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A little ways into the forest, but still in view of the campsite trail, Liz and I sat crouched behind two large blackberry bushes. My legs were numb. Thorns painfully pierced my bare arms and legs. My t-shirt and shorts were ripped, torn and smeared with blood. Covered in goose-bumps, I shivered. I wished I was wearing jeans - and maybe a sweater, too - since the temperature was dropping so quickly. But how on earth was I supposed to know this was going to happen?
We were barely visible beneath the midnight blue sky. There were no neon signs or busy highways here. It was November and we were at a campsite somewhere in southern B.C. For miles around us, the area had an abandoned feel to it. After all, it was November. I mean, who goes camping in November?
Apparently, we do.
It all started yesterday. Mom was on the phone with Liz’s mom and I suppose the topic of camping was brought up. After all, we had just bought a second-hand trailer, or maybe it’s a motor home (I’m not really sure). Anyways, next thing we knew, both families were packing food, clothes and blankets. We ended up here.
The campsite is right in the middle of nowhere. The only other ‘campers’ are a few fishermen who actually live here in their rundown trailers. To put it simply: the campsite’s a dump.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the campsite may be awful, but I must admit the scenery is beautiful. The campground runs along a calm, peaceful lake which is in the middle of an enormous forest that stretches across the mountainous landscape. The air is so pure and invigorating that you can’t help but breathe deeply and look around in awe.
Actually, other than the weather, which was cloudy with light showers, today had been really fun. Liz and I spent the majority of the day running around. We wadded in the freezing cold lake, built ‘sand-castles’ out of muddy dirt, and ran around in the forest. My sister Vicky and Liz’s sister, Abby, hung out with the parents mostly, but joined us for a quick soccer game before dinner.
Everything was going just fine until all of us girls decided to explore the area after dinner. Our parents had ordered us to stick together and gave us a walkie-talkie so we would be able to stay in contact with them. The sun had set hours earlier and the sky was darkening with each passing minute as we ventured a little off the campsite trail and into the thick woods.
That’s when we saw it: the cabin. It was in terrible condition. Liz made a comment about it looking as though a gust of wind might knock it over. Slanted slightly, the roof of the cabin was blanketed with moss. Ivy was intertwined in the wood and weeds poked out of holes in the walls. We were quite certain it was abandoned. That is, until we heard muffled noises from inside. Liz and I edged closer, followed by our weary sisters.
I must admit, that was a very bad move on our part. I mean, anyone in their right mind would have just minded their own business and ran as far from that cabin as they could. Unfortunately, we didn’t. (I guess we should cut down on the Nancy Drew’s).
We crept forward softly and quietly, listening for voices. There was a dusty, cracked window hidden almost entirely by ivy, so that’s where we headed. We must have looked pretty silly - the four of us crowded under such a tiny windowsill.
At first, we heard nothing but our own shaky, shallow breaths. Vicky and Abby were exchanging looks of deep regret when suddenly there was a loud smack followed by a yelp of pain. We all stiffened and craned our necks a little higher.
“Oooh…” a muffled voice screeched.
Laughter - similar to that of an evil cartoon character - echoed throughout the woods. I finally knew what it meant to be paralyzed with fear. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do. Maybe we should’ve run for our lives or something, but none of us budged.
There was a loud crash.
“Don’t even think about it, Jazz.” said a seriously scary voice.
Liz was staring at me mouthing, “What do we do?”
Slowly, I shrugged and stared back with my mouth hanging wide open.
Nudging me, my sister gestured above. I silently sighed and slithered up the wall until my eyes were able to peer through a tiny crack in the window. There was no light inside the cabin, and it was quite dark outside, so I really couldn’t see much of anything. I tried to squint and focus really hard. Then I squeezed my eyes shut.
I opened them and screamed. Through the hole, a pair of beady black eyes stared eerily at me.
“RUN!” I yelped as I twisted around.
The four of us girls sprinted blindly in four different directions, disappearing into the dark night. Sure, that wasn’t very smart of us, but when you’re panicked you do stupid stuff. It’s kind of like smacking right into a tree, which is exactly what I did next.
I certainly do not recommend running into a tree. It’s quite a shocking experience. Especially when it’s dark and you don’t know it’s there. Immediately, I felt a gash burst open on my left temple as blood oozed down my face. Moaning, I was quite unaware of the man standing in front of me. It was only when he grabbed my arm that I realized I was in danger. First, I screamed, then I whipped my free arm around and bam he was down. Now he was the one moaning.
I didn’t wait around to see if he was okay. Instead I fled in the opposite direction. Veering to the left, I narrowly missed yet another evergreen…and ended up tangled in a blackberry bush.
After delicately removing thorns caught in my skin, I continued running for my life - literally. By now, I wasn’t even sure I was being followed, or heading in the right direction for that matter, but I wasn’t about to stop. Only when I heard my name whispered into the still night did I come to a screeching halt. It was Liz.
“Lily!” the urgent murmur persisted.
“Liz? Is that you? Where are you?” my voice barely squeaked.
“I’m right here.”
“I…I…Well, I can’t see you. Where exactly is here?”
“I’m not sure…”
Following the soft voice, I managed to find Liz sprawled on the ground between two large tree trunks, buried under some dirt and leaves.
“This is your idea of hiding?” I asked.
“Well, it’s worked so far, hasn’t it?” she replied, slowly getting to her feet, “Plus, I think I sprained my ankle…or maybe it’s broken…”
“Ouch! As for myself, I hit a tree.” I paused until the giggling subsided. “Yeah, yeah, I know - really funny. I’d laugh but I’ve got this huge cut on my head.”
Liz gasped. “Are you OK? That’s awful! Where do you think Abby and Vicky are?”
“I’m not sure. Abby has the….oh, no, wait….Vicky…no, maybe it was Abby…anyways one of them has the walkie-talkie, right? I sure hope they use it. C’mon, let’s try to find them.”
We carried on in silence: Liz desperately clutching my arm while limping in agony, and I clutching my aching forehead. Every slight rustle in the bushes seemed to make us jump. For at least twenty minutes we wandered around, pausing occasionally so Liz could rest her leg. When we did hear some very suspicious noises in the distance, we quickly dived behind two blackberry bushes.
Thump, thump, thump.
The sound was approaching at an alarming rate. Panicked, sprawled on the forest floor and breathing heavily, we peered out from behind our shelter. Liz spotted the forest trail in the distance and pointed at it. My night vision really isn’t that great (besides, blood was still pouring down my face), but Liz must’ve seen something that scared her because she immediately dug herself further into the dirt. I followed her lead.
“Come out come out, wherever you are! Don’t make me come get you!” the familiar eerie voice taunted.
My mind was racing. By now, I knew it was inevitable that whoever this creepy guy was, he was going to hunt us down. I figured our best bet was to attack. Of course, with Liz’s ankle and my clumsiness, I couldn’t think of anything that would help the situation. Apparently, Liz didn’t have any ideas either. It was hopeless.
The blackberry bush rustled, followed by an, “Aha!”
“I’ve got you now!” the man joyously yelled.
Screaming at the top of my lungs, I jumped up and hollered, “HELP! MURDER!! We’re gonna die!”
Startled, the man flew backwards.
“Don’t kill us! We’re innocent I tell you, INNOCENT! SOMEBODY HELP!” Liz screeched.
Thundering down the trail, a crowd of people came sprinting towards us. I noticed Abby and Vicky were among them. In fact, so were our parents. We later found out that Abby and Vicky had managed to find each other in the forest. They tried to use the walkie-talkie but (surprise, surprise) the batteries were dead. Nevertheless, they found the campground and hunted down our parents.
“Mom! Dad! He’s going to kill us!” Liz pointed a finger accusingly at the man on the ground.
“Who…? Me?!? NO! I…never…what?” the man sputtered.
After over an hour of interrogation, we discovered that the man (John was his name) wasn’t a murderer after all. Well, at least that’s what the adults decided. Apparently, it had all been a very simple misunderstanding.
According to John, the noises from the cottage were the whines of his hyper, stubborn dog, Jazz. Then, when he saw me peering at them, he chased me in the woods to ‘make sure I was alright’. A little suspicious I thought, but can you believe my parents actually bought that one? They also believed he ‘lost poor little Jazz in that nasty forest’. What a pity.
I was not convinced. I don’t think Liz was either. Even Abby and Vicky were eyeing John suspiciously. With those beady little eyes of his and that awful sneer set permanently on his face, how could you believe him? And where on earth did this mysterious Jazz go? That’s what I want to know.