ProfNigma Stories #10: Schneider’s Island #1

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ProfNigma Stories #10: Schneider’s Island #1iCarly/Victorious: Schneider’s Island #12 – Whimper[Warning – there is no sex in this story, please don’t hate me for that, but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless]Freddie Benson had never moved so quickly in his life, and he could barely remember actually moving at all as his legs carried him out of the room, down the steps and around the inn to see the sight before him. His father. A man he had spent decades wondering and worrying about, was now hanging above him, bisected in the roughest way possible.”Dad…” he managed, knowing that his father couldn’t respond and would never respond again. Just like moments before, as he watched the glass break and Singer ripped backwards, Freddie was frozen in place, feeling helpless. “I’m sorry…”He whimpered silently, his body far too weak and tired to fully cry like he really wanted to. His mind was so clouded and a dull ringing had filled his ears so he had no idea that he was not alone on the patio.A sharp pain in the back of his head quickly changed that, and the Seattle born young man fell to the ground, facedown, sending his gun a few feet away.”He got what he deserved, you know.”Freddie knew he should look back, knowing that he could catch a glimpse of what this monster looked like, but for some reason, he felt like seeing whoever this killer was would seal his fate. Like a flash, all the reasons he had to survive this came flooding back, and he could see Jade and their house together, and them in the hospital, holding the baby. The perfect life he always wanted and dreamed of. The life he could never have if he didn’t take these types of chances.”Why…” he said, as confidently as he could manage, slowly pushing up on his hands to turn over. “Why are you doing this?””Like you don’t know…” the voice said, in a gruff, clearly disguised pitch. Freddie looked up at the darkness, seeing the outline of his assailant, his rifle now pointed at his face. “The sins of your father are now your sins. You look just like-“”Hey!” a voice shouted, and Freddie knew instantly it was Carly, and he prayed for her safety.Just as Freddie’s eyes began to focus on the scarred, shadowed, face, the killer now looked startled, looking toward the sound of the former web star’s voice before taking off in the opposite direction.”Freddie!” she called out again, rushing to his side, followed closely by Spencer and Andre. “Was that your…”Carly’s voice trailed off as she caught sight of where Freddie’s father actually was, and turned even more pale than usual, turning to be sick by the tree, not realizing the rest of the sheriff was right next to her.Spencer and Andre swiftly put their backs to the gruesome scene and helped Freddie to his feet.”You alright, man?” Andre asked, staring at the horrified young man and cursing himself for asking such a dumb question. “I mean-“Freddie didn’t have the will to verbalize a response, but he wrestled the gun from Andre’s hands and sprinted toward the woods where the killer took off.”Wait,” Carly said, jumping into his path. “You can’t do this… you can’t go off alone.””Why the fuck not, Carly?” he said, pushing her against the tree, with the rifle shaft against her throat, his eyes welling up with tears and hate.”Because it’s what the Slasher wants… you’ll die…” she said, weakly, scared what Freddie might do. “And I… you mean a lot to me.”Freddie huffed as he stared down the frightened young woman he spent years fantasizing over, and seeing her like this brought his senses back tenfold.”I’m… sorry,” he said, letting her go. “I didn’t mean to… We have to…””I think you need a rest, Freddie,” Spencer said, wanting to hurt Freddie for what he just did to his s*ster, but there was no denying that tensions were high at this moment, and he understood. “Let’s get back to the bar.””You know what?” Andre said, looking at the three of them. “I say we take off after this son of a bitch, together.”Freddie nodded, “Regardless of how I just acted… we need to stick together and not let this guy get away.””He’s got a few minutes head start on us,” Carly said, looking down for a moment. “No thanks to me, I guess.””Carly-” Spencer started, reaching out toward his s*ster to hold her. “It’s not your fault… you might have just saved Freddie from a trap or some-thing.””Well,” Andre said, gripping Freddie’s shoulder, “Your dad’s truck is still there. I say we check it out for any supplies that might help us, and at least we’ll be better prepared than just having three guns and a flashlight.”The four of them all nodded toward this fact, and headed over to the vehicle to see what they could scrounge up.* * *Try as he might to dissipate the taste in his mouth with beer, Nate could not shake the kiss he had received. From Sam, of all people. His mind could not process this development, and every single feeling that he buried deep came rushing back to him, putting his entire being on edge. He had loved her a couple years ago, and even loved her enough to give up the thing he swore to never give away before marriage. And then every-thing crashed. They fought constantly, and only really got along under the sheets, and even then it was the most frustratingly intense angry sex, which was fantastic, for the record, but it was also a total nightmare the other 20 hours in the day. Neither of them could just let it go, so it wasn’t a huge shock when she cheated on him with Freddie. A blessing, really, that was barely disguised.But that kiss. That stupid kiss. It meant something. Both of them knew it the moment it happened, and now it was all Nate could think about, even with bodies dropping like flies. The taste on his tongue and the tingle in his lips felt like a withdrawal symptom that he needed a hard fix for. Because, so far, three beers hadn’t cut it.”You shouldn’t drink so much.”Nate turned to face Cat, and his words dripped with annoyance. “I don’t drink enough is my problem.””Hmmph…” she replied, rolling her eyes and took a seat next to him.The truth was, she had been zoned out for a little while, as things carried on with the others in the bar. Savanna and Tori were sitting in a booth, the young girl seemingly on the verge of sl*ep as Tori stroked her hair. Jade sat near them, part of her still feeling ashamed from Tori’s outburst, knowing the singer was right about her role in their ‘relationship.'”Do you wonder why the killer would dump Beck at the door?” the redhead asked, just trying to make conversation, her eyes still focused on the window and hoping she’d see her girlfriend. “Like, of everyone… why him?””The dude is fucking nuts, Cat…” Nate said, shrugging, never really giving this too much thought. “We didn’t know if Beck was dead, so he let us know. This guy seems to get off on killing people, knowing they’re our friends and f*mily, and then making a big damn spectacle out of it. Sick shit.””So…” Cat said, mentally going back through everyone that was on the island with them, “what does it mean that we never found Kelly?””Who?” Nate said, without thinking, feeling a little bad that he forgot about the irritating blonde. “Nevermind… I remember her now. Guess that says something. No one remembers her and she was never found. Maybe all this is her…”The thought was like lightning for the Texan, all the pieces coming together, but then it all fell apart as who the victims were didn’t make much sense, especially this thing for framing Freddie’s dad. “Maybe it really is Singer and the k*d is just lying her ass off again.””Fuck you!” Jade said from several feet away, nearly jumping from her seat to get up in Nate’s face. “After all that k*d has been through, and you’re just going to call her a liar?!””Did she or did she not lie… two or three times now… about the killer and who he/she/it is?!” Nate stood his ground confidently. “Tell me if I’m wrong… but if she didn’t lie about everything from the start, we wouldn’t even be in this position? Freddie, Andre, Carly, and Spencer are all out there now… half our damn group… because she was playing fucking pretend!””You fucking fuck… asshole,” Jade said through gritted teeth, wanting to flip out and call him out, but he wasn’t wrong.”It’s ok, sweetie,” Tori said, rocking the frightened ch*ld. “No one blames you for anything. You had no choice in not telling the truth.””Speak for yourself,” Nate said, under his breath, turning to look if Cat heard him, but she was gone. Once again, she had taken her spot by the window, staring out expectantly. “You really shouldn’t stand by the window like that, Valentine. If the Slasher’s got that rifle still, its real dangerous to just stand there.””I can’t,” she said without even turning to look at him. “Not as long as Noey and Sam are still out there. Someone’s gotta keep watch for them. Let them know we are still here.”* * *On the other side of the island, Sam was helping Noelle up the hill as well as she possibly could. While the group back at the bar cheered for their miraculous escape, they had no idea that they didn’t exactly make it as uns**thed as it appeared. A lucky shot through the trees after they’d reached the woods had grazed Noelle’s shoulder, which, while not impeding her ability to run, certainly threw off her balance, and the dull ache and burn was only getting worse for the pale dark haired young woman.”Look,” Sam said, taking a deep breath, “I know it’s really shitty timing and everything but, I want you to know that I’m sorry.””For what?” Noelle winced, turning to look Sam in the eyes.”What happened before you and Cat graduated. The… thing between me and her.””The fact that you can’t say it kinda says a lot about how apologetic you really are, Sam. But-“”Don’t do that…” Sam said, showing genuine care and concern as she struggled for her words. “I’m trying here. It’s a tough thing to apologize for.””You just have to say it. I had to see it,” Noelle said coldly. “It’s in the past, and you don’t need to apologize or whatever, but you cannot imagine what that’s like. To be an outcast for 18 years, where no one really talked to me or liked me, and constantly berated me for not being ‘normal’ and straight like I ‘should’ be. Then to find your soul mate as if Fate and Karma had teamed up to make life up to you at last, and instantly know what love truly was. You cannot imagine having all that, only to come home one day and find that love of my life, dr*nk and high as a fucking kite, legs in the air, getting fucked… in OUR bed, with OUR… items by some shitfaced blonde who came onto her when she was vulnerable.””Noelle… look-“”No… You look, Sam Puckett. Cat and I have made up, but as far as ‘looking’ goes, I cannot look at you without seeing that image. I mean… I stood there and watched the two of you. I only got over it with her not long ago, only thinking about it every few days. So apologize away, but you’ll be wasting your breath with me. Cat still thinks the world of you, which is why I have never talked to you about it. She gave me the sob story about you and Nate being on the rocks, and I faked concern, but the truth was… and still is, really… I don’t care. You took something perfect away from me.””I’m sorry…” Sam sputtered out, and while Noelle’s words burned, probably more than the bullet’s graze, Sam only became that much more determined toward the goal. “I’m going to get you back to her. I promise.””Yeah… let’s just get there first,” Noelle said, trying, and failing, to pull from Sam to lead the way. “And keep the talking to a minimum.”* * *”Careful…” Spencer called out as Andre used the box cutter he’d found to slice the ropes holding Singer’s body, without causing the body to splatter on the ground. “We don’t need this to be any worse for him.””Yeah,” Andre said, shaking his head. “My ass is up here all alone in this room, and we’re focused on his feelings.”Down below, Freddie and Carly sat on the edge of the truck, staring at their friends try and give Singer’s body the best treatment under the circumstances. The former web star held her former tech producer’s hand and placed her head on his shoulder as they watched.The plan to follow the Slasher fell apart pretty quickly when they realized there wasn’t much for supplies in the truck and given how much of a head start the killer had, catching up to them would be no easy task if they were going to stick together. What they did find was a few tarps and a shovel, and under the circumstances, giving Freddie’s dad a proper burial just seemed like the right thing to do.”God… what kind of sicko would do this shit?” Andre asked as he slowly lowered the rope down where Spencer could catch the body to place it in the hole with the rest of him that Spencer could collect.”Not sure I ever want to find out,” the lanky man said, pulling the body to the hole and covering him with the tarp before motioning Carly and Freddie over. “But you can bet I will never let that monster near my daughter again.”Once Andre got back downstairs, the four of them stood silently for a few moments staring at the hastily covered body, everyone expected Fred-die to say something, but he didn’t. Opting to take a shovel full and dump a load of dirt on the bright blue tarp, physically, and emotionally, burying his issues with his father once and for all.* * *Tensions had remained high at the bar for what felt like hours as Tori sat with Savanna, being a pillow for the young girl as she mindlessly played with the bottle caps amassed from Sam and Nate’s consumption, along with what was used for the bombs. Neither had said anything since Jade and Nate went toe to toe over Savanna’s deception. Tori knew she should say something, and Savanna felt far too embarrassed to bring any more attention to her lies.”Can I ask you something?” Tori asked, tucking some hair behind her ear.”You just did, but that’s ok…” Savanna said, Tori chuckling softly that she could make that kind of joke at a time like this. “What’s the question, Miss Tori?””You said the man that took you was your friend, right?””Yes…” she said, stopping her bottle cap game. “He was really nice when we got here.””The man was here when you got here?” the singer asked, trying to scan for if she saw anyone capable of this since they’d arrived.”Yes, ma’am. He was at the hotel the first night. In fact, he helped me collect the flowers for my basket. He even played with me as I practiced tossing them.””I guess that’s nice,” she said weakly, not able to figure out the motive here.”It would have been…” Savanna trailed off, reality coming into focus that she didn’t get to do her job. “He showed me where some really pretty bush daisies were on the island. And said I should surprise you with them in your bed, but the door was locked so I had to wait.””I’m sure I would have…” Tori started, her eyes slowly widening at what she’d just heard. It was a well-known fact among her friends that she was horribly allergic to bush daisies. This fact came to light a number of times as Jade would torture her in high school, but the mean girl never actually let the flowers touch her, which was something, she supposed. The singer looked over to her former frenemy and felt a ping of connection for a few moments before the sick idea that perhaps Jade was involved. She’d used the flowers before, after all. “Did you guys ever talk?””All the time. The second night, he told me all about the people who died here. And about the person who did it. I think he was talking about him-self though.””What makes you say that, sweetie?””Just a feeling. He made the bad man sound like a superhero… it was the only time he ever really scared me. Before he took me.” Savanna paused and looked incredibly pensive for such a small ch*ld as if she was struggling with a concept. “Can I ask you something now?””Sure, Savanna… anything.””Is my mommy dead?””Wow…” Tori’s eyes bugged out as she looked around her, from Nate, who threw his arms in the air in disbelief, shaking his head, to Cat, who never even turned from the window, and finally to Jade, who looked just as worried, shook her head, pantomiming silence. All were fearing how to answer this question, and what could happen with either answer. Telling her the truth- that her mom did indeed burn to death- could scar her for life. Lying could keep her calm, but after all she’d been through, it didn’t seem right to just fill her head with a fantasy. “I’m afraid so.””I was afraid of that.” The ch*ld looked unaffected by the news, as far as breaking down or screaming was concerned, but the light and the joy that seemed to drive her ch*ldlike mind was notably dimmer in that moment. “Is Uncle Freddie going to die because of me too?”Before words could even leave Tori’s mouth, Jade launched herself at the table.”No…” the former Goth said sternly. “He is going to be just fine. Because Mr Andre, your aunt Carly, and your daddy are all out there taking care of him. Nothing else is going to happen. And even if it does, none of it would be your fault.”* * *Though he said nothing at the ‘service’ for his father, Freddie was doing plenty of talking in his dad’s pickup truck, where he sat alone. He had gone looking for the keys to see if he could at least get the thing going, and when he checked the visor. What he found was so much more moving that any vehicle keys. It was a picture. Three actually. The first was from when Freddie was 5 or 6 and his mom made him go to some glamour photo shoot. It was one of the worst experiences in his quarter century on this earth. But the photo was a good one. And so were the accompanying high school and college graduation pictures. Even though the last one was much more recent, all three seemed to have a lot of wear on them. Clearly handled and carried, and looked at on a regular basis.”Goddamn you…” Freddie said to no one as he punched the dashboard, his eyes slowly welling up with fiery tears. “You fucking bastard!”His muffled screams caught the attention of the others who stood near the grave waiting for Freddie to get his bearing before moving forward. They had no words. Andre had no f*mily ties or deaths here, and Spencer and Carly never had to see their parents die in front of them. Freddie had lost both of his now, and had spent the last day absolutely hating the man who cared about nothing as much as his son.Just as Andre was going to suggest checking on him, Freddie burst from the truck, with a renewed fire. He stormed toward his friends, and it immediately felt like the moment they showed up. Freddie grabbed the gun from Andre’s hands and headed toward the woods again. This time, all three of them reacted quick enough to pin him to the tree.”Why do you people keep trying to stop me? This sick fuck needs to die for what he did to my dad. To all of the people we care about. Why is that so wrong?””Because you can’t do it alone, Freddie,” Spencer said, locking eyes with his former neighbour. “We’ve always stuck together before and this should be no different. Your dad tried to deal with this guy years ago, and it didn’t work out. You are just one person, and not remotely trained for what this guy is bringing to the table.””That’s actually a good point,” Carly said, backing away for a second. “Why would your dad have lied about killing the Slasher back then?””To keep people safe. People needed to feel safe,” Freddie said quickly, not even considering any ulterior motives Singer might have had.”Seems like it would have been safer in the long run to be honest,” Andre said, pointing toward the empty island. “My ass certainly wouldn’t have-“A sharp look from Carly signalled to the Los Angeline that his words were not coming across so well. “You think he might be done?””I doubt it, Carls,” Freddie said, slowly relaxing. “After he knocked me down, he said that the sins of the father were now mine to deal with. That sounds like he’s got another reason to be here.””So…” Andre said, hoping this wouldn’t be taken the wrong way, “If this whole things so far was about making your dad look like a bad guy or a liar… what’s the game now?”* * *Back at the bar, Tori, Savanna, and Cat all stood by the window, despite Nate’s harshest warnings about it, each hoping to catch some sign of one of the others. Nate and Jade however, were a bit more focused on another real problem.”How long do you think we have on the generator here?” Jade asked, wishing there was literally any other guy here to talk to about this issue.”With what me and Andre put into it, I’d say we should get to morning, but it’s probably going to be close.” He believed that going out and refilling it was the best idea, but until sunrise, he didn’t want to step foot outside the locked tight bar. “We keep the low light in here and use the moon when we can in the bathrooms, we might be able to stretch it a bit further.””We know the landlines and cell towers are knocked out,” Jade fired back, laced with anger still even if there was no real need for it in the conversation. “We might be able to find something else to contact someone.””I wouldn’t be too sure,” the Texan shot back, filled with as much venom as he could muster toward the ‘mean girl.’ “This far from the mainland, it could take some serious time for anyone to come and rescue us. Maybe even a week.””That’s impossible…” Cat said, looking terrified. “Someone has to come looking for us. More police maybe?””Let’s hope they far better than the last ones,” Jade muttered before locking eyes with Tori, and reeling in horror at her insensitivity toward what happened to Det. Vega. “I didn’t…””I don’t care, Jade…” Tori said, shaking her head and focusing back on Savanna. “Besides, I know from my dad’s experience that backup never shows up when you need it.””Arrrghhh!” Cat screamed out, getting every eye in the room on her now flushed face, her crazed eyes staring such enormous daggers at Jade that they might as well have been Claymores. “This isn’t fair! Why did you two even have to get married?! And on this stupid island with killers and traps, and I don’t… fucking… know what else?!””Cat…” Jade said, trying to calm her friend, as Tori left Savanna to try and cool down the redhead as well. “We had no…””Why not?!” the usually shy girl cried out. “Noelle knew everything about this place before we even came here. And maybe it’s because she’s the smartest and best person I’ve ever met, but she at least knew where we were going. How could you and Freddie not know?!””Miss Tori…””One second,” Tori called back to the young girl as she looked toward Cat’s flushed face. “Noelle’s on her way back with Sam. It’s going to be al-right.””Umm… Miss Tori.””You don’t know that!” Cat screamed back. “They could have been killed and its all-“”MISS TORI!””Yes, Savanna?!” Tori spun around to face the young ch*ld whose yell was right on par with Cat’s.”He’s here!””Who-” was all the singer managed as the main door received a sharp kick, followed quickly by 6 pistol shots at the lock. The next kick launched the door open, revealing the killer to the room’s low light.The Slasher was shorter, but clearly very athletic, with a scarred face that looked like something out of a horror movie. There was only a second for them to take in the details before time started back up again, and everyone reacted as fast as they could. Nate levelled his rifle toward the doorway as Jade and Tori grabbed Savanna and took off for the other side of the room. Before Nate could fire the shit, the Slasher hit the light switch, sending the room into pitch black.The light from the rifle’s shot lit up just enough to see that the Slasher was not where the gun had hit, instead destroying the switch.Cat screamed out, paralyzed in complete and total fear, unable to run from the dark figure that was making their way toward her, lit only by the moon outside. The killer tilted his head to the side for a moment before dropping the gun and charging toward the redhead. The dropped gun made her feel a bit safer but the moment the killer got near the window, the glint of silver caught her eyes and she realized that he was going to gut her. Helpless, she closed her eyes and just waited for the stabbing, but heavy steps caught her ears’ attention.Nate, in typical line-backer fashion, bull-rushed the killer toward the window, slamming the slim body against the glass smashing it to pieces. Cat barely registered a pair of thick arms reaching out to her and it wasn’t until she felt herself falling as he shoved her, that she finally snapped out of her daze.”Run, you idiot!” he screamed, getting his bearings to help her to the bathrooms where the other girls had gotten to.As his injured hand reached toward her to push her further away, he saw a flash of metal as a searing pain shot through his hand, the nimble killer stabbing clear through his bandaged hand. “Arrggghhhhh!”As Nate stumbled in immeasurable agony, in the pitch black bar, Cat finally got to the other girls, who were barricading themselves in the women’s restroom, where the moonlight was clearest through the high windows. The killer headed towards her but Nate was still not down.The kaş escort Texan pulled the knife from his hand and gripped it tight, swinging toward the killer’s neck, hoping for a clear shot, but he got little more than air. However, one of his Slasher actually did make a bit of contact with the killer’s cheek, slicing the skin like paper, but as he caught a glimpse in the light it didn’t look like it was bleeding at all.The Slasher reached for another knife, this time a bit larger, from their belt and used the blade against the sliced skin. The scarred brow furrowed and with a flip of the knife, the Slasher began to slash back.Though stronger, Nate is not nearly as fast, in addition to being down a hand, and takes a number of strikes from the Slasher’s lightning fast knife work. With a thrust of his arm at the right time, Nate manages to stop one of the Slasher’s swings and launched his injured fist as hard as he could into the face of his would be assailant.The punch sends the killer back a few steps, and gives the large young man a chance to take off toward his gun. Once he gets his hand on it, there isn’t much he can do with the other one, so he tries to swing it by the barrel, hoping for another good hit. A swift kick from the Slasher sends the rifle from his hands, before charging once more toward the cowboy.The two wrestled around the room, neither one having much luck in taking down the other, until Nate managed to get his hand on another weapon, this time in the form of a pool cue, and snaps the item against the midsection of the Slasher, giving the Texan a more manageable weapon to use against the seemingly unstoppable menace.A strong swing from the half cue launched the Slasher’s large knife, which had previously sliced through Beck like a deli platter, across the darkened floor. The lithe killer lunged for it, as Nate readied his killing blow, attempting to thrust downward into the killer’s chest, but the hit just barely grazed the Slasher’s shoulder. The overwhelming strength in the move slowed Nate down a bit, and gave the Slasher a chance to not only recover the knife but to drive it into Nate’s left shoulder, which added to his already downed left hand, made the whole side vulnerable.”FUUCKKKKKRGGGHHHH,” he cried out, becoming more a****listic as the pain increased, tackling the killer and making lunge after lunge to drive the sharped cue piece into the throat and chest of the killer.But his raging bull routine only made him more and more careless, as the hard, slow hits were outmatched by the faster, lighter hits. Somewhere in the fight, the killer had delivered a surprisingly deep stomach slash, as Nate’s shirt was becoming a deeper red with each passing second.”I…” Nate managed, using his injured hand to hold his abdomen, breathing deep as he knew this might be the end. “I’m not afraid of you!””Those are usually last words…” the Slasher said with a faint grin as the slice on the face had grown larger, but still wasn’t bleeding at all. In fact, as Nate realized, there wasn’t anything to bleed. Unlike the sickly scarred skin he had seen before the lights went out, there was a very different, pink skin underneath.Nate mustered all of his strength, having to drop the cue piece, thrusting and punching with all his might as his eyesight began to weaken. The kill-er easily dodged most of his wild, but fairly slow strikes, but with a mighty roar, Nate connected. Hard. The punch launched the killer backwards onto the floor, where they remained for a few seconds. The Texan took a deep breath, feeling incredible agony from every inch of his body, and clumsily headed toward the killer to take away his knife.He just couldn’t move fast enough before the Slasher recovered, unfortunately. The killer got to their feet and sent the knife right through the hulking young man’s torso. Nate weakly reached up, spitting up what seemed like a quart of blood, and tried to shove his fingers through the killers eyes, but he missed grasping the nose instead.As he fell backwards, toward the bar, his hand was still full of the killer’s face, his final sight before he passed out the mismatched face standing over him, with a scarred top half, and everything from the nose down was just pink. Like a normal person.The Slasher looked down at the body, and let out a small sigh, relieved to survive against the first one who ever fought back. Removing the rest of the mask from their face, the Slasher raced towards the bathroom where the sounds of the girls’ whimpering could still be heard, leaving Nate’s body on the ground, and thus missing a subtle movement.* * *It had taken a couple minutes to gather their bearings but the girls quickly realized that they needed to get out as fast as possible. The window in the bathroom was fairly high, and it was small, but they knew that it was the only option they had. Jade and Tori grabbed Cat and lifted her to the window to see if she could unlock it and open it up well enough for an escape. Behind them, they could hear the crashing and banging in the bar, all praying that Nate would stop him, or at least slow the killer down enough. Cat managed to finagle the window enough to slip out, and reached back for Savanna as the two frenemies lifted the ch*ld up to the redhead, who pulled her through fairly easily.Jade and Tori exchanged glances as if to ask who should go next, but for Jade the choice was obvious. She cupped her hands for Tori’s foot and the singer reluctantly took the offer and climbed up so that Cat could pull her through the window. Even Savanna tried to help the singer to get through the narrow window.The former Goth looked at the window and quickly realized that she might be in trouble. This was an escape for people who were basically shaped like watches, and she was definitely an hourglass. Cat and Tori reached out for her, but she just shook her head, knowing that she would-n’t fit. With a deep sigh, she turned toward the dead-bolted bathroom door, and listened out for the fighting, and was incredibly scared it had gone quiet.A fraction of a second after she pulled her ear from the door, a large knife came through the crack in the door, and Jade raced for the window, grabbing for their hands, praying that what she had always considered a blessing in her life would not be the death of her.The bathroom door sustained two kicks before it finally gave way, Jade’s bust still keeping her from coming out all the way, no matter how hard the three girls tugged. As Jade felt a sharp grab on her ankle to pull her back down, she apparently sucked in just enough to get pulled through, leaving only her ass to try and fit. Another grab on her ankle, caused her to kick and scream, as they pulled. Jade could only pray for a miracle.BLAM!Jade’s prayers had been answered with a gunshot, causing the killer to let go of her ankle and head towards the sound. The last thing Jade heard before she slipped from the window was Nate’s muffled voice shouting “We ain’t done yet!” followed by horrible screamingThe girls ran from the bar, as fast as they could, no idea on the direction for quite some time, their flashlights focused on the ground for any possible traps, and Tori suddenly stops and begins to shake.”What’s wrong?” Jade asks, wide eyed.”I left the gun back at the bar.””Well, maybe that was the gun that just saved my life…” the Goth said, trying not to think about what happened to Nate. “But we don’t need to worry right now. We just need to get somewhere safe.””But how will we protect ourselves if he comes after us?!” Cat shouted, starting to get riled up again.”I think I know a place we can go where we won’t need to…” Jade said, taking charge. “I think it’s the one place that might have the answers, and hopefully weapons we need- The sheriff’s house.”* * *”So, this is the place, right?”Sam looked a few paces back at Noelle still lagging, and unfortunately, still fuming, hoping that the long journey might finally be at the end.”Yes. The rental spot I went to is just over there,” the raven haired girl said, pointing just beyond some trees, a clear excitement renewing her energy. “I can’t wait to see it honestly. I thought it would be the perfect place to just relax and maybe even step up and propose. I spent some pretty decent money on-“”Noelle…” Sam said, her voice carrying a dread that could practically be a ship anchor.”What is it?””The marina here… there aren’t any boats.””What?” Noelle said, racing to the blonde’s side in utter disbelief.”I mean,” Sam said, trying not to let this feel like a failure. “We knew it was a longshot. Some jackass probably just took off with it when every-one left.””No…” the pale girl said softly. “This… this is all my fault. I was too slow.””You know, Noelle,” Sam said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes. “I’m getting so sick of you constantly blaming yourself for the dumbest shit. None of this was your fault. People were scared and bolted from the island, and someone probably took it.””Yeah… but I could have at least saved a few people.””How so?””The boat… when Beck, Cat, Tori, and myself all snuck out. I…” Noelle was clearly struggling for her words. “I stopped them. I made them feel like monsters for not staying to look for that little girl. Beck might still be alive if I wasn’t so-“”That is some fucking bullshit, Westlake. Beck died because he was stupid, and you not leaving saved that girl’s life. You made the right choice and stood up for what you believed in.” Sam had to stop herself for a moment, fearing that she was being too gung ho. “I mean, you stood up to me a little bit ago… you’re a smart and strong girl. Don’t apologize for it.”Noelle was stunned that words of such support could fall from Sam Puckett’s mouth, but somehow they had, and they actually helped. She still regretted how everything happened and going on this wild goose chase but perhaps it at least served a cathartic purpose.”Honestly,” she said, sinking to her knees, “I just want to grab Cat and go home… that’s all I want. The love of my life and a small boat… is that too much to ask?””Apparently…” Sam shot back, taking a seat next to her on the hill. “But I guess we need to head back. Love may be a sickening lie for me, but for you… well, let’s just get you back to Cat, k*d.”* * *After trying and failing to get a ‘hunting party’ started, twice, near the inn, Freddie, Carly, Spencer, and Andre decided to head back to the bar, to tell of what happened. Though they each had other reasons to head back, that were far less focused on giving an update. Freddie naturally couldn’t wait to see Jade again, as, thanks to everything that had happened with losing both of his parents, she was now his only f*mily, and shared a similar situation. Spencer, of course, couldn’t stand to be away from Savanna for another minute, and was afraid of what she might have said or done while he was gone. Carly was looking forward to seeing Sam, since the blonde should have been back by now. And Andre? He just wanted to knock back a beer with Nate.What they found, however, caused their collective hearts to sink, as the lights were almost completely out. The generator going out wasn’t a big surprise, given how long it was expected to last, but there was also some faint sounds echoing through the surrounding area. As they got closer, it turned out to be music. A haunting melody filled the marina as the formerly hurried footsteps of those who missed their loved ones turned into cautious and careful tip-toeing.We’ll meet again,Don’t know where, don’t know when,But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.Keep smiling through,Just like you always do,Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds, far away.So will you please say hello,To the folks that I know,Tell them I won’t be long, (I won’t be long)They’ll be happy to know that as you saw me goI was singing this song.The crew softly took their steps into the busted front door, and were absolutely stunned at the amount of damage as tables were flipped, chairs were broken, and there was blood everywhere. Andre followed the crimson trail with his flashlight with Carly right behind him as Freddie and Spencer headed toward the other side of the dark room.”HOLY FUCKING SHIT!” Andre screamed out, falling backwards onto Carly as he scooted away from his discovery in complete and utter horror. Carly caught a glimpse and started to retch, but thanks to losing her stomach at the tree, she had nothing to come up.Freddie and Spencer raced to the bar where the others stood, and Freddie moved his flashlight over the body while the other two averted their eyes.It was Nate. Or at least it looked like Nate’s and was wearing his clothes- His face was completely gone. Almost surgically removed leaving a red skull behind. The behemoth of a man was covered in blood, and had been stabbed what seemed like countless times. There were broken bottles everywhere, and a blood covered Exact-O knife lying in the damage.Freddie could barely process a thought. Whoever did this was almost superhuman. In his mind he had figured that Nate would have been a survivor. He was big, strong, and he was in charge of protecting the girls. The girls… his mind suddenly screamed.”Has anyone seen anything with the girls?!” he called out. “Any sign of Jade, Cat, Tori, or Savanna?””None…” Carly said, looking around, trying to look anywhere but at the body. “Maybe they got out.””Yeah…” Andre said, nodding, looking horrified but serious. “I bet that’s what happened to Nate… maybe gave them a chance to run or something. Sounds like him.””Well, we can mourn him later for his sacrifice,” Spencer whispered, feeling the hairs on his neck rise and fall in horror that his baby girl was missing again. “Right now, we need to find the others and regroup.””I hate to say it,” Freddie said, looking at Andre who was taking a seat and knew that he was suffering, “but he’s right. The girls are probably on the run, and if we’ve got 3 of the seven guns, and Sam has one, and the killer got Beck’s and mine, and Nate’s is right there… that means they are defenceless.””Just give me a minute, man…” Andre said, grabbing a bottle and taking a sip as he sauntered over to a tablecloth and grabbed it. Dr*ping it over his friend’s mangled body, he said a quick muffled prayer, and poured a bit of the liquor on his friend before heading to meet the others on the other side of the building, downing the rest and shattering the glass against one of the walls. “Now we can go.”* * *”The man told me that an evil man lived here…” Savanna said, feeling very scared as she approached the house, sandwiching herself tight be-tween Tori and Cat as the four girls moved. “But if he was a liar, maybe the policeman is a good guy.””I certainly hope so,” Jade said, her thoughts with her fiancée, praying that his meeting with his dad went alright and that it wasn’t a trap. But she needed to put on a strong face for the others, especially Savanna “He’s my Freddie’s daddy so he can’t be bad, can he?””I guess not…” the ch*ld said softly, as Jade pushed open the door.It hadn’t even been a day since she and Freddie had gone to the house for information on his dad, but the place looked like a complete and utter disaster. Books that lined the walls were strewn over the floor, cabinets were flung open with tools, broken dishes, and ripped up notebooks covering nearly every square inch. Whoever came here after them was looking for something. Jade breathed a small sigh of relief, believing that if who-ever did this couldn’t find something of Singers, it couldn’t be Singer who did this. The other half of her brain wondered if this was a trap meant to make her believe that.”Guys, someone has been here since we were,” the former Goth said with a whisper. “I don’t know if that means something bad or not, but it definitely means that we weren’t the first ones to come here.””No k*dding…” Tori said, helping Savanna along into the dank house. “I wonder if they are still here or something… maybe one of the others did this?””Maybe…” Jade said, looking around. “Freddie and Sam were with me when we came here last… one of them might have done all this. Upstairs maybe?””I’m scared…” Savanna said, grabbing Tori’s hand tight.”We all are, sweetie,” the brunette said, taking her hand tighter, dropping to a knee so she could face the young ch*ld. “But we need to be brave. Jade thinks this place is safe, and I trust her.”Jade nearly flinched from the shock of those words. Given how their last big conversation went, the fact that Tori would indeed trust her was a huge step. “Vega…””Stop.” Tori’s eyes flamed for a moment as she looked at her former frenemy and short time lover. “I trust you to keep us safe. That’s as far as this goes… West.””You two have to stop,” Cat said, breaking her surprising silence. “We just need to go upstairs and wait. I think we can still see the bar so when Sam and Noelle come back, we can go get them.”The three other girls looked to the redhead, surprised at her giving the orders, but at least she had some focus, and that was more than anyone else could say.The stairs creaked under their weight as the musty house announced their location to anyone that might be inside. Luckily, there wasn’t another sound, creating yet another small relief in choosing to come here.Jade tossed open the door to reveal the shrine Singer had made to the Slasher, but this time the neat and orderly clippings and long boxes were shredded and the boxes crushed. Someone really went out of their way to destroy the stuff in the room, and Jade couldn’t shake the question of why.”Jeez…” Tori said as they moved into the room. “Talk about not being able to let a case go…””I think he had good reason to be concerned, Tori…” Cat said, shutting the door behind her, sealing the four in as they slid boxes to cover the door just in case the killer showed up here like the bar.”Maybe this stuff is what whoever did downstairs was looking for…” Jade said, looking around, trying to remember this stuff from before and what might be different. The blueprints were gone, she suddenly realized. “I think the killer took their trap blueprints back…””What?!” Cat and Tori said in surprised unison.”When I was here last, we found these blue prints and plans for traps and stuff on this table… some of which we have seen. Freddie realized they weren’t in his dad’s handwriting so either someone planted them, or Singer found them. They’re gone now which I think means the killer knows that we know they weren’t the sheriff’s.””But if those were just out there on the table,” Tori asked, taking a seat on a nearby chair, where Savanna sat down in her lap, “why go through and mess with all this other stuff. Is there anything else information-wise that’s missing?””I don’t really know… we weren’t here very long,” Jade sighed, sitting on the table’s edge and looking over to Cat who was still glued to the window. There was something off about the window, she thought, staring harder to try and think, which with just a couple hours worth over two days, wasn’t that easy. Then it hit her. “Cat… get away from the window for a second.”The redhead did as she was told and stepped back as Jade ran to it. The problem with the window was that there wasn’t one here before. It was covered top to bottom in yellowed newspapers about the killings long ago… but they were gone. Unlike the clippings which looked torn and tossed, there were no rips, as if those were meticulously taken down.”What’s wrong?” Cat said, realizing that Jade had been motionless for almost a minute.”We need to track down a newspaper. There were newspapers about the killings here, and they were on the windows. They weren’t ripped or messed up like all the stuff on the poster board. Someone carefully took them. Which might be our first actual clue as to who this might be.”* * *It took all of 5 minutes to find more ammo for the rifles, but nearly ten for anyone to brave going near Nate’s body to grab his. Once Andre stepped up, the four of them were armed once more. But seemed rather directionless on where to go from here. Carly quickly surmised that they escaped through the bathroom window, and Freddie and Spencer tried to consider the map of the island and where they might have escaped to. Being on foot and carrying a ch*ld was no easy task, so it would probably have been somewhere close by.”Can we talk about how different this is?” Andre said, interrupting the thought process of the others.”In what way?” Carly asked, trying to get a handle on her gun.”This,” he said, waving to the rest of the bar. “This isn’t like everything else that has happened. Hiding in the shadows, grabbing people who were weak and alone. But this…””Yeah,” Freddie said, nodding, narrowing his eyes, realizing what his grief and anger had blinded him too for too long. “It’s like a slash and burn rather than something methodical.””Non-stop carnage is what it is,” Andre said, offering a glance. “I mean, the dude took out three cops and literally the biggest and strongest guy I know. This is no joke.””But he let you go,” Spencer said, looking to Freddie. “Showed his face when he could have just killed you… why?””We scared him off is the reason…” Andre said looking around as if this should have been common knowledge but it seemed questionable now. “Right?””It doesn’t make sense. He could have shot me or stabbed me dead before you guys even got there. But he didn’t. I don’t get it… To kill, have the chance to disappear back into the shadows, and give enough evidence to blame Singer for all of this shit… but goes the other way with it, and does this?”Maybe your dad was some kind of trigger and changed the way things went down,” Carly offered. “The Slasher planned to do this but wanted to be famous again maybe?””Maybe…” he said, shaking his head. “But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to it than that. In fact there might be more than just one killer, I think.””Two?” Andre said, as if the suggestion itself was a shot to the heart. “I guess two people makes sense for taking out so many people. The cops and Nate… they were tough, and armed, but if two people surprised them, I guess it’s possible.””Maybe the second guy is the messy one who did all this…” Carly said, her voice trembling.”I think we need to find the girls,” Spencer said as Freddie nodded and finished loading his gun. “If there were two of them, the girls had to have seen something.””Right…” Freddie said, looking around the room one more time, and checking his watch, knowing it would be sunrise pretty soon. “Well, we need to start being focused and proactive, and if the girls know something, then we need to know it to. They are the first priority, then we can see about putting an end to this asshole, or assholes… once and for all.””What about getting off the island?” Carly asked, wondering if that even occurred to him anymore.”If the son of a bitch is dead, then we won’t need to leave, will we?”* * *”I think I’m going to throw up if I keep looking at these…” Tori said, trying to file through some of the boxes that lined the floor of the sheriff’s upstairs. “I don’t know how someone could be sick enough to commit some of these crimes.””And half of them aren’t even from around the area. Just unsolved murders on the west coast,” Jade said, shaking her head, trying to also maintain her composure. “But we need to go through every one of these boxes to see if we can find something that might have been in or about the newspaper from the window.””Still a horrible person.””He was always very nice to me. He had really soft hands and told me I was a princess,” Savanna said, sitting in the corner, feeling like the other girls were ignoring her.”Hmmph!” Jade scoffed with annoyance. “That’s because he’s a fucking sociopath.””Jade!” Cat said, horrified at the language, earning a rolled eye glance from Jade before she realized she wasn’t offended for her own sensitivity, but for the young ch*ld who was curling up, as if Jade had just hit her on the nose with a newspaper.”I’m… sorry,” the former mean girl said, crawling over to Savanna. “I wasn’t cursing at you… just at the bad man. You have to understand that some people pretend to be good people so they can do bad things. You got to see what the man is like when he stops pretending tonight.”Savanna nodded gently and pressed her head to Jade’s chest, which was extremely soft. “So no more pretending then?”Jade attempted to respond, but Tori yelled before she even had the chance.”I found something…” the brunette said as the three others joined her side. “I think these are the tunnel blueprints, which means we now know how this guy is getting around so fast.””But we already knew that from when we had to go save Savanna…” Jade said, shaking her head that this wasn’t nearly as important as she had hoped.”Yeah…” Tori said with a leading tone, hoping they might realize what she had really just figured out. “But we now have the map of them, where they go, and where they come out. If we could guard kemer escort those areas, then the killer wouldn’t have that as an option.””That’s great and all, Vega, but we can’t really guard much of anything as it stands right now. This place hasn’t got sh…” Jade caught herself for the k*d’s sake, “much of anything for weapons.””We just need to find the others then,” Cat said, heading back toward the window. “They should be back soon, right? It’s been like-“BING BONG, BONG, BONGThe loud bells froze all four of the girls in their place as they felt a sliver of hope and a mountain of cold shivers float up and down their collective spines.* * *”That was the church’s bells, right?” Spencer said, as the four of them moved toward the windows trying to see if they could see the church well enough for any other signals or lights.”I think so…” Freddie said. “Only place on this island that I know of with bells like that.””Gotta be a trap.”All eyes flew to Andre to hear the Los Angeline of the group out on what led to that belief.”Everything that we’ve done so far has been like playing into the dude’s hands,” he explained, gesturing to everything around him. “He used the k*d to split up enough for half of us to get separated and it got Beck killed. We were driven to this bar by the gunfire. Your dad’s whole thing split us up even further. This is no different.””Maybe,” Freddie said, “but it might be Jade and the girls… or maybe even Sam and Noelle. Maybe they got back and saw this and took off for a spot they might have felt safe.””I don’t think Sam would run to a church if she was looking for safety, Freddie,” Carly said.”Yeah,” he replied, looking into the darkened distance. “But Jade or Tori might have.””Then I think that settles it,” Spencer said, stepping up to try and lead to where he prayed his daughter would be. “We have to go check it out.””Should we split up, then?” Carly asked, looking to Andre who seemed just as trepidations about this plan as she was.”No way,” Andre said, stepping towards the other guys. “I think this is dumb, but we are sticking together. Splitting up is how people get killed.”* * *”So two of us will go, and you guys can stay here,” Jade said, curling the blueprints into her pocket so she could show them to Freddie who she prayed would be the one at the church. She looked to Cat who seemed to be mentally preparing herself for the journey down to the church.Tori was instantly against the idea of going down there, believing that they had found safety in the house and leaving it, let alone taking a ch*ld into what seemed like a trap. Savanna wanted to go, but after a grownup discussion, if one could even call it that, it was decided for her that she needed to stay here with Tori.”If Freddie and the others didn’t know where to find us since we left the bar, they would try and signal us. And they have the guns, so if the killer showed up first, they would at least be prepared.””Noelle and Sam would probably do the same thing, Jade,” Cat said looking out the window for any sign of anything. “But they are just two people with one gun… we can’t wait and let something happened to them.””So those are the odds, Vega…” Jade said, narrowing her eyes, and worrying that this was the singer trying to make her escape again like she did with Beck the other night. “Are you sure you want to just sit here and wait?””Yeah…” the brunette said, looking to the little girl, a piece of her feeling like she owed a responsibility to the ch*ld somehow. “But this will give us time to look at these boxes for any sign of what the killer or the sheriff might be hiding.””We’ll come back for you guys as soon as we find the others, Tori…” Cat said, praying that both halves of that sentence would be true. She hugged Tori and Savanna nonetheless and headed towards the door to assist Jade with their blockade.As Jade and Cat headed out the door, the former Goth looked to Tori and spoke with genuine emotion, “Block this door off once we’re gone… and don’t open it for any reason until we get back.”Just before she turned, she could have sworn that Tori mouthed something at her, and while she first thought it was ‘envelope,’ halfway down the stairs, she realized that it was something far more meaningful- ‘I love you.’* * *As Freddie and Spencer led Andre and Carly toward the church, there was instantly an ominous feeling right away. There were no lights in the church, even flashlights, so far as they could tell, but there was no question that the bells were from this location.”Still standing by my trap theory,” Andre muttered, earning a rolled eye glance from Freddie.”Trap or not,” he said under his breath, still hoping the four of them could gain the element of surprise, “we are 4 able bodied people, each with guns. If this guy comes at us, we should be able to handle ourselves.””Think we should go straight through the doors, guns blazing” Spencer asked, “or walk around the place to check it out before hand?””Definitely check the perimeter first,” Freddie said confidently, starting to turn the corner. “The last thing we need is any more surprises.””Would one more be alright?”Freddie nearly jumped from the voice, dropping his rifle. Not out of fear, but because he instantly knew who it belonged to.”Jade!” he called out as his bride to be practically launched herself into his arms, and the two held each other for a few moments, sharing a couple deep kisses, and more than a few quick ones. “I’m so happy you’re okay… after I saw what happened at the bar, I was so afraid that something had happened to you. Ringing the church bells were a good idea.””Babe… I’m sorry, but those… weren’t our doing.””Our?” he said, stepping back, having completely missed the fact that Cat was standing nearby. “Oh… sorry, Cat… I was-“”It’s ok… I get it.” The redhead looked completely distraught for a few moments, wishing she could do the same with Noelle. “So you didn’t try and bring us to the church?””Not us, baby girl,” Andre said, grabbing Freddie’s gun while his hands were occupied by Jade’s body. “Maybe Sam or Noelle?””I hope so…” the sweet girl said, craving the soft touch of her girlfriend. “It could be Nate though… he helped us get out of the bar, so-“No one needed to speak as the glances of the recent bar patrons told the usually air-headed young woman that there wasn’t much of a chance of that being true.”K*ddo,” Spencer started, putting his hand on her arm. “I’m glad he helped you two escape, but… he didn’t make it.””He helped all four of us actually,” Jade said, pulling away from Freddie for a moment. “Tori and Savanna are at the sheriff’s place. After every-thing that happened, I figured that would be a good place to hide out and regroup.””Then we need to go get them,” the lanky artist said, starting to head away from the church.”Hang on…” Freddie said calmly. “We came here to investigate the bells, and we need to do that first.””Yeah,” Andre said, moving toward Spencer, “but we’ve eliminated all but three people that could have done it. Sam, Noelle, or the damn psycho killer. That’s a 33% chance this is a trap. Too much for me.””You are such a pussy,” Jade said, rolling her eyes.”You didn’t get to see what happened when Nate went up against this guy. Dude got stabbed like 30 times, and that wasn’t the worst of-“”This is the plan,” Freddie said sternly, cantering himself in the group and grabbing his gun from Andre. “We go in, take a look around for any signs, just in case it’s our friends calling for help. Just a short time in, and then we’ll head to my dad’s. I know the way, and it’s about as safe as possible, entry/exit point-wise as anyplace I’ve been here.”The six walked in cautiously, pushing doors from the sides, just in case there were any other traps that they could be lured into. Once the doorway was cleared, Cat practically burst into the main area, wasting no time ruining the element of surprise.”Noelle?!” she cried out. “Are you here?!”While the sounds that Cat was making were certainly something disheartening, for the others, the first sense affected by the church was the smell. There was still the lingering scent of the a****l carcasses Freddie had cleaned up days ago, but without all the candles and fresheners that were present at the rehearsal, the place reeked.The group filed in slowly, and Andre actually made a beeline for the candles by the front.”Good plan,” Spencer said, taking a deep sniff. “Maybe the candles will help with the smell.””This isn’t for the smell, man…” Andre said, partially offended, but not wanting to dwell or toss blame. “These are prayer candles.””To light up the room?” Carly asked, earning a completely dumbfounded look from the musician.”No… it’s just because some people deserve our prayers.”After calling out and shouting for nearly two minutes, Cat had given up hope that Sam and Noelle were signalling them to come.”Maybe the bell tower, or something upstairs,” Jade said, looking around for the staircase as Cat and Freddie followed her. “Kitty Cat… I don’t think you should go up there.””Why not?!” the redhead said, incredibly hurt. “If Noelle’s up there, I want to be the first person she sees.””Yeah…” Jade realized that she may have made a mistake bringing up the idea, but knew that it needed to be said. “But if she and Sam did go up there, and someone was up there too… we might find something you don’t need to see.”Cat paused for a moment and looked into Jade’s eyes and saw the hurt and that this was genuine concern from someone whose friendship had always been a bit more fair weathered than the others. “Ok…” she said softly. “I’ll wait here.””Good,” Jade said, feeling a little bit better than whatever horrors they might find, that Cat wouldn’t have to face those nightmares. She and Fred-die headed up the stairs, anxious to search, but also incredibly eager to be alone for the first time in what felt like forever. “Should I even ask about your dad?”Freddie paused and looked at her, searching for the right words to say, before looking back around the top part of the church, finding little more than a metal chair by the window. “He didn’t make it.””I’m really sorry, baby,” Jade said, reaching for him and a hug. “I was wrong about him… I guess everyone here was.””Yeah…” he said, embracing her, but pulling away after mere seconds. “Me included. He was trying to help me, and warn me, and… all I did in his final moments was stand there and make him feel like shit. I didn’t get to see the life leave my mom… and the same goes for your parents. But I watched him tell me he loved me, apologize for being a bad father, and then I froze as he was ripped from my life. Literally. It’s all I can see when I close my eyes.””Freddie…” Jade managed, but she knew there were no words to be said here. Only heartbreak. And when she offered her hands and lips to his, he pushed her away. She was infuriated for a second, but the flames fizzled out when she saw his tear filled eyes. “I’m… I’m sorry.””Thanks…” Freddie said, wiping the corners of his eyes. “But not nearly sorry as this guy is going-“”Freddie! Get down here! Quick!”Carly’s cries broke the two of them from their focus and they ran down the stairs to see what was going on with the others. Immediately they were blinded by the headlights of a vehicle, and it almost seemed like deja vu, where Beck was dumped, and the entire church was lit up for a second, and for half a second, it looked to Jade like there were fewer of them.The lights cut off and the sound of two car doors rang out, with Freddie, Spencer, and Andre standing at attention toward the main door, while Carly pointed towards the back.The heavy wooden doors burst open and Sam, her rifle, now equipped with a flashlight duct taped to the barrel, point around the room. Her aggressive look immediately melted away as she realized that it was her friends. Noelle filed in right behind her, her shoulder still red, showing clear favouritism to the other side.”There’s no boat,” the blonde said hastily, lowering her weapon, and looking to the others, seeing the slow drip of dread and despair fill their minds. “Other than finding a car to hotwire after hearing your signal, the whole thing was a wash. Is this all-“”Where’s Cat?” Noelle said, her focus far from reporting to the group, compared to seeing her love.”She’s…” Spencer said turning around to where she was standing, but it only took the group a couple moments to realize that she was gone. “She has to be-“”CAAATTTTTT?!” the dark haired girl screamed out, running past the group and pushing them to the side to see if she was in a corner or near the stairs. “CAT?!”Spencer headed for the door while Noelle was busy looking around. “Guys, I think we should grab Savanna and Tori and bring them here before we do anything else.””And Nate too,” Sam added, causing the entire room to turn to look at her, but none could bear to make direct eye contact. “I mean, that dude is a b**st… where is he? Holding down the bar?””Sam…” Freddie said, stepping out to reach to her. The blonde looked into his eyes and Freddie couldn’t look away now that she was right there. “He didn’t make it.””No…” she said, shaking her head, her eyes starting to glisten. “No, you’re fucking sick, Benson. There’s no way he… He’s the toughest person I’ve ever met besides me… I mean… he couldn’t. He went after the Slasher, didn’t he? He had to-“”I saw him, Sam…” Carly said, moving toward her friend to embrace her. “Freddie, Spencer, Andre, and me… we found him. He saved-“”Take me to him then, Carly!” the blonde’s face had turned beet red.”No…” Freddie said, stepping in. “You don’t want to see what happened to him. The killer attacked the bar, and he got Jade, Cat, Tori, and Savanna out of there. He sacrificed himself, and the killer… he’s just gone, Sam. I’m sorry.””No!” Sam screamed, reaching and punching Freddie in the chest, which caused the former tech producer to wince a bit, but he stayed firm as Sam cried and punched until she just gave out, and fell into the arms of her ch*ldhood friends. “It’s not… fair…””I know, k*ddo,” Spencer said, trying to comfort her as well, but she immediately jerked away from his hand. “Look, we need to focus on getting the others- Tori and Savanna- from Singer’s to here and we can mourn our losses once we are all somewhere safe.””Fuck that.”At first, the room thought Sam had made the noise, but as people turned, including Sam who was trying to regain her balance, they realized the words came from a normally meek source: Noelle.”What do you mean?” Spencer said, narrowing his eyes, wondering if he would have to fight her over his daughter.”I mean just that, Mr Shay,” Noelle said as calmly as she could, her breathing heavy and focused. “We are not going anywhere just yet… we aren’t going to run any longer. We have a bigger priority.””My daughter is my top priority, Noelle,” he said sternly, looking down at her.”I get that. But we already paused and possibly missed a chance to leave and all make it to safety once because your daughter was somewhere. In fact, I stopped a group from going while your daughter was missing. But this isn’t ok. You know where she is, right?””Right.””And is this place safe?”Spencer paused at Noelle’s question but Jade stepped forward. “Yeah… Tori is with her.””Then it settles it. Cat, my one true love and the absolute most important thing in the world to me, is now missing. And we are going to find her. Priority one right now.””Excuse me, but-“”No,” Noelle said without even looking at Spencer when shutting him down. “You put things on pause for her, and it would be complete hypocrisy for you to handle this differently.” She looked around the room for anyone else to disagree, but to her surprise actually, everyone else seemed on board, with nods, and attentive glances.”The Slasher had to have grabbed her between you guys showing up and me and Freddie checking upstairs,” Jade said, as Andre prepared his doubtful statement, she decided to head him off with what she brought with her. “We found some maps of the tunnels under the island. So rather than guessing where we are like when you guys went after Savanna, we now know exactly where they are, and where they go.”Freddie looked over her shoulder as she revealed them, shining his light on the situation to see the nearest tunnel to them. “It looks like there’s only three actual exits/entrances from these mazes of tunnels.” He headed off to the front of the church and peeled back the carpet a few feet, and found the heavy trap door. “This being one.”Noelle raced over to try and lift it but with her shoulder, she couldn’t even make it budge. Once Freddie and Sam got involved, however, it came up like magic, revealing a similar sight as they found at the inn.”So, this is my plan,” Freddie said, pulling the others to gather around him. “There are 6 guns between us now and three holes to blockade. We know where the one at the inn is, so Sam and Andre, you take two of them and head over there to guard that one in the kitchen- block it off if you have to since that seems like the most likely path. The path from it to here is really wind-y so you should still beat him there. Spencer, I want you take a gun and Jade to take the car outside and park it… here.” Freddie pointed at an exit that was only accessible by manhole cover in the road, trying to ignore the fact that Jade was pissed that he was sending her away again. “And that leaves Noelle, Carly, and myself with the other three guns. We will go down the one here in the church and follow the path… and we’re bound to corner the killer off somewhere.””And we’re sure this will work?” Spencer said, eager for all of this to be over so he could get to his daughter again.”As I can be,” Freddie said looking over the map. We both saw the cave in, which actually seems like it wasn’t marked on this map, when we were looking for Savanna so it’s possible that things may have changed, but I honestly believe this is how we can catch the killer-“”And save Cat,” Noelle added, looking to the others to help reassure her that that was a possibility. But unfortunately, the drained and depressed looks that everyone wore were not the most faith inspiring. Softly, the dark haired author took a few deep breaths and sat on a nearby pew, waiting for the word ‘GO.’* * *”SOMEBODY!” Cat screamed out, at the top of her lungs. “PLEASE HELP ME! HEEEELLLLLPPPPPP!”The redhead shook the bars over her head, unable to lift them from the iron being so heavy. The added lock also deterred her escape. Surrounding her were nothing but rocks, from a broken part of the underground tunnel. She was freaking out and breathing heavy from the moment she woke up here, but from what she could tell, this was a part of the tunnel that was exposed to the land, rusted, and was blocked off with a large grate over the opening. It was about the size of a closet, long ways, with enough room for her to sit or lay easily, but standing was impossible with the grate being three feet up.Cat had no idea how she got here, only remembering the church and then someone putting something over her nose and mouth, then it was black until then. Now she was in this dank, wet rocky cell and apparently tucked away where no one could hear her. But that didn’t mean she would stop.””PLEASE! NOELLE… NOEYYYYYYY… SOMEONE! I NEED-“Cat froze and nearly scooted up against the wall as a looming shadowy figure stood over the grate. Up close, they didn’t seem as tall, but what really scared the sweet girl, and made her stomach turn to twistedly sour was her captor’s face. Or what was over her captor’s face. The thick cheeks with sandy blonde eyebrows and stubble she had grown to find comforting when faced with them, now made her want to throw up in her tiny prison. The killer just stared at her, with dark, almost black eyes, through the holes where Nate’s baby blues used to glare.”What d-d-d-do you w-want?” she said nervously, her fragile frame shivering. “Why are you doing th-this?”The wiry figure said nothing but crouched down close to the bars, and Cat could see the sickening attachments on Nate’s face, with hooks through the dried skin edges, attached to leather straps, like this was some sort of Halloween mask.”They’re going to find me!” Cat screamed out, trying to find her backbone. “They’re going to find me, and they are going to kill you.”The killer pressed ‘his face’ to the bars and laughed softly, muffled a bit from the skin. “Wouldn’t be the first time.”* * *”You doing ok?”Andre looked over at his new blonde partner, who was trekking to the inn with him, and shook his head. “I don’t think I’m ever going to be ok again.””Yeah…” Sam said, unsure how to respond or even what to say now. “Same here, I guess.””I mean, death is not like a foreign concept to me or anything. I buried my granma, the woman who raised me, a couple years ago. I found her on the floor one day and I swear I felt just as much relief as sadness, and I just accepted it… I mean, I had accepted that I would outliving her and everything… but it was alright. I knew she went out alright and is in a better place. But this…” the musician slowed his pace down, feeling every emotion ever welling up inside of him. “Man, Nate just broke me. Dude didn’t go nice and easy… no one here seemed to. They were just slaughtered and shit. And I can’t even begin to process that. I half expected his white bigoted ass to save us all,” he said, with a strained chuckle, “but now I just feel… lost.”Sam wanted to interrupt all that, and perhaps even mock him for all those welled up feelings, but he wasn’t remotely wrong. When her mom died, she rejoiced more than she knew she should have, but under the shitty circumstances of their relationship, it wasn’t remotely a surprise.”I loved him, you know…” she said, not looking Andre in the eyes, as the last thing she needed was for someone to see her getting emotional.”Yeah… I kinda got that feeling from you guys. I mean, between all the yelling, screaming, and fighting.””Pshhh…” she scoffed. “We were never going to be the fairy tale couple, but I think we understood each other. I just wish I had been able to see that when it mattered, you know. To tell him how I really felt.””I think he knew and returned the feeling in a lot of ways,” Andre said, opening the inn door for her. “But I’m glad you at least made it back.””Was there doubt?””It was a pretty insane plan…” he said, thinking back to the fact that it was Nate who saved them. “Noelle just didn’t strike me as someone who would have been able to take care of you if something happened.””The chick’s tougher than you think, dude…” Sam said, trying not to take offense to Andre’s comment, as they headed to the kitchen. “Bitch took a shot through the shoulder, and still pressed on like a fucking champ.””Seriously? Wow…” he said, tapping his foot on the door in the floor.”Yeah… she loves Cat. It’s so weird to see those two interact sometimes. It’s like you instantly feel that they were meant for each other. Pretty sure the k*d is the reason Noelle is still standing.””You two are like the same age,” Andre said, a perplexed look across his face.”Would you call Cat anything close to an adult?””Eh… you might have a point. But she’s a good k*d, and I’ve never had a problem with her.””Whatever…” Sam said, rolling her eyes, and taking a seat at a nearby stool, keeping an eye on the floor. “You like everybody.””And what’s wrong with that?””Nothing…” she said, giving a pensive look. “Just wish I had that.”* * *”Are you sure this is the right way?” Carly asked, trying to keep up with Freddie, who was actually lagging behind the other dark haired girl.”Yeah…” Noelle said without even looking back. “I saw the map and I know where we need to go. Trust me.””I do, but…” Freddie said, reaching out to touch the shoulder of the determined young woman, but quickly realized that it was the injured one when his flashlight caught the red stain, “maybe we should slow down…””Not a chance,” she fired back.”Noelle, I get wanting to get to Cat as soon as possible, but we know this guy is all about traps, and if this is really how he’s been getting around so easily, there’s no question that these tunnels are booby trapped too.””Freddie’s right,” Carly said, jogging to at least be shoulder to shoulder with her former neighbour. “We need to be careful. For all we know, taking Cat was just a ploy to get us down here.””Would you slow down if it was Jade?” Noelle asked plainly, slowing down a few paces.Freddie paused, and took a deep sigh before looking downward to avert her gaze. “No…””Then that’s it. Cat is my everything and the faster I get to her, the faster we can get out of here.” Noelle was more determined than anyone Fred-die had ever seen, and he was honestly astounded. A week ago, she was one of the most shy and awkward people he had ever met, and now here she was, battle scarred, and not even backing down. “Don’t suppose you guys figured out why he’s doing this while we were kepez escort gone?””Not really. I thought my dad was connected to everything, but it was all a trick. He…””I kinda overheard back at the church… I’m sorry, Freddie,” she said, her voice showing a slight tinge of emotion, but she wasn’t wavering.”I honestly believed that this was all to torture and discredit my dad, or some unfinished business with him for something he did as a cop here, but now…” Freddie searched for his words, with a heavy sigh to punctuate. “Now, I really don’t know… and I don’t get why he let me live.””Maybe he saw us coming and knew he couldn’t take all four of us,” Carly added, trying to add some reasoning.”So, he just ran off and attacked somewhere much more guarded, exposed his face, and rather than be shadowy and secretive like he has been so far, completely put himself out there, going so far as to fight one of us head on?” Freddie shook his head, trying to make the details add up. “There’s a real tonal shift at play here.””Pretty sure this sick fuck just likes killing,” Noelle muttered, pulling away from Carly and Freddie once more, who were stunned at the profanity coming from the shy intellectual, to lead the charge through the tunnels.* * *”Looks like the sun’s coming up,” Andre said, seeing the faint light sift through the darkened room. “That night seemed like it lasted for days.””Seriously,” Sam nodded, her rifle on her shoulder as he she scooped a bit of peanut butter from a jar with her bare, and fairly dirty, hands. “Took for-goddamn-ever.””You do realize how unsanitary that is, right?” the musician said, adding another large bag of flour on top of the secret door, making three 20 lbs. bags the anchor to keep down the already hefty door.”My ass has been all over this island, and I have burned through every drop of precious alcohol in my system. If I want some fucking peanut butter, I will have some. They can buy some more… assuming some dumbass ever wants to come back to this place.” The blonde d**g over two more, fairly easily, proving her superior strength compared to Andre in the most emasculating way. “Freddie wanted a dead end. I’d say this shit will work.””Not too many points for style though…” he said with a smirk, looking at how ridiculous those bags, along with all the other s**ttered items they could grab and block it off, looked on top of the hidden door.”Look, if you mention this to anyone, I will fucking deny it, and I don’t know why I’m even talking to you other than you just being here, but…” Sam paused for a few moments, trying to find a way to collect herself as best she could, as Andre took a seat a few feet away on another table. “When… or ‘if’ I guess might be better… I get out of here, I think I’m going to change a few things.””Like what?” Andre said, with a small chortle, surprised at the development.”I don’t know… maybe open up more. Seeing the happy couples and shit, and what happened in my relationships…” the blonde took a deep breath. “Maybe I’m just too guarded, you know?””Ha!” Andre said, slapping the side of the table in what might have semi-humour based but it was extremely exaggerated. “You’re not guarded, Sam.””Oh really?””Yeah, girl…” he continued. “You’re just scared.””Fuck you!” Sam said, immediately taking extreme offense to his words. “I’m not scared of shit, and you are a fucking-“BANG BANG BANGSam nearly flew off the table in absolute fear, landing on the ground and crawling away from the loud knocking, as Andre was a bit more collected, raising his gun to the door and firing a few times. Once Sam had regained her composure, she did the same thing, sending the assorted fruits, vegetables, flour, sugar, and other items everywhere as they tried to blow away whoever or whatever made the noise.”Do you…” Andre said, taking a few steps forward, “think we got him?”The musician approached the floor’s wooden door, now gaping with a few holes, and pressed his face closer to see if he could see anything down in the hole.He didn’t actually have time to react, once he saw the glimmer of something metal, and had it not been for Sam pulling him to her side of the room, a long blade would have gone straight through his eye. The knife was thrust through a few of the holes before Sam grabbed her rifle and shot twice more.Neither moved for a few moments, waiting if there was anything else coming through.”Fine…” Sam said, huffing and puffing. “I admit it… I’m scared. That thing is in the tunnels with our friends, and I’m fucking paralyzed right now.””This is really going to suck isn’t it?” Andre said, wincing, and realizing what they were going to have to do.”No fucking question…” the blonde muttered, looking around at the mess before them. “Let’s reload real quick, and then get this stuff moved. Maybe we can trap this asshole ourselves.””Sure,” he said, grabbing the extra ammo they had put in the kitchen, “what can go wrong?”* * *She had no idea how it happened, but somehow Tori Vega had fallen asl*ep. Maybe it was how quiet the place was after all the excitement, but this was the calmest she had felt in days. Her tired eyes scanned the room and found her other partner sitting on the floor, looking through all the boxes, acting like the other had earlier, but it was clear she wasn’t really reading things so much as looking at the pictures. Part of the aspiring pop star feared that this stuff would give her nightmares. But then again, everything so far on this island had been a nightmare so maybe this really wasn’t too bad.”You ok, sweetie?” she asked softly, looking out the window at the bare sunrise.”Yes, Miss Tori…” Savanna said softly. “Just looking at all these papers.””Just be careful, Savanna… some of those are pretty old. And if you see anything with the Slasher that scares you, you need to come sit with me, alright. I don’t want you to have any bad dreams.””That’s ok…” the girl said sweetly, as if none of the previous events had affected her at all. “I’m finding a lot of different stuff besides the scary man.””Oh really?” Tori said, upbeat, wondering if there might be something else to look at up there. “Like what?””Did you know the Slasher isn’t the only person the sheriff has a file on up here?” Savanna said, pointing to a newer box. “He has stuff on people we know.”***”Is that water?” Freddie called out as Noelle maintained a good ten foot head start on both the Seattlites, who were desperately trying to keep up. “If water is flowing, we might be in serious trouble in this tight of a space.””You think the killer is going to flood the tunnels?” Carly asked, getting very nervous and almost slowing down as if running away might be the best idea.”It would take a ridiculous amount of water to do that,” Noelle called back, without even looking over her shoulder. We’re probably close to some sort of river or runoff or something. The map said this tunnel ran over the river.””I think I know where we are then,” Freddie said, giving him a boost of energy to catch up with the determined young woman. “When we went out looking for Savanna, my mom, Jade, and me ran across a bridge over the big river. But the sound is really strong…” Freddie paused for a moment, pulling Noelle to a stop as well, so that Carly could catch up. “I think there might be an exit that’s not listed on this map.””What makes you say that?” Carly said, catching her breath.”Because, I think the water is too loud for it to be below us, and I think there might be a broken piece or something nearby that should lead up to the surface.””So all this time chasing them into a ‘trap’ and it doesn’t even matter?!” Noelle said, her pale face turning a deep pink. “So Cat could be any-where?””I guess… but we shouldn’t slow down either way… we just need to be more careful.”Carly looked over at Freddie amazed at how calm he was under the circumstances, but immediately her relief returned to doubt and fear as the trio moved as quickly as they could through the dark passage.After a couple more minutes, the gang faced another difficult choice.”The light, and the sound is so strong in this pipe,” Noelle said, looking down at a narrow passage, but not too narrow that they couldn’t escape. “This has to lead to outside, right?””Maybe… but it might be a trap, whereas we know where this path we have been on leads…” Freddie said, pointing further into the tunnel’s black-ness, with the map in his hand. “This should take us right back to the inn.””I say we-” Carly was immediately cut off as Noelle dropped down and began to crawl through the narrow pipe, essentially making the choice for them. “Or we could just continue to follow her.”Freddie looked back and forth between Carly and the narrow tunnel. “Follow her, I guess,” he said, cracking his neck a bit before leaning down to the entrance to call out instructions. “When you get up there, let us know if its safe and we will follow!”There was a long pause, and for a few moments, Freddie’s heart sank, fearing the worst, but it was immediately relieved as he heard her call back, “It’s clear.”He allowed Carly to go through first, waited a few seconds, scoping out either side of the pipeline, just in case he might get ambushed in the vulnerable spot, but nothing happened, so he followed his ch*ldhood crush into the unknown.Up above, Noelle was taking stock of the situation, looking at the middle of the forest and the raging river down below, eyes searching for any-place her girlfriend might be.”CAT?!” she cried out, as Carly climbed out behind her, followed quickly by Freddie. “CAAAAATTTTTTT?!”Behind the concerned dark haired girl, Freddie winced, worried that she might have just given away their location to the killer.* * *Cat had started to give up hope, and the fact that there was no sign of anyone had broken her heart, and believed for half a second that no one even knew she was gone. But all that changed in an instant. That voice… calling her name… The doubt and fear just dissolved as she perked up, pressing her fingers against the grate.”NOEY! I’M HERE!” The redhead didn’t even care that the sharp grates was cutting into her fingers, as she suddenly felt like everything was going to be all right. “PLEASE NOELE! I’M DOWN HERE! HEL-“The suddenly spry young woman was sent falling backwards as a pair of heavy boots pressed down on the narrow grates, nearly crushing Cat’s fingers if she’d been a quarter of a second slower.”You keep that up and she’ll find you alright…” the raspy voice said, and Cat was afraid to look up and see that disgusting stolen face the killer was wearing. “Do you think your girlfriend would die for you?””Noelle would do anything for me, and I would do anything for her! Because we love each other!” the redhead said defiantly, despite still physically cowering. “Not that you would know what that’s like…””I know all about love, little girl,” the Slasher said, sliding the knife along the grate toward Cat’s face. “And I know that it’s a pretty strong feeling… makes you do some pretty awful things… some of which I’m going to do to who and what you love…”Cat wanted to be strong, and to fight back, but she felt weak. From the cage, there was nothing she could do but whimper. Until finally she knew she had to do something to warn Noelle, and cried out.”DON’T COME! IT’S A TRAP!”The Slasher shoved the knife through the grate, and the nimble and sweet young woman slid, and laid down flat, the blade missing her face and chest by mere centimetres. Grunting ferociously, the masked killer stomped off away to handle this ‘rescue’ attempt head on.* * *”I ask again…” Noelle said, still staring down the sides of hills, searching for any sign of Cat, “how did he get away from us like this?””Well, we knew he knew the tunnels way better than we did…” Freddie said, approaching the rushing river a hundred feet away. The daybreak light made for a beautiful scene, that was hard to deny even in the midst of all of this horror. “The plan was a crap shoot at best anyway.””So you based saving Cat on a guess?!” Noelle said, getting in his face.”Did you have a better idea?” he asked, not trying to intimidate her, but to offer her a real answer that might calm her down.”At the time, no, but-” The dark haired girl stopped short as something rang in her ears, and much like her girlfriend, that small moment was all it took to focus in on the sound. “Cat?!””Did you hear something?” Carly asked, looking between Freddie and Noelle, and trying to listen close for any version of a sound. “I don’t-“”Shut up!” Noelle said, narrowing her eyes at the former web star. Slowly, Noelle took a few steps toward where she thought the sound came from, approaching a hill, cautiously, keeping her eyes peeled. “I can hear you! Just keep calling-“”GET DOWN!”Noelle had barely enough time to react to Freddie’s words, ducking just as she saw a shadow on a nearby tree, dodging the swing of the largest knife she’d ever seen. The killer, who seemed much smaller than she would have expected turned to face her, wearing the remnants of Nate’s face, and raised his knife when a shot rang out. Both of them turned their attention to Carly who had fired her rifle, barely missing the killer, and sending the nimble figure running through the woods.Freddie took off like a jet after the figure through the woods, as Noelle tried to collect herself, leaving Carly, shaking from the sight of the figure, and unsure what to do.”You just go after Cat… help her since you can hear her,” the Seattle native said firmly. “We will come and help you when we can.”Carly took off after Freddie, leaving Noelle, who was barely on her feet when the girls lost sight of each other. It took a few seconds, but she finally caught up to Freddie.”You need to slow down,” Carly said, touching his shoulder. “This might be a trap to get us to separate.””Then you just left the third member alone back there,” he said, practically growling as he ran. Alone or not, I’m going to finish this. Every time this sick fuck does something, I wonder how he could do worse. That… wearing Nate’s face like a fucking Halloween mask… that’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. He has to die.””But you might just be racing toward another trap, and I…””Carly, look,” he said, narrowing his eyes for a few moments. “This has to end. If you have a shot, you need to take it. Even if I’m in the way.””No way…” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I can’t… I… love you.”Freddie certainly slowed down for a moment and saw the immense pain in her eyes. “You would think I would lose my mind hearing that… I spent like 10 years chasing after you, and believing you were like the ‘one.’ I mean, I love you too… but if we don’t put this asshole in the ground, none of that matters. So if you get that shot… you take it. Promise me.”The welled up tears were now pouring down her normally porcelain cheeks as she shook her head. “I can’t Freddie, I just-“”Then go back there, and stay the hell out of my way…”* * *Once she had recovered sufficiently, Noelle was back to listening close, moving from tree to tree to see if he could hear the fragile redhead.”Come on, Cat!” she cried out. “I heard you once… don’t stop!””Noey!””Yes!” the dark haired girl said, on the verge of tears. “I can’t find you! Can you tell me where you are?!””In a hole” the voice said, tears streaming down her face as well. “I hear rushing water really close! And I think this is a broken part of the tunnel!”Noelle saw a patch of rubble, former almost a cave near the water, and she raced towards it, calling out to her, and the closer she got, the louder Cat became until the author was right on top of the cage.”Ohmygod! Noey!” Cat nearly jumped pressing her face to the grate and kissing her girlfriend through the sharp metal, a pain neither of which would worry with too much at the moment.”Alright,” Noelle said, withdrawing from the kiss earlier than Cat was ready for. “Let’s get you out of here.”As hard as she tried, Noelle could not lift the grate and couldn’t see anything to break or release the lock. Cat looked around her surroundings as well, but couldn’t find anything either.”Sweetie…” Noelle said, readying her rifle. “Cover your ears and move away from this grate!”The redhead did as she was told, diving into the corner once again as Noelle levelled the weapon on her injured shoulder, the adrenaline still out-weighing the pain. With a single shot, the metal lock exploded, and the girls rejoiced, using their combined strength to lift the grate.Noelle reached in and pulled the redhead out like she was made of paper, the two rolling on the ground for a few moments crying and kissing, un-able to find the words for how either of them felt in this moment. They climbed out of the rubble filled area and headed near the bridge.”I thought you were dead, Noey!” Cat practically screamed. “You were gone, and the killer showed up and-“”Kitty Cat…” Noelle said with a small smile, dropping the gun so she could hold her chin, “I promised you I would come back didn’t I?The two girls smashed their faces together so hard that there were legitimate fears of chipped teeth as they tried to swallow one another, crying and kissing, and holding each other tight. And the unthinkable happened.”Cat…” Noelle said softly, her voice feeling nearly hoarse from all the yelling. “Will you marry me?”The redhead nearly exploded, jumping up and down as they girls reached for the ring so it could be exchanged and fit on her slim finger. “Yes! Yesyesyesyesyes!”Noelle grinned and held her tight once more for a deep kiss, their fingers entwining and the newly ringed finger fitting perfectly between Noelle’s ring and pinkie fingers. The two were so enthralled in the moment that they didn’t even realize that they weren’t alone any longer.Pulling apart, Noelle looked up and saw their tormentor standing nearly twenty feet away, intently staring at them from behind Nate’s eye sockets. Just as Noelle reached for the gun on the ground, the killer started to sprint and the girls just bolted, leaving the gun behind as they raced through the thick trees.The killer did not slow down at all, but Noelle was starting to lag. The nightmare experience had drained her, and now the shooting pain in her shoulder was filling her entire side, and every step made it even worse. Cat wasn’t having any trouble, but with each passing step, she felt the need to pull Noelle along more and more.Eventually, both of them were slowing down, and so the only available choice had to be made.”Kitty Cat,” Noelle said, tears in her eyes, fear feared drops now mixing with the joyous downpour on her cheeks. “You need to go right up here, alright?””Kay,” the redhead said, not realizing what Noelle was actually saying, and when the sweet girl took the turn, her hand was suddenly free.It took her only a second to notice, but by that time, Noelle was already moving on in the same direction, struggling as the killer pressed on after her, leaving Cat to escape to the others.Which is what she should have done.Instead, the redhead followed after them, and saw her girl… fiancé now… grab up a branch from the ground and try and hold it like a sword, facing off against the killer’s large survival Bowie. After a few swings from Noelle that looked like near hits, the redhead began to notice that the Slasher was just toying with the young woman. And, as Cat realized when the next few seconds played out in slow motion, playtime was over.Noelle’s eyes met hers and widened, broken that Cat hadn’t taken the hint and escaped. “Run!” she cried out out, but Cat couldn’t move, and the killer didn’t miss the opening punching her directly in the nose, immediately causing a burst, stunning the dark haired girl as her eyes widened once more. The killer used this chance to run the author through, the large knife piercing her her midsection, going through and Noelle wasn’t sure why but her legs wouldn’t respond anymore, and she toppled down, grabbing the tree for support on the way down as her mouth filled with blood.”Nooo!” Cat screamed and raced after toward the scene, to the dismay of Noelle, who is starting to drift out. She manages to see her fiancée launch herself at her assailant, and the redhead punching and kicking with all her might.Much like Noelle, it would seem at first glance that she was doing well, landing punch and punch against the killer, but again, her flurry of weak hits didn’t amount to much for the killer, and before she even realized it, Cat was floored with one hit. Cat tried to regain her composure, and to stand, but before she could, she looked to her hand, which was closed around something. As her eyesight returned to normal, she realized she must have tried to claw at the killer’s face and she got it when the killer knocked her onto her back.Screaming, Noelle tossed Nate’s face away to the woods and looked up at her assailant and was completely stunned at the sight. It was a woman. A dark haired woman, whose face was stained red from the face, and while Cat thought she looked traditionally pretty, the anger and evil in those eyes was undeniable.Before she could come to her senses that this was a woman behind all this, she felt a sharp pain as her body flew back a couple feet thanks to the precise kick with steel toed boots. Cat felt something in her leg snap on the impact, and she knew she was through.”Run…” Cat heard whispered, looking over at Noelle who was still clinging to life.Instead, the scared and broken redhead did the opposite, crawling over to her lover and looking into her eyes. Cat tucked the dark hair behind Noelle’s ear and took her hand, not once looking behind her. As the killer approached them, Noelle shut her eyes, unable to look at what was about to happen.Cat felt something that hurt worse than the worst pain of her life, and winced, burying her face in Noelle’s neck, as the piercing pain moved deeper and deeper through her chest. Their fingers tightened as Cat began to shake, and before she even realized it, Noelle felt the sharp pain as well, as they were each pierced with the same blade.As Cat’s very being started to slip away from her, she was sad that this was how it would end, but happy to know that wherever she was going, Noelle was going to be right there with here.Just as the woman went to retrieve her knife, a shot rang out, and she looked up to see Freddie standing atop the hill, the rifle pointed directly at her, and as she bolted, Freddie was happy to see that the second shot nailed the killer in the thigh. He was just as stunned as Cat was that this was a woman, but it wasn’t going to change the fact that she needed to die.Freddie was just about to give chase, but Carly coming up behind him surprised him and as she pointed to the carnage by the tree, he froze up. The two of them raced to the bodies, but it was too late for either of them. Though, as Freddie headed toward where the killer ran off to, he could swear he saw Noelle’s face smiling.* * *Several yards from the carnage, Sam and Andre exited the pipe where the others had exited before, and took a quick survey of the area, when a shot rang out. The two took off after the noise, and looked down as Freddie and Carly headed deeper in the woods, and Andre began to signal them when Sam suddenly grabbed his arm and pointed down.The unlikely pair stared down at the bright red hair melding into the black hair of her lover, and Sam nearly threw up at the sight.”They didn’t…””No one deserves any of this,” Andre said, putting his hand on her shoulder.”I can’t even…” Sam started, her eyes never leaving the bodies practically stuck to the tree, and while it was horrible, there was something magical in the way they went together that made the feeling even worse for Sam. “They weren’t… They were the best of us.”Andre said nothing and pulled the distraught blonde in for a hug, which she violently resisted for a half second before giving into the embrace as they struggled not to collapse from the emotional weight.* * *Back at the sheriff’s, Tori, with Savanna in her lap, was flipping through a box full of stuff, not about the Slasher, but about other people, and possible connections to the Slasher. And as she poured through three folders all about the same person, a fearful question caused her to shake as Savanna asked the very question on her mind.”Why does Freddie’s daddy have so much stuff about my daddy?”* * *Only a quarter of a mile from his daughter, Spencer sat in the driver’s seat of the parked car, whose right front tire was firmly atop the grate for the tunnel’s exit. He looked over to the passenger seat where Jade was fast asl*ep, gripping the rifle tight and ever so often it would slip from her hands.He carefully weighed the options here and reached over to grab the barrel from her loose hands and just as he gets it from her hands, she bolts awake.”What the fuck are you doing?!” she screamed, grasping the gun tight again.”You were asl*ep…” He said, giving her genuine concern. “You can’t sl*ep with a loaded gun in the car. Especially not when it’s pointed at me.”Jade’s eyes narrowed, but her tired feeling was far too overpowering, and she willingly handed him the gun before nestling back into the seat and back to her dream.Spencer unloaded the gun and peered out the window, keeping an eye out for anything and everything that could happen next.

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