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“Vivi!” I call out. “Vivi! Where are you, you stupid dog? I convince Mom to let you on the trip and this is what you do?”
I should’ve never convinced Mom to let Vivi come on our yearly trip to the cabin. A bunch of birds decided to shriek at the top of their tiny lungs while I was taking her on a walk. She darted into the woods. I ran after her, with nothing but my phone as a light.
“Vivi is a dog,” Miki points out. “This was kinda inevitable.”
My best friend is here too.
“Can you not do this right now?” I shoot her an unamused glare. “I thought you were going to help me, not antagonize me.”
“Sorry, sorry. Habit,” she says, looking away from me as she shines her phone off into the darkness. “But,” she starts, to my dismay, “you were the one to suggest bringing your dog into the wilderness on a midnight walk.”
“I also suggested bringing you along on the trip.”
She quirked a brow at me, shining the light of her phone right at my face. “You trying to say something?”
I look at her, squinting through the light. “No. Nothing at all.”
She playfully elbows me, my eyes being spared as she holds the light back out to the darkness. She’s right, though. I was the one who told Mom Vivi was well-behaved enough. If it wasn’t for my lack of foresight, we wouldn’t be walking through the middle of the woods. At midnight, no less. How I’m going to college next month is beyond my comprehension.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” I blurt out. Miki lets out a short breathy chuckle.
“Exactly. It’s not like we got any signal out here. We can’t call anyone.”
“That’s true,” I say quietly. “Not like an owl would find Vivi and bring her back.”
I flinch as a stick snaps under the weight of my foot. I don’t like being out here. I especially don’t like the dark. I keep thinking I see things that aren’t there. The ambience of the woods isn’t helping at all either. There’s crunching leaves and snapping sticks under our feet. In the distance I can hear faint animalistic cries. It’s unsettling to say the least. What’s even more unsettling is the sharp snap to the right of us.
The light of our phones dart over into the darkness. Nothing’s there. We both turn our heads to stare at each other for a moment. I don’t register that we’re both running for a few moments, snapping back to reality as I finally see the plant life whipping by. I also see a hillside camouflaged by bushes and trees as my foot misses solid ground. I grab Miki on instinct, but instead of her stopping me I end up pulling her down with me.
Once the world stops spiralling I find myself lying in the grass, heaving. I curse at myself as a pain shoots up my definitely broken arm when I try to sit up.
I turn my head despite how much it’s pounding. Miki is sitting up, holding her leg as red drips down. With my good arm I push myself up and meet a kaleidoscope of colors. I put my hand to my head to try and grasp my senses. I feel something warm. Blood. I sway as I stand up, the world spinning around me in my unfocused vision. I conclude I’m concussed as I think I hear more animalistic crying while I steady myself.
Stumbling over to Miki, I help her up and wrap my good arm around her. “What’s the damage?” I ask.
“Big cut. It’s bad,” Miki says. “I think I lost an argument with a rock on the way down.”
I nod slightly as Miki steadies herself on her good leg. I look around, my gaze being drawn back to the hill. My head hurts.
“Does someone live out here?” Miki asks.
I glance at her, following her gaze to see a house lying up ahead. Without another thought I head towards it. I lug Miki up the stairs of the porch and try the door knob. It’s unlocked. I hesitate for a moment. I look at Miki, but she’s looking over her shoulder with an empty expression. There’s a glow casting light over her face.
I run into the house dragging Miki with me. I twist the lock on the door and stare out the window pane. A faint glow is blurred behind the glass. It’s getting closer. There’s a sharp pain in my broken arm and I end up on the hard wooden flooring. I flinch violently, almost backhanding Miki on reflex when I see her right behind me. Her hand clings to my arm in a deadly grip.
I watch the door as it shakes violently, a glow piercing through the cloudy glass. All I can hear is stubborn, vicious, rattling pounding. It muffles the wall creaking around the door, but not the faint buzzing static of my headache.
Silence. Thump. Thump. Thump.
A breath I didn’t know I was holding escapes my lungs as the thumping becomes distant. I look back at Miki. “You zoned out for a second back there. Are you alright?”
There’s a brief moment of silence. As silent as it can be with the buzzing in my head, at least. Miki finally nods, her voice quiet as she says, “I’m fine, just a little dizzy.”
I hum in acknowledgement, looking around the entrance of the house. It got really dark after that thing left. I freeze as realization slams into me. I feel my pockets. Empty.
“I lost my phone,” I mutter, “I must have dropped it.”
I look at Miki in dismay, which drops from my face as I spot her phone in her hand. “The screen cracked from the fall, but we still have a light,” she says.
I nod, stiffening a little when I get a good look at her face in the light of the screen. Black stains her cheeks in tear trails. It would make sense, except Miki doesn’t wear makeup. Her eyes look duller as well, they aren’t honey brown anymore. She looks so drained. I stand up without a word, careful as I pull Miki up with me.
We make our way down a hallway, the floor creaking under us and Miki’s cracked screen as our only light source. I want to go back to the cabin so bad. I want to wake up to coffee and Vivi prodding me for my pancakes. I wish I never came out here so late. I just want to go home.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Miki and I glance behind us. It’s coming back, fast. We need to hide from that thing. We need to hide and hope it just goes away. We make it through the hallway, ducking into a corridor to get as far from that thing as we can. I can hear a loud thud, as if something heavy was thrown into the door. There’s pounding again, it’s angrier than before.
My head hurts. The buzzing is getting worse. I barely hear the crash of the front door.
Miki pulls out of my grasp as she opens a door and drags me into the room. She falters on her wounded leg, clutching it as she topples over. I shut the door, twisting the lock. I look around the room, it’s empty. There’s nothing to block the door.
I can hear the static growing louder. It’s not loud enough to drown out that thing thumping through the halls
“Sam.” Miki. I look at her lying helplessly limp on the floor, and I stumble as I dare to step closer. Her dull eyes stare at me; the black tears dripping down her face stain the floor. “My head hurts.”
It’s okay. We’ll be okay. I want to tell her this. I want to be hopeful, but my voice isn’t working. I feel tears on my face. My body hits the floor, my head flooding with static and drowning my senses. I try to reach for Miki, but my body won’t move. Everything fades into static as a glow seeps through the cracks of the doorframe.