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Prologue: Children, Be Afraid

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The forest floor was now completely lost to darkness. Justin, Tiffany, Eric, Christina, and Carmen struggled to run anyway when every tree seemed to hide another Mannequin man. The trees and their branches acted like the tendrils of some unfathomable monster, barricading the marked ones inside their small, untouched part of road.

Julian, at a now menacing twelve feet, loomed over them, his shadow sinking them in terrifying darkness. The five friends kept turning in their spots, taking a couple of steps forwards and backwards. They were deadly tired; their night of terror having already drained them of their energy. Hot sweat blessed their brows, warming them from the freezing death chill that froze the very foundations of the dirt. Their exasperated breaths summoned laughs from their tall tormentor.

"Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide," Julian laughed. His branch-like arms swooped towards Carmen, who ducked from his attack. The one simple movement almost floored her as she failed to catch her breath. Justin helped her up, and the pair of them huddled closer as they backed further away from the skyscraper before them.

Eric searched frantically for a way out. He squinted through the trees, hoping to make out anything beyond the gawking faces of the men in the white masks. He pondered making a run for it, with the others, towards one of the men, but he had no idea how many more were lurking behind the trees they couldn't see.

"This is where we die," Tiffany said, giving up all hope of salvation. She scrunched her eyes shut, ignoring the advances of one of the Mannequin men. He crept over to her, and with a gleaming butcher knife in his hand, held it above his head.

Just before he could swing it down and stab his victim, Eric kicked him to the floor. Tiffany opened her eyes and allowed Eric to save her, though she knew that safety would not last longer than a second.

The Mannequin Men began to leave their posts at the trees, entering the clearing on the road. Inching closer and closer to the five defenceless friends, they all raised murderous-looking knives. Some moonlight escaped through the branches of trees, shining against the countless blades that would, no doubt, penetrate their flesh before night's end.

"What do we do?" Justin asked the others, though the others were just as clueless as he was. Eric looked behind them at the car. Nicholas Bellisario was still dead in the drivers' seat, a rotten skeleton that reminded him of Julian's soul-sucking powers.

"The car!" Eric yelled to them. He knew it wasn't a good plan, but the car was the only thing that would slow down their deaths.

The others instantly abided. Their feet, with the little force they could summon, sprinted behind them to the car they hoped was unlocked. Carmen reached it first. She tugged at the door handle for the back seat.

It opened.

"Yes!" She screamed in excitement. Justin and Tiffany followed her into the backseat, scrambling inside with a flailing mess of arms and legs. Christina entered the front passenger side, while Eric opened the door to the driver's seat.

With a disgusted face, he pulled the corpse of Nicholas out from the car. His skeletal body landed with a large thud, with some of the bones turning to dust upon impact. Eric stepped over him and jumped into the car, slamming the door shut after him.

They all locked the doors. Christina had to wind her window up, rolling it to the top just before one of the Mannequin men reached the window. His hand banged against it, making her jump back.

"I don't believe it!" Eric said in a whisper.

Christina looked at him. "What?!" Her eyes searched frantically around for what else was wrong.

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