Lydia knocked on the front door of Loren’s house, feeling more and more nervous by the minute. It was only a few seconds before Mrs. Kanyon, Loren’s mom, answered the door, but it felt like hours to Lydia.
“Hi there, Lydia!” She said, ever the brightest and cheeriest Mom on the block. As always.
“Hi Mrs. Kanyon,” She greeted, stepping inside the house. She had been to the Kanyons’ house multiple times before, so she knew what to expect as Loren’s dog Oreo came bounding out of the living room from Lawrence’s lap to Lydia. Oreo licked at her hands excitedly, bounding up and down like she always did. Actually, the more Lydia thought about it, Oreo was a dog version about Mrs. Kanyon.
“Loren’s upstairs in her room. I’ll be leaving for work in a few minutes, so you two will be on your own. Cookies in the kitchen!” She added in before bounding up the stairs.
Lydia walked down the hallway past the living room and dining room to finally arrive at Loren’s door. She opened the door to the dark purple room to find Loren sitting at a black desktop computer, checking her email while simultaneously chatting on Facebook.
“Hey Lyd,” Loren greeted, not looking up from the computer screen.
“Hey,” Lydia said, flopping onto the bed and turning on the T.V. to Cartoon Network. She may have been 17 years old, but she still loved Chowder and Courage the Cowardly Dog. Lydia was sure that she could never outgrow Courage and all the problems he encountered in Nowhere, Kansas.
Putting the computer to sleep, Loren swiveled around to Lydia on the bed, resting her elbow against her desk. “You look nervous,” She observed.
Lydia let out a sigh, her eyes looking off into a faraway space as she thought about Joel. He didn’t know it, but he was so hot. His hair was so hot, and she thought his moles and freckles looked so especially cute on him…
Snap out of it, Lydia. She reminded herself, giving herself a mental shake of the head. “I am,” She admitted slowly.
“Why?” Loren asked immediately, seeming kind of nosy. But Lydia was used to it since she had known Loren since the seventh grade.
Lydia paused for a second, wondering if she could/should tell Loren. She knew that Loren had a crush on Joel, and it was the reason why she broke up with her then boyfriend Jordan because of her feelings for Joel. Personally, Lydia wouldn’t have been affected if Joel and Loren had started dating – at least, that was, before the incident with Joel. Now the thought of Loren and Joel together made Lydia’s blood boil. How dare Joel be with anyone but her?!
Simmer down! She had to remind herself yet again, keeping her temper under control. “Uh…it’s nothing. Just nervous about getting…caught?” She meant to say, but it came out as a question.
Loren raised her dirty blonde eyebrow at her, the freckles around her nose triggering Lydia’s mind to say, Hey, Loren has freckles like Joel. Never noticed that before. …Does that mean they belong together more than Joel and I do?! She couldn’t help but freak in her mind. Seriously, she needed to calm down, her mind was just racing as she thought more and more about being alone with Joel at the cabin. What would they do when they arrived? Would Joel try to put the moves on her, just like Lydia wanted (?).
“Lydia, I know you’re lying to me,” Loren said, snapping Lydia out of her wandering thoughts. Her glazed over eyes slowly regained focused and she met Loren’s accusing gaze.
“W-what are you talking about, Lor-Loren?” Lydia asked shakily. Whenever she was nervous or lying, she stuttered. The only person who knew that was Joel.
Loren stood up from her computer chair, cocking one hip to the side and crossing her arms over her chest. She looked down at Lydia, who was sprawled across the bed, with an accusing look on her face.
“You like Joel,” She said, her brown eyes light with amusement as she smirked. “You guys fucked, too.”
Lydia was wide eyed, she was so surprised that Loren had just dropped an F bomb like it wasn’t a big deal! Lydia didn’t care if people cussed, but Loren never cussed. Until now, that is. It was a pretty scary experience. And how did she know in the first place?
“Elody!” Lydia suddenly outburst, then realized it was aloud and took Loren’s attention away from Lawrence back to her.
“Look, I may have feelings for Joel now, but it was only because we were stupid and made a mistake! And I really don’t wanna talk about it!”
Loren rolled her eyes. “Fine,” She said, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I won’t tease you anymore.” She turned her back on Lydia (physically) and went back to the computer.
“Whatever. I won’t rat you out and I won’t tell Joel, okay? Just—,” Loren was cut off as a horn blasted from outside the house, and they both knew instantly that it was Joel.
“Speak of the devil,” Loren muttered.
Lydia looked, knowing that it was Joel, but she didn’t really know what to do. She gave on last look to Loren, and then grabbed her bag she had brought with her to the house. On the way out of Loren’s room, Loren shut the door right behind her.
Right outside the door, waiting for her, was Joel in his little Impala that he had basically built out of parts from the junkyard. Joel had always been a good mechanic. Trying to keep herself together and not look like the hot mess she was, Lydia silently climbed into the car, throwing her bag over the seat. She didn’t look at Joel or say anything to him, she just looked straight forward and didn’t make eye contact with him.
Joel started driving, constantly sending side glances at Lydia. “You okay?” He asked, giving her a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder.
They stopped at a red light, and he looked full on at her. Aware of his presence, Lydia turned, and let the buckets and buckets of tears flowing steadily out of her eyes. She pushed on the bottom of her chin with her palm, trying to staunch the flow somehow, but it just made it even worst as her teeth click-clacked against each other in her mouth, sending a painful notion through her jaw.
“Uh-uh,” She blubbered, feeling like the biggest idiot in the world since she couldn’t stop crying. She let out a loud sob, making a growling sound out of her throat, making her feel even more embarrassing.
Joel was wide-eyed as he stared at Lydia not sure what to do, but he didn’t say anything else. They kept driving, until Joel gave Lydia a small kiss on the forehead, and for some reason, Lydia felt better. Maybe they could just keep it this way: half-friendship/half relationship.
After leaving Loren’s house,, Joel and Lydia headed for Joel’s grandfather’s cabin. It took them about half a day, and they made one last stop before the cabin at a gas station. Lydia slowly opened her groggy eyes, they were heavy for making up for the three hours of sleep she had lost during last night’s worries.
Lydia turned and smiled at Joel. “Actually, I think I’ll go with you so I can stretch out ma legs.” She said.
They walked, hand-in-hand – not that it meant anything, as Lydia tried to convince herself – into the little gas station. As they entered, Lydia noticed the cashier behind the front desk had a curly gray and white Jew-fro looking thing, except it was a woman.
Joel gave Lydia another smile. “Don’t worry then. I’ll protect you if that’s the case.” He said, all smiles at her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and Lydia could feel her cheeks heat up. She looked away and stepped over a little bit, feeling awkward as she did so.
Joel watched her with hurt in his eyes. “Lyd? Wh-what’s wrong?” He asked.
Still looking away and trying not to cry, Lydia answered, “Joel, I don’t like you that way. Please don’t interpret my actions like that.”
Joel opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but then closed it. Without saying another word besides “okay”, he walked off with Lydia trailing behind him, sulking. They didn’t talk until they reached the cabin, and it was about 11:30 PM, and Lydia should have been dog-tired. But she wasn’t. She was too busy contemplating the idea of how pissed Joel was, now. Was ruining their friendship really worth it if Lydia’s feelings for him were so strong? Was it worth it? Lydia was just so unsure…
“Your room is down the hallway and to the right,” Joel said briskly, taking Lydia out of her thoughts. “My room’s across the hallway if you need me,” He paused for a second. “But I’m sure that you won’t.” Without another word, he got out of the car and walked away.
Lydia bit her lip and clamped her hand over her mouth so that she wouldn’t cry aloud. Oh God, what had she done? She just wanted to protect their relation—, oh, friendship. And the both of their feelings. He had to respect that, right? He had to understand what she was trying to do for the both of them. Lydia scooted out of the car, using the keypad on the door to lock the car. She paused to look at the outside of the cabin with her bags in hand. It was a real log cabin, the whole stereotypical thing going on with it. There were trees all around the cabin, except for the front where Joel had just walked through. Lydia was actually impressed by the cabin. She was charmed by its small, quaintness.
Lydia stomped up the little steps surrounded by the wooden railing and walked into the cabin. Joel was sitting on the couch, looking pissed more than anything. When he saw Lydia enter, he got up and started to walk away.
“Joel, stop!” Lydia exclaimed, frustration and anger bringing tears to her eyes. “Don’t run away from me!”
He stopped and turned around, his face was angry but his voice was calm. “Why, Lydia? It doesn’t matter to you, Lydia. Unless you’re interpreting my actions in the way I’m not intending them to be.” He said, quoting her from earlier.
Lydia wanted to stop her foot like a child, but she couldn’t help the tears from rolling down her face. God, why did this have to be so hard? “Joel, please don’t act like that. Please don’t ruin our friendship.”
Joel gave her a face that accused her of being ludicrous. “Me? I’m ruining our friendship?” He echoed, suddenly become furious. He stomped over to Lydia, and she was surprised to see that there were tears forming in his eyes. “I wasn’t the one who was ‘curious’, Lydia. I wasn’t the one, who started all this shit.”
“Shit? You’re calling our friendship shit?” Lydia echoed, her throat clogging. “Joel, I thought we were friends. Why would you invite me here if you didn’t even think that?
“Well I did!” Joel yelled, his voice ringing through the cabin. He sounded defeated as he said, “I thought we were friends. That’s why I invited you. And when, and when that night happened, I didn’t think none of it until later. I thought you felt the same. And when you didn’t, I tried to let it go. But when you accepted going to the cabin with me, I thought maybe you changed your mind. Guess I was wrong.” And with that, he turned away from her and started walking down the hallway again.
“No, Joel, don’t do this!” Lydia protested. How could she have been so stupid? How could she not have realized that she really did love Joel? God, she was such an idiot.
“Joel, stop!” Lydia called after him. She caught up to him and tugged on his shirt, but he still didn’t turn around. Knowing the power of the next words she would say, she stopped as he kept walking. “Joel Anderson, I love you, so turn around!”
He did stop, and turned around. “You don’t love me.” He said simply.
Lydia sniffed, smiling a little. “Try me.” She ran up to him and he caught her in his arms, his legs wrapped around his waist.
They kissed, more passionately they had ever allowed themselves to. They paused right outside the door of Joel’s bedroom, his eyes asking Lydia for permission. He didn’t have to say anything; Lydia knew what she would say. They didn’t say anything else as Joel led Lydia to the bed, all the while still wrapped around his waist, and closed the door behind them.
Lydia didn’t have words once she awoke at four A.M. in the morning. She was just…out of words. Shocked. Mind-blown, in a way. She couldn’t believe that she just done that with her best friend, her best friend that she had known since like the sixth grade. She turned to the left, studying Joe’s calm face. They…they weren’t just friends anymore. They were in a relationship. They had broken the barrier. Well, not broken the barrier physically, just figuratively.
She stroked his face with the back of her hand, and smiled at him. His eyes gently opened, and then he smiled as he saw her. He leaned in to kiss her, and rolled on top of her and they began kissing again.
“Hey,” Joel said, smiling.
“Hi,” Lydia said shyly, still smiling. They didn’t say anything else for a while as they began kissing again, slowly this time.
Lydia was getting wrapped up in the kissing – and thinking they might go for a third round – when she heard a strange sound outside.
“Wait, wait,” She stopped, pulling her lips away from Joel’s. “Did you hear that?”
“Shh,” She urged, and he stayed quiet. That’s when they both heard it: a strange whooshing sound, followed by a creaking sound, as if someone was slowly walking down a staircase.
Lydia’s eyes widened as the sounds got louder and closer. “Joel, do you think that someone broke into the cabin?” She asked worriedly, her grey eyes flicking to Joel’s. His too, were filled with worry.
Lydia knew that Joel was worried, but he put on a brave face. “I’m not sure. I’m going to go check it out.” He rolled off from the top of her, and slipped on his boxers. As he went to leave, Lydia grabbed his arm, panic in her eyes.
“Please be careful, Joel,” She pleaded, meaning every word. She couldn’t handle losing him.
He nodded, gave her a reassuring smile, and gave her a quick peck on her cheek. He slowly let her hand slide off his arm, and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Lydia felt tears well into her eyes, but she didn’t let them fall. She didn’t need to baby and worry Joel any more. It was probably nothing; just a tree branch brushing against the window. Nothing to worry about, he would say once Joel came back.
Lydia’s eyes blinked, and looked towards the clock besides the bed. It was 7:27 AM, the next day. Wait, the next day? Lydia sat up with a start, suddenly aware that it was the next day. She flung back the covers hurriedly, not caring that she was stark naked, and jumped out of bed. As soon as she was out in the hallway, she saw him. Joel, lying there on the floor, beat to a bloody pulp.
“Joel!” She cried in horror as she raced to him. She bent down next to him, putting her cheek against his mouth to see if he was still breathing. He was, but it was getting a little shallow. Oh God, what should she do? He was breathing, so did that mean she didn’t have to CPR? Lydia ran back to the room and put on the shirt and pants she had on last night in a hurry. She picked up the phone and dialed 911.
There was no dial-tone. Just silence. She hung up the phone and then tried again. It was the same thing. She slammed down the phone, angry and frustrated. She rifled through her pants pocket and found her phone, but it was dead, even though she had charged it last night. Now confused, Lydia padded over to the outlet. Knowing that something bad if she was wrong, Lydia slowly poked her finger into the outlet and felt nothing. The electricity was out.
Completely petrified, Lydia ran back to Joel, who was still passed out. She stroked his hair back, looking at his forehead. What the hell had happened to him? If someone had broken into the cabin, why had the guy just beat up Joel? Why hadn’t he come back to the room, and found Lydia? And why did he cut the electricity.
“J-Joel?” Lydia stuttered, her chin trembling the slightest. She had no idea of what to do. “Joel, please wake up, please.”
To Lydia’s surprise, Joel’s eyelids fluttered the slightest, before he slowly creaked them fully open. The whites of his eyes were stained a bloody red, and his left was definitely bruised and he had a black eye. There was dried blood from his nose and mouth, and there was a cut across his temple. What confused Lydia was that the cut looked like it had been sewn back up, but by who? Why would someone cut another person and then sew it back up?
“Joel, you’re hurt,” Lydia said, her face crumpling as she kept herself from crying at the sight of him. “What happened to you?”
Joel slowly turned to her, the movement painful for him. “I don’t even remember. I came out of the bedroom to see what was going on, and then it’s just…darkness. I don’t remember anything.” He repeated.
Lydia continued stroking Joel’s forehead, a panic-stricken expression on her face. “Why would someone want to do this? It’s one thing to rob, but another to beat someone almost to death.”
“It’s not that bad,” Joel tried to reassure her, but he coughed, a little bit of blood came out and stained his fist.
“That’s not bad?” Lydia asked doubtfully. “Joel, you’re hurt. And whoever tried to rob us last night cut the electricity and I can’t charge my phone. I looked at yours too and I can’t get a signal.”
Joel sat up fully, wincing a little as he did so and rubbed his mid-section. He mustered a brave smile for Lydia. “I’ll be okay, Lyd. I promise, our days here won’t be ruined, I promise.”
“I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about you.” Lydia said genuinely as she wrapped her arms around Joel and kissed his forehead. Who would want to do something like this?
That day, Lydia helped Joel recover, treating his wounds with peroxide and keeping him well. They didn’t do much that day, just talked with each other, trying to ignore the fact that Joel had almost been killed by a robber. Lydia was worried not just for Joel, but what if the person tried to come back? They had seen they could take down Joel, maybe they would come back and go for the kill! Lydia wanted to go back home so that Joel would be safe, but he reassured her and said that they were safe at the cabin. And that it was probably some stray camper wanting to start trouble. Not many people lived this far out in the woods.
After Joel’s day of recovering, he convinced Lydia that he was fine and no longer sore. It took a lot to convince Lydia, but she finally caved in and agreed to go hiking with Joel. There was a path behind the cabin that looped back along that they could hike on.
Lydia dressed, wearing her stereotypical red plaid shirt for the hiking trip, her favorite stretchy black jeans, and her hiking boots. She had decided to change in the bathroom because the last time she and Joel had changed together in the bedroom, they had become a little…preoccupied. Lydia was still hesitant about the whole hiking idea in the first place for her and Joel’s safety. There was something about these woods that creeped Lydia and made her want to hurry back home.
Joel smiled wide at Lydia as she stepped back into the bedroom. Her shirt was the exact same as his except hers was red and his was blue, their favorite colors. He wrapped her in a hug as she stepped into the room, planting a kiss on her. He winced as his cracked lips from two nights ago brushed against her.
“Ah, that was worth it,” He laughed, looking at her.
Of course, Lydia couldn’t help but smile back. “Are you sure?”
He grinned again and nodded. He kissed her deeper this time, making her knees feel the slightest bit weak. Her hand clung onto the back of his shirt, as he bent down and leaned her back, smiling the whole time.
“Let’s go before we get caught up again,” Lydia mumbled shyly, a light blush growing across her cheeks.
“I wouldn’t mind that,” Joel said, winking as he said so. He lifted Lydia so that she lay horizontally as he supported her by looping his forearm through the back of her knee. He tossed her onto the bed and laid on top of her, showering her face with kisses.
Lydia couldn’t help but giggle, the troubles of the robber leaving her mind momentarily. She grabbed onto the waviness of Joel’s hair playfully, and he stopped. “Get to steppin’, Mr.” She said playfully, and they walked hand-in-hand out of the cabin and up the trail.
Along the trail, still walking with his hand around Lydia’s, Joel smiled at her. “It’s weird seeing you out like this; not talking about your parents or Aden leaving.”
She nodded, knowing what he meant. “Yeah, I know. I’m not a very outdoors-y person, but this is…peaceful. More peaceful than I thought.”
Joel stopped and grabbed Lydia’s hand to lead her over to a tree. “This tree is the oldest tree in the tri-state area. 500 years old. You know, just a little factoid for you.” He said.
“Really?” Lydia asked. She smiled at him, stroking his gloriously built chest (in her mind). “Good, you’re hot and you’re smart. Score!”
Joel narrowed his eyes at Lydia while she giggled. He bent down and kissed her, and was surprised when Lydia pulled him closer and backed up so that she was pushed up against the tree.
“You sure?” Joel asked lustfully, his eyes watching Lydia’s carefully, as she nodded "yes".
Before she knew it, both Lydia and Joel’s plaid shirts were off, leaving Lydia with just her undershirt and Joel’s chest bare. Delicately, as if she would break if he was too rough, Joel slowly lifted her leg and eased it around his waist, still intent on his lips touching hers.
They were both so caught up in each other that they didn’t see a large tree branch lift up from the trail in mid-air and crash into Lydia’s head, causing her to topple over and almost lose consciousness immediately.
She thudded on the ground, her eyes wide with shock and her hand to her head. She looked, and of course, there was blood. Looking around, she saw that Joel had been hit too, and the force had reopened most of his halfway healed cuts. Lydia reached out to help him by grabbing his hand, but she felt a tight grip on her shoulders. She flinched and turned to look at who was pulling her, but there she didn’t see anyone.
Still, she felt someone dragging her by the shoulders, making her scrap against the hard forest floor. She kicked and screamed as the twigs and bark on the ground made cuts in her back and drew out a little bit of blood. Before Lydia knew it, the invisible grip on her made tight restraints on her wrists – leaving dark blue and purple bruises – and dragged her across the ground. She jerked her arms around, but the grip wouldn’t loosen at all.
“Someone help!” Lydia screamed at the top of her lungs. “Please!” She begged again.
As the invisible grip pulled along a log in the middle of the ground, it tripped over, loosening its grip on Lydia. Realizing her only chance, she yanked her wrists free and jumped off the ground. She turned around to face her attacker, and still saw no one. She ducked just in time as another tree branch came swinging at her head.
Quickly, Lydia yanked off one of her hiking boots and chucked it in front of her. She was surprised when she heard a loud thunk and then a disturbance in the air as her “invisible kidnapper” thudded against the log. Without another look behind her, Lydia ran in the opposite she had been dragged in.
Lydia ran wildly through the trees, ducking down just in time as her head almost cut against a branch. She collected small cuts and scrapes against her ankles and lower legs from the small twigs on the ground. The air made them burn, but it didn’t stop Lydia from running. She needed to get away, and she needed to get away now.
After what seemed like hours on end, but was only a couple of minutes in reality, Lydia found herself in the clearing where she and Joel and had ended up. He was just now sitting up, looking dazed and rubbed his sore-looking forehead. His eyes lit up as he saw Lydia running to him and he jumped up once she reached him.
“Lydia, I thought I had lost you,” He said as he embraced her, his fingernails clutching against the back of her undershirt to her skin.
Lydia took in a gulp, hoping to keep the tears in her eyes from falling. “I-I thought I wouldn’t see you again. I thought I was going to die…” She trailed off breathlessly.
Joel’s hands clutched harder at Lydia’s hair. “Please don’t say that, Lyd. I couldn’t deal with that, not know.” He said.
Lydia bit her lip and buried her face deeper into Joel’s neck. “Joel, I don’t want to stay here anymore. I’m too scared.”
He nodded, his chin bumping against Lydia’s shoulder. “I know. We’re getting our stuff out the cabin and leaving as soon as we get there. I promise.”
They traveled back to the cabin to gather their things in silence. They didn’t hold hands, they didn’t say a word to each other. Lydia was too shaken up to say anything, and Joel felt like an idiot for not listening to Lydia earlier about leaving. Now, she had almost been abducted by “invisible hands”, which Joel didn’t understand, but went along with anyway. And if his mother came out of her drunken state by the time she got home, what would she say about all the cuts and bruises over Joel’s body? She would think that he was self-inflicting damage and go into a rage about how things “needed to be changed” around this house, which included Joel moving out and finding his dad and didn’t include his mom going to AA or stopping her drinking.
“I think we should take showers before we leave,” Joel said quietly to Lydia, since he wasn’t sure how she would react.
“What?” Lydia said, her eyes wide and frightened. “B-but, what if one of us gets hurt in the shower? And then you don’t hear it? What if, what if that thing t-tries to take me again…”
Joel took Lydia into his arms, treating her as his best friend for years and not his girlfriend for the past day. “You’re going to think I’m thinking with my hormones when I say this, but we could…take a shower together. Just so whoever tried to take you can’t hurt you.” He added quickly. Lydia nodded silently and then the both of them undressed to take their shower.
“You have everything packed?” Joel double-checked with Lydia as they got ready to leave.
“Yeah, I’m sure. I checked around,” She answered simply. Lydia wasn’t as sad or worried as she had been before because she was relieved that she was finally getting away from this scary place.
“Alright,” He picked up his bag and held the door open for Lydia. She went through and led him to the front door.
Lydia grasped the handle and tried to turn it, but it wouldn’t budge. Like it was locked from the outside. She put her bag down – convinced that she was just being a weakling – and tried opening it again, but it still wouldn’t budge.
“Joel?” Lydia turned around, panic rushing adrenaline in her veins. “I can’t open the door! It won’t open!”
“What?” Joel dropped his bags and then tried opening the door. Again, the knob wouldn’t budge at all, and the door wasn’t opening.
“What?” Joel repeatedly in shock. “Th-that doesn’t make any sense. We just got inside; and there isn’t a lock outside!” He said and turned to Lydia, who gave him a worried shrug.
He ran over to the coffee table, picked up the large encyclopedia that had been sitting there, and chucked it at the window. Lydia flinched as she heard impact, shielding her face and eyes from the shards of glass that would go flying. Instead, she felt nothing. Confused, she looked up, and her mouth dropped open in awe.
The book had went through the window, Joel had seen it go through, but it was like time was reversed. The book broke through the window, and then flung back into the room. There was a hole in the window, though, and Joel didn’t have time to examine what happened. Hesitantly, he poked his arm through, and was surprised when it didn’t go through at all.
“What the—,” Joel started to say, but was interrupted as a loud thunk sounded right above the roof of the cabin.
“What was that?!” Lydia said, already sounding hysterical.
Joel didn’t have time to answer as there was another crashing sound, much louder than the first one. There was a slam into the roof, and the cabin went tumbling into a diagonally sideways position. Out of nowhere, all the light outside went out, turning the cabin into completely darkness.
“Joel, Joel?!” Lydia screamed for him. She felt herself get knocked to the ground by a hard force of wind, sending her head to smack against the wooden floor. The motion didn’t knock her out completely, although it did make her see stars. Lydia suddenly felt weightless, as if she was made of air. She tried to move, grasp, or fight, but she couldn’t move and she couldn’t feel anything.
It wasn’t long before the both of them were led into a deep slumber that last for exactly six hours.
“Holy shit,” Joel groaned as he slowly sat up. “My head is killing me.” He complained, rubbing his sore head. What in the hell had happened to them? He turned to the right and saw that Lydia was knocked unconscious and there were little cuts along her forehead. He crawled over to her, making sure she was still breathing. She was.
Not too soon after Joel touched her, Lydia began to awake. “Joel,” She mumbled as her eyes slowly opened. “We have to get out of here.”
Joel nodded silently and then winced as the action hurt his sore neck. “I know. But I don’t know how we can get out.”
At the same moment, they looked to the door that had been locked from the outside. The window still had a hole in it, but Joel knew they wouldn’t be able to get through it. Something more powerful than humankind was messing with them, and they didn’t know what.
“Maybe I can try opening it again,” Joel half-heartedly suggested it. He didn’t believe in the words he had just said; he was trying to make Lydia feel better. Slowly getting up so that the blood wouldn’t rush to his head, Joel slowly stumbled over to the door. He screwed his eyes closed, praying that the door would open, and let out a cry of excitement as the door opened.
“Lydia! The door isn’t locked anymore! We can leave!” He said, almost jumping up and down in excitement.
“What?” Lydia said, shocked. “Are you shitting me?”
Joel shook his head furiously. “Grab your things!” He said as he picked up his bag. He was barely able to contain his excitement as he held the door open for Lydia.
Hurriedly, they got inside the car. Their excitement turned to dismay as the car didn’t start. Joel tried several times, but it just wouldn’t start.
“Wait, look!” Lydia said, pointing to the dashboard. “We just need some gas. I’ll get it from the trunk.” She didn’t wait for Joel to say anything as she jumped out the car quickly. She opened the trunk with the key, and was dumbfounded when she didn’t find the red gas can.
Lydia looked around, feeling as though someone was watching her. Suddenly, her foot slipped against the ground, and she felt a hard thunk. Looking down, she saw that it was the red gas can completely empty. With horror, she realized that it had spilled underneath the car. Gasoline and fire…
“Joel get out the car!” Lydia screamed at the top of her lungs. She ran from the car until she reached a large tree. It wasn’t a long time before Joel got out of the car, looking confused, and the car finally started, causing it to react with the gasoline and explode.
Lydia soon found out that she wasn’t far enough from the car, since her left ear was blown out, and she was writhing on the ground screaming in pain as her eardrum burst. She pulled back her hand and saw that it was covered in dark red blood. She let out a howling scream at the top of her lungs and was shocked as the sound fell deaf to her left ear. She was completely deaf in one of her ears.
She wanted to cry herself to sleep or just run away, but as she looked up, she saw Joel lying on the ground, blood spilling out of both his ears and nostrils. But what scared her was the figure standing behind him.
There, right behind Joel, was a dark shadow-like figure. It was in the shape of a man, but he had no face. She watched in horror as the figure began to reach for Joel, who still wasn’t aware of the other person’s presence.
“Joel!” Lydia yelled again, and was surprised to find that her hearing was slowly returning. “Run!!” She yelled, her throat becoming sore.
The shadow turned to Lydia, and Joel slowly registered what she was saying. He turned and saw the shadow behind him, and jumped up immediately as he did. He tried to punch it – maybe to stun the thing – but his hand when right through him. The shadow drew his hand back and punched Joel with enough force to send him flying over the car and onto the ground right in front of Lydia. They both turned to find the shadow slowly stomping behind them. Lydia quickly yanked Joel onto his feet, and then they were running for their lives. Literally.
They sprinted, their legs pumping up and down and their hearts pounding against their chests. There was a deep pang in Lydia’s stomach, since she was fearful that they were going to get caught. Once or twice, she almost tripped over a branch (which seemed strategically placed) but Joel held onto her arm and she never fully fell on her face. The whole time, the shadow was only a few feet behind them, scaring the shit out of Joel and Lydia.
“Joel, stop!” Joel’s voice seemed to slowly cut through the fog around Lydia’s brain, and it was too late to realize as she looked to Joel in confusion and panic. It wasn’t long before she felt the tip of her shoes brush against the grass underneath her feet, and she looked down to see herself about to trip and fall into the lake.
Her breath was taken away as the cold hit her in the chest. Instead of floating, she immediately sunk to the bottom. She opened her mouth to scream for Joel, and then realized how idiotic she was when the water filled her mouth. She slowly realized that there was a grip around her ankle, and she was being pulled down by an outside force. She turned to look, and there he was: the black shadow pulling her underneath.
She kicked and squirmed, all while trying to hold her breath, but it was no use. The only way she would be saved was if something intervened, and with Joel up on land, there was no chance.
Lydia looked once more at the shadow, and then gave a powerful enough kick that her shoe flew off her foot, and hit the shadow in the head. She was surprised as he let go of her ankles because Joel had touched the shadow, and his hand went through him. But Lydia soon realized that she shouldn’t be lollygagging and started swimming quickly up to the surface. But the swim upwards seemed much longer than the way down, and Lydia found herself losing her breath as she swam up. With one last breath, she collapsed onto the dock in the water and passed out as she reached the air.
Her breath was shallow and low as she awoke, reminding Lydia of the shadow that had been chasing her and Joel. Her eyes flashed open from her unconsciousness, and quickly sat up. Every bone in her body was aching, but she didn’t care. How could she have just forgotten about Joel? She looked around worriedly and found that he was nowhere in sight. He was gone.
Lydia kicked off her remaining shoe and hit the ground running. She sprinted, fighting for every breath as she did as an effect from her latest encounter with death. She jumped over every large branch in her way, and quickly glanced at the remains of Joel’s Impala as she finally reached the house. She ripped open the door to the cabin, and gasped in shock as she opened the door. She collapsed to her knees as she witnessed the scene.
There was blood spatter against all of the walls, along with dark red globs in the middle of the floor. And there, lying in the middle of the floor, was Joel with his neck halfway cut off, a gouging gap in his neck. His eyes were gone inside his head, but Lydia was only able to see half of them because they were halfway sewed shut, along with his lips. There were bubbles of blood-spotted spittle across his lips, and the blood that ran out of his mouth reached his already bleeding ear. His once white shirt was completely drenched with his own blood.
“J-Joel,” Lydia breathed, her throat clogged with tears. She reached to touch him, just a part of his body, but the sight of him was too much to bear for her. She drew her hand back and clutched it to her chest, letting the dam of tears she had been holding in for so long running down her face.
She cried and cried, with each tear her sanity was lost piece by piece. The sigh of seeing Joel dead just broke her down to the core, to the point where she was lying against the floor, crying, with her head mushed against the floor. She couldn’t survive with Joel. She just couldn’t.
That’s when she decided. To kill herself in the name of her dear friend and so much more, Joel Anderson. She got up and turned around to grab the knife she had seen lying on the coffee table.
And got her head cut off by the chainsaw being held by the dark shadow. Her head collapsed to the ground, rolling over so that it laid side-by-side to Joel’s. Blood rolled out of her mouth as she was alive for 10 more seconds, and her eyes turned to horror as she looked at her body. But after those 10 seconds, her eyes rolled to the back of her head just like her lover, Joel, and the cabin was silent.
Grinning, the shadow began to return to his real form. He pulled off the second skin he had adopted, a wet slapping sound emitting as he shrugged it off to reveal his true self: Lydia’s brother, Aden. Still smiling, he closed the eyelids of his dead sister and her boyfriend. He picked up Lydia’s now charged cell phone since he had turned the electricity back on, and dialed 911.
“911.” The operator said immediately. “What is your emergency?”
“There’s been a double murder. Lots of blood.” Aden said, and then hung up the phone by holding it in his hand and smashing it with the other. He turned look at his sister and Joel one last time before he turned off the living room light.
After all, if there’s no one in a room, you should turn off the light and save electricity.