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We first set foot into this forest yesterday evening after spending just over an hour and a half making our journey. It was one of those evenings where the many Jet-Trails amongst the twilight sky had blended into light orange and pink among the distant orange and black horizon that all camouflaged into an array of messy colours and patterns like a sunset scene from Apocalypse Now.
And as I sit here jotting down my final words on the back of some of Josh’s work related notes, I remember my expectations of Friday clearly. But I remember the horror of today even clearer. I write my story in the midst that one day someone with hope, with an idea; someone who is willing to fight against all the odds, will stumble upon my confession and read what I have to offer. Fifty-six minutes.
The twin’s fully loaded 4x4 Mitsubishi Outlander struggled atop the pothole riddled road which increased with decay the closer we approached the forest. Our gear, nourishment and weekend livelihoods jolted up and dropped back down at unexpected bumps while it all consistently buzzed in the back of the jeep beneath the noise of our excited, eager conversations. The paintjob braved through brown puddles which splashed speckled, brown mud against black metallic paint, while the wheels that were accustomed to avenues and highways were pushed beyond their usual work-rate due to quick-draw, squeaking breaking for when a careless badger or an impatient fox that scampered onto the road, unaware of our oncoming vehicle.
David slowed the jeep to a halt facing a large, locked, red rail which segregated the pedestrian’s forest trail from the short section of introductory road whose ditches acted as slanted parking spots for visitors. As expected though, there was nobody else here which was not surprising for the fact that this particular place had no significant marking or symbol on the map and was only really noticeable because it was the largest shade of “forested area” for at least a fifty mile radius. Isolation.
“No way am I parking this here for the weekend.” David said, gazing at the barrier as if it were the thorns on a red, romantic rose.
Josh turned to me and the two girls, sitting indifferently in the backseats. “Andrew, could you get me the axe from the trunk man?”
“Yeah, sure thing.”
I shifted my body around and grabbed the light-brown wooden axe with the shining silver piece of crafted metal atop. The two girls, Lauren and Vanessa, turned their heads only really to survey our activity as any structured conversation at this stage of the trip had broken down into one line comments and off-topic small talk.
Josh glanced around at his surroundings, fearing that some distant passer-by would attempt the role of the overly law-abiding citizen and interfere with his chain breaking process.
“Here, there’s nobody around, go for it!” Andrew shouted, semi-leaning out the jeep window, smiling at the end of his sentence.
Josh smiled a little in response before turning back around to complete the task at hand. He pulled the axe up just above his shoulder, gripping it carefully with his two hands and forced it down upon the lock. The impact clashed out a tolerable clanging sound but the lock didn’t fall to our ground, much to our likely disappointment. Josh kneeled down to examine the damage of the impact.
“The lock’s made of Brass.” he called out to us “Should come off with a few more strikes.”
Josh struck the chain in the same manner once more. Same result.
And again. Bingo!
The lock split in half and toppled to the ground, clashing against the little pebbles with an extremely brief metallic collision sound. We all cheered on Josh as he jokingly stretched the axe into the air with his two hands pretending to lift a trophy. He quickly pushed aside the red barrier like a wheeling cart, walked back towards us, jumped into the front seat of the jeep and carelessly dropped the axe down between his two legs like it was flavourless chewing gum.
The friction of the pebble riddled path assaulting the thick off-road tires only made the objects in the back shake again. After about fifteen minutes though; after venturing through slowly darkening skies and quickly thickening forestry, we had finally reached a dead end. The headlights beaming down rows of unkept trees and beautiful wasteland as far as the eye could see.
“We will park the car here and camp a few metres away, how about that?” Andrew directed as a general question to everyone. There was a moment of ambient, silent thinking and quick examination of everyone’s faces before everyone collectively agreed that this idea should suit everyone. It only made sense to set up camp nearby the vehicle to prevent us going too far in and then somehow inevitably getting lost. So we all gathered an equal share of the tents, bags of food and other miscellaneous necessities and within an hour, our polyester, nylon and canvas civilization was huddled in closely to a crackling orange fire beneath towering trees that expanded in alternating vision.
We spent the majority of the night doing the typical camping thing amongst college students. The night seemed to fly by as we roasted marshmallows while talking absolute crap and getting to that reasonable, enjoyable, mellow level of drunk before the last of us drifted away from consciousness at around 4 A.M just as dawn was revealing a dark slate, cyan sky.
I woke up later that morning at 11 A.M. and stepped outside to beaming sun blaring through tree trunks, and gray smoke plummeting from a pile of dead black ash like a tiny cottage that had been laid to waist. Lauren was having what I assumed to be her first smoke of the day, sitting on a large, 7-foot-long-ish log that we had recklessly strewn between two tents after spotting it nearby at around 1 A.M. Last night.
“Vanessa and Josh are still asleep, David is probably off taking a walk or something somewhere, y’know him.” Lauren said in a husky voice, answering the question she knew was enveloping my mind.
“Hey, where are the others?” I replied in a semi-sarcastic tone, eyebrows perking up momentarily.
I sat down beside her and we tucked into camping food for breakfast; an odd combination of corn flakes and lukewarm bottled water. As I was nearly finished, Josh and Vanessa emerged from their tent, looking stale and worn, sharing an inquisitive, piqued look on their faces when they saw that it was just us two outside.
“Have either of yee seen me brother?” he asked.
“No when I woke up he was gone.” I replied. “Lauren says he’s gone for a walk.”
“That’s just what I assumed.” she contributed. “I’ll give him a ring will I?”
Lauren took her phone from her pocket, looked at it for a few seconds, before letting her hands collapse to her knees and her eyes shut in defeat.
“Shite, no signal.” she said, frustrated.
“Let me try.” I offered.
I took my phone out from my pocket and saw there was no bars beside the little signal icon. I held my phone up into the air as if I was a selfless old man releasing an injured bird back into the wild that I had nursed back to full health, and tried my best to keep my eyes on the signal bar, despite the bright rays of sunshine damaging my visibility.
“I got a bar.” I said in a modestly victorious tone.
I held the phone up to my ear which felt refreshingly cool against my ears which were red hot because of the humidity of the tent and the comfortable depths of my pillow.
And at that moment, everyone looked up and around at each other with the slow realisation of just how worrying that sound really was. And I had heard too. Through the dial tones which echoed from the speaker and into my ear, I had also heard it. The sound of the standard iPhone ring tone penetrating through the canvas of David’s tent. Made dull and centralized by the suffocation from his zipped up, abandoned refuge. David was out there somewhere. Lost in the middle of the woods. Without his phone.
“I’ll check the jeep.” Vanessa said shakily, shattering the tense silence.
If only Davey had taken his phone with him. If only he had been more cautious as to where he was venturing. If only he was obliged to tell one of us where he was going, what he was doing and why, rather than shy away from possible judgement and already perpetuated concern. Sneaking off and acquiring personal space alone at a time when nobody could be quisitive of his motives for the simple reason that none of us were in any position to do so, and thinking about it now only kills me. The thought of it guillotines tiny lean slices of brain slowly and allows thick, broadening blood to leak out from my freshly chopped wounds.
Like the concerned idiots that we were scripted to be though, we exposed ourselves to his mistake and, unaware of the malevolent act unfolding, became tangled up in a mess of rushed choices and poorly thought-out decisions. Now all I can do is wait. I sit here writing with a pen that was pointing up in the cup-holder like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, on the back of Josh’s work notes who is out lost in the dense forest somewhere, and I wait for my inevitable death. I pray that a fate that I not only know so little about, but that I also don’t have the energy to develop proper recognition of, is quick and merciful. The wounds thump to the rhythm of my pulse, each beat sending a little numbing shock to my brain, and are swollen disgustingly like the throat of a croaking frog. One hour and thirty-five minutes.
We meandered by thorns and swept aside branches which only flung back into their original position, as stubborn as a cobweb stuck to your hand. The four of us looked around aimlessly with no real objective or any structured plan other than calling his name as loudly as we could anytime we heard the rustle of a rodent or the snap of a twig. As you can guess at this stage, he wasn’t in the jeep. The further we travelled from the campsite, funnily enough, the less dense the forest got, and the thick-trunked evergreen trees which were planted among the vast hills of the area as part of a government forestation scheme were gradually turning into scrawny deciduous trees which were turning golden and brown leaved in the early September weather.
We ruffled through rustling foliage and wet leaves clinged to the bottom of my boots like a section of rug that lifts to the air by a vacuum before dropping to the floor again. We continued to call out “Dave” “Davey” and “David” in the hope that one of us would hear a distant response but our sirens were only tangled up in echoing branches and dispersed different directions by muting mountain winds.
After about 15 minutes of trudging and the forest eventually turning 99% deciduous, both Lauren and Vanessa started hearing an extremely faint call for help in the distance. They followed their instinct from which direction the calling was coming from, and told us in frantic, yet relieved voices, that the shouting had gotten a little louder. We followed the two girls and seconds later Josh informed me that he could hear it too. About thirty seconds later, I started hearing distant shouting as well, which was definitely getting closer.
We came to a bare-ish patch in the middle of the forest, where the trees surrounded a well in an oval shape, which poked out of the ground like the round bone in the middle of a steak. At this stage, the shouting was echoing very nearby so the obvious precaution was to check the well. We all rushed over and surrounded the cream coloured well with David’s words hollering from within its depths.
“Davey!” I called out to him.
“Andrew!” he shouted back immediately, as grateful as a rock climber taking their first bite to eat after a long hike. “Thank fuck you’re here man, I thought I was a goner!”
“How long have ya been down there?”
“’Bout an hour.”
“Are ya okay? What happened man?”
“I went for a walk because I woke up way earlier than all of yee and when I got tired I sat down on this well. I fell in by accident but luckily my body got jammed a few times on the way down and broke my fall.”
“Have ya broke anything?”
“No, nothing serious like that, there’s a few nasty scratches on my back from when I was sliding down and I probably have a few bruises but that’s about it really.
“Great to hear buddy.” I said, trying to comfort him.
“I’m soakin’ though, and I need to get outta these damp clothes.”
“Okay sit tight, we won’t be much longer.”
I turned to the rest of the group with a half worried face that extinguished their excited expressions.
“How are we gonna get him out?” I asked
“Maybe we should call emergency services?” Lauren said with a scrunched up, “that as a bad suggestion” kind of face.
“What? And explain to them why we’re trespassing in a secluded area? No.”
They all paused for a second before Josh’s face lit up. “I brought a rope ladder with us!” he said pointing to the air.
“Aww nice one!” Lauren exclaimed as we all smiled.
“Back in the jeep yeah?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, but we know where he is now so we won’t be runnin’ round like headless chickens. Shouldn’t be more than ten minutes.”
“Okay, yee all comin’ then?”
“No, no.” Josh said to us as he handed me the keys to his jeep. “Yee three go and get the rope ladder and a few torches. I’ll stay here with my brother and keep him company.”
“Okay, we won’t be long.” Vanessa said to Josh, and we ventured back through the forest as fast as we could to help rescue David.
Those 15 minutes we spent going back to the jeep, retrieving the items and then laughing and joking our way back were the last joyful moments I had in my life. Lauren and I talked about returning to our college course later that month, and Vanessa and I talked about our cheap trip to Amsterdam that summer, to which Lauren envied and then swore that she would accompany us for our planned return next year.
I miss them already.
The one thing that I have always detested the thought of in life was dying alone. Yet here I am, cooped up inside this cramped mess of camping gear, coffee mugs and cigarette butts, watching the yellow crusted bite wounds slowly swell. Keeping an eye on my watch to note how long it has taken me to die. I wipe away the condensation on the raindrop covered window and look outside to the quickly withering flesh of Lauren.
Her stomach is a red mess of blood and guts, blood washing away in the rain and permeating through the composted forest ground. I think back to her saying that she was drifting through a bright white light that engulfed her whole before the swollen stomach exploded and her frozen expression thumped dead onto the soaking log we had sat on earlier that day. I think about it, and suddenly I don’t feel so lonely anymore. I look at my swollen arm, and don’t feel lonely. When I drift through a peaceful white light, I’ll remember how long it took me to die and I won’t feel so lonely. Two hours and twenty-two minutes.
The rope ladder was wound up into a brown cylinder like an un-hollow rusty pipe that I pressed up against my chest. Vanessa carried two of the flashlights in both of her hands, while Lauren carried one flashlight and some food for David. We navigated through the natural obstacles once more on what was pretty much the exact same route we had taken the first time of round. We got back to the oval shaped part of the forest again where the well itself was, which I couldn’t help but feel, resembled a street magician surrounded by a group of people. That thought quickly fled my mind when I instantly observed something perplexing and concerning.
Josh was nowhere in sight.
I froze in realisation for a few seconds before the two girls started calling out his name and I rushed to the well and roared out for David. I listened out resolutely for even a peep of a response from someone or somewhere as the sound of the girls calling out for Josh that had been pushed to the back of my mind now increased in volume and disparity
“DAVID. JOSH. DAVEY. JOSH.” I roared in quick succession.
“Where the fuck could he be?!” Vanessa asked staggered and vexed.
I turned around to see the two girls
“I don’t know. Maybe someone or some animal chased him.” I suggested.
“We need to find him.” Lauren demanded.
“Look, Josh is probably somewhere out in the woods but we need to get David from out of this well now. He could be unconscious now for all we know. He’s not responding to my calls.”
“I’ll try calling him.”
Vanessa took out her phone before stomping her foot in frustration.
“Fucking no signal.” she spat as if it were all technology’s fault.
Lauren and I followed suit and we all held our phones up into the air, keeping one eye focused on the signal bars. Against my wishes though, and after a long, harsh, silent minute, my hopes remained obsolete.
“I got nothing.” I finally confirmed.
“Me neither.” Lauren said.
“Nothing.” Vanessa complied
“Right, fuck it, Lauren, hold this and release it down the well.” I said as I handed her the ladder. “I’ll go grab that nearby rock.”
Lauren held the first bar of the rope ladder and unravelled it down into the vanishing pits of the mystifying well. I heaved the heavy grey rock up from the ground it sank into and staggered it over to keep control of the ladder. With the ladder now in place, I voluntarily, yet hesitantly, climbed down the ladder to the unknown labyrinth beneath.
I carried a flashlight in my mouth like Mother Wolf transporting her beloved pup and descended into the engulfing labyrinth beneath. I flicked the flashlight on about halfway through my descent as all light had evaporated from the well, making my task now twice as challenging. Never good at multi-tasking, I struggled my way down with one hand on the ladder and another on the flashlight, while having to keep an eye on my current position and having to look out for the last step.
The bottom of the ladder dangled a few feet above the ground, like a dreamcatcher hanging from the ceiling; rotating liberally. The flash light lit up the bottom below me, shaped like the bottom of a chemistry flask and I had just journeyed through the tube. I dropped down a few feet, the thick soles of my boots cushioned my drop and generating an echoing splatter sound.
“I’m down” I shouted out to them. “I’ll shine my flashlight up to yee when you’re climbing down. Don’t wanna risk falling just cause you’re climbing with one hand.”
I couldn’t see too clearly from this distance without my glasses or contact lenses, but they both looked like they nodded in acknowledgement. Eventually they both made it down after a few minutes, individually consuming much less time than I had to reach the pit. Lauren dropped to the ground with ease, but Vanessa landed gawkily and she crippled to a bend just as she landed.
Lauren and I rushed over to her aid.
“Whoa are you okay.?” Lauren asked concerned.
“I think I sprained my heel.”
“Well come here.” I said, as me and Lauren lifted her slowly from the ground in which she lay injured.
“It should fade in a few minutes. Just walk it off.” Lauren reassured her.
We flicked our flashlights on towards the tunnel, just as we were about to set foot into vanishing point. That’s when I heard a small weep from Vanessa beside me. A weep that sounded like someone had abandoned their majority of hope and was wallowing in their own self-demise and loathing. It was only then that I had noticed that her flashlight wouldn’t turn on; Vanessa pressing her flashlight like it was a jammed key on a laptop.
“Hey, I thought you were alright?” I said trying my best to encourage her.
“No Andrew.” she replied, her lip quivering, her nose sniffling, her cheeks moist.
And then she pointed at something in the distance, and I turned around to see my flashlight projecting a large, recent bloodstain on the wall, trailing drips travelling south like a controlled red avalanche and contaminating the shallow stream beneath.
We had both overlooked Vanessa’s screams penetrating our eardrums and rushed to desperately reassure her that it could have been anyone’s blood. Any animal’s blood. Anything’s blood. There was nothing more foolish than me convincing her not to climb back up that ladder, because in that moment in time, there was this idiotic, nagging voice at the back of my head which was edging me to keep Vanessa down there. That there was this inarguable logic that we needed all the people we could to help find David and Josh. That anyone’s emotions could be suppressed, thrown aside and were only really a burden to help finding our friends. That’s what I did. I convinced Vanessa of this within a few minutes, only I garnished it with comforting tones, soft-spoken voice and complimenting vocabulary. That’s what I did, and I feel like a murdering mind-contortionist for it.
Lauren has it lucky. Lauren looks so peaceful. Lauren’s face is so empty. Two hours and fifty-two minutes.
Apparently that sight was enough for Vanessa at this point, and she hobbled back over to the ladder, her heel still in pain and giving her difficulty. I caught her before she even got a hold of the ladder, and convinced her to stay with us. After all, it was pretty much essential for us to have as many people with us in our search for David. After a few minutes of the most persuading speech that I could muster up, Vanessa warily agreed to continue on with us. Now determined to locate our friend, we all walked on, at the same pace as Vanessa, who was still limping from her fall.
Our little splashes echoed relentlessly through terrifying quiet that was mutually experienced. We kept our faces straight, our eyes focused and pace consistent surrounded by eerie echoes and the occasional distant drip. Trudging through the questionable hygiene of stagnant water in search of two friends was certainly not what any of us had in mind for a weekend of fun.
Unexpectedly then, Lauren’s flashlight began to dim quickly. Slapping it desperately, I could only watch as terror swelled up Lauren’s expression. After several seconds of “No, no, no.” and disbelief of our misfortune, the light disappeared, leaving my flashlight the only one left shining.
I turned around to the two girls whose dismay had consumed their expressions. The only flashlight left illuminated their grief stricken faces, as I once more attempted to comfort them with the fading hope that the twins are somewhere down here.
“Come on, we’ve been travelling for miles now.” I told them, “They’re probably just up ahead. They’d do the same, if two of us went missing. C’mon”
“Andrew, wake up you stupid bastard.” Vanessa snapped at me with venom. “There’s somethin’ seriously fucked up goin’ on here. If we don’t turn back right now and leave, and I’ll put this simply so that it’ll pierce that thick skull of yours. Bad. Things. Will. Happen.”
I dropped my flashlight in frustration and stormed over to her face to face.
“How the fuck can you say something like that when two of our friends our missing?” I demanded.
“I’m worried for us.” she replied, with less venom and more concern. “How come neither of ye have thought this through? What logical reason would Josh have for coming down here other than rescuing David? Huh? Why would he and David start venturing down this well when he knew that we were coming back for him? None of it makes any sense. Why is it that you insist that it was animal blood we just saw back there, but that we actually haven’t seen any animals down here?”
“Why the fuck are you only saying this now.” I asked with acted frustration, over grim realisation.
“Because nobody in this fucking group ever listens to me. I’m always the calm, passive one who has to do what everyone else is doing, but does anyone else give a shit about me? No.”
“That’s not tr–“
“Let me finish” she said cutting off my objections. “I came down with you both, because I knew I wouldn’t have a say in the matter. I knew that nothing I could’ve said would get either of you to listen to reason, and just stay back at the tents.”
“Guys…” Lauren started saying worryingly at this point, but I was too engaged in Vanessa’s rant and focused on convincing her to continue with us to even notice she was trying to grab our attention.
“Look, I had no idea that you felt this way, okay.” I said.
“I promise that once this is all over I’ll start listening to you more.” I continued.
“Andrew, turn around. Seriously.” Vanessa replies “I’m sorry, but if they were still here we would have found them ages back. I’m sorry, but we need to get back.”
Lauren was now speechless.
“It’s going to be dark soon, and getting back to camp is going to be a nightmare in that.” She continued
Lauren’s teeth started to jitter.
“Okay, we’ll bite the bullet and call 999. How about that?” I replied.
My eyes, now adjusted to the dark, realise Vanessa is now looking at Lauren. The sound of her teeth jittering echoes through the well along with the sound of a low, nearby grumbling. The beams of the flashlight on the ground slightly illuminate her violently shaking arm, which was pointing in the direction we were walking.
Unbelievably terrified by her tense state, Vanessa and I slowly turned around and faced the direction she was pointing. I couldn’t comprehend what my eyes were now witnessing, as eight green, marble-like eyes reflected in the flashlight beams and blinked curiously and occasionally. Its grumbling became louder and more aggressive, as the hairs on its 8 black legs began to twitch violently as its mouth slowly opened. Its blunt teeth, shaped like little half-crescents, illuminated dully like marble; a horrendous set of gnarling teeth that were splattered and dotted in shiny blood. As it growled, its abdomen slowly raised to an awkward angle, readying itself to sprint towards the three of us.
I slowly picked up the flashlight as it continued to observe us, noticing something in the left-hand corner at the top of the tunnel. Buried beneath a thick blanket of the creature’s silky web, Josh’s blue, terrified face was frozen still above an enormous bite wound which was punctured across his entire chest. The blood spilled out and down through the web, and pooled into a glossy puddle on the ground. I shined the light, following the trail of leaking blood, and saw hundreds of tiny little spiders; crawling around and all over each other, all grouped together in the puddle which accumulated below Josh’s pale-blue, dead body.
I ran. I had taken all this is in, in around six seconds, and after that I just ran. My mind didn’t even think to be a leader, or to look out for the two girls, or to even try to be intelligent about the whole situation. All I could do was run. Vanessa limped behind me screaming. Lauren screamed out my name for me to help her and Vanessa out. The thing screeched harshly and my eardrums rung slavishly to its incessant screeching. While running, my brain finally caught up with itself when I started to become exhausted. I realised that Vanessa had sprained something when she fell, and that her and Lauren needed my help.
I stopped and rushed back to Lauren and Vanessa. Although what I had initially done was self-centred, they were just glad to see me helping them. The three of us hobbled through the splashing tunnel as fast as we could. Tears streamed down Vanessa’s face and Lauren shouted words of encouragement to her. The screeching was starting to become louder, and whether the two girls knew it or not, it was only a matter of time before it was going to catch up with us.
I looked behind me briefly. It looked like it was seconds away from attacking, and it was terrifyingly fast, despite the fact that it galloped like a wounded horse. In a bout of sudden, desperate anxiety, I tightened my grip on the flashlight I was carrying and prepared myself, against all odds, to out-strength the creature.
“Hang on.” I shouted to the others.
I stopped, turned around, and the creature stood on its two hind legs and ferociously rang out a sonic-shattering screech. I gathered all the physical strength I could possibly conjure, and savagely whacked it on the head as many times as I could. I roared, I swore, and I ignored my quickly aching muscles as thick, green goo started to spurt out from its head and from some of its eyes. My whacking started slowing down, and despite every effort I had put in, I had failed to kill or critically injure the creature.
Ignoring its wounds, it dived on top of me, and sunk its teeth into my flesh like spongy marshmallows. I roared at the crushing agony, which was then accompanied by the injection of a burning liquid that I felt squirt from its fangs, and into my bloodstream. Lauren and Vanessa screamed in panic, and in a last stitch effort to stay alive, I battled over the searing pain and the pumping, boiling liquid, and rolled the brain covered flashlight over to Lauren.
Like a scurrying mouse dashing out from a hole, Lauren grabbed the flashlight and instantly smacked the creature in the head. Through my searing pain, the sound of Lauren's valiant efforts became dimmer and dimmer as my concentration began to seep into a painful, faded blur. Vanessa hopped over to me, and made sure I was alright. She helped me up, and as we huddled there listening to Lauren’s whacks of brain matter become slower and slower, I slowly started to weep thinking just what I had gotten my friends into. I myself had been bitten by God knows what, and I had almost got two of my dearest friends killed from trying to rescue two friends who were already hopelessly gone. I sat there weeping, from both the guilt of bringing my friends out here, from the impending unknown of what the searing bite on my arm was going to do, and from the agony of getting us all trapped for only trying to do the right thing.
Lauren wiped the fringe out of her eyes and approached me. She stared into my tear-filled eyes, before she herself burst into tears. We hugged each other for a few seconds before slowly walking away, physically deflated and emotionally weak. Vanessa looked at us still standing on one foot and held her arm out meeting Lauren’s shoulder. We hobbled once more towards the ladder, and I looked around once more at the unsanitary tunnel and shining my light at the dangling ladder. Looking around me once last time, I gazed at the thick, green goo that covered Lauren’s clothes, and that’s when I noticed, to my melancholy and horror, thumping red flesh around swollen teeth marks on her left leg, just like the one on my arm.
She obviously didn’t want to say anything, so for now I kept my mouth shut. Both Lauren and I went up first and she helped Vanessa climb up onto the first step. I was eternally grateful that the rock had managed to keep the ladder in place. The ladder was slippery in places, indicating there had been a downpour since we had ventured. I looked up once more into the never-so-beautiful murky grey sky, which was a navy shade indicating it was late-evening or early night. I checked my watch and to my shock and horror realised we had been searching down there for nearly four hours. No wonder Vanessa had become so angry with me.
I never thought about what I would tell The Twins’ parents. I never thought about what they would have to tell their little six year old sister. I never thought about how we would alert the proper authorities. I was just glad that I had escaped alive from that horrifying creature. I hadn’t even thought to myself what that thing was, and I was just glad that I could nearly taste the light of day. As we were approaching the open top, we collectively heard one more screech bellowing out from down beneath. Lauren and Vanessa shared a dismayed, concerned look, but I was too relieved to have escaped to honestly care.
I hopped out of the well, the feeling of crunchy leaves massaging my feet through my shoes. I reached out my hand and helped Lauren back up to the forest. I looked down and saw Vanessa still struggling a little bit up the ladder.
“C’mon girl you can do it.” Lauren encouraged her.
I was a little too pre-occupied with feasting my lungs to the fresh, damp air to realise, so I snapped out of it and walked over to the well to see how she was getting on.
“Almost there.” I said to her.
She looked up at me and gave a relieved grin. She reached for the next bar, but without warning, her hand slipped as she expected to grab her own weight on the wooden bar. She lost balance there and then, and that beautiful, hopeful smile she had gleaming across her face just seconds ago, became a lost, desperate cry for help as she suddenly diminished into the black depths of the well once again.
“GRAB BACK ONTO THE LADDER.” Lauren shouted down to her. A fading scream was her only response.
“VANESSA, GRAB BACK ONTO THE LADDER.” she shouted again. The scream had become nothing but a whisper.
Her pleas were going hopelessly unanswered. I rushed over to the side of the well and grabbed hold of the rope. I started reeling it up, in the miniscule hope that it was exceptionally heavier. As I continued rolling it up though, I heard a little wooden bar rattle its way up the side, and my eyes capacitated with tears when two torn bits of rope hopped out of the well with it.
With one final, desperate attempt to save my friend, I flicked the flashlight back on, and dropped it down the well. After that we ran. Lauren and I ran back through the skinny deciduous trees, and back into the dense, thick forest. We then arrived to our drenched tents and logs, where only twenty-four hours ago we were sharing intimate secrets and drinking questionable mixtures of beer and whiskey. Finally, after a while of running, we had arrived back to the lonely black jeep surrounded by dense deciduous trees, where the red wounds on our limbs were thumping and bleeding. I leaned over to vomit and catch my breath, when Lauren's eyes shut, as she collapsed onto the damp, mossy forest floor. Her exhausted body escaped a suffering that I deserved for slaughtering all my friends, as her fragile, blond head cracked off a nearby sharp rock, and her body lay limp; her warm blood pooling onto on the cold, wet ground.
Shortly after her death, the wounds burst like popping bubble-wrap, and those miniature spiders I had seen rolling around so contently in Josh’s blood, slowly emerged one by one out from her flesh. I sat here suffering for hours on end, and I don’t even know what sort of fate Vanessa had met down in that damned well. There was no way of me ever knowing, and hopefully I'll ever knowing. All I can do, is sit here praying that this phone soon gets signal, and that I can pray that Vanessa is rescued from that well as soon as can be.
I was never a praying man, but now I find myself clutching the cross necklace that hangs around The Twins' rear-view mirror. My wounds continue to pulsate, almost like they’re alive themselves. If they are, I hope they feel the pain I do. It’s only a matter of time now before this little creature, who’s stretching his leg to the edge of the now see-through bubble, pops out and feasts on my flesh. I’m becoming very dizzy, and very nauseous, and these condensating windows are not making me feel any better. I feel clammy, humid and I cannot see Lauren’s peaceful face and envy how I’ll soon be like that. All I can think about is the horrendous pain this pulsating swelling has been putting me through for the last few hours.
This is my final note here. My legs feel heavy and paralyzed. I poke my head up once more to try to have a look at Lauren’s body. The miniature spiders seem to have disappeared or have moved around to her back or something. The visible part of her skin is ghastly pale, apart from her throbbing, pink leg. My lightheadedness has come to a point where my arm is starting to become numb. If that even makes sense. I don’t know, and I don’t care. Once one of them is visibly making an effort, I at least know his, and my time, are soon. I never expected my last thoughts to ever be self-pity. Three hours and fourteen minutes.
What have I unleashed upon this World?
Written by CrashingCymbal
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