Secrets Under the Moon
Brittney H. Marinich & Hayley E. Cyrus
Laughter, wind, and the beat of a familiar song was what kept the road trip going so smoothly that afternoon. They'd been on the road already for a couple hours that day, crossing over into the West Virginian Mountains. Being that it was early August, the summer heat was alive and well. Both young women had barely anything on with the windows rolled down and the almost nonexistent air conditioner on.
"Hurry, Vae! Pick!" Lorie's tiny laugh was barely audible above the wind plowing into their ears.
"I don't know! I can't read this map," Vae replied through fits of laughter.
"That's because it's upside down!" Lorie was laughing so hard now that she had to pull over or she was going to wreck. The tiny camper attached to the back of Lorie's truck rattled as she crept down the gravel road up to an old, metal mailbox hanging from a pole in the ground.
"Where are we," Vae asked, looking from side to side. To the left there were just trees, and ahead there were more trees, but to the right there was a small beaten path that led to what looked like an old driveway.
"Well, we would know if somebody could read a map," Lorie joked and snatched the wrinkly mess out of her friend's slender fingers. She popped her thumb in her mouth and slouched in her seat. She always sucked her thumb. It didn't matter what emotion; happy, sad, thinking, angry, lonely, nervous. If she had an opportunity, that's what she did, and all out of habit. Most of the time she didn't realize it was there.
Vae reached behind Lorie and grabbed a jacket from behind her chair. She covered herself, even in the heat, and shifted her position a little. She felt watched. "It's really peaceful," she said quietly. "Kind of creepy, isn't it?"
Lorie nodded, half listening to her friend and half deciphering directions. "Got it," she exclaimed a few minutes later, the thumb falling from her mouth.
"Can I help you ladies?"
Both girls screamed and jumped away from the passenger door. Their seat belts didn't allow them to stray too far, though.
An older man, very tall and rough looking, stood next to Vae's window. He smiled a clean smile and wiped the sweat from his tan brow. "Lost," he asked, gesturing to the map with the nod of his head. His smile was friendly and warm to Lorie, but Vae was fidgeting uncomfortably underneath his gaze. He glanced toward Lorie and widened his smile further. "Name's Vince. Can I help?"
Lorie glanced down at the map and then quickly back up, not retaining any of its information. "Yeah," she said, tucking a strand of brown hair behind her small ear. "The last town we passed was, like, a hour and a half back that way." She gestured to the direction they'd driven from. "New Haven, I think it was?"
"We're on our way to New York," she continued, receiving a long, hard glare from Vae. "Can you tell us directions to the nearest gas station and how to get back on a main road?"
He shook his head as she finished. "The nearest gas station is back in New Haven. There isn't life on this road for another hour," he explained. "But once you get through the mountains it's only a matter of miles from the interstate, and then I think there's a gas station another hour down after that."
"Oh," Lorie said a little sadder and looked to her fuel gage. "I don't know if we can make it all the way back to New Haven on this much gas." She reached for her purse in the floor. "Do you have any gas cans at your house or something? We'll buy some gas and a ride to town from you."
"Lorie," Vae pleaded from the passenger seat.
"What," Lorie asked a little embarrassed that Vae was making a big deal out of asking for gas, even though she knew the reason why Vae didn't want to trust this man.
"The boys are running into town tomorrow to get some food and things. You're welcome to stay in one of the spare rooms at our lodge tonight if you like." He waved his hand toward the road on the right, half hidden by grass.
"That'd be great! Thanks so much!" Lorie started to drive where he offered, but Vae grabbed her friend's arm.
"Lorie are you stupid?" Vae noticed Vince had started toward the road. He paused at the mailbox noticing they weren't coming and waved them forward. "We don't know these people! For all we know they're cannibalistic incestuous freaks who prey on little girls!"
Lorie rolled her eyes and shook her friend away. "You watch way to many movies, and if you're worried about it, we'll just stay in the camper tonight with the doors locked and the gun my dad left us, okay?" She looked at her angry friend and noticed she wasn't budging. "Vae you know we can't make it all the way back there with a camper on my truck and that little bit of gas. We're going to need someone to take us to town."
Vae's hardened expression loosened slightly, knowing Lorie was right, but that still didn't put her anymore at ease. "One night," she demanded. "And you don't leave me alone anywhere."
Lorie smiled. "I promise."
Vae finally smiled, too, and rested her head on Lorie's arm like a child. Lorie gave the thumbs up to Vince and followed him through the thick forest until they finally found an opening about half a mile back. The lodge was built on the edge of a valley. Farmland was plentiful and used to its advantage. There wasn't just a lodge, though. There were little houses, too, but they were further back and spaced neatly apart. It was like its own little village.
"Are they Amish," Lorie asked.
Vae shook her head. "Are you kidding? Did you see what Vince was wearing?"
Lorie looked him up and down again, the basketball shorts and muscle shirt clearly weren't of the Amish type. "Definitely not Amish," she said, taking in the man's thick biceps and chiseled features.
Vince motioned for them to roll to a stop next to the lodge, and so they did. Lorie was the first to hop out of the truck and stretch. She bent over and touched her toes, letting her rather large butt show in her pajama shorts. Her chest might not have been as full as Vae's, but the butt that cheer-leading had provided her certainly made up for it.
"Vae," she called over the roof of the truck. "I'm gonna change out of these P.J.'s. Want to come with?"
"Way ahead of you," she heard in reply.
She heard the door to their camper slam and rushed over to join her friend. Just minutes later both girls returned in more comfortable and clean clothes. Vae was a little more modest about her appearance, wearing only what kept her cool. Lorie, on the other hand, let it all hang out. She wasn't necessarily looking to show skin, though she did enjoy the attention it brought her. She was more concerned with not getting awkward tan lines. She didn't want to show up in New York with a farmer's tan .
"You girls look well," Vince told them suggestively as he approached with a man they'd yet to meet. He looked both girls up and down, lingering on Vae for more than a moment. "This is Matthias. His father owned all of this," he rose and arm to indicate the land they owned, "before he passed away and gave it all to Matthias. I was good friend's with his father and we-"
"So to shorten your story," Vae interrupted slightly, "Matthias owns it."
Vince's expression dropped a little and he nodded. "In simplest terms; yes."
There was a brief pause. Matthias glanced from face-to-face, waiting for an advance from somebody. "Nice to meet you..." Matthias finally broke the silence by extending a large hand. He trailed off because he didn't know how to address the girls.
"I'm Lorie." The perky brunette took his hand and shook it firmly.
He nodded and then shifted his attention to the shy and beautiful Navaeh. He extended a hand her way. She only pinched his fingers and let him shake her hand once. "Vae," she said quietly.
"Well, it's nice to meet both of you. Anything that I can help you with?"
Vae shook her head.
"Actually," Lorie seemed to jump a little bit to the opportunity. "We have a little bit of laundry in the back. Is there somewhere we can take care of that?"
Vince touched her arm and seemed to pull her with his mind in the direction of the lodge. "I'll show you where the washer and dryer are." He smiled a sly, sinister smile.
Vae grabbed her friend's hand and pulled her back. "I don't trust him," she whispered in Lorie's ear.
"You don't trust anyone," Lorie replied. It was meant to be a joke, but Vae didn't see it that way. Her eyes shimmered and Lorie became instantly guilty. "You know I didn't mean it like that," she said urgently.
"I know," Vae replied half-heartedly and then followed to help retrieve laundry from the camper. "There's not much here. Do you want to toss in one load?"
Lorie nodded. Her attention was focused more on the wave of shirtless men pouring into the lodge as the sun was setting. She counted eight without Mathius and Vince. All were covered in sweat and testosterone when they climbed through the front door.
Lorie and Vae stepped in behind Vince. The hallway they entered was very wide and rather long, too. They walked down the hallway, passing what they assumed was the kitchen because of the clinking of metal on glass and the thick smell of chicken and rice.
As the three of them passed the archway that led to the kitchen and dining room, the loud dinner conversations came to an abrupt halt. Every pair of eyes turned toward them, even the two children in the back silenced. Lorie slowly came too a halt, causing Vae to walk into her. She looked from face to face, studying the blank expressions. Vae shifted uncomfortably under the stares, and even Lorie fidgeted a little with the attention.
"This way," Vince said, tugging Vae forward by the edge of her basket.
Lorie followed, glancing over her shoulder at the crowd one last time. Every eye still watched, but now there were whispers.
Vince closed the laundry room door behind him and patted the shelf above the dryer. "Everything you'll need is right here."
Vae nodded a thanks and lifted the lid to the washer. "I take it you don't get many visitors?" She raised a yellow shirt by its shoulders and looked it over before dropping it in the large appliance.
"Not usually. Especially none so... beautiful..." He cleared his throat and readjusted his basketball shorts.
Lorie stifled a giggle and reached past him for a scoop of detergent. "Thank you," she said in reply to his compliment. "Can we leave our clothes in here while they wash and trust our panties won't go missing?" She raised an eyebrow playfully.
He laughed and shook his head. "I can promise Matthias and I won't touch anything, but I'm not so sure about the other guys." He pointed back to the dining room with his thumb.
"Well, F.Y.I each pair is about five dollars a piece. So..." She rubbed her fingers against her thumb and smiled, suggesting that they give payment for anything they stole.
Vae swatted Lorie with a thick t-shirt and glared at her. She received a loud 'ow' in return. "Will you go for just a second," she snapped at Vince.
"A please would be nice," he smirked.
She ignored his attempt to be cute and folded her tan arms across her full chest. "Please," she said, dragging out the word as much as possible.
"Well, since you asked so nicely." He winked and then slid through a crack in the door.
Lorie smiled and continued on with her chore of dumping clothing into the mostly empty washer.
"What's wrong with you," Vae asked sharply.
"Nothing?" Lorie tossed the last article of clothing in and closed the lid.
"You hardly know these guys."
Lorie rolled her eyes and nodded. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cannibals, crazies, and what-not. Flirting won't hurt anything."
Vae put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. "Flirting suggestively will." Her tone rose a little at the end of the sentence.
"Vae, it's not like I was offering to take my clothes off or inviting them into our beds tonight."
"No, but you did try to sell our panties," she persisted loudly.
"I wasn't serious!"
"They don't know that!"
Lorie heaved a big sigh and pulled the knob out on the washer to start the water. "Vae, you'll be fine. I promise." She smiled apologetically.
"If you say so," Vae disagreed.
There was a knock at the door, then Matthias stepped through. "It's getting ready to storm, ladies. Are you sure you wouldn't rather sleep in our spare rooms tonight?"
Vae shot a warning glance to Lorie.
Lorie rolled her eyes playfully and smiled. "No, thanks. We'll be fine."
Matthias paused for a moment, a blank look on his face, and then nodded. "If you're sure."
"We are," Vae said quickly.
With a sad look, Mathius noted his time to leave. "Alright then." With that said, he left without anymore comments or suggestions.
"Let's go power nap," Lorie suggested.
Vae nodded, a smile creeping across her face again. "That sounds nice."
The girls left the lodge arm-in-arm, and climbed into their camper without paying any mind to the staring boys. Lorie quickly occupied the queen sized bed in the back of the camper and opened a magazine she'd already read three times.
Vae crawled over her and flopped down against the wall. It was quiet for a little less than a minute when she rolled over to face Lorie. She forced the magazine away from her face and located a pillow with her other hand.
"Have you noticed something about this... farm," she asked, tucking a strand of black hair behind her ear.
Lorie looked off to the side, as if the answer were written in the air somewhere. "Besides the endless line of guys with washboards for stomachs and tans like they rolled in motor oil?"
Vae laughed a little and nodded. "Besides that." She cuddled her pillow. "There are no women here besides us."
Lorie thought about it for a moment and realized she was right. Not all the men were young enough for Lorie and Vae to find tasteful. Some looked like potential fathers, and they had seen two kids. So where were the mothers?
Vae nodded and smiled successfully. "That just makes me all the more uneasy."
Lorie shrugged a little and tossed the magazine onto the floor. "It'll be fine. There were a couple kids. So that means there must be other chicks around here somewhere."
Outside the camper, a loud crackle of thunder shook the walls. Vae jolted violently from the loud clash, and Lorie flinched. In almost an instant, rain poured onto the roof, hitting the metal like bullets. The rain would grow harsh and then fade slightly, and then go back to it's previous roughness in a matter of minutes.
"Here," Lorie reached over her head and snatched her iPod off of the shelf. She handed it to Vae before wiping the sweat from her neck onto the collar of her tank top. She stretched her arm out and rolled open one of the back windows to allow more of a breeze, but without the air conditioner, the camper was really unbearable. "Vae," she said tiredly.
Vae pulled one of the headphones out of her ear and sat up a little just as another clap of thunder rattled their bed. She cringed.
"We have to go get our laundry later," she warned with an apologetic smile.
Vae flopped her head back onto the pillow and groaned. "I'm not going out in that," she warned.
Lorie laughed a little and sighed. "Whatever."
Within the next twenty minutes or so, the rain failed to ease. In fact, sometimes it felt like it was getting worse. Lorie set aside another magazine she'd found underneath the blankets and rolled onto her side to poked Vae. A headphone toppled out of Vae's ear and bounced of her shoulder.
"Vae?" Lorie wiped sweat from her forehead. Vae only sighed in her sleep. "Vae, I'm going to get the laundry." The sleeping beauty muttered something about flying with kings and queens and rolled over to face the wall.
Lorie snatched a pencil and piece of paper out of one of the cabinets and left Vae a note on the counter explaining where she went and when she should be expected back. She laced up an already dirty pair of hiking boots and slipped a jacket over her bare arms and tank top before jumping through the door.
The wind was cold and the rain was colder. She pushed the door closed against the wind and hurriedly made her way toward the lodge, holding her hood tightly on her head. Not sure if she should knock or just walk in, she knocked a few times and then let herself in when the lightening persuaded her. She wiped the very light coat of mud off her boots onto the rug and then proceeded to find her clothes.
The washing machine was still spinning when she opened the door so she sat herself on top of the dyer and rang her hair out onto the floor. Her curls had turned into tangles and caught her fingers as she ran them through. She scanned for a hairbrush or comb without leaving her seat on the counter, but with no success.
The buzzer on the washing machine rang a few minutes later, causing her to jump. More thunder crackled and she saw a flash of lightening through the small window in the back of the room.
"What are you doing in here?"
Lorie yelped and twitched. He had scared her. "Just finishing some laundry," she explained once she realized it was Matthias. "Sorry. I wasn't sure if anyone could hear me knock, so I let myself in."
"That's fine. I was just a little concerned. I didn't know who was wandering through my halls alone. There are a lot of horny men around here that you wouldn't want to run into alone."
Lorie laughed, but the joke faded quickly as she realized he wasn't joking. She quickly turned away, feeling awkward now that he'd been so blunt, and started transferring wet clothes into the dryer. She waited impatiently for him to say something to break the awkwardness, but it never came. "So..." She tried to start a conversation, but her lack of words was interrupted by a feminine shriek.
"Vae," Lorie whispered to herself. She ran out the door, knocking over her clothes basket, and pushing Matthias out of her way. He was much taller and faster than she was. By the time she reached Vae, Matthias already had the unfamiliar man pressed against the wall with his forearm crushing his throat.
Matthias was muttering threats to the man that the girls couldn't really make out. "Don't you ever... or I won't hesitate..."
"Vae, are you okay? What happened?" Lorie approached her friend cautiously.
"I was just... I came to find you and he was here... And I couldn't find you... And he tried to..." She shoved Lorie aside and rushed out the front door, bumping into Vince on her way out.
Lorie chased her out into the rain and nearly had to tackle her before she would stop. "Vae, will you calm down?"
"No!" Her voice was washed away by the beating rain on their heads.
"I told you I wanted out of this place! I did not want to stay here!"
"Vae, where would we-"
"We didn't have to stay here!" Vae wiped wet strands of hair out of her eyes and pointed to the road. "We could've walked to the gas station with a gas can for all I care! You know how I feel about men! You know exactly how I feel about being stuck with no way out!"
"It's not my fault you can't read a map, damn it!"
Both girls were flailing arms and pointing fingers. It was only a matter of moments before they had an audience. Very shortly into the argument, their faces nearly touched. Heat from anger radiated off of them like lava.
"Fuck it! I'll find my own way to New York!" Vae huffed and started toward what she thought was the road.
Matthias started after her, but Lorie stopped him when he reached her side. "Let her cool off," she said, all anger flushed from her face. "I'll go get her."
"It's not safe to wander in these woods. Take someone with you," Matthias warned, but Lorie refused. After a very brief argument, she didn't budge. "You'll want to find her fast," he finally said.
"We'll be fine," she snapped. She started after Vae, but first stopped at the truck and snatched the pistol her dad gave her before they left for their trip. She strapped it loosely to her side as she ran through the fog into the trees.
The rain wasn't as harsh under the cover of the trees. Vae had been wearing flip flops when she stormed off, so she couldn't have gone far. "Vae," she called into the thick blanket of white mist. She repeated the name several times as she twisted through weeds and maneuvered through thorns. After she'd gotten so far, Lorie realized that Vae wouldn't have gone this far on her own. If she was looking for the road she would've pulled either left or right a while back.
Lorie spun around and squinted through the slight drizzle. The only problem with knowing that now was that she didn't know which way was left and with way was right. "Vae? Vae!"
Lorie started walking in the direction of what she thought was back the way she came, but when she stumbled upon running water, she realized she was wrong. The stream was deep from the storm and moving fast downhill.
She knew the lodge was in the valley so she started downhill walking alongside the stream. Not long into her walk she heard a splash. "Vae?" She looked for that familiar long, black hair, but came up with nothing.
Lightning flashed, and the shock of light illuminated even the darkest corners of the forest. She saw a figure; tall, bulky, and so not Vae. She tilted her head and squinted, as if slanting her eyes would help her sharpen the features of the figure that was five yards away.
Feeling one last breath of hope, she tried one last time. "Vae," she shouted questioningly.
Another bolt of lightning rippled across the sky, followed by the loudest crash of thunder yet. A shiver ran up her spine when she saw the figure again. No longer a human form, the creature was hunched over and instead of facing her, was looking to its left.
Vae's unmistakable scream came from the same direction as the monster. Lorie fumbled for the pistol on her side. She eventually got it out of its holster and pointed it at the creature. She shot without aiming, missing so badly she might as well have been pointing straight up. Whatever was cornering Vae, was no longer interested in the weakest prey.
Lorie's shaking hand steadied when she took a split second to breathe, but now the creature was charging her. She took aim and quickly pulled the trigger. The bullet zoomed somewhere between the neck and the shoulder, knocking the beast on its side.
Lorie sighed in relief when it didn't move at first, but when she saw the shoulders shiver, her blood chilled.
"Run, Lorie!" That was Vae. Vae was alive.
It took her a second to process what Vae had said, but once it soaked in it was almost too late. Lorie sprinted into the water, stumbling over rocks and her own feet. The shin high water made it very difficult to run. Her boots slipped on the edge of a mossy rock, and she tripped, hitting her temple on the side of a rock. She cried out and flopped down into the water. The gun slid from her grasp.
Just as she was beginning to black out, she felt the warmth of human being press against her skin, and then she was moving. Someone was carrying her. Her head rolled to the side, and she then saw the creature at a dead halt on the other side of the stream. It wasn't advancing. She fought, but soon she faded off.
A/N: Yea... So it's been a while. The only thing I've really written in lately is With a Cherry on Top and I haven't even really kept up with that like I should. And I know it's been FOREVER since I even looked at Shooting the Moon. But I'm doing really well at keeping up with this story. But it's not just me writing it so that's partially why. One of my best friends - Hayley - is writing the point-of-view of Lorie's best friend, Vae. So each chapter will be a different character, different writing style, and different story really as we each take our own spin on their character's situations. It's really difficult keeping up with each other and making sure the other does what there supposed to. I'm definitely guilty for slacking (as usual), but she's keeping me on track. So hopefully you enjoyed the first chapter and you'll enjoy the rest of the story.