Later that night, I stood in the middle of a clearing in pitch blackness. An owl hooted, and I rubbed my hands together. How did I get myself into these situations? I suppose, in the end, I just didn’t want to be the one left out. It started out so simple and everything just kept spiraling out of control.
“Psst…” I looked around, not quite sure where the voice came from. “I’m over here.”
I looked up in a tree. Andrew stood on one of the branches, seemingly without effort. He wore a tight white shirt that seemed to almost glow with light in the darkness. It outlined his pectorals and abs quite nicely if I do say so myself. Why did he keep having to wear tight shirts that showed off his abs? Well, at least it was better than being naked. Or was it? I considered the thought briefly before discarding it. Those were thoughts for my alone time.
“Will you be okay? You don’t have to do this if you don’t want,” Andrew offered.
“Will you stop fraternizing with the bait?” Rune snapped. His voice came from a bush on ground level.
“Hey, you’re supposed to be keeping watch, making sure that whatever this is doesn’t come up on us without warning!” Andrew replied back.
“If you would both please be quiet, then this plan has a chance of coming to fruition. I apologize, but it won’t work if you two don’t play your parts,” a whisper came from a farther distance away.
Andrew blushed with embarrassment, then leaped onto another branch and climbed away. How was he able to keep his balance like that? He was like a spider monkey. I was expecting him to throw poo next.
“Jane… if you don’t want to do this, we don’t…” Rune’s voice stopped for a second, “What I’m saying is we just want you to be safe, and I don’t like using you as bait.”
“It’s fine Rune,” I responded, “But thanks.”
However, when he turned to walk away, my emotions were turbulent. What exactly had I agreed to do tonight? I was beginning to think my own curiosity was going to get me killed. At least for tonight, I had three boys here to protect me. One of them couldn’t die and the others had their own secrets. Still, what brought me to this point? Oh yes…
“What were you two doing in the closet together?” Andrew tried to keep a cool face as the pair of us pushed through the door and separated.
The pair of them had just seen us in the closet together and I was at a complete loss for what to say. Rune looked a tad angry today. I supposed he had reasons to feel that way after I had tasered him.
“We need to get to class or we’ll be late,” I tried to explain.
“I think we all need to have a sit down right about now,” Rune chided.
Stephan sighed. “Alright, we all have lunch together; let’s meet in the art room at lunch. It’s empty at that time.”
The three of them gave a nod to each other before breaking away. Well, I guess I wasn’t going to be consulted on this big private meeting. I don’t know why it bugged me so much. We should probably talk things out and the art room would be a good place to meet. Still, it felt almost like I was in a big tug-of-war. Maybe I should bring the taser to the art room. They could all use a little lesson in how to treat a lady.
Lunch came quickly, and I managed to duck out before a shocked Samantha could grab me and subject me to another series of obnoxious questions. I went up to the art room and, surprisingly, all three boys were already there. Andrew and Rune shot angry looks at each other, which was nothing new. However, Andrew seemed to throw a few angry looks at Stephan as well. Rune seemed cautious but indifferent towards Stephan, while Stephan remained politely neutral to the pair of them.
“What did I miss?” I asked, joining the three of them.
“Your friend was just telling us about his little condition,” Andrew said, his voice sounding cold, even for him.
“I don’t really care one way or the other. He explained himself; we can move on. I’d rather have you tell me why I woke up smothered in cross markings and shaving cream. I still have a pounding headache and a twitch,” Rune demanded.
“He’s an abomination,” Andrew responded vehemently, ignoring Rune.
“Who isn’t an abomination to your kind?” Rune snapped back.
I pricked my ears at that, but the pair must have noticed and descended into dark stares instead. Well, it was too much to hope for that I’d hear more.
“Well I don’t know about being an abomination,” Stephan offered to try to fill the stressful silence, “but I try to use my second life for good. Stopping people that mean harm and the like.”
Andrew threw up his hands, shaking his head in irritation.
“Well, I do want to apologize to you, Rune,” I spoke up. “I accidentally knocked you unconscious and we sort of fell down some stairs. I left you with Andrew. I don’t know what you mean by cross marks and shaving cream.”
Rune suddenly turned darkly to Andrew, who started to smirk despite himself.
“Hey, don’t look at me,” Andrew chuckled, “She’s the one who tasered you.”
Rune looked back at me. “You…tasered me?”
“I’m sorry! You grabbed me…and I was scared.”
“I was just seeing if you were alright!” Rune defended.
“That might have been my fault,” Stephan raised his hand calmly. “I might have freaked her out a bit. She found me in pretty bad shape last night.”
“Well isn’t that just perfect.” Rune leaned back. “You scared her within an inch of her life and she rewards you with seven minutes in heaven and she hit me with a taser.”
“Rune, that’s not what happened,” I defended vehemently.
What’s seven minutes in heaven?
Stephan seemed to blush a bit and Andrew was a little more irritated. Maybe it wasn’t something good. I’d have to ask Samantha later. I checked my twitter feed. Samantha’s latest post was ‘Jane’s getting it on with Stephan in the second-floor closet, reward if you get pictures’. Well, now I knew how Rune and Andrew found me. Samantha, that snake. It looked like I needed to add another to the taser list.
“Please guys, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for the creature that got me. I may or may not be an abomination, but this creature thought nothing of ripping me in half and I’ve been tracking it for months. It’s the most active during the full moon, which is tonight. It’s been kidnapping people; killing animals; scaring townsfolk. If there is something you want to focus your aggression on, that would be it.”
Andrew seemed to think about it for a moment. “If this is as dangerous as you claim, then I’ll be willing to help you stop it.”
“Well there is no way I’m letting you have all the fun. I’ll catch this thing before either of you can blink,” Rune spoke up, sounding surprisingly chipper compared to moments before.
“I appreciate your willingness to help.” Stephan nodded. “but the person whose help I really need is Jane’s.”
“Why Jane?” Rune asked at the same time Andrew said, “Absolutely not.”
Stephan looked at each of them, then me, before speaking. “The creature seems to be attracted to women more than men. I don’t know why, but in order to have any chance of catching it before someone else goes missing, I’m going to need some bait.”
I shuddered as a particularly cold breeze struck me. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the forest, waiting for some creature to attack me so they could trap it. It really was ridiculous when you thought about it. A sudden large howl came out from the darkness not too far away.
“It’s near!” whispered Stephan.
The three men converged in the direction of the howl, leaving me to nothing but my thoughts. I didn’t even know what to think. I didn’t know if I was excited, frightened, or what. Perhaps I was an adrenaline junky. Maybe that’s what coming out here in the middle of the night to my favorite park was; just my way of getting my next buzz. Maybe there was something seriously wrong with me. Like 50 Shades of Grey wrong with me.
A growling sound came from the direction the three boys had run. I turned in that direction, but I could make nothing out in the darkness.
“Stephan? Andrew? Rune?” I called out.
There was no response. The growling grew louder and closer. Oh no! Whatever it was had gotten past them. I backed up several steps. I kept backing up until I backed right into a tree. When the growling ceased, I let out a sigh of relief. Well, at least there was nothing in front of me to be concerned about. I took in a deep breath. The forest smelled great, like maple leaves. The tree was also quite comfortable. It was warm and cozy; hard yet soft at the same time, it’s rhythmic breathing giving me something I could fall asleep to.
Wait… trees don’t… The hands grabbed me and I tried to let out a scream, but it was too late. A hand was around my mouth and I was pulled out of the small clearing. My face was covered with the massive hand, making it difficult to see anything, but it was clear that I was being carried somewhere. The enormous monster that was carrying me seemed to run with a steady rhythm, his deep breaths forming a mist in the air. I just couldn’t get a good look at his face.