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Saturday, February 22nd
My fingers finished typing the last few words of Log Five, “The Sender”. I shook my head. I just couldn’t believe it. I’d finally met The Sender. And he had looked...normal. I don’t know what I’d been expecting him to look like, maybe a big hideous, scarred-up face of some monster holding a laptop, but never a human with a hood.
He’s not human. I recalled. I had asked if he was and he confirmed that he was not. So what was he exactly?
“J.T.!” I heard my mother call from the kitchen. “Supper’s ready!”
Oh, right. I hit save and uploaded the article. The Creepypasta page now had one more Log in its collection. Five down, two to go.
A quick recap of what happened after Log Five. (I know you’re probably wondering why I’m inserting information like this, but I don’t care. I’ve been through enough already.)
Moments after I lost consciousness I awoke in bed. It was 7:00 P.M. and it was still the 23rd. The Sender had put me back just before the Rake had visited me. While I’m grateful it gave me time to write down the Log, I wish I’d not woken up. The Rake had been the last straw. The others before it had been bearable, but this had been different. I no longer felt ready to face these nightmares. I no longer felt as brave as I had when Jeff had shown up or as witty as I had when B.O.B. had been defeated. I only felt emptiness.
I want this to be done.
I want this to be over.
The next morning I sluggishly got out of bed. Great, another day, another visitor.
I sighed. “Man, why couldn’t I have just said, ‘No’ that day when it asked if I wanted a story?”
I glanced at my computer, remembering how this all started, then shook my head.
Best not to dwell on what can’t be changed; now get up, get moving and get ready. There’s going to be another visitor soon and self-pity isn’t going to help. (But knowing that doesn’t make things any easier.)
I got dressed putting on both my jeans and favorite blue hoodie. Now onto the problem at hand, The Sender.
I went to my computer and logged onto the Creepypasta page. The freak had warned me yesterday that whenever he called, I should answer, so I decided to do one better. Call him.
Once everything was set, I waited for The Sender to contact me. I had a few questions for him, and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer to any of them.
I didn’t have to wait long at all, unlike so many other times before. A text box immediately appeared.
“Hello and good morning to you, sunshine.” It said.
I crossed my arms and stared at the screen with a blank face. He’d already drained me of annoyance. There was no need to a show a reaction.
“Oh, going to be quiet again, are we?”
“No,” I immediately answered.
I raised an eyebrow, “Surprising? How is that surprising? You’ve made me endure over five days of hell so far, draining me of almost all emotion.” I narrowed my eyes, “You made me see my family get brutally mutilated before my eyes, you made me suffer death three times over, and you made me witness some of the most terrifying creatures ever created in the world of Creepypasta. So I’ll ask again, ‘How does my answer, surprise you?’” I finished.
The box went completely empty and the cursor blinked for several long moments, before it filled once more with text.
“Your answer surprises me, because most people would have already lost all sanity by now.”
“What?” I raised both of my eyebrows in confusion. Most people? Wait, has he done this before?
The Sender carried on, “You have retained your sanity, which is good. Most people would have lost it by now and made very poor story driven decisions. That is why I picked you over so many others. And yes, before you ask I have indeed done this before, and those sad few chosen were all poor disappointments.”
I slowly leaned back in my chair surprised. The Sender had never been this willing to give out any information like this before, nor talk about previous victims. And this “sanity” thing, what did he mean by this?
“Which brings me to you,” he went on, “A very interesting pick, if I might add, in which I have very much relished in observing. I cannot wait to see how this continues to play out with your next two visitors.”
I continued to sit back, dumbstruck at what I was reading. He’s done this before. He’s caused people to go insane. Why is he telling me this?
I cleared my throat, “Wh-why are you telling me this?”
“Because as I said before, you have done what so many other protagonists have failed to do, retain rational thought. The furthest I have seen one go was to her Fourth Log. She was to say, in the least, an utter disappointment. Could not handle what she had already read, I suppose.”
I think I was beginning to understand what this was all about now.
“So is this what this is all about then?" I asked. "Giving people stories and then watching them suffer through it all for your…” I looked for the correct word, “Amusement?”
“That is correct, but not entirely so. There is much more, but I believe I have told you enough about why it is I do this, not to mention, I have given out much more than what you have asked, without cost.”
Without cost. For some reason, I didn’t like the way that sounded. But then a sudden thought occurred to me, Wait, what did he mean the last person he did this to couldn’t handle what she had already “read”?
“Why did you say read?” I asked immediately.
“I beg your pardon?”
I stared intently at the screen, “You said earlier that the last person couldn’t handle what they “read”. What is that supposed to mean.”
The box cleared once more before it answered, “Very good eye. But I am not going to tell you, for if you are as interesting as I have hoped you are, you will figure it out. And if you do, then the rest of this story will be very interesting indeed. But alas, I believe we have spoken enough for today.”
“What?!” Don’t tell me he was about to pull this crap on me again, “NO! We’re not done talking at all.” I stood up abruptly, placed both hands on my desk and leaned towards the screen. “I. WANT. ANSWERS. TODAY.” I said each word in a quiet but firm tone.
“Hahahahhahaahha. Look at you, thinking you can get answers from me simply by firmly demanding them. Well, I am sorry to disappoint you, J.T., but there will be no such answers from me, for now anyway. You have to earn answers as you go along, and you are very close to the ending.”
I tightened my grip on the desk. I promise to God, if I get out of this, I’ll kill him.
The Sender didn’t stop, “Also, the closer the end comes the harder it gets. Today’s visitor will be the most interesting thus far. Let us see how well you cope with this encounter.”
The text box disappeared.
“CRAP!” I threw the chair aside. I couldn’t believe he’d do this to me! To give me so much information then to suddenly stop just before all is explained.
“Damn it!” I muttered. I tried to slow my breathing. I needed to calm down, and figure things out. Being angry would just get me killed.
“BEEP!” My head shot towards the monitor. Huh? What now?
The text box appeared one more time. “Oh, before I go,” it read, “I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed talking to you in person yesterday. Good Bye.”
The box vanished.
My mouth slowly opened and I began to shake my head at the screen.
He really knows how to make me hate him, doesn’t he?
An hour later I sat alone at my kitchen table with all the Logs I had written printed out. The rest of my family had decided to go out for the day. They’d asked me to go with them, but I told them I couldn’t. I had some work to do.
I started circling the places in the Logs where I had spoken with The Sender. He said he’d given me enough to figure some things out. I just needed to find the clues to piece them together.
So I compiled a list. “Okay,” I said to no one in particular. “This is what I have so far: The Sender sends me seven villains from Creepypasta so I can write my very own.” I paused, “But the ones he chooses aren’t random.” I remembered what Mrs. Hudok had told me the day before.
“There’s a connection between each one and me. The question is: What?”
I looked back at the first Log. “He starts by sending me Jeff the Killer–a story that I am very familiar with from Creepypasta and is one of my favorites.” I moved to the next Log, “Then he sends Tiny Teri, another story I found interesting and just read the day before Log 2 happened. Not exactly one of my favorites, but pretty damn interesting, nonetheless." My eyes moved to the next sheet. "Then there’s Eyeless Jack,” I grabbed Log 3 and began to look it over, “Another classic from Creepypasta that I found very interesting.” I looked at the next two remaining Logs, “Then there’s B.O.B. and the Rake which are also classics and are both very terrifying, but I don’t find them very interesting…Just creepy.”
So what’s the connection? I looked through each of them, detail by detail. The answer was somewhere hiding in plain sight before me. I just couldn’t see it.
“Gah!” I buried my face into my hands and leaned back in frustration.
“Dang it! What is it that I’m missing?” I yelled in frustration. “There’s no connection. There’s nothing similar between me and any of the characters. Some of them don’t scare me as much as the others. Jeez!”
I looked back the Logs. How many times do I have to read these before-
Read. I recalled what The Sender had said earlier, “Could not handle what she had already read I suppose.”
I bolted upright in my seat and looked down at the papers scattered on the table. My jaw fell open as it came to me. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. That’s the connection?”
I didn’t know why I hadn’t spotted it earlier, it was so simple.
I looked at all five villains before saying, “I’ve read each of these Creepypasta stories.”
Each visitor I had met so far had been from a Creepypasta story that I had previously read in the past.
I started to laugh, Maybe The Sender was right, I might actually be kinda stupid.
But this discovery didn’t help much. I'd read a ton of Creepypasta stories besides these five, so many in fact that I had no guess as to which could happen next.
My head sagged a bit. Ugh. Great. Well, at least I figured that much out.
My cellphone started vibrating in my pocket. “Huh?” I murmured, pulling it out. My mother’s number appeared on the screen.
I wondered why she was calling, then flipped open the phone. “Hello?” I answered.
“J.T.," she said. "I need you to do me a favor and drive to town to pick up some things from the store.”
Really? Now? I glanced at the clock above our kitchen stove. 11:05 A.M.
Well, I had plenty of time before night came; I supposed I could do this for Mom real quick.
“Okay then," I said. "I’ll call you when I get there.”
“Thanks honey! Love you!”
I hung up, then slid the phone back into my pocket. I stood up and collected my usual stuff before leaving. (Meaning, I brought my backpack, which still had everything I had packed two days ago in it. Always be prepared, right?)
Once everything was set, I walked outside to my car. I just reached the car door and was about to insert the key when a thought came to me.
Hey, isn’t this how things with Tiny Teri, originally went down? With me just at the car, about to leave?”
I lowered the key and glanced around, just to be safe.
No trees, no forest, no singing. I relaxed.
Thunder suddenly boomed across the sky. I glanced up.
“Huh, rain. Great,” I sighed, “because every horror story needs rain.”
I turned to leave, then froze.
The car was gone, the yard was gone, and so was my house (AGAIN!).
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” I looked around.
I was now standing on a sidewalk in what looked like a suburban neighborhood. It was still daylight out, but the sky was gray from the approaching rain.
I looked up once more at the sky, “Lord? Why, oh, why is my luck, this bad?”
God remained silent.
I clenched my eyes shut, then lowered my head with a sigh.
Well, then, I opened my eyes, first thing’s first, where the hell am I? I scanned around.
I didn’t recognize this neighborhood; it didn’t look like any of the surrounding towns near my home. The sidewalk I was on was near, what I guessed, was the main road, though I didn't see any cars driving down it. This, needless to say, was not a good thing. From where I was standing, the road was to my right and on the other side of it was a vast forest. Memories of Teri flooded my mind just by looking at it. I shivered.
Yeah, no way I’m going in there. I’ve spent enough time in the woods to last a life time. I continued to look around. To my left I could see houses lined up in the same way as most neighborhood layouts were like.
I knew just standing on the sidewalk and doing nothing would get me nowhere; I needed to find out where I was. I looked at the nearest house. Whoever lived there could probably tell me. I began to approach the house.
I just hope this neighborhood isn’t the one from “Children of the Corn”.
When I reached the front door, I took a deep breath and hesitantly knocked.
Then, I took a quick step back and prepared to either tackle whoever opened the door or run away.
The door opened, I tensed and…
“Oh, can I help you?”
The question caught me off guard.
A middle-aged woman stood at door. She wore an old worn V-neck t-shirt with jeans. Her hair was brown, short and slightly messy almost as though she had stopped caring for it long ago. Her eyes were deep green and full of sadness. I could tell by her complexion and by the dark bags sagging under her eyes that she was extremely sad. I had seen someone look this way before awhile back; it’d been a woman who’d lost both her husband and daughter in a plane crash. It was a look I would never forget, and the woman before me wore it well.
She’s mourning, I realized.
I must have taken too long, because she asked again, “Can I help you?”
“I…uh…” It took me a moment to get over my surprise, “I’m wondering if you could tell me where I am.”
The woman gave me a puzzled look, but answered anyway, “8945 Knudsen Street, Denver.”
Huh? I’d never heard of that town (not in SC, anyway). Ever. “Uh, okay then, could you tell me which way Charleston is?”
I thought the woman couldn’t look at me any stranger. I was wrong.
“Charleston?” she echoed, furrowing her brow and cocking her head to the side.
Now it was my turn to look at her strangely. “Yeah. You know? Charleston, South Carolina? The place where the Civil War started.” I said the last line with a punch of sarcasm and as a bit of a joke. But, her narrowing eyes and her sudden stance in posture told me that it was not taken as one.
“Are you trying to be funny with me?” The woman said in a slightly angered tone.
“Huh?” What’s her problem?
“Now, I don’t who you are and I don’t care, but I’ve had enough to deal with as it is and I don’t need some kid to come play pranks with me.” The woman went to shut the door but I grabbed it before she could, “Please wait!” I said looking at her apologetically. “I really don’t understand what you mean. I wasn’t kidding about which way’s Charleston. I don’t know where I am at all.”
The woman stared at me through the small portion of the door I’d managed to keep open, giving me an assessing look.
“Where do you think you are?” She asked.
The woman continued to stare at me for a few moments longer, trying to figure me out.
“You’re in Colorado.” She finally said.
I let go of the door and then stumbled back in surprise, “What?!” Did I just hear right? “I’m where?”
The woman opened the door a little wider, “Colorado.” She said again.
I stood there for a few moments gaping at what I had just heard. “BS! There’s no way I’m in Colorado.”
The woman looked at me fully concerned now. “I’m not lying. You really are in Colorado.”
I stepped further back in surprise, placing a hand behind my head. No, no, no, no, no, no, there’s no way I’m in Colorado! Why the hell would The Sender put me here!?
If I was in a different state, how could I possibly escape to home when the time came to run? This was completely unfair.
The woman, now seeing the seriousness etched into my face, came outside.
“Are you alright?” She asked out of concern. I looked up at her still gaping. I quickly shook my head no and turned away. I just couldn’t believe this.
The woman continued speaking, “How did you get here then?”
I knew I couldn’t tell her that. She’d never believe me. I had to come up with something.
“I uh….I uh…I don’t know.” A lie suddenly formed, “I woke up on the sidewalk a few minutes ago in front of your house. I don’t why. I mean the last thing I remember was going to bed last night.” I lied.
The woman looked at me skeptically for a minute but I’d shown genuine surprise and confusion, which was enough to convince her, for now.
“Alright, what’s your name?”
“Okay, J.T. why don’t you come inside with me and we’ll try to straighten this out. Alright?” I took one last look around, still in utter disbelief. Seeing monsters that shouldn’t exist is one thing. Suddenly teleporting to another state was quite another. Having no better plan, I nodded and reluctantly went inside.
Twenty minutes later, I found myself standing in the living room of the house. I was looking out the window trying to piece together what Creepypasta story took place in this town. None came to mind. The woman who had let me in earlier, I found out, was named Connie. She’d been staying at her sister’s house, the one we were in now, for nearly two years. When I’d asked her why, she simply shook her head and walked away. I was able to convince them I really was from S.C. and not a prankster. It was quite easy once I pulled out my driver’s license and told them the address where I lived, which they looked up and found. What they couldn’t believe though was me suddenly waking up on the sidewalk with no memory of how I got there. I don’t blame them either; it was a lie after all.
They were both in the kitchen discussing what to do to help me get back. My parents weren’t answering their phones.
“Just take him to the police department.” I heard Connie’s sister, Lori say. “They’ll figure out how he got here, and then send him home.”
“Lori, the police aren’t going to pay for a plane ticket. And they’re not going to find out anything that we don’t already know. The boy already admits he has no memory. There’s nothing to suggest how he got here. And besides, they weren’t much help after…after…” I heard her sniffle, “Toby.” She managed to finish.
Toby. That name sounded familiar for some reason. I wondered who he was.
“There, there,” I heard Lori whisper to Connie. I could see tears coming down from her eyes. They continued to say more, but I couldn’t hear much after that.
I leaned my head against the window, letting out a sigh. What now?
I had no idea what to expect this time. Never before had I been teleported to see a visitor that I didn’t immediately meet, nor had it happened so early in the day.
“It’ll be harder.” The Sender’s words resounded within my head. I hadn’t understood what he meant then, but I did now.
I glanced back at Connie and Lori, still talking.
Thunder rumbled bringing my gaze back outside. The sky had gotten darker and the first drops of rain had begun to fall.
Oh yay, rain. Just what every horror story needs. My eyes casually passed over something tall and black in the forest. Wait, tall and black? My eyes suddenly shifted back to forest where the thing had been. It was gone now, but there was something else instead. I squinted to get a better look.
A guy, no more than my age I guessed, was leaning against a tree, casually. He was wearing a blue-topped hoodie with a gray torso, and jeans. I saw something hanging from the back of his pant leg. I was too far away to tell what it was but I assumed that maybe it was a hammer or something. I wouldn’t have thought much of him if it weren’t for the fact that I got the distinct impression that he was looking directly at me. He smirked and his head suddenly cocked to the side in an odd manner. Strange. The kid suddenly stood up straight and walked further into the woods.
Okay, weird kid.
“J.T.?” I heard Connie call me. I turned to see her in the kitchen with her sister. She gestured for me to come. I took one last glance out the window to where the kid had been before going to Connie.
“Yeah?” I asked.
Connie was standing with both hands on her hips as though she was debating whether or not to tell me something. Lori was behind her doing dishes at the kitchen sink.
“Lori and I talked about it, and we decided that the best thing to do is to take you to the police station and have them contact your family.”
I nodded. I had no problem with that. I mean, where better to be when something is out to get you, than a place full of men and women carrying firearms?
“But,” Connie continued, “We won’t be able to go ‘til tomorrow.”
My sudden happiness vanished, “What? Why?”
“The road to the station is closed, because it’s being repaved. It won’t be open until later tomorrow.”
The road’s out? Oh, Joy! I’m going to frickin' die. AGAIN!
“So, for tonight you can stay here in one of the guest rooms.”
Hahahaha, yeeaahhhh. I have only been rudely awakened twice by two visitors. What’s the harm in trying a thiiiiirrrrdddd time?
But I didn’t have any other choice really. I reluctantly agreed.
Later that day she showed me the room I would be staying in, then asked if I needed anything.
“No,” I said, placing my backpack down. “I’m good, but thanks.” And pretty soon I’ll probably be saying “sorry” too.
She gave me a sad smile and left. But just before she did I thought I heard her mutter something that sounded like, “You remind me so much of Toby.”
I didn’t know who this Toby was but apparently he’d been important to her. That name though, kept tugging at me for some reason. Like I should know that name, but I couldn’t recall why. So far I had no idea which Creepypasta story this was.
I took a good look around the room. It was small, about the size of an average bedroom. There was a single window and a desk with an alarm clock beside the bed. I saw a picture frame next to the alarm clock. Curious, I picked it up to examine it. The picture was of a couple and their two children. I instantly recognized the mother at the far right of the picture as Connie. I assumed the man beside her was her husband. He was wearing a white shirt and had bright blond hair. I wasn’t paying much attention to him, though. I found the two kids to his left to be far more interesting. A young boy with brown hair was hugging his sister. The girl was wearing a purple shirt and had bright blond hair like her father. I could tell just by the hug between the two that they were close. They didn’t have a problem hugging each other; unlike me when taking a family picture with my brother and sister. But the boy’s face seemed to have faded in the picture.
This must be Toby. I wondered what happened to him.
I set the photo back down. I could probably ask about him the next day.
I grabbed my backpack and took out my knife.
Just in case.
I placed it in my pocket and hopped in bed.
I knew that my chances of having an uninterrupted sleep were next to zero, but I was still pretty tired from the past few days so I gladly accepted going to sleep.
How long will I sleep before I have to run for my life? I wondered, and then closed my eyes.
I woke up from the blaring of an alarm clock that came from the bedroom across from mine.
I tiredly looked at the digital clock next to the bed. 7:00 A.M.
That was a surprise.
I slowly sat up and rubbed my eyes. Did it really say 7:00 A.M.?
I looked at the clock again. It did.
“Wow,” I muttered, “Did the visitor forget he was supposed to come yesterday?”
Well, no need to question good fortune. I’ll take it wherever I can get it.
I began to get up when I heard a knock on the door.
“Uh… Come in?” I called.
Connie walked in holding a set of clothes.
She mildly smiled then said, “I didn’t think you would want to wear the same clothes for two days straight, so here.”
I blinked at the clothes and then looked back at her. Wow.
“Uh…Thanks.” I took the clothes. It was a burgundy t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.
“I hope those will fit you.” She added before walking out. I quickly put on the new clothes and placed my olds ones in my bag. I was about to put my hoodie in there too, but then decided against it and put it over my shirt. I then realized I’d probably offend Connie by not showing the shirt, so I quickly unzipped the middle of the hoodie. Thank God it’s a zip up.
After everything was done, I grabbed my stuff and went to the kitchen. Connie was already there eating a bowl of cereal. She smiled when she saw me walk in.
“Glad to see they fit.” She said.
I looked over myself before replying, “Yeah, they do. Thanks again for the clothes.”
“Welcome. Are you hungry? There’s cereal in the cupboard.”
“Ah, no thanks. I’m good for now.” And I really was.
She shrugged and resumed eating. I began to wonder what I should do now. The Sender had never put me in a situation like this before, ever. What the heck was I supposed to do?
Perhaps it has to do with Connie?
“Um...Mrs. Connie?” I hesitantly asked.
“Just call me Connie.”
“Right, Connie. Um…Out of curiosity, where did you get clothes that fit me?”
Connie slowed down her eating, and then put the spoon down.
“It was my son’s.”
“It’s your son’s? Huh. Where’s he at?” I instantly regretted asking that the moment I saw Connie’s reaction.
She slowly closed her eyes shut; a single tear ran from one of them. “He’s dead.”
“Oh. I am so sorry.” I apologized guilty.
She opened her eyes, and nodded her head, “It’s alright. You didn’t know.”
She stared off into space as if in remembrance. “It happened a long time ago anyway, but I never really did get over it.”
At the hearing of this, I suddenly got the impression that this was related to the story.
“If I may ask, how did he die?”
She stopped and looked at me hard. I silently wondered if maybe I had crossed the line with that question. Thankfully though, I hadn’t.
She sighed then began to explain to me, “Two years ago, my daughter Lyra and my son Toby were both in a car accident. Lyra was killed in the crash but Toby wasn't. He was sitting by her when it happened, and they were both very close…so Toby took her death hard.” She paused to take a breath, and I could tell she was trying to keep herself from crying.
I thought about telling her to stop because I could see it was too painful for her, but I needed to know what happened.
She continued, “A few weeks later, after Toby had gotten out of the hospital, he started to become withdrawn from everyone. So much so that it came to a point where we had to take him to doctor, because he…he…gnawed most of the…flesh from his fingers.”
I winced at those words. This kid, sounded really disturbed.
Connie kept going, “We later took to him to a counselor, hoping that maybe it could help him cope with his sister’s death but something went wrong that day. He came home and,” She took a breath, “killed his father.”
She stopped, tears poured down from her eyes.
I was immediately regretting making her tell me this. But she’d already come this far. I put an arm around her, and tried to give her some comfort.
“Keep going,” I told her, “It might be good for you if you let it all out.” I hoped.
She took a shaky breath and resumed the story, “Toby had always blamed his father for what happened to Lyra. So that’s why, I assume, he killed him. I was horrified by what he did so I called the police. Toby ran right after that and was chased by the cops. But before they caught up with him, he’d poured gasoline all down the road and around himself…then...then lit it on fire.”
“Oh, jeez.” I murmured as I pictured that scene.
But Connie wasn’t finished, “But after the fire, t-they didn’t find his body. But I know there’s no possible way anyone could survive being burned by that, and he’s been gone for two years. He’s gone. He’s not coming back.”
Her head sunk as she finished. I continued to stand there thinking about her son’s story. I remembered reading something like this before from Creepypasta but it had been a long time ago.
“I’m sorry Connie.” I tried to sympathize with her.
“It’ll be okay. I’ll be okay.” She sniffled, “If it’s alright I’d like to be alone now.”
I nodded in understanding and turned to leave but hesitated, “Um, Connie one last thing.”
I bit my lip not knowing how to ask this, “Where exactly did the fire happen at? I’d like to go see this, if it’s alright with you?”
Connie hesitated for a moment, debating on whether to tell me or not, then turning to me she said, “It’s a few miles down the road from here, towards the town center. You can’t miss it. The trees are still black from the fire.”
I walked out the door and immediately set out. If I wanted to find my “visitor” and get home, he’d probably be there.
The sky was still very cloudy and thunder could be heard in the distance. I stood on the sidewalk across from where Toby had set the woods on fire almost two years before.
“So this is where it happened, huh?” I murmured.
The road was black where the fire had burned, the trees too.
During my walk I’d finally been able to recall the name of the Creepypasta this had taken place, Ticci Toby. But as for the main plot, I still couldn’t recall everything. I didn’t know what Toby looked like besides the fact that he had brown hair. Damn it, I should’ve paid more attention to that story.
But if there was one thing I was certain of, it was that Toby hadn’t died that day.
I looked around once more; I was the only one there. There were no oncoming cars or people walking around. This town might as well be a ghost town. Does anybody walk around here?
Taking in a nervous breath, I walked into the woods.
Looking around, I noticed the trees were still covered in soot from the fire, and that there wasn’t any vegetation in the area. I knew that wasn’t natural at all, two years had been more than enough time to have some plants grow. This was just plain eerie.
Alright. So what am I looking for?
I had no clue.
“Looking for something?” A young voice asked.
I stopped walking and slowly turned around. The guy I’d seen the day before was leaning against one of the burnt trees with his arms crossed.
“Um…I’m not sure.” I looked him up and down. Now that he was up close, I could see exactly what he looked like. He was my age; I had no doubt about it now. He had a gray bandana covering his mouth and there was a pair of orange goggles resting on his head. He was still wearing the hood and had his head down so I couldn’t see the top half of his face.
“You’re not sure of what you’re looking for, or you’re not sure you’re looking?”
I narrowed my eyes, nice sarcasm buddy. Not.
“I’m not sure what I’m looking for.” I gestured at the whole area, “I heard some kid burnt this area down about two years ago and that he supposedly died in the fire, but there was no trace of his body. I thought I might find something that could indicate he was still alive.” I took another glance around.
The kid jerked his head to left, with a loud pop. It startled me a bit, but I didn’t say anything.
“So,” I ventured, “Why are you here?”
The kid’s head slowly rose a bit, but still not enough for me to see all of his face. A low chuckled escaped from him.
I suddenly had a very bad feeling about this guy.
“What’s so funny if I may ask?”
The kid started shaking his head no. And chuckled some more.
Okay man, seriously? What’s so funny?
I was about to ask him just that, when I realized something. Toby had been seventeen when he’d disappeared which was two years ago, so he’d be about my age, nineteen. This guy in front of me looked and sounded my age, not only that he had the same brown hair I’d seen from the photo from the guest room. More importantly why would he laugh? Unless he knew who I was looking for, which meant…
“You’re Toby.” I exclaimed.
Toby, Stopped, Laughing.
He raised his head and pulled the bandana off.
I instinctively took a step back,
The left side of Toby’s mouth had deteriorated, exposing his teeth and gums. His eyes were both gray and foggy, much like Teri’s had been, and looked like they had cataracts.
He grinned at my reaction, which made him look even more gruesome.
“The one and only.” He said.
He reached behind the tree he was leaning on and pulled out a silver looking hatchet.
I gulped, “Um…please tell me you only pulled that out because you’re planning to cut down a tree.”
Toby raised an eyebrow at me, and then laughed. His neck cracked once more.
“Run.” He told me.
“With pleasure.” I bolted.
I ran in the opposite direction of Toby, towards the road. I prayed that I could somehow make it there before his hatchet made its way to me.
I glanced back to see how close he was.
To my surprise, he was still leaning against the tree smirking at me. What the heck? Why’s he not chasing me?
He suddenly stood up straight and took a few simple steps forward with the hatchet in his right hand, what he did after that I didn’t care. I stopped looking back and kept running.
Just ahead of me was the edge of the forest and through it, the road. Yes, I’m going to make it. No way he’s catching up with me!
(That’s because he didn’t have to.)That’s when I heard a whistling noise come from behind me. I turned around just in time to see a hatchet come sailing through the air to my head. Which was then followed by a large flash of white light.
There was a large red welt on my forehead when I awoke. It was dark now; the storm I had seen earlier that day had finally arrived. I was still in the forest, but nowhere near its edge. The wind was blowing hard through the trees and lightning would light up the area every few minutes.
Why am I still alive? I gently probed my forehead only to flinch at the pain. I got lucky. I only got hit by the dull end of the hatchet.
Still hurt, though. Lightning struck, the area was lit once more, revealing Toby standing in front of me with a hatchet in each hand. The new looking one he’d hit me with earlier was in his left hand, while one with an old worn wooden handle was in his right. He was now wearing both the bandana and goggles. (Well, at least I didn’t have to see his mouth anymore.)
“Hi, there!” He said to me.
“CRAP!” I started scrambling back from him.
He laughed, “Don’t bother trying to escape now; you’ll get your chance in moment.”
I stopped moving, What?
“I’ve been watching you since you showed up yesterday.” He rested both hatchets on his knees and leaned down to look at me. “And compared to some of the other people I’ve killed, you don’t look like much at all.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, “Oh, really? Have you taken a good look in the mirror lately? I wouldn’t necessarily say you look like much either. You’d probably just make the mirror crack.”
He cracked his neck, and chuckled. “Still good-humored even in the face of death. Maybe the boss was right. This will be fun after all.”
“You have a boss? Who?”
He straightened up, “If you make it through the next little bit, maybe you’ll find out.”
He gestured with his head towards the center of the forest. “Here’s the deal. I’m going to count to ten, and you’re going to start running. If you can somehow get away, you win.”
Another flash of lightning lit the area.
Toby continued, “But if you lose…” He cracked his neck.
That needed no interpretation.
I was already gone by the time he said, “Two”.
(Oh by the way, what is with these freaks and the game, “Hide and Seek” if I may ask?)
It was hard to see anything in front me, it was pitch black. My only source of lighting would be the occasional lightning strike every several minutes or so. The wind and pouring rain didn’t make things any easier.
After running for God knows how long, I stopped behind a tree to catch my breath. I couldn’t keep running in this darkness without some form of light. My backpack ruffled a bit as I leaned against the tree.
Oh, I’m such an idiot. YOU’VE GOT A NIGHT VISION CAMERA MORON!
I pulled off my backpack and pulled out both my knife and camera and not a second too soon. I clicked the camera on just in time to see a hatchet coming sailing towards my head.
“OH-!” I ducked at the last second. Another lightning strike revealed flying splinters from the tree I was just leaning on and Toby’s orange goggles which seemed to glow in the light.
Toby quickly sliced down with the other hatchet he had. I rolled to my right, at the last second, barely avoiding the blade. Scrambling to my feet I placed the camera in front of me to see where Toby was. I could see Toby stand back up with the hatchet he just swung still in hand, which he then pointed at me as if to say, “Just you wait”, then he turned and yanked the other hatchet free of the tree. I managed to pull my hunting knife out of its case, only to glance down at it, then glance back at Toby’s hatchets.
You know what? I REAAAALLLYYY need to switch this out for a pistol. There’s really not much of a point in bringing this. Is there?
I put the knife back in my pocket. Plan B. I about-faced and hightailed it. I could hear Toby run after me every step of the way. I tried to think of a way out of this but nothing was coming to mind. Damn it.
Toby’s footsteps stopped abruptly behind me. Is he giving up? The wound on my head started to throb reminding me of how he’d caught me earlier. No, WAIT! I dived to my left just as a hatchet flew through the space my head had just been. Whoa! That was close!
“Damn it!” I heard Toby curse over the wind before he started running again. I held up the camera and tried to see where the hatchet had landed.
There! Just a few feet ahead of me, was the hatchet. It had gotten embedded in the trunk of a tree. I scrambled to it as quickly as I could, and began trying to free it from the tree.
“Come on, come on, come on!” I yelled as I continued to yank and yank at the hatchet.
“Almost there!” I heard Toby yell.
“Not helping!” I yelled back.
The hatchet moved an inch.
Toby got closer.
I pulled once more; it budged another inch but still held fast.
I looked back to see Toby just over ten feet away.
“DAMN IT! COME ON!!!!!”
I pulled the hatchet loose with one last burst of strength just as Toby reached me. He brought his hatched down and I barely had enough time to horizontally raise my hatchet with both hands to catch his. Sparks flew when the blade hit the metal of the handle, the force of the blow jarring me and nearly causing me to drop the hatchet. Toby was unfazed and quickly raised his to strike at me once more. I swung the hatchet upward as I rolled to the left, but Toby stepped back, just missing the blade's edge.
“Close!” He ran forward and slammed his foot into my side, “But not close enough.”
“GAH!” I dropped the hatchet and rolled over. Toby went to swing his hatchet down again. I looked up to see my backpack just a few feet in front of me, so I grabbed it and flipped over, holding it in front of me right when the hatchet descended. Sparks flew as it cut through the bag and into my laptop (forgot I had that in there). Toby hadn’t expected to hit anything hard, thus the hatchet flew out of his hand as it bounced off of the laptop.
I glanced at my ruined bag and computer then back at Toby, “You owe me over three hundred dollars pal.” I threw the bag into his face causing him to stumble back. Before he could recover I picked up the wooden hatchet and swung it full force into Toby’s direction. I was aiming for his side but lightning struck at the same instant as I swung, causing it to throw off my aim.
“AAH!” Toby yelled in surprise and started stumbling back with the hatchet stuck in his leg after I let go. I sat up and grabbed the other hatchet which was lying beside me. I heard Toby grunt, as he fell against a neighboring tree, trying to pull the hatchet free of his leg.
Breathing hard, I got up and slowly approached Toby with the hatchet in hand. He continued to struggle and attempt to remove the hatchet as I stepped in front of him.
Toby suddenly stopped and slowly looked up to see me. I have no idea what I looked like to Toby, but I was full of anger and hatred so I must have looked like a monster as well. I raised the hatchet to strike. Toby looked for anything that could help him, but there was nothing he could do.
The image of Connie crying appeared in my mind at that moment, causing me to hesitate. This was her son I was about to kill. Gritting my teeth, I did the one thing nobody expected me to do.
Knowing I’d probably regret this, I threw the hatchet down merely a few inches from Toby’s face. He jerked back surprised, then looked at both the hatchet and me in confusion.
“What?” He gasped.
I leaned toward him then said in a low voice, “Your mother lost all hope that you were alive for the past two years. She thinks you’re dead, and I’m sure as hell am not going to be the one who makes what she believes true.” I stood up and turned to leave.
Toby started to laugh. What’s so funny now? I turned to look at him.
His mouth was still covered but I could tell he was grinning, “You may have won this, but it’s not over. Heheheh! Look behind you.”
That doesn’t sound good.
I slowly turned around.
A figure wearing an all-black hoodie stood in front of me with his arms crossed. The top half of his face was hidden by the hood. He was smirking.
I felt swelling hatred burn through me, “YOU!”
The Sender smiled wider.Bracing into a tackle, I raced at The Sender. Lightning struck again, just before I made contact. Everything went white causing me to lose sight of The Sender, but I still ran on…
Only to slam into my car door.
Written by J.T.