Actions

Work Header

Unbroken

Chapter Text

DWIGHT

It felt like years had passed since the last time we’d had a little break; Claudette had been crying for what felt like days…there was no one but the four of us. Claudette, Jake, Meg and myself. Trials were the only thing waiting for us at night, despite us fighting against the Fog…but there was no point to it. It had begun to infect us like a disease that slowly ate away at our will to go on.

Jake never spoke to them and hardly spoke to me.

Meg spent most of her time trying to soothe Claudette while Claudette simply sobbed uncontrollably.

The crying suddenly stopped one day while we waited by the camp fire and we thought maybe, she’d finally fallen asleep after all this time.

“Claudette?” Meg asked gently and carefully moved Claudette to look at her face and I watched all the color drain from Meg’s cheeks. I looked down and Claudette’s eyes were still open but had glazed over, stopping the tears completely. There wasn’t so much as a hiccup to answer when Claudette started muttering.

“We’re going to be exterminated…we’re going to end up in The Void just like all the others and it’s only a matter of time…it’s hopeless.” She said blandly.

“Claudette…what are you saying? We can’t give up yet! That’s what got the others dragged away, they gave up…you can’t give up yet!” she starts when Claudette just doesn’t respond and lays there and I can see something horrific bloom in Meg’s eyes…fear. “Claudette! Come on! Stop doing this! You have to keep fighting!! I can’t do this without you!! You can’t just leave me!!”

Out of nowhere, Jake stormed over and grabbed Claudette’s shirt front, forcing her to her feet and shaking her violently while Meg was so stunned, she didn’t move.

“We’re still here because we haven’t stopped fighting and you’re just going to throw in the towel!? NOW!?? After everything we’ve been put through this is where you’re giving up!!!” he yells into her face and she pushes him off while Meg stumbles as she tries to stand.

“Why would I want to keep fighting when all that we have here is temporary! The ones before us were temporary and now we’re the only ones left! Excuse my French but I don’t like our fucking odds!”

“How many times have we already bested the odds before?! It’s not like there’s no chance-” Meg starts but Claudette cuts her off.

“Don’t stand there and lie to my face!! There is NO chance! What waits for us after we win? Hm?! What more waits for us than a day in this heat lamp prison before we’re left to the monsters at night!!?”

“You’d rather let yourself be pulled into The Void and leave us behind? That’s what you want?!” Jake shouts and Claudette has to fix her glasses she’s getting so upset.

“If it means I don’t have to consciously deal with this hell anymore than yeah! Not everyone is as endlessly competitive as you are Meg so I’m not interested in your rat race! And Jake, you lived this kind of life minus the monsters before, I’m nothing like either of you so why the hell should I put myself through something I know I can’t handle anymore when I’d be much happier just gone!”

“STOP IT ALREADY!” I shouted and they froze as I looked over them.

There was near silence as we listened to the fire crackling; never burning out or waning in its intensity or heat. The echo of a crow’s caws in the distance sent a tiny shiver up our backs as we all likely recalled that in some Trials, that caw would call the Killers to us.

 I took a deep breath and opened my arms, unsure of what else to say. “Um…can someone come here? Please? I’m going to prove something,”

The girl’s kind of just stood there, unsure of what to do but Jake unabashedly came over to me and hugged me tight, allowing his head to rub against my ear. His chest was pressed against mine and allowed me to feel how fast his heart was racing…he’s scared too and I know he could feel how fast mine was going too.

Once he pulled away from me and I opened my arms again, I waited until Meg let out a sigh and came over to me too. She at first hugged uncomfortably but after I squeezed her a little tighter, she relaxed and squeezed me right back; I could feel that while her heart wasn’t racing as fast…it was still pounding rather hard.

“Dwight, what is this?” she asked against my shoulder before stepping back and I turned my eyes to Claudette; ignoring Meg’s question.

“Claudette…hug someone. Just pick, it doesn’t matter who it is.” I say and she hesitates but Meg gleefully opens her arms and welcomes her with a smile. Claudette gains this sort of…light in her eyes before walking over and holding Meg close for a long moment.

“Do you all know what I know? Our hearts are all still beating, we’re still alive and we’re all…scared shitless.”

Jake lets out a small chuckle and Meg squeezes Claudette again before letting go but still holds her hand.

“Look, we’re all terrified. I don’t think things have ever been this bad before but we’re still here and we’re still hanging on. Sure…some of the Trials are less than perfect and we all know that but let’s think about it like this. What’s going to happen when the next people come along and we aren’t here to help? Or we’re still here and do what Al and Benny did…we isolate them and refuse to help.”

Their eyes all go wide at the thought. “They’re going to be scared and unsure about this hell hole and the only ones who can help aren’t offering lessons. Can we live with ourselves if we do that?”

“But what if we become like the others…like Al and Benny?” Claudette says and I bite the inside of my cheek at the memory of the two men.

“We won’t become like them…we’ve got what they never had; each other. Carrying something heavy is hard but when you have more help to carry it, it lessens your burden. We have to hold onto each other, stick together and help others out when they come…because you know there will be more.”

Jake’s eyes take on this steely resolve to them and he grabs my hand. “I’m with you, forests have never scared me and I’m not going to let this one just because it has a mind of its own.”

Meg nods and grabs our hands as well, still holding Claudette’s with her other.

“I’m in; this is one hell of a mouse maze but I’m game to find the end!” she says and we all look over at Claudette who looks like she’s cornered.

“How about it, Claudette? All three of us together aren’t nearly as smart as you are.” Jake offers.

The timid girl gains the smallest of smiles as she steps close to Meg and grasps our hands together. It was still just the four of us, but…

 

I CAN’T FEEL THEM ANYMORE!

The bland look that came over her grey eyes was otherworldly to see; as if she’d accepted whatever was about to happen to her and steeled herself to suffer with them. I don’t know what went through them each time one of them pulled off to keep us safe…but Susie screaming like that was difficult to hear.

Knowing we just watched a piece of her vanish and her feel its absence was hard to say the least; surreal as if it must not be really that bad…but it was. Her wide eyes, her heavy tears and the agony in her voice…there was no denying her pain or bypassing the isolation it must have caused. They said they were always together…to suddenly not must have been absolutely excruciating.

As if the weight on our shoulders wasn’t already too much, the silvery moonlight surrounding us slowly started fading into a smokey tan color, as if there was silt and dust surrounding us and gave me the illusion of heat…but it was still frigid all around us.

Looking up I could see the massive forever full moon rapidly descending into what many would call a harvest moon, the only thing is, that it wasn’t due to some scattering of light…this was Blight and it quickly set hell loose over everything. As the orange tinted light covered the forest, the trees suddenly became infested with Blight. Their bark cracked and split apart, revealing the bright orange Nectar from within as Pustula’s began to blossom from their openings.

I looked around and didn’t see any fleshy piles around this time, everything came straight from the trees that surrounded us, seeming to spread to each tree in the entire Realm!

“Dwight, what’s happening?! I’ve never seen so many Pustula’s before, let alone out here!” Claudette pants out as we keep running, spying the outlines of the others surrounding the fire in the distance.

“I don’t know! We can figure out a way to go back and get them once we get the others to help!” I draw nearer and the others see us running but before I can get a word out, Claudette grabs my arm and pulls me to a stop. When I turn to look at her, she slaps me across my face, knocking my glasses off.

“Claudette!” Nea yells and I hear feet rush all around us as I try to keep myself from tearing up.

Claudette’s never raised her voice to me, let alone a hand. I feel someone grab my hand and I know its Jake as soon as I put my glasses back on.

“I’m sorry but…you must be out of your mind to actually be considering going back in there!? After everything we just saw, you want to chance going anywhere near The Killer Forest again?!” she yells and I’m stunned as I find myself glaring at her.

You’re actually considering leaving them to whatever Trapper is going to do to them?! They laid themselves out for us, didn’t you see that?! They ensured that we got out of there to fight another day! When’s the last time a Killer ever did anything for us?” I asked her but she shook her head.

“That’s my point exactly, when has a Killer EVER done anything for any of us when there wasn’t some sort of ulterior motive behind it?! NEVER!! You hear me?! Never!!” She pleads loudly, her complexion starting to pale and her eyes filling with tears behind her silver rimmed glasses.

“You saw how hard they fought for us before we started running! They turned against each other just to protect us; I don’t understand how you aren’t seeing that!!!” I shouted, feeling Jake put his hand on my shoulder to try and root me down but Claudette’s screaming made us all fall silent.

“I did see that! What you seem to be ignoring is that they made that choice to go against each other! Why you think it’s even somewhat a good idea to get involved in something that is not our problem is what I don’t see!” she argued and Meg came over to stand with her.

I pointed an accusatory finger and her and Jake wrapped his arm around my chest to keep me back. “Don’t you dare try to remove yourself from that! You and Jake and Meg helped me because you know as well as I do, survival or not; we’re not human beings if we stood by and did nothing like the others! Everyone that was here that day is gone now and good riddance to them!!” I shouted and Claudette covers her mouth.

“You don’t mean that! They were just scared!!” she tries but I feel Jake step up beside me.

“No, they weren’t! They’d have run if they were scared or screamed; not watched it happen like a car accident! Besides, we were scared too Claudette but we fought through it and tried to help Michelle! Fear is no excuse for letting that happen to someone!” he yelled from beside me.

“What about Carla and Al? You think we were better off without them too? They’re the ones that taught us how to fix the generators!” she tries to defend but I feel my blood boiling.

“Do you hear yourself?! Great, we learned something we would have learned anyways from people who stood idle and watched while someone is raped right in front of them!” I see her open her mouth to try and keep fighting for them but I don’t let her. “I could even forgive them turning a blind eye or covering their ears to not have to hear her scream like that, but they all just stood there and WATCHED!!! They let it happen and did absolutely nothing to either hide from it or stop it!”

“Fear is like fire Dwight! It eats everything, including objectivity! I’m not going to speak ill of the dead because not only does it change nothing, but its disrespectful!” she argues, tears dripping from her cheeks now.

“Fear explains their idleness but it doesn’t excuse their inaction!!” Jake yells back and Meg steps between us, shielding Claudette from us.

“You guys need to stop yelling at her! She’s freaked the fuck out and you two shouting isn’t helping at all!” she argues.

“You’re right, she is freaked out and yet she’s still standing her and trying to defend the memories of people who DESERVE to die with this place!!” I shouted and Claudette steps around Meg who rushes to stop her from coming over to me.

“STOP TALKING LIKE THAT! THEY SAVED US WHEN WE GOT HERE! WE OWE THEM AT LEAST SOME RESPECT!”

“Yeah, I owe them so much for helping us fill the molds of trapped rats!”

“Dwight, you are way out of line!” Meg screamed at me and Jake was the only thing keeping me from going over there and screaming in her face.

“I’m not content with standing back and letting people who made real sacrifices for us suffer because I’m scared!”

“They aren’t people!” Claudette cries out and I snap.

“If that’s how you really feel after everything you have seen and heard, maybe Frank should have let Jefferey take you away!!!” I yelled when there’s a loud explosion of fireworks between us!

The lights and screeches make us all fall silent and when the smoke clears Bill is standing between us holding a burnt-out match.

“If you’re finished,” he says and the only thing we can hear now is Claudette’s stifled sobs into Megs chest as she strokes her back. “I think a wise girl once said this is supposed to be a safe place for all of us, not just some of us.” He says and my heart pinches and I deflate, causing Jake to let me fall to my knees as I see Frank and (f/n)’s faces in my mind; forcing the tears to fog up my glasses.

I hear feet rush towards me and I see Claudette kneel before me, wrapping her arms around my bowed shoulders; she’s still shaking as she’s crying too. “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…I’m…just really scared.”

I reach up and lightly place one of my hands on her back and accept her sobs against the back of my head. “I know…I am too.”

“Someone wanna fill me in on what’s going on here? The quietest people here are having screaming matches and that’s a little freaky, even for the season.” Ace adds.

“It’s a long story…too long to explain everything.” I say, watching as the blurry image in my eye’s spills over the edges of my lenses.

“We’re listening,” Jeff says and I don’t look up.

Where to start? The number of things I needed to explain to them was staggering…starting from the very beginning would take forever and I don’t know if they have the patience to hear me talk for so long.

“(f/n) is gone…she’s been possessed by this thing…The Wicked.” I say and most of the group is stone-faced, not realizing the weight my words held. Jake and Meg went pale when I mentioned her name, though.

“She’s back!? How?! I thought she got dragged into The Void after what she did!” Meg shouted and all the others just stared.

“Wait, who’s Wicked?” Laurie asks as Jake kneels beside me.

“She was a monster born from the body of a Survivor after another Killer raped her. There had been a few of us at that time but they all just stood there while it happened. Jake, Dwight, Claudette and I all tried to save her…but our efforts were for naught.” Meg explained as I lowered my eyes to the dirt.

“The Wicked ended up going on a rampage in our forest, back in a time when we shared the forest with the Killers. It was an absolute disaster, everyone but us four had been hunted down and tortured by her in some way.” Jake explained when Claudette stood up beside me, allowing me to sit on the ground in my little ball of silence.

“Whatever she’d done to them was enough to break their spirits and they were thrown into The Void too.” Meg finished when I heard David’s voice.

“So, what is she? A spirit or something?”

“More like a parasite; she ripped herself free of her mothers’ body in almost a perfect copy of Michelle but her hair was so long that it seemed to slither around on the ground around her. She lives only to make others suffer and she has no concept of when too much pain is…well…too much!” Claudette adds.

“We don’t know how she exactly came to be or what she’s capable of but there was a huge hunt for her that the other Killers mounted; once she was subdued…she was banished to The Void.”

“Wait, if she doesn’t feel pain…why stop her? She sounds like the perfect Killer.” Jane asked and Ace nodded beside her.

“She would have been if she knew how to obey the rules like the others. I think all the things she felt were putting a bad taste in The Entity’s mouth.” Meg offers and I hear Quentin among the group.

“If it even has a mouth,” he mutters only for Laurie to shush him.

I take a deep breath and stand up, dusting the dirt off my legs. “Well, she’s back and as if her possessing one of us wasn’t bad enough…as you guys can see, The Blight is here. There are two new Survivors, lost with Kate somewhere in The Killer Forest on the new Map. The only good thing about (f/n) being possessed by a Killer means that she can’t be Sacrificed, which must mean that they’re being kept somewhere until a fourth person can be captured.”

“They aren’t Sacrificing until they get four of us?” Adam asks and I nod. “That’s not normal,”

“That’s why we need to go into their forest and save them, get them out of there so that tonight’s Trial ends. That’s not all though,” I say and I can see the uncertainty on their faces. “We wouldn’t just be saving our own, we have no clue where they’re being held so we have to find them. While we search…we need to save any of The Killers that we come across. A few have likely been taken to be punished for helping protect us and we have to help them too.” My words prompt David to step out of the group and stand across from me, looking down on me as he’s always done.

“Ok…now I’m worried, did you hit your head or something? Have a fever?” He asks, reaching out to check my forehead with a genuine look of concern on his face but I lower his arm.

“I’m not sick! The Killers we have to save are Wraith, Huntress-” He cuts me off.

“Don’t talk like we’ve accepted your explanation; we’re just trying to make sense of all this rubbish you’re spewing.”

“What the hell were you guys doing in their forest in the first place?” Feng asks, crossing her arms.

“Dwight, you better just tell them.” Nea says and I nod, knowing deep down that she’s right.

“Tell us what?” David says, putting his hands on his hips.

I start telling them everything and I mean everything, starting from when (f/n) first showed up, since that’s when this all began.

When (f/n) came here and helped me, Ace and Meg all survive her first Trial…I’d already thought she was pretty, but I hadn’t thought much until we came back. She insisted I join the others at the Campfire and then she hugged me before going off with Meg and Claudette…it caused a spark; I knew I’d started to fall for her but if my first and only crush from middle school ever taught me anything, it was not to get carried away by it.

David got angry at me over something he thought I had done, but when she got in between us, tried to protect me even though she knew she was overpowered; it was like a watching a tiger. She was fast and packed more power than I thought she had to throw. After it was over and she successfully sent David to sleep off his last drink, I could see this softness in her eyes when she’d look at me. I wanted so badly to keep her eyes on me like that, that fondness I saw…so I clung to her. I even tried to stand up to Frank after The Legion appeared to collect us for the next Trial.

During that Trial…I saw her and The Clown…together. The image festered in my brain as I ran, but I had no clue what had actually gone on. That Trial, Jane was Mori’d and afterwards; (f/n) had brought everyone together to have a party and relax…she had said she didn’t want to be alone after what she’d been through.

I was upset, as if I’d allowed myself to fall for her just to watch her give her body up to the most hated Killer we’d ever faced. Then she came to my door and insisted I hear her out. She explained what happened…being drugged and forcing herself to sit through his torment to protect the rest of us. I hadn’t even considered that she’d put herself between him and us once again and I felt bad after she followed that up with her confessing her own crush on me!

I knew then that I’d really fallen hard for her, I’d never felt this fluttering in my chest when I looked at anyone else in my life before this place and since coming here. During her party…we made love; bestowing each other with our first times and it was spoiled when Frank showed up and snatched her away.

They talked things over and ended up having sex too, promising that I hadn’t been forgotten. After their moment was ruined by The Shape, The Pig, The Ghost Face and The Clown…(f/n) had been drugged again. Frank had put her away in his room to sleep it off but then she escaped, chasing these whispers she’s always heard since coming here. She followed them well outside their Realm and Frank chased after her when they were both dropped into The Void. The Entity almost took them both but somehow, (f/n) was able to force it away and they came back…only to be caught and (f/n) was Mori’d before our eyes.

Frank had insisted upon talking to me in private, in The Basement which I had taken a chance and gone to see him. We ended up talking about (f/n) a little and bonding over our dually crappy upbringings; it put us on level ground…then he kissed me. He was not shy in the slightest about his own sexuality so we both came to the realization that I was bisexual. (f/n) ended up finding us mid make out and actually welcomed the idea of us getting along so well, much to my shock.

After that revelation, we tried to escape the Trial together but Frank was dominated by one of his Perks ‘No One Escapes Death’ and he ended up performing what we know now as an Iridescent Mori on her, a side effect of (f/n)’s second Perk ‘Relentless’.

She was gone for a long time…over forty Trials had passed since we’d seen her and all that time…I was a wreck. I’d only had her for one night and knowing that I wouldn’t get to hold her again was worse than any nightmare I could be dropped in. Frank had come to see me between Trials and he did his best to soothe my upset but there was only so much we could do for our shared pain, especially since him being gone so much was starting to catch attention. We agreed to respect her memory by not fighting with each other, not at all expecting her to come back to us! That joy however, was short lived.

When The Ghost Face used me as bait for The Cannibal that was where the lying started, Frank pretending to be obsessed with us to the point of him kidnapping me and (f/n).

On that same day, we learned about (f/n)’s past. A crazy man who thought she was an angel began to stalk her and became obsessed with her. He went nuts and killed her parents to kidnap her, he kept her for a year to the day when she escaped and beat him to death with a branch. The Entity came for her but she was just a little girl at the time.

Her being brought into her best friend Joseph’s family’s home and their optimistic ways, kept her from becoming that rage filled monster that The Entity wanted her to be. That doorway it gained all those years ago, remained open and it continued to torment her with nightmares to try and undo all the years of positive upbringing and therapy that she’d undergone to maintain her sanity. It was futile however; she was too strong now…so it sent all the Killers in to break her down.

Nea and Jake ended up stumbling in on our secret with The Legion and we shared our knowledge about (f/n)’s past with the others; we hit one more, little bump in the road…Danny.

Danny, also known as The Ghost Face had a video of (f/n) and I talking about our relationship with Frank and to ensure it was disposed of; he was to deposit (f/n) into the Trial and do as Danny ordered. Danny’s orders just so happened to be breaking our hearts, I heard him pour his heart out to me after everything and I forgave him…but the damage had been done to (f/n).

Going into the Trial with a broken heart left her vulnerable to Wicked possessing her and trapping her tired soul inside her own body.

Of how Frank and I were together when The Blight began and he tried to attack me afterwards; it’s the only reason Claudette ended up finding out about us. Why I asked her for her help and that I was the reason we’d gone into the forest to begin with.

I can’t bring myself to interrupt the verbal lashings being doled out on me for being reckless and putting Claudette in danger by allowing her to follow me. How foolish I was to put myself in danger by allowing my dick to do the thinking for me. How I must have been out of my mind to allow (f/n) to get involved with a Killer who’s built on lying and toying with our emotions.

As I try to find the words to explain myself, I’m left thinking of Michelle again. I would have truly snapped long ago if she hadn’t helped me root myself down, she was a good friend and mentor. She helped me sort out all the thoughts I couldn’t process back home, even with a therapist. (f/n) and Frank were the new solace I found in this terrible place and while I’ll miss Michelle’s company…(f/n) and Frank mean more to me than anyone else and I’m not going to let my anxiety and fear control me to the point I lose them both forever!

I refused to consider the thought that there was anything wrong with what we have and clenched my fists before raising my eyes to the others.

“LISTEN TO ME!!!” I yell and their shouts fall silent; a look of angry awe coming over them. I don’t think anyone has ever heard me that loud outside the Trials before. “(f/n) and Frank…they…they mean more to me than I can ever express, I’ll never be able to put words to it but I’ll be damned if I can’t let his actions speak for me. Frank caused a rebellion among The Killers for me and Claudette tonight! I’m not content living like that anymore; Surviving is not living!”

“Dwight, listen to yourself! You’re talking about helping the ones who’ve been doing nothing but causing us pain and suffering all this time! Why help them now?” David asks me and I hold his stare.

“Because…The Entity is starving.” That sets off a wave of realization over their eyes. “We had already been avoiding Sacrifices pretty well before (f/n) arrived…ever since she got here, successful Sacrifices have been minimal and I guess it can’t survive like that. It’s revealed itself in the center of The Killer Camp; this massive tree with hooks hanging from the branches for direct Sacrifices.”

“Like feeding a dolphin by the hand.” Feng says and I nod.

“One successful sacrifice won’t be enough; it seems like they need a four man kill to ensure that The Entity is revived enough to hold this place together. If it can’t keep this place together…it’ll cease to exist.”

Meg stands up, holding Claudette’s hand. “Let that fucker starve to death!”

“Meg,” Claudette stops her, eyes wide. “We don’t know what will happen if it dies! If it dies off, we could all fall into The Void or something. Doesn’t that scare you?”

“Of course it does, but I’m with Dwight. I don’t want to be here in this place forever; I wanna live in a house and have a life. You know, get married and all that romantic crap you’re always talking about. Don’t you?” she asks and Claudette’s eyes grow wide.

“Meg…”

“I’d rather die trying to get free than keep going in this horrible place while that thing gets fat off of all of us!” she says and Claudette continues clutching her hand, Meg squeezing right back.

“Exactly and if we don’t take action now and they manage to revive The Entity, then we’ll be trapped here forever and we may not get another chance like this! If we were to fail and try this again in the future, at the first sign of trouble it might do something unthinkable. I’m done watching us cling to another night like frightened field mice! No more running away, no more hiding and no more Sacrificing! I’d rather die fighting for my freedom than let it be stolen from me another minute! Tonight’s Trial will be the last!” I yell and I’m met with the others raising their fists and voices in agreement and I feel my chest swell with pride. They’ve been fighting alongside me for so long just to see another artificial day here and despite my lies and deceit…they were ready to stand with me again…is this what it felt like…actually being a leader? Rallying the troops and preparing to go into battle together? I’d had the role for a long time, but it never felt like anything outside the Trials.

Coming back was always the end of that and I faded into the background, enjoying the sounds of life all around me. Looking at their faces now, seeing the budding determination in their eyes did make me feel worlds of joy.

When my eyes lowered back to David standing in front of me, I just looked up at him; waiting for him to tear into me like usual.

“You put yourself through all of that…shit…to protect a Killer and a stranger?” he asks and I nod.

“You’ve never had someone you’d do anything for?” I ask and this look comes into his eyes, something I wasn’t expecting…it looked like a painful memory had surfaced and he nodded.

“So, what’s the plan Dwight?” Jeff asks and I nod.

“Gather all the items and offerings you have; we have a lot of planning to do. Let’s all meet at Claudette’s place and we’ll regroup.” I said.

David passed me while delivering a hearty pat to my shoulder and I watched as everyone started into the woods and I took a deep breath before turning and seeing David sort of…waiting and watching me. I pointed at myself and he nodded before motioning for me to follow him.

I rushed to catch up before he got too far and by the time I did catch up, he was pulling his shirt off and folding it up, setting on a nearby stump. I always envied how muscular and agile David was, he was a tough guy all the way around but his physique was undeniable and I felt awkward around him.

I was a skinny thing who only had a little muscle tone because of the way we lived, there was nothing more to me than that.

“What’s…going on?” I asked and he pointed at the two flowerbeds on either side of the door leading towards his home.

The flower beds were barren and I could see the remnants of yellow flowers that had been tarnished.

“The person who I’d do anything for was the only person who could ever get through to me before I met (f/n). Her name was Elina, she was born in America but she moved to England to attend college and we met in a bar while I was getting rowdy about the fights. She managed to keep me from being banned by claiming to be my fiancée and guided me home.” He says evenly and I start to see what the flowers were.

“I never knew you had someone outside your family.”

“Neither did they, I made sure of that. I wanted so badly to be greedy with her and keep her all to myself, she was also the only person who could tell me what to do and I’ll be honest, I’d probably kill to make her happy.” His voice lowering and becoming sad prompted me.

“Why do I feel a ‘but’ coming on?”

“But I was addicted to drinking and fighting. She tried everything she could to keep me from going to the bars but after she fell asleep…she’d wake up and I was gone. One night she found where I’d gone and I was getting into it with some jackass who insulted me. I heard Elina yell at me to stop and I turned away from the bastard…he swung his bottle at me and Elina pushed me out of the way. She took the bottle straight to the dome and hit the ground hard. I punched that fucker so hard his tooth stuck out of his upper lip then I rushed Elina to a doctor.”

“Was she alright?”

“Yeah, fortunately she’s a tough girl. Kinda has to be to somehow see someone to love in a bastard like me. She was in her hospital bed when I went for a walk to do some soul searching; consider my next move and how to give up the bottle and the fights…that was when I heard what sounded like a whisper. It was like someone was challenging me…I could hear Elina calling out for me not to go…I walked into the fog...and I found myself in a Trial with Huntress.” His voice was clear and solemn; sober as a judge.

I remember meeting David and The Huntress for the first time. I’d been sneaking up to a generator when I heard the singing and hid because I’d never heard it before. I was absolutely horrified when I saw her gliding through the undergrowth with her axe, that gentle tune coming from her! I’d waited until she moved on before I tried to take off…when David yelled loudly for ‘whoever that is to stop singing and just answer him, damn it!’. I had hurried to silence him but she had already flung a hatchet at us and it stuck in the tree beside us. I remember meeting him…but…

“You remember how you came here? How?”

“I started regaining pieces of my memories after she came back, (f/n) and I…you already know.” He says awkwardly and I nod when he turns to me. “Listen, about that-”

“It’s Ok…we don’t have to talk about it.” I say, standing firm by what I told (f/n). She said she loves me and I believe her.

“Still, I don’t want to put a strain on you. She activated ‘Take One’ by mistake, that’s all.” He says and I can’t fight the sigh of relief that escapes me; it makes him smile wide at me. “Feel better?” He playfully punches my shoulder and I laugh.

“Honestly, yeah!” we share a moment of silence when my eyes return to the flowers. “So…what were those?”

“Daffodils; Elina planted them at my house to try and make it more ‘home like’ and I can’t tell you how glad I was seeing these here. It meant I had some piece of her with me…making this hell bearable.” He says and that’s when it clicked.

“The flowers…someone destroyed them.”

“Yeah, I thought it was you since I mess you about all the time. Seeing you and (f/n) …there was no way you’d do something like that. This was just heartless…I don’t know who did it but someone really wanted to hurt me. Bastard.” He says and I nod when he suddenly turns and makes to swing at me!

I dodge and nearly fall over myself to keep myself standing. “What was that?!”

“You don’t know jack shit about fighting and I don’t collect any items that aren’t liquor so, I’m going to give you a little crash course like you gave me. Consider me repaying you,”

“Um…” I stuttered as I realized, this was his way of making peace with me…and trying to help me be prepared.

I pulled my tie out of its place and tossed it aside, affixing my glasses on my nose before raising my fists similar to his. He takes another swing and I trip backwards to avoid it. I knew things were about to get much more difficult than I was used to but…now the whole of our group is on the same page…if we failed, we can at least say we gave it our absolute best. Something that cannot be said for what happened to Michelle.

 

 

 

JAKE

“I’m not giving you a Sport Flashlight in exchange for your shitty lens!” Nea yelled as Ace twirled a shimmering glass lens around on his fingertip.

“It’s not shitty! This is a Sapphire Lens, show some respect!” Ace argues but Nea just flips him off, curling her lip in disgust.

“Piss off! How the hell is the lens going to help me if I don’t have a flashlight to use it on!?” she argues and I just laugh as Ace struggles to scam her out of her light.

Nea was really rough and tumble but that’s what I loved about her, she never settled and always did things her own way. She wasn’t new to being plucked from the world she knew and having to adapt to survive it, though this place was a far leap from skateparks and dodging the fuzz.

She naturally had hazelnut hair that grew straight and flat but she had a style and liked to stick to it. Currently, her hair was long and bleached blond, no make up and her intense ice blue eyes burning holes in Ace’s forehead when she glanced at me and the scowl on her face disappeared.

She relented to Ace and tossed the flashlight at him and came over to me. Nea was strong and confident with every move she made, catlike was the best possible way to describe her since she was so nimble and sly.

“Hey, finished already?” she asked, stuffing her thumbs into the pockets of her galaxy shorts.

“Yeah, I’ve never needed much to get by. You know me.” I say and she steps into my chest, wrapping her arms around my back and sighing as I closed my arms around her thin frame. “What’s going on?”

“Listen, Claudette is going around and making sure we all understand what we’re risking. If we force The Entity to starve to death…we might all finally die…I’ll never get to see you again.” I was about to complain when she squeezed me tighter. “Just…let me have this for a second.”

I felt the uncertainty begin welling up in my belly as I squeezed her tighter. She was right, success could mean freedom or the sweet release of death. I knew it was wrong for me to be so ready to die but…Nea…

“What the hell happened to you two?!” She yells, not letting go of me and I glance over my shoulder to see what she’s talking about.

David and Dwight were both approaching us but they looked like they’d gone a few rounds first. Dwight’s cheek was swollen and red and his eyes had dark circles blooming purple; insinuating his nose had previously been broken. David on the other hand, in all his shirtless glory was covered in small bruises and had a black eye.

“Nothing, just a little…what’d you call it?” Dwight stutters and David puts an arm around his shoulders, causing this little antenna of mine to go up.

“Sparring practice, gotta toughen him up before we get started.” He says and against my lower belly demanding I stay with Nea, I go over and push them apart without a word. This leads to a confused look from Dwight, an annoyed glare from David and a giggle from Nea behind me.

Great, I don’t know what’s worse; when they fight or their bromance?

Dwight suddenly seemed to remember something and quickly produced a rather large piece of parchment paper and while we recognized it as a map…we couldn’t tell what kind it was.

“What’s that?” I asked, approaching and raising my arm to allow Nea to step into place beside me.

“Something that Michelle left behind, I collected it from her house before it disappeared…right after she died. Michelle made this herself…it’s a map of the Entire Entity’s Realm and it covers all Killer Realms too.”

“Wow! This is crazy!” Nea stepped away from me and snatched it from him. “This is so detailed…this Michelle we keep hearing about must have been a serious badass.”

“I’m sure it would make her happy to hear you say that.” Dwight says and I can’t help but feel my heart pinch for him.

He and Michelle were pretty close, she took to Dwight pretty well too, almost like an apprentice. She simply looked after us all and taught us everything she’d learned about being here. Michelle’s 2nd grade teacher face was still fresh in my mind but that was it. It was something I hated about this place…spend enough time here and people’s images start to fade.

Nea spread the map out and used some glass lenses to keep it flat. Dwight pointed to the farthest left of the forest. The map was laid out like the sun rising over the horizon, our little meadow and forest was the sun and the ‘rays’ were different Realms in The Killer Forest.

“We should start at this spot here; The Red Forest is Huntress’ domain and she stood with us. We can start with getting her to side with us and hopefully make the rest of this rescue run easier.”

“I thought she couldn’t speak English?” Nea asked and Dwight kind of tilted his head.

“She can’t, I told you; it’s a long story. I’ll explain on the way. Last thing, obviously all of us going is going to be risky…” He’s stalled by Feng who raises her hand and steps up.

“I have an idea actually, how about we do this in teams. Team One goes in to fetch The Huntress while the rest of us remain at the border and prepare the next team. Once Huntress is with you, come back and we can trade out people as needed plus we’ll be able to help Huntress if she needs to be patched up or something like that and worst-case scenario we can jump back over here if someone tries to stop us. It’ll be like trading team members for a raid, keep everyone fresh and in tip top shape.” She says and Meg hops to her feet.

“That’s…actually a great idea!”

I nod and Dwight stands up. “Ok, the only way to ensure that they know we’re there to help them is if Claudette or I are present…so who’s going with me on Team One?”

Meg, Claudette and I all raise our hands and I nod when Feng starts pointing at people.

“Ok, so Team One can be Team OG Survivors; consisting of Claudette, Meg, Jake and Dwight.” She points then at David. “You can front Team Two; consisting of you, Dwight, Nea and Jake. I’ll call you Team Lovebirds.” She says and frantically hunts for a pen and paper.

David looked done with her naming the teams and I just shook my head.

“Ok, Teams of four and we’ll go in raids, like Feng said. Once we get Huntress out…we’ll come back here and rest a minute before going back out. We need to be at 100% constantly for us to succeed. Coming back without someone is NOT an option, if they even get one of us then they’re going to revive The Entity and we can’t let that happen. I hope you guys are ready because this is going to be the longest night of our lives.” He takes one more long breath before a loud crash of thunder overhead warns us of the Realm further falling apart. “Let’s also never forget…no matter what happens…we gave it our all.”

His firm voice makes me reach out again and take Nea’s hand…knowing full well that if we were successful…Nea was right, I might never see her beautiful face again. I squeezed her hand and she squeezed me back.

Chapter Text

Quick update guys, I'm sorry this chapter is taking so long but much like our Reader-Chan in this story; I too am working through my PTSD and some things have happened that I need to step back and deal with before I can be Ok again. I know this is right after I've posted the beginning of the next book but if I'm not Ok, it will affect my work and I don't want that. Be sure to take care of yourselves and the ones around you, Self-Care is more than just a Perk in a video game.
Wish me luck :3

Chapter Text

Finally home again, local hospital was lovely but there's truly no place like home. I was told to rest but I can lay on my belly and type :3
I wasn't permitted any stimuli where I was so I didn't get to work on the story much. I'll be reading through what I've written as a little refresher and make a few adjustments here and there to clean up the story. Updates coming real soon, story updates, not me.
Sorry for the inconvenience and I hope you guys are all doing well.

Chapter Text

DWIGHT

The air was thick with tension as I listened to the sound of a bear trap snapping closed, followed by a scream that scared all the crows in the area away. The startling sound of them all taking flight together was and black feathers raining down over me was loud enough to drown out the sound of the heartbeat I’d grown accustomed to hearing. I never heard Trapper behind me as he raised his weapon into the air and raked it down my back.

My shoulder blade cracked and the blade bumped against my spine and ribs as it cut through my tender flesh, pain erupting all over my back! I hit the dirt so hard my glasses fell off my face and I was left in a blurry world of agony, sending my anxiety through the roof.

I listened to him wipe my blood off his blade as he went to collect whoever had been unfortunate enough to stumble into his trap. He left me here…to bleed and suffer…alone in the dark.

“Hey,” a soft voice reached me and I heard feet nearby.

Someone found me! I looked up but could only make out the blurry shape of a person as they stood before me. I heard the light scrap against the dirt as they picked up my glasses and I was too weak to move away as they pushed them onto my head again. The round face of a young black woman appeared before me in the clarity she granted me.

“Run…” I tried but she shook her head and shushed me softly.

“Hush…eat this.” She offered me a small bundle of leaves from her hand. “It’s not much but it should numb the pain a little.”

It smelled like lavender but tasted bitter and the juices from biting into the leaves made my tongue feel sticky. I forced myself to swallow what she gave me as she began mending my wounds on my back.

“Why…?” I asked.

Besides Michelle, the only people I’ve met here have never come to help me once I’ve gone down. This girl I didn’t recognize was here helping me like it was the most natural thing in the world for her to do. Poor thing probably had no clue what this place held…just saw a worm struggling for life…like I always have.

“You needed help, shush…he might hear us.” She soothed and gently rubbed the back of my head as she continued her work on my back.

 

“Dwight?”

I looked up from my hand to see Meg standing next to me with an expectant look on her face.

“Yes?!”

“We’re getting ready to start, you Ok?” she asks and bumps her shoulder against mine as I nod quickly.

She looks down at my hand and sees that what I’m holding is a Begonia, she even reaches out to poke its still vibrant petal with her fingertip.

“Begonia, ‘beware’ right?” she asks and I nod.

“Yeah, Claudette said its basic meaning was a warning…I figured it fit best for Huntress since I used to think she could throw hatchets over the line. Kind of pointless now that I know they are stopped by The Entity.” I say and she pats my shoulder.

We’re startled to looking to our left as we hear the sickening squelch of a freshly blossomed Pustula, slithering upward from the earth and spilling stinking nectar onto the dirt. I wrinkled my nose at the smell and Meg spit into The Killer Forest as a result.

“Hey, can I tell you something?” she asks as she crosses her legs and settles in beside me.

“Yeah, what is it?” I answered.

“I…um…I remember how I got here.” She says, looking out into the woods and not at me.

“Wait…you do!?” I did nothing to mask my shock.

“Yeah, it was while I was out for a run. I’d given up my shot at college to go home and take care of my mom…cancer.” She says, an undeniable fear glinting in her eyes for only a second.

“I remember, you mentioned a long time ago that your dad left when you were little.”

“Yeah, good riddance. Mom and I were fine, I never should have gone on that run though.” She leaned back on her hands and looked up at the harvest moon hanging in the sky, casting that same orange light over the whole area.

“What happened?”

“I had my headphones on when the music started skipping…I took them off, thinking it might be my iPod not working but…the woods around me had changed. It was just a park, a forest path that I’d run on millions of times was suddenly dark and foggy. It was immediately strange since it was in the middle of summer, but the really weird part was when it seemed like the trees were getting closer.” She seemed to fade off into that memory as she gazed hard at the trees before us. “Every turn I made and every blink, it seemed like the trees were getting closer and blocking me in…so I started running. They started chasing me down, it felt like. I just ran harder until I ran into some geeky guy hiding in a bush.” She says and turns to me with a smile, her eyes still seeing the memory but looking back fondly upon our meeting.

We laugh, recalling vividly how I’d been hiding from Trapper when Meg literally busted through a bush and ran right into me, knocking us both down.

“I’m just glad that was you then and not Trapper, that would have been really awkward. I’ve never seen the man so much as stumble before.” I admitted and she nodded her agreement.

“Yeah…It’s weird but I think I started remembering how it happened right after (f/n) came back. Freaky huh?” she says and I nod but decide not to tell her about David’s recollection.

That’s two different people whose memories have returned to them after (f/n) came back from…wherever she’d been. No one here can remember how they came here, then (f/n) returns and not only was she the only one who knew exactly how she came to be here…but her return sparked those memories to life in Meg and David.

I wonder if others have experienced those memories again or if it was just them so far? If they have, why hasn’t anyone else said so? What’s more, why would her returning here revive those memories within us?

Meg lets out a sigh and stands up, loudly cracking her back as she stretches out and waves me to follow her. “Come on…let’s go.”

Turning away from their forest sent a cold chill up my spine, almost as if those woods were actively closing in on us the way Meg had seen before coming here. The idea was off-putting but I shook my head to clear the image and rejoined the small group we’d gathered at the edge of the woods.

We’d left the Camp Fire at the center of our woods and could see Bill and Quentin preparing a new large bonfire that would center our new camp. I could see that preparations for the impending mission were in full swing. Everyone was working in different spots to ensure we were as prepared as humanly possible.

Laurie, Adam, Jane and Feng were nowhere to be found at the moment, but that was distracted from by the sound of David chopping wood and stacking the pieces beside Bill and Quentin.

Claudette and Jake were seated beside a small gaggle of laundry baskets full of everyone’s items and offerings, organized and bunched accordingly.

Jeff and Nea seemed to be looking over some of his sketch books nearby when Ash and Ace approached Meg and I.

“You guys almost ready to get started?” Ash asked and I nodded, gesturing around at us.

“We seem to be missing a few?? Where are the others?”

“Jane’s place happens to be the closest to where we are right now and Tapp said he could smell rain coming. He’s grabbing a few things from Feng’s place to prepare us. Jane, Laurie and Feng are setting up a weather appropriate camp at Jane’s incase this camp gets tossed like a salad.” Ace says just as Bill approaches who gives him a squinty eyed look.

“Have you no tact?”

Fortunately, everyone had a good supply built up of things to ensure we’d have everything we need. Usually we kept our items to ourselves since they were sometimes hard to come by. “Finders Keepers” was a game that particularly Ace liked to play. Today however, we’d collectively settled our things together so we could prepare for this properly and I guess someone was kind enough to sort everything accordingly.

I was rather impressed with our little stockpile of items. Flashlights set into neat little rows, Toolboxes stacked atop one another and Med Kits all lined up beside each other. There were equally gruesome items set alongside them all in large baskets. Offerings we were familiar with burning often, shrouds left by Vigo in various places…always haunting us with his memory. There were also several small vials of reagents to influence the fog we would see in the Trials and several carefully organized baskets of offerings that would take us to certain places should we burn it.

Keys, masks, bones and puzzle piece shaped chunks of flesh…definitive offerings to affect where we would be sent…grizzly but useful.

I turned to look at the side of the forest opposite to us and could see the storm raging in the distance, still in the Killer Forest but on its way to us. Looking out at it I knew that it would snuff out the harvest moon above us soon enough and leave us with only the firelight to keep us out of the dark.

The sun wouldn’t come up again until this Trial was over, but that wasn’t going to happen until they had their four man kill for The Entity. I clenched my fist tight as I thought about the only ones that weren’t here; Kate and (f/n) …this fact forced me into a new realization that I must have overlooked during our talk earlier.

“Only two of us are gone…” I muttered and Meg turned to me, seeming not to have heard me at all.

“What’s that?”

“Who’s not here? Only Kate and (f/n) are not present…only two of us.” I say and this little wave of anxiety shoots over us all.

“Oh shit,” Meg says, slapping her forehead as she too realized our oversight and Jake stands up.

“Two new Survivors at once? That’s never happened before…but it means that we’ll be rescuing two people who may not know how this world works at all.” Jake says and I nod but can’t bring myself to remember what Trapper had said.

“Trapper mentioned something about two new people and a new Killer but…I can’t remember.” I say and Claudette stands up as well.

“Well, things got a little out of control right after we got caught…I don’t blame you.” She says then gestures at the area around her. “We best get started,” she says and I nod.

I took a deep breath, focusing on that twinge of pain in my shoulder from where David had arm barred me before. That little bit of pain allowed me to root myself to it before stepping over to join the others. The group crowded around us and waited patiently for me, ready…waiting…expecting leadership.

This felt different than in the Trials, I guess because I either stepped up or died. There was no immediate threat so my panic laden leadership wasn’t as easy to channel now.

“Alright…Let’s pack in synchrony to make sure we all have our supplies. Everyone gets a utility flashlight, pack extra batteries and make sure your lights are affixed with an intense halogen and sapphire lens.” I instruct, trying to sound more confident than I actually felt.

Jake, Meg and Claudette slowly pick up a flashlight and pack four extra batteries and have to dig through the basket of lenses to find the one I mentioned. I feel a hand on my arm and see that Jane and the others have returned and she’s presenting to me a back pack clearly marked for her use only.

“Dwight, don’t forget about yourself.” Jane says and offers me a back pack she’d brought along.

It was weaved from heavy material with a faded red, yellow and white pattern on it that spoke of her heritage, save for one faded but excited blue hedgehog patched over an obvious tear.

“Right…Thanks Jane.” She winks before rejoining the others and I move to gather my own supplies.

The shaft of the flashlight was built from heavy metal, crisscross patterned with deep diamond shaped grooves for efficient grip. The power behind the seemingly harmless tool always sent a shiver through my arm, even without the modifications.

I’d almost considered us using the odd bulbs instead but they ate up batteries too fast and we wouldn’t have time to reload them constantly…at least I figured we wouldn’t. I still wasn’t one hundred percent sure as to what we would be immediately faced with, a Realm of hell without its master and all the monsters running loose. Not to mention some of those monsters were on our side and to make matters worse, there were two new souls trapped here that we would have to protect.

“Ahem…Ok…uh, Keys?” I say next and am once again responded to with a slight rustling of movement and the tiniest bit of chatter.

Jake and Meg both had their own small basket of keys set aside and Claudette borrowed from Meg. While they did that, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the only dirty, bent up key that I’d managed to hold onto. It reverberated the tiniest of hums as I held it and chilled the fingers that touched it. These were some of the most difficult to come across items here as they were the only thing that could promise us victory after the Hatch has been shut during the Endgame.

“Michelle’s Map?” Meg asks and all eyes fall to me.

I stutter as I glance down at my pathetic little laundry basket, previously full of all my things had now been filled with maps but Michelle’s map had been placed on top of it like a cherry.

It was a huge piece of parchment that Michelle had sewn together herself and after I prodded her for a while, asking about how she’d obtained the materials to make it…she told me. I’d never shared that secret with anyone…nor how I’d followed it later on. The conversation I’d had with her over that haunted my thoughts like an upset soul.

I took a deep breath before picking it up and placed it into the bag, pressing it off to the side at the bottom. I felt a small chill race up my spine as my fingers left it and Claudette’s eyes held question before she opened her mouth again.

“Dwight, I’m not doubting you at all…but Michelle…um…” she stuttered and Meg took over.

“Michelle died a long time ago…how are we sure we can still trust her map?” she asks and I bite the inside of my cheek before answering, I guess a secret only stays one if you don’t tell it.

“Michelle told me how she made it…I’ve added to it as the forest grew and changed. I promise, it’s up to date.” There’s a long pause as I feel that unspoken question hangs in the air but strangely enough, I hear my own voice asking Michelle…How did you make that? “Moving on,” I say trying to ignore it and Jake holds up a first aid kit.

“Medicine time,” he says and pops it open; showing us his own personal layout. “Ok, so what I have here is a small cornucopia of everything we’d need to quick fix and field dress until we can get ourselves to safety. I’ve only packed one anti-hemorrhage syringe because putting all our eggs in one basket would be dangerous…and I only have one.”

“Eggs in a basket?” Meg tilts her head.

“He means that if we just brought our whole stockpile and we fail…we’d lose everything. Better to play it strategically and not panic.” Feng answers and kneels beside us, presenting us with a porcelain tiger mask. “Here, if you’re going to her forest…you’ll want to burn this.” She says and that’s when Adam kneels down beside her and picks it up, surveying its glassy surface.

“The one that usually accepts these offerings isn’t present…how are you sure it will work?”

“Better to try anyways, play it safe? I’ve got a crap ton of this stuff so I’m not bent out of shape wasting my stockpile.” She says excitedly and Adam nods, smiling.

“It’s true…Feng is one hell of a…what’d you call it? Something hoarder?” Meg adds.

“Loot hoarder, even the weakest item can mean the difference between Survival and Sacrifice. You’ll thank me,” she says and leaves the tiger mask on the ground before us before stepping back to rejoin the ranks.

“Last but not least…Perks,” I say and the mention of this has us all take a deep breath before Nea comes over to us, holding an old piece of cardboard and a pencil.

“So…who’s taking what? Remember, everyone brings Self-Care and choose your builds wisely.” she orders firmly before pointing at Jake’s raised hand.

“I’m taking Iron Will, Calm Spirit and Boil Over.” He says and Nea gives him an unsure look but she takes note anyways.

“Next,” without looking at us, Meg starts.

“Quick & Quiet, Adrenaline and Tenacity.” She shoots finger guns at Detective Tapp who nods respectfully at her.

“Claudette, I’m gonna guess Empathy?” she starts but Claudette shakes her head, though Nea doesn’t see that.

“No,” she says in a low voice, this makes Nea raise her head.

“No?” She sounds genuinely shocked.

“I’ll take Sprint Burst, Aftercare and Balanced Landing.” Nea raises her eyes from the cardboard and smiles fondly at Claudette. They share a fist bump and I feel a small smile come to my face.

Using someone else’s Perk has become something of a sign of respect. Meg using Tapp’s perk is a compliment to his well…tenacity. Similarly, Claudette using Balanced Landing is a compliment to Nea’s speed since the former usually uses Perks that help others and less herself.

“Alright Dwight…what are you taking?”

“Windows of Opportunity, Leader and Resilience.” There’s a gap of awkward silence and its only assured after Nea nods and jots it down.

I knew why they had fallen silent…Resilience was one of Michelle’s Perks. Once you left us…any Perk you brought here was all that you left behind…that being said though, your words were the only other piece left…names were irrelevant.

“I’ll get those laid out for you all…take care of yourselves.”

Just as we’re closing up our bags, Jake jumps to his feet and rushes over to Nea who looks surprised when he grabs her face and pulls her into a passionate kiss, causing gasps all around as she drops the cardboard and melts into his arms, holding him tight.

I was happy to see him so happy…but also felt a twist of pain in my heart. I clenched my teeth and turned my back to them, letting them finish. I was surprised by Jake placing his hand on my shoulder and I looked up at him as he nodded and we bid the others farewell. They stopped the goodbyes and instead said they’d ‘see us soon’. Another pinch in my heart; they fully expected us to return as a group.

I kept my worries to myself, looking at this as anything different than a Trial was dangerous. There was no guarantee that we’d come back together…if at all. I expected that failure would mean more torture than anything like before.

There was this sense of dread over the lot of us as we looked into the woods. Glancing at the group I was taking with me into the woods I could see that we’d had similar ideas as to how we should dress.

(f/n) had been wearing my shirt when she went into the Trial so I didn’t have it, I just chose to wear what I had the night of the party…minus that fedora.

Meg had worn her pink runners top and blue leggings with pink tennis shoes, also sporting her utility belt with four pockets but they were likely empty. She’d also French braided it back and tied off the end with a black band.

Claudette had adorned her pink button up with two pockets on the chest and blue capris with dirty old sneakers. Despite her hair getting chopped off before, she’d cleaned it up a little and now sported a trendy bob with her bangs framing her face.

Jake never felt the need to change his clothes too much, lest they need washing so he always sported his green jacket, gardeners’ gloves and thick Carhart pants with black hiking boots. The one thing he never went without was his scarf, it was a soft grey thing that he never left alone; a parting gift from his mother when he left home.

As nervous as I’m sure we all were about this I felt there was still more to be said, I turned to the group.

“Hang on, before we go…I’ve got a few things to say.”

“Dwight, can’t it wait? You’ve got to get out there and save the love of your life, all that jazz…right?” Feng says and I smile softly at her.

“I know…but this has to be said now.”

There’s a long pause, no one wanted to interrupt me and I was building myself up to say what needed saying. I took a deep breath and looked over all their expectant faces.

“Listen, I appreciate your confidence in us…but we can’t feign ignorance over the truth. We are about to venture into Killer Territory on a rescue mission for not just a team of our own…but Killers as well. Keep in mind…there’s no way in hell the ones who still mean to hunt us, won’t let the others go without a fight. We are going to have to stand against them, be at odds with them and it may come down to one on one if things get really bad. Please understand, if the sun comes up and we didn’t come back…this entire attempt was a complete failure. Do not venture out for us! Leave us and prepare for the next Trial as usual.” I took a deep breath before continuing. “This past…few months has been absolutely chaotic and that says a lot considering what we’ve all been through. (f/n)’s arrival was unlike anything we’d seen…and that’s because she wasn’t meant to be one of us.”

“What?!” Meg gasps but Claudette keeps her head bowed. “Claudette, you knew about this too?!”

“We overheard it at the Killer Camp and I couldn’t find a moment to say anything about it. I’m telling you now.” I say clearly and I can see the uncertainty in their eyes. “Listen, she was originally brought here to be a Killer…she was meant to hunt us down our first Trial with her. Something went wrong and she never underwent the transformation that she was supposed to. She never became the monster it wanted her to be and she became one of us by default.”

“Are you surprised she ended up being one of us though? Remember the story she told about how she came here? She was always meant to be one of us.” Feng says and I smile softly.

“You’re right, but that being said…” I say, lowering my head. “Kate and the two new Survivors…they’re our priority.”

There’s an audible gasp amongst them and I know I should cut to the chase…but the words hurt to say.

“But…what about (f/n)? You’re not saying…” David starts.

“Yes, I am.” I cut him off and the look on his face is one of pure shock. “I love (f/n) more than words can describe…but if it comes down to it and we have to leave someone…it will have to be her. She’s the only one with Perks that would help her survive any situation and to leave anyone else would be foolish. Feng said so herself, we have to look at this strategically…logically, she’s the one we should leave behind.” I say and feel my chest weigh heavy with her image in mind.

She’d side with me. They know I’m right…that’s why no one is arguing with me…so why do I feel like absolute garbage for saying those words?

I took a deep breath and steeled myself before raising my head and looking at them, knowing I may never see their faces again.

“We’ll do our best though, to save everyone. That’s the ultimate goal tonight, no one else is going up on those hooks. The hunt is over.” I say and their faith in us seems renewed but…I still feel that terrible weight in my chest for electing to leave (f/n) behind.

We haven’t even set foot into those woods yet and I’m already preparing to leave behind one of the only people who I’d gladly do anything for. Look at me, I’m supposed to love her and yet I’m opting to leave her behind in a horrible place to protect others…where’s the nobility in that? What I’ve said is wrong and what I’ve opted to do is wrong! Yet it makes the most sense when it comes to the number of lives we need to save.

I’m pulled from my thoughts by Meg’s hand on my shoulder. I look up at her and her blue eyes are big and searching my face for something.

“That was one hell of a proclamation there Dwight. You shouldn’t worry though; it won’t have to come to that. We have to remain confident.” She says, trying to lift my spirits…but I shake my head, making the smile she gave me fade.

“I’m sorry, but if I’m going to look out for you guys like a true leader…I have to put the needs of the many…over the desires of the one.” I say and she slowly lets her hand leave my shoulder.

“You don’t have to be ‘the one’ though,” she says quietly before turning her attention to the forest before us.

The woods were daunting, dark and filled with the light fog we’d all come to fear. The bark on the trees were black, few of them were cracked open with glowing orange puss leaking out and more sported Pustula’s that grew into at least two blossoms a sprout.

The four of us took that first step over the line and felt the air around us drop almost 20 degrees instantly. Chills shot up our backs and goosebumps raised up over everyone’s skin as the fog seemed to reach out towards us, beckoning us to go further within it.

“Whoa…” Meg lets out a shaky breath.

“Whoa, is right.” I agreed and started forward, leading the way into the woods; allowing the fog to swallow us and block the others from seeing us within it. The sky grew darker and the chilly air held the heavy odor of the Pustula Petals all around us, the dense fog doing nothing to weigh down that stench. We each pulled out a face mask, all borrowed from Nea to fend off the smell.

As we ventured further into the woods, the foliage and land began to change. The large maple looking trees began to fade into Blighted sycamores, the loose shrubbery we’d passed were transforming into thick brambles. The woods slowly grew darker until even the light of the moon above us wasn’t enough to light the way well. I reluctantly kept my light away, leading us through the dark. My eyes were adjusting to the dark and I could still make out the trees and brush as we went, keeping us on a straight path into the woods. While light would have been immensely helpful, it would both give us away and waste the light we may need later. We were on the edge of Huntress’ territory when we heard the slightest of flaps and we all fell quiet, our slow steps coming to a dead stop.

“What was that?” Claudette whispered.

The flapping sound seemed to bounce around us and started making me nervous, this was new. I’d never heard sounds scatter around us the way this was right now and I worried we had stumbled into some sort of trap. I pulled out my light and raised the beam and my jaw dropped. In front of us, was an Alfred Hitchcock wet dream…birds. Birds EVERYWHERE!

The crows were quite literally everywhere, branches weighed down with them, the ground looking black with the amount of birds and feathers there were all huddled together. That flapping we kept hearing was them, we’d wandered right into a big murder and glancing behind me I could see the path behind us was bare of any crows.

Ok…we walked right into them but we hadn’t gone far…I gestured for the others to back up. They started moving back slowly as not to stir the birds when one crow with big red eyes flew down and landed right in front of us!

“Fuck…” As that word left my lips, the red eyed crow let out a deafening cry and the birds began to frenzy!

“RUN!” Meg screamed and we started running forward as fast as we could! The forest was somewhat illuminated by the many Pustula’s we passed as we ran, only allowing us the ability to see the crows just before they attacked us. Pecks and talons all around us and loud caws left us running blind! My vision became streaks of orange amid the dark forest when my foot caught a root and I fell down so hard, my glasses fell off and I was once again left in a world of blurry colors and agony.

I could only cover my head and curl up in a ball as I was pecked at mercilessly by what felt like a small army of crows on me! Their talons dug into me to hold tight as they pecked harshly, their sharp beaks stabbing through my shirt and into my skin. I swung up wildly to try and fend them off but they refused to leave me be.

I could hear Meg and Claudette screaming in pain as they were picked apart by these things and I felt my heart sink deep into the dirt. We’d barely managed a few steps into their forest and we’d already been bested by crows!

I heard feet nearby and my fears became reality…someone had found us already. All this commotion was sure to bring every Killer within earshot in our general direction.

Damn it.

I waited as the feet approached me slowly when I felt a hand on my cheek, gloved and rough; gardener gloves. Jake!

“Shush…its Ok.” He said calmly and rubbed my cheek with his thumb.

I fell as still as I could, involuntarily jerking as I was still being pecked at. I could hear him still muttering softly as the number of crows on me began to dwindle and their loud caws began to soothe into an almost pigeon like cooing.

I laid there as still as possible, catching my breath and letting my heart slow down again when I felt my glasses get pushed into place on my face and I could clearly see Jake now, holding my light and offering it to me.

I took the light and looked around, there were maybe seven or eight crows just calmly preening around me on the ground, no longer concerned with us.

“Shush,” he says and gestures to follow him as he helps me to stand.

Despite us standing amid the calm, we can hear the girls screaming still, somewhere in the dark. I raise my beam and see that there are crows all around us now, we were in the thick of their woods and they knew we didn’t belong here.

“Light,” he whispers and points straight ahead of us.

I raise my beam and he walks forward, guiding me along behind him, he’s still got a firm grip on my hand as we go further into the woods. Soon, we find Meg; huddled against a tree and swinging her light at them blindly trying to fend off the six birds that were bouncing around her, pecking and cawing loudly.

Jake gestured for me to wait and walked over to her slowly, reaching out and catching the wrist with the light in her hand and making her look up.

“Jake, what the fuck!” she says but he just shakes his head and shushes her like he did me and she falls silent and still.

He then starts reaching out and carefully grabbing the birds, catching their wings against their bodies and shushing them as he pets down their ruffled feathers before setting them on the ground away from her and moving on to the next.

Once the last crow has been set down, Meg raises her head; still shaking terribly from the assault. Jake takes her hand and guides her to stand before gesturing for me to follow the whimpering cries of Claudette from within the dark.

We find her curled up into a ball, using her backpack to try and push the birds away but they simply hop back over and peck at her sides, as if teasing her like a playground bully.

Jake leaves us to go over and do his same slow-moving crow removal as he seems to deem her whimpering not a problem. Once they’re off her, she raises her head and sighs upon seeing him and sits up to hug him, ignoring the birds around her who in turn, ignore her as well.

Once we get her up, we huddle together, hold hands and start forward into the woods. I use my light to keep us on the trodden down path and despite it being overrun by crows at the moment, we manage to avoid further attacks by lightly prodding them into stepping out of our way.

Carefully, following that path even after leaving the massive murder, we didn’t talk or let go of each other until we reach a small clearing. Jake lets out a heavy breath; the silent sign we’d been unknowingly waiting for.

“Ok, we’re safe now.” He says calmly.

“What the hell was that? The crows have never attacked us before,” Meg asks, surveying her arms for damage.

Everyone but Jake is riddled with little red spots of blood or scrapes from the attack.

“More changes, the being that kept them alive is no longer present, their way of life is changing but they don’t know what to do.” Jake answers but I just feel my anxiety spike again.

“Sounds familiar,” I say lowly, knowing that my low spirits are going to infect the others like a virus and I need to get it together.

“Um…I think we’ve gotten a little turned around. This isn’t The Red Forest.” Claudette says and that prompts the rest of us to look.

The massive trees had been replaced with little suburban trees, trimmed and well-kept, but the sight of an abandoned preschool told me exactly where we were even without looking at Michelle’s map.

“Springwood…this is Freddy’s Realm!”

Just as that realization struck me, we were startled into hiding behind some bushes by the loudest scream that seemed to come from nowhere. Julie suddenly ran by and ducked behind a wall, her head lolling off to one side.

Her hood was down and she wasn’t wearing her mask so we could see the expression on her face, jaw tensed and eyes crinkled up in frustration. She was sweating terribly and was shivering at the same time. Despite the sweat, her eyes and lips were dark blue and I knew right away what was wrong.

“It’s Julie, she’s asleep! She must be just far enough away from the others to make her Curse prevalent.” I say when Claudette touches my shoulder.

“Freddy must be the one punishing them!”

“Hmm…Ok, I have a plan. Jake, Claudette; you two will stay with me. Meg, you are gonna run back to the others and bring Quentin here. We’re going to have to stop Freddy once and for all if we’re going to help them…we’ll need his help.” I say and Meg looks unsure.

“Are you sure separating is a good idea? I can avoid the birds now that I know where we are but...is it really worth it?” she asks and I nod.

“This is a battle that he knows better than any of us, he’s the key to beating Freddy.” I say and she nods before turning and racing off into the woods.

Claudette squeezes my shoulder and I reach up and take her hand. “She’ll be alright, won’t she?” she asks and I nod.

“She’ll be back before we know it, for now…let’s wake Julie.” I say and am about to start forward when we hear what sounds like little girls singing.

A haunting melody and I whipped around, pushing Claudette and Jake further into the bushes, just as Freddy rounds the corner of a house nearby and comes into view.

“Oh look…another playmate. I knew you were stupid but I didn’t think you were stupid enough to come back all alone.” He mocks and wiggles his bladed fingers, his voice sending chills up my back.

He hasn’t seen them so he must think I’m alone. He suddenly swings to hit me but I jump backwards, dodging them and his eyes widen, not the least bit concerned though. “Quicker than before.”

“What are you doing to Julie? Where are the others?” I ask, spotting Jake and Claudette slowly sneaking around behind him and towards her.

“Bad things happening to bad kids…and nosy kids…just so happen to be a niche of mine.” He laughs wickedly, his lilting, gravelly voice was unsettling. It was like being face to face with the embodiment of your worst nightmares and it laughed at you too.

Whatever was happening to Julie must have begun to worsen as she began swinging punches wildly and screaming to be left alone.

“What have you done to her?” I ask calmly, bracing a foot behind me should he swing again.

Freddy smiles then slowly approaches me, offering me one blade from his hand and a sinister sentence.

“See for yourself.”

I hesitate, knowing that I was taking a big risk by allowing him to pull me into The Dream World…but it was a risk I would have to take if I was going to help Julie.

I reached out and cut my palm open on his knife, plunging the world around me into a water damaged ink painting. Dyed in black and white with what looked like ash falling from the cloud filled sky. Despite the few Pustula’s that radiated that bright orange light, their glow was quite subdued compared to before and now, even the harvest moon was blocked out of the sky by those ash raining clouds.

Looking up from my hand, I could see that Julie was wearing a bright pink dress with a white ribbon in her hair and deep magenta lipstick on her lips. She was swinging wildly at a fat guy in a too tight blazer and holding screaming flowers made of baby heads out to her.

“It’s Ok if you’re mad now, you’ll learn to love me since we’ll be married soon.” He said, his voice gurgling from how bad she’d already beaten his face in.

His eyes were deflated and gushing blood, covering the baby heads before him in it, which only seemed to make them cry louder.

“I’LL KILL YOU BEFORE I EVER SAY ‘I DO’ TO YOU!!!!” She screamed as she landed another vicious punch to the center of his face, cracking his nose and disfiguring the man more.

I could see the horror in her eyes, her make up smeared from the amount of times she’d wiped her face and something that looked like a bite mark on her upper lip.

“Aw…Julie…” I said when Freddy stepped between us and raised his hand.

“Now then, let’s see what it is you’re really afraid of.” He says and I raise my arms to defend myself when a crisp smack rings out and we both look back to Julie.

“Ouch!” Julie exclaimed.

Jake and Claudette are crouched beside her and now she is rubbing a red spot on her face; the vision of that man and his baby-flower hybrids was gone. Claudette had slapped her awake.

“Sorry! I panicked!”

“Damn you!” Freddy yelled, turning towards them when he is tackled into the concrete by Quentin and Meg, both grabbing the arm with the blades attached and pinning it back.

Just as I stand up however, they are dropped onto the dirt as he vanishes into thin air, his laugh echoing over the area. He got away.

“Your timing could not have been better!” I sighed and knelt down as Claudette raced over to me and started snapping and clapping by my head; slowly rousing me from the dream world.

“Where did he go?” Meg asked as she sat up to look around quickly.

Quentin stood up slowly and dusted his pants off. “Dream Projection, it lets him teleport. Makes it really hard to pin him down…literally. Fortunately, in this place, he’s limited to use generators to teleport.”

“What I don’t get is why he would run? I’ve never pegged him as the type to run just because he’s outnumbered.” Meg says as she stands up as well.

“Probably to reinforce his hold on the others…now that he knows we’re coming.” I affirm, the grey haze leaving my eyes as I return to the waking world.

“Dwight…” Julie mutters and Quentin becomes tense as he lays eyes on her. “You saw that?”

I nod and she curls her knees up against her chest, embarrassed. I go over to her, the usually confident woman now looking like a frightened schoolgirl.

“Freddy lives off fear, it makes him stronger and gives him power.” Quentin explains softly.

Julie nods and takes a deep breath. “My parents were friends with people that built the Ormond Resort, they wanted a merger deal with my parents lumber company and to sweeten the pot…they introduced me to their loser son. I was honest from the start that I hated his guts but my parents warned me not to ruin this like I ruin everything else. They set up a dinner date and when he tried to kiss me and I pushed him away, he bit me and said I’d learn to love him. I beat him so bad that his parents pulled out of the deal and left town, deciding that suing a criminal wasn’t nearly as bad as abandoning a business venture to hurt my parents where it hurts…their wallets.” She recalled ruefully.

“Don’t worry, we’re going to stop him.” Quentin says and Julie raises her head to him.

“How?”

“I can help protect you guys. If Freddy is creating nightmares again…we’ll all be facing our worst fears tonight.”

Those words send us into a moment of self-reflection when there’s a sickening scuttling sound and Claudette’s eyes blow wide!

“Look!” she points and we all look over just in time to see what looks like a massive spider, scurrying into the preschool. “Spiders!?”

“No, no, no, I hate spiders!!” Meg worries but Quentin looks bemused by it.

“Seems a little tame for him, there must be more to it than just a bug.” He says and I nod, knowing he’s right…but also noting how relaxed he is.

I’ve never seen him so calm, he’s usually skittish and nervous…but he seems strangely at home in this setting.

“Joey is in there somewhere…I can feel him.” Julie says, shivering as Meg helps her to stand up.

“Feel him?” Quentin asks but I shake my head.

“We’ll explain later, let’s go find him.” I say as we start towards the school and as we enter the busted down doorway, we see the halls of this place have been coated in thick webs and tiny spiders are crawling all around. I look closely at one of the larger ones and its head is rather bulbus looking.

“What the hell is wrong with these things?” I ask when Julie speaks up.

“Joeys father…that jerk was always treating Joey like less of a person and more of a chore. Joey also has this weird phobia of spiders; he’s never gotten over it.” She explains.

“The two must have mixed when Freddy put him to sleep, he’s probably downstairs.” Quentin says and starts forward, leading us down into the bowels of the school.

“Hey Quentin,” I start and he hums, not turning to look at me. “I’ve never seen you so…calm before, mind if I ask why?”

“It’s like growing up in an abusive house; you grow accustomed to the hell. You leave for a while, having come to your senses but the change is scarier so you return to that hell and feel at home, the chaos seeming familiar to you.” He says easily and I nod.

Once we reach the bottom of the stairs, we see Joey on a mattress tucked off in the corner, curled up and shivering something awful when Julie pushes past us and slaps his face. His eyes open wide and she seems to vanish before our eyes, making Quentin stutter in his calmness.

“Where did she disappear off to?!” he asks when Jake points towards the hall farthest from us.

“Later, I think daddy’s home!” he says.

Massive spider legs begin to claw and grapple their way into the room as a cartoonish looking man head attached to a spider’s body tries to force its way into the room!

“What the hell-wait…WE’RE ALL ASLEEP!!!” Meg yells, “That’s the only way we’re seeing this thing right now!”

“I don’t even remember falling asleep!!” Claudette says, clutching to Megs side.

Joey stumbles over and brandishes his weapon, a knife with brass knuckles as the handle and faces the massive head of this abomination.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” he says as he punches the beast square in the center of his eye and it explodes with blood, the thing screaming in agony as the blade digs into the side of its eye hole and rips along the tear ducts.

Joey then begins unleashing absolute hell on the face of this thing as its legs are unable to turn and grab him or push himself forward or back; he’s too huge. The creature finally drags itself out of the hall and seems to flee in the wake of Joey’s rage and Quentin lets out a sigh, the stench of blood and something else sour starting to permeate the air even with our masks on.

“Joey faced his fear…that’s the only way to stop Freddy. Our fear makes him stronger so once we take away the fear, we have to pull him into the real world to kill him.” Quentin says as Joey turns back to us and waves with his blade.

“How’s it going?” he says when Claudette waves back.

“Um…can you start waking us up please?” she asks.

He comes over and starts waking us up with shaky handed claps and snaps. As he does, I think to ask another question.

“So, if that’s true…why didn’t you kill him back in your world?” I ask.

“My friend Nancy and I tried…but knowing what I know about this place…The Entity must have snatched him up before snatching me up as well.” He gained this faraway look in his eyes then the smallest of smiles crept onto his face. “At least Nancy can finally sleep in peace now,”

I could see the bittersweet joy on his face as he seemed to recall this Nancy rather fondly and I felt bad for him.

“Friend?” I ask and he lets a small chuckle escape, the first I’ve heard from him.

“Well…I want to be more…but…” he suddenly stops himself and turns bright red. “Ahem, anyways…who else do we need to find?”

“Susie and Frank, they’re still here somewhere. I heard Susie crying but I don’t even know where we should start looking…” Joey admits as he stuffs his hands into his pockets, shivering.

Despite his skin being dark, I could see the paleness in his face and he was sweating as well.

“Should we split up?” Meg pipes in but Quentin shakes his head.

“No, if we’re alone then we could fall prey to our fears. We have to stick together and hold each other up, no matter what we’re faced with.”

“I’ve never seen him like this,” Claudette whispers to me and I nod.

Quentin seems strangely in his element this way and I thank my lucky stars that Meg was able to bring him here. Without him, we’d be flying absolutely blind right now. That being said, I am suddenly struck with an idea.

“What if one of us goes to sleep? If Susie is close by, I should find her that way, right?” I offer and Quentin turns to me quickly.

“No way, that’s way too risky. If Freddy gets you in your sleep, you’ll be lost to us here.” He says.

“I don’t think we have any other choices and we don’t have enough time to run around the Map and look for them.” I say and he looks very uncomfortable as he visibly starts mulling my idea over.

“I think he’s right Quentin, we can just stay here and keep watch over him.” Claudette says and he looks around, seeing that he’s outnumbered.

He looks back to me and nods before his jaw tightens and he takes a deep breath.

“Ok, if we’re doing this; we’re following my lead. Dwight, you have ten minutes to find Susie in the Dream World. If you can’t find her by then, we’re waking you up and getting you out of there.” He says and I nod before laying down on the ground and looking around at them all before taking a deep breath and closing my eyes.

I felt a cold drop hit my face and I opened my eyes again to see that everyone around me was gone and the room was that same grey washed world I’d seen before. I sit up and start walking around in the basement, listening carefully when I hear what sounds like crying.

I start towards it when I’m shocked to see Susie curled up in the corner, her hood up and knees hiding her face. I can hear her sobbing and she seems to be sitting in a puddle of her own tears, shivering and crying.

“Susie,” I say as I approach but as she raises her head, I jerk back and gasp.

Her head has been wrapped in heavy metal wires, cutting deep into her face and eyes, tangled up in her hair. Her head is also adorned with several too tight but brightly colored rubber bands, splattered with more blood that soaked into her sweatshirt.

“Aww…Susie…” I kneel down beside her and pull her close, letting her rest her head on my shoulder as she continues to cry.

I can feel how upset her braces made her feel, how ugly she thought they made her. I could hear what sounded like a woman telling her how hideous she was to look at. Her mother…a mean-spirited woman who only won custody of Susie so her father couldn’t see her.

Poor kid had been through hell before ever coming here…my parents were absent and disappointed in me…they never made it their mission to hurt me though.

I put my arm around her shoulder and gently begin shaking her, calling her name softly to try and rouse her from the Dream World. “I’m not sure where you are in the real world, but I want you to know that just because you can’t feel them anymore…that doesn’t mean you’re not still part of The Legion. You guys have something special, with or without The Entity. Don’t you ever forget that, Ok?” I say and after her shivering seemed to subside, I blinked and she was gone, her sobs leaving me too.

It was silent, for all of a few moments when I stand up only to have my legs pulled out from under me. Something was wrapped around my ankles, binding my legs together as it dragged me off down the hall of the basement. My elbows and forearms left bloody tracks on the concrete as I was dragged off.

The raw flesh stung terribly and bled heavily as I was suddenly lifted up and hung upside down from the ceiling. I swung a little as I tried to reach up and undo whatever was tied around my ankles but looking up, I could see it was a jump rope and it was far too tight for me to undo!

I fell back to hang and my glasses fell off my face, clacking loudly on the floor as I heard someone drawing nearer, humming that tune usually sung by a chorus of little girls.

I didn’t have to see him clearly to know he was around me somewhere, calmly walking around me and humming.

“You’re not as pathetic as I thought, you’ve got guts…how about you show them to me?” he says and I hear his blades scrape against each other as he raises his hand and I catch the glint of them in the dim light of this basement. I used my arms to twist around and he sliced into my back instead of my belly, the blades cutting through my skin easily but bumping into my ribs as he swiped.

I screamed as I felt the blood begin to soak into my shirt and trickle up my neck and into my hair. Freddy just laughs as he scrapes his blades together again and I hear the sickening crunch of my glasses as he steps on them…he’s right in front of me.

“Oops, guess you shouldn’t have taken that nap.” he laughs at me when I reach out and manage to grasp his arm, stopping his laughter as I glare at the blurry image of the monster before me.

“Nap times over!” I yelled as I feel a sharp slap against my face and everything happens in a flash.

I blink and my glasses are back on me, I’m lying on my wounded back where I’d fallen asleep and now Freddy is straddling my hips, his bladed hand still grasped by mine and we’re surrounded by the others, minus Joey, who look startled beyond compare! Just as fast as Freddy realizes what’s happened, he digs his knives into my belly and I cry out this high-pitched sound as I feel the blades slice through my skin and stomach like I’m made of tissue paper and jelly!

Freddy smiles down at me before raising his head suddenly and everyone surrounding us is thrown into the walls by some invisible force. Quentin rasps as he gets the wind knocked out of him but he still manages to yell out. “God damn it!!! He put us to sleep!!”

“You haven’t learned anything Quinney,” he says in a mocking tone. “I guess I’ll have to remind you…again.” He says as he stands up off me and slowly pulls his knives out of me, leaving me to coil up on the floor and gasp for air as blood pours from my body.

He walks over to Quentin who struggles against the wall, eyes wide with sheer terror as Freddy raises his blades to his cheek, softly running the blades over his skin and shushing him.

Just when it seems like he’s about to dig into Quentin…a flash of dark blue from around the corner digs into his back and he groans loudly! That dark blue was Susie’s drenched sweatshirt as she appeared from nowhere, no longer viciously maimed by her nightmares and has stabbed her broken ruler into his neck, quickly followed by Joey bursting from a locker and doing the same through his lower back.

Everyone against the walls drops to the floor and we watch as Julie materializes from Joey’s body and brandishes her own weapon, The Legion doing what they do best. She twirls the knife in her hand as Freddy is brought to his knees and looks up at Julie as she uses her knife to push his hat off his head.

“Welcome to the real world…Freddy.” She sneers before shoving her knife up through the bottom of his jaw and into his head, twisting it around slowly and causing a terrible crunching and squelching sound.

Joey twists his weapon sharply and there’s an audible but muffled wet pop sound and Freddy gasps as they all rip their knives from his body. He crumples off to his side, eyes wide and turning dark red as tears of blood spill down his cheeks.

It was like watching piranha frenzy a foolish swimmer, tearing into his body and ripping his scorched flesh without falter. I felt Jake, Meg, Claudette and Quentin crowd around me as we watched them drag his brutalized body towards the furnace, him spitting and swearing at them as they did. He can’t fight them; Joey severed his spine. Susie removes the bladed glove from his hand and uses it to open the blazing hot door to the furnace, revealing the inferno within it. Like the witch from Hansel and Gretel, they start stuffing him into the tiny door, ignoring his screams or the hiss of his skin against the burning metal. If he became wedged, they pushed until there was a loud crack and once he was all the way inside, broken and eviscerated; Susie used his glove to slam the door shut. They watch as he screams this horrible, gurgling sound as he’s burned alive for a second time.

 

 

“Dwight,” I hear and open my eyes to see Meg is holding my head in her lap. “Hey, welcome back. We lost you for a second.”

I sit up and look down at myself, seeing the blood stains from my now healed wounds in my clothes. I took a deep breath as I felt the ghost of that pain still in my skin, a familiar feeling but it also meant that we still couldn’t die forever…which was a good and bad thing on its own.

I hear a loud thud and Susie screams. “Joey!” I look over to see her covering his face with kisses and Julie has disappeared again. “Baby, you shouldn’t have called Julie back out like that! There’s no way you had the energy to do that!!” she says frantically when he starts trying to reach toward the stairs.

“What’s he doing?” Quentin asks.

Meg helps me to stand and Jake rushes over to Joey’s side, pulling his arm up over his shoulder and Susie does the same to his other side.

“Joey’s trying to find Frank, The Legion has to be reunited after being apart for so long! Let’s get him upstairs, quickly!” I say and I go to take over for Susie as she visibly starts to struggle. “I’ve got him,”

“Thank you, please hurry!” she says, rushing ahead of us.

“Why isn’t it affecting her though?” Quentin asks but Meg answers before I can.

I stumble as we reach the landing on the stairs but I manage to lean on the wall and keep myself up as we all but drag Joey’s body up the stairs.

“Does that matter right now?! We’ll tell you later!” she says as she leads the way towards the busted down doors that let out in front of the school and into the street.

Claudette, Meg, Quentin and Susie all spread out on the street; searching for signs of Frank being stored somewhere when something catches my eye.

The back of the ambulance is facing us but I can clearly see a crack in the glass that wasn’t there before with the tiniest smear of red against it.

“The ambulance! He’s in the ambulance!!” I yell when Susie rushes over, faster than any of us-even Meg-and begins prying at the doors to get them open. Their stuck but after a few tugs, she manages to pull them open and Frank is on the floor of the ambulance. He’s shivering, ghost white with his eyes, lips and the tip of his nose dark purple!

Susie steps back as Jake and I hasten our steps towards the ambulance and just as we get near, Joey reaches away from us and we let him go. As he falls to his knees…he disappears and Frank gasps loudly, as if he hadn’t been able to breathe that entire time.

“Jesus Christ, he’s freezing to death!” Claudette says as she places a hand against his face.

“Let’s take him to the basement, the furnace should heat him up pretty fast.” Meg says but I rush over and start pulling Frank onto my back.

“We can’t, we killed Freddy and we’re still in their forest. It’s not safe to stay here and we don’t know how long it will take for Frank to warm up.” Susie places a hand on my shoulder.

“Actually, that’s something we can talk about while we let Frank warm up downstairs.”

 

 

SUSIE

We dragged the mattress from the far corner of the basement over beside the furnace and while it was only a glance, I can see Freddy’s skull sitting amid the flames. It brings a smile to my face…I just hope he stays gone.

With Frank settled in on the mattress and beside the fire, he slowly starts to warm up but the shivering continues. Jake removes his jacket and his scarf, similar to what he did for me and covers Frank with it then wraps the scarf around his neck.

“Thank you,” I say and he looks up at me with a soft smile.

“Don’t mention it.” He says before sitting crisscross beside Dwight whose eyes are on me.

“Ok Susie, do you know where everyone is?” he asks and I nod.

“Yes, we were sent to be punished last so we know exactly where everyone has been taken…for the most part.” I stutter which makes Meg tilt her head at me.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, we know where our people are…but I can’t say the same for (f/n), Kate or the two new ones; Nancy and Steve.” I say and Quentin raises his head, his eyes suddenly tearing up.

“Nancy?! Wait…Nancy is here?! Why?!!” he frets but I’m very confused by his upset.

“Quentin, calm down! It could be another Nancy!” Claudette rushes out and I realize that Quentin must know a Nancy.

“She’s dressed kind of retro, like from the 80’s or something. Short brown hair, kind of petite, my age; she’s sixteen.” I say and I can see the tension release from Quentin’s shoulders as he sighs with relief.

“That’s not her…not my Nancy. Thank goodness…” he says and I feel bad for causing him such distress.

Dwight waves and brings my attention back to him. “So, where is everyone? We came here to get you guys and our people out.”

“That’s very noble, but the others won’t be able to enter your forest, not with the barrier.” I say when Frank clears his throat.

“We can’t leave yet! (f/n) is right beside us…” he says, his voice still shaking a little but he’s raising himself up, pushing the scarf and jacket off him.

“What?! How do you know?!” Dwight asks and Frank raises his brown-blue eyes to him.

“It’s called Hawkins National Laboratory, that’s where tonight’s Trial was held. I overheard the others talking about it when we got dragged back to the Killer Camp. (f/n) is still in there…I’m not leaving these woods without her.” He says, a dark glint in his eyes and I feel pride swell in my chest.

He usually got that look in his eyes when he was calling us out. Sure enough, Julie and Joey appeared behind him; stretching out as if they’d been asleep. Frank stood up, bringing the rest of us to our feet as well.

“Frank, I think we need to go back to The Survivor Forest first. Just to replenish our supplies and come up with a plan.” Dwight starts but Frank suddenly grabs the front of his shirt and pulls him into a passionate kiss, making Dwight’s eyes roll back in his head and rest his hands against Franks shoulders.

The Survivors averted their eyes but I just smiled as I watched Dwight melt against Franks chest before being let go and swaying a little before covering his mouth and turning a bright red color.

Frank’s smile sent a shiver of excitement up my spine. Dwight was right; I may not be able to feel them anymore but I knew them better than anyone else…I was still part of The Legion.

“He already has a plan.” I say and he smiles over to me.

“Damn right I do, squirt.”

Chapter Text

NANCY

I wake up in the same, slouched position I passed out in. Trying to sit up makes me freeze as my neck and lower back are terribly stiff. My muscles ache as I try to stretch out but I’m stopped as I hear the muttering taking place near me.

I look off to my right and can see that Wicked is pacing back and forth between the two back corners of this basement and she seems to be talking to herself. She’s muttering something just under her breath but also just loud enough for me to know she’s talking. I couldn’t make out words but it seemed she was quite into this one-sided conversation.

I looked down at myself to see that the hook was no longer in my shoulder but the blood that ran down to the hem of my sweater and the tear remained. I carefully moved my hand up to try and push against the flap of torn fabric to survey the damage…but there was nothing! My skin wasn’t knitted together sloppily, grotesquely stitched together or anything to suggest I’d been impaled before! It was as if I’d never been hurt in the first place, there’s no way that’s possible! The ghost of that pain was still enough to make my stomach turn but the lack of a wound set me on edge.

How long was I passed out for? It couldn’t have been long since other than the hook no longer being in my shoulder…nothing had been done to me. I came to the conclusion that right after I went out, she removed the hook and immediately started talking to herself…otherwise…I might be a science experiment right now. I looked back over to Wicked to see that she was still pacing, mostly keeping her back to me as she seemed to be growing more agitated by whatever was going on in the second half of the conversation.

As I started to move a little more and sit up, she suddenly punched the wall ahead of her and that startled me to freeze.

“DAMN YOU, YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME (F/N)!” she yelled and I watched as she started scolding something unseen. “Don’t you get it?! You’re the whole reason he came to the house to begin with! He went there for you and if you had just stopped talking to him than your family would still be alive! It’s all your fault that they’re dead!!! You may as well have killed them yourself!!”

Her face had twisted into this image of rage! This horrible sight of veins popping out by her eyes and the long tresses of (h/c) hair lashing about the basement floor when it all suddenly came to a stop. Her eyes blew wide and the hair fell flat, as if the life had been sapped from it suddenly. Her eyes quickly filled with tears and the veins faded back into her flesh, she grimaced as if in pain and started screaming, her voice ricocheting off the walls. It echoed through the pipes one way and seemed to amplify through another point and just vibrated through the floor. I had to cover my ears or else I’m sure I would have busted an ear drum!

She suddenly dropped to her knees and started clutching her head, crying with a terrible anguish in her voice. Her voice changed…softer but I was still able to hear that it was higher in pitch that before and much clearer than that bedroom type voice she spoke with earlier.

“No…I was just a kid! I never knew how horrible the world could be…I didn’t mean to…I didn’t…I didn’t kill my parents…I’m sorry…I’m sorry!!” she cries and that’s when it clicked.

Looking back, she seemed to act like two different people earlier when we first met her. At one moment she was this confident, mean person who didn’t seem to care for anyone but herself. Then…after she fell down the stairs, she changed completely. She was apologetic and kind, almost friendly but it didn’t last long.

When she was that cold version of herself and when she insulted me, she only glared at us and her voice was that low sultry voice, like a sexy ballad singer. When she was more polite, she had this look of fear in her eyes and her voice was just like any normal woman would have.

Kate even seemed relieved when she started acting like that, as if she was back to normal. There was (f/n) and then there was Wicked…two different people inhabiting the same body. Now I see, the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act wasn’t just an act, if one wasn’t in control…the other was!!

I felt this itching sensation in my bones…this could be my only chance to get out of here! How am I going to get out of here without her seeing me though? Kate mentioned before that when we run in this place, a trail is left behind…scratch marks are lit up.

I slowly raise myself to my feet, making sure not to scuff the dirty floor even a little as not to make the tiniest peep. My slow movements are trembling as my body still hasn’t completely woken up yet and I can’t stretch to rid it of its sleepiness, for fear of my back popping. My lower back aches as I stand up straight but I keep my knees bent, ready to run as fast as I can to escape this place.

Just as I prepare to run toward the stairs, this voice hisses in the back of my mind and makes me stutter in my movements, scuffing my foot against the ground.

 

Fixated

 

I whip around and look at Wicked but she seems to still be (f/n) right now; crying and apologizing. I felt so bad, it seemed like she was being tormented but I needed to get out of here and do what Kate said; repair generators and get the gate open.

Bypassing the whisper in my head, I look down at my feet and my heart does a backflip! Surrounding my feet on the ground are red glowing marks that were unmistakably fingernail scratches in the ground! I thought that was just what she called them but now I see that they really do look like scratch marks.

There appeared to be hundreds of them…how many times had someone been dragged away from this place and broken apart by this horrible woman?! How many people?! So many scratch marks…there must be millions…or more!!?

I hadn’t even started running yet! Was it just the intention to run that lit up those marks? I took a few quick but careful steps towards the stairs and the marks remained behind me, fading away slowly until they were gone.

I started quickly walking towards the stairs and as I started up them, I felt my heart settle in my throat as I silently willed these stairs not to creak with every step. As I got passed the landing and half way up the stairs…the muttering stopped. I dared to look over my shoulder at the silent basement now when I heard this shaking voice from within but I didn’t see anything.

“Nancy~” she sang and I started running.

Everywhere I went those scratch marks lit up and filled my heart with dread! There must be infinite amounts of these marks but I couldn’t see them until I ran by them! I continued to run, trying to ignore the fact that every step I took, I was treading on someone’s final resting place.

 

 

WICKED

I must have had my back turned longer than I thought. Oh well, guess that means its game time.

“That’s Ok Nancy, I love hide and seek. I just feel bad because you’ve got a handicap.” I say aloud and feel (f/n) inside my head going absolutely mental at me to leave Nancy be, not to hurt her and to focus on her instead.

That sensation of helplessness and desperation only brings a smile to my lips as I start towards the stairs. She knows that her time is up and now I get to play cat and mouse while she watches from the sidelines, powerless to stop me.

“I’m not the only one looking for you Nancy darling, I hope you’re a good hider…because we’re both great seekers!” I laugh as I feel the tears begin leaking from my eyes.

(f/n) is so upset that she’s managing tears right now and I lick them from my lips as they fall…her frustration is so tasty!

 

 

 

FRANK

The woods we travel through are slowly growing thicker and the air is heavy with that delicious smell coming from those Pustula’s blooming all around us. As inviting as that smell is, we’ve learned the hard way not to go anywhere near those flowers if we can avoid it.

The affect they have in their raw state is something similar but much weaker than what Dwight says happens when that nectar is distilled. In that form, it can be injected into Killers and mutate us, transform us into something stronger, faster and more bloodthirsty than we already are.

I don’t feel any different but according to the others, I’m not glowing orange like I was earlier. Fortunately, the effects of that little pinch of nectar have worn off since before. Looking up into the sky; I could see the clouds that held that storm were slowly making their way over here, further proof that the Realms were falling apart. The moon was an enchanting orange that cast that light down over us all, making the sky look this deep maroon color but no stars to be seen.

“So, you can’t hear or feel anything from us anymore Suze?” Julie asks and I glance back over my shoulder, listening.

“Yeah, after Frank broke my pin, it was like whatever kept us tethered had been broken too. It’s still strange, not just knowing how you guys are feeling or knowing everything you know.” She says quietly, seeming to mull it over in her head still.

The abrupt sound of a murder taking flight fires adrenaline through my veins and I pull my knife, feeling that tension spark its way through the group behind me. I glance back again and see that the rest of the group reacted the same way, all tensed and ready to run or fight.

Dwight telling me about the crows before now set me on edge, I was never particularly fond of those birds but them turning against the Survivors like that was something I wasn’t excited to deal with. Fortunately, the birds were flying away…not coming after us.

Joey, Julie and Susie all had their knives out while Claudette, Meg and Dwight had huddled next to Jake; leaving Quentin standing there looking lost and confused.

“Um…why is everyone freaked out? It’s just the crows.” He says and starts walking forward again, passing me as we all deflate and pick up pace behind him.

This was a bigger group than I was used to but that didn’t mean we had the safety of numbers, which made me uncomfortable. Our positioning had been all over the place since leaving Springwood. Now Quentin was leading us along in an almost straight line. If we got attacked, we’d be at a bit of a disadvantage since the only ones armed are somewhat bundled at the back of the group.

“Ok, I think we need to change our positioning a little bit.” My voice brings the group to a stop and we bunch up together, surrounding me. “We know where The Killers are but Michael and Adiris were left to their own devices so we need to operate under the impression that they might be looking for us.” I say and Claudette raises her hand.

“Question, are we going to have to worry about Freddy again?” she asks and I ponder the idea when Julie answers first.

“I honestly don’t know. We’re still healing from our wounds but I’m not sure how long it would take for him to come back from being burnt to dust.” She says and Susie interjects.

“But incinerated cells can’t regenerate, so if he’s been completely burned…he couldn’t come back, right?” she offers.

“That’s true, maybe The Entity can’t help that if someone is destroyed on a cellular level.” Meg adds.

“Still, I think we should change how we’re walking. Legion, lets form a diamond around The Survivors. Julie and Susie, you’ll flank them and Joey will take the rear.” Susie snickers as she moves to her place.

“He usually does.” She’s met with a swift slap to her ass and she lets out a high pitch squeak and giggles as she scurries to her position on my left.

“After this is done, I’ll remind you why you enjoy it so much babe.” Joey promises and I smile as I turn front and start forward again, hiding my own apprehension at his words.

There may not be an after this… I think to myself but refuse to share that with him, I don’t want to dampen his confidence; we’ll need it if we want to see the end of this night.

Our formation has me at the front, Julie on my right, Susie on my left and Joey at the back. Claudette, Jake, Meg, Quentin and Dwight were bunched together in the middle of us, looking out into the woods around us every so often. I heard someone speed up behind me on my right and I looked to see Dwight keeping pace beside me.

“So, what is this plan of yours? We’re not gonna have to hurt (f/n), right?” he asks and I lose my smile.

“Hope not,” I say and his eyes get wide. “What do you want me to say? I’m not going to lie to you, she might have to get hurt because this thing has taken over her body. She’s Wicked’s target for some reason and we have to help her get free of its hold…I’m just worried that the only way I can do that…is to Mori her.” I’m stopped as Dwight pulls my arm back and I turn to look at him. His face is pale and the rest of the group has also stopped.

That’s your plan?!!! You’re going to kill her?!!” He frets loudly and I grab his hand on my forearm.

“Listen, you remember what Trapper said. Wicked was only able to possess her because her will to survive was weakened…because of me. I think if I Mori her, it’ll be like hitting the reset button on her body. ‘Relentless’ will activate and she’ll remain in the Trial but she’ll recover completely like before.”

“You can’t possibly think that’s a good idea,” Julie says and comes over to me, Claudette following beside her. “I know what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to isolate (f/n) and Wicked together in the same body!”

“Wait…What?! Why!!!?” Dwight gasps and I bite my bottom lip.

What the fuck are you doing Julie?!

Keeping you from making the same mistake twice, you need to trust him and tell him the truth!

Jeez…those green eyes of hers scared me before and they’re even scarier now that they’ve seen more bloodshed.

“Frank, tell me why!” Dwight pleads and I relent.

“If I can Mori (f/n) and we force the body to fall still…their souls inside might have to duke it out for who gains control when she wakes up.” I say and Dwight grabs the front of my shirt, shaking me.

“With the way things were left, she won’t see that as a reset button, she’ll only see that as another nail in the coffin for how you seemingly played her.” He pleads but I shake my head.

“I think you’re underestimating her!” I argue but he hardens his stare at me.

“I’m not saying that she isn’t strong enough, I’m saying that she may not be strong enough right now to fight off Wicked. She’s had her heart broken, she’s been dragged away from the one place she felt safe and left behind a life she struggled to build up for herself. She got dropped into a place where she had to run from monsters and ended up letting them use her body as they pleased because she wanted to protect us! She’s mentally exhausted Frank, to try and put more strain on her is a gamble at best and her soul is the price we pay if she fails!”

“You have yet to give me any better suggestions so until you do, this is the only way I see that we can-” I’m cut off by him digging his fist into the side of my face. I’m so caught off guard by this that I fall and land flat on my back.

There’s total silence all around us as everyone is so shocked that they can’t move. I sit up and look up at him, he’s shaking out his fist but he’s still glaring at me, despite the tears coming to his eyes.

“I’m not going to let you take a gamble with (f/n)’s life like you did with Susie’s!” he says and I feel that arrow stick hard in my chest.

“Ouch…” Joey says as they watch us from afar, knowing without me saying so to stay out of this.

“Do you have any better ideas, yes or no? Wicked is not going to let (f/n) go without a fight and the only one who can for sure push her out is (f/n)! We have to give her the chance to fight back because right now, Wicked is drowning her soul in her insecurities and keeping her pacified while she runs the show!” I start but he shakes his head, quickly wiping the tears from his face.

“You haven’t seen what she can do, what Wicked is capable of. She’s not just some Killer here, she’s some sort of monster built from this place…there’s something special about her in the worst way just like there’s something special about (f/n) in the best way. The worst and best thing I’ve ever seen are currently sharing a body, I won’t let you play fast and loose with the body because you think your way is the only way!” he says and I feel the passion in his heart.

I admire that about him, his devotion to her is incredible but he’s blinded by trying to protect her. She literally is her own worst enemy right now, trying to keep her safe from the outside just won’t work. I don’t even know if my idea will work because he’s right about one thing, the way she takes my actions will certainly affect the outcome. If she takes it like I’m just trying to hurt her again, it puts her into a state of depravity that I can’t allow again. However, if she understands that I’m there to help…it might give her the confidence she needs to push Wicked out of her body and regain control.

I’d like to think she can destroy it all together but I know nothing about how this thing came to be so I have no idea how she would end up being destroyed to begin with.

I stand up and dust myself off, walking up to him calmly as the throbbing in my cheek fades. He falters as I draw near and I point at my cheek, seeming to confuse him.

“Ahem…” I start and he turns a bright shade of red as he casts a nervous glance around to the others.

While my people snicker at us, he just stares on in suspended fright.

“What?! Frank, do you really think this is the best time?” he asks and I just wait.

He watches me for a few short moments, testing to see if I’m serious…which I am. The blush on his face darkens as he huffs then plants a quick peck on my cheek. I smile at him as he starts needing his hands together in his nervous way.

“Listen to me, you’re not alone in this. I’m worried beyond explanation for (f/n), I know you want to protect her but how are we supposed to help her while also hurting her at the same time. They’re in the same body, we can’t hurt one without hurting the other, besides; look at everything she’s been through. I firmly believe that if we put them in a room together-Wicked and (f/n)-that she would find a way to win. She’s tired yes but that’s never stopped her before, you’re already risking everyone’s lives by trying to starve The Entity…even if we set her free…we may all die tonight…for real this time.”

His upset seems to deflate and I pull him into my chest, hugging him tight as he shudders his tears away.

“She may have become one of you but remember, her tenacity is what brought The Entity to her. She’s got a Killer Instinct deep inside her, she uses it when she needs to survive…and she will again.” I say and he looks up at me. “It’ll take more than some homegrown bitch with a sadistic streak to take our girl down, don’t you think?” I say with a smile and his gaze softens on me.

His eyes seeming to sparkle when there’s an unnatural shimmer in the irises. Something is behind me!

I pull him close to my chest and turn around, my knife at the ready and see what appears to be the outline of a massive building before us, lights topping almost every corner. Their light is slowly growing as the fog seems to be receding from us.

The air around us is slowly growing more frigid and I can feel Dwight shiver as he curls a little closer to my body. This chill wasn’t like the bite of winter air, but it was certainly colder than just a moment ago.

The image of this massive structure came into view, revealing that among all the lights and windows, the roof was topped off with satellite dishes and radio towers. It seemed like there was a massive pile of debris off to the side of it and the few trees that dotted this area were the same autumn colors of the Survivor Forest.

It looked like a massive school or hospital but the overturned van in front of it clearly marked this place for what it was. Hawkins National Laboratory…the new map.

“This is it; this is where (f/n) is. She’s inside somewhere.” I say when something tangy in the air catches my attention.

Through the pungent smell of the Pustula’s, something with more of a ‘stuck in the back of your throat’ taste to it wafts around us now that the fog has cleared. “Does anyone else smell that?”

“Sea salt…salt water. The ocean!” Susie says when there’s a loud crash and I can see the black waves of The Void crashing on the muddy shore.

The fog was fleeing over the waters surface, the massive body of water was revealed to us and I guess also revealed the sound as the roar of those waves sprayed the lightest of mists over us. The feeling of those tiny drops hitting my face felt like tiny needles with how cold they were and my eyes stung a bit. I never was a big fan of the ocean.

The water was black and the foam at the crest of each wave was purple in color. The foam left behind on the shore was lavender in look but quickly dissipated as the next wave crashed over it.

Despite part of me expecting sand to edge this place, I only saw the sloped dirt from the forest. Instead of a steady gradient into the ocean, it was a steep cliff-like drop off into the water. The only thing that seemed to keep the land from eroding away and swallowing up the lab and the forest…was the water itself.

The land remained the same but the few trees that had sunk into the water and whose roots were submerged in it, were pale white and cracked like massive statues. Joey walked up to one, seeming to ignore the water sloshing around his feet and stabbed his knife into the trunk of it. We watched it crack apart and fall into the water, splashing purple foam up at his legs.

“What the hell is this? The Void?” he asks, slowly making his way back over to us.

“Yup, when I rescued (f/n) from it before…it was like a massive graveyard near the bottom. There are tons of bodies down there, all just like that,” I point at the tree he just decimated. “Concrete looking and seemingly scared to death. I guess that’s what becomes of you when The Entity drains you for all you’re worth.” I say, feeling that same solemnness in my chest as I recalled the hellish image of that thing in the depths of The Void; trying to drag us down to it.

“That’s so creepy!” Meg shudders audibly when Joey returns to us.

“It’s not normal water though, that’s for sure. It felt like it was trying to drag me away and I was only so deep in it.” He says as she pats his knees to shake the salt from them.

“I’d advise against going for a swim man, I think that’s what called (f/n) away back at the resort. I don’t think you want to feed yourself to The Entity tonight, right?” I say and he nods at me, his brown eyes betraying how foolish he felt despite his face remaining the same stoic image I was accustomed too.

“But wait, if The Entity has revealed itself back at our camp, then it wouldn’t be down there…right?” Julie muses aloud and I take her words into consideration.

“That’s true…it wouldn’t be out there right now. I’d suggest we go for a swim to look around but I don’t think there’s anything down there for us, nothing useful anyways.” I say and Joey continues shaking out his pants, complaining.

“Jesus, now my legs are cold!” My laugh is cut short by someone calling out.

“Hey, come look at this!” Jake’s voice reaches us from not too far.

Without the fog to obstruct our vision, we were able to see him and Susie standing beside the wreckage of Kate’s truck!

The baby blue truck had been turned over onto its side with a massive dent in the passenger’s side. Something huge had slammed into it and turned it over. The windshield had been shattered and there were a few holes in it that showed where someone tried to get into it.

“Oh my God!” I say and step away from Dwight.

“There are scrapes and broken glass here by the driver’s side window; the girls must have crawled their way out and fled.” Jake says, pointing to the clearly disturbed dirt by the truck.

“That’s not all, look here.” Julie says and points to a deep groove in the dirt leading from the water, clearly drag marks. “Something dragged itself from the water…from The Void.”

Looking closer, I can see the marks of fingers digging into the dirt and pulling her body along to get free of the water. Evan did say she somehow escaped…I guess this was how she did it.

“So…this is how she got out. Wicked must have attacked the truck once it landed here, that would explain the dents and how she got a hold of (f/n).”

“Um…does Wicked have big claws?” Claudette asks and we all go over to see a massive footprint in the mud, not human in the slightest.

Huge compared to each of us, five claws that dug deep into the dirt. It looked unlike anything I think I’d ever seen before; be it monster or human…but whatever it was it was huge.

“Not if I’m remembering right…” I muse when Dwight looks up at me. “I’ll explain on our way, let’s find a way inside.”

 

 

(F/N)

After being wrapped up so tightly and letting myself sink into my own self-pity…I started to dream. It was like watching that whole ordeal take place all over again and seeing my dad on the floor, bleeding from his chest and then my mothers body slumped in the corner.

I knew that those images were pieces of my past that I could never forget, but that didn’t mean I wanted to see them as vividly as I could right now!! I felt as if I was at the bottom of a pool, I’d held onto a rock and let it take me all the way down to the bottom and I just sat there, looking up as the light around me quickly faded into black.

The rock…was obviously a metaphor for how guilty I felt about it. I was so broken up about it after the cops explained to me what happened and just how obsessed with me Gerald was. He would have gone to any lengths to see me again and while no one outwardly said it, I knew that the blame was mine.

If I had kept to myself and not spoken to him or accepted his gifts…he would have given up and moved on from me. I brought that hell down on my family and I lost everything because I was so stupid!

(f/n)

What, who is that?! That voice…sounds so familiar.

(f/n)…why are you crying?

Wait…this is…Joseph?

You can’t blame yourself for that. He was a sick man who did a horrible thing, you didn’t make him kill your parents.

But if I hadn’t talked to him…he would have left us alone.

Are you sure? Can you say 100% that he would have?

Well…no…

He might have done what he did no matter what you did and if he didn’t do it to your family, he would have done it to someone else’s family. The world has bad people in it that wanna hurt others. We’re the good people who want to help others. I wanna help you…we go to the same school so if you live with me, you don’t have to move so far away.

Joseph…he’s the one that extended his hand when I was about to be left to strangers. He and his family helped me, they taught me to swim so I could return to the surface and take a big gulp of fresh air!

Even after Jack attacked me and left me for dead…they stood by me and helped me as much as they could while I recovered. They even offered me my old room but I was determined to stand on my own, to not sink to the bottom again and this time, keep myself afloat without help.

I wanted to prove I could be strong, I wanted to prove that I wouldn’t let what happened control me…so I fought. I fought with everything I had to pull myself back from the darkest part of my thoughts and thrive in the light.

Gerald was the one responsible for my pain and he paid for it with his life…I made sure of that. He was the monster who brought the darkness into my world but I fought back and won.

As if I’d been resurrected from it, I found myself gasping for air on the floor of what looked like my old house…my childhood home. I quickly took a survey of my own body and was still dressed in the blue long sleeve and white shorts I’d had on to start, save for the ripped sleeve from when Nancy slapped me. Despite my body feeling especially heavy, as if my clothes were weighed down with water…I was dry as a bone, hell I was a bit thirsty too.

I stood up and looked around, seeing that it was exactly as I’d remembered it, nice furnishings and a big brick and mortar fireplace in the living room with a family portrait on the mantel. Something about my home was different though…something was bleak and lifeless about it. There was a gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling that was covered with cobwebs and a few of the candle shaped bulbs were broken or just gone completely. Some of our furniture had been broken into pieces and left in piles of debris around my home. The wall paper peeled in a few spots and my house had looked like it went years and years without maintenance. Instead of aging like fine wine, it appeared as if my home had aged like milk.

Ah, now I see. The Entity had pulled this place from my memories and given it a special touch to fit into its world. I guess it jumped the gun because I never became a Killer…maybe that’s why there was this nauseating feeling about this place.

I looked towards the front door and felt my stomach drop into my feet.

My fathers’ body was laying there on the floor, blood pooled around his body and he was paler than a ghost. Even though it shouldn’t be, the blood was still fresh and bright red. I felt goosebumps rise up all over my skin as I realized that if he was here…mom was upstairs then.

Why am I waking up in this? Why was I back in this house again? I didn’t even wanna come back after the police had cleaned everything up and said it was mine at eighteen.

“You can’t be serious?” I hear from all around me.

“Who’s there?!” I ask when I see water seeming to pour in from the upstairs bathroom, waterfalling through the banister and into the living room.

The water seemed to be filling my house rather quickly and before I knew it, I was at least an inch deep in the water; cold, clear…water.

“Don’t worry, its just us here.” She says and I feel myself shiver as I look at this warped image of myself.

She was naked and her skin was pale but her eyes were big and blacked out completely. Her mouth stretched from ear to ear and her teeth were that of a shark, seeming to line her mouth and giving her a sinister smile. She slowly walked towards the stairs and I could see that her hair, long and trailing behind her was pushing more water over the edge of the second level.

“What’s going on?” I asked, feeling a strange sense of familiarity from her.

“Well, you compared your guilt to a rock dragging you to the bottom of a pool…figured I’d be nice and bring the pool to you.” She says and gestures at my house.

“What the hell do you want from me? Why are you here?”

“I’m taking back the body that should have been mine. I wasn’t supposed to come here…well, not alone at least.” She says with a smirk down at me.

“What the hell are you talking about? Where did you come from?” I ask and she stops at the top of the stairs.

“My origins were already discussed, were you not listening when I answered Nancy’s questions?” she asks, sounding somewhat annoyed by it.

“I know what you said…but you left out a few very important details, didn’t you?” I say and she quirks an eyebrow at me.

“How do you know?”

“Call it instinct,” I sneer but I can feel my own uncertainty in the back of my mind.

I can feel in my bones that she kept a few key details from Nancy when she talked to her, it felt like watching a movie that I couldn’t pause. I could just tell in the way she spoke to Nancy, the overconfidence in her voice…she kept something from her.

“Of course, I should know better than to assume I’m the only one who benefits from this. I can feel everything that you can feel, we’re connected.” She points at me, drawing an invisible line between us.

“I guess that’s true since you inhabit my body now. I was able to find out one thing before my nap, you have a Curse now thanks to me. You have your own power but you can’t use it because of me!”

She crosses her arms and taps her bottom lip with her index finger. “Hmm, not too shabby (f/n), but do you know why I can’t access my powers?” she asks and I falter.

“Well...” I feel my confidence wane slightly.

I may have been able to call on the whispers before to answer that for me but they were completely silent now. Of course, now that I could actually use them to help me, they’re no longer present.

“No?” she asks as she starts down the stairs towards me. “I look like you, I sound like you, I may not act like you but I certainly feel how you want to act. You want to get far away from this place, run far away and fast…I can help you do that…if you want.” She says and reaches out a hand to me. “I can keep you in a place far away from this hurt and protect you from it,”

I started up the stairs towards her, my feet feeling frozen as they leave the water. “Why would you want to help me? You’ve done nothing but hurt everyone else that you’ve met through my body…why help me?” I ask as I draw near and she stops two steps away from me, prompting me to stop as well.

“Because…all I ever do is cause people pain and while that brings me joy, I like to mix it up every once and a while. If I become predictable, where’s the fun in that?” she says and waits patiently with her hand still outstretched to me.

I considered everything I had just decided…I mean, I’ve always wanted to hide from the pain in my history. She seemed to be offering me that chance now, to hide me from all the hurt I’ve struggled to accept. If I don’t have to deal with it…why would I?

(f/n)

I hear Joseph’s voice in my head again and her eyebrows raise as her soft gaze on me changes to a glare.

“I see…you still seem to have a little fight in you.” She retracts her hand and bares her sharp teeth down at me. “That’s fine…I’m still in control here!”

I rush up those two steps keeping us apart and grab her wrist, startling her.

“This is my body!! I’m in control!!” I say but she just pushes me away from her, throwing me off the stairs completely.

I miss all the steps and I hit the floor hard, my head bouncing and the water seems to have risen enough that my head is half submerged.

“Sorry bitch, you gave me control out of your heartbroken mind and there’s no way in hell that I’m giving it back.”

Her voice seemed to reverberate through the whole house and I couldn’t fight my brains longing to sink into sleep. Despite my desire to stand up and fight her…I sank into the floor and succumbed to the darkness once again.

Damn it

 

 

 

WICKED

Hmm…I guess I underestimated her too much. I wouldn’t have gotten so close if she was going to just grab me like that. She almost got back…that was way too close. She still has too much fight in her for me to push her out completely.

That’s fine…I’m a patient girl…I’ll just have to hold her in her own sadness until she’s weak enough for me to force her out.

Returning to reality, I hear the tiniest of crinkles as Nancy steps on a piece of debris nearby and I feel life raise my hair up and the locks slither out like snakes; searching for her.

The hall I was in was somewhat obstructed by a stack of plastic travel containers and metal barrels. The white washed walls had a few tendrils of the Demogorgon plastered to them. This place had seen so much pain and anguish…it permeated the air and filled me with a sense of comfort.

“Nancy,” I call out and just as my tendrils knock those oil barrels far down the hall, revealing Nancy’s hiding place behind them and knocking her to her back.

She scrambles to her feet and starts running down the hall, dodging the barrels and containers as they bounce against the walls. I start towards her when my hair manages to snatch her right leg out from under her and she barely gets her hands in front of her fast enough to keep from busting her face on the floor as I drag her back.

“Now, now…don’t run little-GAH!” I gag harshly as I feel this strange tightness in my scalp, forcing me to my knees.

What is…?! I gasp for air as it feels as if I’m drowning, the darkness edges around my vision as I feel her forcing her way through my barriers!

No…how is she able? She should still be drowning in her guilt…there’s no way she’s…wait. That voice…Joseph. That little fucker!! He’s the source of her strength!!! Damn it all!!!

My arms feel heavy and I fall to my knees, looking up and seeing Nancy struggling against my hair on the floor as (f/n) wrenches control from me.

“Nancy…” She manages, despite my resistance making her sound like she smoked eight packs a day. “Run…I don’t know if I’ll be able to protect you next time she finds you! Hurry!” She pleads as Nancy stands up and amazingly runs towards me.

“What about you?!” she offers her hands to me but (f/n) pushes them away.

“Finish the generators and get outside!! Find Dwight and tell him what you know!” she manages when I use my arm to snatch at her own mouth.

Admittedly looking very strange as (f/n) seems to punch herself in the jaw, making her teeth cut into her cheek and forcing me to taste her blood. I delight in the ire on my tongue but I’ll just have to be patient for now. Nancy turns and runs away, disappearing around the corner at the end of the hall. Only then was I able to regain control of my body and I looked down at my hands…shocked.

“I see…your persistence was cute to begin with but now you’re just annoying. Now that I know what drives you, I’ll just have to hit you where it hurts.” I say and I can feel (f/n) throwing herself against the walls of her mind, trying to force herself out again but the fear and hysteria is still rising.

She’ll drown eventually, I just need to keep her submerged until then and I’ll have this body for myself once again. I will never be a forgotten story again.

 

 

 

FRANK

I was currently laying on my back as I listened to Jake smashing a rock against the glass windows. The glass will partially shatter only to quickly undo all the damage he just caused and it did that with every fucking strike!

“I think we can stop now…we need to find another way to get in since busting in a window isn’t going to work.” I say as I glare angrily at the harvest moon above us.

I hear the rock tumble across the ground and I sit up to see Jake sit down with the rest of the group, visibly sweating as he pushes his scarf up over his face.

“I can’t remember the last time I put that much effort into trying to open a damn window.” Julie says as she wipes the sweat from her brow.

Each of us tried with all our might to break a window, pick a lock or find an opening to get inside but every possible way we could get in was blocked up or undone. The ventilation shafts were even blocked off by The Entity to keep us from sneaking in that way!

“You’re telling me…even as that bitch is starving to death, she’s keeping us out of the Trials.” I complain, laying back again.

“She? Why do you assume The Entity is a woman?” Susie asks, sounding slightly offended but I just cast her a squinty eyed look.

“Have you ever met any guy calculated enough to run something for this long and it not crash and burn?” I ask and her grey eyes get big. “Exactly, I don’t even care that I sound sexist as fuck. Truth hurts,”

“He would know a little bit about crashing and burning,” Joey quips but Julie punches him in the shoulder and he almost yelps like a dog. “Pissed because it’s true?!”

“That’s a low blow and you know it!” she snaps.

“Guys, if we could get back on topic?” Meg says and we fall quiet. “How are we going to get in, the Trial is well underway and The Entity is keeping us out…rather effectively at that. How can we help when we can’t even get inside?”

Meg’s words start ringing in my head…how can we help from the outside?

“We can’t…” I say aloud and I’m met with a lot of shocked stares.

“That’s not exactly uplifting.” Jake says when I look at the window that he’d been smashing with a rock.

“No, that’s just it. We can’t do jack shit from the outside to help them and The Entity doesn’t want us to get in.” I stand up and cast a look up at the building. “We can’t play by the typical rules to get in…we’ve got to do something outlandish. (f/n) got the rules changed because she played differently than anyone else! That’s what gets things changed, The Entity may be all powerful but its weak right now! This is the perfect opportunity to turn the tides in our favor!”

“Frank, what are you talking about?” Joey asks, standing up.

“The Entity had to change the rules because (f/n) was changing the game, no one had done the things she did before so it had to make adjustments to this place. If we do things we wouldn’t normally do, The Entity is too weak to stop us!”

“And what exactly do you propose we do?” Julie asks, also standing up with me.

“We’re gonna need some help. Anyone among your people know cars?” I ask and Dwight drops his face in his hands.

“Yes…yes we do…but I don’t like what you’re planning.” He says and I smile.

“You will,”

 

 

 

DWIGHT

The travel times between our new camp and the line were shortened greatly thanks to Joey. He presented the idea that he would run back to our camp and carry her here. Sure enough, he returned carrying Feng on his back, who had the worlds biggest shit eating grin on her face when he set her down. In contrast, he did not look at all pleased.

“What’s wrong?” I asked but Julie and Frank began loudly guffawing as Joey seemed to stew in his own frustration, while Susie watched them and smiled widely.

Feng ended up answering me. “When he showed up at our new camp unannounced, everyone freaked out because they forgot about our discussion earlier about which Killers are safe now. Joey ended up getting a bunch of trash thrown at him before they remembered that you guys are friendly.”

“Don’t forget how you basically back seat drove the entire way back here.” He complained as he rejoined Frank who was leaning against Kate’s totaled truck.

Frank and Julie were red in the face as they tried to keep their laughter back while Joey cast them cold stares.

“Oh, I didn’t back seat drive, I just gave you some direction since you were going in a wide circle.” She says, crossing her arms. “The fastest way from point A to point B is a straight line, it makes no sense for you to have taken such a long route.”

“Ok listen, I went in a wide circle because there’s this huge army of crows in the middle of the woods! If you’d rather saunter on through them, you can be my guest!” Joey yells but Feng looks unphased as she glares at him.

“Right, didn’t realize The Legion was scared of a few birdies.” She quips and Julie silences Joey before he can argue any further.

One thing they didn’t know about Feng…she’s kind of an asshole. Her competitive nature was a good thing in some regard but it also gave her a little bit of a superiority complex and she tended to not be the nicest person. She’d catch herself sometimes when she’d hurt someone’s feelings but knocking people down a peg was something, she seemed to pride herself in.

“So, Joey says you need me to look at a…” she starts when she turns to see Kate’s truck. Joey gives a half hearted ‘lovely assistant’ gesture at the truck as if he were presenting it to Feng.

“Um…what the hell happened to Kate’s truck?” she asks as she draws near to it.

“We don’t have time to go over that. If we flip this back upright, can you fix it and get it running?” I ask and she goes over to it.

She looks at the undercarriage before looking over at me. “That depends…are we going to need to stop suddenly?”

“No…” I say and she gains this devious smile as she stands up straight and leans against the truck.

“Perfect then, help me flip it.”

The actual process of flipping the truck wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Once we got it rocking, we managed to use that momentum and got the truck back on its wheels, the front right of which was deflated.

“Ok, now what?” I ask and Feng wasted no time rushing around to the front and opening the hood.

“I’m going to check it out and see if its ready to run but other than that, it should be fine. What are you planning to do with it?” she asks and I turn to look at the building, my eyes finding the glass double doors to the front of it.

“We’re going to drive into the Trial.” I say and she stutters in her movements.

“Um…say that one more time…” she asks as she continues to check the engine.

“You heard him,” Frank says and puts an arm around my shoulder, pulling me close to him. “We’re going to use this thing like a massive metal battering ram to get into the Trial. You’re welcome to stay here if you’re scared-”

Feng suddenly turns towards us with a sharp metal wire in her hand, pointing it at Frank who falls silent.

“If you think fear is going to keep me from busting up a Trial, you don’t know me very well…Frank.” She sneers his name before returning to the truck and Julie steps up beside us with her mouth hanging open.

“I think I just got a wicked les-boner for her…” she says and I just stare.

“Yes!” Joey suddenly jumps to stand on the roof of the cab and Susie’s eyes sparkle as she watches him. “We’re going to bust into that damn place and kick up more shit than this place has ever seen!! Feels like being back home again but there’s no fucking snowmen everywhere!!”

Susie claps for him and Joey hoots and hollers into the sky while I feel a little apprehension in my chest and I move away from Frank. As I walk a short distance from the group, I undo the top button of my shirt and shake the collar lightly to get some air into my shirt, for some reason I’m finding it hard to breathe. I lean against a tree and take long breaths as I see Frank has followed me over here. We were no longer within earshot of the others, the only thing keeping them in the back of my mind was the sound of Joey’s voice echoing over the land as he hollered at the moon.

“Dwight, you Ok?” he asks, lowering his hood and looking down at me, his blue and brown eyes captivating me.

I turn my eyes away and he steps up beside me, I can still feel his eyes are on me and its making the goosebumps on my skin raise up.

“Yeah…just a little overwhelmed. I’m not very good at stepping out of my comfort zone...Quentin put it perfectly before. I’ve gotten so complacent in this place that the idea of leaving it is…scary.” I let out a bitter laugh and lower my gaze to the ground.

Frank’s warm hand on my neck brings me to look up at him and he presses his forehead against mine, lightly pushing my glasses down on my nose. His forehead is sweaty and his hair is tangled up with mine, the black locks mixing with his chestnut hair.

“Of course, it is, you’ve been here for how long? I think that its about time for a change, I’m tired of this same song and dance routine every night…aren’t you?” he says and pushes me against the tree by my shoulders. This dark gleam coming into his eyes makes my heart race and a fire in my stomach sparks to life. “I’d much rather spend my nights wrapped up with you and (f/n) …don’t you agree?”

He then kisses me hard on my mouth and I feel myself melt against him. His rough lips push mine open and his tongue is like fire in my mouth, tasting like peppermint and sending chills up my back. He lets his hands slide off my shoulders and steps up between my feet, pressing his chest against mine.

My head starts to swim when I hear the crash of the waves nearby and shake my head to stop the kiss. The look in his eyes though as I catch my breath show that he has no intention of stopping just yet.

“Frank, the others are right over there!” I whisper but he just answers by pressing his body flush against my hips and I can feel how…pent up he is.

“Yeah and we’re fighting to potentially die. I’m not going to leave the world of the living without having fucked you at least once.” He says and I feel my heart do double time.

“Frank, this is really not the time for this!” I try but he suddenly presses his thigh against my crotch and I shiver as that ferocious friction he causes.

“Funny, your body is telling me a different story.” He growls against my cheek as I turn my face away.

I’m trying really hard not to get swept up in this but I can’t help it, I want him so badly that its probably illegal somewhere. That thought however, only makes me want him more.

“Guys!” Meg yells and I feel my face explode with embarrassment, effectively killing my boner!

Saved by Meg!

Frank sighs, resting the top of his head against my chest before glaring over his shoulder.

“What? Can’t you see I’m busy?” he says and she just scoffs at him.

“Yeah…zip it up and get over here. Feng says the truck is fine and Joey wants to drive.” She then turns and goes back over to the others, leaving Frank and I as we are.

I’m still pinned against the tree and Frank is still glaring over his shoulder at where Meg had walked away. He then turns back to me and kisses my lips much softer than a moment ago and looks into my eyes with the sultriest and sexiest look I’ve ever seen on a man.

“I mean what I said, I’m not dying without sharing love with you at least once.” He says against my mouth and I can’t help the raging boner I’m now sporting when he suddenly lets me go and the darkness in his eyes vanishes. “Come on, we better get back to the others before Joey goes joyriding.”

I just slide to the dirt and look after him as he goes, contemplating all the life choices I made that lead me to where I am now.

 

 

Shaking my head, I pull myself together and rush over to rejoin the others who are now standing beside the truck. Joey was sitting in the driver’s seat and the truck was running, waving at me as I walked over.

“So…how are we going to do this?” he asks and I can see Susie is beside him inside the cab.

“We need to drive through those doors, that’s the only way I can see us getting inside the building.” Frank says as he loads in next to Susie and practically squashes Joey into the driver’s side door.

“But…do you actually expect all of us to fit inside the cab?” Meg asks when I blink and Julie has vanished.

“Well, three of us will fit into one spot and then we have Susie…room for two more, three if we squeeze.” He says when Joey gets this look on his face and he fades into Frank’s body.

“I think we are better off if only some of us go in while the others go back to The Survivor Forest.” I say and I start towards the passenger’s side of the truck.

“Dwight, so who’s going with you then?” Claudette asks, glossing over the fact that she herself did not want to go.

I didn’t blame her; she’s pushed through a lot of her personal boundaries for us and for all that, I was grateful.

“I guess that answers that.” Meg responds when I realize that Jake is standing beside the door, waiting for me to load up.

Once I’m in the truck and Jake is sliding in beside me, I can see that we are sending Feng, Meg, Claudette and Quentin back to the camp without us. I knew that this was risky because only two of us would be present but it would also lower the risk, we’d already taken by bringing four of us in here to start with.

I’m scared beyond belief of what may happen to them while they go back but I know it’s better this way. Quentin, Meg and Claudette can recover completely from the crows and Freddy. I wish to some degree that Jake would go with them but he wouldn’t even if I begged.

“Please be careful you guys, Jake…” Feng asks and he rolls down the window as she comes up to the window. “What do you want me to tell Nea? She’s not going to say so aloud but she’s worried sick about you,” she says and I can see Jakes jaw tighten as he considers what to say.

“I’ll see her soon,” he says and Feng furrows her brow before stepping back.

“Good luck,” Claudette calls out.

Frank pulls the truck up in front of the doors we want to enter and starts backing up until the rear of the truck is up against the line of trees behind us.

I feel Susie wrap her arms around Franks torso and he holds her close. Jake and I just squeeze each other’s hands, the rough leather of his gloves pinching my palm but I don’t let go.

“So…to think we might actually die tonight…it’s pretty scary. I’ll be real with you though, I’m glad I met you Dwight.” Jake says and I look over to him, seeing a smile on his face.

“I’m glad I met you too Jake, if I may be so bold, I think you’re my best friend.” I say and he scoffs, confusing me at first when he squeezes my hand tighter.

“No way, we’re brothers’ man. We’ve seen too much together to just be friends.” He says and I nod before taking a deep breath as Frank revs the engine.

“Ready guys?” he asks and we all brace ourselves when he guns the accelerant and we start speeding right towards the building.

It happens quickly, the glass doors shatter and fly up around us as if we were taking a quantum leap and the metal frames of the doors scraped loudly against the outside of the truck, causing an earsplitting noise that had me squinting my eyes in pain and then just before us, we saw this monster of a thing in the bland halls of this place. I couldn’t even comprehend what I saw as Susie screamed and everything suddenly went black.

Chapter Text

DWIGHT

“Dwight!” someone’s voice echoed in my head, the syllables of my name bouncing off the walls of my skull.

Opening my eyes was a battle since it seemed they were weighed down by sandbags. My chest felt like it was full of rocks, my limbs felt weightless; black murky clouds had replaced all my bones and muscles. I felt cold all over and a dull ache from the back of my neck, some form of whiplash must have disabled my whole body. I could tell that my limbs weren’t responding to my attempts at moving…I was completely paralyzed…or…was I dead? Is this what real death felt like? A cold, powerless state that enticed you to just sink into this black, inky void?

As much as I felt some deep-rooted part of me trying to give into the dark mist that filled my body, I kept seeing flashes of (f/n)’s face. Her smile, her laugh, her long (h/c) hair, her soft skin, her wide hopeful (e/c) eyes that lit up every time she saw me.

I wanted to see her smile again, I wanted to hold her in my arms again, I wanted to see her and Frank reconcile and everything be Ok with us. I could feel something warm in the back of my neck and just as quickly as I noticed the heat, the chilling fog under my skin began to fade.

“Damn it, Dwight! Wake up!!” Jake’s voice suddenly got much clearer, like a leathery slap to the face; the weight was shaken from my eyes and they popped open. Oh…wait, no…he slapped me.

I couldn’t see very clearly but I could tell from the blurry colors before me that it was indeed Jake looking at me. “Welcome back buddy, thought we really lost you for a minute.”

“Ow…” I replied while rubbing my cheek, not moving as he suddenly pushed my glasses onto my face.

“At least I took your glasses off first.” He says and I nod, fixing my glasses.

Once my eyes adjusted again, my jaw dropped at the vision that lie before me. The two metal doors that we’d driven through lay mangled and bent a few feet ahead of the truck. There looked to be two bodies laying further beyond the doors and one had been pushed away from its final resting place; smearing the blood puddle it once sat in. The white linoleum floors almost seemed new with the way they shone under the bland and buzzing lights above.

“Come on, this thing looks totaled.” Jake says and offers me his hand.

My legs feel like jelly as I stepped out of the truck but I managed to keep myself up. Looking behind me, I could see the truck was scraped pretty badly from our dramatic entrance, Kate was going to kill us if nothing else did first. I found Frank and Susie standing in front of the massive hole we’d left in the wall now that the doors were gone.

That hole was covered with black, humming spines that usually built the barrier at the Exit Gates. It made up Blood Warden walls if we were hooked late in the Trial and protected us from Killers trying to follow us beyond its borders.

“Well,” Frank starts, looking smug and proud of himself. “Guess it didn’t expect the mice to drive through the walls.”

“I thought we were the cats?” Susie says and Frank turns his gaze on her, pushing her head but it barely moves her.

“You know what I mean!”

“Hey, if we’ve caught it off guard then that means we’ve got the upper hand…right?” Susie asks, fixing her hair when Julie rejoins us by walking out from behind Frank.

“It’d be nice to think that but I don’t think so, I think that it is trying to figure out what it can do now that we’re not so predictable.” She says and Jake nods.

“She’s right, it might be trying to conserve what little power it has left so it can’t be slapping us on the wrist when we act out of turn. It might be planning it’s next move to try and regain control over this place and us.”

Just then, we hear a loud roar that has us all turn towards the truck. A mound of what looks like flesh and slime forms on the floor, not seeming to affect the linoleum at all.

“Um…what the fuck is that?” Joey asks, leaning on Frank’s shoulder.

Like a scene from a sci-fi movie, a massive claw bursts from the pile and seems to grasp the floor; the arm its attached to visibly toned with muscle. It’s quickly followed by a huge flower of flesh and thorny teeth. A beast built of muscle and claws, standing almost two whole feet taller than us and seeming very focused on us when the Red Stain shone over us.

“Oh God!” I gasped.

It roared an unholy sound at us that seemed to shake the walls, Jake and I had to cover our ears it was so loud. We were almost completely trapped where we were, the only space we had to go anywhere was where that thing stood, the truck blocked the rest of the hall completely. To get over it, we’d have to belly crawl over the roof of the cab, rubbing our backs on the ceiling. With those spines behind us we had no way to back out and start again, we were going to have to do what I really didn’t want us to have to do…stand and fight.

I half considered letting Frank take the lead but I didn’t even have a moment to move my feet as Susie pushed past me and throws her body into it, throwing them both onto the flesh pile it came from.

“RUN!” she screams and I hesitate but am suddenly swept off my feet by Frank, picking me up like any Killer would and running away with me. Jake keeping pace behind us and I watch as Susie ends up getting sucked into that pile of flesh with it and they disappear. As he runs, I see Julie and Joey keeping pace behind him, Jake not too far behind.

“Come on, they must be downstairs now!” he says when a loud crack brings everyone to a halt and sends Frank and I crashing to the floor. I tumble clumsily over his head, fearing that I’d just squished it and I hit the wall. Looking up I feel all the color drain from my face as I see a big bloody splatter across the floor from where he’d landed.

Looking up, I see a petite girl with short brown hair and vintage looking clothes, standing there holding a bat up on her shoulder. She looks more scared than we do, she’s got a clear rip and blood on the sweater she’s wearing and I can see a little of her flesh underneath. She’s sweating and her eyes are wide; that of a frightened animal. Julie starts towards her but she threatens the bat and Julie stops.

“Stay back!!” she warns as Frank groans, slowly rising to his hands and knees.

He raises his head and I can see that the white of his right eye has exploded with red and that same red is leaking from his ear, dripping down his jaw and off his chin. His eyes look glossy, as if he’s on the brink of passing out and I feel a chill race up my spine. I could feel the damage that had been inflicted on me before and I felt it fade away.

I could see the damage was worse inside his head, he may have a concussion! She hit him with all her strength and now I realized that their endless energy and seeming indestructibility had been a gift provided by The Entity.

“Dwight…” he rasped as he tried to get up.

The girl raised the bat again and I ran over, throwing myself between her and Frank, raising my arm to cover him.

“PLEASE STOP!” I yelled, bracing to be struck!

She visibly winced as she slowed the bat down just enough for it to harmlessly tap my raised arm and she stepped back quickly. She holds the handle but lets the bat bump the floor, smearing Frank’s blood. She looks defeated when I realize her eyes are hard on me.

“Dwight?” she asks and I raise my eyebrows.

“That’s me, how’d you know my name?” I say and her eyebrows furrow as she comes over to me.

“Oh my God! I’m so sorry! The way he was carrying you, I thought he was a Killer and-oh my God!!” she panics, dropping the bat and her face going paler than my own.

“Calm down, please!!” I beg when Frank falls to his belly and I turn away from her.

I’m kneeling beside him as I flip him onto his back, seeing that while the blood from his ear has stopped, I can see that one of his pupils is blown wide and I feel my heart shrivel inside my chest.

“Oh my God!! Jake, he needs help!!!” I plead and Jake rushes over, pulling his back pack off and starts digging through it while Julie, Joey and the girl kneel beside me.

“What’s happening to him Dwight!?” Julie asks, carefully pulling his head into her lap.

“I don’t remember the name…it’s a medical thing, it happened to my mom once while I was in school. She was in a car accident and one of her pupils dilated really badly, she had to be rushed to the hospital. Something happened in her brain and I think that’s what’s happening now!!”

“Oh God, what have I done?!” the girl looks as if she’s about to be sick but Julie reaches over and takes her hand.

“It’s Ok, Frank is tough. He’ll be Ok, you didn’t know!” she soothes and the girl nods, letting Julie hug her and I’m shocked.

I thought Julie would be angry at her, we just lost Susie who is Julie’s best friend and Frank was just hit with a bat, yet she’s more occupied with calming the girl down rather than be angry at her.

Jake quickly pulls out his anti-hemorrhage syringe and injects it into Frank’s neck then tosses the syringe away. We wait, in suspended worry until Frank blinks a few times, his pupil shrinking to match the other emphasizing the remaining difference in iris color. The blood seems to drain from his eye and before we know it, he’s looking around until he finds me and pulls me down, kissing me hard as I brace against the floor to keep from falling over.

“Oh!” the girl turns her head away and Julie just slaps her own forehead.

“Frank, come on!” she says and Frank releases me.

“Sorry…just…I needed that.” He says, sitting up slowly and rubbing the side of his head where the bat had struck. “That’s some swing you’ve got there Nancy,” he says and she jumps.

“How’d you know my name?!” she stands up and steps back a little, still nervous of him.

“Um…” he starts then points at me. “Focus on him, not me.”

She seems to take his advice and rushes over to sit in front of me, strangely close since her knee presses against mine, but I figure it’s just because she’s scared.

“(f/n) told me to find you before…that thing took her over again.” She says and this tension suddenly rises immensely all around us.

“(f/n) talked to you?! How?” I asked quickly and she shook her head.

“I don’t know. It’s like she’s got split personalities, but the meaner of the two is winning.” We somewhat crowd around Nancy to listen as she explains. “While I was with her, she was mostly Wicked but she seems to shift between the two…like they’re fighting over who gets to talk.” She says and I glance over at Frank who looks a little ill at ease.

“So, they’re already fighting for who’s in control…so much for your plan Frank,” Julie says.

Frank doesn’t say anything, he’s just staring straight ahead when Nancy reaches into her back pocket and produces a small plastic brick.

“Maybe this will help,” she says and presents it to us. “The batteries are dead but if we can find more, maybe I can show you what I found out.”

“What are you, a journalist?” Joey asks and she smiles softly at him.

“Not quite…but thanks.” She says when she looks at Jake, who has knelt down and is digging through one of the pockets near his ankle. “What are you looking for?”

“I’ve never tried putting these in anything but a flashlight but,” he then produces two long life batteries. “Hopefully they’ll work for you.”

“Thank you,” she takes them and starts loading up the tape recorder. She rewound it a little before pressing play and the audio played was definitely (f/n)’s voice but it was like a low growl and less of the melodic sound I’d come to know.

“She was technically a guidance counselor at a high school…”

“She’s talking about Michelle? Why?” I ask and she shakes her head.

“I don’t know, she sorta…” Nancy seemed hesitant to say and closed her eyes before managing to get the word out. “She kissed me and said it was how she learned everything that I know. She said she was giving me what I wanted, she told me ‘the truth’. I’m not sure what that means but then she just started talking.”

She turns on the tape and we listen as Wicked delves into the event that lost Michelle to us forever; her birth. I felt their eyes go to me as she talked about how I should have killed myself before ever even coming here but I kept my eyes on the tape recorder, that part of my life was over anyways.

“…dear old dad was called The Director.”

“Oh my God…” I mutter and Nancy paused the tape. “I completely forgot about him.”

“Jeez, you have been here a long time.” Julie mused, patting my shoulder gently.

“What do you remember?” Frank asks and I ponder, everything starting to return to the surface, as if it was called upon by that name. It was like I was in a trance.

“Roger Davis was once a theatre owner who delighted in building a set and show. He loved his performers, the music, the lights; setting a scene was his artform and he took great pride in it. The stage was a part of his soul and he was always moved to tears watching a piece come together.

One day however, he found some vandals had broken into his theatre and were destroying his stage. He chased them off but the damage had been done, he couldn’t afford repairs and thus, closed his theatre. Without the theatre, he couldn’t create and thus he lost his only source of income. His life spiraled out of control from there, he tried everything to get back on his feet but his disappointment seemed never ending. He couldn’t hold down any ‘normal’ job, he knew the stage was his calling and fell into a deep depression that only got deeper with each failure.

His only solace had been his wife Jessica, she’d been working hard as a teacher to provide for them while he sought out work. He feared that she resented him for not providing for her but, she assured him that it wasn’t like that and how she would always be there for him.

Then, wonderful news from the bank came in the form of a phone call. His loan had been approved and he rushed home to tell his wife. The theatre could be revived, they would make money again and he could do what he loved to do! Everything was falling into place; he returned home and found a note that said she’d gone to the store. He decided that while he waited for her to come home, he would go to the theatre and visualize how glorious it would be once it was repaired; his heart soaring.

His heart crashed however when he walked into his theatre and saw Jessica with one of his actors on the prop bed. His heart then burned, he snapped and went into a rage. He suddenly was struck with a wave of calm and began clapping, startling the lovers out of bed in a panic. He slowly approached the stage, the two frantically rushing to redress themselves. He commended his wife on her performance, keeping him so invested that he never suspected that she was cheating on him. He praised her lover for keeping himself tactful and respectful during rehearsals, wondering how long they’d been seeing each other.

Five. Months. Long before the fall of the theatre.

The following morning, the carpenters arrived to get repairs underway but they quickly fled and called the cops. It was the worst murder the town had ever seen.

His wife had been dressed up as Rapunzel but instead of long hair hanging from the window…her entrails were out and her lover was hanging from them, eviscerated himself. Blood splattered around the stage as if someone had tried to spread it around. Roger was never found and the tales of his wife and her lover haunting the theatre have prevented it from ever being reopened.

The Director came to us with three perks…

Monstrous Shrine: He saw the Basement as his new stage and treated the hooks like actors, playing their parts; talking to them and commending them on a job well done. The only performers who would never betray him or fail in their role.

Unrelenting: His attacks were always something of a dance, if he missed an attack, he would use that momentum to carry out another.

Sloppy Butcher: He was a killer of passion, not precision. He was a disaster when it came to attacking us. He always broke something or nicked an artery…if he didn’t take his time with us then, he would use our blood to paint a set for himself to use.

His power was the ability to command us to do what he wanted for a short time. ‘Action’ caused so many fights to break out once we got back to camp…ugh…it was awful.” I rubbed my face roughly at the memories.

It was like watching a pack of wolves turn on each other, so many angry words and fighting. Thanks to him, it was like the bloodshed followed us back to our camp.

“Dwight, sit down…” Frank ushers me over to the wall and kneels beside me as I sit down on the floor, his warm hand on my shoulder a great comfort.

“Ugh…I feel like I’m drunk…” I say as my head began to throb and I let my head lay to the side, rubbing my cheek against the back of his hand.

He smiled at me and turned his hand around, holding my cheek and rubbing me with his thumb. This action sent my heart into a little flutter but it was dulled by the nausea.

“What’s going on?” Nancy asks as she comes over to kneel beside us too.

“I think you just caused a vicious form of Déjà vu.” Joey laughs and nudges her with his elbow.

“Will he be alright?” she asks, scuffing her right foot against her shoe nervously.

It was strange…almost like looking at a gender-bend of my high school self. Scared, unsure and yet still wanting to reach out. Poor kid…I remember how sad I always was, she seems tougher than me though, that’s a good thing, especially considering where she’s been sent.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I say and look up at Nancy. “Play the rest of the tape, we have to know what we’re up against.” I tense my jaw, feeling my belly do a somersault.

She nods before turning on the tape again and we listen carefully to everything she says.

“There had always been a rule that Killers were not supposed to hurt Survivors outside of Trials…he got a wicked hard on for mom though and fucking raped that rule…and her.”

“Ew…seriously?” Julie comments.

I nod my head, Nancy seemed to cast a glare at everyone but me.

“Yup, no one lifted a finger to help-wait! There was this whole thing that ended up happening when he attacked her. There were these four losers, all together they were a problem for my dad. Dwight was the first to cause trouble, he tackled my dad hard into the dirt and knocked him off of mom for-”

The tape is silenced when Julie snatches it and starts trying to figure out how to work it, inciting Nancy to swipe for it but Joey keeps her back with a hand on her shoulder.

“Hey!” she says then glares at Joey and he pulls his hand back.

“Sorry,” he says awkwardly as Julie continues to fiddle with the tape recorder.

“I’m sorry, we already know this part and for the record; it’s pissing me off how she keeps referring to them as mom and dad. As if Michelle wasn’t brutalized by that bastard, affectionately calling them her parents. Fucking bitch.” She says before looking up at Nancy.

“That’s something I thought was weird, she just called them her parents like she cared about them…but I don’t think she has the ability to care.” She crossed her skinny arms. “Besides, you don’t really have room to talk since you guys just watched it happen.” She says and Joey whips around to catch Julie and pick her up off the floor. Julie swings wild over his shoulder and Nancy shies back, eyes wide as Joey keeps the taller woman back.

“What did you just fucking say?!” she yells and throws the tape recorder at her.

It flies over her head and Jake rushes to catch it but it bounces off his open hands and hits the floor.

“Jules, chill!” he then peeks back and looks at Nancy. “What are you talking about?”

“Spare me, I know all about how the other Survivors just watched as she was raped and didn’t do anything to help her!” she says, not trying to move forward but not moving back either.

“This is why you’re not a fucking reporter, you just accuse us without knowing any of the facts!” Julie spits when Frank rushes over and waves at her.

“Jules, you really gotta take a chill pill. Your scaring the kids,” he glances over at me and Jake and she puffs up her cheeks before crossing her arms on Joey’s shoulder.

“Whatever, Joey put me down.” She demands but he hesitates. “I’ll keep my distance, put me down.”

He sighs and sets her down, keeping his eyes on her as she glares daggers at Nancy. She feigns a lunge that makes Joey and Frank jerk to get in the way but she just laughs at them both.

“Ha, you guys suck.”

Nancy steps a little closer to me when I get myself to stand again, still leaning on the wall a little bit.

“Um…they weren’t there when Michelle was attacked, this is Jake. He’s the uh…” I start but he finishes for me.

“Apparently, I’m a damn firebug, nice to meet you Nancy. Julie is much nicer than she seems, promise.” He says and holds up the tape recorder. “One thing that I’ll forever envy about the 80’s is how things were built to last, now everything breaks if you breathe on it wrong. Here,” he hands the tape recorder back to her and she nods.

“I guess I should be safe to assume that time doesn’t really mean much here either?” she asks and we nod.

She looks back at The Legion and I see her brows furrow and I follow her eyes to Frank’s hip; his knife. Frank seems to notice too and pulls it out, flipping it around in his hand like an expert. He throws it up into the air and catches the blade, offering her the handle.

 “Wanna see it?” he offers but she shakes her head.

“No thank you, I’m good.” She then turns to me and motions for me to come closer. She’s not much shorter than me but I have to lean down so she can whisper to me. “Why do only they have knives?”

“Oh…um…” I start, realizing that she might not understand right away but a quick glance at Jake tells me what I already knew. I’ve done enough lying to ‘protect’ people, it hasn’t worked for me anyways. “They’re not Survivors, they’re actually Killers…The Legion.” I say and her eyes get wide when Frank puts the knife away and raises his hands.

“Hurry up and tell her the rest before she freaks out.”

“There’s a lot more to explain that we don’t have time to go over, but I’m going to ask you to trust me when I say they won’t hurt us.” I say and know I’m pleading to her with my eyes, but after a few nervous looks she seems to set her shoulders, walks right up to Frank and offers her hand to him.

“Then I guess I should be glad you’re on our side.” She says and he spits into his palm before slapping his hand around hers and shaking it. “Ew…” she squeaks but doesn’t shy back. Julie and Joey laugh and Frank squeezes her hand a little tighter to make the spit squelch between their skin.

“Pleasure to be working with you, Nancy. Names Frank, this is Julie and Joey-” the introductions are interrupted by the sound of a loud roar from below us and Frank’s eyes getting wide. “I believe that’s our fourth member; we’ll introduce you shortly.” He says as him and the other two start running down the hall, Jake rushing to follow them. I start after him but stop as I see Nancy looks frightened and I remember that she knows this monster, like Laurie knows Michael and Quentin knows Freddy.

“Nancy…are you Ok?” I ask and she keeps her arms crossed but I can see the tears welling up in her eyes.

“Yeah…I’m…” she starts but I offer her a soft smile and place a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s Ok, you can talk to me.” I say and the tears fall down her cheeks as she begins speaking through sobs.

“This thing…killed my best friend. I miss her all the time and I hate myself because I left her alone when she disappeared. To make it worse, I ended up getting sucked into even more trouble than before and now I’m worried I’ll lose Steve too. (f/n) was right before, I’m just a spoiled little brat and it bothered me seeing them together like that but…I just don’t want him to leave me too. I’m tired of losing people to this thing. I’m scared and cold and hungry and…and…” she starts and I finish for her.

“You feel like you’re drowning.” I say and she nods, wiping her tears away and trying to calm herself, her nose turning pink. “Nancy, it’s Ok. You’re not alone here…we’ll protect each other, it’s how we do things.” I offer my hand to her and she still looks scared but she takes it and I squeeze it to give her comfort. “Things used to be so bad before, no one trusted each other. We all have a reason to fight and that’s why we’re still here, don’t ever give up. You’re stronger than you think you are, trust me.” I say and she nods as another roar makes her jump but I can see the tension in her jaw.

“Let’s go,” she says and I nod, turning to follow the others when I realize she’s standing still so I turn back to her. “Wait! There’s something I need to tell you, it’s something she said. Wicked said that she’s using energy to keep (f/n) depressed so she can be in control. I don’t know for sure but I hope it helps.”

As if a lightbulb had gone off in my brain, I felt adrenaline surge through my veins and I smiled, making Nancy smile too.

“You have no idea how much that helps! Way to go, Nancy!” I say and her whole body seemed to change.

Feet parted, shoulders back and her grip on my hand tightened.

“Let’s go! We have to catch up to the others!”

 

 

 

SUSIE

It felt like there was a boulder on my chest, making breathing in a little painful. The back of my head hurt and I could feel where it had bounced on the floor when I landed. My fingers and toes felt like radio static as I wiggled them, taking inventory on my body to make sure nothing was missing. Everything felt like it was where it belonged, despite the weight on my chest.

The last thing I could remember was tackling that monster and then we fell so much farther than we should have to reach the floor. I then remembered what I could only describe is something smooth and slimy against my face in the fall. Thinking on it a little more, I figure my face touched the pile of shit that it crawled out of. Yuck…

Opening my eyes, I recognized the walls of the basement in all their splintering and rusty glory. Looking to my right, I could see the four hooks that I’d come to know but looking harder at them, I could see that one of them was broken and laying on the floor.

These hooks always rebuilt themselves right after a sacrifice…to see one broken looked so alien to me.

Looking down, I saw the thing keeping me down was the monster I’d tackled; unmoving but clearly still alive. The sound of its breathing was like an idle engine to a monster truck, growling with every breath. Its throat vibrated into my belly and I slowly reached down towards my waist to grasp my weapon, but its not against my hip!

Looking around me, I spotted it a small distance away from me. It must have slid over there when we landed. I just don’t get how we landed this far back in the basement. The thought was stopped by this squishing sound from above me. Looking up, I was afforded the view of another pile of shit on the ceiling, slowly weaving what looked like slimy intestines together and sealing it up.

I knew I was going to have to slowly inch my way out from under it, like trying to sneak out from under a sleeping pet. This was a stressful roller coaster of a process as every time its breath stuttered or it fucking twitched, I instinctively feigned sleeping. I’m not sure why I expected it to work but…it did!

It seemed to keep it calm enough to not attack me as I continued with this painstakingly slow process. I tasted a little blood as I bit my lip to keep my body from tensing up. I was scared that the shift of my muscles was going to be enough to wake it.

After what felt like the world’s longest minutes passed, I was now left with the head of this thing using me as a pillow. I wanted to just pick its head up then put it down on the floor, like I’d seen in the cartoons. I decided to shoot my shot and continue with slowly working my way out from under this thing, keeping my arm nearest to its body, ready to keep the head level so I could avoid stirring this creature.

I kept myself calm and held my breath as I carefully used my hand to hold one of its bottom jowls and keep the head level and slowly pull myself free. My heart jumped into my throat as soon as my finger touched it, it moved its head to curl up, away from and off of me. It felt like the boulder was still on my chest until the creature settled and returned to its idle engine-like breathing.

I lie in wait for a few moments, just in case the creature moved again before I got up. Careful not to make a sound, I snatched up my weapon and hurried towards the steps. Coming out of the basement, I find myself in a room with a bunch of tables and control panels, each one sparking with white, crackling electricity. I started forward when I decided to pull my mask down and keep my weapon out, if I run into (f/n) …or whatever she’s become, I need to be ready.

 

 

 

DWIGHT

“I’m sure that there’s a better way for this to be done, I’m not a dummy!” I complain as Frank stands up in front of me, pulling the ties tight around my calves.

“Of course, you’re not, you’re bait.” He says, patting my chest and smiling as he kneels to tie the other leg.

I felt really uncomfortable wearing Frank’s clothes, I was a little shocked that they fit me to begin with. His red hoodie fit me strangely well, him pulling his leather jacket on over it though felt heavy on my arms. My pants were usually comfortably baggy but his were almost skin tight, perfect for hunting us down, I guess. He’d even pulled the old gauze from around his hands and wrapped it around mine to make me look a little more like him.

“But why do I have to be the bait?” I ask, unable to mask my innate nervousness at this idea. “Wouldn’t it make more sense if you just snuck up on her?”

“Sorry Dwight, we have to get close to her and the only way to do that is if she thinks she’s got the upper hand. We have to do this the way Jake says,” Frank’s words make me glare over at Jake who just waves at me.

“Don’t give me that look Dwight, you and Frank have similar body types; it makes more sense for you to do it.”

“Well why can’t Joey do it?” I ask and he just laughs.

“Dude…first, I’m black. Second, I’m built a little…better than Frank.” He says and Frank simply directs a middle finger back at him.

“Hey, I was born addicted to crack; those sweet, sweet drugs made me skinny.” He follows that up with a laugh that Julie and Joey return.

“Um…what?” I ask and he looks up at me, seeming like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Oh, nothing.” He says and focuses on my leg again, tightening the laces against the back of my ankle and I shift uncomfortably. “Dwight, you gotta quit moving.”

“I’m sorry, these are a little tighter than I’m used to.” I admit and he pats my thigh as he seems finished with his work.

“That’s the point, I can’t have my pants hanging loosely, if I tripped on my pants and get caught by the fuzz that would just wreck my rep and my pride.” He says and Julie smacks Joey’s shoulder.

“You mean like someone we know?” Joey pushes her back and she continues laughing at him.

Frank stands before me and adjusts the hood around my head and I can’t help but stare at him, begging with my eyes to not make me do this but his eyes soften on me…I don’t really have a choice.

“Remember, this is for (f/n). We have to be able to get close and this is the only way I can think it will work.” He assures me and I nod.

As a direct result of me wearing his clothes…Frank is wearing mine. He’s wearing my black button up but ditched the vest, saying it ‘wasn’t his style’ and left it half unbuttoned as well. He fit well in my pants, he just had to tighten my belt a little more since while he had more muscle than I did, he was also lean in body type like I was. It looked odd seeing his neck and face completely exposed without the hood…but not bad in the slightest.

His hair was that trendy type of messy that bad boys could pull off, his neck tattoo was much easier to see now and I could clearly see the skull with a bat and the flames. He smiles when he realizes that I’m staring and raises his perfect eyebrows at me.

“Ok,” I say and he nods, kissing my cheek gently and making my face heat up as he turns to the others.

“Alright, the plan is simple. She will remember me from when she saw me under (f/n)’s house. Dwight is standing in for me so that he’s masked, she’ll remember you without a doubt.” He says over his shoulder and I nod. “I’ll hang back while you guys keep her focus on you.”

“What are you going to do?” Nancy asks.

“Once Dwight gets close enough, he’s going to grab her. He just needs to hold her long enough for me to get my arms around her throat and I’ll put her to sleep. Once she’s out, it’ll be up to (f/n) from there.” He says, his voice dropping a little.

I can tell he’s still worried, thinking about what I said before. We both know she has the tenacity and the resolve…but she might not have the power right now to fight back. I can’t even imagine what she must be going through right now but I can only hope that she’s still fighting, still hanging on.

Just a little longer (f/n), we’re coming.

A loud crash makes us turn to look down the hall, (f/n) has her back to us, dragging a burlap bag behind her and she’s just thrown some barrels against a wall.

“Nancy, where are you baby?” she says in a sing-song voice.

Nancy somewhat cowers behind Julie who steps forward a bit to hide her. Frank hides behind a corner and gives me the thumbs up. I pull on his mask and do my best to mimic how he usually stands to convey confidence that I don’t have.

(f/n) turns to us and my heart sinks, her skin is pale, her eyes are completely blacked out, the corners of her mouth seem to reach the edges of her face and I can see the razer sharp teeth within peeking out as she looks to us. Her hair seemed to be alive, slithering across the floor like snakes and she smiles at us as she draws near.

“Ooh…what is this? Since when did The Entity allow visitors to the Trials?” she asks, her voice sounding less and less like (f/n) as she spoke.

“Where’s (f/n)?” Julie asks and she laughs.

“Don’t play dumb, you know she’s with me.” She says, tapping the side of her head and grinning at us. “I’m not going to lie; I’m impressed with you bunch. You look much more formidable and organized than the last time I was here.” She says when her eyes fall to me and she seems excited.

“Ooh!! I remember you! Last time I saw you seems like eons ago!! Come here, I promise not to bite too hard!” she says excitedly, leaning the bag up against her leg.

Julie looks back at me and nods so I start forward. As I pass, Joey grabs my shoulder and I stop, looking up at him.

“Careful man,” he says and glares at her as I continue forward alone.

My belly is doing flips as she greedily eyes me up and down and I feel unsure, something feels off. I can’t ignore that feeling as I draw closer to her but as I’m maybe three steps from her she holds up a hand to stop.

“Oh wait, here.” She presents the bag to me and I look at her, unsure. “Don’t worry, it’s not a bomb. It’s a present…for Julie.” She says and I fight every instinct in my body telling me to step back but I hear Julie rush over beside me and starts dragging the bag backwards.

I bite my lower lip and continue forward, Wicked quirking an eyebrow at me as I come to stand before her and she looks up into my masked face, seeming mesmerized.

“You look so good in those clothes…Dwight.” She says and Julie screams but I don’t turn back to see.

Her razer smile spreads wide as she starts to laugh and that’s when I reach up and pull the mask off, confirming her words but she seems surprised when I throw it behind her and it lands against Frank’s chest, making her turn and look over her shoulder.

“Ooh, I did NOT see that coming!” she laughs as Frank’s eyes grow wide at my actions and I push the hood off my head.

“I’m sorry Frank…but I can’t do it…I know she’s still in here and I won’t let you hurt her.” I say and Wicked laughs like a super villain.

“Aww, sorry about your plan there, Frank. Maybe don’t lose track of someone with such pertinent information next time. Susie was a fun little surprise though, thanks for that. Don’t worry, her mouth will heal…well, it should anyways.” She says and Frank looks like he’s seen a ghost he’s gone so pale.

“Dwight, you have no idea what you’re doing!” he yells and I shake my head.

“Actually…I do.” I say and that’s when Wicked begins stroking my shoulders, marveling at me. “I knew this wouldn’t work…” I say and reach up to touch her cheeks.

“Such a sweetheart…you really are a simp, aren’t you?” she mocks and I smile awkwardly at her.

“Oh come on, give me some credit.” I say and step closer to her, seeming to surprise her when a look of realization comes over her eyes. “I’m not that stupid.”

I grasp her cheeks hard and pull her close to me, kissing her hard and making her struggle to push me away. As she pushed me back, I stumbled but managed to stay standing, motioning for Frank to come back over as I wiped my mouth. Wicked just stood there, eyes wide and trembling as she covered her mouth; for the first time since knowing she existed…she looked scared.

“Dwight, what did you do?” Frank asked me.

“As soon as she said Julie’s name, I knew our plan was worthless. No one can hear the Whispers because The Entity is using all it’s power to keep this place up…so how would she know who Julie is?”

Frank’s eyes widen at me. “You…damn genius!” he claps me on my shoulder and I glance back, seeing Julie cradling Susie’s body against her, the hood up over her face and I can’t even begin to imagine what Wicked did to her.

I look back to Wicked who looks like she’s trying to keep from throwing up, her face seems green and if looks could kill, I’d have burst into flames.

“I didn’t have a lot of time to figure out a new plan, so I decided to go by something Nancy said before, it was the first thing that came to my mind. Every Killer has a Curse to keep them in line and even though The Entity can’t do much else, after what happened before, there’s no way it would dare let her free without putting something on her…some way to force her to comply with this place in some way…so, a touch gives her knowledge…but with a price. Right, Wicked?” I ask and she glares at me hard.

“You fucking-hugh!” she gags and covers her mouth again, as if her head is going to explode.

“Nancy said that she told her ‘the truth’, then Joey asked her if she was a reporter, that got me thinking; ‘the truth’ is suggestive. Based on the tape, she told you the truth of her arrival here…but not where she came from. That part about The Entity not knowing about how humans procreate was bullshit. So Wicked, to pay the price for gaining everything that I know…I want to know something.” I say and if I’d burst into flames now, she’d be beyond happy. “I want to know everything about you…Wicked.”

The trembling in her body and the green hue to her face seemed to fade as she stood up straight but the glare of hellfire remained in her eyes.

“I am (f/n) (m/n) (l/n). Crafted from the rage of a tormented child, born from the body of a virgin mother and baptized in the blood of my rapist father; I Am The Wicked!” she says and my heart sinks.

“Um…that’s not what I expected to hear…” I say and she laughs.

“Of course, you wouldn’t! No one expects the new girl to be the cause of the way of life you’ve all come to know here!! I was created the day I killed Gerald! That lonely creep ruined my life so I took his! Forcing me to sing for him every single day, it was like forcing someone to eat their favorite food until they vomited only to make them KEEP FUCKING EATING!!!” she screamed, seeming in despair over the memories! She raised her head and I could see that one eye was still blacked out while the other was (e/c) colored; (f/n) was somewhat here.

“He made me hurt so I made him hurt too! The Entity came for him that day but as it reached to take him…I killed the bastard. It was angry, as much as you think it wouldn’t, it’s an ancient being, lesser beings such as yourselves getting in its way is one promise to a pissed off being! As vengeance, it decided to take me but something unexpected happened. Despite the murder I’d just committed…I was still a child, an innocent, the salt of the earth. It tried to drag me into The Fog…but it only got part of me…the Wicked part. That fragment of my soul was deposited into the body of Michelle. Assuming that The Entity wouldn’t know about human reproduction is retarded!” she spits at us and I feel someone lean into my shoulder; likely Nancy.

“After I’d had some fun with your old friends, I was thrown into The Void by the other Killers. Problem was, when The Entity tried to erase me like the mistake that I am; I discovered something about myself. I am capable of assuming the form of whoever I chose…like a parasite, I enter the body and I can even hide out until I’m ready to come out!” She says and laughs as Nancy seems to go pale at the mention. “That is how I developed in Michelle’s form when I came here!” she smiles at us as if setting herself on display for us.

“She did mention something about her hair being a dead giveaway,” Nancy whispers to me and I nod.

“Right you are Nancy, so I decided to keep that power under wraps and protect my creation like a secret. If I assume the form of someone, I will obtain any abilities that they once possessed, so I have all the compassion and wisdom of Michelle and all the tenacity and resilience of (f/n) plus my own power. If I were to take on The Entity’s form…why, it would lose this whole world it’s created. Can’t have that, so it simply avoided me, kept me at a distance so I can’t touch it and ensured that I would never be able to use my power on it. So, I swam around in The Void, devouring it’s reserves to keep myself alive, enjoying all the spoils of The Entity’s pantry until there was nothing left for it…thus…it began to starve.

Like an undeserved gift then, it returned the body I came from and it feels like sleeping in my own bed after a long trip elsewhere; home. I am home again and I am a creature that The Entity can never be rid of!” she laughs like a maniac in an asylum before suddenly gaining this look in her eyes that prompts me to step back a little.

“My one complaint is that (f/n) is a real pain in the ass to keep buried! She would have been easier to subdue if The Entity had done its job well!”

“What do you mean?” I ask and she laughs at me.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“(f/n), make her tell us the truth!” I yell and Wicked grimaces, dropping to her knees.

“Fucking bitch!!” she growls before glaring daggers at me and snarling before answering. “(f/n) was meant to be a Killer by punishment since her sweet soul would never have hurt a fly. Her soul ripping in two however, caused a different chain of events. It decided to raise her up itself, fill her with sadness and anger, make her angry at the world because it wanted her to suffer; punishment for interrupting it. She was meant to become a local legend after going on a massive murder spree at school…but then that little bleeding-heart brat and his fucking family got in the way again! Humans always putting their damn noses where they’re not wanted.”

“Joseph,” I mutter and she claps her hands.

“Someone give this fucker a damn medal!” she yells and glares at me, sweat starting to drip down her jaw. “All their fucking support, positive reinforcement and healthy coping mechanisms for her rage and her grief!! I’m surprised this bitch didn’t get diabetes with how sweet they were to her!! An angry Entity is one thing…but an enraged one was something else entirely. Joseph was an innocent who loves (f/n) dearly…they were meant to spend the night together but (f/n) insisted that she would be fine. Joseph dodged The Entity but (f/n)’s fate was sealed with me!” She starts walking towards us, her hair dragging along lifelessly on the ground behind her.

“Joseph was meant to be a Survivor and (f/n) was meant to be a Killer, ending the cycle of those two meddling in a greater beings games. I have always been a part of (f/n) and I am the catalyst for all the anger and pain she has in her heart that she couldn’t handle because I wasn’t there anymore! Now she’ll drown in her pain, suffocate under the weight of her own guilt and I’ll be left in control.” She draws near and glares hard into my eyes as I stand there, looking at her…this monster in control of the girl I love.

“Doesn’t that bug you Dwight? Doesn’t that hurt your delicate little heart? How about the fact that Michelle was nothing more than a useless incubator?” Her eyes look over my face carefully, searching for the pain that she wants to cause me.

It hurts…it does but…I know that (f/n) can hear me. I smile and Wicked’s smile vanishes. “She’s weak.” I say and she screams, lunging for my throat but Frank gets her around her neck and starts squeezing despite her struggles.

“NO, SHUT UP!!” she screams when Julie rushes over and shoves her knife into Wicked’s throat, silencing her then looking back at me.

“Dwight, keep going!!”

“The Entity kept them invincible but it can’t heal us the same way as before. She’s weak, if you push her out, we can stop her!” I say as Wicked’s eyes roll back in her head and she goes limp. Frank carefully laying her back and calling Jake and Joey over.

“Ok, now we need to make sure we hold her down until we’re sure (f/n) is back.” He says and I kneel beside him.

“The eyes, I could see that (f/n) was watching before. If the eyes are blacked out, then we failed…”

We watch Wicked’s body remain asleep as her breathing slows and I feel Frank press his forehead against my shoulder, his hands are busy holding down her shoulders.

“Good luck, (f/n).”

 

 

 

(F/N)

My body was cold and tingling all over, I wasn’t shivering at all…I couldn’t even move, part of me didn’t want to. Watching her torment Susie, the way she did…made my stomach turn.

She’d ripped some wires out of a control panel, humming to herself about all the things she could do with them…when Susie happened upon her by mistake. Before the girl could react, Wicked used her hair to capture her and hold her down on the floor.

Using the ruler Susie used as a weapon, she stabbed Susie’s lips, ignoring Susie’s cries as the compass needles dug into her lips and tore at her flesh. Once Susie opened her mouth, Wicked jammed the ruler between her teeth, forcing her to keep her mouth open.

She slowly…carefully…dug the braces out of her face with her fingers. I could feel her gums bleed under my fingernails and the scrape of her teeth against my nails.

Wicked hummed the whole time and acted as if she were tending a garden, not brutalizing her! I tried to focus on anything else but Wicked wouldn’t let me. She watched very closely as she got a grip on one of the braces wires, she pulled out the wires she’d snatched. She attached the wires to the metal around Susie’s teeth and dragged her down the hall towards another mangled panel.

My head felt like it was going to explode with frustration, I wanted so badly to scream and get her away from Susie! Watching her connect the wires to the control panel…I couldn’t do anything…but watch.

I could feel hopelessness dragging me deeper and deeper into my own despair, I feared that if I continued to hold on, she would make me watch as she butchered them all. I didn’t want to give up, but I don’t know how much more pain I can watch her create.

“She weak.”

…! Dwight?!

Panic, my veins filled with panic! What’s happening? Why is Wicked panicking? From the way things have been so far, she’s not afraid of anything. She’s angry and scared!

“The Entity kept them invincible but it can’t heal us the same way as before. She’s weak, if you push her out, we can stop her!”

This warmth blossomed from my chest as his sweet, sweet voice reached me down in the depths.

I felt my finger twitch on my right hand and it sent a shockwave throughout my whole body. The layer over me of static tingles and ice shattered into pieces and left me as my whole body revived. I kicked and felt myself shoot upwards faster than a bullet, quickly brightening the water around me from black to a softer purple.

As soon as my head broke the surface, I gasped loudly as air painfully filled my lungs. I reached for the first thing I saw and that was the banister by the stairs, just to hold onto something as I was still shoulder deep with no sense of the bottom near my feet.

Coughing so hard that water came to my eyes, I felt my body convulse as I threw up some of the water I’d swallowed; leaving this quickly fading cloud of white in the water. As I regained my baring’s, I realized I wasn’t swimming anymore; I was kneeling beside the stairs.

The dark purple water that remained in the house was maybe a few inches deep now, as if that deep chasm I’d been in had disappeared. The house looked like the sunken Titanic; water damage that browned and warped the wallpaper, the fireplace had water trickling in from the chimney. The couch looked like it was melting and the archway that lead into the kitchen had rotted and begun to crack; the white paint faded and chipping.

This low but haunting howl made me look upstairs and I could see this veil of black fog completely covering the second level. It seemed like it walled itself off at the top of the stairs, not creeping even a little past that step.

I felt a little flutter against my thigh and looked down to see that Dwight’s shirt had come unbuttoned; heavy with the water and tickled my leg, dripping water down my skin. I didn’t bother to wring it out since I was soaked to the bone right now anyways, I just pulled out the two ends and tied them like a skimpy school girl and knotted it tightly just under my bust. My shorts were heavy with water as well but they fit me properly so it wasn’t too uncomfortable.

“YOU FUCKING BITCH!” I hear and don’t have time to react when I get punched by Wicked who appeared out of nowhere to me!

I managed to roll through the punch and am left kneeling by the kitchen archway as Wicked stands over the half-submerged body of my father.

Looking at her now, she looked a little worse for wear. Her long (h/c) hair was lifelessly hanging around her and though her skin was pale and sickly looking, I could see what looked like green bruises all over her thighs and shoulders. The longer I looked, I could see that the ‘bruises’ were spreading and getting bigger, looking more like she was rotting from within.

“What’s…what’s happening to you?”

“You’re fucking happening!” she yells but covers her face with both her hands.

At first, I think she’s crying but she lowers her hands and was just composing herself as she glares her soulless eyes at me.

“Ok (f/n), I’ll give you credit where credit is due. You’ve got way more fight in you than any other Survivor I’ve met here. Even Al tried to fight back but that was as useless as his legs when I was done with him.” She said with a dark grin and I clenched my teeth.

Standing apart from her like this was firing goosebumps all across my skin and I felt every instinct in my body telling me to get away from her, but I forced myself to stay.

“I’m allowed to feel bad for myself for a little bit! I’m not some psycho who kills herself after her boyfriend cheats on her and laughs when she finds out!”

“Oh, shut the fuck up!” she snaps, shaking the whole house to the point something falls and breaks in the kitchen behind me. I look at her with wide eyes, my mind racing to think of how I’m going to even get outside! “I could hear everything you were thinking before this and all it’s been was Frank this or Dwight that! You’re so damn dick drunk, I’m shocked you weren’t in at least one fucking porno back home!!” she says and the decay on her body seems to worsen.

“You don’t look like you have a lot of time…” I say, chastising myself for even considering extending an olive branch to her.

“See that’s where you’re wrong, bitch. I don’t need your pity; I’m not going to be used as someone’s fucking toy. It’s my turn to play and I won’t stop until I damn well feel like it!” she starts towards me and I back up a little, bumping the archway and actually knocking it off the wall, exposing the wood actively rotting underneath it. “Nothing would make me happier than to slice you out of existence. You’re not even worth playing with like I did the others so I can only think of how I will probably cum as I crush your head between my teeth!” she yelled and I looked back up to her as I spotted something.

The rot on her thigh…looks like the wall. The house is falling apart and so is she, they’re connected…like I am to her. I feel the lightbulb go off in my head and I step towards her, making her stall in her movements.

“You won’t even admit the truth, you’re afraid of me.”

“The hell I am! Why the hell would I be afraid of you!? You are a useless, slutty little cunt who can’t do anything other than open her legs and cross your fingers that you’ll die choking on someone’s dick!” she shouted when I took a step forward and she backed up a step.

“I understand how angry you are…but you seem to be panicking still.” I start forward and she can’t hide the worry in her brow through her snarl, her razer sharp teeth yellowing by the second. “The house is falling apart and rotting away because I’m moving on, if I move on from my pain…you can’t exist.”

“Are you that retarded?! You can’t just leave me behind now that I’m here, you’ll never be rid of me! I’m a part of you and now that I’m back, I won’t be going anywhere.” She yells, again shaking the walls of the house but I don’t react this time.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’m never going to completely move on. I’ll be grieving for my parents for the rest of my life and I’ll miss them forever…” I say as I bow my head, looking at my reflection in the water at my feet. “I used to have nightmares that they were angry with me, I didn’t listen and it got them killed. I’ll carry that guilt with me until I die.”

“You might as well have butchered your family with him, fucking disappointment of a child!”

“I guess that’s the only thing you don’t know.” I say and look up at her, as if looking at who I am in my reflection and then seeing her, now understanding what she is. “You are not the embodiment of pain…” I say and her grin falters, her teeth starting to blacken near the gums. “You are a beast born from my pain and thirst for revenge! He made my world fall apart so I wanted him to pay, I wanted him to suffer and I wanted to make sure it hurt till his dying breath!”

“You think just because you’ve figured out exactly what I am to you that I’m afraid of you?! Dwight may have got me to give up all my secrets but that doesn’t mean jack shit!” she snarls but I smile at her and her eyes grow wide.

“No…you’re scared of me because now I know that just because The Entity took you from me…doesn’t mean I can’t take you back.” I say and the low rumbling in the house falls still as her long (h/c) hair begins falling from her scalp, the rot continuing to dominate her body. “Now…stop standing on our father.” I say and she looks down, glaring and screaming as she stomps on his head only for her foot to fall through it and she seems to sink into the water as I continue to stand in my place.

She’s waist deep in the water and looking up at me with unbridled rage in her black eyes, blood red tears starting to leak down her cheeks.

“Bitch, this is my body!” she screams and what remains of her hair lashes out at me, quickly breaking but still clinging to me like a desperate jellyfish!

I’m ripped off my feet and dragged towards her, not by her hair doing the dragging but by her grabbing at the locks and pulling me towards her. As I got closer, I used my arms to push off the wall and with that momentum I kicked at her face, but I missed and hit her shoulder.

I’m tangled up in her hair as she grabs at my shorts, pulling me right up beside her submerged body and she manages to get her hands on either side of my head. She pulls me close and I close my eyes as her teeth dig into my head but break and cause little ‘sploosh’ noises around us. I push my forearm up and frame against her throat, forcing her to pull her mouth off of my head, a few strands of my hair now stuck between her teeth.

She pushed my arm away and opened her mouth, trying to bite me again but I pushed my forearm into her mouth instead and her jagged, broken teeth ripped into my arm. I began clawing at her head to try and get a grasp of her hair but it quickly proves fruitless as what remains of her hair falls off along with the entire layer of skin over her scalp!

It lands in the water and disappears beneath the surface as I freeze, looking at this monster that’s looking less and less like me as the seconds tick by. She glares at me, my forearm still in her mouth and without breaking eye contact with me, she crunches down and my arm snaps!

This time, it is my scream that shakes the walls of the house, only I hear every possible glass in the house shatter, the windows around us included and the chandelier falls from the ceiling, landing half on the back of the couch and falling onto it’s side, mangling the once ethereal light source.

“WHY ARE YOU FIGHTING SO DAMN HARD?!! THE ONES YOU LOVE WON’T EVEN BE ABLE TO GO HOME WITH YOU!!” she screams as I yank my broken arm out of her mouth and she grabs for my throat, her claws stabbing into the soft flesh. I can feel at least one of them break off inside as I struggle against her.

I pushed my foot up against her belly and shoved her back, forcing her to release me and she whimpered as it seems one of her fingers has broken off. Reaching up to my neck, I pull out what I thought was one of her claws but it was her whole finger and I drop it into the water with a gasp.

“Look…look at me…” she pleads, presenting her bloody hands and now her whole body seems to be infected by those green bruises. “This is what you’re doing to me…in all good conscience can you really keep going this way? You’re putting me through so much hell…can’t you see that?” She pleads, the red tears dripping off her face.

I steel my jaw and flip her off, causing that hopeful look in her eyes to vanish. “This is for Michelle,” I say and kick her in her face as hard as I can and her head flies off, smashing into the wall beside the door and landing in the water with a loud splash.

There’s this long moment of silence as I stare at her now headless torso when I remember that she was submerged in water this whole time. I scream as her arms lurch forward and grab my hips, pulling me towards her.

“YOU’RE HEADLESS!!!” I scream when her voice starts echoing around the house and her hands grab me around my neck again, digging her nine fingers into my throat.

“JUST GIVE UP! THERE’S NOTHING LEFT FOR YOU BEYOND THIS!! WHY WON’T YOU JUST FUCKING DIE?!!” I grabbed her left arm and raised my hips off the ground, bracing against the back of my shoulders and rolling to my right, knocking her onto her back and loosening her grip on my neck.

I manage to inhale and rasp out an answer. “I want to finish my shampoo and conditioner at the same time!”

“What?!” she says and that’s when it seems like the world around me has melted away and fades into blackness for all of a split second.

In a blink, I’m no longer in my childhood home submerged in water. I’m in my house, the one I’m paying for back home…all my furniture is where it belongs, not shattered or broken. I even see that old copy of 50 Shades of Grey on my shelf again which I quickly rush over and toss into the kitchen.

My home is pristine, some part of me even thinks that the latch on my back stairs’ doorway is fixed! I look ahead of me and see this cleaned up version of Wicked. She’s now that same pale and sinisterly sexy thing I’d seen before.

We’re both perfectly healed and dry, her body is snow white, her eyes are coal black and her teeth are once again razer sharp and unbroken. Her hair is longer than she is tall but she’s now laying on her side, looking like she’s trying to crawl away from me. She’s that same perfect horror that I’d come to fear, the physical body of the darkest parts of my past.

“What kind of reason is that?! You want to live for the sweet smell of Pantene?!” she asks me, her voice no longer demonic…almost sounding like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

“I wanna finish Ash vs The Evil Dead on Netflix!” I say and she covers her ears and curls her knees up against her chest.

“What are you doing? Stop!” she demands, no more powerful screams to shake the walls.

“I want to be the best man at Joseph’s wedding because he doesn’t have any guy friends!” I scream and kneel down over her as she tries to fend me off, all that mystical strength and power she had gone.

“STOP IT!!! GET AWAY FROM ME!!! PLEASE!” she begs, real tears falling from her eyes.

Using one hand to hold her wrists together against her chest, I grab her chin with my free hand and force her to look at me. Facing the one who singlehandedly caused so much pain and suffering as she pleads for mercy.

“No matter what happens to me, I will never stop looking for a reason to keep going. Trivial as they may seem, even if the only thing to look forward to is going home without the men I love and living my life without their love in it…I will live on knowing that I freed them from this hell!” I say and I pull her close to me, holding her in a tight embrace as she screams; her voice echoing through the walls as I close my eyes.

I don’t know how long I sat there for…but when I did open my eyes again, after her screaming had stopped…the body before me was this sleeping teenage version of myself, bruised and exhausted looking after spending a year with the man who murdered my parents.

I took a deep breath and picked her up, carrying her up the stairs and going towards the room I’d come to know as mine. She awoke and began to struggle against me quickly, but her efforts were completely useless.

“Let me down!! What are you doing?! I’m not some fucking repressed memory!! I want to kill and maim and torture!!” she yells but I pat her head and she falls quiet.

“I know, but you need to take a little time out.” I say easily as I place her down on my bed and start tucking her in even though she’s fighting me.

“You really think ‘putting me to bed’ is going to keep me from escaping?! I will never be stopped!!”

“I know…that’s what I’m counting on.” I say and she just stares at me, her tiny little face reminding me of how small I used to be. “But right now, it’s your turn to sleep. Sweet dreams, Wick.”

 

 

 

DWIGHT

After Wicked passed out, we sort of just sat in a circle around her and waited until she stirred. While we waited, Joey sat up against the wall and let Susie sleep comfortably in his arms, him gently petting her hair and kissing her every now and then. Jake went with Julie into a room next to us to do some foraging and Frank stayed with me to oversee her for when she wakes up. Nancy was seated beside us in a room with a window, looking outside; seeming lost in her thoughts.

We sat in mostly silence, I say mostly because Frank keeps shifting and moving around. I’m finally prompted into reaching over and grabbed his shoulder, making him stop.

“Frank…um…can you please just pick a spot?” I ask and he settles, sitting with his legs crossed and holding his ankles. He starts tapping the side of his shoe with his thumb and I reach over to grab his hand, making him look at me again. “Frank…do you need to talk?”

“Sorry, I’m just really antsy.” He says and I scoot a little closer to him.

“I’m listening,” I offer and he smiles warmly at me.

“I mean…to start, you look great in my clothes.” He says and I had to quickly look at the floor.

“Thank you, you do too.” I reply softly.

“I’m just trying to figure out what I’m going to say to her when she comes back. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to start apologizing, where would I even start?” he asks and I think it over carefully.

The things he said to her seemed to hit home pretty hard, I didn’t understand why but then he chased her and I can’t imagine what must have been running through her head.

“Well, what exactly did you say to her? Let’s start there,” I offer and he pulls his knees up to his chest and hides his nose and mouth behind them.

“I said what her ex-boyfriend said the night he attacked her and left her for dead.” I practically felt my neck break as the weight of his deadpan voice hit me over the head.

“Oh! Um…Jesus…” I start and he hides his whole face.

“See where I’m at?”

“Yeah…um Ok…” I ponder carefully and then it hits me. “Listen, she’s going to be pretty angry and I only gave her the short version so she’s obviously gonna want to get that off her chest. Let her talk and listen until she’s finished so you can grovel at her feet and beg for forgiveness.” I say and he nods.

“Is that all?” he asks and I think a little more.

“Flowers and chocolate tend to be successful,” I say and he sits up, wrapping his arm around my shoulder and pulling me closer. We sit there for a moment when I lay my head against his shoulder and he relaxes, laying his head against mine.

“It’ll be Ok…I’m sure of it.” I say when she starts twitching and he stands up, bringing me with him but also pushing me behind him.

“Guys…looks like it’s show time.” Frank calls out.

Julie and Jake come out of the room they’d been in with a smaller pack attached to Julie’s hip now. Joey stirs Susie who pulls her mask down before joining us as we circle up around (f/n) and Nancy rushes behind Frank and I as well.

“Remember, if she can’t answer the question then that means (f/n) is still trapped.” Frank says and I agree when her twitching suddenly becomes more violent and my whole body grows cold.

Just then, my ears pop and I cover my ears as a reflex, everyone following that same rule when Jake’s eyes get big and he looks right at me.

“Barometric pressure change…big one.” He says and that’s when this low rumbling beneath our feet makes us all turn to look down the hall to see purple water trickling in as if a pipe had burst somewhere.

“What’s happening?” Frank asks when Jake suddenly picks up Julie and throws her over his shoulder.

“DUDE!” she yelps but he starts running for the stairs.

“FLOOD!!” he yells and we are suddenly bombarded by frothing dark purple water filling the hall and rushing towards us.

Frank and I both go to grab (f/n) at the same time but we bump into each other. Joey, Susie and Nancy aren’t fast enough either and we’re all swept away by the water, my whole body dropping below the surface and my vision filling with black.

It was like watching a nightmare come to life, everything just fell apart so quickly and the last thing I thought I saw was…a woman’s figure swimming towards me.

 

 

 

(F/N)

I awoke with someone’s lips pressed against mine, they were firm and tasted like salt. I was so dazed that I started kissing back when they pulled back very suddenly and I heard a gasp.

“AHH! FUCK!” Jake’s voice!

I opened my eyes, burning from the salt water all over me and I had to blink quickly a few times to get rid of the blurriness. Jake and Julie were both looking at me, Jake’s face bright red and Julie stifling laughter.

“Oh…I’m sorry…” I started when coughing cut me off.

“It’s good…just don’t tell Nea please, she will kill you.” He says and I nod when his eyes suddenly get wide. “(f/n)?!”

“Yes?”

“Holy shit! It worked!!!” Julie yelped, grabbing Jake and kissing him hard.

“Woman!! We just had this conversation!!” he yelled but she just laughed.

“It’s Ok, Nea’s cute…she can get some too.” Julie says with a wink and Jake just crosses his arms.

“Every single one of you is going to get an STD.” he huffs when I look around us.

It appears that we’re on this landing on the stairs, still at Hawkins but the stairs going down lead straight into what looks to be a rushing river of that same purple water I’d seen before. It smells like the ocean and foams with every wave and whirlpool the current creates. I can see several pieces of furniture drifting through it, bodies and debris as well.

“What is going on?” I ask when Jake points up.

I look up and I hadn’t even realized that the roof of this place was fucking gone! The entire upper level of this place had been destroyed and I could only see a sky full of black clouds and swirling lightning within it.

“Um…”

“I believe the correct term is called…a storm.” Jake starts but Julie shakes her head.

“Some storm to make the ocean flood.” She says.

“Supercell…” I mutter and they both turn their eyes to me. “It’s going to get worse; we have to get out of here.”

“How, exactly?” Jake asks and I ponder.

“I mean, traveling through a flood isn’t exactly recommended but if we have to, I think we should try to take this one step at a time. Maybe try to catch some of this debris to make a raft or a bridge?” I think when I hear no response and look up from the floor.

Jake and Julie’s eyes are bugging out and they’re just staring at me.

“Guys?” I ask when they point behind me and I turn to look, gasping when I see my hair is literally floating all around my head!! “Whoa!!”

“That’s the same thing Wicked could do…” Julie says then approaches me, excitement on her face. “Dude, do you have her powers now?!!”

“Um…I…guess so.” I start when it hits me and I look around, spotting a slab of wall that collapsed but looks mostly intact. “Um…Julie, can I try something with you?”

“Hell yeah! Make me your guinea pig baby!!” she says and waits as I try to focus carefully on my hair wrapping around her hips.

Slowly but surely my hair seems to grow and slithers over to her, grasping her around her hips and I try lifting her up but only manage to raise her heels up before I have to put her down and wait a moment. It’s like straining muscles I didn’t know I had for the first time and it was exhausting to just get them over to her.

I took a deep breath and tried again, slowly raising her up off the ground and turning towards the fallen wall I’d been looking at. I started to reach out over the water, carrying Julie out; her feet dangling just above the surface. As she got about half way there, I suddenly collapsed to my knees and she dipped her feet into the water.

“Come on girlfriend! You can do it!!” she cheered and Jake put his hands on my shoulders, showing his own support in his quiet way.

I ground my teeth together and hurried to raise her up out of the water and aimed for the platform as I raised her up a little more. She helped me by reaching out with her feet and placing them on the edge of it, slowly pulling herself over until she was on it and standing.

“Ok, Jake…now it’s your turn.” I start but he holds a finger up.

“You catch your breath superfreak, Julie!” he yells and I look over at her. “Can you go any further without us?”

“Yeah, this leads me off to dry land.” She says back.

“Ok, go find Frank and the others; we’ll catch up!” he says when she waves and starts away but turns back suddenly.

“Where should we meet?” she calls and Jake hesitates.

“How about there?” I call out, pointing at the flag pole with a torn up American flag still on it with a visible orange flower growing up it like ivy climbing a fence.

“Alright, see you guys soon! Don’t die!”

“Back at ya!” he says and Julie vanishes. “Ok, let’s get you up.” He lets me lean on him as I move to stand but I feel a very sudden kick in the back of my eyes and I drop to my knees again.

“Ahh!” I exclaim when this hissing voice returns to me again, I now know this voice to be Wicked.

Jake doesn’t taste too bad…maybe Nea won’t mind if we sample again?

“Shut up, leave Jake alone.” I growl when she falls silent and the pain subsides, I look up though and Jake looks sad.

“Oh no…she’s not gone, is she?” he asks and I shake my head. “Why?” He asks and I force myself to stand on my own as the storm above us begins to bludgeon us with wind.

“Because…we still need her.”