turned and looked, spotting a black SUV driving up the path. She smiled, recognizing Johnny's vehicle. As the car rode on the road, it came to a stop and the passenger window rolled down. John was sitting there, smiling. "Hey, Katrina. Need a ride?"
Katrina smiled. "Hi John. Johnny. I was thinking I'd walk up the trail and enjoy the peacefulness of the moment. God knows I won't be able to the rest of the week."
Both inside the car nodded. "Would you want me to walk with you? So you won't be alone?" John asked. Katrina thought for a moment before shrugging.
"Sure. Come on."
John stepped from the car and shut the door. "I'll get my stuff into the cabin once we get there," he told Johnny. The older teenager nodded.
"All right. I'll see you both there."
As Johnny drove away, John reached to Katrina's bags. "You want me to take one of those? Or both?"
Katrina nodded. "Sure," she said, handing him the larger of the two. "Here you go."
John slung the bag over his shoulder, motioning forward with his hand. "After you, miss."
Katrina chuckled, stepping forward. John followed closely behind. As the two walked, John thought of something to say. "So...how's your day been?" he asked.
Katrina shrugged. "Oh, it's been fine. I had to wake up at six, so that was fun."
John laughed. "I can imagine. I got up at six-thirty myself, so I don't know how bad getting up at six is."
"Trust me, you don't wanna find out."
The two walked on together up the hill. As they went, Katrina looked down and saw a small pothole in the road. "John, look out!" she shouted, but John missed what she was saying and turned to look at her.
"What is --?" he started, only to step at an angle on the hole's edge. One edge of his foot landed on the higher part of the hole and the other part twisted, and John's face lit up in pain.
"Oh God --" he started, stumbling forward. He was able to catch himself, but he grunted as he supported himself with his right ankle. He loosened his grip on Katrina's bag he was carrying and rubbed the throbbing ankle. "I think I twisted it."
Katrina nodded. "I'd say you did. I'm sorry, I tried to warn you, but it was too late and --"
John offered his best excuse for a smile. "No, don't worry, it's fine." He continued to rub his ankle as Katrina bent forward, raising the cuff of his jeans slightly.
"Eh, it looks pretty good, considering," she said. She squeezed softly on the injured part of his leg. "Does that hurt?"
John shook his head. "No, not really."
Katrina smiled. "It mustn't have been hurt that bad."
"Yeah. We'd better get on back as soon as we can so you can get off of that foot for a little while."
John nodded his consent. "Sounds like a good plan." The two continued up the path, John putting more pressure on his left leg to lighten that of his right. As they came to the top of the bend, John saw the cabin a little bit off.
He smiled. The thought of sitting down had never sounded so good to him.
+ + +
Johnny was standing outside as the two walked up. Jack, Emilia, Spooker, Colon, and Mary were already there, waiting. As they came over the bend, Jack sniggered. "I wonder what took them so long." Sensing the implication he meant in his statement, Johnny rolled his eyes.
John staggered over, lifting his right leg after every so often. Johnny blinked his eyes, wondering what was wrong with his best friend's foot.
"John!" he called out, rushing to his friend's side. "What happened?"
John pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "I twisted my ankle a way's back. It doesn't hurt that bad, though."
Katrina nodded her consent. "Yes, it looked like just a light sprain. It should be better in no time at all!"
Johnny smiled, letting out a slight sigh of relief. "I was beginning to get worried. I had no idea what was wrong when you came limping up here."
John nodded, offering a slight smile. "If you don't mind, I'd like to get inside. The pressure on this ankle's getting to me."
"Of course." Johnny stepped forward, helping his friend into the cabin. Mary and Katrina both followed while Spooker, Colon, Emilia, and Jack all stood together.
Jack turned to Emilia. "You wanna go for a walk?"
His girlfriend smiled. "Yeah, sure." She glanced to Colon and Spooker, who stood there, unsure of what they should do. "Do...erm...do you guys wanna come?"
Spooker opened his mouth to speak before Jack cut him off. "I think you two should wait here and make sure that the others all know where to go when they get here," he firmly stated. "Don't you guys think so?"
Colon's face twisted up into a quizzical look. "But the cabin's right here out in the open..."
"Just make sure they know where to put their stuff," Jack said, placing a hand on Emilia's back. "Come on, let's get going. There's a smaller guest cabin where we can stop by and see how it looks. I've got the key."
As they walked off, Colon and Spooker exchanged glances before shrugging their shoulders, turning and walking into the cabin.
+ + +
Sue pulled his burgundy car up to the cabin, parking it outside of the small wooden building. To his right was his youngest sibling Spencer. The seat directly behind them held Sally, her boyfriend Aaron, and one of Billy's closest friends, Maddie Tyler. Billy himself was seat in the open trunk, where he was packed in between the luggage.
Gertrude had asked Sue if they could possibly be pulled over because Billy was sitting in the trunk with no seatbelt, yet Sue replied that they wouldn't as long as they weren't caught. Papa accepted it as a plausible answer and no more was said of it.
Sue popped open the trunk and Billy clambered out of it, tossing his backpack onto his shoulder. He lifted his duffel bag up from the bottom of the trunk as the others all came to the back to gather up their own luggage. Spencer had a small backpack that held all of his gaming equipment that he wouldn't be able to use, as well as one holding his other, more essential items.
Sally had two bags as well, as did Aaron. Sue had three bags to carry in, and Maddie only had one. When she was questioned as to why she brought so little, she told them that her bag was "larger than most others" and could hold more, and the others didn't question her.
Spooker and Colon both exited the cabin to meet their friends. "Hi, Billy," Spooker said, smiling and nodding to each of the newcomers. "Everyone's here except for Jack and Emilia. They both went to check out the ranger station a little further up the trail."
Billy nodded as Sue came to a stop. "This is my brother Sue," Billy spoke, introducing his oldest sibling. "I'm sure you've seen him before."
The bearded Acachalla nodded to his brother's friends. "Hello," he said, scratching the back of his neck. Both Spooker and Colon introduced themselves before Colon motioned to the cabin.
"We'd better get on in there. John can't really walk that well."
"What happened?" Aaron asked in a quiet, reserved voice.
"He twisted his ankle," Colon responded. "It's not too bad though. He just wants to give it as much rest as he can."
"That makes sense," Sally commented.
Spooker, Colon, the Acachallas, Aaron, and Maddie all entered the cabin. It was a cozy little abode, with a mid-sized sitting room that had two long couches, a love seat, and two recliners, all fitted in worn leather that smelled of the hardwood that walled and floored the cabin. A kitchen with a tiled floor was in the next room, where the food that had been brought was stored.
A staircase dipped down into a lower level, which held two bathrooms and one bedroom. The bedroom held Sue, Billy, Aaron, and Spencer. The two upstairs bedrooms had Mary and Katrina in one and Sally, Maddie, and Emilia in the other. Johnny and Jack slept on the couches, John was to be on the love seat, and Colon and Spooker were both on the recliners.
As a perfect bookend to the whole cabin was a fireplace, which was not yet crackling with the roaring blazes that a few finely cut blocks of wood would soon begin. A small stash of lumber was in a cramped shed outside, which Jack had visited and brought a few blocks in from.
"Not too bad," Sue said, nodding. "I'm actually impressed. I figured any friend of my siblings would have a trashy cabin. I was wrong." Billy playfully socked Sue on the arm with his fist.
"Ha ha," he laughed mockingly, trying to act as if he was humored by Sue's comments. "Come on, let's get our things unpacked."
FOUR | Fatality Edit
Brandon Miles sighed, rubbing his forehead free of sweat with his ranger's hat. The time to enter the campgrounds was over -- if anyone came to the station, he'd have to turn them down. He flipped the switch that lowered the barrier to block any traffic from entering the road to the cabins. If someone needed to leave, he'd simply raise the barrier.
Ranger Miles leaned back in his cushioned chair, turning on the small, ancient TV the rangers had in their station. The picture was all right, and he was able to catch the closing scenes of some super soapy soap opera.
A shadow passed over the window of the small station. Miles flicked his eyes up. "What the..." he muttered, getting to his feet. He leaned over and opened the glass of the small opening, listening closely. There was only silence.
However, a few seconds later, there was a quick snap. His eyebrow arched in curiosity, Miles closed the small grate and went to the door, opening it up. He stepped outside and flicked on the flashlight he kept hitched on his belt. He shined the light around the woods, keeping his eyes peeled for anything. "Hello?" He waited a few seconds before adding, "Is anyone out there?"
There was no answer, only silence. He shrugged his shoulders, turning back to the small outpost. As he reached the door, several twigs and leaves snapped and crunched in rapid succession. He spun around, flipping his flashlight on again. Still, nothing.
He cursed himself for being so jumpy as he turned back and walked into the small outpost. He shut the door and locked it, sitting down to view the remaining moments of the show on the vintage television.
The thoughts of the incident he had experienced were drifting from Miles's mind as a crime drama was opening up on the TV. As he sat back in his chair, reaching for the bottle of water he kept to his side, Miles heard a faint scratching at the door, then a rattle of the doorknob.
Miles leaned forward, sitting his bottle down. He got up and unlatched the case where the scoped rifle was resting in the small station. He opened the door and hissed, "Who's out there?!"
More twigs snapped. Miles twisted his mouth into a snarl as he removed the rifle from the rack, stepping outside. He cocked the rifle once, leveling it. If anything came at him, he was ready to fire.
Several moments passed before Miles lowered the rifle and calmed himself. He let out a sigh as he turned walked into the outpost. As he laid the rifle down and went for the doorknob, he heard the shuffling of feet behind him and, before he could even turn, he knew that it was too late.
A sharp object punctured his back and he let out a shriek, sending a fist out behind him. As he spun, Miles felt the weapon tear from his back, watching the silhouette of blood spray across the door. He slumped down, engulfed in pain, while he glanced up and saw a shadowy figure rush him, plunging the knife down. And down. And down. And down.
With each stab Miles let out a scream of pain as he lost more and more blood. Within ten seconds, the ranger was on the ground.
+ + +
Jack and Emilia walked, hand in hand, down the leaf-covered trail. They were both laughing at a story they were recalling from the final week of school. "Only JJ could be so crazy as to say random comments like that in class," Jack said, shaking his head.
Emilia nodded her agreement. "Although I think Nic got him back pretty good," she added as an opposition to Jack's statement. He shrugged.
"You got a point there."
They came to the top of the hill and looked down. The guest cabin -- used by rangers if needed -- was smaller than the main cabin; that, as Jack said, made for it to be better in some situations.
"I bet I could beat you in a race to get in it," Jack remarked, smirking. He knew that Emilia couldn't stand being challenged about her speed, having been on the girls track team in school for all of her high school years.
"Really? You're on," she shot back.
Jack got into a mocking ready position. "Ready?" he asked, acting as if he was in a marathon that he needed to win for some grand prize.
Emilia laughed at his imitations. "Ready...set...go!" Quickly, she took off down the trail, Jack coming up on her rear in quick succession. He had been on the football team since middle school, so he had more than made up for a good bit of running speed during his athletic training for the sport.
Emilia couldn't help but giggle at the little race that both she and Jack had conducted amongst one another. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her until she saw the stairs leading to the cabin's porch. With one swift jump, she brought her feet up and over the bottom step and landed with a thud on the wooden planks, tipping over slightly as she rushed to the wooden door.
She could hear Jack's heavy breathing and laughing mixing together as he rushed up behind her, his own feet thudding on the pinewood. She came to a full stop at the door and sent a hand to the handle, twisting it. As she did so, she realized she had fallen for Jack's little game.
"I said I could beat you to get inside of it," he said, chuckling with glee.
"You and your damned sense of humor," she tried to speak with venom in her tongue, but she couldn't get it to sound believable enough. Jack laughed as he reached to the key to the guest cabin in his pocket. He reached up and slipped the key into the lock, turning it. Before he opened the door, he pressed his full weight against Emilia, finding her mouth with his own.
Jack gripped his girlfriend's hips with his hands, holding to her as he kissed her for several seconds. As he pulled away, Emilia gave him a satisfied grunt, smirking. "Not too bad," she said, wrapping her arms around his neck.
"It shouldn't be. I've had practice."
Emilia offered up a slightly fake laugh, wondering how much of the practice had been given to him from her. She pushed the thoughts aside from her mind as she stepped from the door. Jack opened it up and led the way inside, flipping the light switch on.
As they both stepped inside, Emilia let out a sigh of relief. "Finally, inside. The heat is killing me," she said, fanning herself with her hand. She walked over and flopped onto the couch. Jack nodded, pulling his thin jacket off of his body. He tossed it into a leather chair, stretching.
"Me too. I wonder if there's anything good stocked in here," he commented, stepping to a wooden cabinet, opening it slowly. "Cereal...chips...cookies...ugh, nothing good." He went to the fridge and opened it to the delight of finding a few cans of Coke inside. He picked two of them up and went over to the couch, sitting down beside Emilia. Both popped open their sodas and leaned back, taking deep, refreshing drinks from each of their cold beverages.
Jack let out a sigh. "So, how'd you like the place?" he asked.
Emilia nodded, finishing her sip of soda. "I like it. Very nice, well kept, small and concealed..."
"...cozy," Jack added, smiling.
"Cozy," Emilia agreed. Jack sat his Coke down and leaned forward, kissing Emilia once again. She sat her own drink down and leaned into the kiss before they broke apart. "And very nice." The two leaned forward once again, embracing passionately.
+ + +
The shadowy figure pulled the ranger's dead body behind him, by one leg. Brandon Miles's back had been sliced up badly from the cuts it had received, but that wasn't the worst of the damage done. His face had been horribly mutilated, unlike any horror that the murderer had committed before.
And he had done some dark things before in his past.
He pulled the body to the edge of the lake, reaching down and picking the corpse up in both arms. With one swift toss, he sent the dead man into the body of water, watching as it was soaked in the liquid and drifted further down the pond, disappearing into the dark shadows cast by the overhanging trees.
The murderer let out a light chuckle as he turned, walking away. He then began to whistle quietly, spinning a bloodied knife in his hand.
FIVE | A Good Night's Rest Edit
John let out a sigh. His ankle was feeling well again, after he soaked it in the bathtub. It was swollen a little bit, but nothing that wouldn't heal in time. The group already inside the cabin had welcomed the Acachallas warmly, and they were soon all seated on either the chairs in the sitting room or on the floor.
Spencer, the moment he had entered the door, was blabbering about his newest items he gained in World of Warcraft. It took nearly an hour for Sue to explain to him that they had no Internet access in the cabin, so the youngest Acachalla had gone to the lower levels of the cabin, presumably to pout.
"Either that or he's planning on creating his own Wi-Fi signal down there," Billy had joked.
"What do we have to eat?" John asked. "I'm starving."
Johnny snorted. "How can you think about food? We ate just before we left."
His best friend shrugged. "I dunno -- something about walking makes me hungry."
Before Johnny could shoot back a smart retort, Colon blurted out, "I'm hungry too! Come on, Spooker, let's go check out the cabinets in there and see what we've got."
Both friends got up and rushed into the kitchen. As the group heard them slamming the cabinet doors and eventually make their way to the fridge, Katrina piped up. "I wonder where Jack and Emilia are at."
"They must've found the guest cabin," Mary said.
"Well," Johnny started, "I guess we can expect them back late."
Mary rolled her eyes. "Johnny..."
The British teen stuck his hands out. "Well it's true! Look, we're talking about Jack Gordon. He's not gonna just go into a private house with his girlfriend and look around for snacks or something." He looked to Katrina to bring her into the conversation, but when he saw the look on her face, he decided not to. "I don't know, maybe they'll be back early. I personally could care less."
"That goes for me too," Katrina muttered with a grunt. John shifted uncomfortably.
"Anyways...what do we have planned for tomorrow?"
Sue shrugged. "Didn't their website say they've got a shooting range somewhere on a trail?"
"I think so," Billy said.
"We could just go walking," Maddie said. She turned her eyes to Billy. "In pairs or something." The second oldest of the Acachalla children glanced to her before clearing his throat.
"I...I think I like the idea of shooting guns. Papa's been helping me out with my aim a lot!"
Sally groaned. "I sort of feel just like staying here." She turned to Aaron, who was sitting on the floor with his back against the side of the chair. "What do you wanna do?"
Aaron shrugged. "Whatever you guys decide on is fine with me."
"Let's go swimming!" Colon yelled from inside the kitchen.
John mumbled, "How did he hear us?" Johnny mouthed an "I don't know" back to him before calling back.
"I didn't think about swimming. I left my bathing suit at home. Anyways, I get sunburned easily! My skin is very pale, if you haven't noticed!"
"You just need more sun!" Colon yelled again. "And anyways, I have an extra pair of swimming trunks. You take 'em!"
Johnny turned and looked to each of his friends. "What do you guys think? Do you wanna swim?"
John shrugged. "Sounds good to me. I just hope there aren't any crocodiles in the lake," he said, half joking.
"That would be nearly impossible," Spencer spoke with a lisp, coming from downstairs. He leaned against the wall. "American crocodiles are not native to North Carolina. Alligators, on the other hand, still frequent lakes and ponds."
"Great," Johnny said slowly. "I feel so much safer."
Spencer ignored his comment. "Does anyone feel up to playing Dungeons and Dragons with me? No Internet is available, so I must resort to means concerning lesser technology."
"I think I'll pass," Sue said, looking to his younger brother. "And I think I speak for everyone else," he added. The others in the room all nodded very quickly.
"Very well," Spencer replied. "I shall combat myself in this battle of wits and wisdom." He turned and went down the stairs, taking two at a time. As he closed the door to the bottom floor, all of the older teens chuckled, humored by his actions.
+ + +
Jack opened the cabin's door. A chilly breeze blew through the small house. "Woah...it got really cold," he commented. Emilia shivered, standing up.
"Yeah," she agreed. She pulled on her coat and handed Jack his. As he pulled it on, he kissed her once more before leading the way out the door, pulling it closed behind him. With a turn of the key he locked it and was on his way, walking hand-in-hand with Emilia down the trail.
As they walked, the cool wind brought leaves up off of the ground and wisped them around the air. The pine needles and leaves crunched under their feet as they walked down the path. Emilia stopped in mid-step, letting go of Jack's hand. He stopped as well, two feet ahead. He turned back to look at her. "Em? What is it?" he asked.
Emilia shook her head. "I -- I don't know." She turned and looked over her shoulder. "I just have the strangest feeling...like we're being followed."
Jack chuckled. "Hey, don't pay it any mind. You're probably just paranoid." He stepped back to her and wrapped one arm around her shoulders, pulling her against his side. They started walking again. "Besides, who wouldn't want to follow you? You're beautiful."
Emilia blushed as they both walked. While they moved down the path, they heard a soft rustling of leaves on the trail behind them. This time, Jack stopped first. "Now don't tell me that's paranoia," Emilia shot at him. Jack shook his head.
"I'm not saying anything," he said, watching with open eyes on the trail behind them. In the distance, a wolf howled deeply. More leaves rustled.
"Come on, Jack. I want to get back to the cabin."
Jack nodded. "Yeah. I do too." The two turned and walked down the path briskly, not losing any time at all as they stalked through the woods towards the cabin. When it came into sight, neither one had been happier to see a familiar sight.
+ + +
Jack and Emilia entered the cabin at the same time. "Hello," Emilia said, waving to those within the sitting room of the cabin. Jack nodded with a smile to the Acachallas.
After the two settled down, Jack said, "It's freezing out there. Do you guys mind if we get a fire going?" No one objected, so he got a few blocks of wood and sat them within the fireplace, setting it ablaze. As he leaned back against the wall, letting the heat of the fire warm him, Emilia sat down beside him, cradling herself against his chest. Jack reached his arm down, wrapping it around her waist.
"So, how did the guest cabin look?" Johnny asked.
Jack shrugged. "It was pretty warm and cozy. Small, but convenient. They had some snacks and stuff inside. Nothing too extravagant, but it's nice."
"Maybe we can go there tomorrow, after the swimming," Mary said, leaned up against Johnny's side.
"Swimming, eh?" Jack piped in. "Sounds like fun. Doesn't it, sweetheart?" he said, kissing Emilia on the cheek. She smiled, nodding.
Katrina rolled her eyes in disgust. "I don't mind telling you all, but I'm getting a little tired. I may hit the sack." John nodded, voicing his agreement.
"I'm getting drowsy too." He got up to his feet from the loveseat. Katrina, seated beside him, did the same. "Well, goodnight you guys."
Each of the teenagers exchanged farewells as they broke up into their appropriate sleeping arrangements. The girls filed out into each of the bedrooms they had chosen on the first floor, while the two Acachalla boys and Aaron all went downstairs to sleep in the second floor bedroom with Spencer. Johnny and Jack each sprawled out on their couches, while John laid on the loveseat and Spooker and Colon each took a recliner.
Before too long, they were all fast asleep.
+ + +
The shadowy figure stood outside, looking in through the window. The two girls were both lying down on their beds, fast asleep. The dark clothed man simply stared at them both. He reached down with one hand and laid a small, sapphire-blue rock on the windowsill before turning, disappearing into the shadows of the forest.
SIX | Lake Edit
Katrina got up with a yawn, stretching her arms out. Mary was asleep on the next bed over, still wrapped tightly around her pillow. Katrina smiled, ruffling her head of long, dark hair. She pulled her feet from the bed, placing them down onto the cool planks of wood making up the floor.
As she got to her feet, she looked down to the clothes she was currently wearing, a pair of athletic shorts that stopped at her thighs and a pitch black t-shirt. This should be fine, she decided with a shrug, moving to the bedroom's door. She cracked it open and stepped outside, closing the door behind her. As she walked deeper into the sitting room, she looked and saw Johnny, John, Colon, and Spooker all fast asleep on their appropriate places of rest.
She began to wonder where the missing sleeper was at when all of a sudden...
"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Jack's voice sounded softly from the kitchen.
Katrina bit her lip as she turned around, finding herself looking at the smirking face of her ex-boyfriend. "Hello Jack," she said, a hint of venom in her half-British, half-American voice. She offered a fake smile. "Sleep well?"
Jack, holding a glass, nodded. "Yep, pretty good." He looked her up and down. "You look good." With a slight chuckle, he said, "I mean, you look like you slept good."
"Slept well," Katrina corrected, ignoring Jack's intended meaning. "And yes, I did, thank you for noticing." She took slow, careful steps towards the bar where a jug of orange juice and a bottle of some alcohol -- How did that get here? -- were resting.
"What would you like to drink?" Jack asked. Katrina reached past the alcohol and grabbed the carton of juice and poured it in a red plastic cup. She turned without looking at him and walked to the living room, sitting down on the brick fireplace, taking a deep drink of the orange juice.
Jack shook his head, still smiling, as the other bedroom door opened up. Emilia, Sally, and Maddie all walked out together, hair a mess on each of their heads. Each of the teenagers already awake exchanged greetings. They quickly began to discuss the dreams each of them had had, from Emilia's readiness to go swimming to Sally's hopes that it would rain for a full day sometime.
Before too long, the rest of the teens were soon waking up as well. After everyone said hello and embraced their appropriate significant others, Katrina announced that she was going to go ahead and take her shower. Spooker got up quickly. "I call dibs on the second bathroom," he yelled excitedly.
"Yo, man, why are you in such a rush to get ready?" Colon asked, quizzically looking up to his best friend. Spooker shrugged.
"I dunno. I just like to be ready before everyone else."
No one argued with the two, so they went downstairs with their changes of clothes and each entered the bathroom they had chosen.
Katrina sighed, placing her set of clothes on the counter. She looked at herself in the mirror, mussing up her hair as she turned to the shower. Pulling her shirt off of her body, she yanked the shower curtain back -- and let out a scream.
In moments, fists were banging on the door. "Katrina?" "Katrina!?" "Katrina!!"
Yells filled the house in seconds. "C-come in," Katrina got out, sunk back against the corner wall of the bathroom. The door flung open and John, Jack, and Mary all entered first. All eyes -- both from inside and outside of the bathroom -- were trained on her.
"What happened?" John asked, getting on his knees at her side. Mary got down too, wrapping an arm around her friend.
Katrina pointed up to the shower. Johnny turned first, uttering a curse as he saw the crimson writing on the wall, reading the writing:
I'M COMING FOR YOU
Katrina wiped her eyes as John rubbed her back and Mary patted her.
"W-who could have written that?" Aaron stuttered. Johnny stepped over the edge of the tub and into it, sticking his index finger into the substance smeared on the wall.
"Johnny!" Mary snapped.
Johnny shrugged. "What? I've gotta figure out what it is."
"Well...is it?" Billy asked.
"Is it what?"
"Blood!" Spencer shouted for his brother.
"Oh," Johnny spoke softly. "Well...I can't tell for sure. It certainly looks like blood, but it doesn't necessarily smell like it. And I'm not about to lick it and taste it to find out what it is exactly. One of you can do that if you're desperate enough."
"I'll pass," Jack said in awe, speaking for all of those present.
Katrina slowly got to her feet. "I...I'm sorry. I guess I overreacted. It wasn't much of anything," she said, offering up a fake smile.
The others all smiled back, although they couldn't say for sure whether or not it was something to be worried about or if it wasn't that big of a deal. "I guess we'd better get those showers," Spooker said, to which Johnny nodded and quickly cut on the shower, washing the red writing off of the wall.
+ + +
Everyone had taken a shower except for Mary and Johnny. John, Jack, Spooker, Colon, Sue, and Emilia were all standing outside -- the others were all waiting inside. As they stood there, speaking amongst themselves, Jack began to laugh quietly. The others all exchanged glances and finally John asked, "What's so funny?"
Jack stopped laughing. "I was -- I was just thinking about the whole Katrina thing." He laughed again.
"What's so funny about that?" Sue asked.
Jack shook his head. "You guys -- you guys didn't really fall for that, did you?"
John slowly got his back from off of the side of the cabin. "Wait...you mean that you wrote that stuff on the wall?"
"Well...yeah. What's the big problem, John? It was hilarious."
"I...I don't think it was that funny," John said under his breath.
"What was that? Huh? What'd you say, lover boy?" John's cheeks lit up red.
"W-what do you mean?"
"You know what I mean," Jack said, stepping closer to John. "It's pretty obvious how you feel about Katrina, man."
"Of course, John!"
"But I...I just don't find it that funny. She was hurt by it. Whenever something hurts someone, it isn't funny, Jack." His voice was taking a serious tone. A hint of anger was in it somewhere.
Jack shook his head. "I can't believe this. It was just a joke, John, nothing to get uptight about."
"Just...just don't mess with her anymore. I...I mean it," John said firmly. "Don't hurt her again."
Jack shrugged. "Sure. Whatever."
The six stood in silence until John said, "I think I'll go inside." He eyed Jack cautiously. "The others need to know all about this." He strode into the cabin, leaving the others all alone.
+ + +
As expected, nearly everyone agreed with John that Jack's joke wasn't the best. Katrina huffed and got up, going to be alone for several minutes before returning. "So, what are we planning on doing today?" she asked when she returned, acting as if nothing had happened. Jack, Emilia, Sue, Spooker, and Colon all reentered the cabin, and Katrina acted as if she hadn't noticed that Jack had entered with the others.
"I think we had decided on swimming," Mary replied. Katrina nodded.
"Sounds good," she said. "Do we want to do that now, or should we do it later?"
"Now is as good a time as any," Jack cut in with a smile after several moments of silence. "So much for getting into this clothes I guess!"
The teens all went and changed into their bathing suits. Spencer refused to take off his shirt, saying that the brightness of his skin would blind all those present at the lake. The girls all had longer t-shirts covering their bathing suits, while the boys all had t-shirts or tank tops on.
"So, are we ready?" Johnny asked. Everyone said they were, so they stepped out the cabin door.
"Let's put the key under the mat," Katrina suggested, motioning the welcome mat on the ground outside the door. "That way, if someone gets here before everyone else, they can go on in and not have to wait for the key to come along."
"Good idea," Johnny said, sticking the door's key under the mat. "All right. Let's get going, shall we?"
+ + +
The lake shimmered before all of the teens, allowing many of them to let out sighs at the beauty of the body of water. "That...is...beautiful," Mary muttered. The others nodded their agreement.
"I bet it feels beautiful, too. Let's go!" Spooker shouted, taking off down the path. Colon shook his head, running after his best friend. Emilia turned and tugged on Jack's arm.
"Come on," she said, and Jack nodded, pulling his shirt off as they both ran to the edge of the lake.
The others all moved at a slow pace after them. When they got to the lake, Spooker, Colon, and Jack were all already in the water. Emilia was shedding her t-shirt. "Wow," Jack jokingly remarked as she stepped into the water, smiling.
She shook her head. "Shut up," she shot back before he reached out and grabbed her hand, pulling her reluctantly into the water. "No, Jack, do-!" she started, only to be cut off as she was splashed into the water.
Jack let out a loud laugh, as the others all chuckled as she pushed the wet strands of hair from her eyes. "You aren't funny," she said, trying to sound pouty.
Jack let out a mocking "aw" before leaning forward, kissing her deeply.
The others all took off their shirts and jumped into the body of water. Sue let out a sigh as he leaned back. "This feels great," he said. "I could stay in here all day."
"Be my guest," Jack replied. Further down the lake, Spooker was attempting at floating, failing miserably. Colon shook his head as Emilia moved closer to them.
Spooker glanced to her. "Oh. Hi Emilia." She nodded back and greeted him.
"What's the problem?"
"I can't get myself to float," Spooker replied. "I just can't grasp it."
Emilia placed a hand on his wet back. "Here, just lean back casually and calmly. Don't force yourself on top of the water -- just let yourself go."
Spooker's breath caught in his throat as he leaned back, exhaling slightly. Moments passed before Emilia removed her hand from his back. He lay there for several seconds, letting his eyes flutter closed. "Wait a minute -- hey! I'm floating! I-I'm really doing it!"
"You don't say," Colon muttered, chuckling.
Aaron stepped into the water slowly. "Oh, I hate swimming."
"Really? Why?" John asked.
"Well, not swimming, just getting into bodies of water like lakes and stuff. I just hate the feeling of the mud and dirt all squishing against your feet and between your toes -- and you also never know what's in the water."
Spencer, waist-deep in the water, froze. He peered through the murky liquid. "Thanks for nothing. Now I fear that a sea creature may drag me into the dark underbelly of this lake!"
The others in earshot all laughed. Sally looked down to her feet. "Now my feet feel weird." She playfully socked Aaron's arm. "Thanks for nothing. Now your philosophy of lakes is making me feel awkward."
Aaron shrugged. "Hey, it's not my fault."
+ + +
For nearly an hour, the teens all played various games in the water -- Marco Polo, among others. Aaron and Sally announced that they planned to take a walk around the lake and in neighboring areas. As the two got out of the water, they dried themselves off before picking up their shirts and putting them on over their bodies. Hand in hand, they walked off on the edge of the lake.
Currently, four of the guys were having a chicken fight, with Colon on Spooker's shoulders and John on Johnny's. Amidst the water wrestling, they were debating on how hard it'd be for more than two teams to participate.
"Not that hard, I'd imagine," Johnny commented before taking a foot to the face. As he wiped his mouth free of any germs that might have been smeared over it, he added, "Just get in here. Let's see how it works."
Billy was soon put on Sue's back and Spencer was put on Jack's back. The four pairs of boys were soon locked in wrestling combat. As expected, Spencer was sent off of Jack's back first. Both of them went underwater. Those watching all laughed. As Colon quieted his laughter, he wasn't paying attention to his partner as Spooker shouted, "Colon! COLON!"
Just as the teen in question looked up, he saw Billy coming in and knock him down. Colon's foot swung up and smacked Spooker in the face, sending him down too.
"It's been an honor knowing you," John jokingly bode farewell to Billy and Sue. The two Acachallas went forward, and in a brief struggle, it was the two Johnnys who went down first.
"How in the actual heck did that happen?" John asked, spitting out water from his mouth.
"You let your guard down," Billy got out amidst his laughter before the hands of Maddie, Katrina, Mary, and Emilia sent both he and Sue tumbling down into the water. It was their turn to laugh now.
As they spoke of the match they just had, Emilia's smile slowly disappeared. She looked behind her, only to see nothing. She then looked down, realizing she was in the deeper part of the lake. Her feet couldn't find the bottom. "It felt like something just touched me," she said. Jack drifted towards her.
"Eh, don't worry about it. Probably just a piece of plant life or a fish or something."
Emilia's mouth twisted into a frown. "A fish?"
She quickly began to swim away towards the edge of the lake. "Come on, Em!" Jack yelled. "Fish are nothing to swim away from! They are just little things in the water, nothing scary or dangerous." He shook his head. "I don't know about you all, but I'm getting a bit tired of swimming."
Sue nodded. "I'd agree with that."
Johnny stretched out. "Why don't we go back to the cabin, then?"
"Let's do it," Jack said, swimming towards the shore. The others followed suit before drying off, putting their shirts back on, and then making their way to the cabin.
SEVEN | The Cave Edit
Sally and Aaron walked down the trail along the edge of the lake. The wind whistled bitterly. Confused, Aaron glanced to the air. “Is it just me or did it get windy all of a sudden?” After a few seconds, he added, “And darker?”
Sally looked up and saw he was right. The sky was a dark gray, the color of a dark cloud ready to unleash its watery vapors upon the world.
“You’re right. I wonder if it’s gonna rain…” Sally muttered.
Her answer came quickly. Raindrops started to patter on the cobble pathway, causing both she and her boyfriend to rush down the stone path, their flip-flops clopping on the rocks as they ran. As they rushed, Aaron pointed to a rock outcropping in the mountains. “Hey, I think I can see a cave up there!”
Sally let out a sigh of relief. “Let’s go for it.”
The two ran as fast as they could to the cave. The rain began to pour down as they ran to the small, carved chamber in the mountain. They came to a stop, huffing and dripping wet.
Sally let out a laugh, looking at Aaron’s face, plastered with wet strands of his long, dark hair. “You’re soaked.”
Aaron nodded, laughing. “I wouldn’t say too much.”
For several seconds, they stood there, catching their breath. Aaron cleared his throat and turned to the exit of the small cave. “That rain came on all of a sudden.”
“It sure did.” Sally stepped closer to him. “Maybe we’ll have to stay out here for a while.”
Aaron shrugged. “Maybe so.” He turned to her and slowly placed both hands on her hips. “I wouldn’t mind it, though. I’d be with you.” He leaned in slowly and kissed her deeply. Sally placed her open palms on his cheeks, kissing him back. After several seconds, they pulled away from one another.
Smiling, Aaron turned and walked deeper into the cave. “It sure is dark. I wish we had flashlights or something.”
“Um…cell phones?” Sally suggested.
“Oh,” Aaron mumbled. “How silly of me.” He reached into his pocket and pulled his phone out. As he tapped the button to ignite his beam, Sally did the same with her purple-cased one. The two looked on.
For several meters, the cave went on like normal. At the end was a narrow circle, which appeared to have been cleared of rock. The two stepped closer to it, warily. When they got to it, Aaron peeked inside. “What is it?” Sally asked.
“I can’t tell,” he whispered back. “It looks like it could be an old mine shaft of some sort, or just another cave. It isn’t natural, though—someone had to have made it themselves.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Wanna go down?”
Sally was unsure. “I don’t know…should we tell the others?”
Aaron chuckled. “How? We have no signal, and I’m not about to run out through the rain just to come back and let them know we’ve gone into a tunnel.” Without waiting for her answer, Aaron squeezed through the narrow opening.
“Aaron,” Sally pleaded in a whiny voice. “I don’t think we should go down there.”
“Come on, Sal, what else are we gonna do?” Aaron asked. “It’s pouring outside and it’s boring just to sit in the cave.” After several seconds of silence, he slipped back down the hole, leaving Sally to let out a grumpy sigh. Shortly after, she gave in and crawled down the hole after him.
After several moments of climbing, the two found themselves on the next level of the rocky terrain. “This is pretty cool,” Aaron commented, lifting his eyes up to look at the whole new area he had come across. “Come on, let’s go deeper.” Reluctantly, Sally followed him, looking about cautiously.
As they rounded a bend in the tunnel, they spotted a lit lantern sitting on a wooden table. The four-legged piece of furniture was obviously old—cracks split the wood in certain places, and it was clearly rotten. A map of what appeared to be the tunnel and its offshoots sat under the lantern.
“It looks like someone was in here recently,” Sally commented. Aaron nodded. He turned around and looked deeper into the tunnel.
“Let’s go down a bit farther.”
Sally gripped his arm tightly. “No, Aaron. I don’t feel comfortable going any farther. Someone else is probably down here, and we have no idea who he is or what he is up to—”
Aaron pressed her shoulder tightly. “Come on, Sally. It’ll be fine. I’m here with you.” Sally offered a slight smile as Aaron leaned in and kissed her lightly on the cheek. He turned around and let his jaw drop as he saw the horrible sight before him.
“Dear God…” he let out, looking in horror at the mutilated corpse hanging from the roof of the cave. The man’s head was missing, and gore was dripping from his severed neck. Both arms dangled down, and one was missing half of its fingers. Sally let out a gasping noise as she sent her hand to her mouth.
“I feel like I’m gonna be sick,” she groaned.
Aaron nodded. “Yeah, me too. On second thought, we’d better get out of here.” The two stumbled over their feet as they rushed to the hole leading out of the cave. As Aaron helped Sally climb up, they heard something—someone—walking towards them.
They both turned around and saw a tall figure, standing at the end of the tunnel. Something jagged was in its hand—a blade of some sorts, it appeared. Both of their mouths fell open. “Get going, now!” Aaron barked, pushing Sally up the hole. The figure stalked closer to them.
As Sally clambered through the hole into the entrance of the cave, the figure was mere meters away from Aaron. He turned around and examined the nearby rock wall, looking for any sort of weapon. A rusted pickaxe was leaning on the wall. Better than nothing, he thought, rushing to it.
He brought the tool up in a defensive position, but he was no match for the brute force of the towering person. He reached out and knocked the old mining tool aside. Aaron sent his arm up, his fist balled up, and swung it at the man before him.
The tall person pulled the old knife up, slamming it into his shoulder. Aaron cried out in pain as Sally yelled, “Aaron!”
He looked to her, tears welling in his eyes. “Sally—run!” She looked on in horror as the figure reached its hand up and placed it over Aaron’s face, glowing in a mix of black and red. Aaron screamed in pain as his face was engulfed in a blend of fiery colors, before the tall attacker’s hand exploded in flames. Aaron’s head was no more in seconds, and his body toppled over onto the floor.
Sally began to cry, panicking, as she turned and tripped on the rock floor. She stumbled to her feet and darted from the cave’s mouth, running for the cabin. She didn’t look back.
EIGHT | Repulsion Edit
Sue walked out of the bathroom, pulling a clean shirt down over his muscular body as he exited the small room. He quickly traveled up the staircase, being the last one to change. Everyone else was seated in various spots across the cabin’s sitting room.
“Sally and Aaron aren’t back yet?” he asked as he walked into the room, noticing his sister and her boyfriend were still absent. Billy shook his head.
“Nope. They must’ve found shelter somewhere else.”
Spencer groaned at his laptop. “I cannot believe that we have no Internet connection out here! Now I’ll never reach my next level in time to participate in the battle!”
Sue chuckled, ruffling his youngest sibling’s head of hair. “Don’t fret, bro. You’ll be able to catch up when we get back.”
He stepped to the wooden door to the house, glancing out. The rain was pouring down, and the two missing teens were no where in sight.
“Come on, Sue, relax,” Jack commented. “They’ll be fine, wherever they are.”
Sue sighed. “Yeah, I guess so.” He walked over to the group and sat down on the floor, arms crossed. “What’ll we do for now?”
“I have no idea,” Colon said. Spooker nodded his agreement.
“We could…tell funny stories that have happened to us in the past,” Katrina offered. She looked to John to see his reaction.
He shrugged. “Sure. Why not?” He glanced over his shoulder to Johnny. “Hey, Johnny, remember that time when we tried to prove to the whole neighborhood that one time that there was a mutated rodent living in the sewers under the road?”
Johnny smiled broadly, reminiscing. “Oh yeah…” He chuckled. “I remember that very well.”
Mary grinned. “What is all this? You never told me about a mutated rodent!”
Katrina’s mouth fell open. “I never heard of this either. When did you two find a giant rat?”
“Well, we were playing out in the street one day when we saw something pass by in one of those viaducts. It looked big and furry. So, as any curious nine year olds, we ventured into the sewer to find out what it was.”
“You actually went in the sewer?” Emilia asked, in shock. Her face was one of disgust.
John nodded. “Well…yeah. You see, it wasn’t one of those nasty sewers, it was just one filled with water.”
“That’s probably carried people’s sh…never mind,” he said, glancing to Spencer. He held his tongue and continued. “It sounds pretty disgusting, yeah.”
John ignored his remark. “Anyways, we went down there and saw something big and brown going down one of the cutoffs in the sewers. We were so freaked out that when we tried to run back out, I slipped and fell into the water!”
Several of the listeners made faces of disgust while the others—primarily Spooker and Colon—sat still, waiting for more of the story’s juicy details. Johnny chuckled. “Yeah, he smelled awful!”
“I’d bet,” Jack said. John ignored him again and carried on.
“Well, we went back to our parents and tried to explain to them how I was dripping wet and why it smelled like sewer water. We both pleaded with them that we were chased by a large rodent—which, some would say, was stretching it—but we kept on and kept on.
“Finally, Johnny, his brother Gavin, myself, and our fathers all ventured down below once more. We found the ‘large rodent’, which turned out to be one of those little capsule things that turns into something when it’s in water. Apparently, it was also one that grew larger the longer it was soaked, so it grew to a gigantic size.”
The friends all laughed. Johnny started up again. “There was this other time when John, my siblings, and I—”
Suddenly, cutting him off, the door slung open and Sally stood in the doorway, drenched in rainwater. She was panting, her face showing clearly that she was either distressed or worn out. “Sally!” Sue shouted, getting to his feet. He and Billy moved to her side, helping her to a chair.
“Where’s Aaron?” Billy asked her. Sally looked up to him before she fell apart, tears flooding her face.
“We—we were in a cave near the lake, and—and--oh, dear God!” she cried.
Sue exchanged glances with the other boys. “They must’ve been off in a cave doing who knows what and he may have fallen or something.” He nodded to Johnny. “Johnny, you come with me. We’ll go have a look. The rest of you stay here and take care of Sally.”
As Sue and Johnny turned to the door, Billy got up. “Sue. I want to come with you too.” Just as he was about to object, Sue smiled and placed a firm hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“All right Billy. Come on, we need to hurry.” The three threw on their jackets and rushed out the door, running for the lake.
They had no idea what they were in store for.
+ + +
Sue, Johnny, and Billy came to a stop inside the cave. “This must be the one,” Johnny said between gasps. The run had left them out of breath. “There’s no other in sight.”
The others nodded in agreement. “Then Aaron’s in here somewhere.” The three trekked into the cave, turning on their phones’ flashlights. They quickly came upon a hole in the cave wall.
After looking inside, Sue turned to the others. “I think I can see Aaron in there. He’s out cold, all right. He’s laying down on the ground.”
He crawled down, followed quickly by his brother and Johnny. The three gathered around Aaron’s body before their jaws all dropped. “I’m gonna be sick,” Billy muttered, looking in horror at the beheaded body of his sister’s boyfriend.
Johnny looked up. “Who could’ve done this?” he got out after moments of silence.
Sue glanced around the cave. “I have no idea. Whoever it is, I don’t wanna meet them.” He lifted his light up and saw another decapitated body, hanging upside down from the roof of the cave. “And apparently Aaron isn’t the only one that this has happened too.”
Shouts were heard from the cave behind the second dead body. The three inched back, slowly. “That doesn’t sound good,” Johnny commented.
“I agree,” Sue added. “I think it’s time that we leave.” One after another, the three exited the cave hurriedly.
+ + +
“He’s dead?” Emilia exclaimed.
The girls all were crowding Sally, comforting her. Sue nodded. “Yes. We heard something—or someone—further in the cave, but we weren’t about to go digging deeper.”
“Well—we should—I mean, I guess we’d better go and get help. Like the police or something,” John suggested.
“I second that,” Maddie said. Emilia grabbed her cell phone and dialed 911, only to be met with an endless buzzing sound.
“Well isn’t that lovely,” Jack muttered. “No signal.”
“We’d better go ourselves,” Johnny said, standing up. “Let’s get out of here. The sooner the better, I say.” The teens all rushed outside, leaving behind their belongings. In the situation they were in, they could care less about material things.
They all hurried into the three vehicles that they drove to the cabin in. The Acachallas and Maddie got into Sue’s car, while Johnny, John, Katrina, and Mary all got into Johnny’s SUV and Spooker, Colon, and Emilia all joined Jack in his car.
They sped off, one after another, towards the exit of the campgrounds. Johnny, in the lead, slammed on the brakes when he reached the ranger’s guardhouse. “W-what in the world…?” John asked aloud, looking in surprise up to the world beyond the gated camp area.
There was a coal-black wall surrounding the campgrounds. There was no escape visible to the human eye. Johnny cursed as he smashed the steering wheel with his fist. “Something doesn’t want us to leave the cabin. Something is toying with us!”
He flipped the hood of his jacket on his dark-haired head and quickly announced, “I’m going to let the others know that there’s no way out. If something happens while I’m out, John, you take the wheel.”
He quickly jumped out of the car before anyone could plead with him to do otherwise. He rushed to Sue’s car. The oldest Acachalla was already rolling down his window. “There’s some sort of wall blocking us in,” Johnny explained hurriedly. “There’s no way out.”
Questions were scrawled all over the look that Sue made, but he asked none of them. “What do we do?” he asked.
Johnny motioned back towards the cabin. “The only option I see is to go back and lock ourselves in the cabin for the night.”
Sue nodded. “All right. We’ll see you there.”
Johnny ran over to Jack’s car and told him the same. As he pulled away from the guardhouse and drove to the cabin after Sue, Johnny rushed to his own vehicle and sped away, following them.
None of them saw the dark, misty figure standing in the woods, watching their every move. He cackled wickedly before he fizzled away into nothing.
NINE | Calm Before the Storm Edit
The teens regrouped in the cabin. With no way out, there was only one option that seemed visible to them: stay in.
The door was locked tight and the windows were all covered in shutters. A search was made of the inside of the house to make sure no “unwelcome visitors” had made their way inside.
“It all looks to be under lock and key,” Sue reported as they all sat in the living room. The rain quietly beat on the roof of the cabin and the windows, resulting in a pleasant rhythmic clop-clop noise of the drops splattering on the surface.
Emilia was seated on the couch, curled into Jack’s chest. As they embraced, Spooker and Colon played the slowest ever game of go fish, unsure of what might happen next. Sally was still silent, in shock, with her closest friends and family gathered around her—all except Sue. He was standing by the window at the front door, peeking through the cracked blinds.
John and Johnny made their way over to him. “What exactly are we gonna do?” John asked. Sue shook his head.
“I have no idea. We can’t go anywhere, since that wall thing is around the campgrounds. And with no signal, we can’t phone anybody. Nobody even knows we’re in trouble. For all we know, the world outside of this camp could be frozen in time.”
The three shuddered at the thought of a world that wasn’t advancing. It was just so unnatural.
As the group got quiet, besides the monotone whispers to one another, the group was surprised to hear a loud thump, and then the shattering of a window. Everyone sprang up, silent as could be. Slowly, Sue moved towards the dark, shadowy cranny where the noise came from.
Of course we have no sort of weapon here, he thought to himself, looking around for any sort of protection he could use. The closest thing he found was a steel pipe stuck alongside the refrigerator, which must’ve been used as some part of the cabin’s frame that had fallen off and never been replaced.
Sue crept towards the window; glass shards were all over the floor before it. He stepped over them carefully and peeked outside the window. For a moment, he saw nothing. Then he saw a misty figure stalking in the distance. Sue sighed, turning around. “It’s all clear,” he called softly. The group quickly got to work boarding up the broken window.
“You tell me you have no reason being here?”
The tall, dark figure stood, towering over the exasperated old man. “N-no…we’re just here doing some landscaping work!” he got out, shaking in fear.
The creature let out a humming noise before he reached down, grasping the old man by the throat. He lifted him up into the air, resulting in a slight sound of quavering fear in the man’s voice. “W-what are you doing?!”
“If you have no purpose here, you mean nothing to me. Then, you are just a waste of my time.” His voice turned into a growl. “And I hate wasting my time.”
He squeezed tighter on the old man’s throat, allowing for the miner to let out a choking noise. “H-hold on!” he begged, causing the creature to loosen his grip.
“What is it?” There was venom in his voice.
“I…I can tell you something…” the old man finally said.
The creature smiled slightly. “I’m waiting.”
“We…we were sent here by a scientist…a professor…to find something—an ancient relic!”
The silence prompted the old miner to continue.
“Well, we found it—a blue orb, nearly crystalline in appearance! He told us to go further, to dig deeper—and when we did, well—you showed up…”
“Because you have awakened me, you fool. You’ve done your race a great disservice, but you’ve done me a great service.” The man’s face lit up in confusion, causing the creature to continue. “I can summon to my side any being from the Dark Dimension. Since you have released me, I can now continue with a project I started many, many years ago. And it is all thanks to you and your master.”
Before the old man could ask another question, the tall creature threw him into the rock wall, and as the miner clambered to his feet, the creature rested a firm hand on the man’s shoulder before ramming his other hand into the man’s gut, punching through the skin.
Blood poured from the old man’s torn stomach, and he was dead in seconds. The tall creature removed his hand from the corpse’s insides and let go, allowing the limp body to fall over. He turned and stroked his chin, ignoring the running blood on the cave’s floor.
“Now the time has come to continue with my mission.” His eyes glistened as he thought of the teenagers he had encountered earlier. “But I have something to deal with first. And it shouldn’t take very long.”
Nearly everyone was asleep. Emilia was peacefully lying on her bed until she felt a shifting beside her. She rolled over, popping her eyes open, only to see Jack lying their beside her. “Hello,” she mouthed quietly before he leaned to her and kissed her firmly.
After several seconds, he rolled back over and whispered, “I love you.” She repeated the same to him and the two kissed again.
“You’d better go to sleep. You need some rest for tomorrow,” she said.
He shook his head. “I can’t get to sleep. Besides, I’d rather be with you.” He kissed her deeply again. She rolled into him and pressed her body firmly against his, reaching her hands to his back and holding him tightly. He did the same, hugging her in a deep embrace.
One of the other girls in the room shifted, causing Emilia to pull her lips away from Jack’s and glance over her shoulder. “We might disturb the others,” she said, turning back to Jack. He shrugged.
“So what?” he shot, smirking devilishly. As he leaned in to kiss her again, she held up a hand to his lips.
“We’ll have more time together tomorrow. And we’ll be alone.”
Still smiling, he nodded and slowly got to his feet. “All right. I’ll be waiting.” She blew a kiss to him which he accepted graciously before stepping quietly away from the room.
Minor characters Edit
- Brandon Miles - a forest ranger in the Arabon Mountains and the first to be murdered
- Gertrude Acachalla - the adoptive mother of Sue, Billy, Sally, and Spencer
- Karen Evans - Katrina's mother
- Papa Acachalla - the adoptive father of Sue, Billy, Sally, and Spencer