Here I sit, my feet hanging over the edge of the bridge, my reflection in the water below. I hear him walking behind me. I hear the sound of two blades brushing up against each other. A tear rolls down my cheek. Here we are, in our secret little place.
I wake up to mom calling me from down stairs telling me breakfast is ready. I get up and throw on some clothes before I head down stairs. I live in the best place in the whole world, along with my parents and my little brother, Michael. We live in a big cottage which my father built himself, inside a forest. Remind you of something? Maybe something you’ve heard in a fairytale? We’re out here because when my parents were young and adventurous, they decided that if they were going to raise a family, they weren’t going to do it in the ordinary way. They didn’t want their children growing up in such a boring and modern world where anyone can have anything they want just by pressing a button. No, they raised us the good old fashioned way, through hard work. I mean we have a phone and a TV in our house, but we rarely use them, except when calling grandparents.
Now, this whole scene would be a complete nightmare for me being a seventeen year old girl, if it weren’t for that my best friend in the whole world had parents with the exact same idea as mine. The two couples built their houses together and raised their children together. Their son Jack, and I have been best friends since I was four and he was six and I thought that boys were too childish to play with.
We both have home schooling together and every day after school we just run around or sit in the wide open field and talk. We have this one place we discovered when we were little. It’s this wondrous place hidden behind a whole bunch of trees. There’s a little stream that flows through it and a little bridge that goes across. That’s where we would always go to be alone. We never told our parents about it. It’s our secret.
So anyway, I head down stairs to eat breakfast. It’s Saturday today which means no school and maybe a trip to town. “So mom, I was thinking maybe me and Jack could head into town today.” I suggest. “I’m sure that’s just fine, sweat heart.” She answers and throws a pancake on my plate. “I’ll ask your father if he can take you when he gets back from work.” My dad runs a little gas station, right at the edge of the forest by the main road. It’s the nicest gas station you could ever go to, with the cleanest bathrooms and best service you can get. Sorry, I wasn’t advertising. That’s just how nice it is.
After breakfast I head over to Jack’s. He’s probably in the shed, that’s usually where I find him. He just loves working with cars so he’s always taking his dad’s truck apart and putting it back together in better condition. He also runs a little car repair store there, with my dad. “Jack?” I say as I enter the big shed. I don’t see him, but I see the truck. As I get closer I see a pair of legs sticking out from underneath the truck. “Jack.” I say again. He rolls out and smiles at me. “Hey,” he says. “You want to take a break?” I ask. He gets up and starts wiping his hands. His shirt is full of dirt and grease as always, and I’m guessing from all the sweat he’s covered in that it’s probably been quite hot in here. To get more directly to the point, he looks hotter than ever. I try to push away the feelings I have for him. It might ruin our friendship, but it’s not as easy as I thought it would be.
“Sure.” He says and smiles.
We start walking through the valley and towards the huge amount of trees at the end of the forest where there is behind it all, a beautiful little paradise, that only he and I know about. The conversation starts as it always does, easy and interesting as we always have something to say to each other.
When we get to the opening he opens it for me and says “After you,” I laugh and push him as I go through and he follows. We sit down next to each other on the bridge and just watch the stream flow and the birds sing and the wind blow. “You know,” he says and looks at me. “There’s something I’ve had on my mind for quite some time now. And I don’t know how much longer I can keep it to myself.” I feel his fingers brushing up against mine. I look him in the eyes and wait for him to continue. He just stares for a bit. A million things are rushing through my head all wondering if I should let this happen. But I don’t look away. “I, “he begins. His hand carefully clutches the back of my neck and he pulls me in. My first real kiss. It’s the most amazing feeling. And with Jack! Since I was fourteen I’ve wondered if he felt the same, but I never dared to ask. And now here he was taking one of the biggest risks a person can take in life. The kiss may have lasted for a minute, but it felt like hours. Wonderful, amazing hours. Then it ended. But not because we wanted to stop. We were interrupted, by a rather strange noise. It sounded like a bang or a crash, but it was so faint.
We jump up and instinctively start running towards the noise. I have no idea what it was, but it can’t have been good. When we finally get back to the houses, everything seems normal. “I’ll go check my place, you check yours, OK?” Jack says and runs over to his house. I run to the door and behind the house, is that, smoke? I open the door thinking that my family will be sitting there wondering what that noise was, too. Instead I am met by an empty room. There is no furniture, no people, no lights. No sign that anyone ever lived there. “What the hell?” I say not really knowing what to think. I enter to go and look around. And just as I do the door slams behind me. I turn around in shock. And when I turn back, I see one single item that was left behind in the house. The phone. Then it starts to ring. I look around and not knowing what else to do I slowly walk over to the phone and pick it up. “Hello?” I answer with a shaky voice. No answer. But there is a faint breathing on the other end. “Hello?! Who is this?” I say getting very scared. A few more seconds of faint breathing and then it hangs up. I hang up to and am left in total silence. I figure I should try calling someone. So I pick up the phone again, but in stead of hearing the normal noise the phone makes before you dial, I hear breathing. I slam the phone down completely freaked. “I have to get out of here.” I get the feeling that something is coming towards me, and it’s coming fast. I scream and run for the door. It won’t open. I struggle and struggle to get it open, positive that the walls are closing in on me. Finally I get the knob to turn and the door swings open. I fall out, but quickly am on my feet again and I just run away.
When I get a little ways out into the grass, I realise, the whole sky has darkened. And not like when it’s about to rain. It’s turning black. As if something is swallowing the sky. “Jack?!” I scream. “Mom? Dad! Michael! Where are you guys?!” I keep screaming their names, but I get no answer. By now tears have started streaming down my face as I scream my lungs out in vain. Finally I fall to the ground in tears, feeling utterly and completely alone.
Finally, after what seems like forever, I hear something off in the distance. There it is again. “Christine? Christine, where are you?!” It’s Jack. “Jack! Jack!” I get up and start jumping up and down in hope that he’ll see me. Then I see him running towards me. I start running in his direction. We meet and I fall into his arms and burst into more tears. “What is going on, Jack?” I ask desperately. He puts his arms around me and holds tight. “I don’t know.” He says.
We stand there for a bit, hoping that some answer will come to us. “What’s that?” Jack says and let’s go of me. He starts walking forward and I follow. There in the grass lay a piece of paper. Jack reads it out loud, “It is too late for the old ones I fear, for they sleep now with the fishes my dear. Yet, a chance for the little one still there is, if you return that which he took that was not his. But hurry or your search will be in vain. For the little ones time left is short and soon he will be in too much pain.” “Who’s that from?” I scream in tears. “How the hell did this happen?!” “Shhh, calm down, Chrissie. I think he’s talking about Michael, and if he is we probably don’t have much time to find him.” “Jack, our parents are dead!” I scream. “I know!” he screams and grabs me. He looks me dead in the eyes and says more calmly, “But if we don’t pull our selves together Michael is gonna die too.” I stop crying and dry my eyes. “OK.” I sniff.
After a long time of walking around, calling out Michael and trying to make sense of all of this, we finally get to a part of the forest where we’ve never really been before. The sky is darker now. We can’t see so well, and the wind is getting strong. Tears stream down my face as we walk. I just can’t seem to stop crying. It hurts too much. This morning I woke up thinking it was a normal day. And now here I am out in the beginning of a storm, looking for my little brother who might or might not have joined my parents in the spirit world. On top of all that there is most likely a psycho killer watching us. I don’t know how Jack manages to stay so strong and clear headed. “MICHAEL!” I scream not being able to handle the agony any longer. I fall to my knees and burst into tears. Jack gets on his knees and puts his arms around me while soothingly rocking me back and forth. “It’s gonna be OK.” He says quietly. “No it’s not, Jack!” I scream. “By the end of the day we’ll probably all be dead!” “Yeah, we will be if you keep saying that!” he yells back and stands up. “Pull yourself together! Michael is counting on us to find him. He must be at least ten times as scared as we are, so we have to find him, Chrissie.” He says and sits down with me again. “We have to find Michael, that’s all that matters right now, OK?” he says and looks me straight in the eyes. I nod and dry my tears. “Come on.” He says and helps me up.
We continue to call out his name in hope that he’ll answer. After a little while, I notice a ditch up ahead. “Michael?” I call again. I hear something faint off in the distance. It sounds like a voice. “Michael?” I call again and start running. There it is again. It’s definitely a voice. “Michael!” I yell with hope. “Chrissie!” I hear. “It’s him!” I yell. “It’s Michael!” “Chrissie!” I hear again. It’s coming from the ditch. I run towards it. I get to the edge of the ditch and look down. It must be at least five meters deep. And down at the bottom, I see Michael. “Oh my God, Michael!” I scream. “Chrissie!” He’s crying. “Help me, I’m scared.” He says. His face looks extremely pale. His eyes look totally blue, I can’t tell if it’s cause of the shadows or if they’re swollen. It’s too far down. “Don’t worry Michael, we’re gonna get you out.” I yell down to him. Jack runs up next to me. “Michael, there you are!” he says panting. “Jack, I, I…” he looks at us with tears running down his face. He then lifts his arm from where it was resting on his stomach. He’s covered in blood. It looks like someone, or something, took a huge bite out of him. “Oh my God, Michael!” I scream in horror. “We have to get him out now.” Jack says and looks around as if that’s going to give him the solution. Suddenly he jumps at me and pushes me down. “What the hell, Jack?!” I scream. “Someone threw a knife.” He says and looks at the knife stuck in the ground where I was sitting. “Where the hell did that come from?” I yell. “I don’t know, but I’m guessing it means we’re running out of time.” Jack says as he scans the place with his eyes for our attacker. “Keep watch, Chrissie.” He says. I nod. “Michael, I know you’re scared, but if you want to get out you have to tell me something.” He yells down the pit. “You have to tell me what it is that you’ve taken and where it is.” “I haven’t taken anything!” Michael yells weakly and terrified. “Try and think Michael, is there anything you have that isn’t yours?” Jack asks. There’s silence for a few seconds. “I found a key yesterday,” he answers. “It was black and old and I thought it was really cool.” He hesitates for a bit. “So, I, I picked it up, but it was really hard, to, to pick it up, like it didn’t want to be moved.” “OK, Michael that’s probably it. Now, where is it?” Jack says. “I left it in my room, under my pillow.” Michael answers. “Alright and where did you find it?” Jack asks. “By the lake.” Michael says and groans. “OK, Michael, you’re doing really good,” Jack says. “Now I’m gonna go, but you’re sister’s gonna try and get you out, OK?” he says. “OK.” Michael moans. “Wait, what?” I ask. “How am I supposed to do that?” “I’ve got a big rope in my truck, I just have to go get it. I promise I won’t be long. Just talk to him while I’m gone. Keep him breathing and make sure he knows it’s gonna be OK.” “OK.” I say. He grabs me and kisses me. “Be safe.” He says and looks at me with worried eyes.
“It’s gonna be OK, Michael. We’re gonna get you out and get you to a hospital.” I say. I have to keep an eye around me the whole time to make sure I’m alone. “Can you answer me, Michael?” “Chrissie,” he says. “Yes, Michael?” I say trying not to cry in front of my poor little brother. “It hurts, Chrissie.” He says. He’s not even crying anymore. “Oh, I know it does, sweaty. But I promise you everything is gonna be alright. You just have to keep breathing. Just concentrate on breathing, and don’t go to sleep Michael.” I say holding my tears. “OK.” He says softly. “Michael, keep talking. I need to hear that you’re OK.” Silence. I listen closely and I can hear his heavy breathing. “Michael!” I scream. I look around, still no sign of Jack. It’s been about fifteen minutes. He can’t expect Michael to last much longer. “Michael answer me!” I scream in panic. “Chrissie,” I hear. “Michael, please,” I cry not managing to hold the tears anymore. “Stay with me!” I hear him whisper something. He’s too weak to talk. I look around in desperation again. And there, off in the distance I see someone running towards me. Is it Jack? Horrible thoughts run through my head. Is it the person who is doing this to us? If it is what the hell am I gonna do when he gets here? Oh dear God please let it be Jack, let it be Jack. “Michael?” I say. Breathing. “Jack’s coming now, we’re gonna get you out.” I stare at the figure running a bit longer and I realise. It is Jack. “Oh thank God!” I say. “Jack! Hurry!” I yell.
Finally Jack runs up to me and panting he hands me a big, long rope. “This should, be, long enough.” He pants. “How’s, how’s he doing?” he asks. “Not good, we have to get him out now.” I say. “OK,” he says. “What we’re gonna do is I’m gonna tie the rope to that tree right there,” he points at a tree about a meter away from me. “And then you need to let me down and pull me and Michael back up.” “But I’m not strong enough Jack.” I say. “Let me go down.” He hesitates. “I really didn’t want you to have to go down there, but it’s probably easier for me to pull you up.” I nod.
Slowly he lowers me down. My brother getting closer and closer. He seems to be unconscious. I fear that he’s dead, but I don’t give up. When I get down I immediately check my little brother’s pulse. At first it feels dead, but then I feel it. That slight beat. But it’s slow. Too slow. I grab him and make sure I’ve got a hold of him. Then I grab the rope and hold it tight. “OK, pull us up Jack!” I yell. No answer. “Jack?” I call. Silence. “Jack!” I scream in terror. Suddenly a piece of paper floats down into the pit. I catch it. “Oh God.” I say in tears. “Thought it would be that simple did you? Try and get out without the help of your friend.” I hear the sound of jack crying out in pain. “You play my game, you play by my rules. :)” I crumple up the paper and throw it on the ground while I scream my head off. “YOU SICK BASTARD!” I lay Michael back down to check his pulse again. Still that faint, slow beat, but it’s there. Full of rage, I grab Michael in one arm and the rope in the other and I begin to climb up the pit. It’s so heavy, but I can’t give up. I have to get Michael somewhere safe. I’m covered in my poor little, five year old brother’s blood who hangs over my arm as I carry him up. It’s so heavy. It’s so long. I feel my arms giving in, but I keep climbing. It’s so hard to get a good grip with my feet, but I manage to stab my feet into the ground, just barely long enough to take the next step. So tired. So scared. So angry. The only thing keeping me going is the feeling of Michael’s chest gently moving in and out.
Finally after what seemed like eternity, I get to the top and pull us up. I lie on the ground gasping for air. I feel Michael’s pulse again. It’s fainter, but still there. Forgetting about everything, but my brother’s survival, I pick him up and start running. I don’t know how I’m managing it after that climb. It’s the adrenalin I guess.
A million questions are running through my head. Is Jack alive? If so, where is he? How much longer is my body gonna manage to push itself before I brake down? Will I be able to save Michael? How did any of this even happen? My thoughts are interrupted by someone screaming my name. I stop. Jack? “Chrissie!” I turn around to find Jack running towards me in panic. He stops in front of me. He’s covered in blood. His clothes are torn. His arm has a piece of blood stained cloth tightly tied around it, and his left eye is swollen. “Jack, what happened to you?” “There’s no time, he’s coming, we have to hide.” He says and pushes me forward. I start running again, with Michael in my arms. We keep running until we get to my house. I stop. “We won’t be safe in there Jack.” I say, remembering the horribly terrifying happening earlier. “What? It’s a lot safer in there than it is out here.” Jack says frustrated. “Jack, whoever it is that’s doing this to us has taken over in there.” I say. “Well, do you have a better idea?” he asks. “Dad’s gas station.” I say. “There’s a phone there. We could call the hospital.” “Yes, but we have to get the key and put it back where Michael found it, and then all of this will go away.” Jack says. “What makes you think that?” I ask. “Because it said in the note that he wanted back what had been taken. If we put it back maybe he’ll leave us alone.” He says. “Well, I need to get Michael to a hospital now, so you get the key and I’ll go to the gas station.” I say. “But he’s coming Chrissie, you won’t be safe outside,” he says. I can see tears forming in his eyes. “Please, I don’t want to loose you again.” “Jack, Michael isn’t gonna last much longer. I need to call an ambulance now.” I say firmly and start running towards the end of the forest. I hear Jack running after me. He runs up close to me. “No, Chrissie.” He says and grabs me. “What the hell, Jack?!” I say trying to get loose from his grip. But he’s too strong and he’s dragging me and Michael in the wrong direction. “Jack, what are you doing?” I scream. “You have to help me find that key, we can use your phone to call the ambulance.” “NO, JACK! That won’t work!” I scream. “Let me go!” I try biting his arm, but he won’t budge. He’s just too strong.
He drags me into the house and throws me on the ground. It’s just as empty and dark as it was a few hours ago. No furniture. No light. A phone on the floor in the middle of the room. The constant feeling that the walls are gonna close in on me. “Ow!” I yell. I pick Michael up and head for the door. And just like last time, it slams shut. I try to turn the knob, but it’s somehow been locked from the outside. I hit it as hard as I can. “Let me go!” I scream. “Shut up and help me find the key!” Jack screams. “Why the hell is that key so damn important, Jack?” I turn and ask him. “We could have been out of the forest by now. At the gas station calling an ambulance. NOW MICHAEL IS GONNA DIE!” I scream. Jack is just walking around searching the place as if there was something there the key could be hiding behind. “Unless, you don’t want him to survive?” I say starring at Jack. He stops up and looks at me. “What? Of course I do. I’m just trying to do what’s best for all of us.” He says and continues to search. “Really? Well how is finding a stupid key and letting Michael die what’s best for all of us?” I ask. He stops again. “Look at me Chrissie!” he says and points at his wounds. “I was with him. I know all he wants is that key. And if he gets it back, everything is gonna go back to the way it was. Michael will get better our parents will come back and everything will go back to normal.” He has a weird look on his face as he speaks. “What?” I say. “That’s outrages. Do you honestly think that he has magic powers that will make everything better if he gets his stupid key? Why would he make it so damn difficult for us to get to it then?” “I don’t know! I just know he can make it go back to the way it was.” Jack says. “No he can’t Jack. Our parents are dead. He killed them. Michael is dead, too. It’s just you and me now.” I say, all hope inside of me vanished. “Really?” he says and looks at me sort of, smiling? “Well then you should probably help me find that key, before he gets us, too.” I bend down to check Michael’s pulse again. I was right. No life left. I get up again. “It’s probably up stairs somewhere, after all that’s where Michael’s room was.” I say. “No, I already looked th-“ he stops. “What?” I say. “When were you upstairs?” He sighs. “You know, I was really hoping this would be easier. Oh well.” He pulls out a gun from his pants and points it at me. “Jack, what the hell are you doing?” I ask in horror. “God, you know, I thought you were smart enough to figure it out on your own, but I guess I was wrong.” He says and starts walking towards me. “What are you talking about?” I ask trying to think how I’m gonna get out of this. “Come on, haven’t you figured it out yet?” he says and almost smiles at me. “How a certain someone wasn’t in the picture every time something happened? How the note appeared just as a certain someone disappeared? I honestly thought you’d find out too soon. I guess I gave you more credit than you deserved.” Now he’s smiling the most disgusting smile I’ve ever seen. “You monster!” I say and spit in his face. “Oh, being brave now are we?” he says and wipes the spit away. “Let’s see how brave you are when I do this.” He says and puts the gun to my head. My heart starts beating faster, but I don’t let it show. “Go ahead, I have nothing left to live for anyway.” I say. “I’m impressed,” he says and lowers the gun to my stomach. “I always thought you were a bit of a pussy.” “One question Jack,” I say. “If you did all this, how were you with me at the same time?” “Ah, I thought you’d never ask.” He says. I feel him pressing the gun upwards against my chest. “You see, I had a little help from a close friend.” His eyes drift to the window. I look and there outside stands Jack’s poor father, looking horrified and filled with regret. “I simply put my mother in a position where my father was forced to do what I said, or she would die in the most horrific way.” Jack says looking at me like a pervert. His eyes are flickering with excitement. “So you tortured your own mother, in order to get your father to kill his best friends and torture a little boy?” I ask in disgust. “Ah, so you’re not as slow as I thought, then.” He says. “I was worried I’d have to explain everything to you.” He chuckles a little. I’m realising it all now. How it took us long enough to get back to the house between the gun shots and the burning of the furniture in the back yard, so that when I got there, it would seem supernatural how everything had disappeared. How his poor father had to burry his best friends then take their child and torture him. All because he loves his wife.
The whole time Jack’s got the gun sliding around my body as if I would think it was sexy or something. “Why would you do that, Jack?” I ask wondering what happened to the boy I knew who played with cars and would never hurt a fly. “Because I hate you all!” he says and jams the guns into my stomach. I gasp for breath. “I hate you all so much and there’s nothing I want more than to see you bleed.” “One last thing then,” I say in between breaths. “Yeah?” he says and presses himself up against me while looking me in the eyes. To think I was in love with this guy. “What’s the key for?” I ask. As I do I slowly put my hand on the doorknob which I’ve been pushed up against and try to turn it. “No use,” he says. “Dad’s got it bolted from the outside.” “You have no right to call me that anymore!” I hear his father cry from outside. “Shut up! Dad!” Jack says and smiles at me. “Ah yes, the key. It’s fascinating really,” he says and gets the same look a father gets when he’s about to tell his kids all about something they don’t really care about. “When I was a little boy, my parents gave me a chest to keep things is, like toys and such. Along with this chest came a key and a lock so that no one else could take what was in there. Once I got tired of toys, I decided to fill it with my secrets like knives, and plans, and my gun.” He looks at the gun he’s still sliding all over me as if it’s a good friend of his. “ I panicked when I realised I had lost the key to the chest, afraid someone else might find it, and when I saw your little brother with it yesterday, I came up with the perfect plan.” He smiles. ”Also my plans for killing you are in there, cause I like to write my ideas down, always been some what of a poet.” He says proudly. “And there’s one other thing I have in there. Something very meaningful. Something very valuable. Something I was going to use to buy myself happiness once everyone was out of the picture. I think you might know what it is, Chrissie. Think about it. What do you think I find so very valuable that I would hide in my secret chest?” he looks at me with a psycho maniac look. I try to think what it could be. Something I would know about? “I don’t know, Jack, how could I possibl-“ and then I remember something. It’s a memory from long ago. I was eight. Jack was ten. We were down by the big lake. Just playing. When suddenly we found something amazing. Something every kid dreams of finding. “Our hidden treasure.” I say. He smiles and nods. “But it disappeared.” I say. “We took it home and the next day it was gone. Unless,” I hesitate. “Unless it was just my share that disappeared.” “What can I say, I was a greedy little child.” He says. “When I wanted something, I took it.” “Yeah, you still do that.” I say trying to jerk away from his lips which are just too close. “You’re right, I do.” He says and kisses me. I try to pull away, but it’s really hard when you have a gun stabbing you and you’re pushed up against a door. I manage to push him off of me and spit in his face. He goes right back and pushes the gun up against my chest again while his face is less than a centimetre away from me. I feel his free hand sliding up my shirt. “STOP IT! DON’T TOUCH ME!” I scream and push him off again. “Just stop for a second,” I say calmly. He looks at me questioningly. “I have a proposal.” I say. “Let me call an ambulance to come and pick Michael up. I know he’s,” I hesitate. “I know he’s dead, but I want to at least see of there’s a possibility to bring him back. We put him in the ambulance. They drive away. And I’ll stay with you. I’ll let you do what you want. Kill me. Torture me.” I hesitate again. “Rape me. I’ll even help you find the key and whatever else you want. Just let me give my brother a proper burial if nothing more. Even if I don’t get to be there.” Jack hesitates for a bit. “Alright, you’ve got yourself a deal. But we have to go to the gas station to do it. I don’t want them knowing where this is.” “OK.” I say.
After I give them his ID and my grandparents phone number, they drive off and as they do I hear, “CLEAR.” Through the open doors of the ambulance, I see them trying to get life in him again. I know he’s gone, but maybe there’s a chance they can bring him back? Jack walks me back into the forest. My hands are tied behind my back and the gun is stabbing me. I start to silently cry as I realise what I’ve put myself into. But there was no other way. Or was there? Besides I’ve got nothing left to live for. What kind of a life would I have if I constantly had to live in fear? Or maybe I’m just making excuses because I don’t want to face the fact that I’ve made a bad decision. Either way, here I am.
It’s all black. He put a bag over my head and tied me to something. My arms and legs are bound and I can’t see where I am. I hear a “No, son, you promised!” and then an explosion. Some crying and then a gun fire. Silence. Foot steps. They’re coming closer. The bag is taken off. Jack is standing and smiling at me. “What do you say we take a little walk to our place, huh? Just the two of us.” He says. He cuts the rope tied around my feet so I can walk. We walk down the valley, the sun starting to set slowly behind us. “Wasn’t there a storm earlier?” I mumble. “Oh yeah. Funny how the weather works isn’t it?” he says and nudges the gun against my back, making me walk faster.
Here I sit, my feet hanging over the edge of the bridge, my reflection in the water below. I hear him walking behind me. I hear the sound of two blades brushing up against each other. A tear rolls down my cheek. Here we are, in our secret little place.