The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep… and miles to go before I sleep.

-- Robert Frost

Jesse was sitting on one of the three picnic tables that were placed in no particular pattern under the pavilion. Across from him, sitting on another of the tables was John, his best friend. John and Jesse hadn't said a word in over forty-five minutes. They knew the consequences of talking at a moment like this.

Sarah, a member of their team, and also a close friend was sitting behind John with her back against his. She was etching three small, inter connecting circles onto the surface of the table. Sarah understood that they needed a little protection right now. She also knew that the other members of their team needed it, too.

Alex, Terri, and Erin had been gone for forty-five minutes. That was why no one was talking. They were afraid of what had happened to their friends.

" Okay, I want to know who told them?" John finally said, breaking the long silence.

Everyone just stared at him, aghast at the volume of his voice.

" Isn't anyone going to answer me?"

There was a long silence, everyone was just staring at the ground.

" If any of them were killed or, injured, I'm holding the person that got them into this, personally responsible…." Jesse added.

John nodded.

" Justin asked, I didn't tell him hardly anything… He just wanted to know what we were doing out here at all hours of the night… He was starting to figure it out on his own anyway…. I'm sorry, guys." Sarah finally spoke up.

Jesse and John just stared at her, not knowing what to say.

" Sarah, he doesn't know anything about what's out there! He's going to get himself, our team members, out friends, and us killed!" Jesse snapped.

John laid a reassuring hand on his friends shoulder, " Maybe we should go look for them?"

Jesse nodded.

Jesse and John left their places under the safe protection of the pavilion, and headed toward the woods that surrounded it. It was a hundred yards until they would actually reach the woods. Jesse stopped at the gravel road that surrounded the small patch of land that the pavilion sat on.

" Are you sure you really want to do this?" He asked John.

John nodded, as he pulled on a pair of black leather gloves. When he was finished he handed his friend one of the machetes that he was carrying.

John crossed the gravel and began walking into the forest on the other side of the road. Jesse finally followed him, he wasn't going to let John get eaten. No way.

" John, wait!" he called out, jogging after his friend.

Both the men began walking silently through the forest, side by side, barely breathing. There were crickets chirping in the darkness, and the sound of soft wind blowing through tree limbs.

" Alex?" Jesse whispered, as he stepped cautiously in the pitch black, " Alex, can you hear me?"

" Shhhhh!" John hissed, " They'll hear you."

" Damn it, John, I'm just trying to find our friends so we can get the hell out of here." Jesse barked.

John suddenly grew very still, the only sign that he was alive, that he even existed on this plane of reality, was a barely visible wisp of fog at his mouth in the cool night. Jesse followed his friend's eyes through the darkness.

Sitting in the dark, surrounded by undergrowth was a large human like figure. Jesse sighed a sigh of relief and started toward it. John grabbed him by the jacket and jerked him backward.

" Its Alex…" Jesse breathed.

John shook his head, " … No… Listen…"

There was a soft male voice floating through the air.

" Shadows, shadows, everywhere. Shadows floating in the air… Watch your step or you might fall, they want to watch you crawl… burning eyes, watching you, driving through you like a screw… The blessed hand can't help your fate, don't try to run , its far too late."

Both of the men just stared at the figure, both were paralyzed by fear.

The figure rose, and moved toward them. It stood in the shadows for a few moments, then stepped into the soft starlight.

In a long, slow rush, John let out his breathe.

" Jess, its just Justin…" John pointed toward the trembling figure.

Jesse too, let out a sigh of relief, " Man, where are the others?"

Justin shook his head at them in a disgusted manner, " You don't understand… They're gone… Just like you."

John's eyebrows dropped, " Dude, we're right here. And believe me, I know how to get back to the pavilion."

Justin closed his eyes and shook his head thoughtfully, " No."

There was a sudden gust of wind, with it, howling like the gates of hell had been opened. What looked like black waves rushed up from the earth, engulfed Justin, who began to laugh uncontrollably. As the blackness constricted, the maniacal laughter faded, faded, and faded… Then it was gone.

John turned toward Jesse, speechless.

" What the hell?" Jesse stammered.

" I… I… I think that they took him." John replied.

Jesse nodded.

Before they could turn away, soft breath began blowing down their necks.

" Alex, Erin, Terri, whoever, that's not funny…" John sighed.

A deep growl rumbled through them, then they were surrounded by darkness. Within the darkness, there was complete silence, not a sound except for two pounding heart beats.

The blast knocked the two men to their knees, and an immense pressure held them there, pushing them toward the ground.

Then there was nothing.

Sarah waited for hours on her friends to return from the woods that night.

None of them ever did.

Sometimes, late at night, when the winds is blowing softly, and the wind chime outside her window is rattling, she still thinks she hears it…

" Shadows, shadows, everywhere. Shadows floating in the air… Watch your step or you might fall, they want to watch you crawl… burning eyes, watching you, driving through you like a screw… The blessed hand can't help your fate, don't try to run , its far too late."