He woke up. He couldn't remember where he was or how he got there. He couldn't even remember who he was. He was just there. In the middle of nowhere. He was absolutely befuddled as he slowly stood up and tried to observe the view around him. As his mind cleared, he saw approximately eighty other people walking around in the place that he was standing in. Some of them were panicking. Some of them were crying. Some of them wanted to look tough but were really feeling frightened and hopeless. And some of them were futilely screaming for help.
He rubbed his eyes and thought back. He suddenly remembered. It was March 1, 2018. He was going on a field trip with all the middle and high schoolers in his school district. They were going to explore a supposedly lost city. But on the way there, there was an accident on the highway. The teachers were separated from the students, and the students were left in the woods in an uncharted area. He thought further and remembered his name. It was Ryan Rhodes. He was an eighteen year old senior.
"We are going to die!" Ryan heard someone yelling. His head was spinning, so he strode up to a log and sat down. As he rubbed his forehead, a teenage boy walked up and sat next to him. The boy had brown hair, green eyes, fair skin, a varsity jacket, ripped jeans, and worn out sneakers.
"This is so fucked up," said the kid.
"Well, duh," Ryan replied. "Even that is a bit of an understatement. Who knows there aren't lions and bears around who can eat us anytime? Who knows there isn't any poison that can make us gruesomely cough out blood and die if we so much as touch it?"
"Yeah. I'm George, by the way."
"Uh, yeah, so what's your name?"
"Not sure why you want to know, but it's Ryan..."
Another teenage kid sat down on the log next to Ryan. That kid had blond hair, blue eyes, leather shoes, and brown trousers. "Hey, er, I'm Gavin."
"Why are so many kids randomly introducing themselves to me?" Ryan complained under his breath. He put on a very cheesy smile. "I'm Ryan."
"No need to be rude, you know," Gavin responded.
"Whatever, if you're so desperate to crowd me, then go ahead. I don't give a shit," Ryan curtly answered.
Before Gavin could reply, another kid sat down on the log. That kid was younger than Ryan, George and Gavin. He had jet black hair, brown eyes, a leather jacket, and boots.
"Hey there, who might you be?" George asked.
"I'm Aaron," the kid said. "Who are you guys?"
"I'm George, this is Gavin, and that's Ryan."
Ryan rolled his eyes and groaned.
"What's wrong with him?" Aaron asked, pointing at Ryan.
"I don't know, I guess he's just cranky," Gavin said.
"This has nothing to do with being cranky. I just don't like it when people barge into my face like you're doing right now. That's all," Ryan said.
"Okay, geez," Aaron said. "So, do any of you guys know how and where to get food?"
"What kind of a stupid question is that?" Ryan snapped. "If we knew where the food was, we would be stuffing our faces right now. Are you just finding excuses to talk to me? Because if you are, then you've come to the wrong place."
"Chill, all I did was ask a question," said Aaron. "I'm not finding excuses for anything."
"Well, good, then," Ryan said in a rough tone. He got up and started walking away.
"Wait, where are you going?" Gavin called out.
"Um, where do you think I'm going?" Ryan replied. "I'm looking for food! I'm starving like hell!"
As he walked and looked around, George, Gavin and Aaron followed him. He made sure to carefully scrutinize anything that could be edible. Unfortunately for him, he couldn't find anything that was even remotely edible. He walked through bushes with berries. He sniffed the berries. They were rotten. He thought he heard some kind of animal scampering behind him. But when he turned around, hoping to catch and kill the animal for food, whatever he heard was already long gone. He saw a box of cheese lying on the ground. But when he opened the box, the food inside was rotten. He gagged and tossed the box away.
By the end of the day, he was completely worn out and exhausted. He couldn't find any food to eat, even in spite of his arduous search.
"Don't worry, we'll find food soon," Gavin tried to assure him.
"Shut the hell up. I'm trying to find a place to sleep," said Ryan. He squinted his eyes and saw a pile of hay in the distance. He ran up to it, fell on it, and closed his eyes. George, Gavin and Aaron went to sleep on the hay too, as the pile was big enough to fit four people. They were all asleep by midnight.
The next morning, Ryan prepared to leave without the other guys, but he was quick to realize something. Even though he wanted nothing to do with the other boys, they could still help him find food, protect him from danger, and be of great use to him in many other ways. He sighed and woke them up.
"George! Gavin! Aaron!" Ryan barked. "Wake up!" He kicked George. "Wake up!" The boys got up.
"Are we going to continue searching for food today?" Gavin asked.
"Yes, obviously?" Ryan answered. "Come on."
They carefully trod through the woods, once again observing closely for anything that could be eaten.
"Look over there!" Gavin exclaimed. The other guys looked up. There was a red shed half a mile away. They went up to the shed, and Ryan opened the door. The inside of the shed smelled like mud. There were knives, axes, hammers, baseball bats, frying pans and bow and arrows hung all over the walls. An enthusiastic grin formed on Ryan's face. He knew exactly how he was going to spend his time in the woods.
A group of freshmen were sitting in a circle next to an oak tree.
"I wonder if the authorities will ever find us," one of them said, pessimistic.
"I know they will. We are going to be found soon. Trust me," replied another person.
"I'm so scared, though!" another kid said.
Suddenly, Ryan, George, Gavin and Aaron popped up in the middle of nowhere and started beating the kids with hammers. They slammed the hammers down as hard as they could. Several of the kids spasmed before expiring, and several more quickly succumbed to their head injuries after being hit the first time. There was blood everywhere.
"Oh my God, that was dope!" Aaron exclaimed while giggling.
"That sure was!" Ryan replied. "We should try that again!"
"Guys, I think I just heard someone in the distance saying they found food," George said.
"Well, let's go then," said Gavin. The boys sprinted to an area where a crowd was standing. Ryan tiptoed to take a good look. There were large boxes of food - real food this time. There were even ice packs in the boxes to refrigerate the food.
"Finally! I'm starving!" Ryan yelled. He shoved many people out of the way and grabbed almost thirty full bags of vegetables and meat. The other boys went to get some food too.
"I can't believe this! I just can't!" George said, feeling overjoyed. "Now I know we're not gonna die."
"The food won't last forever, though," said Aaron.
"Must you ruin everything?!" Gavin exclaimed.
"Okay, sorry, I was just trying to be realistic."
The boys sat down on the same log they were sitting on the day before and ate. During their mealtime, the bliss of finding the food started to slip away from George.
"What's wrong, George?" Gavin asked, concerned. "You okay?"
"I've just been thinking," George said, "how do our parents feel right now?"
A feeling of strong annoyance at the mention of parents filled up in Ryan. He was stranded in the woods with no grown-ups or authority figures to watch him and spy on him all the time. He was free to do whatever he wanted to do. He saw zero reasons for George to ruin the fun by bringing up parents.
"Hey, how about you shut the fuck up?" Ryan rudely blurted out.
"What's your problem?" George said.
"Oh, 'What's your problem?' Look who's talking. Why would you mention anything that has to do with grown-ups, furthermore parents? All my stinking parents ever did was ask me how my day was when I obviously didn't want to talk about it, walk in to me when I was jerking off, read over my shoulders when I looked through my emails, and make me do stupid chores," Ryan pointed out. "So here's our deal: if anyone dares to mention anything that has to do with teachers, parents, or whatnot during this trip, then I'll slit your throats. Don't forget we have access to weapons now."
George wanted to argue back, but he was too scared to, so he went with the best option he had in mind, which was to keep his mouth shut and do nothing.
For the rest of the day, the boys did very little beyond chilling and hanging out. They swam in muddy water in the middle of the woods.
That night, as the boys approached their pile of hay to sleep, they heard two people conversing. They sneaked near them and eavesdropped while hiding behind bushes. The two people talking were Romeo and Estelle, two juniors who had been dating for a year already.
"I can't let you do this alone," Estelle said. "Let me go with you, please."
"No, I can't let you come with me. I just can't. It's too dangerous. But I've spent years climbing mountains and hiking. I know what I'm doing here."
"What's the problem with me going with you, though? You can always protect me if anything happens to me, right?"
"This is different, though. We are virtually in the middle of nowhere. I doubt I can protect you there. But this little area is safe, so you stay here in safety, and I'll go get the supplies."
Romeo left before Estelle could say another word. She buried her face and shivered. Ryan got out of the bushes and crept up to Estelle.
"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Ryan mockingly said. He whistled for George, Gavin and Aaron to come out of the bushes too.
From far away, the other students could hear Estelle screaming as Ryan and his friends cackled. The other students heard something unzipping before hearing another sound that resembled the noise of cloth being ripped in half. As they continued listening, they heard something that sounded like… humping? As soon as they realized what was going on, they wanted to go save Estelle, but they were far too scared to. They lay on the ground, frozen in fear. After some more humping and screaming, everything became silent before Ryan and his gang stepped into sight. George, Gavin and Aaron happily chatted while Ryan was still pulling up and zipping his pants. He was wearing a triumphant smile on his face.
"Let's get some sleep now," said Ryan. "I am goddamn exhausted."
The gang went to sleep on the pile of hay.
In the middle of the night, Romeo got back to where Estelle was, with clothes and food in his hands. But what he saw made him drop all of that. Estelle's corpse was lying on the ground, bruised and strangled. He collapsed and burst into tears.
The next morning, Ryan woke up before the other boys did, and he went to the food area to get, well, food. As he was walking through the woods, he heard someone cursing and screaming in agony.
"THEY KILLED ESTELLE! THEY KILLED MY ESTELLE! ONE OF YOU DID IT! I KNOW YOU FUCKING DID!" cried the voice.
"I swear, I don't know what you're talking about! I didn't see her all night!" another voice panically exclaimed.
"THEN WHO DID IT?! WHO DID IT?!"
Ryan grinned while thinking about the pain he caused before wondering how Romeo would get his revenge if he discovered who killed his girlfriend. Ryan felt slightly stressed and took a detour to the food area, hoping he wouldn't run into Romeo.
He grabbed twelve bags, four of them containing broccolis and carrots, four of them containing chicken wings, and four of them containing strawberries. He made his way back to the hay pile and woke his gang up.
As the gang ate, they discussed what they were going to do that day.
"How about we go burn all of the sixth graders alive?" Aaron suggested.
"Oh, I have a better idea," George said. "We should eat some girls. Like literally."
"Or how about-" Gavin started.
"Actually, before we do any of that, there's someone we may need to get rid of first," interrupted Ryan.
"And who might that someone be?" asked Gavin.
"Romeo, Estelle's boyfriend," Ryan answered. "He's gone completely mad. He found out that someone you-know-what-ed Estelle, and he's damn desperate for revenge. He'll probably rip my head off at the moment he finds the culprits."
"See? I told you we shouldn't have done that!" Aaron remarked.
"Uh, when did you ever say that?" George said in a very confused tone. "You enjoyed doing… that… too. You had no problems with it whatsoever."
"I still did say so, though," Aaron said.
"Well, none of us remember you saying that, so…"
"Guys, shut the hell up and listen," Ryan said. "If any of you sees Romeo, scream as loud as you can, and we'll surround him."
"Okay, then," said Aaron.
"I'm serious. If you don't, my head will be gone," Ryan added.
"I get it, you don't need to repeat it," said Aaron.
The gang separated and started walking around, looking for Romeo.
As he wandered around, Ryan saw a group of sixth grade girls petting a puppy.
"OMG, he's so adorable!" one of the girls exclaimed.
"Seems like this trip won't be so bad after all. At least we have this puppy to keep us company," said another girl.
"Pathetic," Ryan sneered. He held up his bow and arrow and shot the puppy. "Take that, bitches!" he yelled.
He shuffled away and turned around to see if anyone was standing behind him. No one was there. Suddenly, he saw someone run through the woods. He chased after the person, thinking it was Romeo.
"Hey!" Ryan yelled. "Hey, I'm right here, you pussy ass bitch!"
The person stopped running and turned around. It wasn't Romeo. It was just another twelfth grader who happened to resemble Romeo.
"What did you say?" the person said in a confronting tone.
"Hey, you're not gonna talk to me like that," said Ryan. He shot the person in the right leg. The guy screamed in pain. Ryan aimed his bow and arrow at the person's left arm and shot it. He fired some more arrows at the person's limbs before shooting him in the face. He was about to shoot the person's dead body, but he realized he had no arrows left.
"Damn it!" he yelled. He kicked the body and moved on.
All of a sudden, a guy twice his twice grabbed Ryan and put him in a headlock. It was Romeo.
"I'll kill you, I'll swear to God I'll kill you," Romeo growled as he choked Ryan.
"HELP!" Ryan screamed, "HELP! PLEASE! HELP!"
No one came.
"Say her name," said Romeo. "The girl you killed. Say her name. Say it. Say it or I swear I will break your skull open, you coward."
Romeo pulled a rock out of his left pocket and was about to strike Ryan with it when George, Gavin and Aaron grabbed Romeo and held him back. Ryan stood in front of Romeo.
"Not so scary now, huh?" Ryan sneered. "You know, you should have heard your girlfriend scream when I raped her to death."
Romeo furiously struggled to break free but was outnumbered.
"You guys got a knife anywhere?" Ryan asked.
"Here you go," said Aaron as he tossed Ryan a kitchen knife.
"I am feeling so sad," Ryan sarcastically said. "Your parents will live the rest of their lives without a son. Pity them."
He charged towards Romeo and repeatedly stabbed him in the chest.
"How do you like it? Does it feel good? Does it hurt? Or what?" Ryan mocked.
Romeo screamed in fury and pain as he choked and bled to death.
"His parents will be so sad," Gavin said while putting on a sarcastic crying face.
Ryan chuckled and put the knife in his pocket. That afternoon, the boys started to feel thirsty. The students may have found food, but clean, fresh water was still yet to be seen. The only source of water anyone could find was the muddy water Ryan and his gang were swimming in a day ago. Ryan decided it was time to search for water. The gang approached the muddy water and checked to see if it led to any fresh water. They used shovels that they found in the red shed to dig holes and see where the muddy water was coming from. Hours passed, and there was still no luck.
"Well, there's got to be water somewhere," said Gavin.
"Look, I know you want to be optimistic and all that, but can you shut up for once?" said Ryan. "We're not playing the fucking hope game right now. We are looking for water because if we don't, we will die of thirst. Get that through your damn skull, will ya?"
Gavin said nothing and just dug another hole. As evening came, the gang was very dehydrated, and they were all going to pass out anytime. Aaron thought about assuring the others that they would find water soon, but he knew Ryan would rudely talk him down at the moment he opened his mouth.
The next day, the gang didn't wake up until noon. And they would never have woken up if they didn't hear people screaming, "WATER! WE FOUND WATER!" They followed the voices and saw a lake that was obscured in the middle of the woods.
"How the hell did we not find this before?" George exclaimed.
"Are you stupid or something?" Ryan rebuked. "This is almost completely hidden by trees. No one would have found it unless we opened our eyes without blinking and searched for forty-eight hours straight without stopping. I have no idea how these people actually managed to find it."
"Yeah, okay, whatever," said George.
Ryan lunged towards George and shoved him into the lake. A few seconds later, George emerged from the water, gasping for breath.
"What did you do that for!?" George exclaimed.
"Next time, don't say 'whatever' in my face like that," said Ryan. "It frankly gets on my nerves. It's not rocket science, really."
George shrugged in annoyance and climbed out of the lake. The boys walked towards the lake and drank from it.
"Excuse me, can I drink from this too?" asked a young girl.
"Can you screw off, please?" Ryan asked. "We're trying to drink here. If you're thirsty, then tough. Go online and read about all the people who got lost in the desert. Well, that is, if you can even afford a computer."
"Wow, you're so polite," the girl said as she walked away.
The gang was so thirsty that they continued drinking for almost ten minutes. Finally, they left, and other people drank from the lake. Once they were alone, George said to Ryan, "I'd appreciate it if you didn't shove me into the water like that."
"Are you seriously gonna try this with me?" Ryan responded. "Maybe you shouldn't take that 'whatever'-ish tone up to me like some kind of spoiled brat. You want out? Okay, sure. No one will want you. I can just dissect you with our knives. That will be a great way to study anatomy and pass science class. If we ever make it out of this place."
"I don't see why you should try to drown me just for saying 'whatever', but okay," said George.
"Okay, guys," Gavin interjected, "I know I'm technically not part of this conversation, but I see this as a very unnecessary argument. Just saying."
"Gavin, shut your mouth," Ryan retorted. "You're not involved in this. Anyways, George, I'm done with you. You're either going to cooperate, or I will really drown you this time."
"Fine," said George. "Have it your way."
The gang went to sleep. During the afternoon the next day, the gang went to swim in the lake. A couple other students from lower grades were swimming there too. While they were swimming, one of the students called out, "Look what I found!" Ryan, George, Gavin and Aaron immediately swam towards the kid and looked in his palm. He was holding gold.
"Okay, that's mine," said Ryan.
"I found it, though," said the kid.
"Oh, I get it," Ryan said. "The typical 'finders keepers' bullshit. Okay. But what if the finder is dead?"
Before the kid could even comprehend what was just said to him, Ryan dunked the kid's head underwater and held it down. The other person tried to scream for help, but Ryan ordered Gavin and Aaron to drown the other person too. A few minutes passed. Ryan and his gang pulled the kids' heads out of the water. They were dead.
"Well, the gold is ours now!" Ryan victoriously exclaimed.
"We should see if there's any more gold underwater!" George suggested.
"Great idea!" said Aaron.
The boys swam to the bottom of the lake and searched and searched and searched. When they swam to the corner of the lake, they found an entire pile of gold, silver, jewels, and whatnot. The gang swam back to the shore, and Ryan went to the shed to get bags. He got back to the lake, handed each of the boys bags, and collected all the treasure.
"Alright," said Ryan, "if you guys see anyone with any treasure, tell me, and we'll go get them."
"Haha, alright," said Aaron as George and Gavin nodded.
When the boys went back to their pile of hay that evening, they talked about all the things they would do with the treasure.
"We should sell these for ten thousand dollars a piece," said Ryan.
"No," said Gavin. "How about twenty thousand dollars a piece?"
"Not a bad idea," said George. "We'll sell these and get millions of dollars, and I'm going to buy a car, a mansion, a girlfriend-"
"A girlfriend?" said Aaron. "You want to buy a girlfriend?"
"Have you ever heard of prostitutes?" said George.
"They're not exactly g-"
"Whatever, that's besides the point," said George. "What I was saying is, we will become millionaires."
The next day, as Ryan walked through the woods to get more food, he saw a group of guys strangling someone for food. He suddenly realized that he was not the only person killing other people. He grinned at the thought that he could now do whatever he wanted in the woods. Because if the authorities ever found him and the other students, no one else would be able to report his actions to the authorities, since they were murderers themselves. He could use that to discredit them with almost no effort at all. But the difference between him and the other students was that the other students were killing others for survival. Food was running low, and there were no signs of being rescued any time soon. The only option everyone else had left was to kill their peers, whether they wanted to or not. In other words, they were essentially last ditch efforts. But Ryan killed and raped because it felt fun. In fact, he did many things that will make your skin crawl because they felt fun.
When he was in second grade, he stuffed dirt into his classmate's lunch (which ended with that classmate being rushed to the ER) because it felt fun. He bullied his younger brother because it felt fun. He set the school cafeteria on fire when he was in middle school because it felt fun. He killed his teacher's pet hamster because it felt fun. He threw a dog under a train once because it felt fun. And he bought child pornography because it felt fun.
Back when he was in fifth grade, he went to a camp during spring. Most other people who went on the camp were normal and charismatic. But there was one boy who was disabled. He couldn't walk and had speech problems. Ryan immediately hated him and thought of ways to get rid of him. One night, Ryan broke into the cabin that the disabled boy was in. He picked up the pillow and smothered the boy. He happened to be wearing gloves while doing that, so he grabbed the boy's friend's hand and imprinted the friend's fingerprints on the pillow. The next day, the kid's friend was arrested and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. And once again, Ryan did all this because it felt fun. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He wasn't stupid or lacking in common sense. But he did all of that anyway, because again, they felt fun.
Now back to the main story, Ryan hauled several bags of food and brought it back to where his gang was. He told the gang he saw other people committing murders.
"Haha, now we can do whatever the fuck we want," said George.
"And get away with it," Gavin added.
"Yes, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking," said Ryan. "Do you guys have any plans for today?"
"I don't know. I'm kind of tired," said Aaron. "Maybe tomorrow."
"Well, I'm not tired," said Ryan. "I can dance and jump all day."
"You guys go ahead and do whatever you will without me then," said Aaron. "I really need to get some rest."
"It's gonna be fun. Come on, Aaron, you sure about this?" said George.
"I know what I'm talking about here. I'm just too tired, okay? I can do anything tomorrow. I can even steal the sun. But just. Not. Today."
"Hey," said Gavin. "Maybe we can go guard the treasure, so other people won't take it."
"Sure, I guess," said Ryan.
The boys headed for the lake. Once they got there, they looked down at the water in the corner of the lake, and sure enough, there was still treasure there. Throughout the day, the boys took turns guarding the treasure. One would guard while the others swam. During noon, the boys went to get some food. George and Gavin brought the food back to the pile of hay to eat with Aaron while Ryan ate at the lake. When George and Gavin returned to the lake, they talked about something that wasn't brought up before.
"Where did all that food come from, anyway?" wondered Gavin.
"No idea," said George. "Maybe they were left there by the last person who came here."
"George, really? What idiotic asshat would even leave that much food here?" said Ryan.
"Ryan, you can at least think about it first. How in the world would a bunch of food that can last for potentially a year just end up in the middle of nowhere? It has to have ended up there somehow."
"Except there's no reason for someone to randomly leave food in the woods."
"Uh, guys?" Gavin said. Ryan and George turned around. Gavin had slipped away during their conversation and was pointing at a person lying on the ground. Ryan and George ran to where Gavin was and looked down. It wasn't a person- well, it was, but the person wasn't alive.
"Wait, he looks far too old to be a student," said George.
"Exactly, that's why I wanted you to come over here," said Gavin. "Check this out."
Gavin handed George a driver's license. The dead person was called Michael Adderson. Ryan remembered seeing that name in the news. The man was reported missing just a month ago in February.
"Look at that crack on his forehead," said George. "He must have fallen off that tree."
"Do you think he was an explorer who was checking out the woods?" asked Gavin.
"Who else could he be?" said George. "He could even be the person who brought the food here."
"What do you mean he could be?" said Ryan. "He is definitely the one. There's no way it was someone else."
"Makes sense, I suppose," said George. "I highly doubt anyone else has been here."
"We're here, though," said Gavin. "That opens up the possibility of more people having come here."
"Okay, one, we're likely among the only people who ever ended up here. Aside from that man, of course. And two, how did the food taste like? Were they rotten? Were they decaying?" said George.
"No…" said Gavin, starting to realize what George was on about.
"Now, this man went missing just last month, right? The food is still very fresh. Even though they were refrigerated, they would still taste nasty, to say the least, if they've been here for a long time. I mean, the ice packs could still expire, so…"
"Okay, okay, you win," said Gavin.
"Wanna go back to the lake to guard the treasure now?" said Ryan.
"Oh yes, we almost forgot about that. Sure. Let's go," said George.
Ryan, George and Gavin went back to the lake and continued guarding for the rest of the day. By nightfall, they were back in their pile of hay as usual. They handed some bags of food to Aaron and ate.
"Ryan," said Gavin the morning. "Ryan."
"What?" Ryan groaned as he woke up.
"Look what I found."
Ryan snatched a crumpled piece of paper from Gavin and uncrumpled it. It was a map detailing all the locations with treasures.
"Where the fuck did you find this?" asked Ryan.
"I was digging holes to see if there was any more treasure when I found this buried," answered Gavin.
"Twenty places? There are twenty places with buried treasure?" Ryan said as he observed the map. "How? How did we only find one?"
"By all means, let's go treasure hunting!" said Aaron.
The boys followed the map as George and Gavin carried shovels, Aaron carried a bag, and Ryan held the map. Whenever they reached a supposed location that contained treasures, they would dig, and sure enough, the treasure would be there. By the time they reached the seventh location, the bag was almost full. But when they were about to dig, they realized someone else already took treasure from there.
"Oh shit," said Ryan. "I don't think we're the only ones with a copy of this map. Follow me."
"You mean someone else knows where all that treasure is?" asked Aaron.
"That's obviously what I meant?" said Ryan. "Are you deaf? Come on. Hustle up."
The gang trekked through the woods, looking for the people who could possibly have another copy of the map.
"Where could those bitches be?" Ryan wondered aloud. "Wait! I think I see something!"
The gang looked in the direction Ryan was looking, and they saw three guys looking down while talking indistinctly. The gang dashed towards the three people and saw them exchanging gold.
"Come on, we're gonna take a little walk," Ryan said to the people with the gold. "Guys."
George, Gavin and Aaron simultaneously knocked them out.
When the three people woke up, they were bound in chairs in a shed.
"Now tell me your names," said Ryan. No answer. "TELL ME YOUR NAMES!"
"Alright, guys," said Ryan. "I don't know where you got that treasure map from, but we're going to play a game here. Here's how you play: I'll ask Tommy ten questions. And the amount of questions he answers wrong… will be the amount of fingers each of you will lose! Understood?"
Tommy, Greg and Clyde whimpered but slowly nodded their heads anyway, trying as hard as possible to stay calm.
"Okay, Tommy, here we go: what's my name?"
"How old am I?"
"Sixteen, I think?"
"Where was I born?"
"How am I supposed to know that?"
"Where? Was? I? Born?"
"Uh… Los Angeles?"
"Do I have any siblings?"
"I think so."
"Are my siblings male or female?"
"If you answered female, then what's her name?"
"How old is my father?"
"How old is my mother?"
"What's the name of my neighborhood?"
"Market Height, I think."
"And last but not least, what grade am I in?"
"Okay," said Ryan. "You got… eight questions wrong."
"No! Please! Mercy! MERCY!" cried Tommy as Ryan sliced off eight of Tommy's fingers with a kitchen knife.
"Your turn!" Ryan said to Greg.
"HELP! PLEASE! I'LL DO ANYTHING! PLEASE!" Greg screamed as Ryan sliced off eight of Greg's fingers too.
"Righto righto! Now you! Say goodbye to eight of your fingers!" Ryan mockingly said to Clyde as he chopped off eight of Clyde's fingers.
"NO! NO!" screamed Clyde.
"Right!" Ryan said. "Anyways, what shall we do next? Oh, I know! Hey Tommy! How old are you?"
"You're not going to get away with this," Tommy growled.
"How? Old? Are? You?"
"You really think-"
Ryan pulled out a knife and held it in front of Tommy's face.
"How old? Are you?"
Ryan kicked Tommy in the stomach fourteen times. Tommy gagged and coughed out blood.
"As for you, Greg," Ryan said, "I'm going to ask: do you like scary movies?"
Greg, knowing that refusing to answer would just make things worse, nodded.
"That's too bad!" Ryan replied. "No more movies for you!"
He picked up a needle and used it to prick both of Greg's eyes. The screaming that came from Greg could be heard even from many miles away.
"And you, Clyde," said Ryan, "how much do you like talking?"
"I… don't really… talk that much," Clyde said nervously.
"Good! So that means you don't need your tongue!" said Ryan. "Aaron!"
Aaron stepped forward and used pliers to tear out Clyde's tongue. Clyde screamed louder than ever before.
"Now you learned the lesson of taking treasure like that," Ryan said to Tommy, Clyde and Greg. "The treasure's mine, you pathetic cunts. You really think you would have actually kept it? So foolish. So disappointing. I wonder what you see in each other. This will help you learn."
Ryan picked up a brick and shoved it down Tommy's throat, causing Tommy to choke to death. Next, he used a scissor to cut Greg's throat out. Finally, he put on gloves and covered Clyde's nose and mouth, causing Clyde to suffocate to death.
"Is it just me or did I find that super fun?" Ryan said gleefully.
"Are we gonna do this to the next person who finds a copy of the map?" asked Aaron.
"Duh," said Ryan. "Knock it off with your retarded questions."
The gang left the shed.
"Now where were we?" George wondered. "Oh yeah, we were looking for treasure."
"We were last in the seventh location, right?" asked Gavin.
The gang made it back to the seventh location, and they used the place as a reference point to move on to the eighth location. They continued picking up treasure until it was ten in the evening. Looking at the map, they realized they were very far from the hay pile.
"Great, now where the fuck will I sleep?" Ryan complained.
"Is that a lodge over there?" Gavin said as he pointed at a maroon colored lodge.
"I think it is. Not sure how I didn't notice that."
The boys approached the lodge and went inside. It was very empty in there. No beds, no tables, no chairs, no food, nothing. The walls, the floor, and the ceiling were all made of wood.
"How did this end up here?" Aaron said. "Who built this even?"
"I don't know," said Ryan. "I'm not the fucking builder of this lodge, so…"
"Since the ground is all made of wood, and there's not a furniture in sight," said Gavin, "maybe we should try sleeping on the grass outside. It's not dirty or wet or anything."
The gang went outside and practically collapsed onto the grass out of exhaustion. After all, they spent nearly the entire day searching for treasure (and also tormenting the three other people who had the treasure map too), and so they had no energy left.
As early as five in the morning the next day, Ryan and his gang got up to find an easier route back to the area containing the hay pile and the shed. As they walked, they used a pencil that Ryan had in his pocket the whole time to draw the route. Once they made it to the shed, they contemplated the weapons along with what they were going to do that day. Ryan sauntered around and looked over all the weapons. He stopped at a group of torches. He felt like a lightbulb clicked in his head.
"Hey!" Ryan said to a kid who was approximately in middle school as the kid sat on a tree stump and fidgeted.
"Yeah? What's up?" replied the kid.
"What's your name? And what grade are you in?"
"Jason. And… I'm in sixth grade."
"Well, Jason, did you know the food supply is starting to run low?"
"How are we going to eat, then? Do you know anywhere else where we can get food?"
"That's what I'm meeting with you for. Follow me. There's a place filled with a lifetime supply of food and drinks. Oh, and do you have any friends around?"
"Yeah, do you want me to get them?"
Jason gathered his friends, and they followed Ryan to the lodge. Once they got there, George, Gavin and Aaron were already standing on the porch surrounded with younger kids.
"Okay, guys!" said Gavin. "The food is all in there! Eat whatever you want! Go on!"
The kids rushed into the lodge. Once all the kids were inside, George shut the front door and giggled.
"Aaron, the torches!" called Ryan.
"On it!" said Aaron as he picked up three torches that were hidden behind the lodge and handed two of them to George and Gavin.
"Don't forget me!" Ryan reminded.
"Yeah, I know," said Aaron. He walked up to Ryan and handed him the torch.
"On your marks! Get set! Go!" said Ryan. He, George and Gavin started setting the lodge on fire with the torches as Aaron stood in front of the front door with a broomstick in his hands, ready to shove anyone who tried to escape back into the lodge.
"Come on, you fuckers!" Ryan yelled at George and Gavin. "Torch every single parts of the lodge you can see!"
Gavin cackled as he picked up a stick, set the stick on fire, and threw the stick onto the roof, while George burned the front door with his torch.
"Oh man, this is beautiful!" Ryan cried in joy as he briefly stepped back to observe the burning lodge. Meanwhile, every single kids inside the lodge could be heard screaming in horror as they were burned alive.
"Should we continue?" asked George.
"That's a hell of a stupid question!" Ryan yelled. "Of course! Burn it all to the ground! Burn it until all the kids in there are charred beyond recognition!"
"Okay, got it!" George replied.
Five minutes later, the entire lodge collapsed. Ryan chortled and threw the torches away. Once they were far away from the burnt lodge, they sat down on the hay pile to take a break.
"I've been thinking about it," said George.
"Thinking about what?" asked Ryan.
"We really need to find a way out of this place soon," said George. "We can't last forever. My parents must be worried sick."
"George," Ryan said in a threatening tone, "what did I tell you about bringing up parents?"
"I'm sorry, I just-"
"Shouldn't you be enjoying it like I am, George?" Ryan said in a hostile tone. "No parents? No stupid cockless grown-ups to monitor us 24-7? We're free, George. We can do anything we want. We want to stab a kid? We stab them. We want to burn someone? We burn them. Imagine if the teachers were never separated from us. As usual, we would be forcefully obligated to act like nice, civilized people. How boring is that? The only time we can take out whoever we dislike will be when no one is watching. And those times are rare, George. Those times are rare. You say another word about anything even distantly - even slightly - related to grown-ups, and you'll severely wish you haven't. I'll end you. Don't think I can't."
George opened his mouth, but he couldn't think of what to say. Gavin and Aaron were too scared to interject. The gang didn't interact with each other for the rest of the day.
A long time went by. And the ill-fated students were yet to be found. Everyone who went on that field trip became hopeless. Food became scarce, and more people resorted to killing people for food. They were just that desperate. The only person who never stopped having a good time was Ryan, of course, who was still blissfully enjoying his so-called freedom. He made sure to terrorize other students with every chance he got. Even George, Gavin and Aaron were beginning to lose their joy in doing cruel stunts with Ryan. But none of them had the courage to take it up with Ryan, as they knew what Ryan was capable of, and they knew they would regret it at the very second they backtalked him. So they kept their mouths shut and played along. They couldn't find any more locations with hidden treasure either, so they forgot about the treasure hunt and moved on.
"So," Ryan said one day, "any thoughts?"
"Thoughts about what?" asked George.
"Are you stupid or something?" Ryan said in an incredulous tone. "Do you have any thoughts on what fun things we should do today?"
"Today… hm…" said George, "today… will be our break day! So that means we're just going to sit back and rest. We have all the time in the world to do 'exciting' things, right? So let's take today off, shall we?"
"That will be boring at the minimum," said Ryan.
"In George's defense," said Gavin, "we did tons of things during this trip. We're really running low on ideas."
"Maybe it's because you're all idiots," responded Ryan. "I led you guys. Most of the things we did were my ideas. Yet I can still come up with something."
"Which is what?" Aaron inquired.
"From my experience throughout this trip," said Ryan, "I learned that the younger you are, the wimpier you are."
"So what will we do about that?" asked George.
"Follow me," said Ryan. "I will tell you about the plan on our way to our… destined place."
Two girls were sitting around a flower and studying it. Ryan and his gang walked up to them. One of the girls politely waved at Ryan while the other girl put on a faux smile, saying to the other girl, "Let's go. There are more flowers over there."
"Uh, no, not so fast," said Ryan.
"Hi, do you need something?" the girl who waved at Ryan politely asked while the other girl continuously nudged the former as she wore an uncomfortable look on her face.
"Yes," said Ryan. "I want you to do something for me."
"Yeah, what do you want me to do?" asked the girl.
"Guys," said Ryan. George, Gavin and Aaron held up crossbows.
"What do you want from me?" the girl asked, beginning to feel tense.
"Take this rope," Ryan said while handing the girl a rope, "and give this rope" - Ryan handed the girl another rope - "to your friend right there."
The girl took the first rope but didn't give the second rope to the other girl.
"Hey," said Ryan, "you're going to do what I say, or my boys here will pump your tits full of crossbow bolts, and I'll rip it open and eat it. Now hand. The. Rope. To. Your. Friend. NOW."
The girl trembled and gave her the friend the other rope.
"Now do what I say," said Ryan. "Kill each other."
"No, you can't!" screamed the girl.
"Yes, I can. Remember what will happen if you disobey any of my commands. Now go. Kill each other. Kill. Each. Other."
The two girls wrapped the ropes around each other's necks and tightened them.
"Good. Do it harder," said Ryan.
The girls began to choke.
Both girls' eyes slowly closed.
The girls seemed to be losing strength.
The girls passed out.
When it was time for lunch, Ryan went to get what little food was left. Suddenly, another guy dashed towards him and tackled him, pinning him on the ground.
"Get off me!" yelled Ryan. "Get off! Get off! No! Help! Somebody help! SOMEBODY HELP! HELP!"
The guy held his hands in front of Ryan's neck, most likely planning to strangle him.
"THIS GUY IS GOING TO MURDER ME!" Ryan screamed. "PLEASE! HELP! Hel-"
The guy was choking Ryan. All of a sudden, a blade poked through the person's head, killing him. Ryan got up. Aaron stood here, being the one who killed the guy to save Ryan.
"Don't do that again," Ryan said without any gratitude in his voice. "I can take care of my own shit."
"Whatever, dude, I just wanted to help," said Aaron. "Who was he and what did he want anyway?"
"I'm pretty sure he thought I had food or something, and he wanted to take it, so…" answered Ryan. He shook dirt and leaves off his clothes and obtained some bags of food from the food boxes. When he got back to the pile of hay, he tossed a couple of bags to the other boys, and they ate.
"What happened to your neck?" asked Gavin.
"It's none of your business, really," said Ryan.
"Some random dude attacked him and tried to kill him," said Aaron.
"Why?" asked George.
"The guy wanted to take food from Ryan," answered Aaron.
"We need to stick together from now on if we're going anywhere," said George. "As we all know, the food is running dangerously low. People are so desperate for food that many of them are killing whoever they think have any food supplies."
"I can handle my crap," said Ryan. "Don't try it."
"To be fair, you should take a look at the chaos around you. I know you think you're brave and all, but I seriously have to agree with George here," Gavin wanted to say. But the look on Ryan's face warned Gavin not to say any of that.
Suddenly, it was raining.
"Damn it," Ryan angrily said, "our food will get ruined."
"Should we eat inside the shed?" said Aaron.
"Why not… but we must run there as quick as possible," said Gavin. "Let's go, before the rain completely damages the food."
The gang sprinted as fast as they could to the shed. They swung the door open and slammed it shut.
"I almost forgot rain existed during this little adventure," said George.
"It better not last long," said Ryan. "Otherwise, we can't do any activities outside anymore. We will be stuck inside this shed for God knows how long."
"Yeah," said George.
"Will we sleep in here too?" asked Gavin.
"Obviously, because we won't be sleeping in the rain," said George.
The gang waited for hours to see if the rain would stop. It didn't. Ryan sighed, fearing that his fun would end there thanks to the rain. For the next three days, the rain continued pouring and pouring and pouring without showing any signs of stopping. George, Gavin and Aaron told stories and played guessing games while Ryan sat in the corner without saying a word to his gang.
"One night," said George (who was telling a horror story to Gavin and Aaron), "there was a boy called Michael who was casually playing the piano when he heard a knock on the door. He answered the door, but there was no one there. He looked down and saw a box of jigsaw puzzles."
"What happened?" asked Gavin.
"Just listen," said George. "So Michael took the box upstairs into his room and opened it. There were puzzle pieces in it, obviously. He started building the puzzle. After completing it almost halfway, he noticed the picture in the puzzle looked familiar. He briefly felt weirded out before shrugging and continuing the puzzle."
"What happens next?" asked Gavin.
"When he put almost all the pieces together," continued George, "he realized something disturbing. The picture was of him right at that moment building the puzzle. He gasped when he came to the realization. The only piece he had yet to put in was the window part. He looked and looked for it. After finally finding the piece, he placed it onto the nearly-finished puzzle… and the completed picture showed a man outside looking inside the window. He turned around, looked at the window… and was never seen again."
"Damn, I was really looking forward to having a good sleep tonight," said Aaron. "Thanks a lot."
When the third day came, the rain finally stopped. And so, Ryan and his gang went back to spending the majority of their time outdoors.
The very next day, Ryan woke up to see that George was gone. Curious to know where George went, Ryan got up too and wandered in the woods. As he passed by the food area, he saw George approaching the food supply.
"Hey you!" called a boy who was almost a foot taller than Ryan and George. Ryan hid behind a tree and peeked to see what was going on.
"Yeah, I'm talking to you!" the boy yelled at George.
"Yeah, what's up?" asked George.
"Do you know anyone called Ryan Rhodes?" asked the boy.
"Yes, he's my… friend, I guess," answered George. "Why?"
"Describe your relation with him. Now," said the boy.
"Uh, okay, I've been sticking with him during this whole trip, and-"
"So you were one of them?"
"The guys who BURNED MY LITTLE BROTHER TO DEATH!" screamed the boy as he struck George across the face.
"Okay, look here...!" George said, panicking.
"YOU MURDERED MY BROTHER! NOW I'LL END YOU!" the boy cried as he pulled out a knife.
"Oh great, they found the shed," Ryan said to himself.
The boy swung the knife, slitting George's throat. George gagged and struggled to breathe. He sprawled over onto the floor and briefly spasmed. He stopped moving. He was dead.
"One less person to look after, I guess," Ryan said apathetically. He returned to the hay pile, forgetting to grab any food.
"Where's George?" Aaron asked.
"Oh, he's dead," Ryan said casually.
"WHAT?!" Gavin and Aaron both exclaimed, shocked.
"Some guy is pissed because we burned his brother to death in that lodge, so he slit George's throat."
"Wait a minute," said Aaron. "You were there? You saw it happen?"
"Yeah, I watched that guy cut George's throat wide open."
"Y- you didn't even try to save him? How could you?" Aaron responded while Gavin just sat down on his hay pile trying his best not to cry. "HOW COULD YOU?!"
Aaron slapped Ryan, and Ryan reacted by slamming Aaron against a tree.
"Do not fucking touch me like that ever again," said Ryan. "Without George, I get one less person to take care off. And each of us gets more food. Why do you care so much anyway? I take it you just want to be next? Okay, sure, I'll send that guy after you. Or do you not want to be next?"
Aaron gritted his teeth and slowly shook his head.
"Then stop complaining," Ryan said ominously. He let go of Aaron.
"Now, this is what we will do," said Ryan. "Based on what happened to George, I'm quite sure there are many people who just want to stick knives in us because we hurt their family members or dates or whatever. And like that isn't bad enough, the guy who killed George even found our shed. Because come on, where else could that guy have gotten the knife? So we will move as far from here as possible. Is that understood?"
Aaron slowly nodded.
"And you? Do you understand?" Ryan said to Gavin.
"Yeah," Gavin said quietly.
Ryan, Gavin and Aaron spent the whole day trekking through the woods. At midnight, as they were still walking, they heard the sound of running behind them.
"THEY'RE OVER THERE!" someone was yelling. "THE GUYS WHO BURNED MY LITTLE BROTHER TO DEATH IS OVER THERE!"
Ryan recognized the voice. It belonged to the person who killed George.
"They found us," said Ryan. He started running, and Gavin and Aaron ran after him.
"GET HIM! I WANT HIM DEAD! HE MURDERED MY SISTER!" another voice was yelling.
Suddenly, an arrow hit Aaron from behind and pierced through his stomach.
"We have to save him!" Gavin said.
"No, leave him," said Ryan.
"He's our friend!" Gavin exclaimed.
"What do you mean friend?" Ryan replied.
"We stuck together all this time! I'm not leaving him!" said Gavin.
"...Except we only stuck together because I needed people to help me find food and shield me from possible danger and help me do things like, you know, all the 'activities' we did throughout this trip," said Ryan. "But if you want to save him that badly, then sure. Go ahead. Toodles."
Ryan took off as Gavin tried to pull the arrow out of Aaron. But before he could pull the whole thing out, he was shot with an arrow too. The angry and vengeful mob surrounded Gavin and Aaron and beat them with baseball bats until neither of them were breathing any longer.
Ryan finally reached a dead end, almost falling down a cliff… and then he realized. The woods were actually located on a cliff the whole time. He turned around, only to face the mob who cornered him already.
"SOMEBODY HELP!" Ryan screamed cowardly. "I'M BEING ATTACKED! AND I'M GOING TO GET KILLED ANYTIME! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOO!"
The same person who slit George's throat knocked Ryan over with a rock, and the mob started beating Ryan from every angle.
"HELP! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!" Ryan screamed, more cowardly than anyone he ever came into contact with. "GET OFF ME! PLEASE! I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!"
Suddenly, two baseball bats hit Ryan's legs simultaneously. He felt both of his legs cracking.
"GAAAHH!" he screamed. "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!"
Finally, after hitting him several more times, the mob ran off and jumped down the cliff. Ryan's face was covered with blood.
"Serves them right," he said as he watched the mob jump off. He opened his mouth to laugh, revealing his bloodstained teeth. "Serves them right. Serves them- OW! MY LEGS! I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL! FUCK THOSE PEOPLE!"
Now, since Ryan never figured out why the mob killed themselves like that, I'll just tell you right here: unlike Ryan, the people in the mob were still humans. I do not mean that Ryan is not a human being. He is, but only physically. The mob, on the other hand, had loved ones who were murdered in cold blood. They were stuck in the woods with very little hope of being rescued. Many of them had to watch Ryan commit unspeakable acts of cruelty and were too scared to stop him at the moment. In the end, no one in the mob could bear the trauma and guilt anymore. So in their eyes, the best choice was to end it all.
Back to the story, Ryan heard sirens in the distance. He felt a mix of disappointment (because the fun was over) and glee (because he thought he would never face any punishment for what he had done).
"I think this one is still alive!" yelled a police officer from the distance. A group of ambulance drivers placed Ryan onto a stretcher and rolled it into an ambulance.
"Is that all?" Ryan heard a man ask.
"No, there's a young lady over there," another man answered.
Ryan reacted with shock at first but instantly calmed down.
"She won't talk," he quietly said to himself. As the ambulances and police cars drove out of the woods, Ryan smiled. He was going to get away with everything.
Two days passed. Ryan was still in the hospital. Meanwhile, in a morgue…
"Hey Carl?" a coroner said as he was viewing Estelle's corpse.
"Yes?" Carl answered.
"Come here for a second," said the coroner.
"Is everything okay?" asked Carl as he approached the coroner.
"I need to ask you something," said the coroner. "That kid... what was his name? Ryan or something? He told us that this young lady right here was bitten by snakes. But the injuries here indicate that she was sexually assaulted."
"What?" Carl responded. He picked up a magnifying glass and examined Estelle's body. "Good Lord."
Amelia was in a taxi being driven home. For the entire car ride, she couldn't think about anything except for all the horrors she witnessed during her time in the woods. She was nearly burned to death in a lodge by Ryan and his gang. She managed to escape from the back window, and she tried to save her burning schoolmates, but there were too many of them. Before she could even pull one person out of the window, everyone inside the lodge was burned to death. Then, she was forced by Ryan to strangle her best friend to death. Her friend was also forced to strangle her in return. Amelia managed to survive, but her friend, however, was not so lucky. Or at least most people would see her friend as unlucky. But Amelia couldn't help but wish she died too. She had to prepare herself for all the hard years that were to come.
When the taxi stopped at a red light, Amelia looked out the window. She watched a man drop his bag. Another man instantly ran up to the man and helped him pick the bag up. For a brief second, Amelia felt at piece as she witnessed the act of kindness. But it did not last long, as she almost promptly began to wonder how the supposedly kind man would have reacted to the person dropping his bag if there was no law - no authority figures to punish those who caused trouble. Would the man still have helped the other man? She looked at all the people walking outside. What if there were no police officers? No one to punish criminals? How would they be like?
Before the ill-fated field trip, Ryan seemed to be a normal person. He was rude and off-putting in nature but was still relatively normal overall. But did he remain that way once he was stranded in the woods where there was no law? Did he remain that way once he was stuck in a place where he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it? In fact, even without being stranded in the woods, what was Ryan up to whenever he wasn't being watched by people in authority? How was he like?
As Amelia observed the people outside the taxi - some of them greeted anyone they bumped into, some of them just minded their own businesses, some of them seemed crabby and sour - she wondered, Who's real and who's not?
The traffic lights turned green, and the taxi drove away into the sunset.