Friday, September 24, 2010

Story Time

So, occasionally I am reminded that I do, in fact, fancy myself a writer of sorts. In that regard I've written a short story. Like, words and stuff! No pictures even! (ok, maybe just one...)!

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story,
"The Game"...

It was dark. Through the dim flickering light of her candle, Jenny could just barely make out the trees on either side of her. They pasted the edge of the candlelight like ghosts, but it was enough to let Jenny know she was still on the path. She was walking through a rather heavily wooded area outside of the town she had just moved to, and she was slowly making her way to what she had been told was an abandoned farmhouse. It was her new friends who sent her on her evening stroll. Actually she hoped they would be her new friends.

Jenny was the new girl in town. Her dad worked for a big company that manufactured various things, and he was always uprooting his family and moving them here, or there, whereever his company’s newest project was starting up. As is typical of teenagers who are dragged from one place to another by their parents, Jenny was never able to keep any close friends. As soon as she found herself a niche in her new community she was lifted up and transplanted to a new place, where she had to start all over again. It was a lonely way to live and left Jenny rather desperate for friends.

Enter the cool kids. Every school has them and Jenny’s new high school was no different. This group of almost godlike individuals strutted through the halls of school basking in the admiration and envy of all the other students. Like most popular kids, they seemed to be blessed with perfect friends, perfect lives, and perfect skin. This was what Jenny wanted. To be top of the food chain, even if it would only be until her dad whisked her away again. But it’s not easy to get in with the in crowd.

Or so she thought. After a few days at school she began hearing rumors that anyone could get the chance to join the cool kids, be accepted by them and learn their secrets for fighting acne. The kids at school called it “the Trial”. Ominous as it sounded it seemed like just what Jenny needed. One little game and she could bypass all the drama and frustration of climbing the social ladder.

So Jenny met the cool kids that weekend. Susan, apparently the leader, had told Jenny to meet them at the edge of the woods, outside of town. Sounded about right for whatever stupid initiation they had planned. When she arrived they were already there, dressed in dark clothing, almost disappearing in the shade of the trees . Jenny could only make them out because the moon was so bright. The forest looked dark, though.

The other kids where still as Susan told Jenny what she was in for. It was a simple game. Tag. A game for kids, sure, but in these woods it was a bit more intimidating. Jenny was going to have a ten minute head start. She was to make it through the woods to the old farmhouse. It was supposed to be haunted, or some nonsense like that. The house wasn‘t far, she was told, should only be a thirty minute trek. However, she would only have a candle, and if it blew out she’d have to carry on in the dark. If she made it to the farmhouse, she was safe. If they caught her, however…

Jenny didn’t want to think about it. Apparently, no kid ever showed his face in school again if he lost. Jenny tried not to imagine what humiliating punishment was in store for her if she didn’t win. She kept moving through the woods at a steady pace trying not to stumbled too much and protect her candle. She quietly thanked the wind for being still tonight.

Her ten minute head start had ended five minutes ago. She knew the other kids must be in the forest now. Having done this before, they probably knew the woods, and could navigate it easily, where as Jenny was like a sitting duck stuck on the path. She only hoped she had covered enough distance to keep them from catching up to her. She shuddered to think how horrible it would be to run from someone in the pitch blackness. The tree cover was so thick that even the bright moon couldn’t penetrate.

Every now and then she heard a rustling or a twig snap. She tried not to jump, but she couldn’t help imaging the other kids circling her, even now, toying with her before ending this game. To Jenny whatever terrors the dark woods held, was nothing compared to being humiliated and outcast the very first week in her new school. But the woods were quiet, the air was still and Jenny made her way with her candle flickering happily.

Suddenly she saw light ahead. It was a clearing! This must be where the farmhouse was. She hurried forward, still protecting her candle just in case, but as she got further on the path she saw the old house, basking in the moon light. The forest opened up into a field, clearly the remnants of a farm that had been abandoned and over grown. The farmhouse still stood, surrounded by the remains of other structures that weren’t so lucky.

Dropping her candle she took a quick look to make sure no one was crouched waiting to grab her, and then she made a dash for the front porch. She was a few feet away, arms outstretched, reaching for any bit of the house’s wooden frame.

Suddenly the front door burst open, and out stepped a dark figure wrapped in a hooded cloak. Jenny’s eyes went wide and she stumbled, and hurried to scurry away from the advancing figure. When she turned, though, she saw more hooded things coming out of the shadows and circling around her. She tried to dart between them but they kept grabbing at her, forcing her into the middle of the enclosing circle. She spun around looking for an escape but there was no way to get past them. They kept coming closer and closer, and finally, Jenny fainted.

When she finally came to, she had no idea how long she had been out, nor did she know why she was in this strange stone chamber, that smelled strongly like earth and mold. What she did know was that she was strapped to a cold stone slab, and that the cool kids where standing around her, their hoods off, their faces pale and sunken, watching her with gleaming black eyes. Jenny had lost their game. Susan was standing closest to her, and as she watched Susan raise the old, twisted dagger over her chest, Jenny thought “at least I’ll never have to worry about fitting in again”.

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