Alright, so this might seem strange to you guys, but this is a collaborative story I did a while ago with a friend of mine, Anna. It’s meant to be horror, but has been infused by our silly humor. XP You can find chapter 1 on Anna’s blog here. You should probably read that before you come and read chapter 2. =P Enjoy. 🙂
Lance leaned back against a tree. He looked up at the sound of powerful engines. Chris and Cassie rounded a bend on their ATVs, random camping gear jutting out behind them. Rick, Roland and Samantha were still indoors packing bug spray and sleeping bags. India strode across the lawn to greet her friends. Lance joined the younger ones inside to help drag out all the miscellaneous gear his sister thought they would need.
Laden with an armful of sleeping bags, Lance and Rick rejoined the twins and India outside. Before long, the supplies were strapped onto the ATVs, and the campers were congregated in the field.
“Yeah!” Samantha punched the air as they entered the field. “We’re gonna see some weird stuff!”
“Maybe a werewolf will murder us in our beds,” Rick grinned.
“There can’t be any werewolves,” Cassie corrected. “It’s not a full moon tonight.”
Rick frowned slightly.
“Half werewolf then, I don’t care.”
“There can’t be half a-” Cassie sighed mid-sentence. “Nevermind.”
“Alright!” Lance called out, quieting the boisterous group. “I left a message with my parents. Hopefully they’re okay with this. But I promised them you’d all behave.”
“We’re not all twelve, Lance,” Rick said, winking at Samantha.
Samantha crossed her arms. “It was my idea!”
“I’m just saying,” continued Lance, “We all need to stick together and behave ourselves.
“Got it, Dad,” the twins said, rolling their eyes in perfect synchrony.
“C’mon!” Samantha started towards the curtain of trees. “Let’s go!”
Lance sighed and shook his head, following his excited little sister. “You guys can ride those things?” he asked the twins, pointing to the overburdened ATVs.
“Uh, yeah,” Chris rolled his eyes again. “We’ve handled rough terrain before.”
The twins mounted their dirt-spattered vehicles and fired up the engines. They flanked the group, one rider on each side. Slowly, the procession plodded into the dense woods. Thick underbrush scraped the hikers’ legs and hid the forest floor. The trees crowded in around them, making progress for the twins difficult. The belabored engines growled as they tore their way through the greenery.
In all her life, Samantha had only been out to the woods a couple times. Her parents were always concerned about ticks and the illnesses they could inflict. Samantha, though always the rebellious one, wore long pants, tall socks, and a thick layer of bug spray; her parents’ warnings had not gone completely by the wayside.
Lance shrugged his backpack, distributing the weight more evenly on his shoulders. The little light cast by the setting sun served only to illuminate a bare minimum, and he found himself hard pressed to lead the diminutive group on a straight path. Trees barred his way like silent sentries, their branches sealing the sky above him. The ivy snaking around his ankles snagged them ever so often, as if trying to draw him into some waiting trap.
He shook his head. It must just be me. No one else seems disturbed. Guess looking after Sammy is getting to me. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure his sister was still there. Samantha scuffed her feet through the brush, checking her sleeves occasionally for ticks.
“Okay, guys,” Roland stopped in his tracks. “I think we’re far enough out. I mean, we don’t need to be in the middle of the forest.”
“What? You scared?” asked Rick. “Word has it the strangling murderer lurks on the edges of the woods.”
“Oh…” Roland glanced behind the group. “I guess we should keep going.”
Lance eyed the setting sun. “No, here’s fine,” he said, throwing down his backpack. “It’s getting dark. We’ve still got a lot to set up.”
The twins dismounted their ATVs. Everyone gathered around the vehicles, which were a terrible sight, with old mud caked on the wheels and greenery jammed in the spokes. Chris complained.
“This ride’s ruining our suspension! What’d you guys pack anyway?”
Samantha began listing off everything she had stuffed into her bag and the twins groaned.
“We’re only staying one night,” said Cassie. “How many times do you expect to fall into the mud and need a change of clothes?”
“I only brought three pairs of jeans! And you’ll thank me for those hoodies later when we’re freezing in our tents.”
It took all seven kids until the sun had sunk to successfully rig the four tents in a sufficiently smooth patch of forest. By the time this was accomplished, they were exhausted and could just barely drag themselves into their sleeping bags.
“Did you check everywhere?” Samantha asked nervously.
India pulled the girl’s hair up in a ponytail. “There’s nothing there. I don’t even know that we get ticks around here.”
“You positive?” Samantha turned around. “I’m pretty sure I felt something pricking my head earlier.”
“Probably a branch,” India assured her, settling into her sleeping bag. “D’you want to keep the flashlight on?”
Samantha nodded vigorously.
In the adjacent tent, Lance was trying to sleep.
“We should’ve gone in further,” said Roland, sitting up in his sleeping bag. “I mean, we’re really close to the edge here. A lot of bodies were found near the edge. We could still–”
The worrywort was interrupted by a muffled exclamation of annoyance. Lance rolled over and shone a flashlight at Roland.
“Stop letting Rick get to you. Can’t you see he’s just pulling your leg? Now man up and go to bed.”
Roland nestled down and zipped the sleeping bag up to his head. Lying on his side, he stared through the tent window at their neighbors’, Samantha and India’s tent, which was glowing like a nightlight in the pitch dark woods.
A short distance off from Chris and Cassie’s pup tents, Rick lied on top of his sleeping bag, hands behind his head. The ominously dark canopy of leaves overhead and the eerie silence didn’t keep him from a deep and peaceful sleep.
The soft light cast by the girls’ tent faded off into the surrounding blackness. Though the stars above were working as hard as ever, nothing penetrated the onlyet of branches overhead. Air hung still and inky silhouettes loomed closer. Not even the cicadas dared intrude on this scene of solemnity.
Suddenly Chris sat up, sweat lining his brow. Something– something in the recesses of his memories was fading away, leaving behind a mere wisp of what had been there. Motion in the nearby tent revealed that he was not alone in his predicament.
“You awake, too, Cassie?” he called through the gauzy tent window.
“Uh-huh,” she said groggily, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. “Can I join you, Chris?” She crawled to the entrance of her tent and unzipped it.
As she emerged, Cassie noticed Rick was awake too, sitting and glancing around disorientedly. Cassie joined her brother, a worried look washing over both their faces as they sat in silence. India stepped out from her tent, followed quickly by Samantha, who was clinging to her hand. A commotion came from the boys’ tent as Lance tried to pacify a terrified Roland.
Chris peered out from the tent window, wondering why everyone else was up; it couldn’t have been anything but two in the morning. “Did we wake you guys up?” he called out, an unmistakable tremor in his voice.
“No, no,” said India slowly, joining Lance as he entered the confused group, leaving Roland to hide in his sleeping bag. “Samantha and I both had a nightmare,” she said. “What about you guys?”
“I don’t know what’s up with you pussies, but I’m only awake because the rest of you are storming my camp.” Rick forced a scowl.
The twins appeared amongst their friends. Chris drew a hand across his forehead. “I dunno about you guys, but I saw something that was really messed up.”
“What’d you see?” asked Cassie.
“I– I can’t place it,” he said, frowning distractedly.
“I’m pretty sure it was…” Lance paused. “Wait, what was it? I remembered! I’m sure of it.”
Roland’s head stuck out from between the open tent flaps. “I saw myself dead,” he breathed.
Everyone was silent.
“Well, I can’t say I experienced anything different…” Lance scratched his head. “I dreamed that I was stuck in my car, and the walls were closing in.” He shook his head, putting an arm around India. She shivered.
“Can we go?” asked Samantha, looking pleadingly at her brother. “I can’t sleep after all this.”
“We can’t go now.” Lance put his hands on his sister’s shoulders reassuringly. “First thing in the morning.”
“Aren’t you going to say ‘I told you so’?” Samantha looked up.
“It’s my fault just as much as yours. I knew this was a bad idea.”
“I don’t think I can stay here any longer,” whimpered Roland, pulling back into the tent.
“Can we just all go back to bed?” Rick said irritatedly, pulling the sleeping bag over his head. “You’re all being wimps over a bad dream!”
Quietly the campers filed back into their tents. Despite their anxiety, the rest of the night passed in peace, and when the sun rose over their camp, they were more than eager to make preparations for leaving. Hastily yanking down rods and bundling tents, the rattled campers wasted no time in loading the ATVs.
Just as they were ready to set out for home, Cassie noticed that Chris was missing. She wasn’t worried initially. He’d probably just gone exploring or something. Not like he’d be stupid enough to go exploring after all that, her subconscious told her. An irrational agitation seized her, and she looked around wildly. He wasn’t by their vehicles or helping with the tents; where could he have gone?
“Guys,” she called out, a waver in her voice. “Have you seen Chris?”
Lance looked up from tightening the drawstring on a tent bag. He glanced around briefly then shrugged his shoulders. “Nope.”
Cassie was panicked now. Her hair swam around her face in a blonde storm as a wind picked up around the dismantled camp. “Chris!” she called through cupped hands. “This isn’t funny– Chris!”
“I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” Lance said soothingly, but his actions betrayed words. “I mean, where could he have gone?”
The group waited in tense anxiety for a few minutes. Cassie paced back and forth, twirling her hair nervously in her fingers. No one spoke. No one knew what to say. In this uncomfortable silence, each meditated on the events of the previous night. It was unnerving that after such an eerie experience, Chris should suddenly go missing.
Finally, Cassie had had enough. “Guys, he’s probably lost, we need to go find him.”
“It shouldn’t take long to comb the area,” Lance said, peering into the thickly wooded landscape. “Rick, you and I should go. The rest stay by the ATVs.”
“I’m going with you,” said Cassie.
“Me too,” India said.
“Okay, we’ll split up, go opposite directions and meet up here,” said Lance.
“Wait,” Roland interjected. “You’re leaving Samantha and me?”
“Just stick with our stuff, and you’ll be alright,” India assured them, joining Lance.
Soon, India and Lance took off in one direction and Rick and Cassie took the other. Roland and Samantha guarded the ATVs in all seriousness, listening to the echoing calls for Cassie’s lost brother.
Lance was worried. Last night had been freaky enough, now someone was actually lost. He shook his head and muttered. Where could Chris have gone anyway? It wasn’t like he’d go wandering off away from camp by himself; not after their eventful night. He scanned the trees towering over them. Their tall, wooden trunks all stood stiffly straight, thickly ridged, sparsely leafed– all identical, he realized with a start. Quickly he threw a glance over his shoulder to make sure the camp was still visible. Samantha and Roland still idled by the twins’ vehicles, and he heaved a sigh of relief.
India stopped them. “Lance, d’you hear that?”
“I think so….” Lance paused and listened. “Chris!”
The lost twin stepped out from a thick coppice.
“Where have you been, Chris?” India asked.
“I was out here to use the bathroom, and I got lost. Was I away long?”
“Long?” Lance said incredulously. “You were away for half an hour!”
Chris thought about this for a second. “You serious? ‘Cause I just stepped out here a minute ago.”
“Never mind how long!” India said, grabbing Chris’ arm. “your sister’s worried sick!”
Retracing their steps, the trio returned to the ATVs, where Samantha was leaping and waving her arms excitedly. Roland just sighed in relief.
“Where were you, Chris?” asked Samantha. “Forget it; Rick and Cassie came through here, asking if you guys found him yet.”
“Which way’d they go?” Lance demanded.
“That way, I think.” Samantha pointed vaguely.
“Chris, India, you guys stay here. I’ll get them.” Lance jogged off in the direction Samantha indicated, certain he’d find the duo.
Trees whipped by in a blur as he sped away from the camp. Lance strained his eyes, staring at the trees ahead for any sign of the rescue group. Finally, after a minute and twenty seconds of running, he came to a halt, shoulders heaving and sweat streaking his face.
“Rick! Cassie! Guys, I found Chris!” he shouted.
There was no reply.
“Where are you guys?”
A mocking silence answered his question. Lance’s heart sunk.
“Lance!” Samantha’s voice echoed around him. “Come back! What’s wrong with you?”
“I haven’t found them!” Lance called, returning regretfully to his sister.
When he stepped into the clearing, he saw all six of his companions gathered anxiously around the vehicles.
“Lance!” Samantha ran up to him, eyes wide. “Rick and Cassie are right here. Why’d you leave?”
Lance’s head spun. Rick looked annoyed as ever; Cassie embraced her brother.
“Y– you told me they’d gone off looking for Chris,” Lance stuttered, a wave of vertigo overcoming him. He stumbled to the side, catching himself on a tree.
Roland stood up. “Guys, can we just go?”
“Sure– just give me a minute,” said Lance, leaning his forehead against the rough bark.
“You okay?” India approached him, concern written on her face.
“Yeah…I’ll be alright.” Then aloud, he said, “Sorry about that guys. Let’s get going.”
The twins mounted their ATVs, and the team began their trek towards home.
As the distance between their nightmarish camp and the group increased, their spirits lightened, and they felt more inclined to make little of what had been so terrifying at the time.
“No crazy badgers,” said Samantha ruefully.
“Maybe next time eh?” Rick grinned.
Roland’s eyes went wide. “Next time?”