The dark, musty room we were in wreaked of death and decomposition. The wood beneath our feet cracked with each step we took, threatening to give way. My heart was racing, pounding in my ears and choking my throat.
I reach towards the door with a trembling hand, failing to clutch the brass key. We all watched hopelessly as the key fell through the air, hitting the floor and clattering to a halt at the wall. Ashley gasped, catching her mouth with her hands.
Wasting no more time, I regained my posture and snagged the key from the wall. I was about to unlock the door when a high-pitched scream the next room over froze me. We all listened carefully for a moment as shuffling and muffled cries rang out.
"You WILL SUBMIT!" a thunderous voice boomed through the thin walls.
That was enough for me, and I slammed the key into the doorknob and flung it open. The door swung inside to reveal another dark room. A crack in the back wall allowed a sliver of light to shine across the tattered floor. Tiny particles of dust glinted and floated around the air inside, and swam away as we all rushed in.
The fowl stench grew stronger when we entered, making me gag and cover my nose. A motor sputtered, and a chainsaw began revving. My legs became wobbly and my stomach sank.
"Don't! Please! God please!" Hank's voice shouted, barely audible. I crossed over the room, feeling my way along the wall to make it towards the back. I turned to look back at the others, who were all paused in the doorway, listening as the chainsaw stuttered. Hank's screaming was fading away and turning into a blood curling gargling sound.
Ashley tried to walk inside, but her foot caught a loose board and she tumbled forward with a loud thud. I held my breath and pressed my back to the wall, hoping that the others didn't hear it. It wasn't until Travis crept forward that I realized the chainsaw had stopped.
Chapter 1: Picture Perfect
Point of View: Josh Redel
Pinewood and fresh-air scents from the forest lining the road filled the car as I rolled down the window. The sky overhead was a baby-blue, with a few fluffy clouds drifting lazily around the bright sun.
The radio was blasting music so loud I couldn't even hear myself think. It was getting annoying, especially after two hours of listening, so I reached over and twisted the dial down. Travis peered at me out of the corner of his blue-eyes, his short black hair was unaffected by the open window.
"Enough of that," I grinned, "Whole damn woods is running by now."
He laughed, "I bet they can't run faster than I drive!" he stepped on the gas-pedaled and the engine of his black-SUV whined. Ashley, the love of my life, leaned her face in between the front seats. I smiled down at her sea-green eyes and she smiled back. Her dark-brown curls were whipping around in the wind, dancing around her beautiful face.
"We'll, they'll be traveling a lot faster once we're dead!" Jenny, Travis' girlfriend, complained from the back. I flipped down the passenger mirror and glared back at her. She crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue in mock disapproval, staring back at me with her hazel eyes. She began to attempt pulling her black hair back into a ponytail, failing due to the wind.
"She was asleep for most of the trip," Ashley caught me staring. I snapped the mirror back up and returned my attention to her.
I tried to play it off, "With that music? No."
Travis spun the wheel hard to right, jerking the car down a dirt road that made the car bounce sporadically. Ashley jumped back into her seat and strapped on her seat-belt.
I gripped the handle above the door, "How much longer?" The rest of our group had already left to the campsite awhile ahead of us. Travis refused to leave a restaurant until he had finished his burger, putting us behind on the road. Thus, explaining his need for speed as he drove.
He shrugged, "Probably only about a mile…"
I leaned back in my seat, resting my head and closing my eyes. I remained cradled that way for the rest of the dirt road. For some reason, I felt very car sick.
Finally, I could feel the car slowing down as Travis turned us down another road way. I opened my eyes to a breathtaking sight that seemed to be taken from a movie. We were riding down a hillside, with a beautiful river down to the right that stretched for miles. It was about fifty yards wide, sparkling in late morning sunlight and clashing with rocks in the current. Across it was a rolling mountain, covered by leafy trees and evergreens. Lush vegetation filled the ground below, with colorful plants and flowers speckled throughout.
We reached the bottom of the hill, engulfed by trees as we pulled up alongside Zack's red truck. The ground here wasn't filled with grasses and plants, but instead it was nice soft dirt. In the middle of the campsite, Mark, Katie, and Sarah were trying to stand up a small white and yellow tent.
Zack walked over to greet us. His skin was dark, along with his short cropped hair. We always joked with him, calling him a redneck. Just by the way he dressed, with a wife-beater and camo-shorts. He was big and muscular, and used to play middle-linebacker in high-school. He could've got a scholarship, but ended up breaking an ankle before the start of his senior year.
Travis rolled his window down and high-fived Zack, "Nice spot! Your uncle wasn't kidding!"
Zack shook his head grinning, "Crazy-ass," he pressed his face to the back window and cupped his hands around his brown-eyes to peer in. "Jenny sleeping? What the hell?"
She yawned with a squeak, "No, just trying to."
Zack stood back and pointed to his truck, "I'd say you could just pull over there and park behind me."
Travis nodded while the rest of us piled out of the car. I planted my boots into the dirt with a satisfying crunch only nature could provide. As soon as I was out, I groaned and stretched my legs. A pleasant, warm breeze drifted through the site, sending a tingling sensation through my body. The temperature change from the inside of the car to outside sent shivers up my spine. Ashley and Jenny were already heading towards the others, and I followed behind them as Travis pulled away. I watched a vibrant red Cardinal hop around in a tree from branch to branch, chirping happily.
"Josh, what's up mate?" Mark called. Mark was Katie's brother, and to me, they looked so much alike. For one, Katie had big, light brown hair that she held up with a hair band and Mark had the same light-brown hair that he propped up into a peak. He always wore long-sleeved plaid shirts and jeans over his thin structure, even on the hottest of days in the summer, along with his sister who did the same. The weirdest thing about Mark was his accent. A few years back, he moved out to Australia to live with his Uncle after his parents kicked him out of the house. Apparently he had stolen a car and parked it in the garage…while drunk.
He dropped the tent poles in his hands to greet me, causing the rest of the tent to cave in and collapse. Katie held her hands up and stared at him in disbelief.
I took Mark's outstretched hand patted the back of his shoulder. "Not much, this is gonna' be great."
"Damn right, we're gonna' hike to the top of that mountain!" he pointed out across the river to the towering height of rocks and trees. A pinecone smacked into the side of his head and he flinched away. I backed away laughing at his reaction.
"Not if you don't help set this up!" Sarah yelled, making Katie snicker. They were best-friends, always trying to mess with Mark.
To explain Sarah briefly, she is a bitch. Her and Mark have been in an on and off relationship for years now. She was a flirt that would try to make her own boyfriends jealous, yet if she caught Mark so much as looking at a girl wrong, he was dead. Her hair was a dirty-blonde color, usually straight with a few curves and twirls around her face. She was bit out of uniform for the outdoors, with long black boots that hugged her legs to her knees and jean shorts cut just over them. A tight, faded-yellow shirt wrapped and her torso, revealing a bit more.
"Alright, alright…" Mark shook his head and obeyed. I don't blame him, she might be annoying, but she was also smoking hot.
Ashley caught me again, I think, as she slips up beside me. I wrap an arm around her and pull her in tight to my body. Man, what am I thinking? I'm holding the hottest girl alive in my arms right now! She looks so cute to me, wearing her outdoors attire with tan short-shorts and hiking boots. Her under-armor shirt was competing with me to see who hugs her tighter.
I smiled, happy to be in a place free of worries. We all need this retreat, after working so hard in our classes; it was overdue that we got some time off. If there was ever a place to get away from it all, it was right here.
Setting up the campsite took a bit longer than we had originally proposed. Unfortunately, none of us had ever pitched a tent before. So putting up four of them was a challenge in its self. Then we had to make a ring of rocks for the fire, and gather a bundle of firewood. By the time we finished, it was already late afternoon, so the hike up the mountain would have to wait until tomorrow.
Instead, we spent the day enjoying ourselves down by the river swimming and exploring. I walked towards the river with a towel around my shoulders and nothing on aside from my blue swim-trunks. I saw Zack perched up on a rock, watching the others as they splashed around in the water. I stopped up by him and sat down on the rock beside him.
"What's up, water too cold?" I teased. His shoulders were slumped over and he was breaking a small twig to pieces in his hands. He seemed startled when I walked over, but he quickly became happy again.
He shoved my shoulder, smiling, "Nah, I just don't feel like it…"
Sure, I thought, coming from the guy who always heads down to the wave-pool in the summer. It's obvious to me he is still recuperating from his 'recent' break-up with his girlfriend back home. This whole trip was actually planned for her, so they could get away for the weekend. I didn't know the girl personally, but I already hated her.
After a while of sitting in silence, I ask, "You still thinking about her?"
He sighs, a long drawn out breath. "Yeah, I guess so."
I shake my head. It was a nasty break-up, when he caught her cheating on him with one of his old football buddies. It sent him into a spiraling depression for about a month it seemed, where he acted so different. Everybody that came along on this trip was praying it would enough to get him over her.
"Well," I poked his ribs with my elbow, "How's about…sometime tonight…you crawl in Katie's tent…"
He can't contain his grin and he shoves me again, "Aw, come on now!"
"I'm tellin' you, man! She would love to date you!" I laugh. He laughs too, which makes me happy to see he isn't still too depressed. I guess because it's true that Katie would date him, judging by the way she always flirts with him and gives him signs. She even comforted him when he was down. She's pretty, with great big silver eyes that can make you melt. God, I need to stop checking out so many women. Luckily, Ashley can't read minds…
Zack perks up, "What the…"
"Huh?" I snap back into reality, following his gaze. His eyes are locked on the bushes to the left of the rock we sit on. I look all around, trying to make out what he sees.
"Hello?" he calls. The others continue playing in the water, either ignoring or not noticing our situation.
I shift my position to see better, "What is it?" I whisper.
He continues staring for a little while longer, before shaking his head and turning back to me. "Must be nothing, thought I saw something."
I chuckle in relief, "Well, there are deer running around…"
"Yeah, a deer," he says. There's a certain tone in his voice, maybe the way he says it, that makes it seem like he doesn't believe so.
Thanks for reading!
Chapter 2 coming soon!
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