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The Fifth Ticket
“Guysss, I hate haunted houses!” Marie whined as Ann put the car in park.
“Then why’d you agree to come?” Richard asked, slightly annoyed.
“Because I’m not gonna sit in my room while you guys are all having fun,” she pouted, crossing her arms and looking out the window.
“Can you stop complaining? “ Patrick sneered, “We didn’t come here to have a b**** fest.”
“Fine by me. Let’s go,” Christine agreed, getting out of the car. Patrick was quick to follow suit and the two walked toward the entrance of the Haunted Forest, not caring if the others came or not. Neither of them had much tolerance for Marie’s whiney, pessimistic attitude, although Patrick was more tolerant of it.
‘So I take it things between you two aren’t going well?” Christine inquired, keeping her sapphire eyes turned toward the ground. She knew better than to look at him while they talked.
‘Apparently not.” After a short pause he added, “It was perfectly fine last night. We talked for 3 hours and when we went to bed everything was fine. Then I saw her this morning and she wouldn’t even look at me. “ Christine’s heart went out to him. Poor Patrick was trying so hard to be nice and upfront with her, but Marie wouldn’t have it. That was part of why Christine could only stand so much of her. Not only was her complaining annoying as hell, but the fact that she kept playing a nice guy who cared and tried so hard to be nice to her made Christine’s blood boil. Christine knew how much he was already hurting and Marie was just compounding the problem.
‘Did something happen at crew?” she questioned, trying to prove that Marie’s hostility wasn’t his fault. He shook his head, not looking up. They walked in silence for a few moments, lost in thought.
“She overheard me talking to Rich last night.”
‘So? What would you have said that would’ve upset her?” Patrick opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind. Christine knew not to push it, even though she was dying to know what he was thinking. He’d tell her when he was ready.
“Rich asked how it went last night. I said as good as to be expected, but could’ve been better. He asked what I meant…” He trailed off, shoving his hands in his pockets. He stole a glance at Christine. Her golden hair glowed with the light of the setting sun, her cheeks slightly rosy with chill. She was so caring and understanding, never thinking of herself. She never pushed him, never made him uncomfortable. He felt so safe with her…. He couldn’t remember the last person that made him feel like that. For some reason that scared him… he loved it, but he was afraid. Oh how he wished he wasn’t. She looked up, but he looked away before she could catch his gaze.
‘What did you say?” Patrick’s heart jumped a little. Just the thought of it…..
“I said I would’ve given anything to have spent the night with you.” Christine’s heart leapt, but her brain stopped her from being too happy.
“You really said that?” She asked softly, looking up at him.
“Yes, I did.” He finally met her gaze. Christine saw nothing but truth in his hazel eyes.
“You have no idea how horrible I felt after you left….”
“Let me remind you that you pretty much told me to get out,” Christine said pointedly. He winced and Christine felt bad, but it was the truth. It had been Patrick, Marie, and herself watching One Piece. When Marie left to go to the bathroom Patrick said, “Ya know, I need to talk to her at some point…..” It had felt like a knife in her heart, but Christine wasn’t going to stay somewhere she wasn’t wanted.
“I really did need to talk to her though.... that doesn’t mean that I wanted to spend time with her,” he said trying to explain himself.
“I get it, it’s fine,” she laughed. Christine opened her mouth to say something more, but Rich jumping onto Patrick’s back and screaming “Eagleeee” put an abrupt end to the converstation.
“While these two screw around, wanna go get the tickets?” Anne asked, coming up beside her. Christine readily nodded and the two walked to the ticket booth.
“Five tickets for the Haunted-“ Christine’s words caught in her throat. The person, or thing, working the ticket booth sent chills down her spin. He wasn’t dressed up to scare, but he didn’t need to be. He was maybe late-forties with male-pattern baldness, a missing front tooth, and eyes that were as black and cold as a shark’s. “Five tickets for the Haunted Forest, please,” she said, regaining her composure. The man smiled a creepy, gap-toothed grin.
“Four tickets for the pretty lady, coming right up,” he rasped.
“No, I need five tickets,” Christine repeated. The man shook his head as he rummaged around in his drawer.
“Pretty ladies like you don’t need to pay for fifth ticket.” He straightened up as much as his hunchback would let him and smiled at her. She didn’t know what to say. She glanced at Anne whose shoulders were shaking in an effort to contain her laughter.
“Sir, I just need five tickets please.” The man let out a slow, low cackle of a laugh.
“Here are the normal tickets,” the man handed her four yellow paper rectangles. She was about to open her mouth to request another ticket, but the man held up a finger, stopping her.
“And the fifth ticket is yours. “ He placed a red ticket in her hand. “You keep this one.” His shark eyes bored into her own, making her cringe.
“Thank you,” she said curtly and walked away as quickly as possible without running.
“They’re still at this?” Christine said as she came up beside Marie who was still pouting.
“Obviously. Are those our tickets?” Christine nodded and handed her a ticket.
“Are we gonna actually go into the forest or are we just gonna stand here and watch them wrestle?” Marie exclaimed. She didn’t wait for a response before she turned on her heel and headed toward the entrance. Anne and Christine exchanged surprised glances, but they just shrugged it off. Marie was always moody.
“What crawled up her ass and died?” Rich asked in a muffled voice. Patrick had him pinned to the ground, his face in the grass. “Can I get up now? You win!” Satisfied that he had won, Patrick jumped off of Rick and offered his elbow to Christine.
“My lady,” he grinned, bowing slightly, “Shall we?”
She smiled and gladly took it and together they walked toward the Haunted Forest. As they walked arm and arm, Christine couldn’t help but feel…uneasy. She pushed the negative feeling away and let the warmth radiating from Patrick’s arm wash over her.
“Ohmigodohmigodohmigod….” Marie whimpered, cowering against Patrick’s shoulder. She was practically hanging off of him. And he didn’t seem to mind. Rich and Anne were walking together, laughing and making fun of the obviously fake looking zombies, leaving Christine to bring up the rear alone. She was absolutely terrified; she didn’t do well with scary things. But she wasn’t going bother Rich and Anne and she definitely wasn’t about to intrude on the good time Patrick was having with Marie. So she stayed in the back, keeping her eyes peeled for the next scare.
A blood curling scream came from somewhere behind them and was almost immediately echoed from the front of the pack.
“Marie!” Patrick exclaimed loudly, startled by her reaction. “Calmmm down. I’m right here.” Christine could hear Marie hyperventilating. She over reacted to everything. Christine wasn’t sure if she actually was that scared, or if she was simply trying to edge her way in with Patrick. She had a sharp leaning toward the latter option, but she felt bad for being jealous. However, that didn’t change the fact that she thought Marie was an overdramatic drama queen. Christine! Be nice!
“Where’d Christine go?” Rich inquired of Anne.
“Ya know, I’m not sure…” she glanced around and when her scanning didn’t turn up anything, she just shrugged. They wouldn’t even care if I was gone.
“I’m right here guys!” she called, waving at them from the back. Anne turned around, surprised.
“Oh hey! Didn’t see ya there!” she said, obnoxiously cheerful.
“Obviously…” Christine mumbled under her breath, shoving her hands deeper into her pockets. It sure was nice to know that her friends cared. Not.
The group continued down the shadowy path, the forest growing thicker with every step.
“Ow!” Marie shrieked, hands flying up to protect her head from some unseen threat. “What the hell was that for?!” she demanded of Patrick. He looked at her, dumbfounded.
“I didn’t do anything….”
“To hell you didn’t!” She rubbed the back of her head, nursing the sore spot. Marie felt something unnaturally warm. She pulled her hand away and looked at it. She launched forward, retching. Patrick could see a small dark spot on her pale hand; blood.
“You’re fine. Just breath,” he comforted, kneeling beside her and resting his hand on her back. Christine couldn’t help but roll her eyes. She vomits at the mention of blood and he’s all over her…. It made no sense to her. But then again she was a lot prettier, skinner, funnier, and all the other “–ers” than she was, so Christine figured she shouldn’t be surprised.
“Are you good now?” Christine asked, trying her best to sound supportive. Marie glared at her and nodded as she straightened up. Christine held her gaze, refusing to look away.
Suddenly, everything was black. Christine could hear screaming, running, and some chopping noise she didn’t recognize. Something pulled on her hair, forcing her head back. She realized that it was a hand covering her eyes. All of a sudden, she could see. And the scene before her made her wish she were back in the darkness.
Anne’s red hair trailed behind her as she ran deep into the woods, away from the group. Rich wasn’t far behind. Marie was on the ground, whimpering and shivering. Patrick was with her, trying to pull her up. Christine couldn’t figure out what was going on. Why are they acting so weird?
Then she saw it. A figure, clothed in all black and yielding a machete, was walking toward the group. If he’s there, then who’s….
A sharp, searing pain bit into her throat. She felt something thick and hot trickle down her throat.
“Help!” she screamed, realizing what was happening. Patrick looked up. Their eyes met. What she saw in them made her heart stop. The look in his eyes was more terrifying than the man slowly slitting her throat. He looked away. She followed his glance, though she wished she hadn’t. He looked at Marie. She was lying on the ground in the fetal position. The machete man was a good 50 yards off. He looked back to Christine.
“Patrick…” she whispered, knowing her cries were futile. The knife cut deeper, more hot liquid spilled out. Suddenly, she couldn’t breath. The man let her go, and her legs collapsed into a heap beneath her. Patrick stood up and ran to Marie. He picked her up with renewed vigor and fireman carried her off into the forest. Away from danger. Away from Christine.
As her life drained away, Christine watched as the man she loved ran away with another girl, leaving her to die alone. I should’ve known….. I should’ve known….
The scene was eerily silent and still. The shadows were long and heavy, cloaking everything in blackness. Except one thing. Entangled within the blood-caked strands of her hair, a bright red ticket shown bright in the night.