Everybody Hide

The Halloween season is nearly upon us. So, I thought I would spin a spooky tale for you today.

“Grrr,” Frank let out his best zombie growl as he plodded through the forest. The late fall sun beamed behind his back, and his silhouette wavered back and forth as his arms extended and swung from his body. “I’m going to find you all,” he hollered in a guttural tone.

Lewis and Cory tried not to laugh. They were a scant fifteen yards away. Other friends had scattered in a teenage version of hide-and-go-seek. Cory whispered to Lewis, “This is silly, why is he acting like a zombie?” Lewis responded by putting his index finger to his lips. Frank lumbered by their location. Lewis and Cory held their breaths to suppress their giggles. He continued down the path, looking for his victims. Lewis turned to Cory, “You know the legend of the dead boy’s ghost that turns kids into zombies before they finally die at daylight.”

Cory nodded and whispered back, “It’s just a silly story to keep us out of the woods, and it isn’t working.”

Both of them giggled and covered their mouths. Fifteen yards away Frank stopped. The graying tree trunks were turning blacker in the fading sunlight. Frank turned his head and listened, Cory and Lewis did not twitch a muscle. A twig broke deeper into the woods, out of sight of Lewis and Cory, but near to Frank. Frank went bounding towards the noise. Lewis heard Frank yell, “Ha! Found you.” Everything was silent for a moment, and then Frank screamed. Cory sucked in her breath, and she spoke to Lewis, “Should we go check on him?’

Lewis shook his head. “It’s a trap.”

“What if it’s a bear?” asked Cory.

Lewis listened but did not hear another sound. He shook his head again. “No, we would hear a bear.”

“Look,” Cory was pointing near where Frank had stood. George had walked out from behind a tree and was looking into the darkness, “Frank, is everything okay?”

“Dang, it!” yelled George as he back peddled over the leaf litter. Lewis and Cory watched Frank come trudging out.

“You were right,” said Cory to Frank, “He was trying to trick us.”

They both laughed as they watch George attempt to get away. George tripped on a rut and fell backward on to his butt.  Laughing George put up his hand, “You got me.”

Frank let out a low laugh and reached down to help George up. As soon as George was lifted to his feet, Frank made a swift move to George’s neck and bit into his carotid artery. George screamed as blood gushed from his neck, into Frank’s mouth, and across Frank’s jaws. Frank pushed George’s dead body to the ground and swallowed the piece of flesh between his teeth.

Lewis heard a woman scream. Lori was further away from Frank and was attempting to run deeper into the woods. Somewhere in the darkness something grabbed her and jerked her out of sight. Her gurgling screams could be heard in the obscurity. Lewis and Cory looked at each other, eyes wide with terror. Lewis patted Cory’s shoulder frantically and pointed to George’s lifeless body. George began to twitch violently and then rose up. George walked over and joined Frank. Both sniffed at the air and tilted their heads to listen.

The other five teens from the party appeared from behind various shrubbery and attempted to run. With the dying light of the sun falling below the horizon, Cory and Lewis could see two people get caught like sheep in a pen. Michael attempted to run to the far side of the woods, only to be met by Lori. Her manicured nails extended as claws, and her teeth were bared like a cheetah’s. John tried running another direction and tripped on a rut and in his panic was too clumsy to get off the ground. Frank, Lori, and Michael tore into his body like hyenas. John’s few remains never rose back up.

The woods were now black with the night. Only the blacker silhouettes of the trees and their zombie-like friends were visible to Lewis and Cory. The two quietly pulled each other close and crouched to look more like the shadow of a shrub rather than two people. Both hoped their transformed clique could not see better in the dark. Neither dared to breathe as the shadows meandered by a scant six feet away. Lewis closed his eyes and prayed for the crunching leaves to continue past them.

The woods grew quiet once more, but neither dared to try and venture out. Lewis put his lips next to Cory’s ear. “Don’t move until daylight.” Both felt their legs and backs begin to burn after an undetermined amount of time. They shifted the combined body weight and leaned against the base of the tree. The cold fall air passed across their backs. The combination of exhaustion, stiffness, body warmth and cold air drove both to sleep.

Lewis woke first. The sunlight nearly blinded him. He looked around the woods. Everything appeared different. The fall colors still hung partly from the trees and covered the forest floor. Lewis tapped Cory’s shoulder, and she slowly pushed her weight off of Lewis. Both groaned as they stood up. Lewis stretched his arms over his head and asked Cory, “Do you think that was all a prank?”

Cory looked around and shrugged, “I hope so, but if it was, I’m going to kill Frank when I see him.”

Lewis checked his cell phone, “I have a signal.”

Cory checked her phone, “Me too. Let’s get out of here.”

Lewis tried to text Frank a warning about Cory as they made their way up the path to his car. At the edge of the trail, Cory stopped and let out a scream. Lewis looked up from his social media and gasped. Around the vehicle laid the mutilated bodies of their friends. Frank’s butt and legs hung halfway out of the broken driver’s window, and George and Lori’s bodies leaned against the locked passenger doors. If they had not been covered in blood and bite marks, Lewis would have thought they had passed out from a drunken stupor. The rest of the crew were scattered about the dirt parking lot or edge of the trees.

Cory dialed 911.

After five long minutes, Sheriff Phil rolled up. He willed his two-hundred-pound body out of the vehicle after the car had barely stopped. His forehead was creased and his face red. “Didn’t we teach you all not to come out here?'”

Cory began to cry, and she buried her head into Lewis’s shoulder. Lewis nodded.

“What a waste,” said the Sheriff. “Every fall you young people screw up and every fall I have to have a bonfire. When are you gonna learn to listen?” Phil walked over to his patrol car and keyed the mic. “Janice, they did it again. Get me an ambulance for these two, and the fire department. I want this mess cleaned up before lunch.”

Lewis heard Janice’s audible sigh over the loud radio, “Roger, Sheriff. When will these young people learn.”

Lewis looked up at Phil, “I’ve learned, I’m never coming to these woods again.”

Phil tossed the corded mic back into his patrol car, crossed his arms and stared at Lewis and Cory. “At least two of you made it this time. That’s two more than we normally find.”

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