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A weekend at Charlie's Uncle's cabin seemed like a good idea, a fun spring break trip where they could all unwind and have a little fun. But, when they get attacked by a creature that shouldn't exist their trip soon becomes a nightmare. Now, Lindsey and her friends will have to do whatever it takes to survive against a savage backwoods clan, whose secrets are revealed by the light of the full moon. Will they survive the fight between man and beast? Or, will they live only to face a fate worse than death?
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Published by Sleeping Possum Press, 2018.
This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.
First edition. March 5, 2018.
Copyright © 2018 Jacob Peyton.
Written by Jacob Peyton.
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The van sailed down the highway. Charlie laughed out loud and slapped the side of his '88 GMC G20 while Lindsey cranked up the music.
"I love this song!" she yelled over at Amy and Jerry, who were rolling a joint in the backseat.
Shelly, sat looking out the window, shooting darting glances in Lindsey's direction. The whole reason she had agreed to come on this stupid trip in the first place was because she thought it would give her and Lindsey a chance to talk.
"Shit!" Charlie, yelled and slammed his fist onto the dash.
Red and blue lights flared up behind the van. Jerry ran his hand through his dark brown hair, his hands flailing out trying to hide the weed. Amy quickly shoved it into her bag. Hoping that the cop hadn’t noticed their frantic movements as he walked up alongside the van.
Shelly, buckled her seat belt and some of the others followed suit. Charlie, just kept shaking his head.
Shit, he was so screwed, if his Dad found out he was dead. His dad had made it pretty clear that as long as he was paying for his sons education, than Charlie was under no circumstances allowed to party of campus. Especially over Spring Break.
The last thing he wanted to do was have to call his dad over a possession charge. Not to mention he would then have to explain why he was out here.
The officer, slammed the door of his cruiser and straightened up his flat brimmed hat. He saddled up beside the van tapping towner on the driver's window.
"License and registration." he said, his accented voice paying homage to his handlebar mustache.
"What seems to be the problem, Officer?" Charlie, asked trying not to sound as nervous as he felt.
The officer looked up from Charlie’s license and registration. "You see that sign back there?" He said looking into the vehicle at the others. From the look on his face, he didn't like what he saw.
"Yes Officer," Charlie, replied, licking his lips. Jerry and Amy were visually sweating in the backseat.
"Well, it says the speed limit is 45 you all were going 60. That's a no-no around here; I'm going to have to give you a speeding ticket." He went back to his cruiser with Charlie's license and registration.
Charlie, exhaled; he hadn't even realized he was holding his breath. A speeding ticket was nothing. He could just pay that online and not have to worry about his dad finding out and taking the van away.
"Jesus," Lindsey said. "You guys need to pull your shit together. If you guys are this bad practically sober how do y’all think you’re going to handle some hallucinagens?"
"We're trying to man. I just keep sweating for some reason." Jerry said and starting giggling, causing Amy start cracking up, too.
"Yeah, and that cop came out of nowhere." Amy added, doing her best to catch her breath and stop laughing.
"That's because you guys are both stoned." Lindsey said dryly, crossing her arms.
"Being mean to them won't help anything. Besides it's just a speeding ticket, and it wasn't their fault." Shelly said.
"Tell that to my insurance company." Charlie huffed, tapping his fingers on the dash. He really wished that officer, deputy or whatever would just hurry up and give him his ticket so they could get out of here.
The officer made his way back to their car. "Look, I ran your plates so I know you guys are out of towners, so I'm only going to say this once. We like things quiet around here. So I expect this be the last time we gotta meet like this."
"Of course, Officer, you won't be hearing from us again. I promise you that." Charlie replied.
The officer stared at him and then at Jerry and the others.
"I hope so. You all have a nice day now. And keep out of trouble."He said making his way back to his cruiser. Charlie, waited for him to leave and then started the van up and pulled out onto the road.
"Maybe, you should watch your speed, Charlie." Lindsey said, as they got going again.
Charlie, just shook his head. "What was up with that cop though? Giving us the small town, we don't like outsiders speech." He joked.
"Maybe, he likes things quiet, man." Jerry replied, making a shushing sound that caused Amy and him to fall into another fit of laughter.
"Guys, look how big the trees are out here." Shelly said gazing out of her window and looking out at the large pines that surrounded either side of the country road.
"It looks so foreboding." Amy said a bit too loudly her voice echoing through the van.
"We are now entering the forbidden forest." Jerry pantomimed, giggling and falling off his seat.
Lindsey just stared at them, the look on her face was priceless and even Shelly couldn’t help but join in on the laughter.
"And what are you laughing at, Shelly?" Lindsey said looking at her. "I can't seem to remember why you're even here?"
"Whoa, lay off, Lindsey." Charlie said. "What happened to you two? You guys used to be inseparable."
Lindsey, huffed back into her seat, crossing her arms over her ample chest. Shelly, also looked away. Amy, was too busy throwing pretzel sticks into the air trying to get them into Jerry's mouth, to even realize the level of tension in the van.
"Come on, guys, don't make a mess." Charlie groaned, flinching every time Jerry missed a pretzel. Knowing that he’d still be finding stray pretzel sticks around the van for the next couple of months.
Jerry popped another pretzel into his mouth. "Okay, cool out man, me and Amy can clean it out tonight."
Charlie, swirled around in his seat. "If you think I'm leaving the van unlocked so Amy and you can fool around in it you've lost your damn mind."
"Watch the fucking road!" Lindsey yelled.
Charlie, turned back around in his seat and swerved over, back into the correct lane.
"Cool out, Lindsey." He said. The ride was mostly quiet after that.
"Hey, Shelly, do you want some pretzels?" Amy asked.
"No, I'm okay, thanks though." Shelly said.
Amy, just smiled at her; lost in a haze.
Charlie turned the van onto a small dirt road that was cloaked in the evergreen shade of large knobby pine trees. They were silent, enjoying the serenity of their surroundings as they pulled up in front of the cabin. Shelly, couldn't help but notice that the cabin, seemed to be little more than a shack, a compilation of sun-bleached wood and a large rusty, red, metal roof. It wasn't at all like what Charlie, had talked it up to be.
Charlie smiled at them. "Welcome to paradise." He said with a small chuckle.
The cabin belonged to Charlie's uncle as part of one of his outdoor recreation areas. It came equipped with everything a middle-aged man would deem necessary in a one bedroom cabin: a living room that doubled as a kitchen with a propane stove and top combo that looked like it had been pulled from an RV, and of course, an outhouse.
"You don't expect me to have to use that, do you?" Lindsey asked, pointing to the outhouse. The others didn't look enthusiastic about it either.
Jerry and Charlie just laughed as they continued to unload the van.
"Hey, guys, where are we all sleeping?" Shelly asked.
"Me and Lindsey will take the bedroom and you guys can camp out in the living room." Charlie said with a wink.
"In your dreams, Charlie," Lindsey said already grabbing her bags out of the van.
"Yeah, all the cool kids in the living room. Have fun playing with yourself ole buddy." Jerry blurted, making everyone crack up.
Charlie and Jerry started cracking open beers while putting the rest into a refrigerator that was pretty much a glorified cooler that ran on a solar power. Lindsey continued to huff as she went through cabin. Her lip curled up into a sneer. Shelly wanted to say something, anything to her, but she wasn't quite able to find her voice
"Alright, guys, I think it’s time to go out into the woods and get what we came for." Charlie said giving Jerry a high five.
Shelly was confused. "I thought you guys were kidding about that shit?" She asked.
Lindsey looked at her. "When has Jerry ever kidded about drugs? Besides, it might be fun" She added, quickly looking away from her.
"What types of hallucina-whatever's are we looking for? Like mushrooms?" Shelly asked.
"Not quite." Jerry replied.
"Yeah, we came out here for Monkshood." Charlie said. "Jerry learned about it in his folklore lectures."
"Wolfs bane?" Shelly asked.
"Exactly, it’s supposed to give you a total mental trip; pagan style." Jerry said.
"And you guys are sure it’s out here, right?” Lindsey asked.
Charlie rubbed her shoulders. "Yeah, my uncle told me about seeing a bunch up here while he was hunting." Lindsey shrugged his hand off.
“Yeah, I looked it up in the library back at school the shit out here is supposed to be extra special.” Jerry said. "Now you all heard the man, grab what you need and let’s head out before it gets dark."
The woods around the cabin were immense. In every direction they were surrounded by what seemed like a never ending sea of pine trees. A far cry from what they'd left behind in the city. With the sun already starting to sink low beneath the clouds, Jerry had decided that now was the time to go looking for his weird ass herbs, Shelly tried her best not to trip as she walked, how they were supposed to find one plant in the middle of all this was beyond her. For all she knew they'd already passed what they were looking for. All these plants looked the same. How in the world were they supposed to tell one plant from the other? She wondered.
Charlie and Lindsey were a little ahead of her, walking side by side just a couple of steps behind Jerry and Amy. Lindsey was still ignoring her. Great. The only reason she’d agreed to come on this trip in the first place was so they could finally talk about what happened.
Maybe this whole trip had been a bad idea, she couldn’t help but think after she stumbled for the fiftieth time over a small shrub.
After all, it didn't look like Lindsey and her were going to even get to talk, especially with her making a point of not giving them a minute alone. And the only time she did open her mouth in Shelly’s direction it was just to yell at her, or make a snide comment.
They giggled up ahead and Shelly almost stumbled again. She ran to catch up with them. Noticing, that in her revere she'd fallen behind.
Lindsey looked over at her, "I thought we had lost you." She almost looked a little disappointed that they hadn't.
It was starting to get really dark making the woods seem even more foreboding did they did in the light. "Hey, I think it’s time to head back." Charlie said pivoting around and sending his beer sloshing out of the can, soaking the front of his t-shirt. "Damn, we should probably come back out tomorrow when there’s more light." He told them, still trying to wring out his shirt.
"I don't even know what these stupid things are supposed to look like." Lindsey huffed. "Why couldn't you guys just bring shrooms?" She asked Jerry exasperated.
"Because the whole point is to do something we haven't all done before." He said slowing down so he wouldn't out pace them. "You know, have an experience and try something new?" He asked sarcastically and turned around, completely missing the awkward look that Shelly and Lindsey gave each other. Jerry and Amy, turned their back on the group and started to walk farther out into the woods.
"Jerry, are y’all coming in?" Lindsey called out to them.
"No, we want to...uh...keep looking a little more, you know." He replied as he and Amy started giggling again.
"Well, at least someone’s getting lucky on this trip." Charlie muttered looking between the other two girls, who weren't paying him any attention and stomping back to the cabin, to change his shirt.
"What’s wrong with him?" Shelly asked.
Lindsey shrugged. "I think he just realized that he's in for a cold night alone." They both laughed.
"Hey, look, I think we need to talk ab-" Shelly started, but Lindsey turned away coldly and walked briskly back towards the cabin. Leaving her standing there mid sentence and causing her to have to run to catch back up.
Charlie was already there grabbing some cut wood off the pile out back before heading in. He handed his beer off to Shelly who held it for him with a tired sigh while he gathered up as much wood as he could, she could only watch as Lindsey disappeared inside the cabin.
Opening the door, she realized that they were all in for a cold night, as the temperature in the forest around them started to plunge. Her phone which barely had one bar said the surrounding area was supposed to get down into the forty’s. She hadn’t even thought to pack warmer clothes and from the way the others were shivering inside the cabin they hadn’t either. Charlie took his beer back and sat down by the wood stove to try and get a fire started. From the look of it though, they weren't going to have one any time soon.
"Why doesn't your Uncle just get regular heat in here? It’s not like he couldn't afford it." Lindsey asked.
"I think he likes the idea that he's roughing it." Charlie replied as the kindling finally caught. "But, to be fair, I doubt the crazy bastard has even spent a whole weekend out here. I think he just likes to say he has it, you know?" Lindsey and Shelly both shook their heads. Charlie just shrugged he wasn’t drunk enough yet to try and explain the weirdness of middle age masculinity, yet.
After giving up and finally throwing lighter fluid it on it, Charlie finally got a fire started. The flames slowly began to eat at the larger pieces of wood. Closing the stove door, Charlie said. "And that's how you make a fire, ladies."
"Took you long enough," Lindsey said, smirking at the way Charlie deflated, which caused them both to laugh.
"At least it’s starting to get warm now. Thanks, Charlie." Shelly offered, feeling bad for poor Charlie.
"You are most welcome, Shelly. I'm glad someone here appreciates my efforts." He said, cracking open another one of the beers and passing out some to the others while he was at it.
Shelly sipped hers, lightly not quite liking the taste of the cheap Pilsner they had grabbed at the gas station on the way down. Not that she was a big beer drinker in the first place.
"Bad?" Lindsey said with a chuckle.
"Maybe," Shelly murmured, "Ask me again after the soapy after-taste fades." She replied dryly.
"Don't worry about it, the more you drink, the better they get." Charlie who was steady chugging them down, was just glad that Shelly and Lindsey were talking again; even if only a little at a time.
The ride down had been almost painfully awkward with both girls going out of their way to ignore each other. And while he knew he wasn't the brightest guy, even he wasn't dumb enough to get in between two women fighting. That was suicide. He was slightly upset they had turned him down so harshly though. Usually, they were nicer about it.
Lindsey had walked to the other side of the room while Charlie sat in one of the rickety wooden chairs his Uncle had sitting around. Shelly groaned in delight as she stretched out on the couch not even minding the huge dust cloud that shot up as she did, sipping more of the beer and hoping that nothing crawled out between the cushions. Charlie had been right, the more she drank the better they got. And the less creepy the cabin seemed. Maybe, this was going to be fun after all. Even, Lindsey seemed to be loosening up.
"What’s this for, Charlie?" Lindsey asked, looking at the two metal hangers that were screwed in on either side of the door.
Charlie looked up. "See that thick two-by-four next to the door?" He asked, pointing to where it lay beside the door.
"Yeah," Lindsey replied.
"Well, that goes in there to bar the door." He replied, prodding the fire again and causing a cascade of sparks to fall out on the floor. He stamped them out with his sneakers.
"Why would your uncle need to the bar the door?" Shelly and Lindsey asked together incredulously.
Charlie looked up at them like it was simple. "You know, bears."
"Wait, there are bears out here?" Shelly asked.
"Well, yeah, we're in the woods and that’s where bears live. Duh!" Charlie replied shaking his head and laughing.
"Hey, numb nuts!" Lindsey started in on him. "Wouldn't that have been something you should have told us?"
"Nah, they just get curious about doors and stuff and try to come in the cabins around here. I mean, who would be stupid enough to mess with a bear?" He asked.
"Um, Jerry and Amy are still out there." Shelly replied.
The color drained from Charlie's face. "Well, shit."
Jerry and Amy were entwined with each other on a blanket under a huge pine tree. The dead pine tags under them let them lay comfortably on the ground. Amy pulled herself closer to him, mostly for warmth.
"It's getting cold, maybe we should head back." She said.
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