He turns the steering wheel in different directions, taking different roads when he needs to. He needs to go through the woods to get to his destination. He’s confused, but not about that.
What confuses him is why his sister is being so silent as she sits in the backseat.
The time is currently 6:36, and he just picked up Emily from her friend Julia’s house. He was thankful he didn’t have to get out of the car and knock on the door, as she was already standing out in the yard, waiting for him. He had tried making conversation with her; “How’d it go at Julia’s?” “Did you have fun?” “Has her rabbit gotten better?” but everything he said was met with silence.
It weirds him out, and he grows slightly concerned. Is she okay?
But an uncomfortable knot forms in his stomach when he glances in the rear-view mirror and sees her staring at him- or, more specifically, the side of his… neck?- with what looks like hunger in her eyes.
“Are… you alright, Em?” She doesn’t reply. He looks back again when he hears an odd sound come from her mouth, and sees her licking her lips. “What are you doing?” No answer.
He lets out a shaky sigh, before reaching and turning the radio on to put some music in the car and distract him from the situation. Eventually, they pull up in the driveway and he stops the car, unbuckling and opening his door. He looks back, and she’s still sitting there, un-moving. But her eyes follow him.
“Come on, Emily. You can’t stay out here. What are you doing?” Nothing. “Seriously. What has gotten into you? You haven’t said a word.” No sound leaves her mouth, as she unbuckles, opens the door, and steps out of the car. He runs his hand through his hair in slight confusion and relief, before reaching back in the car and grabbing his phone out from one of the little slots beside the cup holder. He presses the button as he closes the door and heads toward the front door of the house, his sister following behind.
2 missed calls and 12 unread messages from Emily.
“What?” he mutters, confusion lacing his voice. Why was she texting me? he thinks. When was she texting me? The time now reads 7:13.
He feels uneasy. Like something’s not quite right, but he doesn’t know what, exactly. Pulling out the key and sticking it into the hole in the knob, he opens the door and walks inside.
When he looks behind him, Emily isn’t there. “Emily?” He raises an eyebrow as he turns to look for her. “Emily? Where’d you go?” He doesn’t see her. “Em?” He suddenly sees an Emily-shaped shadow walk into the yard, and he follows. “What are you doing? You know you’re-” But he stops.
This feeling of dread hits him in the chest, as he looks out into the dark woods beside his house. He sees a figure standing, just behind the outline of the trees. It’s short, with long hair. Just like Emily. This isn’t right. Has she lost her mind?
Maybe it’s him that’s losing his mind. Chills run up his spine as he walks closer to her. “Emily! What are you doing?” She turns and runs out of sight. This doesn’t make sense. She’s usually terrified of the woods, especially at night. There’s no way she’d go in there unless something was wrong.
Without thinking, he takes off through the trees. He doesn’t know what’s going on, but he isn’t going to let Emily get herself into danger. He turns the flashlight in his phone on, as he pushes past all the weeds in his way and avoids tripping over anything. “Emily!” he calls. “Come out right now!” His head turns when he hears a twig snap. “Come on, Emily. If this is some kind of prank, it’s not funny!” The tension rises beneath him, as complete silence fills his ears.
Oh, no. Is it a bear? Or a panther? He shines the flashlight in every direction, trying to see something, anything. He can feel his breathing quicken. Is Emily okay?
Snap. Another twig.
No, no, no, no. He’s not going to leave her out here alone. He’s going to find her. Even if he dies trying.
He feels his phone buzz against his palm, and he looks at the screen. Another text from Emily, and he lets out a relieved breath. At least she’s still alive. He opens his messages and reads over what she said, before letting out a confused, and fearful, gasp.
Crack. This time, it’s the leaves, and it comes from directly behind him. His hand shakes as he slowly turns around and lays eyes on her. A low growl.
His phone buzzes and glows from the ground.
Dude. What happened to picking me up?
What are you doing??
Idiot, reply please
Mom isn’t answering, either
SOMEBODY PLEASE REPLY
I CAN’T STAY AT JULIA’S FOREVER
ARE YOU ALIVE MIKE
TALK TO ME
Credit: Kat Crain
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