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Last month was my 20th year class reunion. Let me start, however, by introducing myself.
My name is Greg. In high school I was never the most popular guy but I also wasn't an outcast. Long story short, I had a small clique that I ran with. I hadn't seen them in years, so we slowly drifted apart.
Jessie got his girlfriend pregnant in his senior year, she dropped out and he was severely pussy whipped so he listened to everything she said and shied away from the rest of the clique. So naturally after he graduated he slowly spent less and less time with us and more with her and the kid. Joey, Rodney, Christian, and myself stayed closer-knit for a longer period of time, although eventually through a combination of jobs, family, and just all together life, we split as well.
Joey and I still hang out on Saturdays to watch college football but the closest I get to the rest of them now are via text messages or the occasional Skype call.
So I was excited that for one night the gang would be reunited, even if it was just for one night. You see, my life had taken a bit of a depressing turn. I worked at a family video store, and lived in a shoddy east-side apartment complex. The last time I had a girlfriend was about 6 years ago. Things went sour because I was too self-absorbed and didn't pay enough attention to her. I guess my gaming habits have become a bit much in recent years, and so has my drinking. Recently, I've been contemplating suicide.
I know what you're thinking at: look at this pathetic piece of shit feeling sorry for himself for things that are his own damn fault and could fix if he wasn't so morose and lazy. And you are right. I don't deny that. My suicide, if it happens, will be fully my own fault and a result of my complacency and laziness. (At least that would have been the reason at that period in my life.)
But enough about my depression. Let's get to the reunion. So most of the guys are there; everyone except Jessie, who'd figure was a long shot anyway. Since I hadn't heard a thing from him since about a year after we all graduated, none of us could stand his girlfriend, and she could stand us. (I had at this point in time forgotten her name.)
However, Joey, Rodney, Christian, and myself all showed up. Christian with his boyfriend, and Rodney and Joey with their wives respectively. Christian introduced us to his boyfriend Andy. We of course gave them shit, not seriously but in jest as long time friends.
We had all suspected Christian as a Nancy boy even when we were kids, and when he did eventually come out of the closet, we all saw it coming and made him feel welcome, especially so since pretty much everyone else in our small Southern town, including Christian's own mother and father, treated him like a pariah. Joey and Rodney's wives were both girls. We all already knew because they were local girls we grew up with: Jenny and Rita. There's not much to say about them here at least, and besides at this point they were already off catching up with their old girlfriends.
I told the crew (including the new guy Andy) that I had about quarter sack in my car if they wanted come out back and blaze up like the old days. Back in high school we all used sneak out after baseball practice to smoke a fatty behind the bleachers. Andy and Christian both declined.
Apparently Andy was a straight edge, and Christian now took his job too seriously to smoke up, but they both said they would join us for the company anyway. We stood around reminiscing on days gone by, telling Andy about all of our adventures since he wasn't part of our initial group. He asked about the other guy (Jessie) and we all informed him that Jessie was a little bitch.
Just about the time the blunt ran out Joey said he had to get home, that he and Jenny had to watch their niece tomorrow while Rita's sister went job hunting. We all said our goodbyes to him, but just then as he turned to go he nearly collided with her: a very thin, very frail looking woman in stained sweats and a black wife-beater walked around the side of the bleachers."Lacey?" Joey said as he quickly apologized for nearly knocking her off her feet. "Where is he?" she asked as tears began to stream down her cheeks.
"Who?" I asked, and added a short "and who the fuck are you?"
Joey responded, "It's Lacey, Jessie's wife bro... don't you remember?"
"Oh, sorry," I said, trying to pretend as though I'd remembered her name.
"Where is he?" she asked Joey again.
"Lacey, are you talking about Jessie?" asked Joey. She just looked him in face, cold, unthinking; looking through him would be more apt here, I think.
"Have you been drinking?" Christian asked.
"She looks drunk," said Rodney.
"Maybe somebody ought to take her home," I said.
"Yeah, me and the wife were just about to leave anyway. You can get a ride with us if you want," shot Joey. She didn't move. Joey just grabbed her hand and began to head off. He turned his head over his shoulder and gave us all a shrug, signifying, as I suspect, that he was just as baffled as the lot of us. I waved. Joey walked away.
I fessed up to my depression with the rest of the guys. Joey had already known about it, I think it's part of the reason he still came over on Saturdays, like some kind of charity to a long gone friend, so he didn't need to be here for this anyway. It felt awkward confessing personal issues and drama with a bunch of grown men, but with the exception of maybe Andy I knew they'd take it seriously, and not laugh too hard. Even so, it was even more difficult than I had anticipated.
I broke down like a sniveling child. confessing as to how our clique was the world to me and without them I'm lost in life, scared even. I broke, I broke and I cried. but they were there for me, even Andy. The four of us under those bleachers made plans for a camping trip. Just for old time's sake, and that we'd just have to call Joey to get him in on it.
So on the way home I called Joey to tell him the good news. The phone rang, with no answer.
"I'll just call him in the morning," I said to myself.
Then about the time I pulled into the apartment complex driveway, my smart phone lit up and began playing "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple, the ringtone I had set for Joey.
"Hello?" I asked.
"Greg, bro, the weirdest shit just happened man," answered Joey, breathing heavily.
"What happened man?" I asked.
"You know, Jenny and I were taking Lacey home right?" he said.
"Well this bitch just started dry heaving, you know."
"What?" I start to open the car's door.
"Yeah, Jenny was sitting in the back to be polite and let this bitch ride up front, cause she was all tears and shit you know."
At this point I could slightly hear Jenny in the background say something like "tell him bout the green shit Joe, tell him" "I'm getting to it Jen, hold up fuck. let me tell the story."
"Go on," I asked eagerly.
"OK, OK, so I'm just driving and shit. Jenny, she's in the back smoking a cigarette, talking to Cathy on her phone. Then I hear this god awful hacking, dry heaving sound coming from next to me, and this fucking bitch is all hunched over with her head between her knees just heaving, her back is arched and she's so fucking dried up skinny. I can see her fucking ribs and the ridges of her backbone, man. And then 'splat', she starts puking up this green cum-looking shit dude.
All over my fucking floor board. So I'm cussing and bitching loud as fuck. I pull the car over. and tell her to get the fuck out. She just turns and looks at me with this impossibly wide smile, like you'd see on a clown man. Just green cum everywhere bro, dripping of this skank's lips and chin. The look she's giving me freaks Jenny out, so Jenny blasts this bitch in her face. I'm talking Ali style, bro."
At this point I can hear Jenny laughing. Joey continues, "Jenny then reaches around the side of Lacey's chair and pops the passenger door open. and I'm like 'I said get the fuck out'. She's still just looking at me. Still all smiles man. So I lean over like a motherfucking ninja and boot her ass in her tits. She falls backwards out the door. For a second I panic and I'm like 'oh, shit, why the fuck did we do that'.
Then Jenny just yells, "Drive!" I don't know why but instinctively I react and push the pedal to the floor. Then while we are speeding away, mind you, this is in the country on an old dirt road, cause you know where Jessie lives right? Well I look back and the bitch is standing there back where we kicked her out. Just smiling man."
"You're bullshitting me. You're a lying piece of shit," I reply. And for a moment there is just silence.
"Yeah, but I had you goin' for a minute," he responds. "What were you calling about earlier anyway?"
I explain about the camping trip. and he agrees that it sounds fun, but asks if he can bring Jenny along, and I said if she's okay being the only woman around, because Rita said that she was just going to stay home while Rodney came with us. And then it was settled. We were all going camping one week after the reunion.
I was feeling good for the first time in a long, long time. I was finally getting a chance to get out and enjoy life again, instead of just spending every waking moment consumed with either work or video games. I went out and bought E and Shrooms during the week in anticipation for the camping trip.
We had also rented a log cabin to stay in. It was near an old waterfall, and was normally swamped with other campers and tourists, but, being that this was the dead of winter and snowing like hell we would most likely have the place to ourselves. That's when we realized that if no one else was going to be up there maybe we could rent at least two more of the cabins so we could have a little more space. And that was settled.
Joey and Jenny took cabin 1, which was closest to the ranger's office. Then Christian and Andy took cabin 7, which was deeper into the woods along the trail, about a mile from where Joey and Jenny were. And Rodney and myself took cabin 8, which was literally directly across the trail from Andy and Christian's cabin. Plans were going smooth.
Then the Thursday before we were to head out, it came on the news that Lacey Kirkman had taken her own child's life by slicing his throat, and then setting fire to her home, and that the police were looking for Jessie Kirkman who had been reported as a missing person by Lacey just the Wednesday before her crime. So on Friday as we all drove up together to the camp site, it was pretty quiet.
Andy tried to get a couple of conversations started. Most of the ride, though, was just quiet and awkward. Was it wrong of me to be more pissed that Lacey's actions had put a damper on my weekend getaway than I was about what she actually did? Probably, huh? But fuck it.
Thankfully, Ranger Bob was able to lighten the mood. Ranger Bob was apparently the only ranger on duty this week; the rest of the had all come down with some kind of bug and were out on sick leave. So Ranger Bob was glad as fuck to finally have someone around to talk with. We laughed as he told us all kinds of dumb stories and jokes on our little tour of the trail.
He was taking us up to the waterfall at the end of the trail. Once we got there he sat down at the base of the waterfall which was still flowing despite the ice, the constant movement had kept the ice broken up here, even though most of the river top was covered in ice. Where he sat was a little half circle of carved stone in front of a fire pit that the ranger team from the 70's had built facing the falls.
We all sat and opened up some beer while Ranger Bob started a fire in the pit. We offered him a beer but he refused at first day because he was technically on duty, but eventually Joey convinced him that no one was going to tell on him, and he partook of the brewskis.
Dusk began to set. Then Ranger Bob (yes, we literally called him Ranger Bob, cause that's how he introduced himself, even though he knew we were going to call him that mockingly) started to tell us a story. It began:
"So this one takes place back when I first became a ranger up here. It was my rookie year."
"Exactly how long ago are we talking here, Ranger Bob?" asked Jenny.
"Oh, about 32 years ago."
"Sppppff!" I spewed some beer out of my mouth at that statement.
Ranger Bob only looked like he must have been in his mid thirties. Maybe. (Cause even mid thirties is pushing it here, he looked not much older than myself, hell I think he looked younger than me.)
"Goddamn, just how old are you?" asked Andy
"Why you trying to get in his pants you little fruit?" Rodney belted in jest
"Oh yeah, grandpa just gets me rock hard, nothing harder than the stone age baby," replied Andy. We all laughed. Ranger Bob didn't answer the question though. He just continued his story.
"Anyway the year was 1980, hippies were still around, metal was rising, and disco was dying as they say. But I was sitting right here, right where we are now."
"Sitting? Is that all you rangers do, Ranger Bob?" asked Christian.
"Hahaha, no. I was sitting here being lectured by the ranger leader at the time about park policy, when these two beautiful dread-locked hippie girls jumped in the water and started swimming. I was eye fucking them and they were eye fucking me right back."
"Wait the two hussies went swimming in the middle of winter?" retorted Jenny
"No, it was summertime then. Context, girl, context. Anyway the ranger leader noticed that I wasn't paying attention to him and told me to put my pecker out of my mind for 5 fucking minutes. You see during the summer this place is packed, but even with people milling about everywhere I noticed these two hippie gals. Anyway, after this motherfucker's lecture I walked up to the water's edge and pulled down my sunglasses to view these two beauties better."
"I suddenly feel less comfortable around you, Ranger Bob," Jenny joked. We all laughed.
"So for the rest of that day, my patrol route just happened to coincidentally follow these two women. At least that was going to be my story had any of the other rangers asked."
"Ninja Bob," Joey said. again eliciting a laugh from the group.
"What happened next, Ninja Bob?" joked Christian.
"Well I noticed the girls slip off onto one of the smaller side trails the leads off into the deep woods where not many people venture. naturally being a horny dork, I followed...at a distance. They rounded a bend and...I lost them."
"Ah shit, I was hoping for a Dear Penthouse story, not an M. Night Shamylan shit ending," I responded.
"Hold on now, that's not the end of the story. I lost two fine pussies, but as I followed the bend. i could see some structure of in the deep part of the woods. It was made out of stone and looked like an old Spanish castle. I found it curious that none of the other rangers ever mentioned this castle. It seemed like something of note. If nothing else I thought I should check it out and at least see if it was safe for another tourist attraction. As I begin to walk toward it I smelled rotting meat. Like dead animals.
"Fucking great," I thought to myself.
"Some little bastard has been poaching out here."
I kept walking toward it, though. Then I got this sinking feeling in my stomach, like when you were a kid and you would lie awake at night in your room because you could swear the closet door was open a little less than when lied down. You know what I'm talking about?" We nodded.
"Then I panicked. I turned around because I could feel it, I mean something was following me. And when I turned around there was nothing there; the woods were still. But then my stomach sank to my knees this time, Because I realized I could no longer see the path.
"Calm down," I told myself.
I walked a straight line here. So a straight line will get me back through all this thick brush right? I just kept telling myself not to panic, and eventually I mustered up enough courage to keep moving toward the castle.
The walk there seemed longer than it should have been when I noticed the castle from the path. I also noticed it the light getting dimmer as I moved closer.
"It's just how thick and big these trees are," I told myself.
Then I did it. I reached the doorway of the castle. I call it a castle because it had the same structure as a castle but it was smaller than any of those you see in movies. The stone was tan and sandy. The place looked in rough and ragged shape. There was no door. It was just an open rectangular entry point. It looked pitch black on the inside, at least that's how it looked from where I was standing at the doorway. That's when I heard it. It was a soft faint hiss but I heard it. It whispered my name.
"What the hell Ranger Bob?" Andy replied.
"Sshhh," Jenny hushed him. "Let him finish, I love scary stories."
"It was both extremely frightening and comforting at the same time. That's when I realized it was the voice of my mother. Well, close to the voice of my mother at least. There was something off about it. Something...not quite human sounding. like it was forcing the words out."
"Oh fuck me," I said.
"That's when I stepped inside-"
"WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT!!?" I shouted. We all laughed.
"Way to break the tension you piece of shit!" jested Rodney as he light-heartily threw a clump of snow at me as if he were actually angry.
"Oh, hell. It's 11:30. I better get back to the ranger's cabin and do my fucking reports," Ranger Bob exclaimed.
"No, no, no, finish your story!" said Joey.
"Please, Ranger Bob," Jenny said with a fake flirty smile.
"Sorry guys, but it's a fucking mile and a half walk back to the cabin from here, and I want to sleep tonight. But, I tell you what- I'll finish it tomorrow, I promise," said Ranger Bob.
"Also there is supposed to be a cabin curfew of 2 am here, so please try to get back before then. But if you are out a little late I won't tell." He began to trot off.
Grabbing their packs, Jenny and Joey said, "well fuck it, I guess since our cabin is not far from yours we will tag along."
Then Andy kissed Christian on the cheek and said, "I'm going back to our cabin as well, you can stay and talk with Greg and Rodney if you want, I'm going to take a shower anyway."
"Okay, sugar," said Christian. so Rodney and Christian stayed and talked with me at the falls for a while. I looked at my smartphone and the time read '2:13 am'.
"After curfew," I said, getting ready to leave.
"Where you going?" Rodney asked.
"Where do ya think," I said.
"Hey, hey wait a sec, Greg. Why don't you, me, and Christian go find this castle. It sounds cool."
"Sounds like a load of shit," I retort.
"Could be fun, and what else do we have to do?" asked Christian.
"Okay, fuck it, you're right. I came up here to have fun. so let's do this shit."
So we walk some the side trails for what seems like hours looking for this castle. I look at my phone, the time reads 3:45. Just when I'm about to say 'let's give it up guys', Rodney exclaims, "Holy shit! The old fuck wasn't kidding!"
"That looks like all kinds of bad news," Christian says.
Then I see it.
In the distance, barely noticeable due to the heavy layer of snow on everything, there's a structure- definitely a structure and not a rock formation. "Okay, we found it. What now?" says Christian.
"Let's go inside," offers Rodney.
"You are fucking kidding me right? It's 4 at night and all we have is the light of our phones. This is fucking stupid."
"Pussies," Rodney jeers as he starts walking toward it backwards with his arms outstretched as if to emphasize his point of our cowardice. He turns and faces the castle and continues his march. For some reason, we follow. Stupidity, naivete mostly. We reach the doorway.
Rodney clicks on his phone light and heads inside the darkness. The further he gets away the more he looks like just a little blue lightning bug. Christian says, "Fuck this, I'm going back."
"We can't just let him go in alone. What if he has an accident?" I ask.
"Fuck him, man. He's almost 40 and if he doesn't know better than to traipse through old buildings alone, then fuck him." Christian began to head back to the trail. "Where the fuck is the trail anyways?" he asks, stopping about 15 feet from me. I turn around to look and notice I can't see the trail either. "Well it's too fucking cold to stay out here man," I say. "I'm going in the castle and find Rodney."
"Fuck," Christian says, walking away into the snow. Snow begins to fall. "SHIT!" I hear him shout as he becomes a speck in a sea of white. He continues on away. I turn my phone light on and head into the darkness of the castle. I can no longer see Rodney's light. I can barely see anything in here. I can see the door way back out because of all the snow. It's fucking cold. Then I hear what I can only describe as a skittering sound to my left in the dark.
My phone begins to hiss, that hissing sound that old TVs used to make when they went fuzzy...
"Rodney," I whisper. Nothing. "Rodney,"
The skittering's louder, but this time it's moving toward me. Then it stops. 'Fuck this,' I decide. I'll freeze. I'd rather freeze then have a fucking heart attack. Just then I hear it.
It's the sound that Bob described. Nope. Fucking nope. I run the fuck out the castle door into the snowy night, running at first, then slowing to a brisk jog as I realize I have no clue where the fuck I am. All I see are trees and white...and dark. My phone! I'll call somebody. I light up my phone screen. It's just blue, like the blue screen of death. Fuck my life.
Then an image flickers on for like half a second. Actually, not even that long. It's Rodney, it's his photo and number. He was trying to call me, and shit, I just left him there. And now I'm fucking lost. The flashlight peeks through the dark. "Help!" I yell.
"Greg," the voice chokes.
At first I'm comforted as the flashlight bounces towards me. And then I realized that the voice belonged to Ranger Bob. The figure running to me through the snow is Bob. then I realized something odd: the figure is moving, it's not natural. It's uncoordinated, and flappy is the best way to describe its motion. It's hard to make out because of the thick yellow parka it's wearing, but its neck it twisted, broken. It looks only kind of like Bob, its jaw isn't set right, and the skin is twisted on the bones.
"Greg," it chokes again in that god-awful voice. It's Bob's voice but imitated poorly.
I fucking run. I run like a bitch.
It's following me, but it's having difficulty. I'm slowing gaining a lead on it. My lungs sting with the cold air. Can't stop. If I stop I'm dead. Can't stop.
After some time I reach the trail. I can't tell if it's following me anymore but at least it's clumsy and I'm on the trail again. I slow down to catch my breath. Basically I'm power-walking at this point. Then I reach the falls.
The fire is going again, and I can see Christian. He is standing near it in his pink jacket, his back is facing me, his fur lined hood up. Thank God it didn't get him, but I have to warn him. I'm jogging up to him, there's still some distance between us. "Christian!" I call out hoarsely through stinging lungs. Its contorted body twists around in that jerky awkward motion to look at me. I don't want to see its face again. I take off down the cabin trail towards the cabins. Gotta reach Andy. His is the first stop on the way.
"Greg," it chokes. I can hear its twisted body hobbling several feet behind me. Not gonna look, not gonna. I put on the speed again. putting some distance between me and it. I can still hear its awful gurgling noise. "Greg,Greg."
I reach cabin 7, and begin pounding frantically. "ANDY, ANDY!!!, OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!!! JESUS CHRIST!!!" I look back down the trail. They are both hobbling this way, the not-Bob and the not-Christian things. I pound faster and yell louder: "WAKE THE FUCK UP ANDY!! ANDY HELP ME!!" The door opens.
Andy is standing there sleepy eyed and slightly pissed in his gay as fuck pink ladies nightie, with his hair in rollers. "What the fuck..." is all he gets out of his mouth before I throw myself in and slam the door shut behind me and dead bolt it.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" I interrupt him, putting my hand over his mouth and restraining him. We are both kneeling on the floor.
"There are fucking things outside man, ssh!" I whisper. His yells for help are muffled by my hand. "Listen, if i take my hand off you have to promise to whisper or I'm going to punch you in your fucking mouth, you hear me?" I whisper. He nods in understanding.
"Listen motherfucker, there are two things outside. Two- I don't know- monsters. They are impersonating Bob and Christian. I think they are dead."
"What? Christian is my bed right now," Andy whispers back.
"Are you sure?" I ask, in hushed tones.
"Yeah, when I got out of the shower he was already in the bed, all covered up. He must-" I cut him off.
"We have to get the fuck out of here."
"That's why," I whisper and point in the dark of the room to the open doorway to Andy and Christian's bedroom. One of the twisted things is standing in the doorway watching us. Its neck broken, it starts doing a poor imitation of Rodney; it chokes, "AAAAANNDDY..." slowly out of its misplaced jaw. Andy screams.
It jerks itself freakishly towards us. I run for the door, trying to undo the deadbolt. I hear it grab Andy and hear Andy's screams. I fling the door, open snow blowing in. The not-Christian and not-Bob were waiting for me. I bullrush out, knocking them both aside, and sprint.
I find myself running for the third time tonight. It's still a mile until I reach Joey and Jenny's cabin, but their cabin was near Ranger Bob's and if they got Ranger Bob, does that mean they got Joey and Jenny? Fuck, it doesn't matter. I need the keys to the van and Joey fucking has them. Gotta find him. Please let him be alive. Please let him be alive.
Then a thought occurs to me. They keep a fire axe in every cabin. If I got one of these axes I could get the keys from him, even if one of these things got him.
Done passed most of the cabins. Cabin three is the last one on this side of the trail. I'll stop there.
I see cabin three. Fuck, the door is locked. Of course it's fucking locked. I run around the outside looking for a window in the night. I find one. I throw myself recklessly through it. I bust the glass on the emergency case for the fire axe. Fuck. It set off the fire alarm. They are going to know right where I am. I grab the axe. If I get out of here fast enough maybe the alarm will be of use. It could draw them away and distract them while I get the fuck out of this park.
So I head back out the broken window, and down the trail to cabin one. When I reach cabin one, the door is wide open and there is blood everywhere. I run inside. The cabin is trashed. Shit. I see Joey's body; it's mangled to hell. I search it for the keys. No keys. Fuck. Jenny, Jenny isn't here, she either got away or she is one of them. If she got away maybe she has gotten far and maybe she has the keys.
I take off for the parking lot. It's not far. I see it. It's empty except for our van. The headlights are on, and it begins to pull out.
"Jenny, stop!" I yell. "Wait!"
The driver side door opens and I see her in her green hoodie scoot over to the passenger seat. "Greg, drive," she says. I hop in and speed the fuck out. Neither one of us say anything. I just drive. Drive.
All you can hear is the hum of the van, and both of our heaving breathing. We've been driving for at least thirty minutes when I finally decide to say, "What the hell was that, what were those things?"
Silence. Then I realize that she didn't say drive. She didn't say, "Greg, drive." All she said was "Greg." and her hoodie was up...how could I have been so fucking stupid?
"Greg," it chokes. I stop the van, and put my hand on the fire axe.
"What are you?" I ask it.
"Greg," it chokes.
I open my door and get out of the van. I walk to the around the front to the passenger side door, only looking up once while passing the headlights. Its sickly distorted face. The face of Jenny, but not-Jenny, twisted fucked up Jenny.
I open the passenger side door, and lay into the bitch with the fire axe. It's a fucking mess. When I'm done I brush the parts of it out of the seat and on to the road. Some of it twitches. Some of the pieces skitter away off the road into the brush and snow. I shut the door and get back in the driver side. Bloody. I just drive. Drive.
When I finally get back to town and to my apartment complex, my neighbors and the other tenants just stare at me. I must look like a monster to them. They all react in horror and shock upon seeing me. The police have my apartment taped off. There are nine police cars. All of them have their guns drawn on me. I stand, bloody, with my axe.
"Jessie Kirkman, you are under arrest for domestic homicide. put the axe down," the fat cop with the stupid mustache speaks into the bullhorn.
"Greg," I choke.
All credit for knocking down the wall of text goes to 41488p. All other edits go to their respective users.
All credit for the original pasta, its story, and its characters goes to Thedarkestsideofthenight. It's been a pleasure un-fucking this mess up, Darkest.