October Writing Prompts Day 10, Skeleton in The Closet Part 5

 Tell the story of four friends going camping in the wilderness on Halloween night because they want to escape something more sinister at home. What are they trying to escape from?

Oliver stared out over the lake. A gentle mist fell from the sky, and fog hung in the air. It was cold, and it wasn’t the best time of year to go camping, but they didn’t have much of a choice.

The girls and Kevin were still sleeping in their shelter. He didn’t want to wake them. Addy had been sick every day since they’d come out to the lake and he was worried about her. Jenna was holding her own, but she still wouldn’t or couldn’t talk about what had happened. Whatever had happened, it was enough to terrify all of them.

Oliver still couldn’t wrap his head around it. He’d found Jenna at an old house just up the road from their rental house. She’d gone missing after running out from one of Kevin’s parties. He’d gone out searching for her, and the sound of an organ playing had drawn him to the old house. There, he finally found Jenna. She was being held by a man around his age and an old lady, dressed in a black robe.

He’d spotted the old lady first, as a shadow in the window of the old house and was afraid she’d seen him too. He’d turned off the flashlight on his phone quickly, and tried to hide behind a nearby tree. Somehow she’d missed him, and he hid among the bushes near the house so he could go closer to see what was going on.

Once he got to the windows of the house, he noticed the man standing in the far corner of the room, by an organ. He assumed this was where the music had been coming from. He didn’t recognize either of them, and he tried to stay out of sight so they wouldn’t see him. The room was lit by candle light, but he could see pretty well.

The room they were in was an old dining room, with the kitchen in the room next to it. The old lady went back and forth between the two rooms, and when she entered the kitchen, he could see in the low light that she appeared to be cooking something. The man stayed by the organ. Every now and then, he would push a few keys, but then he got up and paced the floor before sitting back down again. A couple of times, he got up and walked to a corner of the room. He seemed to be yelling at someone, but Oliver couldn’t see who it was.

That was until he spotted Jenna. It was all he could do to not yell out when he saw her. She was tied up to a chair in a corner of the room. The man seemed to say something to her. Oliver couldn’t hear what she answered back, but he cringed when he saw the man walk over to her and slap her face. He knew in that moment he had to get her out as soon as possible.

He reached in his pocket for his phone to call 911. He needed to get the police involved. His heart began to race as he realized his phone was no longer there. His wallet was there, but not the phone. He moved away from the house, back towards the tree he’d hidden behind, but he couldn’t find it anywhere. He tried to think about what to do. He could go back to the house and call, but he wasn’t sure what would happen to Jenna in the meantime. Besides, it was pitch black. He wasn’t going to be able to see to get back home. It was in that moment that Addy and Kevin had found him.

He’d never been so excited to see them, but he kept himself from crying out and motioned for them to be quiet too. Addy had a flashlight in her hands, but when he’d asked for a cell phone, she said she’d left it at the house. Kevin had his. They called 911, but the operator laughed at them and told them they needed to stop playing pranks. 911 was for serious business only.

It looked like it was up to them. Oliver still couldn’t wrap his head around how they’d gotten Jenna out. He’d told Addy to wait there for them, and snuck around the other side of the house, following the candle light for as long as they could, and slipped quietly inside. Her eyes grew wide when she spotted them, but she motioned for them to be quiet. The young man saw them as soon as Jenna moved. Kevin managed to tackle him to the floor, and knock him unconscious while Oliver got Jenna out, then he followed them.

Addy was waiting for them right where they’d left her, and the four of them took off running for the road, heading for their house. Addy turned the flashlight back on so they could see, but it wasn’t long before they were spotted. They hadn’t gotten very far away from the house when he heard someone chasing them in the distance. He directed Addy to turn the flashlight off. She had, but it left them in total darkness.

They kept going. Soon the road they’d been on began to change and he ran into a tree. Somehow they must have headed into the forest across the road from the house, but at least they would be harder to track this way. They walked as quietly as they could and after awhile, Oliver realized he couldn’t hear anyone chasing them anymore.

When morning came, they found themselves in the middle of nowhere. They tried calling for help, but couldn’t get service. They walked in the direction that he thought the road would be in, but they couldn’t find it. Instead, they found themselves standing on the edge of a lake. None of them recognized the lake, there didn’t seem to be any houses on it, but the fishing line hanging from a nearby tree led them to believe someone had been there at some point.

By this point, they were tired, thirsty and hungry. Addy wanted to drink water directly from the lake, but Kevin said it wasn’t safe. He and Oliver had taken an outdoor wilderness survival class in college when Kevin had been trying to get a girl to go out with him. He hadn’t learned much, and the girl ignored him for their entire college career, but he’d picked up on a few things.

Oliver had paid more attention. At the time, he figured he would never use the skills they learned, but now it seemed they would come in handy. He directed the girls to gather some firewood. Before they could drink the water they needed to boil it. Oliver knew you could put water on leaf to boil it if needed, but if they could find anything left behind by a hiker, they would have more luck.

They scrounged the area for supplies. Kevin got the fishing line down out of the tree, with a hook still attached to it so they could try to make a fishing pole. They had no idea how long they would be out there, but they needed to eat and soon. Oliver looked around for something they could use to boil water while the girls headed back into the woods to gather firewood. He had barely started walking the beach when he heard the girls scream.

He and Kevin took off running for the woods. They’d found the girls standing by a tent. Nearby, there were two more tents and they had a campfire built from rocks in the center of their campsite. Whoever it was had been staying here at least a few days.

Oliver approached the tent where the girls were standing. Jenna had her arms around Addy and was trying to comfort her friend, but his sister was crying. He peered into the tent and winced. He looked back at Kevin. “You getting phone service yet?”

Kevin looked at his phone, then shook his head. “Not yet. Why?”

Oliver motioned towards the tent. He wasn’t even sure he wanted Kevin to see what he’d found. Inside the tent was body of a man about 6’6, covered in blood. Whatever or whoever had killed this man had been strong. His heart raced as he reached for his sister. “Shh, it will be all right, Addy.”

It took them a few minutes to check the rest of the tents. They were clean, with sleeping bags neatly laid out and a duffle bag with a few clothes in the corner. The group gathered what they could and packed up the tents and other supplies, leaving the tent with the body alone. They didn’t want to disturb a crime scene, but they needed food, water and shelter, and the items here would help them survive. Besides, whoever else had been here was already long gone.

It had taken them half the day to move everything to the other side of the lake. Even then, they didn’t feel safe, but it was better than sleeping close to a dead person.

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