37 HOURS, 51 MINUTES UNTIL DEADLINE
Mary's screech was something out of Ariana Grande's whistle tone abilities as she ran over to the staircase, her body draping over her best friend's. She was sobbing uncontrollably, tears flowing freely as she shook Jordan's body. "Jordan! Jordan Conrad, wake up!"
Naturally, Jordan didn't listen.
The other three stood in the doorway and Michael tuned out his sister's wailing as he looked around the cabin, eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. He highly doubted the person who had attacked Jordan would have left knowing that the other four were on their way over.
Had they done this to her because the others had decided to disobey orders and come to Easton anyway?
Michael saw something moving out of the corner of his eye and his head whipped around to the side of the room, where a small hallway connected the front of the cabin to the back. A shadow could be seen slipping into the hallway, footsteps practically silent.
"Stop!" Michael yelled, jumping into action and running after whoever was back there. He could hear Roland following behind him as the two men ran as fast as they could through the hallway, into the back of the cabin, and out of the back door, which was swinging wildly from side to side.
Michael burst into the back of the cabin and found himself wanting to throw up. He felt like he had just walked—or rather, run—into a terrible trap.
It was completely dark. It was pitch-black, with what looked like a depiction of a night sky floating above his head. The trees surrounding him looked real enough, but there was something terribly wrong about the way they grew up from the ground. The moss beneath his feet crackled when he took a step forward, and Michael felt as if he were a blind man walking.
The darkness wouldn't have been too nerve-wracking if it weren't for the fact that Michael was 99% sure it was around 10:00 in the morning. And as far as he knew, it wasn't time for the apocalypse.
"Michael?" Roland's voice wavered from behind him, "What is this?"
"Do you think I know the answer to that, Green?" Michael snapped, "I don't...wait." He fell silent and listened for a moment. He could hear two distinct voices coming from somewhere nearby, and held his finger up to his lips to signal to Roland to not say another word.
"...technically belongs to both of us, me more so than you." A man's voice muttered from Michael's right, "Don't get soft now."
A woman's voice replied quietly, but too quietly for Michael to understand what was being said. He turned his head to the side and started to walk in the direction of the voices, hoping that Roland was following behind him but knowing that he wasn't.
"Shut up." The man ordered quietly before speaking louder. "Michael Hadden! So good to see you."
Michael felt someone grab his wrist and twist it backwards until blinding pain shot up his arm and he let out a yell. His wrist was let go and it fell limply to his side, unable to pick itself up.
"Scary, isn't it? How you can't see me?"
"My eyes haven't adjusted yet." Michael growled, fighting back tears. "They will soon."
"I doubt it." The man replied, "How's Jordan doing? Sad that I had to leave her out there. Sad that you two left the women all alone."
Michael felt his heart start to race and immediately thought of Mary crying over Jordan's unconscious body on the staircase, completely oblivious to anything that could be sneaking up on her.
"Mary." Michael breathed out before turning and running past Roland, back into the cabin and through the narrow hallway until he reached the front of the cabin. He ran to the staircase and felt bile creep up in his throat at the scene in front of him: a completely empty staircase.
While Mary and Lindsey may have wandered off, Michael knew that they wouldn't be dragging Jordan's body around with them. Which meant that someone had taken the three girls when Roland and Michael chased after the stalker.
They were always a step behind.
Michael walked slowly back into the strange darkness behind the cabin, where Roland was still standing perfectly still in the doorway, seemingly unable to move.
"Roland?" Michael poked the nerd in the chest, "Roland—"
Roland's eyes rolled back in his head and he fell to the ground, collapsing motionless at Michael's feet.
Michael started to hyperventilate, his head pounding and his hands shaking as he stared at Roland's body on the ground. He felt like he was in a bad dream, a terrible nightmare that he had no control over and that he couldn't wake up from.
He slowly backed away from Roland's body, looking around in a panic. He couldn't see anything; the darkness wasn't something his eyes could adjust to no matter how long he stood there. He could only see Roland's body outlined against the dim light flowing in from the door that connected whatever hell Michael was standing in to the cabin itself.
"Scary, isn't it?" The man from earlier spoke again, his voice so close to Michael's left ear that he could feel the man's breath. "And you don't even know if they're actually dead or not."
Michael shook his head, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
"Why are you doing this to us? What did we ever do to you?"
"I might be able to shed some light on the subject."
The woman spoke now, her voice terribly familiar to Michael's ears. The door behind Roland slammed of its own accord, drenching the entire space in complete and total darkness, and Michael heard a lock click. He looked around frantically before a single lightbulb turned on right above his head, casting a dim glow on a small area around him.
A woman stepped out into the light, her eyes dark with anger and her head cocked to the side as if she were amused by everything going on. Michael tore his eyes away from her for three seconds, for just long enough to see three more bodies lying on the ground around her feet: Mary, Lindsey, and Jordan.
"Hello Michael." The woman said, her lips curling in a terrible smile. "Surprised to see me?"
"Yeah, Erin." Michael replied, his voice shaking. "I'd say so."
A/N: Hey guys! So before you click away from the chapter, just know that Chapter 40 is currently up RIGHT NOW on Radish Fiction! So if you can't wait to see what happens next (because...THIS IS HUGE!) then go check it out over there! There's even a Halloween coin event going on!
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING OF THE CHAPTER? I want to hear them all! Also, since you guys know that sometimes I literally just wing things in my books, I want you to know that I did not wing this, and that Erin being alive has been planned since the beginning.
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