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Killer Instinct [DBD Fiction featuring Ghost Face]

Chapter Text

COVER

 

He’s been watching her for several trials and always saved her for last for a particular reason he couldn’t pinpoint yet.

He kept asking himself what about her intrigued him to his very core ? 

 

Was it that cute face of hers ? Was it her way of hiding from him ? Was it her strong survival instinct that compelled her to evade him ? The way she works on the broken generators, constantly checking her surroundings and swelling her chest in labored breaths? Was it her low, suppressed squirms when his knife met her soft, glistering skin ? Or perhaps the way her wet arms slipped through his hands few times he tried to snatch her before vaulting a window ?

The questions washing over his mind as he calmly worked his way around the forest could only bring him to one conclusion: all those things together, stirred him up. She was the perfect prey... for him. He had never experienced a more thrilling feeling for the hunt, than the one that particular young woman gave him. But she wasn't brought to him in this trial.

He approached the small shack with careful steps, turning so silent he almost became a ghost. The dead generator was clearly being revived by someone, and the survivor wasn’t very aware of how noisy he was, neither was he checking the entrance behind him. Ghost Face slowly clasped the wooden frame in a firm grip and carefully tilted his head to check on the man working relentlessly at the generator.

He stalked him few seconds until he stepped into the entrance with his knife ready, tightening his grasp until the leather glove squeaked on its handle. In a split second, the man felt pressure in his chest and he recognized the feeling immediately, but it was too late to take any action. As soon as he turned around and prepared to dash past the killer, he felt the knife digging deep in his stomach. A loud, prolonged cry of pain escaped his throat as he collapsed on the floor.

 

'Jake ?'  Claudette muttered as she heard his voice rippling through the forest.

 

'We’re the last ones, focus'  Feng brought her back to reality as she snapped two fingers in front of her.

 

'You know there is no way for us to escape both'  Claudette whispered as she moved around a tree’s trunk, sitting down next to Feng.

 

Feng knew she was right, there were 3 more generators to fix before the exit doors could even be powered, not to mention the extra time they needed to open any of them before actually escape. She looked at her teammate and forced a faded smile.

 

'Not both of us, no'  she spoke in a low voice.

 

'Let’s split up and try to work on different generators, at least he’ll have 2 distractions'  Claudette started hopeful.

 

'Right'  the other girl nodded before helping herself up.

 

Claudette crouched around the tree and rushed past the brick walls to the coal tower. She sneaked around the outer wall and entered the building with trembling legs. She threw a quick glance at the windows and the stairs above before hurrying at the slumbering generator upstairs. With each crank, she was getting closer to fully repair it but simultaneously approached her own anxiety’s peak. The lack of a heartbeat made the whole trial a psychological torture. She would take any other killer at that point and would’ve preferred to get herself injured several times but have that heartbeat throbbing in her chest rather than never knowing when the killer was coming after her.

Feng took a deep breath and headed for the only generator in the open. Her hands were shaking in anticipation. Her eyes landed on something to her right, deep into the forest. A shadow, a black shape of some sorts or was it only a figment of her imagination ? Was it perhaps what she wanted to see ? 

With that hope in her heart, she closed her eyes and let the generator blow-up in her face. She knew the bait was a success when that familiar sharp pain in her chest didn’t fail to come. The heartbeat almost ripped through her t-shirt and she knew he was behind her. His powerful and overwhelming aura almost engulfed Feng entirely, like the Fog itself. She moved her head to a side, catching the faintest glimpse of his mask when she let out a loud yelp the second he caught her throat, forcing her to face him. 

He seized her and hoisted her body over his shoulder, gracefully moving towards the nearest meat hook. He didn’t hurry, he didn’t stall, he seemed to simply enjoy his walk of victory. Feng struggled and hit his back several times in a failed attempt to escape, but the killer could only smile at her futile efforts as he coiled his arm harder around her waist.

When the hook pierced through her shoulder, a blinding, sharp pain ripped out breaking gasps from her lungs. She snatched the long, sharp legs trying to gain distance to her heart, when she suddenly exhaled one last time and allowed the Entity claim her.

Claudette raised her head from the generator and looked instinctively at Feng’s direction. 

 

'No'  she whispered concerned as she heard the sacrifice completed 'what have you done Feng?'

 

Ghostface turned on his heels and proceeded with a predatory gaze onward.

 

‘Warehouse, go, end it!’   The Entity whispered in his head over and over.

 

The girl abandoned the building as soon as she finally felt that heartbeat she was hoping for. She ran as far as her legs would take her, but she could still feel him tailing her. 

Although she was making a beeline to the shack where Jake was found, the sound of the underground tunnel leading out the trial brought her to a halt. She looked to her right, to the main road and saw the hatch opened at the Entity’s mercy. With a quick squint she noticed the killer stopped as well looking at the same direction as she was. They both started to race towards it and she couldn’t help but understand there was no chance she would make it out alive unless he would take a swing at her prematurely. However, he was too smart to give her such opportunity and she knew that when she was literally running side by side with him and the man refused to hurt her in any way. 

Crying in desperation, knowing that’s the only escape she has, she took a shot and as she ran towards the hole, she let herself slide down and slip through the hatch, when the killer grabbed her shirt. She was half into the hatch, feet on the ladder, but she was forced to grab hold of his forearm as leverage, not to fall down into the abrupt tunnel. She tried to remove his grasp off her, even tried to move down the ladder and just let him rip her clothes, but the killer had no desire to spare her and in a surge of adrenaline, frustration and excitement, he refused the Entity’s demand and just snatched Claudette out of the hatch, climbed on top of her and stabbed her three times.

 

(Back at the campfire)

 

Claudette walked out of the forest and drew closer to the survivors gathered around the huge campfire. She removed a small twig from her hair and shuddered at the feeling of that hunting knife carving in her flesh even though the stab wounds were now gone.

 

'Did you make it ?'  Feng approached the girl.


'No,'  Claudette frowned slightly angered 'What the hell was that ? Why did you sacrifice yourself ?'

 

The other survivors resumed to simply stare at the two women without interfering.

 

'You said it yourself, there was no way we would both escape'  Feng tried to reason with her.


'So ? We still try...together.'


'What a lousy thank you'  Feng replied moving around the campfire.


'Thank you for what ? Killing yourself ? Getting myself mori-ed ?'

 

A deep silence reigned for more than enough to become awkward. Everyone knew how unpleasant was to be ended by the killer’s hand instead of being sacrificed. You could feel their anger, rage and sick pleasure whenever they did that. A sacrifice was never so personal, you’d never experiment the killer’s feelings in a sacrifice. 

But a Mori ? That is something personal, an intimate journey into the killer’s mind and you, as a survivor could feel all his or her emotions with each hit.

 

'Fine, sorry'  Feng complied and walked at the storage tent to help Laurie sort the items all the survivors gathered throughout their trials.

 

Claudette wished to echo Feng’s apologize, but she let her head down embarrassed. She knew the girl only wanted to help and thinking about the act itself, she realized it was a very nice and altruistic gesture, but the brutal encounter with the killer clouded her judgement.

Kate followed the whole discussion with interest but she was never the kind of person to debate with the others their dramas so she kept her thoughts to herself and continued eating the plain porridge.

 

'Who’s got you so worked up, girl ?' Ace asked playing with some cards in his hand.


'Ghost Face'  Jake answered as he saw Claudette ignoring the question.


'Oh ho, the new killer'  Ace smirked worryingly excited. 'I’ve encountered him once since the Entity brought him to this realm, but I got lucky and escaped before I would literally face him.'

 

Kate’s brows furrowed at the mention of the killer’s name and barely swallowed the lump in her throat.

 

'I actually never saw him'  David joined them 'What’s he like ? How can I counter him ?'  the man asked as he gulped his last spoonful of the tasteless porridge.


'Well'  Jake started in a whisper 'You’d have to make sure to stay low for as long as possible. Check your six all the time. He loves to stalk his prey, he is always trailing you, without having you know... just like a ghost.'


'So he’s another Myers ?'  David observed.


'You may think of him as another Myers'  Jake added 'BUT it takes him less time to take you down.'


'Maybe we should ask our little princess here how she escaped him' Ace gave Kate a nudge and she barely managed to keep her plate in balance not to spill over that disgusting mush of oats, because as much as they hated it, it was one of the very few things they could eat there.

 

Kate looked at him unimpressed and mumbled annoyed.

 

'I asked you to stop calling me that.'

 

'Okay...Kate'  he resumed mockingly 'why don’t you share some of your wisdom? You’re the one that faced him the most times and survived more than half of these trials against him.'


'I need to stretch my legs'  she set the plate down, next to the log she was sitting on and stood up.


'You know, it’s not very nice of you to keep information from your fellow survivors'  Ace caught her attention again. 'I mean, look at Claudette, she got stabbed like a rag doll and you act so smug about it.'


'Acting smug ?'  Kate scoffed at him. 'Maybe you should all stop acting like you’re entitled for anything and see the killer for what he really is… a killer. Stop taunting them, stop challenging them, just do your job and survive. Maybe if you’d stop strutting around them so cockily, you wouldn’t doom yourselves and your teammates'  she concluded before resuming her pace.


'Where are you going ?'  Claudette finally opened her mouth.


'Going to look for some chalk powder'  Kate said and the other survivors could see her silhouette vanishing in the forest.


'Is this how you escape the killer ? ' Ace shouted after her. 'Burning offerings to the mighty Entity to grant you some mercy ?'

 

Although Kate disappeared from their line of sight, she did hear Ace’s comment. 

Still staring in the depthness of  the woods, as if she still saw Kate, Claudette shifted her eyes back on the fire and then saw Laurie coming out of the storage, arms crossed on her chest.

 

'Stop teasing Kate, Ace'  the girl started.


'Jesus'  Ace jumped up startled 'you should be a killer too with this sneaking up on people. Come on, can't you all tell I'm joking? I call her that because she's beautiful. Should take it as a compliment.'


'You're saying it sarcastically.  '


'Is she okay?'  Jake asked concerned. 


'Yeah, I suppose'  Laurie replied.


'I’ll go after her, make sure she’s safe'  David jumped on his feet.


'How sweet of you'  Laurie grimaced at him 'but she’s safe out there. Killers are not allowed to bring us any harm outside the trials.'


'How do you know ?'


'I know, Laurie enforced in an abrupt tone. Just let her be, she obviously doesn’t need company otherwise she’d stay with us.'


'The others should be back by now'  Jake tried to loosen up the tension but managed to receive in return just simple nods.

 

Laurie watched at the thick forest stretching before her eyes and exhaled tired, allowing herself to lean onto the big log, ignoring the survivors’ chatter.

Kate walked at such a low pace as if she didn’t sleep for years. Her feet moved one in front of the other by instinct, automatically, like her body was controlled by someone else. She realized she almost reached her destination when she saw in the middle of the MacMillan woods that ancient giant tree.

She retrieved the small pouch from her back pocket and loosen up its thin string. With a quick scan of the area, she dared to approach the tree’s trunk and kneeled down. Her fingers started to dig vigorously into the dirt around the overgrown roots, when she felt a chill down her spine and a whisper in her head: 

‘It’s time’

 

'Shit, no, not now'  Kate dropped the half filled pouch and her body collapsed unconsciously next to it.

 

When she woke up, she found herself on the grounds of Father Campbell's Chapel in the killer’s shack with Dwight next to her. As soon as she stood up an icy sensation riding down her spine dragged her down to one knee and she knew all too well what that meant: she was the killer’s obsession.

Chapter Text

Dwight moved at one entrance and stuck his head out for a quick scan.

'Do you see or hear anything ?' Kate inquired as she walked beside him.


'No' he bit his lower lip nervous. 'Should we take that one ?' he pointed at a generator just outside the shack, in front of them.

 

Kate leaned over and scoured the surroundings for any movement, but she wasn’t able to spot even the other two survivors.

'It’s too quiet' she noticed stepping back into the shack.


'We’ll stay low' Dwight said and crouched his way to the generator, then beckoned her to join him.

 

The girl gestured down to the basement and saw the young man nodding at her in approval. Her light steps were barely noticeable from outside and that was one of the skills she invested the most in, along fighting her urge to scream or pant in pain whenever she was injured. 

As soon as she stepped inside the basement, her ears were instantly filled with whispers and cries of lost souls or perhaps were the echoes of their own cries, forever preserved in that realm and bound to unwind to both the survivors and killers for eternity as a reminder of their failures and success.

She walked a couple of meters in and looked to her right, spotting the closed chest. With her hopes pinned on a toolbox she proceeded ransacking its contents, when a faded yell interrupted her search. Her body instinctively stiffened and ran at the wall nearby. Her breathing intensified and her heart skipped a beat the second she heard a girl’s painful roar as she got hooked.

The killer turned towards the shack and a cunning smile surfaced underneath his mask. He saw Dwight before crouching next to the generator. The more the young man stood there the more his heartbeat accelerated. He abandoned the cover and ran straight at the shack when he felt a pain in his chest.

 

'Kate, get out now'  he yelled before rushing at the other exit.

 

Kate hurried out when she froze midway the stairs, seeing Ghost Face at the top of the stairs looking at her. She gulped the heavy knot in her throat as she slowly stepped back downstairs, but she gasped in a brief relief when she noticed him going after Dwight.

 

'Run, Kate' he yelled seeing he was still the main target.

 

The killer dashed forward but the young man grabbed the wooden pallet next to the exit and threw it in his face. However, Dwight’s action was so predictable that Ghost Face simply kicked the pallet out of his way, sending it in air, outside the shack and with a quick lunge around the corner, he downed Dwight. Kate covered her mouth as she walked back into the basement and hid in the first locker. 

Her heart started to beat chaotically when she heard the stairs creak under the killer’s weight. She heard Dwight’s grunts of struggling free from his grasp, but everything ended pretty soon when the bloodied hook dug into his flesh. Ghost Face turned his masked face slowly to the chest behind him and walked in front of the lockers. He drew closer to the first locker. Kate held both hands to her mouth and her entire body was shaking so hard she wondered if he could hear the locker rattling because of her. 

With a slow tilt of his head, the killer brought the knife up at the venting grate and tapped the metal two times before turning his back at her and leaving the basement. Kate closed her eyes and released her mouth. With a trembling hand she opened the locker to Dwight’s surprise.

 

'What are you still doing here ?' he whispered scared.


'Sh-' Kate checked the stairs and came back to unhook him.


'That was so close' Dwight muttered allowing Kate to tend as best as she could his shoulder wound.

 

Kate squeezed her lips together in disbelief. She had the feeling he knew she was hiding in there, but she didn’t want to worry or raise unnecessary questions among survivors by debating Ghost Face's sudden change of mind. The generator Dwight already brought close to completion roared as it started working and the two survivors immediately heard some rushed steps heading down to the basement. Kate wanted to get out but bumped into Meg.

 

'Wow, easy there' she balanced herself.


'Sorry, I thought you’re him'  Kate apologized.


'I just wanted to check the chest'  Meg added.


'Go ahead'  Kate left the basement closely followed by Dwight.


'By the way'  Meg came at the foot of the stairs 'he lit up a totem for the Entity.'


'What curse ?'  Kate asked.


'Ruin'  Meg replied 'I barely managed to concentrate on repairing that generator.'


'I’ll go look for it' Dwight jumped in.


'Where’s the other surv-'  Kate stopped abruptly and pressed her back against the wall.


'What ?' Dwight asked in a low voice.


'I heard something'  Kate gestured to Meg to come up but she refused to and went at the chest.


'Probably a crow flapping its wings'  Dwight argued and went for the exit just to be snatched in one quick motion.

 

Ghost Face’s hand squeezed his throat and stabbed him once in the guts, dumping his limp body on the ground. He turned at Kate and she burst into a sprint trying to run past him, but he stretched an arm in the doorway, blocking her exit. She backed away and headed for the other one, but he nimbly caught her arm, pulling her backwards and forcing her to stumble on her feet until she crashed into his chest. He spun her around and wrapped his left arm around her throat, bringing the knife close to it and lowering his head to her face.

 

'Shh-'  he silenced her.

 

But Kate wasn’t going to get down easily and he was counting on that. He wished her to fight, he wanted her to do something, to struggle, he loved seeing his prey thinking it had a fighting chance. He smiled as he felt her body quivering in his embrace, her chest heaving and her hands hanging from his forearm in a defeated, almost begging for mercy manner. She lowered her head enough to reach the hand holding her right shoulder and bit into his leather glove, tasting iron.

He released her with an annoyed sigh and saw her fleeing. He looked back on the ground and although Dwight managed to crawl his way out of the shack, Ghost Face snatched him up and hooked him back in the basement. 

Something was different down there, and he noticed the chest was open now. Walking back at the stairs, he only took a couple of steps before a low whimper triggered his senses. Meg stared at him as he slowed down to a standstill and moved his head directly at the locker she was hiding in. Without wasting any more precious seconds with the likes of them, and with his thoughts still flying at his favorite prey, he gapped the locker’s doors, seized Meg and threw her for the second time on hook.

He left the basement with both survivors battling the Entity’s deadly claws.

Kate finally stopped on the first floor of the chapel and leaned her back against the generator trying to catch her breath. She dragged her body at the broken window and looked at the killer shack hoping the other survivor would make an attempt to save the other two, but the whole area seemed abandoned. A sense of guilt engulfed her mind. She looked down under her feet, and there was no trace of Ghost Face, he clearly left the area confident no one would go for an altruistic moment. After bouncing that idea in her head, she decided to give it a try.

 

‘He probably is on the other side of the chapel’   Kate thought standing up.

 

Little did she know he was in the chapel as well, opposite of her location, observing her. He moved closer to the banister and dragged the knife’s blade across it as he worked his way up to her. Reaching the small hall with the outdoor entrance, a warm blow of the wind fluttered his coat, betraying his presence, but it didn’t bother him. He actually wanted her to see him. And she did when he was already close to the dead generator. She grabbed both sides of the broken window and moved one foot behind feeling the edge of the building biting in her boot’s sole and before she realized it, her foot slipped.

As she prepared for the brutal impact of her back with the ground, she opened her eyes to see Ghost Face holding her by the jacket’s collar. She let out a surprised and horrified gasp at his action, and although she wished to escape him at all cost, at that moment he was her only way of avoiding a very bad fall. With mixed feelings she raised her hands towards his arm, and in that precise moment Ghost Face shook his head slowly in denial letting go of her jacket.

 

'NO!'  Kate yelled as if a friend just betrayed her.

 

The second her back met the ground, her lungs felt like ripping in her torso and she could only spit out a mouthful of blood. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak, she just watched him at the window, staring at her with the coat's long straps flying gracefully around him as if they had their own mind. In a blink of her eyes, he vanished. To her left, above the killer’s shack, she could steal a glimpse of the Entity receiving the two sacrifices.

Kate shifted her head to her right. She could finally see their last teammate. It was Ace. He was crouching around the damaged brick walls, trying to stay hidden. He assured her he was coming to help, but she knew he wouldn’t be able to bring her up to her feet. Her state was unhealable and she was left there with a purpose, to be his bait. She tried to articulate something, but her voice failed to come out of her throat. 

Ace rushed few steps around a wall and came to a full stop. He squatted and advanced towards Kate, finally seeing her head shaking vigorously to make him stop. When he did, she nodded, but that whole act only confused him even more so he decided to run at her.

 

'Let me see'  he began checking her body for visible wounds.

 

Kate shook her head again in denial, when she finally saw Ghost Face emerge from behind a pillar at the base of the chapel. He never left, he just waited. 

She opened her eyes as wide as possible the more the killer closed the distance between them. Indistinguishable gurgles escaped her throat, which only disturbed Ace. As Kate stared past Ace, at the killer, she saw him standing up, suddenly causing Ace’s heart to almost burst out of his chest. He dodged the first swing, but as he veered to the left, the killer followed his motion and jammed the knife in his neck, dragging the man on his knees.

She saw him carrying Ace to the nearest hook and witnessed the man speeding up the sacrifice process hoping Kate would be able to crawl at the hatch. When the Entity savored the third survivor, Ghost Face slightly turned his head to a side to watch Kate as if he was the incarnation of the Entity itself, lusting for the last survivor’s blood. Her eyes locked on his tall figure, dreading that all too familiar outcome. 

That was the moment he was waiting for, for them to be alone, with all the time in the world at his disposal. Enough time to torture her, to play with, however...that trial didn’t last as long as he hoped and once he approached Kate’s inert body, he understood he made a mistake by tipping her over the window. She couldn’t give him what he wanted. He gritted his teeth annoyed.

 

End it’   the Entity kept whispering in his head.

 

He ran one arm under her upper thighs and used the other one to pull her up in a sitting position before throwing her effortlessly over his shoulder. It’s been a while since their last encounter and almost forgot how light she was, so small compared to him, he barely felt he carried a person. 

Luckily for her she didn’t feel the pain in her shoulder as the hook penetrated her muscles and the whole ordeal ended pretty fast as she was the last one. The last thing she remembered was his mask staring lifeless at her as the Entity consumed her.

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Kate gasped for air in a loud and painful sound, as if her lungs have been deprived of air for hours. She was laying down next to that damned campfire and saw several silhouettes gathering above her. Instinctively she threw her hands in front of her repeating over and over:

 

'Don’t-, don’t do it!'


'Kate ? Hey, wake up'  a slapped followed the soothing voice. 'You’re safe now'  Feng waved her hand in Kate’s face.

 

Kate’s eyes fluttered spasmodically in an attempt to see those around her and slowly their faces gained familiar features. David helped her up to rest her back against the huge log and she mumbled a faint thank you.

 

'Wow, you’ve been pretty roughed up'  Feng commented as she started to clean the caked blood on Kate’s mouth and chin. 'Ace told us it was him again'  she continued.


'Yeah'  was the only word she could articulate.


'What happened to you ?'  Claudette asked curious as she sat up to Kate’s right side with her crossed arms.


'What’s it look like ?'  Kate didn’t look at her when she spoke. 'I got sacrificed.'


'No'  Claudette corrected her 'I mean this'  she pointed at the blood Feng was trying to clean up.


'Oh'  Kate shrugged her shoulders 'I...fell.'


'Must’ve been a nasty fall'  Claudette shrewdly observed.

 

At that comment, Kate’s eyes raised to the botanist and realized she knew she was lying about the wounds. It seemed to her that Kate wanted to cover something up, but decided to respect the singer’s privacy.

 

'Done, good as new'  Feng smiled at Kate.

 

'Thank you'  Kate wished to get up but she still was weakened and dropped down involuntarily. 


'Take it easy, it takes some time for our bodies to readjust, you know that'  Laurie kneeled down to her and handed her some water.


'I hate this part more than the trial itself'  Kate mumbled as she sipped slowly from the dirty bottle.


'I think we all do after a while'  Laurie agreed with her. 'I mean, at the beginning you fear the trials, the killers, being killed or sacrificed. Once those things become routine...you despise this very moment.'

 

Everyone nodded their heads in approval.

 

'How about you sing us something until you recover ? You know that soothes you'  Feng suggested and quickly was backed up by the others.


'O-okay'  Kate cocked her head to a side, slightly unsure she really wanted to do it but in the end she grabbed the guitar resting close by the log. 'What do you want me to play ?'


'Something melancholic'  Meg interrupted everyone as she already sat on the other side of the fire.

 

Kate looked at her through the yellowish flames and noticed how lost she seemed. Lately, Meg was very absent in their group discussions or gatherings. Something was eating her mind, but no one dared to ask about it as she made it pretty clear countless times she doesn’t like to talk about personal matters. If she wanted to talk to someone, she was probably too proud to do it and the others wouldn’t want to approach her anymore after so many rejections.

 

'Okay'  Kate tried to smile but her muscles wouldn’t raise her lips.

 

The young woman started with few slow and abrupt notes and the strings’ sound cut into the silence of the night as sharp as the killers’ knives. Everyone sat down by the fire and looked at Kate or doodled into the dirt as their thoughts flew far away past the Entity’s realm. The song became more melodic and fluid, the notes followed one after another without pause. When Kate opened her mouth to sing the first verse, her voice came out slightly strangled before she would power it through and bring more depth into her words. The song was about someone who was homesick. It described the aching pain of not belonging somewhere and how abandoned and lonely the protagonist felt.

Everyone was pleased with her choice and their smiles at the end of the song clearly complimented Kate’s performance.

 

'That was a beautiful song'  Meg’s low voice barely reached Kate’s ears. 'Thank you!'


'Sure' she set the guitar next to her and took another mouthful of water.


'Feeling better ?'  Claudette asked.


'I do'  Kate helped herself up 'I’m going to change my clothes'  she gestured at the blood stain on her shirt.

 

As she walked past few tents, she could hear everyone already engaging in cheerful chattering. Somehow that brought that smile she was so hardly trying to surface earlier. 

Entering the dark tent, she blindly searched the ground for the flashlight. Her hand tried each patch of the tent but the item seemed to be missing. She seized one side of the tent’s flaps and tied it just enough to let some light from the campfire enter the tent. She squinted inside and the flashlight was indeed nowhere to be found, but she brushed that thought away as she believed some other survivor might’ve taken it. She walked back in and kneeled down at the pile of clothes and removed one of her sleeveless shirts. With her back at the camp, she unbuttoned her shirt and tossed it next to the others. 

Subtle cracking sounds caught her attention and her head moved instinctively behind.

 

'Guys ?'  she rushed to pull over the new shirt and walked out of the tent staring into the depth of the forest. 'Hello ?'

 

There were clear footsteps shifting around some trees, but she couldn’t make much out of it. She barely saw something into that thickness.

 

'Damn that flashlight'  Kate cursed through her gritted teeth.' Guys ? This is not the time for jokes, seriously' she argued. 'Fuck this' she whispered to herself and returned to the group.

 

All survivors were playing truth or dare out of boredom, but when Kate joined them, they stopped just to notice her concerned look.

 

'Everything alright ? You look like you’ve seen a ghost'  David was the first one to ask.


'Dude-'  Dwight kicked his leg 'Seriously ?'  he continued in a whisper.


'Any of you borrowed my flashlight ?'


'Oh yeah, sorry about that'  Feng jumped up and rushed at the storage tent returning with the item in her hand. 'Here, I needed one and couldn’t find any spares in the storage. I replaced the batteries too.'


'Thank you'  Kate stared at the item and then back at her tent contemplating.


'What’s wrong ?'  Feng resumed.


'Any of you guys came to my tent earlier ?'

 

They all exchanged curious looks.

 

'No, why ?' Laurie asked.


'I thought I heard someone walking around. I clearly heard footsteps further in the forest'  she said still staring at the dark trees.


'Oh, probably Meg, she went for a jog'  Laurie clarified.


'I called but-'


'You know Meg'  the blonde smirked.


'Yeah'  Kate gulped the knot in her throat and felt slightly better.


'How about you join the game'  Ace invited her next to him with a hand gesture.


'Game ?'


'Truth or Dare'  the man answered.


'What are you ? Teenagers ?'  Kate chuckled.


'Hey, this can be a very serious game'  Ace argued.


'It’s not like we’ve got something better to do'  Claudette shrugged her shoulders.


'Fine'  Kate dropped down next to Ace.


'Okaaay, let’s start over'  Ace began. 'Come on Feng, truth or dare ?'


'Truth.'


'About 3 trials ago, were you waiting for Dwight to die on hook so you can take the hatch ?'

 

The whole group bursted into laughter.

 

'Ha, he caught you'  Dwight patted Feng’s shoulder in a friendly manner.


'God dammit'  the girl giggled in her own cute distinctive way 'Yes I was. I’m sorry Dwight'  she returned his pats.


'That’s alright.'


'Okay Dwight, your turn. Truth or dare ?'  Ace asked.


'Umm-'  he bit his nails thinking 'Dare.'


'Atta boy'  David roughed his hair. 'Kiss our bunny Feng!'

 

Everyone laughed at union at the request. Only Dwight felt his face burning up like he has been exposed naked in front of them. Although he had no clue, the others noticed his interest in Feng, and the girl didn’t seem to dislike his subtle and awkward actions towards her. Dwight turned his head at her and noticed she was smiling at him clearly inviting.

They both leaned onto each other and locked their lips together. He didn’t want to make it seem just a simple peck fearing she would believe he didn’t like it, but he didn’t linger either to avoid looking needy. The others cheered at the gesture and it was then when the two survivors parted away embarrassed, though their eyes betrayed a still burning desire to continue.

 

'Next!'


'DARE' David proudly raised his arms.


'Kiss Kate'  Dwight jumped in with a vengeful voice.


'You were asking for it' Kate laughed at David 'Unless this was your plan the whole time. Are you two guys working together ?'  she asked the two men.


'Us ? Nooo' David jumped on his feet and met Kate midway near the campfire.

 

He seized Kate’s waist with one hand and grabbed her head with the other before kissing her. Laurie shifted her position and looked away uncomfortable.

 

'Okay, enough with the kissing'  Kate pushed him away and smiled taking her sit.


'Claudette ?'


'Truth.'


'Ever smoked weed ?'  Ace asked. 


'What ?'  Claudette laughed nervously.


'Come on, working with plants all the time, you must’ve smoked something out of curiosity'  the man laughed.


'Ugh-'  Claudette grunted 'Fine. Yes I did. ONCE. Out of curiosity.'


'Yeah, yeah. Laurie ?'


'Truth!'


'If you could kill Michael right now, would you do it ?' Feng bent over her knees to see Laurie better.


'Huh'  Laurie pondered on the question as silence reigned over them all. 'I- I don’t think so.'


'Why ?'  Feng asked intrigued.


'I’m not a murderer...'


'Fair enough'  the brunette replied.


'Okay, me'  Ace scratched his head. 'I'll also take the truth!'


'What do you miss the most from your previous life ?'  Kate asked him.


'Uff-'  though one, the man grimaced. 'I guess the gambling and nightlife. The cities, casinos, the girls, you know ?'  he smiled genuinely nostalgic at the faint memories. 

 

Kate knew it was her turn because all heads turned to her way and looked expectantly at her choice.

 

'Truth as well'  she seemed she disappointed few faces around the crowd.


'What killer do you fear the most ?'  Ace rushed to question.


'I guess there are many'  Kate stammered.


'No, no, there has to be one that always makes you feel tense, uneasy, makes you pray at every start of a trial not to be him or her.'

 

She looked at the fire and closed her eyes, when the haunting white mask popped in her head invading her most forgotten parts of her mind. Her eyes opened violently at the image.

 

'The Ghost Face' her words came out in an eerie whisper.


'Jump scared you too much ?'  the man continued.


'Come on, he’s not that scary'  Laurie interfered.


'That’s cause you have no idea what he’s capable of'  Kate spoke before thinking.


'What do you mean ?'  Feng asked intrigued.


'Nothing'  Kate bitterly smiled dismissing her question when she heard that same damned whisper in her head.

 

Her eyes closed and accepted her fate. David, Laurie and Claudette were also summoned. Their bodies started to be pulled off the ground, towards the sky, until they disappeared from everyone’s sight.

 

***

'Run Laurie!'  David rushed her into the gas station.

 

She was panting heavily from running almost the entire trial. She still felt David’s firm grip on her arm, and although it hurt her, she didn’t want him to let go of her.

 

'Thanks'  she said.


'Yeah, sure' the man released her despite her unsatisfied look. 'I think he lost us, let’s work on this generator and hope the girls are working on the last one.'


'Okay'  the blonde followed him in the garage and crouched down next to the dead generator.

 

Kate carefully walked around the killer shack and rushed through the abandoned bus. She heard the light steps of the killer and barely saw his translucent shape. Backing away, she hid behind some walls and leaned her back against one, listening intensely to Wraith’s steps but they were no longer audible. The second she wanted to abandon her cover, she heard his bell and Claudette’s yell as she got hit.

 

'Fuck ' Kate took one step and kicked something in the grass. 

 

A shiny object stole her attention and as soon as she bent down and reached for the unknown object, her heart skipped a beat. In her hands was a camera. Her guts twisted in coils. It wasn’t just a camera, there is only ONE camera in this realm.

Claudette’s second yell snapped Kate out of her trance. She squeezed her palm around the small object and darted out of the cover towards the killer’s location. A distant generator roared to life and she knew the others must’ve worked on it. They were closer to Claudette too, so Kate wondered if she should just go and work on the last generator. But her conscience didn’t allow her take any step behind. She had to save Claudette. She was the only survivor she felt the most connected to. She was her friend. At least she wanted to believe so. With that in mind she dashed forward to the hook.

The bell rang again, like a bad omen announcing an inevitable hit. Looking behind her, she felt Wraith’s weapon smacking her back so hard, the camera in her hand fell down. For a split second she froze and looked at the object as if she wanted to recover it, but then she came to her senses and sprinted towards an open window in the gas station.

Wraith quickly abandoned the chase and cloaked himself fleeing to Claudette’s location. Kate looked over the window and saw Laurie in the middle of the yard, beckoning to come and help her with the last generator. Kate jumped over the window and rushed at the spot where she lost the camera, but since Laurie had her eyes fixed on her, she just walked past the object and joined her.

 

'David rescued Claudette, they’re counting on us'  Laurie spoke in a low voice.

 

The whole time working on the generator, Kate stared at the very spot where she dropped the camera.

Hoping they could work in pairs of two on different generators to keep Wraith occupied, David and Claudette didn’t have that luck. For several seconds, they were chased and David took a hit for Claudette so she wouldn’t be downed again. Right when they were about to go down, the last generator got revived and with that the two survivors got a surge of adrenaline and sprinted their way to the other gate, which was opened just in time by Laurie.

They were all three waiting at the gate, but Kate was nowhere to be found.

 

'Let’s go'  Laurie hurried the others, but both David and Claudette stood still searching with their eyes for Kate.


'I’ll go after her'  David stepped forward.


'She’s probably looking for the hatch' Laurie reasoned with him, though she was only annoyed at how much he cared for the other woman.

 

Kate crouched around the debris and plunged her hand into the grass, recovering the camera. She stuck it in her back pocket and headed to the open gate, soon seeing her teammates waving their hands at her.

 

'Come on' Claudette yelled.


'Shit' David saw the translucent shape behind Kate and she was already injured.

 

Before the bell rang, David dashed once forward and grabbed Kate by her arm, placing himself behind her to intercept the incoming hit. Laurie gasped in fear as she saw David being injured and ran with Claudette after the two to escort them out.

They walked out of the woods together and approached the group at the campfire.

 

'Wow, look at them all surviving'  Dwight cheered.


'Good job guys ' Jake gave them a low clap.


'Who was it ?' Ace asked shuffling some cards in his hands.


'Wraith'  David answered and dropped down exhausted.

 

While the others tried to get back to their usual matters, Kate always felt at risk of being interrogated. And that was not the only thing that would stir them up. She reached her back pocket and felt the camera trapped in her jeans. 

Like a thief constantly trying to avoid people, she managed to make herself unseen and absent around the camp, until she excused herself to take a short walk.

The full moon helped finding her way around the wood. She didn’t need the flashlight and that was her luck because she forgot to bring it with her. She walked longer than she would usually do, and when she finally reached a glade in the forest, she sat down and took out the camera with trembling hands. The moon shone right above her and the bluish tint of the light casted upon her and the trees made that night as special as the occasion she was there for.

Her breathing intensified as she turned the camera over and hovered her right index finger over the upper button. With a click, the camera activated and brought on the small screen a picture. The last picture. It was Nea. The blood coming out of her mouth and the way he sat behind her, raising her head for the selfie clearly immortalized a Mori. Kate frowned at the picture and yet something drove her browse some more. She clicked left several times and saw lots of pictures of the survivors being killed or just hanging on the hook. They were all gruesome and she could feel the pain in each picture. Some pictures were simply taken of their dead bodies.

 

Kate lowered the camera in her lap and raised her head to the sky, heavily breathing. The pictures disturbed her more than she expected and yet…

She clicked left some more until she found a picture of herself working on a generator. Her heart started to beat chaotically in her chest and intensified with each new picture she saw.

Several pictures followed with Kate being photographed either working on a generator, either searching a chest, or simply standing in the open or behind a window.

 

'Oh my God'  she gasped when she found one particular picture of her searching the chest in the basement. 'I left that basement alive, I even survived the trial, what the hell?'

 

Browsing some more, she also found some of her pictures where she was killed by him. She felt the piercing blade in her back as she saw her selfie with him. Her head moved left and right to check the surroundings as if she was watched or stalked, but she was all alone there.

Although she feverishly searched for similar pictures taken of the other survivors, hers were the only one in that style. As if he was just stalking her, watching her. Her quick impulse of closing the camera suddenly was overridden by the next photo.

That picture lacked any human beings in it. It was just a beach at sunset. The bright red and orange beautifully complemented the blackish water and the sand almost glistered in the last scattered rays of light. Kate’s facial expressions suddenly turned softer. Her eyes lingered on the beautiful big sun. She missed that. She missed anything related to her previous life even though she couldn’t remember much, she knew she missed something all this time. 

Seeing that picture, she finally understood what that was. Tears gathered in her eyes as she went further on and other breathtaking landscapes stole sharp gasps out of her throat. A beautiful forest trail came up on the screen. It was morning by the time the picture was taken. The morning dew still seen on the vegetation and a subtle mist hovering around just like the Fog in their realm. The way the pictures were taken betrayed a very keen eye and attention to details. A master in photography. He knew how to find the perfect angle, the perfect light, which values were worth of shooting and which contrasts created the best effects. 

Her tears rolled down her burning cheeks as she navigated through several more outstanding pictures, but she brushed them away swiftly with the back of her hand. Those pictures were taken from outside their realm. They were his true memories. She wondered as she went further on what could she possibly find if she goes even deeper into his past.

 

The more Kate clicked the left button, the more she went into older photos. She started to stumble upon pictures of unknown people laying dead in blood pools. She zoomed on their faces and the surroundings, but they didn’t seem familiar. At least not the survivors she knows. The places where the photos were taken seem to be different from their locations. 

Just as she expected, the pictures were his memories from before being brought in the Entity’s realm. Among many other victims of his, she found several headlines cuts stuck to a wall and some individual pictures of each article. Zooming on those pictures she learned they were about Ghost Face’s murders in Roseville. The articles were all written by someone named Jed Olsen. ‘Why would he save these articles ?’ Kate thought to herself. 

 

'This Jed guy was obsessed with him. All articles are about his murders'  Kate browsed through the articles so quickly she almost missed one picture depicting a note.

 

It read:

 

"I hope you liked my stories--I enjoyed bringing them to life. Don't worry, I'm not done." –Jed Olsen

 

Kate’s skin crawled as she read the message. It felt creepy. As creepy as this Jed Olsen she was reading about. She searched over the articles some more and noticed others were from Utah, some from Pennsylvania. All written by Jed Olsen. A shiver travelled her spine.

Reaching the end of the storage, the first picture was taken of a girl walking down a street. Bombarded with too much information Kate’s head started to ache. Those intimate memories and personal actions of his were too much for her to take. She closed the camera and laid down on her back staring at the clear sky and the big moon watching over her. 

The large leafy branches of some tall trees crept at the corner of her vision and blended perfectly in the deep navy sky. Her hand searched for the camera next to her and brought it in front of her. She opened it and positioned it close enough to her face to snap a picture.

The photo was as artistic as she could make it. The branches enveloped the edges of the sky and the moon sat in the middle of the picture. Suddenly she realized what she did and considered deleting the photo, but it was too pretty to do it. What if she’ll never get another beautiful night like that? This was the only physical memory she ever created in this realm. She decided to save it.

 

Kate felt her eyelids heavier and heavier and decided to sneak back on their camp for some rest.

Chapter Text

WOODS

 

Two of them were already gone. What was left for him was a man ...and her. And they barely managed to complete one generator. He smiled underneath his mask. There was no way this match was going well for them. It didn’t, from the beginning when he caught the other two in one place, marked them and took them in the basement. The trial was pretty much lost.

All he had to do was to get rid of that other man, but he was annoyingly elusive and overprotective of Kate. He saved her a couple of times from being injured and got himself hooked just to help her run away. Not that he would hook her, but he did want to have his fun, and the little pest kept interrupting him. A whisper softly brushed over Ghost Face’s ears. He smiled in expectation and set himself in motion at the indicated location.

He leaned over the corner and saw David trying in vain to fix the generator. The man kept failing to repair the right parts. And the more he failed the more he tried to concentrate on it, which only added to his lack of awareness on his surroundings. Obviously that cost him his life. He got swiftly swept away and put on the nearby hook, battling now the Entity’s clutches. 

Kate heard his prolonged roar and stopped working on her generator. She rushed to him and suddenly heard him yell.

 

‘Don’t come!’  he tried to speak. ‘Run Kate, go for the hatch.’

 

She didn’t feel her heartbeat going any faster, but surely he was stalking. Was she going to leave David die ? He always had her back. She shook her head dismissive. This was not even a debate. She wasn’t even hooked yet. She had to save him.

 

‘NO! Don’t!’  David tried to warn her, but it was too late.

 

As soon as she raised her arms to David, Ghost Face snatched her from behind and pulled her backwards, forcing her to look at him as he was being sacrificed. David let himself go to ease Kate’s torture and then she started jerking harder in his arms.

 

‘Fuck off!’  she yelled and barely managed to nudge him to a side.

 

He laughed at her pointless fight and for his own amusement, he let her go. The young woman sprinted through the ruins looking for the hatch feverishly, but he was following closely. She looked behind and understood he closed the distance between them. At any point, he will take a swing, and that cold metal will once again make her flinch in pain and bad memories. It hit her to change the strategy and instead of running away, she turned around and tried to dash past him, but the killer already knew her plan the second she changed direction. 

 

He easily grabbed her throat and slammed her back against a tall wall. The knife’s blade gently grazed her right thigh, crawling up to her belly and finally stopped on her chest.

 

‘You’re making this much more entertaining’  his voice suddenly filled her ears.

 

It was the first time to hear a killer speak. And his voice finally brought a conclusion to whether he was human or not. Curiously, his voice had a playful tone, and yet it had a little bit of coldness in it.

 

‘Wanna run away ?’  he got so close she could hear his slightly labored breathing.

 

‘Please-’  Kate barely managed to say the word between her ragged breaths.

 

‘Please ?’ the man chuckled at the word. ‘Please what ?’

 

‘Don’t do it’  she muttered still trying to catch her breath and avoid looking at the tip of the knife threatening her heart.

 

He tilted his head and smirked at her pleas.

 

‘I’m the last one standing’  Kate whimpered.

 

‘Yes you are’  he suddenly changed his tone to a softer one as he leaned his head against Kate’s.

 

‘I deserve the hatch’  she forced her luck struggling to ignore the iron smell on his leather coat and gloves.

 

‘Do you now?’  his shoulders moved up and down in a rhythmic motion.

 

‘Let me go, you psycho’  she let out an angered shout.

 

‘Sure’ he lowered the knife and backed away. ‘Go ahead’  he gestured with his free hand to his right.

 

Kate stared at him for a couple of seconds, stunned by his sudden change of heart.

 

‘I get bored pretty quickly though’  he took a step forward and she nimbly jumped to the left in fear.

 

He took merely three steps and lunged after her, missing her as she moved to a side to dodge the attack. He grinned.

 

She ran wherever she saw an opportunity to elude him, but little did she know that the chase was mostly dictated by him. He cleverly cornered and lead her in certain places in order to take a certain path that would eventually end up in his desired location. By the time she realized they approached the killer’s shack, it was too late.

Kate headed straight for the shack’s window and before she would get on the other side, he filled his fist with her brown hair, pulling her backwards causing the young woman to fall on her back. She coughed at the impact and shifting her position she crawled away as her eyes desperately checked the killer moving slowly after her.

Another rush of adrenaline washed over her granting a burst of energy enough to help her get up and sprint out of his reach. He joined the chase more than enthusiastic. After a few meters, he caught up with Kate and pounced on her like a wild animal. She landed face first in the grass and started threshing from under his weight managing  to escape for a brief second, before he would grab her left ankle pulling her under like a riptide.

 

‘NO!’  she freed herself and kicked his chest.

 

With a low, slightly angered grunt, the man readied his knife and launched after her but the blade got stuck in the ground as she rolled to the right. His head followed her motion in frustration and quickly leaped on his feet tailing her, back at the killer’s shack.

With another quick lunge he snatched her shirt and threw her against a locker, inside the shack. She didn’t have time to process the whole thing, but managed to suppress the urge to scream when the knife got buried to the hilt in her left shoulder. He leaned over her face and she could hear his heavy panting.

 

‘Sorry about this, I had to get it out of my system’  he removed the knife and seizing her throat, he dragged her downstairs to the basement.

 

Stumbling on her feet with blood dripping from her shoulder she let herself being carried down even if every part of her body refused to. Her hands were holding his tensed forearm more as a leverage rather than to keep him away from hurting her.

He gave her a nudge causing Kate to lose balance somewhere behind the hooks. She got up with difficulty and backed away until she met the wall. His mask was staring emotionless at her with each step he gained. He was tall. Never looked so tall, she thought.

 

‘Still believe you deserve the hatch ?’  his voice turned into a distorted growl.

 

‘I didn’t mean it t-that way’ she stuttered afraid of facing him.

 

‘Now, now-’ he finally reached her and placed a finger over her mouth.

 

The taste and smell triggered unpleasant flashbacks, but also refreshed the gruesome images she saw on his camera. She never experienced fear like that before. Not for any killer. She knew all of them and what to expect from them. But this new, unknown man... witnessing his killings and his obvious sadistic pleasure into inflicting pain terrified Kate to her bones. He was so unpredictable and impulsive, she had no clue what was his next step. What became clear and a cruel reality to her was that everytime she faced him in a trial she was in for a lot of pain and torture. He never granted her mercy or a quick end.

 

Tears gathered in her eyes and low whimpers filled the grim silence in the basement.

 

‘Don’t cry’  his right thumb moved up to her cheek and wiped away the rolling tear.

 

‘Please-’  her whimpers turned into sobs as she felt the knife over her stomach.

 

‘Yes ?’ he moved his mask in front of her.

 

‘Sacrifice me’ she whispered.

 

‘Now where would be the fun in that ?’ the man’s subtle smirk was hinted in his voice.

 

‘B-but, the Entity-’ Kate tried to find any reasons to let her go.

 

‘What about it ?’

 

‘If you don’t sacrifice me...it will punish you, it will torture you.’

 

‘And ?’  he almost purred the word in her ear. ‘Don’t tell me you care.’

 

‘N-no, I just-’

 

‘I can take it, don’t you worry for me. The question is' he traced her abdomen up and down 'can you endure the same treatment?

 

‘Why ?’  Kate felt the tip of the knife slowly pressuring her flesh. ‘Why do you do this ? Why me ?’

 

Ghost Face lowered his head to her level and whispered:

 

‘No reason.’

 

The tip of the knife already bit into her flesh as he ended that sentence and she knew he was about to end the action so she let out a prolonged shout.

 

‘STOOOP! PLEASE!’

 

Kate could hear him chuckling. He was enjoying the whole thing way too much.

 

‘You can scream all you want, it only makes it better’ he continued in the same playful tone.

 

Seeing the knife moving away several centimeters just to stop abruptly, she knew he was going to finally do it. The second his hand moved to complete the action, she screamed from the top of her lungs:

 

‘JED!’

 

The man stopped and looked at her dazed. Her big blue eyes locked on his mask, trying in vain to read his reaction.

 

‘What did you say ?’ he asked in a deeper voice.

 

‘J-Jed?’ she echoed. ‘Jed Olsen ?’

 

‘Where did you hear that name ?’  his grip rendered her breathless.

 

‘S-stop, I- can’t ...breathe.’

 

‘Where ?’  he growled in a low voice loosening the grasp.

 

‘You lost something, didn’t you ?’ Kate asked.

 

‘Philly’ he looked down and muttered. ‘You have it ?’

 

‘Yes.’

 

He suddenly released her and stepped back.

 

‘Give it!’

 

‘I don’t have it with me, but-’

 

‘You looked in it, didn’t you ?’

 

‘Just a little-’

 

‘Don’t fucking lie’  he snapped and smacked Kate’s face with the back of his hand. ‘Don’t you fucking lie to me, or I swear to you, the Entity itself will have to descend and save you from my hands.

 

‘I saw everything’ she massaged her jaw now shaking in his clutches. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-’

 

The way his chest swollen with each breath, gave away the rage boiling inside him, ready to burst any second. She tried as much as possible not to anger him more than she already did, but he was so volatile, one could never be too careful.

 

‘I want the camera.’

 

‘I can give it to you after the trial’ Kate rushed ‘I can meet you in the forest. I will bring it ...I swear’ she spoke so fast the words almost intertwined.

 

‘And I suppose you want me to let you go in return ?’ he asked mockingly.

 

You-’ she looked down unbelieving her own words ‘You can sacrifice me.’

 

‘Get out of here!’ he grunted frustrated.

 

She walked a few steps behind him and stopped still confused.

 

‘Where should we meet ?’ she returned keeping pressure on her shoulder wound.

 

‘Leave!’  he repeated without turning around. ‘I’ll find you.’

 

Somehow the low voice he used to say that one last sentence made her feel restless and uncomfortable, but she didn’t want to test his patience any longer and fled. 

Walking around the narrow corridors of the underground system she felt her wounds healing by themselves. The drowsiness slowly dispersed from her head and her shoulder’s puncture was already gone, the only remaining thing was a phantom pain. As soon as she got out, she was as good as new.

 

David sat up in an instant when he distinguished Kate’s figure in the woods.

 

‘What took you so long ?’

 

He wasn’t going to let me get the hatch that easily’ Kate lied walking past him.

 

Claudette knew Kate was lying again but she kept her mouth shut. 

 

‘Where you heading so hurried ?’ the botanist turned after her.

 

‘I need to wash myself, I feel...dirty’  she said the word acknowledging the deeper meaning in it.

 

‘Alone ?’  Feng asked curious. ‘You do know the killers roam around sometimes.’ 

 

‘They are not allowed to hurt us, right ? Laurie ?’

 

The blonde snapped out of her daydreaming and gave a simple nod.

 

‘Are you sure you don’t want any of us escort you ?’ Feng politely offered.

 

‘Or maybe a man ? You know, it’s safer this way’  David smirked.

 

To this remark, Laurie rolled her eyes annoyed and left the campfire.

 

‘Nice try’ Kate smiled ‘But I’ll be fine alone’ she said before disappearing in her tent.

 

She switched on the flashlight, snatched a small backpack and threw some random clothes in it. Checking the entrance of the tent, she moved to the upper left corner of the tent and started to dig in the ground. After 5 centimeters of dirt, she uncovered the small soft fabric wrapping the camera. She put it in the backpack as well and grabbing the flashlight she moved around the tent into the forest.

It must’ve been 20 minutes since she left the camp and walked around the woods. If she kept that rhythm, she would reach the MacMillan estate, so she decided to keep roaming around the forest around the campfire. Her stomach felt slightly queasy and empty, but the thought of food only made her sicker. She suddenly halted and listened to the unidentified rustling around her. 

Her head moved quickly left and right and then turned 180 degrees. She wished to call for him, but how would she address him ? She definitely didn’t want to call him Jed again and obviously his killer name would only put her in a more complicated position should the intruder was someone else. She decided to go with a cliche horror movie opening line.

 

‘Hello ?’ Kate walked towards the area she believed she heard something but suddenly felt a presence behind her.

 

When she turned around she bumped into his chest, letting out a low shriek.

 

‘Sorry-’ she immediately felt dumb for apologizing.

 

He ignored her, only extended his palm in front of her and demanded in a severe tone.

 

‘The camera.’

 

‘Yes’ she gulped and searched her backpack for the object, carefully pulling it out from its soft wrapping before handing it to him.

 

The man gently took the item and activated it to check the pictures. Kate’s face was burning at the moment she observed his reaction at the first picture coming up on screen. He raised his head to her but Kate glued her eyes to the ground ashamed. He brushed off the matter and browsed through the pictures. When she heard closing the camera and put it in a pocket, she raised her eyes back up seeing him leaving. 

For whatever reason which she hated it the moment she acted upon her impulse, whether was her native curiosity or simply insanity, she grabbed his left forearm. He looked at her and turned around, shaking her hand off him.

 

‘What ?’

 

‘Are you Jed ? The journalist who wrote those articles ?’  Kate’s voice trembled and faded with each spoken word.

 

The man stopped close, standing chest to chest. She could feel his overwhelming presence. It almost made all the muscles in her body ache. 

 

‘I never liked prying people’  he started.

 

‘I’m sorry, it’s just that your camera is such an exotic-’ Kate tried to justify her action but she got interrupted.

 

But then again’ his voice turned a bit softer ‘I’ve never really heard someone scream my name before.’

 

Y-you were writing about your own murders ?’  Kate got some courage and followed with another question. ‘Ghost Face is Jed Olsen...you, right ?’ she concluded.

 

He smirked behind his mask and watched her desperate attempt of meeting his own, but she wasn’t able to see he was indeed sharing her glance.

 

‘Sure, Ghost Face, Jed Olsen...they both are the same guy.’

 

‘Why ?’ she choked on her own words. ‘Why did you kill those people ?’

 

The man grabbed her chin in his gloved fingers and leaned over her face meeting the tip of her nose.

 

‘No reason’  the excitement and delight in his tone were ghastly evident.

 

‘Did you do it for your career ? Did you kill people so you would have what to write about ?’

 

I’m flattered, but why the interest in me ?’  he backed away and the flying straps followed his steps, enveloping his athletic frame in an elegant way.

 

How could someone so vile and vicious look so graceful in his movement, body language, words and looks ? Kate thought confused by the walking paradox in front of her.

 

‘We know almost everything about the other killers, but nothing about you.’

 

‘And I like it that way. I want it to stay that way.’

 

‘I won’t say anything, I swear’  she quickly defended herself.

 

‘Oh’ the man approached her one last time and with a playful voice he resumed ‘I know you won’t. How would you even begin to explain your fellow survivors this whole thing ?’

 

‘I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of or-’

 

‘Do they know you’re here now ?’  he pressed on.

 

‘No, cause it’s not important-’

 

‘Did you tell them you found my camera ?’

 

‘N-no-’

 

‘Yeah’ he laughed condescending at her ‘I have no worries you’ll say a word about me’  the man concluded as he tried to leave.

 

‘You know what ? I might just do that. How about that ?’ she couldn’t believe her boldness but something got into her and the words just kept spewing out of her mouth without thinking.

 

She did rethink her attitude afterwards though, when his stiff body took a quick sharp turn and stared at her without making a sound. Naturally, Kate took one step backwards but he advanced with each of her attempts of evading.

 

‘What are you afraid of ?’ he began. ‘You’ve got some guts, don’t you ?’

 

‘Don’t get any closer’ she bumped her back against a tree and she quickly jumped to a side backing away even more.

 

‘Or what ?’ he scoffed as he unsheathed his knife.

 

Kate stopped at the sight of his weapon and a heavy knot jumped to her throat.

 

‘You can’t hurt me’ she yelled hopefully.

 

‘Really ?’ the man dashed and trapped her against a tree. 

 

He brought the sharp blade to her face and pressed it against the left cheek until it drew blood. Waving the weapon in front of her, he mocked her:

 

‘Look at that, I CAN hurt you.’

 

‘Please-’ Kate’s heart was pushing its way out of her rib cage.

 

‘Sh, sh, I just want to show you something’  he lowered the knife to her collar bone, slowly moving it down to her chest.

 

‘I don’t want to see it’ she shook her head vigorously.

 

‘Yes you do.’

 

‘No, no I don’t.’

 

‘Do you even know what I want to show you ?’ he traced her sternum and climbed down the abdomen.

 

Kate shook her head left and right in a slow motion. She couldn't bring herself to face him. 

Looking down to her belly, the left corner of his lips curled upwards into a malicious smirk she couldn't see it. His head darted back up and muttered.

 

‘Your guts.’

 

‘NOOO!’  she cried as she tried to get him off her. ‘STOP!’

 

With a low laughter, the man stepped aside and watched Kate slowly falling down, curling into a ball frightened.

 

‘Just teasing you’ he put the knife back in its sheath and left.

 

Maybe Laurie didn’t know the whole truth. Maybe they were allowed to bring them harm outside the trials, but then again, he could stab Kate right there and yet decided to let her go. Seemed unlikely he did that out of good will. Perhaps there are some rules.

Her eyes followed the killer vanishing in the forest and brought her knees to the chest in a defensive way. With the back of her hand, she brushed the stray tears away and noticed it came back bloodied from the superficial cut he gave her earlier. 

The thought of having to explain that fresh wound to the others didn’t make her life easier with all the secrets she was slowly harvesting daily.

Chapter Text

CAMP STALKING

 

Kate went quickly at the spring near her location to wash and put on the new clothes she was carrying in her backpack before heading back to the camp. She tried as much as possible to avoid interaction with anyone and luckily for her, lots of the survivors were in trials. She only saw Meg bandaging her arm by the fire and some other people inside the storage tent. With a quick nod, Kate saluted and went in her tent laying down exhausted. Her eyes shut and she fell into a deep dream.

The survivors couldn’t really tell how many days passed by since their arrival, they tried to keep track of them, but the fact they were randomly selected to face the killers, it was hard to pinpoint hours and days. But it was definitely a long time. And Kate struggled the past several days to collect as much Ivory Chalk as possible and never left the camp for any other purpose. She wanted to make sure that the moment the Entity will call her, she will have time to burn the offering for it, granting her only wish - avoid Ghost Face.

Claudette observed lately how drastically Kate’s behavior changed and one of those days she approached the singer, but Kate only blamed it on her exhaustion. The botanist would usually let it go, but not that time. She insisted because she was seriously concerned. However, Kate was very skilled in avoiding unwanted discussions, she knew how to talk to people and was an artist at faking reactions. She was so good at that, not only Claudette fell for it, but the entire group was happy to see the old, cheerful Kate around them. She acted joyful, she sang to them, she joined all their games, responded to David’s flirts although that wasn’t entirely a pretended act.

 

Yet, every time she was summoned in a trial, they all observed how hasty she would remove the small pouch from her back pocket and poured some of the content in the fire.

 

***

(Ghost Face POV)

 

What a perfect trial. Ahh, yes, for me, not you. MacMillan Estate...I just love that particular area. It was times like these when I was grateful to you. Too bad those survivors didn’t see me coming. I sometimes wish they would be more aware...like she is. Pity you had to recover their lifeless bodies and put them back here.

Yeah, stop hissing in my head like a frenzied animal. I know you’ll take care of me...again. I know you’ll try to fix my mind, but perhaps I’ll do your bidding when you’ll give her back to me. When did I see her last time ? 8-9 cycles ago ? Huh, I can’t even remember. Was it that long ? She must’ve been burning offerings to you to save herself from me, wasn’t she ? I can even see the smug smirk on her face thinking she beat the system, thinking she can escape me. Tsk-

You know how patient I am, but all to a limit. I had to take this matter in my own hands cause it seems to me you’re favoring her. Unfortunately, we both know how much my disobedience angers you and how frustrated I grow afterwards, leading only to this annoying vicious circle where I ask you to bring Kate, you refusing me and me killing the other survivors in my bitterness.

 

Nevermind, I’ll make sure I’ll end her streak right n-

 

The camp looked almost abandoned. Ghost Face halted behind a tree and drew out his camera. He raised it before him, zoomed on the camp to search it and instantly clicked the button, capturing a beautiful photo of Kate working in the storage tent. She walked out and stopped, stretching her arms above her head and yawning. He took another picture and another one until his finger stopped above the button, stalling. David appeared in his frame and he lower the camera. He saw the man approaching Kate and said something to her that made her giggle.

Ghost Face suddenly felt a compulsion to remove him from the scene. He was ruining his picture. But was it really that his true reason? 

 

He watched the couple and noticed David drew closer to her. He was gently grabbing her waist and pulled her against his body. She smiled and placed a palm on his chest but didn't back away. She actually looked up at him and allowed him to hide a lock of hair behind her ear. That particular gesture intensified Ghost Face’s itch. His hand began to squeeze the camera so tight, his knuckles turned white.

Back at the camp, David caught Kate's chin and lifted it up before he would lean into a kiss. She seemed uninterested or neutral at the action at first, but then her arms wrapped around his neck and deepened the kiss. 

At that moment, Ghost Face’s eyes fixed on her and realized something bothered him more than the fact she was missing from his trials. He squinted at her back as it slowly arched when David's hand moved lower, above her ass. He followed her hands gently moving from David’s neck to his face, then on his shoulders, she was enjoying it. 

Ghost Face took a step forward but stopped and fought the impulse of going after the two survivors. That thought confused him even more. 

 

Why did he care? All he wanted was to continue hunting Kate. Why would it matter what she did at the survivor camp? 

But it did matter, as much as he wanted to refuse it and think about his lust for the hunt, he was more affected by the fact she avoided him and did that...with David. ‘David...this guy will feel my wrath soon’ Ghost Face smiled viciously at the idea. 

The more he looked at them the more he got riled up. He had to do something about it. He had to teach Kate a lesson for avoiding him, being so happy, as if she has no worries in that world. 

 

‘Look at you, all giddy and cheerful. You completely forgotten me. I’m just a joke to you. Oh, how much I hate you, you spoiled, rich, little...whore’ he grudgingly poured the words as heavy knots twisted in his guts.

 

He squinted his eyes at the couple that still didn’t break their kiss. Although a bitter taste on his tongue persisted as if he has been humiliated, a sweet vengeful idea bounced in the back of his mind. 

Without Kate in his trials lately, he turned very violent and always lashed out on the other survivors. Instead of sacrificing them for the Entity, he was killing them all, no exceptions. 

Mori after mori after mori, and at every end of a trial, he would end up in the Entity's clutches, being tortured, his mind twisted even more, nurturing his hate and anger more and more, forcing him to think of unspeakable things. The entity had a very effective way of putting killers back on their tracks, the mental torture they had to endure during their penitences were beyond what survivors ever imagined. 

That, combined with the painful physical pain the merciless omniscient being was inflicting onto their bodies could only manage one thing - create monsters, killers. And Ghost Face endured his fair share of punishments lately as he kept disobeying the Entity's orders and his sole goal into the realm. Perhaps, an insignificant part of his reasoning he went after Kate was to also end his deviant behavior and please the Entity again.

 

Kate pulled slowly away from David and walked past him, when he caught her arm and spun her around to get her back in his arms.

 

'Let's just chill for a while' he said smiling 'We are alone'

 

'David, I need to do something tonight, it can't wait'

 

'Then let me come with you'

 

'Uh-Uh! I really want to be alone'

 

'Ugh, these nights are rare, you're no fun'

 

'Next time David'  Kate gave him a quick pat on his chest and walked into the forest.

 

Ghost Face hid behind the trunk and watched her moving deeper in the woods. He started following her carefully, without exposing himself. He wanted so badly to pounce on her, but he waited to gain enough distance from the camp. He moved like a shadow in parallel with her, slightly behind her, never losing her from his sight. In a moment of distraction, he stepped over a bigger dry branch and it snapped in pieces giving out his hideout.

 

Kate jumped and looked to his direction. He didn't even mind to conceal himself anymore. He came forth into the clearing. Kate backed away already breathing with difficulty.

 

'Were you following me?'

 

'You've been avoiding me, didn't you? On your way to stock up your Ivory Chalk?

 

'Stay away'

 

'We've been through this countless times'  he snatched her throat and brought her closer. 'Pretending like I don't even exist, like you've never been afraid'

 

'What?'  She furrowed her brows confused.

 

'Don't act surprised, I saw you...at the camp. So happy and-'

 

'You stalked me?'

 

'Worry free, laughing, fooling around with...David was it?'

 

'You fucking creep, let go of me'

 

'I will... after.'

 

'After what?'

 

'After I'm done with you.'

 

'What are you talking about?'  She hitched in his grasp and escaped for a brief second before he would grab her.

 

'Don't try to run away, I'm tired of waiting, of chasing, and I have a very short fuse tonight.'

 

'You're sick'  Kate said and turned her back at him trying to leave again.

 

'Don't fucking turn your back at me'  He grabbed her and in his excitement he slapped her left cheek so hard she fell down, her jaws instantly turning red. 'I said, don't run. Are you deaf or just stupid?'  He followed helping her get up.

 

'You know you can't hurt me, not the way you want.'

 

'And you know what I want, don't you?' He smirked.

 

'I think I know you enough to understand you're craving my blood. You’re not as complex as you might believe'

 

'You see, here's where you're wrong. I can't hurt you, true, but I can make you never forget me.'

 

'Let me go'  Kate jerked in his arms trying to escape until he spun her around and hugged her from behind bringing an intimacy between them she despised.

 

'I said...stop fighting. I'm not in the mood'  he growled in her ear annoyed and placed his knife at her throat.

 

'HELP-' Kate yelled but he pressed his other palm over her mouth silencing her. 

 

'You're pushing my buttons, Kate'  he snarled. 'And not the right ones. This won't make it any easier for you. Will you yell again if I let go?'

 

She shook he head in denial.

 

'Good girl!'  The man slowly removed his hand and Kate behaved.

 

'What do you want ? To tell you how much I'm afraid of you? To tell you you’re the source of my nightmares? That the very thought of facing you again in a trial leaves me hopeless?'

 

'Would that be the truth?'  He asked genuinely curious.

 

'Does that make you happy? To know you tortured me so much I shudder at your sight?'

 

'It didn't seem you were suffering much back at the camp. It seemed to me, you forgot all about us.'

 

'Us? Are you insane?'

 

'You don't want to pull that thread'  he advised.

 

'I'm not yours to do whatever you want with me. I'm not your personal survivor or toy.'

 

'Not mine, huh? You might be right on this one' He said playfully. 'Then, I suppose I'll have to make you mine'  He resumed after a deep breath.

 

'What?'  Kate's voice was faint. 'What do you mean?'

 

'It means I'll make sure I will not be forgotten ever again.'

 

'No, wait. Wait! I'm scared'  She cried. 'I'm afraid of you. Is this what you want me to say? It's true. I can't even talk to my friends about it. I got more distant because of you, I isolated myself because it's hard to lie in their faces every time they ask me about what happened to me after a trial with you. You're tormenting my nights, I barely sleep. So, there... enjoy your power over me, you did it. You broke me.'  She ended with tears drowning her blue eyes.

 

'Uh-um' Ghost Face hummed next to her face delighted to hear the words.

 

'I'm scared'  Kate echoed seeing the man lowering his knife.

 

'That I can smell'  He sniffed her neck. 'Your pores overflow with fear, but broken? You're not broken Kate...not yet'  He smirked and kicked her legs causing her to fall on her knees.

 

He followed her behind and pushed her in the grass.

 

'No, what are you doing?'  She tried to get away but he seized both sides of her waist and dragged her between his legs.

 

'You can make this easier...or painful. It's your choice' The man grabbed her short jeans and pulled them down on her thighs in a quick sharp motion.

 

'NO! Stop it!'  She threshed her way out but Ghost Face quickly jammed his knife in her right hand, ripping out a painful cry from her throat and finally impaling her to the ground.

 

'Painful it is. Just how I like it'  He muttered.

 

'Don't! Pleaaase, I swear to you...I was daily thinking about you and how much you ruined me. There was never a second of my day without you invading my mind.'

 

'Is that so? Was I in your mind when you kissed David?'  He slouched over her as he asked.

 

Kate refrained from commenting and just started to sob.

 

'That's what I thought'  He completed and proceeded to unbuckle his pants.

 

'NO! Jed, please, I'm begging you'  Kate was too afraid to look at him because the moment she would see him exposed, she would understand what was happening was real.

 

'By all means, beg me!'  He whispered.

 

Kate sobs faded into low whimpers as she heard his voice.

 

'I beg you to stop'  She began but felt his right hand climbing up her inner thighs, slowly but surely going between her legs. 'No, please, please, stop it. Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!' She voiced over and over like a mantra until she noticed his fingers froze right under her left butt cheek.

 

He felt an exhilarating beat in his chest. Oh, it's been so long...so long since he saw something so beautiful, so perfect, so enticing. He couldn't deny or ignore the aching bulge in his pants anymore. He was craving it, he needed it so badly, but then again he wanted to take his time, to savor it, and her to experience the savage act to its real potential and meaning. But that soft...warm, tender flesh looked more than inviting to him. His lust almost made him hate himself.

 

'Jed!?' Kate's voice cracked after a few moments of brutal silence hoping he would stop for good.

 

'Yes?'  His weirdly warm voice followed instantly letting her know he was still invested.

 

'Let me go' She murmured with her face buried in the cold grass.

 

'But we're having so much fun, why would I want to end this?'  His hand resumed its pace and climbed up over her ass, lower back, shoulders and then back down again.

 

He wanted to explore her entire body, he wanted to leave no spot untainted by his corrupt touch. He wanted her to remember his wicked caresses whenever someone else would try that with her.

Kate shifted her head to the left and attempted to remove the knife stuck in her palm.

 

'Leave it!'  He ordered in a deeper tone as he pulled her hair towards him.

 

He let her face fall back in the grass and finally released his cock from his pants. With two fingers, he caught the small white panties she wore and with an uncanny care he pulled them to a side. That very action triggered Kate even more. He moved to her entrance and stopped there, feeling her curiously moist skin. He smiled under his mask and mockingly he asked:

 

'Are you wet?'

 

‘No, I'm not' Kate hurried. ‘Just, stop it'

 

'It feels…'  He pushed slightly in, parting away her lips 'Really wet'  the man laughed at her.

 

'It's not me'  She cried embarrassed. 'I don't know why-'  she stopped to catch her breath between the heavy sobs.

 

'At least it won't hurt you...that bad' The man pushed in his entire length in one single thrust and left her breathless. 

 

He was big, not excessively, but enough to feel it was more than necessary. What made it so painful was his girth, as it stretched her too fast and too soon for her own comfort. Small drops of blood mixed with Kate's juices and he wouldn't stop. He rammed in and out relentlessly feeling his festering hate growing bigger and bigger for her. She could hear his intensified grunts with each move.

 

'Stop! It hurts so much'  She squeezed her bloodshot eyes every time he bucked his hips.

 

'No!' He dug his fingers in her round hips and continued without remorse. 'I'll make you mine.'

 

'W-what?' Her dizzy head and ringing ears barely caught his reply.

 

'Tell me, are you mine now?'

 

'NO!'  she yelled loathing. 'I will never be yours, you fucked up, sick, psycho'  Kate continued releasing her pain through words.

 

That answer clearly didn't please Ghost Face and he pulled out. Kate dared to look at him and saw his thick, throbbing member. Her eyes jumped on his mask, trying to understand why he stopped so abruptly.

 

'Are you sure about that?'  He gave her a second chance.

 

Kate only moved her head away and tried again to unjam the knife in her hand when a sudden blinding pain almost paralyzed her.

 

'NOOO!' Her voice started in a loud cry but ended in less than a murmur as the pain still rippled through her body.

 

White flashes washed over her closed eyes, as her ass was still trying to adjust to him. He was waiting, he just went in and stopped as if he cared for her.

 

'Please, get out!' She coughed several times. 'Please-'

 

'I will'  He replied and pulled out almost completely just to ram it back in.

 

'NOOO!'  Her voice strained at that point and just went completely silent.

 

He could only hear her low whimpers while his starving cock pushed in and out with little to no friction due to the blood he managed to draw with the first thrust.

 

'How about now?' A grunt followed each word 'Are you mine?'

 

Kate just stared hopeless to her left, at the crooked trees and the night birds chirping rarely to each other. She was on the verge of passing out, she didn't even know what kept her from doing it until she felt another stinging sensation in her palm and then she realized why. The knife's blade moving from time to time in her flesh would always bring her back to senses.

 

'Answer me!'  He barked at her in rage.

 

'Y-yes' Kate's whisper hardly reached his ears.

 

'Say it!' He demanded.

 

'I'm yours.' she murmured unhappy to step over her true feelings.

 

'Again' He followed.

 

'What?'  Kate's head moved slightly towards him confused.

 

He bent over her, moved his arm around her neck and grabbed her chin pressing her back against his chest.

 

'Say it again' He ordered.

 

'I'm yours' She complied in a low whisper.

 

He continued moving and stopping inside her several times, willingly edging himself.

 

'It hurts so bad, please get out'  she pleaded.

 

'Would you rather have me come in your cunt and have something to remember me by ?' He asked playful.

 

'N-n-no, no. J-just end it'  Kate let out a painful moan and subdued.

 

'Do you want me to?'

 

She closed her eyes in shame, and dishonored she resumed begged him again and again to end her torture.

He picked up the pace and Kate could feel the build up. His cock was getting fatter and fatter, already stretching her to unfathomable extents and soon felt him twitching inside filling her up.

He pulled out almost immediately and buckling back his pants, he got up, walked around Kate, crouched down to her head and removing his knife from her palm he said in a cold voice:

 

‘NOW you're broken'  and with that he left Kate in the grass, naked, wounded, scarred, dirty and alone. 

 

There was no amount of water in the realm to wash off what he did to her

Chapter Text

BROKEN

 

‘Kate! Kate!’ Claudette tapped her shoulder causing the singer to flinch at the touch.

 

‘Shit! ’ her voice followed a deep gasp ‘ You scared me

 

‘I've been calling you for a while’ Claudette frowned ‘ Are you okay ?’

 

‘I’m okay’ Kate handed the few flowers she collected to the botanist ‘ There you go, are they the right ones ?’

 

‘Yeah ’ she squinted at Kate noticing she avoided her question ‘ So, how you’ve been lately ? We haven’t spoken in a while’

 

Good’

 

‘That’s all ?’ she bit her lip, trying not to rush Kate ‘ I heard you stood up David couple of nights ago’

 

Kate felt her throat strangled and suddenly it became hard to swallow her own saliva at the thought of that night. A phantom pain still lingering in her right bandaged palm. After several attempts, she gulped and gave a simple nod.

 

Why ? You seemed to like him’

 

‘What’s that has to do with my rejection?’

 

‘That’s it’ Claudette walked in front of her and confronted her ‘What the hell happened to you? You used to be so cheerful, so full of life, you were the one cheering for everyone, playing the guitar, always joking, sometimes up to no good’ the woman said with a genuine smile ‘Where is that Kate?’

 

‘I just have a bad-’

 

‘Stop it Kate. Anytime you face Ghost Face, you change. I saw you offering the chalk every trial. Was it to avoid him ? Seriously, you’re starting to act like Laurie about Michael.’

 

‘He’s much worse than Michael’ Kate finally said.

 

‘What does that even mean?’ Claudette shrugged her shoulders.

 

‘Doesn’t matter. Can we just drop it ? I don’t want to talk about it and it won’t happen no matter how much you’ll insist. Sorry, but this is ...my problem’

 

‘We could help you’ Claudette started ‘We can help you in the trials if you have trouble with him’

 

‘No, I can deal with...him ’ Kate choked on her last word ‘Let’s just head back’

 

‘Fine, I already got all I needed ’ the botanist followed her.

 

The survivor camp was heavily animated by what it seemed to be a play in action. Feng and Dwight decided to do a little acting for the others and they were really happy seeing the 2 survivors bonding. The others clapped their hands excited when they weren’t holding their bellies in laughter. 

Claudette and Kate joined them and asked around what were they watching.

 

'I guess it's a bad representation of Cats' Ace started.

 

'It's not that bad' Nea flicked him.

 

'Hey Claudette ' Laurie came out of the storage ' Adam asked me to tell you he borrowed your good flashlight'

 

'Okay, no worries' she entered the tent and set the flowers she gathered in some bottles.

 

Kate sat on the big log in front of the fire and crossed her legs resting her chin in her hand. David was sitting next to her, only he preferred the ground. They were exchanging some words and Kate smiled at him, though it felt forced. He grabbed one of her boots as he leaned over her ear to whisper something.

Laurie sat in the storage's entrance staring at them and almost didn't feel Claudette bumping into her.

 

'What's going on?' Claudette asked looking at the same direction Laurie was.

 

'I'm going to take a walk' her voice was faint.

 

'Wait a second ' Claudette grinned and pointed at David 'Really?'

 

'Please don't say anything'

 

'No, no, don't worry, my lips are sealed ' Claudette gestured at her mouth ' You might be in luck though'

 

'Why?'

 

'Kate's not really into him'

 

'How come? Just recently I saw them kissing and flirting'

 

'He might be head over heels for her, but Kate...has some other issues to worry about lately’ Claudette put Kate's problem in a better light.

 

Although Kate was listening to what David was saying, her eyes were fixed on his hand still on her boot. She wanted so badly to shake it off, almost despised it. She felt a compelling urge to jump and run away, managing to control the panic attack up until his hand climbed up on her thigh.

 

At that second, she sat up like burnt.

 

'What? ' David looked confused at her.

 

'I just can't sit around...I'm restless ' she lied.

 

'Guys, seriously ' Nea interrupted them ' We really want to see these two clowns. Can you fuck off?'

 

'Bitch! ' David moved at the storage.

 

'I heard you asshole ' Nea shouted after him.

 

'That was the point' he stuck out his tongue at her and she gave him the finger.

 

'Hey, big boy' Claudette stopped him ' Can I ask you a favor?'

 

'Sure '

 

'I forgot to gather some flowers and Laurie offered to go after them. Would you go with her? Make sure she’s safe? ' Claudette asked and noticed Laurie's flushed face.

 

'Um-, sure thing ' the man gave a small smile to the blonde and her heart almost skipped a beat. 

 

'Shall we? ' he asked taking lead.

 

Laurie looked at the botanist and mouthed something but Claudette only signaled her to leave.

 

Her look shifted from the acting couple to Kate. She shared Claudette's gaze when a familiar whisper interrupted her. By the look Claudette had in her eyes, she could tell they were going to join the same trial.

Kate quickly snatched out the chalk pouch and hurrying to open it, she saw Claudette catching her hand and stopping her.

 

'What are you doing? ' Kate tried to get away.

 

'Let it go ' Claudette looked in her eyes and smiled 'I got your back'

 

Kate felt as if a huge weight pressed on her chest. She couldn't breathe. His mask popped in her mind. The thought of facing him again caused her to hyperventilate. She could even hear his floating straps fluttering in the air when suddenly she felt Claudette's hand holding hers and nodding at her. 

 

***

 

The two young women hid behind a concrete wall. He was chasing Jake, gaining momentum with each stride. The blood trail the survivor left behind him made the killer’s life so much easier. He was shifting his knife in his hand restless and excited. He saw her somewhere. It wasn't his imagination. The Entity listened to him...finally.

A hateful swing dragged Jake down to the ground and his painful roar traveled the whole area, disturbing even the crows nearby. Ghost Face hauled his body to the closest hook but froze when he saw Meg vandalizing the meat hook disabling completely. He dumped Jake in the dirt and went after her.

She ran him for more than he preferred, but it was too late for him to abandon the chase. It became too personal, invested too much in the chase to let her go. It annoyed him beyond belief how slippery she was. He wouldn't even sacrifice her. A malicious smile washed over his face as he seized her shirt and pulled her.

 

'Ah-' Meg met his chest and soon he slammed her face against the wall in front of them.

 

Her forehead bruised at the impact, blood slowly drawing a thin line down her right brow. She moved around dizzy and saw him approaching. When she tried to dash, he shoved his knife several times in her guts.

 

Kate witnessed the whole scene from a different wall across theirs, crouched, barely visible. When his knife pistoned in Meg's body, Kate turned her head away and bit her lip nervous.

He wiped the blade with his hand and shifted around, looking at the spot he left Jake and saw Claudette trying to help him back on his feet. The corner of his eye caught a shape moving to his left and soon he saw Kate running away, constantly checking her six. He tilted his head at her and raising a hand he waved it ironically.

He let her go and went after Claudette. The young woman sprinted instantly from Jake's position and headed for a derelict wooden building. She vaulted a window and looked behind, but he was nowhere. He simply vanished. Her heartbeat slowed down. When she turned she only saw a black shape towering her.

 

‘SHIT!’ the woman shrieked scared.

 

Before she would search for an alternate escape, his right boot met her abdomen, sending her tumbling on the stairs leading to the basement. His powerful kick left her breathless at the bottom of the stairs. She kept gasping, fighting her inability of inhaling, but soon her feet were swept off the ground and he hurled her on the first hook.

While he left to take care of Jake, Kate stalked him and when he was far enough, she went after Claudette. She rescued her and set her down while she searched the chest on the other side of the room.

 

'Kate, go finish that generator we almost repaired, remember? '

 

'Yes'  Kate handed the first aid kit to the botanist and after a couple of steps they both heard Jake's sacrifice.

 

She rushed around the building and could spot the generator Claudette was speaking off in the distance. She squatted behind a cover and searched the area. Her instinct though, lead her eyes back at the building she recently helped Claudette and caught the faintest glimpse of his coat disappearing around a corner. She felt cold and hot at the same time, yet she went back after her friend.

 

Meanwhile, Claudette finished bandaging her shoulder and stepped on the first set of stairs when her blood began booming in her temples. She heard the slow paced steps above the basement and the wood planks creaking under his weight. With unsure steps, she went back down and hid in a locker.

Kate carefully stepped inside the huge open room, around the fireplace and almost tipped toed at the wooden banister above the basement. She leaned over it, checking the stairs underneath.

Ghost Face approached the banister upstairs and grabbed it with both hands, the leather gloves faintly squeaking. He watched her sneaking around with a large grin underneath the mask. The second she ventured down the basement, he set himself in motion.

Claudette’s breath intensified when she heard the prowling steps. Her eyes shut whenever the intruder moved deeper into the basement. As Kate’s small frame entered her field of view, Claudette smiled and almost opened the locker’s door when she saw Kate walking backwards facing Ghost Face. She pressed one hand over her mouth to muffle her breaths and watched Kate silently looking at Ghost Face getting closer to her.

Like a cornered animal, the singer tried to run past him, but he was quicker and shoved his hand in her throat pushing her down the last set of stairs. She backed away feeling her heart bursting out of her chest. He stretched one arm and placing his palm on her chest, he crammed her against the locker Claudette was hiding in.

 

Missed me?’ he lowered his head to her level.

 

Kate didn’t look at him.

 

‘Look at me’ he forced her chin up and she hardly complied.

 

‘Let go of me ’ she pushed his hand off her.

 

‘Oh, come on Kate’ he spoke in a playful tone ‘Is this how you welcome me?’

 

She searched his eyes through the ebony pits of his mask. She knew he was looking at her and out of nowhere she spat on the mask. He let his chin fall in his chest somehow disappointed and slowly shaking his head in disapproval, he looked back at her.

 

‘Do that again!’ he dared her.

 

You’re sick! ’ Kate mumbled.

 

‘Now, why would you hurt me ? ’ he tried to be serious but he was enjoying that way too much. ‘Did I hurt you?’

 

Kate scowled at him disgusted by his mockery and he followed up:

 

‘Today’

 

‘Fuck you! ’ she muttered.

 

‘I have to admit it, I like you obedient ’ he let his hand move down her belly and hooked the jeans’ waistband with two fingers pulling it outwards to check her underwear.

 

‘Enough ’ she hit his hand.

 

‘What’s the matter ? ’ he seized her right side of her face in his palm ‘ Aren’t you mine anymore?

 

Kate felt her eyes stinging when she heard the question and grabbing his wrist with both hands she begged him to stop.

 

‘I am. I still...am’ her breathing became ragged ‘Please stop!’

 

You’re just saying it ’ he said with a hint of amusement in his tone.

 

‘No, I don’t’ she insisted ‘I-’

 

‘Shh-’ he pressed his index finger on her lips ‘ Don’t lie to me.’

 

‘I’m not ’ she said though her body quivered at the possible outcome of disagreeing with him.

 

‘Why are you shaking then?’ he asked as his hand cupped her throat and stopped her from running.

 

He banged her back a couple of times against the locker and Claudette barely suppressed her low gasp. Although Kate was too distracted, he realized the last survivor was hiding in there. The thought brought a smile on his lips.

 

‘Turn around! ’ he ordered.

 

‘W-why? ’ she asked with a chill travelling down her spine.

 

Cause I said so ’ he took one step back and waited for her to execute his command.

 

Kate hugged her chest and slowly turned only 90 degrees before she sprang to her right, almost evading his nimble hands. He caught her wrist in an iron grip and with a low, prolonged sigh he pushed her face onto the cold locker.

 

Why do you have to be difficult ? ’ she could sense the deep frustration in his tone.

 

Her eyes moved down to his body, tightly pressed against hers, and could see the knife safely hidden in its sheath, wrapped around his leg. She closed her eyes, stepped over her repulsion and funneled all her boldness to move her hand on his waist, at first faking it as an attempt to push him away, but then she lowered it down his thigh. He snatched her arm and whispered in her ear in a weirdly seductive way.

 

What do you think you’re doing?’

 

‘I thought...you’d like it’ she whispered.

 

‘Do you take me as a fool? ’ The man unsheathed his knife and brought it to her face ‘ Is this what you were looking for ?

 

Kate’s eyes drowned in tears.

 

‘I’m sorry’

 

‘Take it!’ he spinned the weapon catching the blade in his palm and pointing the handle at her.

She looked at the knife and then at him. She wished nothing more than to take it but something didn’t feel right. What if it was a test ? She slowly headed for the handle and Ghost Face still didn’t deny her. When her shaking fingers wrapped around the metal handle, he interrupted again.

 

‘But-’ his voice came out dead serious ‘If you take it, you better be ready to use it’

 

The knife slid away from his hand as Kate dared to take it. He actually let her have it. 

 

Well? ’ he stepped back, giving her some space.

 

Surprisingly, the knife was bigger than it looked in his hand, yet quite light. She kept it pointed at him but didn’t act upon her aversion. She was standing face to face with him, the one that hurt her countless times, the one that completely ruined her and couldn’t find the nerve to take a swing. He smirked at her predictable reaction. He knew she wouldn’t do it, which is why he let her have it. With great satisfaction he started again.

 

‘Pity ’ and his hand met hers.

 

She let him take it without a fight. Realizing what she gave up, she remembered Feng’s question for Laurie. Kate just experienced that scenario and she had chosen to do the same thing Laurie said would do. She couldn’t kill him, because she wasn’t like him. She was a survivor, not a killer.

 

You there ’ he gestured at the locker ‘ Get out!’

 

Kate shifted her position and remained speechless when Claudette got out with a worried look. She pursed her lower lip and didn’t know what to say or do. Her face was burning, her heart racing.

 

Come on, go! ’ he stepped aside and allowed Claudette to take the stairs but she stopped and looked at Kate concerned.

 

Unless you want to share her fate, leave now ’ he repeated standing between her and Kate.

 

‘Go’ Kate nodded and Claudette trusted her better judgement.

 

He rushed at Kate and hoisted her over his shoulder in a blink of an eye. She started hitting his back desperately trying to escape the restrain. He moved at the hook facing the back of the room and to her dismay he impaled Kate in it. The man walked at the wall and leaned onto it, bending his right leg and resting the sole of his boot against it. He crossed his arms on his chest and just looked at Kate struggling to free herself.

 

‘I bet you didn’t see this coming ’ he said proud of his deed.

 

Kate ignored him and seized the piercing hook in her shoulder and tried to move her legs back and forth to gain momentum for a jump. Ghost Face didn’t even bother to stop her because there was no way she would pull that off. The only thing she managed to do was to speed up her sacrifice.

 

‘I fucking hate you’   Kate yelled at him.

 

Likewise, bitch ’ he snickered before leaving her to be claimed by the Entity.

 

***

 

‘I won't talk about it’ Kate broke the silence after 10 minutes of walking.

 

I didn’t ask’ Claudette looked around then back on their trail.

 

The botanist was more than patient with her since their last trial together. Though curiosity ate her mind day by day and she had to bite her tongue whenever she had the chance to spend time with Kate, what she witnessed and heard down that basement it almost discouraged her to know the truth. 

She was torn between wanting to know and not knowing. She was afraid of hearing Kate say the words she was dreading off. If what she imagined about them proved to be true, she would prefer not knowing the details. The woman turned her head at Kate and gave her a sincere simper.

 

(KATE’s POV)

 

Please don’t look at me like that, I don’t know if I can keep this away from you any longer. What would you want me to say ? ‘Hey, Claudette, remember that night when I turned down David ? Well, I got raped instead’ . How do I even begin telling you this ? There is no gentle, easy way to put it down, not for me, not for you. What happened was ...so savage, disgusting and ...fuck!

 

Why ? Why do I go back to that night ? Why do I torture myself ? I hate his fucking hands exploring my body, my stomach feels sick at the memory. *Kate embraces her belly*

 

And then the whole act...so hateful, so destructive and painful. It was purely to break me down, to tear my mind to pieces, to rip me apart and give himself that last bit of control and power he needed over me. As if he wasn’t tormenting me enough… He wanted to make sure I would have no friends, no one to love, no one to care for, he wanted me to think and dread of him and that’s all. And he succeeded. Narcissistic son of a bitch. *Kate slows down and gulps the heavy knot in her throat’

 

‘Are you coming? ’ Claudette snapped her out of the trance.

 

No, no, I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to see the others, I don’t want to be tried again, I just-, I want to stay here, in the woods, with the quietness humming in my ears.

 

‘You go ahead’ I said to her ‘ I’ll stay a while longer’

 

‘Okay’

 

It feels weird to see you so understanding. I don’t deserve a friend like you, Claudette. 

 

So I turned on my heels and walked away. Away to the very spot I got stripped of my power and left there like an empty husk. I tried several times to do it, but I couldn’t even lay a step near the area. But I wanted to move on, and if I wanted to at least try to cope with my misery…I had to force myself facing it. Ugh, even that word turns my stomach upside down.

 

And there I was, where it all started.

The cold wind brushed against my skin, like an ominous hint of a chilling memory. I shuddered my body but continued stepping into the low, dispersed fog. Was the Entity that night so merciful to cast the fog around, sparing me of a quick and violent confrontation with the recollection ? Perhaps, perhaps not, but I sure was grateful for it. The memory came back to me in slow steps instead of crashing down over me like an unstoppable avalanche.

 

At first I saw him there, behind the trees, following me. He seemed to be precautious at first but then he appeared in the low moonlight and it made me think it was all premeditated. I tried to go away, but he stopped me. His hard slap knocked me down immediately. *Kate touches her cheek* 

We spoke for a while and now I understand how obsessed you are with me. You stalked me at the survivor’s camp. You saw me with David. You seemed jealous at the moment. Pff- like you are human enough to even comprehend such emotion. You were jealous because I wasn’t miserable like you wanted me to be.

 

I ventured deeper and finally saw the patch of flattened grass. Even the small pool of dried blood on the ground from my wounded hand. I gagged at the quick flashback of your crashing hips against mine. Was it too soon ? Too fast ? I tried to look away and I remembered I assured you I constantly thought about you. But it didn’t matter to you, no matter what I would’ve said. You got what you came for. I tried one more time to look down in the grass.

 

A deep breath helped me resume. 

 

Now both your hands are all over my skin, the smooth leather of your gloves felt cold and lifeless, just like your soul. Your words pouring in my ears were poison. There was no emotion in anything you did, only hatred. Your fingers crawling up my thighs, trying to gain access to- *Kate exhales*

I can’t fucking explain why my body prepared for you, for your despicable act. It’s like it was trying to ease my pain...all to no avail. Your first thrust felt as sharp as your knife. *Kate’s chest swollen with each new breath*

It was then when I understood what you really desired. It wasn’t about the unconsensual act, it wasn’t about having me, you didn’t want to just fuck me. This was about something much deeper. You wanted to devoid me of any control. Dehumanizing me. 

When you ordered me to repeat I’m yours, I actually felt every bit of myself dying inside. One time wasn’t enough for you, no, you wanted me to start believing it. You had to convince me I was worthless, I have no value, I was just an object you possessed. You didn’t like it when I refused that pleasure of yours and had to go further… *Kate tremored*

 

So much pain…I actually believed at some point I passed out, but it was all in my head. You knew why you pinned that knife in my hand. Over and over, watching and hearing me crying, shivering under you, begging to stop and in your sick game, you made me think you’d listen to my pleas in that split second you stopped. All just to play with my emotions even more. All you wanted was to hear me begging and give up on myself.

 

And I did…I caved. *Kate collapses to her knees in the grass*

 

I couldn’t fight it anymore. I couldn’t deny anymore that sick... shameless pleasure you were unknowingly giving me. I had to stop it before I would hate myself too.

Chapter Text

For the last scene, I was heavily inspired while listening to this song.

-----

 

Ghost Face stepped inside the cozy cabin and laid down in one of the furry armchairs in front of the fire. He reached for his mask and took it off, setting it carefully on the low wooden table next to him. He drew out the camera and shifted his position on the chair, allowing his back to rest against one of the chair's arms while his legs dangled over the other side. He opened the camera and browsed quickly through the latest pictures until he reached the one with Kate at the survivor camp. He caught her when she was yawning and stretching. Curiously enough, he stared at the photo for a couple of minutes, before Huntress interrupted him.

 

'Sit properly, or you'll build another one ' she commented on his position.

'Why are you still here?' the man asked annoyed without listening to her demand.

'It's pouring rain outside, are you deaf? ' Huntress drew close to him and tried to push his legs down on the ground when he snatched her wrist and pulled her close to him.

 'I'm not scared of you, big woman. So, mind your own business ' he threw her hand away.

 'I see you're grumpy again' the woman’s harsh accent hit his ears unpleasantly 'What are you doing with that thing anyway? What is that?' she asked curious staring at the camera in his hands.

'This? ' he asked surprised by her question.

'Yes'

'It's a camera. Never saw one before?'

'No, what does it do? Does it help you hunt?'

'You could say that ' Ghost Face chuckled amused by her innocence and took a quick picture of her.

 

The flashlight almost blinded her and she yelped at the sneaky light hitting her eyes. 

 

'Come and see' he beckoned at her and saw the woman moving slightly unsure as if he was holding a devil's tool in his hands.

 

Huntress peeked at the small display and tapped it with her nail, unable to understand how she could see herself in there.

 

'Is this magic? ' she asked genuinely impressed.

'Ha'   Ghost Face laughed 'Sure, I guess people used to believe technology was magic in early times.'

'How-?'

'How...what?'

'Why am I there?'

'In the picture?'

'Yes'

'This is what a camera does. Creates memories, art pieces from life'

'How?'

'You want me to explain to you how the camera works?'

'Yes'

 

The man smiled.

 

'Some other time maybe' he resumed browsing through the pictures and noticed Huntress was still sitting by his side, staring curiously at the pictures.

'The survivors' she almost yelled in his ear.

 

He just nodded at her.

 

'Why do you picture them?'

'Photograph them' he corrected her 'Because pictures can tell me a lot about a person’'

'How?'

'Well' he stopped on a picture depicting Kate and Ace at their camp 'See her here holding her arm, trying to fix her hair as this guy is talking to her?'

'Yes'

'She is uncomfortable by his presence'

'Why?'

'Because she is avoiding his eyes, she looks down. She is holding her arms close to her chest, defensive. And her forced act of fixing the hair is just an excuse not to look at him and...probably hopes to escape the chat'

'How do you know this?'

'You can read people easily from their gestures'

'Aahh ' Huntress exclaimed ' She is so beautiful here' Huntress commented on the next picture.

 

Kate was near a spring, with both hands in her hair, trying to tie it up, exposing her bare back and her head slightly facing her left, as if she was checking on her surroundings. 

 

'It's all about the light, angle, perspective- ' he tried to explain but Huntress's face let him know his details were landing on deaf ears ' Yes, very pretty' he gave up.

'Can I have a picture like that?'

'No'

'Why?'

'Because you're not-' he looked at her and saw her disappointed face, almost crying.

'Pretty?'

 

Ghost Face let his feet down and sat up.

 

'Take your hatchet and come with me ' he asked as he walked into the pouring rain.

 

The woman obeyed, almost running after him, excited. He was scouting the area around the cabin and his keen eyes caught a small glade, where the trees would partially create a big arch above the ground. He walked there and placed Anna with her back at the camera, body slightly towards him, the hatchet gripped in her right hand. He asked her to remove the mask and let it down at her feet, perfectly visible in the shot.

 

'I don't want to see your face completely. Turn it left a little ' he instructed 'More, more...perfect. I want you to give me just a hint of who you might be. Let me guess, be intrigued'

'Oh, I see' she said moving her head.

'Okay, but don't move again. Stay how you were before. That's it. Hatchet a little upper, head a little bit to the left, straighten your back aaand... stay'

 

He waited a few seconds for a lightning to give him that last touch of perfection, allowing the rain drops become more visible in the light. The wet mask resting on the ground popped in the shot as the lightning faded away.

 

'Done'

 

Anna rushed at him and looked on the display.

 

'It looks so real' she continued staring at the picture in wonder. ‘Now I’m beautiful like Kate’

'No’  he interfered  ' You’re prettier’  

‘Even I can tell you’re lying’

‘Can you ?’  Ghost Face smiled understanding she had absolutely no clue when people were lying or being sincere. ‘The darkness, the twisted, ugliness and horror are beautiful too, even more than conventional beauty.'

You’re a wizard of words, I barely understand you sometimes’ Anna added.

'Right’ he turned around already tired of her and continued ‘Now let me be'

 

***

 

'Shit ' Laurie cursed as she hastened her pace through the rain.

'Wait' David removed his black jacket 'Here' and placed it on Laurie's shoulders.

'What about you? It's freezing cold and the rain doesn't help'

'I'm good with this ' he pointed at his black T-shirt.

 

She grabbed the collar of the jacket and pulled it closer to her face as she moved away. His scent was embedded in it. A warm smile surfaced on her face as she almost hugged the piece of clothing.

 

'Are you still cold ?' he asked confused seeing her squeezing the jacket to her chest.

'No, not at all'

'It's still a long way to the camp, maybe we should stop somewhere and wait for the rain to slow down’ David halted.

'Stop where?' Laurie asked surprised.

'I think we are close to the Red Forest. We should find an abandoned shack there.'

'Okay, we could try' Laurie accepted mostly because she cherished those moments. 

 

And he was right. They soon entered the Red Forest. The thick, tall trees welcomed them under their sheltering branches, almost escorting them to a small shack.

 

'Finally' Laurie ran inside and shook off the excessive water from the jacket.

 

He followed her inside and looked around quickly.

 

'Hopefully, we are alone and won't disturb the killers'

'Yeah'  Laurie muttered.

'We should dry ourselves. Give me the jacket'

 

Laurie handed him the cloth and watched him twisting it, draining the water out of the fabric before giving it back. He grabbed the collar of his t-shirt and pulled it over his head doing the same thing to it. Laurie's eyes jumped on his big shoulders and tense muscles of his forearms as he squeezed the shirt. When he turned his eyes at her, she flushed in embarrassment, though he didn't notice her reaction.

 

'You should do the same' 

'Okay ' she unbuttoned her blue shirt and turned her back at him.

 

He sat down, leaning against a wall and casted a very quick glance at Laurie's back. The bra she was wearing was soaking wet. She almost felt his gaze but didn't dare to say something or face him till she put the shirt back on. She walked around the shack, pretending to check outside when in reality she was stressed of being alone with him. When she wanted to sit opposite of him, he interfered.

 

'Woah, why are you sitting all over there? I don’t bite' he chuckled.

'I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable by sitting close'  she justified her decision.

'Don't worry. It's better to stay close. The heat will help with drying ourselves and the clothes.'

 

Unsure, she moved to him and slid down. Her heart was racing so hard as if she was in a trial and the killer was ready to snatch her. She wished to say and do so many things at that point, but not even one of those things came in the close range of her courage. He looked at her and noticed how nervous she was.

 

'Are you alright?'

'Yes, of course' Laurie returned a smile.

'I know this is not how you would want to spend the night, so, apologies.'

'No, don’t apologize. This is actually perfect' her words came out before she would think and already hated herself.

'You're too kind' he smiled.

'No, no, I'm serious'

'I believe you' the man laughed.

'The rain drops hitting the shack’s roof are so soothing. I could fall asleep here' Laurie looked above her.

‘You can safely rest your head on me and do it, I’m sure it’s going to take a while’ David said but she didn’t know how serious he was until he tapped his shoulder. ‘Seriously, do it’ he gave her a reassuring smile.

 

Laurie lowered her head onto his left shoulder and as soon as her skin touched his, feeling his warmth, she closed her eyes completely relaxed. Without realizing her whispered came out loud enough for him to hear it, she muttered:

 

‘This feels so good’

 

David looked at her amused and blamed her words on her tiredness and the fact she was slowly drifting away.

 

***

 

Ghost Face walked back inside the cabin to recover his mask and saw Trapper with 2 dead rabbits in his hand.

 

‘Where’s Anna?’  Evan’s voice came out all coarse.

 

‘Outside’

 

‘Fine, I’ll leave a rabbit here as she requested’

 

Ghost Face shrugged his shoulders uninterested and put his mask back on before heading out. 

 

‘Stupid survivors’  Evan mumbled annoyed ‘Stepping again in one of my traps’

 

Ghost Face turned at him intrigued.

 

‘Who stepped in your trap ?’

 

‘I didn’t see. I already have what I wanted.’

 

‘So you just left the survivor in the trap ?’

 

‘Not my problem’  Evan followed.

 

‘Fair enough’  Ghost Face smirked thoughtful when he heard the Entity’s call ‘ Finally’

 

Every trial he had the luck of encountering Kate, he made sure to hunt her down first and sacrifice her to the Entity, sometimes gifting himself a mori. He didn’t spend anymore time on games, mockery or torturing her. If he saw her, he made sure she would go down at that second. She couldn’t understand that sudden change of his behavior towards her, she found it strange. He didn’t fight her anymore or trap her somewhere for his sick mental games. In her head that was the Entity’s merit, but the truth was nowhere close to that.

 

One of the next nights, she took her usual night hike and after an hour of loneliness with her own thoughts, she got up and embraced herself in an attempt to evade the chilly air. The fog thickened, covering the depths of the woods like a fluffy blanket. Luckily for her, she’s been living in that realm for so long, she knew the roads and areas like the back of her hand.

She brought the small pouch before her eyes and shook it. It was full. Squeezing her eyes, she undid the thin string binding it and let the ivory chalk scatter around. The white reagent covered the grass like a thin layer of snow. With one last look at it, she tossed the pouch too and left. Throwing that item she held so dearly at was perhaps one of the most liberating things she did in that realm. She actually found the will to smile. Claudette could’ve sworn Kate was faking her attitude again, but she was so wrong. Kate was indeed better because in her head her nightmares ended, in her mind Ghost Face got tired or was severely punished for his deviousness. Oh, how wrong she was about it. It was all part of his plan. And it was working accordingly. 

 

Several days passed, or what it felt like weeks, and he still gave her the cold shoulder, if that was even applicable to their case. One of those rare nights, when the rain was barely spraying he chose to take a break from all his fellow killers and just be by himself out in the Red Forest.

There were stacks of large logs crammed together and a cart nearby. Though the rain was light, his leather coat already glittered in the moonlight. He sat somewhere between two different stacks of logs. He bent one leg and let his right elbow hanging on the knee, checking his oldest pictures. The memories were coming as fresh as if they happened only hours ago. A sinister smile shamelessly emerged under his mask. The familiar thrilling feeling filled his veins with a drug he was so addicted to, it became too hard to deny it after that first kill. The rest of them came so much easier. It became a game, a challenge for him. 

He rocked his other leg back and forth, hitting the logs with his heel in a rhythmic motion, until he saw Kate in the distance, slowly approaching his location. He tilted his head curious when he saw the young woman staggering. She was having difficulties in keeping a balance but she continued walking, sometimes resting her hands on whatever she could find within her reach. He turned off the camera, placed it back in his pocket and resumed following her chaotic walk. His eyes squinted at her strange behavior. Was she injured ? He was curious but not so much as to move away from his spot. He just waited to see what she was doing.

 

Kate’s heart jumped to her throat when she saw him on top of the stacked logs. She stopped and narrowed the eyes as her attention got caught by his inert figure. He didn’t flinch one finger, but he was clearly sharing her gaze. She took two more steps and fell down on her knees holding her belly in pain.

Ghost Face still stared at her as if he was waiting to see where the whole thing was going. She raised her head and looked at his direction to check if he had any vengeful intentions. Before she would get up again, she suddenly convulsed and arching her back, she threw up. Her body shivered, her stomach contracted again and another hurl followed. The man cocked his head to a side, slightly intrigued by her situation. Her bloodshot eyes raised at him and she felt every muscle of her body begging her to ask for help, but the mind refused her that relief. 

He could see her inner fight and he was enjoying it. He refused to offer his help unless she was begging for it. Kate felt her insides trying to get out, her entire body ached, her eyes stung and her entire skin felt like burning and shrinking on her frame. She was sweating excessively and her mouth would water second by second in preparation for vomiting. It felt like dying, perhaps even worse. She experienced death and it definitely didn’t feel this bad. 

 

With one last effort she tried to stand up, but her weakened muscles wouldn’t let her take another step. She looked back at Ghost Face and whispered:

 

‘Please’

 

He saw her, attempting to get up once again but her efforts were futile.

 

‘What?’  he mockingly asked her though he heard her.

 

‘H-help’

 

He jumped down and walked at her so slow as if he was trying to test her limits. Finally getting near her, he looked down at her, she was a disaster. Her hair messy and soaked, just like her clothes. Her eyes were red.

 

‘Are you high?’  he asked elated.

 

‘We...drank this...tea...we thought it would only- ’ she stopped feeling her stomach contracting again and instantly puked a clear liquid.

 

‘You really are stupid ’ he looked at her.

 

‘I'm very-, I feel so hot. My entire body burns. ’ she barely mumbled.

 

‘So take off your clothes ‘ he advised mischievously.

 

Kate threw him an angered and painful look realizing he was mocking her even though she felt horrible.

 

‘I need water’

 

So?’ 

 

‘I’m dying here, can you...please ’ she paused gasping for air ‘Please help me’

 

‘You’re not expecting me to carry you in my arms at the pond, are you? ’ 

 

Kate looked at him with begging eyes.

 

‘Not going to happen’ he smiled.

 

‘I knew this was a mistake ’ she embraced her belly in pain.

 

‘Yes it was’

 

Kate heard his steps getting dimmer in intensity and closing her eyes she yelled after him. She knew he stopped.

 

‘Wait!’

 

What for? ’ he reached his front pocket.

 

There has to be something I can ...do or give you in return’

 

‘No, there isn’t’  he added ‘ I always get what I want’ he resumed and stopped in front of her.

 

‘I...need...you’ Kate gagged but it wasn’t the drug at fault.

 

She was on her knees before him and looked up confused, yet hopeful. He lowered to her level and lifted her off the ground in his arms. Kate’s eyes opened wider in surprise and soon felt her head spinning with each stride he took.

 

She held both arms lifeless in her lap. Her eyes closed and she instantly felt like floating. It was both a pleasant and unpleasant sensation. The cold rain managed to cool her off to some degree as much as his cold leather coat. Without even realizing, she buried her face into his chest. It felt too good to admit it. She opened her eyes when she realized how comfortable she felt in the arms of her killer. Her face moved up at his, but he was too focused on the road. At least that’s what she believed.

 

What?’

 

‘Nothing’ she closed her eyes again and tried to banish that thought away.

 

Her head fell back into his chest and this time she allowed herself to enjoy the weird yet comfortable feeling his body gave to her. His aura was powerful, chaotic yet energizing. It felt like his vigor cured her sickness. Her stomach settled, her head, although still dizzy, felt as light as a feather. She felt happy, she felt excited. The heat in her body was coming and going. Almost against her will she stretched her lips into a smile and without being able to control herself, she started to laugh.

 

Ghost Face looked at her confused.

 

‘Is this funny to you?’ he asked serious.

 

‘Is it not ?’ she started ‘ Imagine this: you stalking me for so long, harassing me, raping me and then you give a hand when I’m in need of help ’ the woman ended in a heavy laughter.

 

‘I fail to see how this is funny’ he replied ‘It’s at most ironically poetic’

 

‘It’s hilarious’ she continued laughing ‘Because… you fucking raped me. You stole something from me that I will never get back. You ruined me ’ her voice turned serious ‘ And here I am, in your arms ...enjoying it. Feeling comfortable and safe. Do you understand? ’ she resumed laughing hysterically.

 

‘I see’   the man realized the drug just kicked in ‘ You’ll come to your senses soon, and realize what you just said. THAT will be hilarious to watch’ he smirked.

 

‘Pff-, I won’t be able to remember anything’ she said reassured. 

 

‘Right ’ the man grinned knowing he set the camera on recording in his pocket since he got her off the ground.

 

Why did you ignore me every trial ? Why were you so quick to end me ?’

 

Did that make you unhappy ? ’ he asked playfully.

 

Ha- no, I’m relieved. This is...it’s what it is. Get it ? ’ Kate mumbled gibberish.

 

‘Right. I can see how you were not affected at all’   he continued.

 

‘I’m not, okay ? It’s just that ...it was mean, you know ?’

 

‘So, why does it bother you so much then? ’ he asked again amused.

 

‘It doesn’t...that’s what I’m saying, ugh-’

 

You’re tiring ’ he sighed at her nonsense.

 

‘Why are you so serious all of a sudden? You used to be the funny killer’

 

‘Is that so?’

 

Yeah, where’s that Ghost Face?

 

Can you stop talking until we get there ?

 

Your coat smells like blood

 

‘I’m sorry this is an inconvenience to you as I carry you around the forest ’ he said sarcastically.

 

‘Sorry ’ she giggled ‘ Woah, you’re so tall’   she continued out of nowhere ‘How tall are you?’

 

The man sighed exhausted.

 

‘And too strong for how you look’

 

‘And how do I look ?’

 

‘Well you know… you’re not like David or Trapper. I mean, you’re not that big. I didn’t mean you look bad, cause… I wouldn’t know that’ Kate cackled ‘I meant you’re not as ...buffed. Though you too have broad shoulders’ she looked at him ‘and a rather large back and chest. And you’re surprisingly strong for your-’ 

 

‘Are you okay?’  the man interrupted her.

 

‘Mhm ’ she nodded quickly.

 

‘I’m so eager to see you get a grip ’ Ghost Face muttered with an utmost excited tone.

 

‘Why?

 

‘You’ll see’  

 

The more they approached the pond, the more the rain slowed down and the more Kate got affected by the plant she ingested. 

 

Soon, a beautiful small pond laid before their eyes. The water was guarded by tall trees with grey bodies yet abundant branches and leaves. Small bushes were scattered around the pond and some improvised wooden benches at the boundary where the land met the cold water. He closed by the water and let go to the arm underneath her legs, causing her to land on her feet, but the weakened knees dragged her immediately to the muddy ground. Instinctively, she seized his shoulders as leverage and met his empty mask staring back at her. He sat there like a statue with her attached to his neck.

 

‘Sorry’  she pushed away from his body and stumbling on her feet, she walked at the shore and started to unbutton her shirt.

 

Ghost Face took out his camera, stopped the recording and snapped a quick picture of Kate’s back.

 

‘Do you mind? ’ she pinched the sides of her jeans and looked at him slightly uncomfortable ‘I can take it from here’

 

‘Why would you feel ashamed of me?’   he started to walk towards her and saw the young woman embracing her chest and backing away ‘I’ve seen you in Eve’s clothes before’

 

‘What?’   Kate’s boots were already submerged in the pond, up to the ankles.

 

‘Come here’   he gestured ‘You wouldn’t want to drown, would you?’

 

Kate backed away some more and the water was already to her knees, the coldness hitting her bones like sharp needles.

 

‘Look, I really am grateful you helped me, but-’

 

‘But ? ’ his boots splashed the water around as he followed her.

 

But now I need to be alone’ her voice dimmed the second his hand reached her face.

 

‘Come here!’ he echoed.

 

Kate tried to dodge him, but she was too dizzy and drained of energy to fight back. Her muscles wouldn’t even listen to simple commands. She allowed his gloved hand to touch her left cheek. The action caused her to close her eyes. But it wasn’t out of disgust, no, she leaned her face against his hand, clinging for more, begging for his attention. She raised both her hands and tried to catch his, but he interrupted her.

 

Uh-uh, I want you to only listen to me’ he started whispering in her ear in an excessively charming tone ‘ I want you to remember this moment right here, when laying in the arms of your rapist, you beg him for more, you linger for his touch. Your eyes staring at me afraid, but not of me, no, afraid of your own thoughts, of your own desires. You’d want me to move this hand down to your neck, trace your collarbone and make my fingers dance across the valley of your chest. You’d swallow hard as my hand brushes against your breasts, intentionally teasing you and forever wishing more, but always denying it.’

 

Kate gulped.

 

'The heat between your legs gets so intense, it actually hurts and you’d want so desperately to make it stop, you’d get on your fours and invite me like a bitch in heat, but your brain is compelling you to bring logic to your behavior...all to no result. You still think about my hand, now hovering above your belly, slowly sliding down in your pants. The crisp leather makes you twitch as it reaches your tender flesh and I can feel it through my glove how much your cunt is dripping at the thought of my fingers gaining access to it. The dry, slightly coarse leather makes you jump at each touch, because-’ he paused for emphasis and resumed with the same alluring voice ‘ ...no matter how much you act like a little princess, we both know you like it rough, you famous Pennsylvania cowgirl.’

 

Even though she was hypnotized by his voice and enticing words, she couldn’t ignore the chill raiding down her spine at the recollection of the headlines pictured in his camera, reading about murders in Pennsylvania.

 

'You want it dirty and painful. You don’t want my hand to caress you the way a gentle lover does it, by a fireplace, laying next to you on some tacky fur. Nooo, you want my hand wrapped around your throat, pulling your hair and slapping your face and ass until you beg me to stop. And even then, when the pain climaxed and the hate overflows, you’d beg only for your own pleasure. Because, admit it, you’re not the type of woman who likes safe words. I could tell it from our first time.’ Ghost Face stopped to catch his breath and continued ‘And so, you’d look at me the same way you do now, unbelieving my words, and I’ll want to prove to you how much you’re aching for it, so I’ll pull out my hand from your pants and bring it to your mouth’ Ghost Face left her cheek and glided his fingers to her mouth ‘I’d place two fingers on your lips and you’d part them willingly, just like you’d spread your legs at that moment for me. I’d make you taste yourself just to see that I may be anything BUT a liar, and you’d lick them clean like the good girl you are. I can now feel it in your whole body, shivering against mine, how much you’d love to get down on your knees, the only impediment being your stubborn ego. I wouldn’t have asked you, but you have to fill all your emptiness in your body. And the moment you’d kneel before me, like a pathetic whore, I’d look into your eyes and tell you this’  Ghost Face pinched her chin and stared in the depths of her eyes  ‘You just proved yourself you belong to me. And I'll... just... leave’ he released her face and walked away.

 

Kate gasped for air as if she held her breath the whole time he detailed the things he’d do to her. She let her body sink under the water and let the cold water sting her burning skin.

Chapter Text

Kate & Ghost Face Art

 

 

Seeking shelter from the gathering storm, Kate worked in the storage tent, sorting the items they managed to salvage and gather throughout their trials and hikes. She was sitting with her back at the entrance and arranged different tools in a box. Feng saw her from outside and decided to spook Kate. She snuck into the storage with silent steps and entered the tent. With a sudden move, Feng jumped on Kate, hugging her.

 

Kate pushed her off violently causing the girl to land on her back on the cold ground. Still in trance, Kate pounced on her and grabbed her throat for a split second until she realized what she was doing.

 

‘Woah, chill’   Feng brought her hands in front of her defensive ‘ It was just a prank

 

‘Sorry!’   Kate sat up and helped Feng too.

 

‘You’re weird lately’   the girl tried to laugh ‘You used to pull this kind of stuff on us too’

 

‘I just didn’t hear you at all. I got really scared’   Kate chuckled.

 

‘Who could’ve been ? Killers don’t enter our camp’

 

‘Right’   the singer scratched the back of her head feeling slightly uneasy.

 

‘Is going to be a nasty storm’   Feng looked outside already hearing the distant roaring thunders.

 

‘I suppose ’ Kate walked by her side and looked in the depths of the forest ‘The camp looks so sinister when there’s nobody there’ 

 

‘Oh ’ Feng faced Kate ‘I had a trial a couple of days ago against Ghost Face. He scared the crap out of me. He literally grabbed me from a generator. I didn’t see or heard him at all. I can see why you fear him so terribly’

 

Kate listened to her and felt a sting in her guts at the mention of his name. She resumed to a simple nod at her words.

 

‘Do you need help-’   Feng stopped when she spotted David, Adam, Claudette and Meg entering the camp.

 

‘No, I’m fine here’   Kate pointed at the survivors ‘Go ahead’

 

Feng hopped out the storage and joined the others. They started to discuss the trial they just finished and how it went. It seemed like a funny story. Kate watched them with a mild smile. She would want to go there and listen to them, but the horror of being faced with questions paralyzed her. Claudette’s interrogation was long overdue and she feared to get any closer to her. Though she would want to talk about it, the hatred she felt towards the killer, towards the events, it compelled her to shut herself in, in self-loathing. 

 

She was paranoid all the time, paranoid about the other survivors, angry and couldn’t find happiness or joy in any of the things she used to do. Her guitar sat idle for longer than usual, her presence at the fun parties was missed, she was spending nights awake thinking. Thinking of him. She did realize lately that she wasn’t afraid anymore because there was nothing else he could do to her. And she wasn’t going to give him that pleasure anymore. She wasn’t going to beg or cry, she was going to fight back when she’ll face him.

As her eyes were still fixed on the group at the bonfire, Claudette shared her a quick glance and saluted her. Kate’s lips hardly curled upwards then came back down. She raised her head up at the approaching storm. A powerful thunder silenced all survivors and soon a very thick veil of raindrops impaired their vision farther than 5 meters. They dispersed instantly, back in their tents. Claudette ran quickly in the storage.

 

‘Hey Kate’   she started moving to her plants.

 

Hey’   the young woman looked at her curious ‘Do you need help with something?’

 

No, not really’   Claudette smiled ‘But if you’re bored, you could help me sort these flowers. They’re all in the same stack, it just bothers me all the time to pick the right ones before a trial.’

 

‘Sure’   Kate moved next to her and started moving the flowers around.

 

An awkward silence reigned for more than 2 minutes and that only fed Kate’s urge of getting that heavy burden off her chest. She squinted from time to time at the botanist and the woman noticed her inner fight.

 

‘What’s going on, Kate?’   Claudette asked without facing her.

 

‘I feel like I should talk to you about what you witnessed in that basement’

 

‘Not if you don’t really want to...or need to’   Claudette stopped her without interrupting her work.

 

‘That’s the twisted thing. I want to talk about it but at the same time…’

 

‘Then you’re not ready to speak of it. And I can understand that’   Claudette finally looked at her and gave her a sincere smile ‘Look, I don’t know for sure what happened to you, but if what I imagine is even remotely close to the truth, I would rather not know. Because I couldn’t even begin to understand your pain or know what to say to you.’

 

‘Yeah, I suppose no matter what you’d say, it wouldn’t make it any easier for me’   Kate turned around and leaned her back on the wall near them.

 

‘But I do know that I can help you whenever we are together in a trial against him’   Claudette gave her a big smile ‘ After all, we know now there’s a man behind that mask. His voice is so ….normal’

 

‘That’s not a man ’ Kate scoffed. ‘And don’t do that, it would only anger him. You’d turn yourself into a target for no reason.’

 

For my friend’   Claudette corrected her.

 

‘I couldn’t let that happen to you ’ Kate crossed her arms on her chest ‘He is a sick, twisted...sadistic... son of a bitch’ she saw Claudette chuckling at her spiteful words.

 

‘I... missed this ’ Claudette turned at her.

 

‘Yeah, me too ’ Kate smiled but suddenly turned serious when she heard the call.

 

‘Good luck!’   Claudette patted her shoulder.

 

***

 

When she opened her eyes, she was in Red Forest. The familiar sharp pain in her chest already hinted her who she was going against. She was the obsession of just one killer. The knot in her throat slowly moved down to her guts and a hollow void filled her stomach. She looked around quickly and moved onward, through the damaged wooden walls until she spotted Nea already crouched next to a broken generator. With a quick nod, she joined her in repairing the machine.

 

‘I think he’s heading this way’   Nea announced tapping Kate’s arm.

 

‘Move on the other side of the wall ’ Kate instructed and followed her own advice.

 

Ghost Face’s long straps flapped into the wind, slightly betraying his presence near them. He looked at the generator and heard it faintly rumbling. Someone worked on it. He moved around the wall and saw Nea and Kate sprinting their way out of the cover. His head tilted and smiled as he looked at Kate running away. He stepped forward and could easily trace their steps as the ground still bore their noisy and reckless actions. The grass, leaves and dead branches were all in disarray wherever they ran past by.

Because Nea and Kate split up in opposite directions, he looked at Kate as she flee to the right and she watched him standing for a split second in place before heading for Nea. Kate slowed down and lowered down in the grass, resting her back against a cabin’s outer wall. She closed her eyes for what it felt like a second before seeing a shape emerging from her left. When she opened her eyes she saw him grabbing her throat and lifting her up.

 

‘So naive ’ Ghost Face laughed at her, falling for such a classic trap.

 

‘Take your dirty hands off me’   Kate tried to push him away several times.

 

‘Oh please’  the man sneered ‘Who do you think you’re fooling with this pretended disgust and offended attitude?’

 

Kate bent her left knee and placing her boot against the wall, she pushed as hard as possible onto it. She budged him out of her face and rushed to the left when he caught her wrist and dragged her back in his arms. She spun, allowing him to wrap both his arms around her chest, compressing her close to his body. His chest radiated with energy. The same chaotic energy she already was familiar with when he was close to her. The same energy she started to feel lately surfacing within her.

 

She stepped on his left foot with all her strength and the man released her. He grinned and lunged after her again, knocking her down on the ground.

 

‘No, get away’ Kate yelled trying to fight his arms away.

 

‘Make me! ’ he purred in his weird seductive way.

 

She got her wrists pinned down on each side of her head and her legs were trapped under him. She looked at him alert but not afraid. Rushed steps stole Ghost Face’s attention and he turned his head towards the intruder. Nea and Jake were coming to Kate’s aid.

 

He shifted his head back on Kate and although she didn’t see it, he smiled at her, drew out his knife and whispered:

 

‘Just a sec’   he let her go and rushed after the two survivors landing a stab on each one.

 

He had to make sure they weren’t disturbed again from their playtime, so he went after every survivor. It took him awhile to complete their sacrifices. They were very skilled together, coordinated and elusive, but every team is as strong as their weakest link. And in their case, that was Ace, who didn’t know precisely what to do against Ghost Face so he was the one to fall first, dragging the whole team into a vicious loop of saving each other from hooks, instead of fixing the generators.

When it was over, he moved around the forest to search for the hatch and fortunately lady luck was by his side. He bent a knee and closed the trap with the key all killers have in their possession. After that, he just walked around casually, patiently, as if he had all the time in the world. Kate crouched around a fallen concrete wall and froze in place when she heard his steps close by. 

 

The creeping feeling of fear almost found its way back in her mind, but she refused to let it in anymore. She gritted her teeth and waited for him to move out before heading for the farthest gate. Carefully, she left the cover and rushed through the thick woods, constantly checking behind her. She leaned over a small cabin and searched the area around the gate. It seemed safe to move on. She pulled the lever and started to hear the metal rattling when the mechanism set in motion all gears. It was slow, too slow. Her heart began to race. He was close. 

 

She turned her head to the left and felt his fingers in her hair. He dragged her away from the gate and hurled her behind him. She stumbled on her feet but managed to balance herself before sprinting away.

 

Already leaving? We were just getting started ’ he shouted after her and initiated his hunt.

 

She managed to stay away from his sight near a bigger building, moving slowly around its corners.

 

‘Kate ’ Ghost Face called with a playful tone scraping the walls with his knife ‘Let’s play a game’

 

The young woman felt her chest burning and her heart beating irregularly. She hid behind a generator near the house and barely stuck her head out to check on him. He was clearly coming her way.

 

‘If you manage to take me down, I’ll let you escape, but, if I catch you-’ he stopped as he was standing right next to the generator she was hiding behind and suddenly snatched her shirt, bringing her face close to his ‘If I win’ he resumed ‘I’m going to gut you like a fish’

 

Fuck you! ’ she whispered close to his mask and spat on it.

 

Tease’ he laughed and pushed her on the ground before leaping on top of her.

 

Kate kicked him off and crawled away, darting up on her feet and dashed through the forest. He got up calmly and followed her. Kate had already gained some distance and she hid behind a tree trunk trying to catch her breath. The rain intensified. 

 

‘So, you want to play? ’ he asked with a playful tone.

 

Kate squatted around the tree and hugged the trunk, moving behind him. He heard her steps in the wet grass and when she prepared to crash him down, he veered quickly and blocked her hands.

 

‘Tsk, tsk, sneaking up on me? Really?’

 

‘Ugh-’ she gasped when he slammed her body against a tree ‘ NO! ’ she yelled when she saw him moving closer. ‘Fuck off!’ she tried to push him away but he pinned both her hands above her head and placed the knife under her chin, gently lifting it up.

 

You’re adorable ’ he traced her left cheek with the blade and lowered it down to her stomach.

 

‘Wait, wait!’ she caught his attention.

 

Ghost Face stopped and shifted his look from her belly to her face.

 

‘Why?’

 

‘I want to play’   Kate’s eyes locked on the mask’s emotionless eyes ‘But a different game’

 

‘I’m all ears ’ he whispered alluring with his head cocked on a side.

 

‘Ask me one question about you and if I get it right...you let me go’

 

After a short pause, hoping she wouldn’t change her mind, he asked:

 

‘Are you sure ?

 

‘Yes’

 

‘Very well’   the man smirked pleased ‘Who am I ?’

 

‘What ?’   she asked confused.

 

‘Who is Ghost Face ?’   he repeated.

 

‘Really ? This is your question ? ’ Kate asked somewhat arrogant.

 

The man nodded slowly.

 

‘Jed Olsen, the journalist’  Kate said with confidence.

 

He watched her for a few seconds in silence, then brought his face so close to hers, she felt the wet rubber against her cheek as he whispered in her ear:

 

‘Wrong’

 

‘No, no, that’s your name. I saw it in your pictures ’ she argued trying to buy herself more time.

 

‘That’s not my name, sweety ’ his voice came out all charming and terrifying at the same time.

 

‘What do you mean ? ’ she asked surprised.

 

‘It means...I win ’ he pressed the knife against her belly.

 

‘No, wait, wait, I know’  Kate interrupted again ‘I know who you are’

 

Ghost Face chuckled at her reply, knowing it would be impossible for her to know his name, but the whole thing was too amusing to end it so soon, so he gave her another chance.

 

‘Okay, go on’

 

‘I just need to see your face to be sure it’s really you’   Kate took a shot.

 

As he heard her demand, he couldn’t abstain from laughing out loud. It was too hilarious to remain serious at such a request.

 

‘Come on’   Kate ignored his mocking laughter and continued ‘I want to see the spineless coward hiding behind this mask’ she stretched one hand to his mask.

 

‘Like you deserve such a privilege’   he smacked her face with the back of his hand.

 

His knuckles hit her harder than she expected and her lower lip started to bleed.

 

‘Though you lived in Pennsylvania, you seemed to have no recollection of me.’   he continued.

 

‘Why would I know you ?’

 

‘This mask was on every newspaper’s front page’

 

‘And did that get you hard? Late at night, in your tiny studio apartment ? Were you getting off on the thought people were afraid of you?’   Kate stretched her lips into a smile.

 

‘Trying to anger me? You’re very bad at it’   he laughed.

 

‘I think you underestimate me...Jed. A mediocre journalist unable to keep his job unless he has to resort to murder so he has something exciting to write about would never be able to understand the subtleties of the human psychic.

 

Ghost Face stopped and watched her in silence for more than she anticipated. Although Kate couldn’t see it, they were both staring into each other’s eyes.

 

‘Look at you ... dazed. I have to admit it’   she began boldly ‘I like you when you’re speechless.’

 

He released her wrists, let the knife fall down in the grass next to his feet and headed for her face. She flinched unwillingly, expecting another hit, but instead she got her right cheek gently stroked. He used his thumb and wiped the blood from her mouth too.

 

You’re so adorable believing you understand me.’

 

'Don’t delude yourself, you’re not complex. You’re just sick.’ she continued still trying to avoid his touch.

 

‘I cannot believe I’m standing here, listening to you. A spoiled, rich, little bitch born into a loving family willing to sacrifice everything for their little girl showing early signs of talent. How would you even begin to understand people like me when your world was overflowing with money, fame, fake people ...pretty much everything you ever desired.’

 

‘How do you know all this?’   Kate asked astonished.

 

‘It seems I CAN understand the subtleties of the human psychic’

 

‘Is this why you hate me? Because I had a better life than yours?’

 

‘Because you feel entitled to everything, like that day when you said you deserved the hatch’

 

‘I don’t feel entitled to anything. I worked my way up to the fame, it wasn’t easy’

 

‘I bet sleeping around with the producers was hard indeed’

 

‘Get the fuck off me, you don’t know me at all’

 

‘But you know me, right ?’   he asked mockingly.

 

‘You’re a sad, pathetic loner. I’m sure you can’t even get it up or come if a woman isn't crying or in pain’

 

‘As much as I would love to prove you wrong, unfortunately-’ he paused and lifted her chin up again ‘I don’t do damaged goods'

 

Kate felt the sting of his words straight to her heart. No matter how much she tried to stay strong and ignore his poisonous words, they hit the right spot. Her eyes watered again, despite her iron will. She felt breathless again and soon gasped for air. Ghost Face watched her struggle to fight back her emotions, but she was losing it. He smirked.

 

‘What’s the matter, little Kate? Lost your voice ? his tone betrayed the sick pleasure he took in tormenting her.

 

‘I hate you’ she muttered after a hacked heave.

 

‘No you don’t’   he corrected her ‘ And I got proof for you’ he pulled out his camera.

 

He turned it on and played the video recorded the day she was high. Kate could hear herself talking to him. Her voice was weak and weirdly joyful, but it was clearly her. Every time she heard the words coming out of her mouth, she felt worse and worse. It was beyond embarrassing. Her face was burning and the only thing that managed to cool off her scorching cheeks was the chilly rain. With one click, Ghost Face closed the camera and put it back in his pocket.

 

‘Frankly, some people could get the wrong idea if they would listen to this’ 

 

Stop!’   Kate lowered her head ‘ This means absolutely nothing. I was not myself. I was high as a kite’

 

‘True, but still yourself, even more so. Getting high doesn’t make you fabricate feelings, it just unleashes your inner thoughts and deepest desires, some of which you’re not even aware existed, buried in the darkest corners of your mind. Drugs only lift up that barrier, in our minds, which prevents us from acting purely on instinct and emotions. Sure, to live in a society you need some tact, some control, otherwise people might say you’re crazy or at least suffer some consequences. But once you unshackle your brain from these social chains, that freedom is ...addicting.’

 

‘Is that what happened to you when you killed the first time? ’ Kate asked curious.

 

‘Smart girl’   he sincerely appreciated her comment.

 

You need help’   Kate whispered unwilling to accept he was right.

 

‘I’m not the one needing help ’ he started in a lower voice ‘It’s you. You’re the unhappy one’

 

‘Because of YOU. I WAS happy before’ she pushed him away and began throwing punches left and right.

 

He blocked all her punches with ease and watched the hate growing within her with each punch.

 

‘I hate you, I hate you, I fucking... hate you … you...despicable, sick, sadistic psycho. I HATE YOU!’ Kate shouted without stopping from hitting and pushing his chest with her fists.

 

He let her do it and the corner of his lips curled when she finally took a break. Her chest was heaving, her clothes were soaking wet, the hair slick on her head with stray fringes in her face, all messy, her red eyes beaming an overwhelming bloodlust and her fists still clenched.

 

‘You’re so beautiful now’   he said with a sneer.

 

For Kate, that was the last drop in an already overflowing cup of grief and she moved her head to her left at the tree. She eyed the knife in the grass and with a wild and uncontrollable rage, she almost leapt to it. Ghost Face looked at her standing up with his knife in her trembling hand.

 

‘I hate you...this much’   she snarled and jumped to attack him.

 

She took a few swings at him, but he nimbly dodged them. When she charged for the second time, he intercepted her wrist and threw her behind him, causing her to tumble a few meters and finally land on her knees. She raised her head and looked at his tall figure clouding her vision. She couldn’t see him very well, there were no features to his figure, only a black shape. She sprang to her feet and rushed again towards the shadow, swinging the knife relentlessly until one hit got him. 

The leather ripped open on his left shoulder. Seeing Kate’s sinister smile, he couldn’t help but grin in delight. Her successful hit fueled Kate with even more energy and continued attacking him. Ghost Face blocked her hand several times, but the second he believed it was fitting, he let her jam the knife in his forearm.

 

Kate opened her eyes surprised. She felt a rush in her whole body. She smiled in content at her deed until she removed the knife from his flesh. When she saw the bloodied blade, his blood dripping, sliding down his leather sleeve, his low grunt of pain... her smile faded. She realized what she did, she started to feel sick.

 

He took a step forward and that triggered Kate enough to react again. Another swing flew close by his face before he would grab her arm and twisted it to her back.

 

‘No, no, let me go. I’m going to end it tonight. I will fucking slit your throat’   Kate jerked in his grasp.

 

‘Please don’t make empty promises. I don’t like to be teased and left cold’

 

He hauled her close to him trying to calm her down, but she was uncontrollable. She was threshing in his arms like a cornered wild animal.

 

‘Sh, sh’   he hummed in her ear.

 

Release me’   she gripped the knife so hard that her palm cramped and was unable to open it.

 

‘Let it go’   Ghost Face’s calm voice echoed above her head as he wrapped his palm around hers.

 

‘No’   she shook her head, reluctant to surrender the weapon and her whimpers intensified the more she realized what she did.

 

‘It’s okay ’ he felt her hand slowly relaxing on the knife’s handle 

 

‘I don’t want to-’ she dropped down on her knees forcing him to do the same.

 

Holding his hand cupped around hers the whole time and calmly speaking to her, she slowly loosen her grip.

 

That’s it...good girl ’ he felt the handle now sliding in his own hand.

 

‘Please- ’ Kate finally gave up on her only defense ‘ please stop this...forever’ she continued sobbing with her head buried in her chest, defeated.

 

Ghost Face set the knife next to them and she caught his action with the corner of her eyes.

 

‘I can’t kill my own kind’   he whispered in her ear in such an eerie voice it felt as if the Entity itself spoke to her.

 

Her eyes burnt. His words carved in so deep, that the sudden realization of what he really meant caused her to shake her head in denial, chanting over and over the same words:

 

‘No, I didn’t want to, I didn’t do it’

 

The Entity’s voice started to hiss in her head in indistinguishable whispers. The energy in Ghost Face’s chest felt so intense, so ...close, too close. It was then when she realized it wasn’t him, it came from herself.

 

‘NO! Let me go’   Kate battled his embrace ‘ Don’t let it take me, pleeeease’ 

 

‘It’s okay ’ he whispered with a soothing tone.

 

Kate could slowly distinguish some words in the Entity’s disturbing and twisted growls. The most prominent ones were ‘death ’ and ‘ kill’ . She could feel the Fog gathering around them, enveloping both in their paradoxical hot and cold embrace. 

 

‘Pleeeease, JED ’ Kate cried as the Entity’s words became clearer and clearer ‘Help me’

 

‘Funny thing this Fog’ he started in a low voice as he brought his head close to her neck ‘It bears the memories of each and every one of us. Our lost memories. And now I remember why I was so obsessed with you, why I was so intrigued by you. You were supposed to be one of my targets in Pennsylvania. I wanted to kill you. I know I tracked you, stalked you, I had pictures of you but they are all gone now . Unfortunately, before I could get you, I was forced to leave the state, but-’ he paused and released a low chuckle ‘The day the Entity came after me, I could feel this same Fog engulfing my body and I could hear a woman screaming. A voice I was so familiar to...Your voice’

 

The Entity started to show itself on the dark sky. The hints of the leviathan’s body and appearance could bring a sane person on the brink of insanity in a split second. Kate’s eyes widened at the huge shadow in the sky, at the descending large spider-like legs shining in the bright lightning. Her left hand tested the ground around and reached for the knife. When she wanted to stab herself, Ghost Face grabbed her hand and stopped her.

 

‘Please, I’m begging you. If there’s any grain of humanity left in you...stop it’   Kate heard the Entity’s growls louder and louder and its tendrils stretching towards her.

 

Ghost Face looked up at the beast thoughtful. The ritual was almost complete. He heard the Entity too, though it said different things in his head. The killer saw the hungry tendrils almost touching Kate’s face and arms and a rush washed over his mind. 

 

‘NOOO!’ Kate cried terrified at the sight of the beast.

 

Kate's last cry of fear sent Ghost Face over the edge and squeezing his hand on hers, he plunged the knife she was still holding, straight through her heart. Kate gasped, both in awe and relief. The sky thundered as the Entity growled annoyed.

 

‘She’s mine’   Ghost Face muttered angered.

 

The Entity retracted its legs in annoyed rumbles. The Fog slowly dispersed, its huge shadow faded in the storm clouds and Kate slipped out of Ghost Face’s arms lifeless on the ground. In his defiance, he moried Kate, thus stopping the ritual by ending the trial. Rain drops washed over Kate’s face, moving away the locks of hair and exposing her curious peaceful face.

He could hear the Entity’s rebuke. His retribution will be unforgettable, he was sure of it, but…


‘It’s worth it’   he looked at Kate and muttered with a smile.

Chapter Text

Kate woke up heaving breathing in the middle of the woods. Her first reaction was to check her chest. There was no wound. She exhaled relieved but immediately burst into tears. She sat up and rushed at the camp. She had to make sure she still had access there, that she could still go there.

 

As soon as she saw the warm, hypnotizing fire, she smiled and her heart skipped a beat at the sight of Claudette waving at her. With no regards to how weird that looked, she ran at the botanist and hugged her.

 

'Woah, are you alright?'   she giggled.

 

'I am now'   Kate wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

 

'What happened to you ?'

 

'I wouldn’t know how to explain it.'



(Basement)



Ghost Face sat down on his knees, stripped of his clothes and mask. During their penitences, killers were naked, exposed, revealed to their true nature. Two long tendrils kept Ghost Face’s arms stretched above his head. His head was laying low, in his chest. His brown hair falling slightly over his bloodied face.

 

‘Your transgression crossed the line this time. I may not care what you killers do outside the trials. The suffering you induce in these survivors is none of my concern as long as you don’t kill them. But… in my game… YOU OBEY ME!’  the Entity’s deep voice whispered in his head.

 

Ghost Face released a prolonged roar of pain as a third tendril pierced his stomach. He panted several times before spitting out a mouthful of blood. He dared to raise his head briefly and looked at the dark shape before him.

 

‘I know why you saved her’   the Entity resumed ‘I know, because I reside in all of you. I know what you feel, what you desire, what you FEAR. You hated to see her afraid of something else other than you.’

 

The killer couldn’t feel his arms anymore, they went numb long time ago. His body had no weight or mass either. He could only feel   his thoughts. It felt like he had no vessel for his mind anymore. He had to look down at his body to reassure he was still human, but the blood running down his thighs and groins almost convinced him otherwise. Three different sharp legs stabbed his spine at the same time, forcing him to twitch frantically. Drool started to pool on his lower lip before dripping down on the cold pavement.

 

Tell me, Danny, is it still worth it?  ' The Entity asked mockingly.

 

Ghost Face coughed once and spat the rest of his saliva mixed with blood and lifted his head revealing a defiant smirk.

 

‘It is’

 

‘All of them went through this, but they came around’   the Entity’s voice echoed in his head amused ‘They ALL came around’   it continued as the two legs holding his arms twisted around until his bones snapped.

 

‘FUCK!’   Ghost Face released a dull gasp, let his head fall on his back as he exhaled and then brought it back up to face his torturer.

 

‘I expected nothing less from you. After all, you enjoy pain, you’re resilient to it. But have you wondered where does it come from ? Where is this sadistic pleasure coming from ? In all of you, killers ? Have you ever thought it’s purely my will manifesting through you ? The more I do this to you, the more you’ll enforce it onto them, the survivors. Your uniqueness though, comes in the form of CONTROL and VALIDATION. You need to be in control of everything, you need to have all things in a certain order, you need validation from others, even though it comes in a perverted way. You need validation for your ugly side, for your malice, because that’s what obscures your true fear. And you know what you fear the most’   the Entity ended mimicking Ghost Face’s playful tone.

 

One leg moved to his chest and stopped above the heart. Barely touching his skin, Ghost Face stared at the threatening limb and furrowed his brows at the Entity.

 

‘You only care for yourself. You can’t stand feeling vulnerable and exposed to others. You don’t want them to know who you really are. How sad, lonely and empty you are, deep in here’   the leg tapped his chest gently ‘But… I’ll fix that’

 

Ghost Face finally reacted and tried to stand up, but his muscles wouldn’t listen.

 

‘Don’t! ’ the man whispered angered.

 

‘How ironic. The same word you enjoy hearing as you inflict your poison upon these poor souls, coming out your own mouth. Kate had to pay for her sins. She allowed in her heart things a survivor should never invite - rage, anger, hate… murder. She no longer belongs among those that thrive and live in Hope. She had to be converted but YOU had the nerve and boldness to ruin the ritual.’

 

‘She didn’t murder’   Ghost Face interrupted.

 

‘You say it as if you care. As if you’re protecting her, when in reality...we both know you’re just saying it to justify your behavior. But no worries…’   the Entity paused and plunged the leg into his heart ‘ You will know that feeling. You will face the very thing you fear the most’

 

The limb moved inside his chest, wrapped around his heart and with a quick motion, it pulled out the organ. Ghost Face cried in agony and watched his still beating heart in front of him.

 

‘For once in your life, you’ll care for something else other than this’   the Entity squeezed the heart causing it to beat faster and provoke him an unbearable ache.

 

Ghost Face gazed helpless at his heart getting squashed and felt the life inside him slowly slipping away. As the pulse raised and the muscle constricted more and more, his vision darkened in exhaustion. Soon his ears wouldn’t pick up the slow beating sounds anymore, and then... everything went dark and cold. 

 

Suddenly he could feel his body again, he opened his eyes and he was laying down on all fours. His arms were fine, his back and chest unharmed. His wounds and blood gone. Clothed and masked again, he was ready to do the Entity’s bidding once again.

 

***

 

'This is weird'   Claudette pulled back 'What’s the matter?'

 

Kate grabbed Claudette’s hand and pulled her to a side to avoid the rest of the group.

 

'If I tell you, you wouldn't believe me'

 

'Try me'

 

‘Come’   Kate moved further away, towards her tent ‘Listen, whatever I’m about to tell you, it has to stay between us.’

 

‘Of course’   the botanist assured her slightly concerned.

 

'The Entity tried to turn me into a killer'

 

Claudette looked at Kate for a couple of seconds serious and then burst into laughter.

 

‘Shh, dial it down for fuck’s sake’   Kate jerked Claudette’s arm forcing her out of her chuckle.

 

‘Wait...you’re serious ?’

 

‘Of course I’m fucking serious. Why would I lie about something like this?’ Kate replied still shaking.

 

'But, that's impossible. The Entity brings us here and assigns us to a side the moment it…recruits us, so to speak.’

 

‘I’m sure we don’t understand many things about the Entity and its realms. Do you really believe this would be impossible ? Remember that Benedict Baker searched for the Entity and this realm on his own and found it. He wasn’t brought here like the rest of the survivors. Everything is possible’   Kate rushed with a shaky voice.

 

‘Benedict never mentioned in his journal anything about the Entity converting survivors into killers ’ 

 

‘Benedict was just another survivor, trapped here under different circumstances, but still a survivor. Vigo, on the other hand-’

 

‘Vigo’s probably dead, and we have absolutely no legacy from him.’

 

‘Nobody knows if he is really dead, and we do have a few mentions around here about his work. Wasn’t the hatch created by him ?’

 

‘That’s a legend, a myth, we don’t know with certainty that’s true. Besides, what’s this sudden interest in him? Kate, you’re scaring me’

 

‘Vigo was the one to actually study the Fog and the Entity. If there’s someone knowing more about the Entity, it’s him’

 

‘And how would that help you ?’   Claudette asked distrustful.

 

‘Maybe there’s a way I could stop this. The Entity won’t stop until I’ll join the other side of this sick game.’

 

‘Kate, this sounds …’

 

‘Insane ? I know. But you should’ve seen it, the creature...the behemoth living here with us, hiding in the skies’

 

Claudette bit her lips concerned as she watched Kate’s ravaged look and her shivering body.

 

‘Hey, nothing will happen to you’ Claudette reached her shoulder and noticed Kate refusing her  touch.

 

‘I’m not crazy, it fucking happened. The Entity will come after me again, I need to know how to stop it. I need to look for any information that might help’

 

'So you want to start looking for Vigo? ’ Claudette asked somewhat mockingly.

 

‘YES’ 

 

‘There is absolutely no one who saw or even heard about him other than missing journal pages found randomly across the realm.’

 

‘Maybe he has a hideout...a lab, somewhere where he hides and studies the Entity’

 

‘And why would the Entity allow such a thing ?’   Claudette asked.

 

‘I DON’T KNOW, I don’t know anything.’   Kate covered her face hopeless.

 

‘Why are you here if the Entity tried to convert you?’

 

'He saved me'

 

'Who saved you?'

 

‘Ghost Face’

 

‘Why? ’ the botanist asked even more confused.

 

‘Look, I don’t know more than you do, I just need to make sure this will never happen again’

 

'Why would the Entity even try to convert you in the first place? Makes no sense at all'

 

'Well- ' Kate pondered.

 

'What? What is it?’

 

'I tried to kill him'

 

'Ghost Face?'

 

'Yes'

 

'Why?'

 

‘Really?' Kate asked unbelieving Claudette’s question.

 

‘Yes, really. We all are the obsession of a killer, we all suffer and are tormented, look at poor Laurie. But we never turned against them. It's just not in our nature. It's like... we're not capable. Because we're survivors not killers'

 

'So the Entity was right to take me. I AM a murderer'  Kate said bitterly.

 

'I didn't mean it that way. I'm sure you suffered worse than all of us, but-'

 

Kate lowered her head when she realized the cruel truth. She was the only one to actually retaliate against a killer. Claudette drew closer and began with a reassuring tone:

 

‘We will get through it, together. And if you really want to ...look for Vigo’   Claudette paused and exhaled ‘I will help you’

 

‘Why would you do that ?’   Kate’s eyes moved on the botanist’s face surprised.

 

‘Because you’re my friend and...the scientist in me is dying to uncover the secrets this realm might hold’ she smiled.

 

‘Thank you’   Kate returned the smile.

 

‘Let’s head back before they start suspecting something’s off’ Claudette gestured at the camp.

 

One of the following nights, their group was larger than usual - David, Laurie, Feng, Dwight, Adam, Ace and Meg and Kate and Claudette joined them. They were playing poker and were having fun for a while, until the incident. As Kate sat up to grab some water from the storage tent, Ace followed after her and interrupted:

 

‘Hey sweety, it’s your turn’

 

When she heard the nickname, Ghost Face’s voice rang in her head and all she could feel at that second was an untamable rage.  Kate turned at him and gritting her teeth she mumbled 'Don't call me that'  

 

'Oh, come on, I'm teasing you'   he winked at the other survivors as he placed an arm around her shoulders to bring her closer to him.

 

'I said stop fucking calling me that’   Kate yelled and yanked his collar with her other hand squeezed into a fist.

 

The whole camp looked at her stunned. Claudette’s and Feng’s faces popped out through the crowd. They were staring genuinely afraid.

 

'Woah, easy tiger' Ace raised his hands.

 

Kate released him quickly and her look jumped on Meg’s figure. She was the only one being herself, seemingly unaffected by the whole scene. She raised her head at Kate and said calmly:

 

'You need a break. Go take a walk’

 

But Kate didn’t like her condescending attitude and snapped at the athlete too.

 

‘Don’t take that tone with me’

 

‘Kate’   Claudette gestured at her to cut it out.

 

‘Trust me’   Meg resumed without facing Kate anymore ‘ You need to talk to the right person’

 

‘And that would be you?’   Kate asked sarcastically.

 

‘No! You know who that is ’ Meg moved her eyes from her cards to Kate.

 

Kate furrowed her eyebrows at Meg and wondered what she meant with that comment. Did she know something ? She was weirdly isolated for a while and everybody noticed that but no one ever dared to ask her why. She was very private about her life and she always used to go jogging late at night, when everybody would sleep.

 

Although curiosity ate her mind, she threw Meg one last suspicious glance and left the camp. The athlete was right, she needed some alone time to clear her thoughts. Staying among the survivors only triggered her. 

 

‘How ironic’   the Entity’s voice invaded her mind.

 

Kate shook her head dismissing the intruder. Since that fateful trial, she heard the Entity’s voice more often than before. It wasn’t a good sign for sure and she knew it, which is why she struggled to ignore it, but the beast was persistent. 

 

She walked as far as her legs would take her, and yet she ended up at the pond in the Red Forest. From a distance she could distinguish his silhouette. He was taking some pictures. She looked back and wished to return at the camp, but something within, something she could not control compelled her to move forward. Perhaps it was Meg’s advice, perhaps something deeper. She took a few steps and stopped again, fighting off her unhealthy behavior.

 

With another click, Ghost Face snapped one last picture of the pond and the forest behind it and being already aware of Kate’s presence, he turned the camera off and faced her.

 

‘Are you stalking me?’

 

Kate hugged her chest defensively and refused to look at him.

 

‘I don’t know why I’m here’

 

‘I didn’t ask’   he replied walking towards her.

 

His familiar energy grew in intensity with each step he took. Her heart picked up the pace, her mind was racing. As soon as he reached her she closed her eyes expecting his worst, but he walked past her. She opened her eyes quickly and saw him leaving.

 

‘Wait’   she shouted.

 

The man only moved his head and looked at her curious.

 

‘What for?’

 

‘Can I ask you something?’

 

‘Why did I save you from the Entity? ’ 

 

‘Yes’

 

‘I couldn't stand to see that pretty face of yours twist in fear and terror at the sight of someone else other than me’   he replied finally turning to face her.

 

‘You’re lying ’ Kate murmured.

 

‘I never lie while wearing this’   he tapped his mask.

 

‘So, who is the liar ? Jed?’

 

‘Anything else you need, Kate?  ' he asked with a sarcastic tone.

 

‘Fine, regardless of your reason, I want to ...thank you’   she continued.

 

‘To thank me? ’ he laughed and stopped in front of her.

 

His gloved hand gently touched her left cheek and surprisingly she let him do it. How was it that any such action or words coming from others and resembling Ghost Face’s attitude triggered her anger, but when these were coming from him, all that just fades away ? She couldn’t understand.

 

He smiled.

 

‘You really are something, Kate’   he whispered trapping her chin between two fingers ‘perhaps there’s still hope for you to stay among your friends’

 

‘What do you mean ?’   her eyes opened in excitement.

 

‘If you managed to forgive me for what I did to you, if you accept my touch after all that...there’s hope in you. There’s still something good, something we killers lack

 

‘Who said I have forgiven ? Or forgotten ?’

 

‘Then why aren’t you defensive? Why do you allow me this?’ he released her chin ‘Unless... you enjoy it’

 

‘Right’ Kate scoffed as her eyes slipped down from his mask to his left shoulder and noticed the ripped leather. She remembered the night.

 

‘I’m sorry about that’ she pointed at the ruined fabric.

 

‘No, you’re not ’ he corrected her.

 

‘Can I... ask you something else?’   Kate’s voice faltered for a second.

 

‘Sure, go ahead, I’m putting out fires all over the place lately’   he said playfully.

 

If he wouldn’t know Kate any better, he could’ve sworn he saw her smile at his obvious joke, but why did that illusion make him feel so good ? Why did it matter if she was smiling or not ? He quickly banished the annoying thought from his mind. It was too distracting.

 

'How do you deal with your anger? How do you control your rage?'

 

'Killing'

 

Kate pursed her lower lip.

 

'I can tell by your reaction, this is precisely the answer you were expecting for' he joked and then resumed ‘We keep in control our feelings and emotions by doing the Entity's bidding. Kill and sacrifice. That's why we are here'

 

'How about the survivors?'

 

'Survivors shouldn’t feel that way in the first place ’ his voice betrayed his delightment ‘But you...I suppose you’ll get over it by indulging in that pleasure you denied’

 

'What denied pleasure?'

 

'You know what I mean'

 

Kate frowned offended.

 

'Not that'   he cleared up her wrong idea 'I meant killing. You got the desire and tasted it, but you couldn't end it . Think of it this way: you teased yourself by seizing that power, feeling it, exert it over me, you made yourself believe you’d end your suffering that very moment. And yet… once you reached the peaking moment, you backed away, you denied yourself that pleasure… pretty much the same thing that happened that night here, at the pond, remember ?’   he asked in a mischievous tone.

 

Kate frowned and felt her cheeks burning.

 

'How did you feel when I left?'

 

'What?'

 

'Nobody’s going to judge, it's just the two of us.’ 

 

''You know how I felt'

 

'For the sake of my amusement, indulge me'

 

'Frustrated'

 

‘Why?'

 

'Are you enjoying this?' 

 

'Is it that obvious?'   he let out a low chuckle.

 

'What's your point? ' Kate asked annoyed.

 

'My point is that however you felt that night, frustrated and unsatisfied because you got a brief taste of what you could’ve had but didn't get it, the same way you feel about killing now. You're aching for it. And you will scratch that itch soon enough'

 

‘You mean killing someone?' 

 

'Sure, that too' he replied amused.

 

'You’re just trying to get in my head’   Kate refused to believe him.

 

‘I doubt you have any space left for me there. The Entity must’ve claimed a lot of it by now’   the man grinned.

 

‘How do you know?’   Kate gasped.

 

‘I know what you’re going through. I know all the phases you’ll experiment’

 

‘So what’s next?’   Kate rushed to ask.

 

Ghost Face smiled and bringing his mask close to Kate’s face he said playfully  ‘Wouldn’t you wanna know’ and turning around he walked away.

 

‘Please’   Kate murmured ‘I need help to stay at the camp. I can’t become one of you.’

 

Her words flew right past him. He kept moving.

 

‘You don’t want me there either. You said it yourself, you stopped the Entity so you could have me right where I am’

 

Kate noticed he wouldn’t slow down so she ran after him and with one last stop she almost choked on her own words:

 

‘Jed’   she watched his pace decreasing ‘ The other survivors are already avoiding me, are suspicious and we’re drifting away. I got… almost no one. I’m desperate. So desperate, I’m turning to my nemesis.’

 

Ghost Face stopped and felt a peculiar feeling creeping within as he heard her pleas. It almost hurt him to hear her hopeless voice. He quickly veered to the left and saw her on her knees holding her head.

 

‘No, no... not again’   Kate started to fight the Entity’s whispers out of her mind.

 

The man watched her unmoved. He knew the Entity was interfering at that moment just to test him, but his pride wouldn’t allow him to fall for that trap.

 

Soon Kate started to hallucinate. She got to see glimpses of the Entity’s true face again. Its several limbs fell upon her like restrains. They shackled her, but only in her head. She was fine in reality. The killer could see her struggling with the imaginary limbs. He realized she was tortured the same way they were.

 

‘HELP ME! ’ she cried feeling her body constricted as if a huge snake coiled around her.

 

She felt her body being pulled from the ground and twisted in unnatural, impossible ways. The physical pain she went through wasn’t just in her head although the torture was purely psychological. 

 

‘You will kill for me...Kate. You will draw blood once again. The same way you did that night and you... will.... enjoy it.’

 

‘Stoooop’   Kate yelled seeing her arms being ripped away, the blood gushing out of her shoulders, smelling it and drowning in it.

 

Even though she was twitching uncontrollably on the ground, Ghost Face refused to aid her.

 

A limb plunged straight through her chest, followed by a second one and soon they both started to pull apart her ribcage.

 

‘NOOOO! Make it stop, make it ...stooop’   Kate begged feeling her voice fading away to a weak whisper.

 

The cracking sounds of her bones breaking and splitting as the Entity’s hungry limbs slowly parted away her chest made her sick. With one last loud snap, her torso cracked open, revealing her heart and lungs. She looked down on her and blood was all she could see. Her cry dimmed down to low pants and she could feel her mind slipping away. Her vision darkened, the surroundings turned to nothing but a void, the smell of blood violently invaded her nostrils and the only thing she could hear was the word ‘kill’ religiously echoing in the back of her head.

 

She collapsed on the ground with a blank stare. Her drooling mouth sat parted away in a display of terror. She tried to reach for her chest but her hands wouldn’t obey. Her eyes moved slightly upwards and saw a shadow drawing closer.

 

‘This is merely the beginning’   Ghost Face’s voice never sounded so pleasant to her before.

 

Kate felt her eyes drowning in saltiest tears, but the sense of helplessness caused by the leviathan’s bane instantly vanished when she felt Ghost Face’s hand seizing her shoulder. He moved her on her back and grabbed her in his arms.

 

‘It will only get worse’   he said it as if that should make her feel better. 

 

Her head fell lifeless on his chest and a sense of deja-vu tested her. His chaotic energy was never as calming as it was then. Never so comforting. She never felt so safe in her entire life as she did that particular moment. Thinking about it, the weirdest thought crossed her mind. She believed nothing could hurt her in his arms, she was sure that the only one able to hurt her was him and no one else. That simple thought brought her some consolation, and hopeful, she seized his collar and squeezed the leather in her fist as if her life depended on it.

 

‘Don’t let go of me, it will take me’   she mumbled shifting through consciousness and unconsciousness.

 

Ghost Face lowered his head and saw her passing out. Her words made him feel surprisingly stronger. He felt powerful…but different than he used to.

 

When Kate opened her eyes, she was laying down on a couch, in the big lodge in the Red Forest. She couldn’t make out a lot of the details around her, just that she was surrounded by killers. She sat up, alarmed, hardly breathing, witnessing her worst nightmare becoming a reality.

 

'No, no, this is not happening’   she voiced repeatedly.

 

‘Calm down’   Anna tried to soothe her.

 

‘Don’t touch me’   Kate tried to raise her torso.

 

‘You’re still in shock...and hyperventilating. Lay down or you'll faint again’   Herman advised as he pushed her down on the couch.

 

'No, don't!'   Kate yelled terrified by his look 'What is this? Am I-? Did I...kill them?'   Kate agitated until her brain couldn't keep up with the amount of information bombing it and she dropped down unconscious.

 

'That was quick'   Evan commented but immediately stopped as everyone’s attention shifted on Ghost Face when approached the upstairs banister.

 

‘Leave! All of you.’

 

‘Just give her some water when she wakes up, she’s heavily dehydrated’   Herman advised as he followed Anna and Evan out of the lodge.

 

Ghost Face climbed down and walked around the table near the couch Kate was sleeping on. He sat vis-a-vis of her, in a large armchair, slamming his muddy boots on top of the table, rocking them left and right as he browsed the pictures on his camera.

Chapter Text

Kate’s eyes fluttered several times before opening completely. She looked at the different animal heads hung around the wooden walls. They were staring back at her in a sinister way. Above the table hung a few antlers tied together into what seemed to resemble a chandelier and the wax candles burning on top of it lightened up the big room just enough to be able to distinguish the objects around.

 

She moved her head to the right and understood where the warmth shrouding her was coming from. The fireplace was gently warming up the lodge with mesmerizing crackling sounds and dancing orange flames. Kate followed the fire hypnotized. Before her, on the other side of the table, sat a big armchair dressed in furs. Suddenly, she noticed the same fluffy furs were underneath her, gently caressing her cheek.

 

Her mouth and throat felt dry, her head ached and all her muscles felt sore. The large mug resting within her reach on the table, looked inviting. With a great effort, she raised her torso and sat up on the couch. Both hands grasped the oversized mug and she sniffed the liquid briefly. She took one shy, careful sip of it and realizing it was plain water, she gulped half of it in one mouthful. As she was still swallowing the water, her eyes jumped on the camera resting on the table.

 

Carefully, she set the mug back on the table and reached for the camera. She checked around before turning it on and then started browsing the pictures. Seconds passed by and only the clicking sound of the navigating button broke the deadly silence. Some pictures captured her attention more than others and she was so absorbed by them she didn’t notice when Ghost Face approached the couch. His voice startled her and she dropped the camera in her lap.

 

‘Do you survivors all snoop around each other's belongings or is it just you ?’

 

‘Sorry’   she grabbed the camera and placed it back on the table quickly 'Were you here this whole time ?’

 

‘Yes’

 

‘Why ?’

 

‘Cause I’m lazy’   he replied and walking around the table, he sat down in the armchair standing now face to face with her.

 

‘I see you took pictures of the killers too... specifically the women.’

 

‘At their request’

 

‘They wanted to pose like that?’   Kate asked with her mind still set on Rin’s picture sitting down in the rain, wearing her kimono with one sleeve fallen down to the elbow, revealing her wounded shoulder.

 

‘Obviously’

 

‘Why would they?’ 

 

‘To feel beautiful ? Women love to be models’   he said amused ‘ If you ask me, all of you are exhibitionists deep to your core’

 

‘Right’

 

'Do I sense some jealousy ?’   he smirked underneath the mask.

 

‘Why would I be? You took naked pictures of me’

 

‘From behind’

 

‘And that’s all you’ll ever get’   Kate's tone turned colder.

 

‘That’s all I like’   his lips stretched into a grin ‘I’ve always been an ass man’

 

That you are’   Kate frowned and wished to get up but her weak knees dragged her back down.

 

'I appreciate your gratitude for what I’ve done for you ’ he said sarcastically.

 

She looked at him bending over his knees to reach his camera, and saw him dragging it across the table slowly. With a shy voice, she interrupted him:

 

'Am I...one of you now?'  

 

His mask moved up from Philly's display and watched her few seconds in silence.

 

'What do you think?'

 

As she heard his answer she felt a knot jumping to her throat. 

 

'No'   she muttered staring down 'It can't be real... I'm not a killer, I can't do it' her speech turned rushed and agitated.

 

'Calm down'   the man stopped her 'You're still a survivor'

 

'Then, what am I doing here? Why did I see all the other killers, trying to help me?'   she whispered confused.

 

'Shocking, right? ' Ghost Face mocked her 'There are many things you don't know'

 

'So tell me. I do want to understand it all. I want to know everything, so I can fight the Entity'

 

'Fight the Entity?'   Ghost Face laughed out loud. 'I heard that before... somewhere'   he lowered his voice. 

 

'How many times have you been tortured by it?'   Kate started.

 

'One too many times'

 

'And how can you endure such pain? How do you killers… manage it?'

 

'We do what it asks of us, therefore we avoid it'

 

'But you choose sometimes to disobey the Entity, knowing what's coming to you. Why?'

 

'Because some things are worth it'   he replied.

 

'Like what?'

 

'Like killing by your own hand that one elusive and cocky survivor. Or give the hatch to that one survivor that was so good escaping or challenging you. Or… let her escape because you can't bring yourself to hurt her anymore'   he ended laying back in the armchair.

 

Kate opened her eyes wider and looked at him puzzled.

 

'Don't jump to conclusions so fast, I'm not talking about me'

 

'Then who?'

 

Ghost Face shrugged his shoulders playing fool.

 

'I want to know how I can endure that agony and never give in'

 

'So do we… well, some of us at least’   he said with a tinge of amusement ‘But till then, you stop it by doing what the Entity asks you to do. Kill!'

 

'But I can't'

 

'Yes you can. You've got that killer instinct. You may fool the others, but not me. I see you for who you truly are'

 

'If that would be true, you'd know I wouldn't hurt anymore'

 

Ghost Face withdrew his blade and placing it on the table, he pointed the blade at him and slid it towards her.

 

'You said you haven't forgiven, nor forgotten. Prove it'

 

Kate squinted at the weapon and then back at him. She had absolutely no desire to grab the knife. She still had the vivid memory of what he did to her, but she also remembered how she felt at that time, she remembered how she felt in his arms, close to his presumably hollow chest.

 

Seeing her so focused, he was convinced she was flirting with the idea and the opportunity he offered.

 

'Are you still mine, little Kate?'   he asked playfully in an attempt to annoy her.

 

She reached for the knife's handle, turned the blade around, now pointing at her and slid the weapon back at him.

 

'You show me'

 

His head cocked to the right, and the corner of his lips slightly curled upwards at her dare. He stared at the knife and then at her face. She was wearing a serious look, very confident. He almost admired her courage. ‘Damn’   he thought to himself.

 

'I'm sure you'd go through another punishment just to feed your hatred for me'   Kate continued 'Go on, complete your failed mission from Pennsylvania'

 

Ghost Face watched her quietly. Something stirred him up. The urge was growing, the memory of his repressed addiction invaded his mind. His hand was itching to take the knife.

 

'We fight dusk till dawn, endlessly, but death is never coming. This might be the only way. Perhaps that's why you're forbidden to hurt me outside the trials… cause I might die... for real'   she continued.

 

He finally grasped the weapon and standing up, he moved in front of her. Her eyes followed the knife as it carefully hid under her chin and raised her head to meet his figure. A smile washed over Kate's face.

 

'You've always been a rebel. And this would be the ultimate spit in the Entity’s face… so, finish your story, Jed'   she pinned her big blue eyes on his mask ‘ Make me yours… forever’

 

‘Oh, how beautiful you’ve put it’   he smiled and lowered his knife.

 

‘So do it’   Kate grabbed his arm with both hands and pulled herself up. 

 

She seized his collar with one hand as leverage and directed his knife to her stomach with her other hand. Her eyes glared at his pitch black sockets with a grim desire, begging him. Ghost Face lowered his head to her level thrilled.

 

‘Can you even imagine the story you’d write? ’ she whispered close to him ‘Can you imagine the legacy you’ll leave behind ? A missing journal page, lost in this realm, bearing the unique and outstanding work you carried out against the Entity’s will. Greatest defiance of all times in this cursed land’   Kate moved her face so close to his mask, her lips were practically touching it at each word.

 

With one last low whisper near the mask’s mouth, she ended:

 

‘Perfection… just how you like it’

 

Ghost Face shifted his head slightly to the right to get a better look at her. She was never as attractive before. Her clinging blue eyes hypnotized him, her soft, moving lips were never so tempting. The big brown curls cascading on her naked shoulders were perfectly framing her chiseled face. Her overconfidence reminded him of himself. He put the knife back in its sheath and removed her hand from his coat's collar.

 

‘You're playing with fire, my little Kate' he cupped her throat and pushed her aside before resuming in a colder voice 'Leave'

 

Kate broke out of her act and backed away towards the western exit of the lodge. She went through the small hall when a piece of clothing caught her eyes. The colors were too familiar. 

 

With unsure steps, she drew closer to the chair and grabbed the jacket. Her jaw dropped. Ghost Face’s steps became louder behind her and she turned at him wearing a shocked look.

 

This is Meg’s. Why… is it here ?’ her voice was shaking.

 

‘I said… leave’  the killer growled the last word.

 

'No, not until you answer me. Why is Meg's jacket here? What did you do to her?'

 

'Why do you assume I did something to her?'

 

'You're the only killer we know of to mess with us. So, what did you do to her?'

 

'Are you asking me this because you're genuinely concerned about her fate or because you'd turn out to be just another ordinary victim of mine? That you're not the only one?'

 

'How sick are you? I asked because she's one of us, and I'm worried'   Kate lied so badly her entire body betrayed her true feelings.

 

'Don't worry'   he approached Kate and stroke her left cheek 'I'm a loyal killer'   he chuckled.

 

As sickening as that reply was, it made her feel somewhat special, unique, but she wasn't going to admit it to anyone.

 

'Then, why is it here?'   she whispered curious.

 

'You shouldn't linger here any longer. We get so bored sometimes that we tend to… give in to our nefarious behaviors'   he snatched the jacket out of her hand and gestured outside.

 

Kate threw him one last squint as she walked away mostly to make sure he or anyone else wasn't going to follow her. And although she was certain he wouldn't hurt her, she also knew he was very impulsive and easily disinterested in whatever he was doing at any given moment.

 

Herman suddenly spawned behind Ghost Face and started with a mischievous tone:

 

'Feisty… that one'

 

Ghost Face tossed the jacket back on the chair and looked at him. He removed his mask.

 

' Were you watching us?'   he scowled at the doctor.

 

'Yes, I find these kind of interactions very interesting and… educational'

 

'Stop doing it'

 

'What did you do to your… little Kate that she cannot forgive you for ?'   he asked intrigued.

 

'Mind your own business'   he walked past Herman throwing him an annoyed look ‘And never call her that again’   Ghost Face mumbled as his silhouette turned smaller up the stairs.

 

'I’m just curious, you know me’   Herman chuckled ‘This… ’human interaction’ you’re experiencing might be just the medicine I need’.

 

Ghost Face stopped abruptly in the middle of the staircase.

 

‘Perhaps she gets really lonely at the survivor’s camp lately, considering her situation. I wouldn’t mind… aiding her in that regards’   he paused ‘After all, I’m specialized in human psyche’

 

The journalist veered to his right to catch a quick glimpse of Herman’s large grin.

 

‘Now, if she’ll be willing to be a grateful patient and thank me…’   he continued slapping both hands together once.

 

Herman’s words virtually bothered him. He couldn’t even remember the last time he felt such a rage boiling in his chest. The only thing he could think of at that moment was how much he would love to carve that grin on the doctor’s face for eternity. His heart raced at the thought of hurting him. Herman crossed his arms on his chest and shared Danny’s piercing gaze.

 

‘Was it good for you?’   he went further on ‘Cause I’m sure it wasn’t for her considering her lack of forgiveness for you.’

 

The man felt his blood booming in his fingertips and temples.

 

‘See, the difference with me would be that I know how to make a woman feel... great and enjoy it, unlike you, who probably had to take her against her will. Poor, poor, Kate, her brain must be a mess now. A delicious trauma for me to treat. I can make her forget everything. I can help her forget all you did to her... or that you ever existed’ seeing Ghost Face still had no comeback at his taunts he continued ‘I could make her beg for my electric touch, I could make her addicted to this pleasurable therapy. She would come willingly to me for more.’

 

Listening to every word the doctor threw at him, he felt second by second losing control over his mind. His hands were twitching in anger. He didn’t even know what bothered him anymore. Was it just the fact he would become nothing more than a suppressed memory in Kate’s mind ? Was it the fact that he would become a no one... a ghost ? Or was it simply the mental picture of Herman caressing Kate’s soft skin and her enjoying it unlike how she despised his forced touches. 

 

His thoughts rushed chaotically and it only confused him even more. He hated the mess in his head. It was so disgusting, so distracting and pathetic. He felt weakened. He felt so vulnerable. Feelings caught up with him and he was bothered beyond belief. It sickened him.

 

He took a deep breath and putting on a mild smile he finally replied to the doctor:

 

‘Good luck’   proudly seizing back control, he continued climbing the stairs up.

 

***

 

Kate walked with wry steps, slowly approaching the camp. She could easily distinguish the chatter and laughter of the survivors. She stopped near a tree and watched them. They were so happy.

 

Despite their cursed lives and unfortunate fates, they tried to make the best out of everything they had. That was Hope. The hope the Entity is feeding upon, the hope Ghost Face mentioned her survivors should always bear in their hearts. Somehow she felt like not belonging to that place. She wasn't as happy as they were. It was like the others were brainwashed to offer the Entity whatever it desired and she was the only one to break that umbilical cord. 

 

Was that it ? Were they all blinded ? Survivors to live with hope and killers with anger ? Forever bound to clash against each other in a never ending turmoil with zero explanations. Why did they never ask themselves why were they brought there ? How was it they never wondered why were they forced to follow those unwritten rules without questioning ? Killers were punished for not listening to its command and survivors were rewarded with eternal life for escaping or dying. That is all the Entity wants.

 

But why ? Why was Kate now seeing things differently? Why all of a sudden she's asking questions and wants to know more about this merciless god playing them in its cruel theater? Her eyes fell upon Meg's figure. She was silent, thoughtful. Staring at the fire lost in thoughts. She looked as miserable as Kate.

 

Perhaps Meg was feeling just like her. An outcast among the survivors. A pariah. Something similar must’ve happened to both of them that they were in the same miserable position now. What was the triggering moment for their unhappiness though?

 

She entered the camp and everyone stopped talking, now staring at her. Kate felt her face burning. Meg looked up at her.

 

'Feeling better?'   her voice surprised all of them. 

 

Kate forced a smile.

 

'Yeah, I cleared up my mind'

 

Meg knew she was lying.

 

Kate's eyes searched for Ace and with an apologetic look, she excused her previous outburst, but the man waved it off with a sincere smile and told her she's still his favorite person.

 

Blaming her exhaustion on the whole trip to the camp, she retired to her tent for some rest. Their improvised beds made out of wicker wrapped in ripped cloth were a joke to what she had slept on in the killers' lodge. But considering how mentally and physically tired she was, that bed came as a divine gift at the moment.

 

Kate opened her eyes at the violent sound of a generator blowing up somewhere close to her location. She moved out of the shack and faintly heard the grass being squished underneath her boots but couldn't really see her legs or body. It was weird. Was she in Freddy’s nightmare ? 

 

She strode with a certain destination set in her mind. She couldn't stop. 

 

Claudette and Laurie were running away from the faulty generator and although Kate yelled after them, they just looked at her and kept running as if they were being chased by some unknown or unseen attacker. One that Kate wasn’t able to see.

 

'Claudette, wait! ' she shouted but only weird, indistinctive sounds escaped her throat.

 

Kate's pace enhanced and caught up with the botanist. No matter how much she attempted to get Claudette to wait for her, the woman seemed to only run away from something. When she finally grabbed her arm and spun her around, Kate noticed her friend's aghast look. 

 

‘Don’t!’   Kate heard Claudette muttering with tears streaming down her face. 

 

What are you-’ she stopped when she realized no words came out of her mouth, only inaudible sounds. 

 

Claudette jerked in Kate’s iron grip, but suddenly the singer buried a knife in the botanist’s belly.

 

‘Fuuuck!’   Kate yelled startled at her own reaction ‘ No, no, sorry  ' she continued as she saw herself directing the knife several more times through Claudette’s stomach.

 

Her eyes fell down to her hands. She could finally see her body. Her bloodied hands, the knife in her left fist. She looked back up at her friend slowly falling down on her knees and wished to help her, to throw the knife away and apologize for what happened, but she couldn't let go to the weapon nor could she control her infectious thoughts. They drove her further on. There was a pleasure and an adrenaline she couldn’t understand but couldn’t stop from seeking it. She kept moving onto the next victim like a mindless zombie.

 

Laurie fell down next. Kate hunt her around the killer shack before she would jump onto the hopeless survivor. Laurie was crawling away from Kate, when the woman plunged the knife once in her left thigh to halt her. She straddled her and with a disturbing laughter, Kate stabbed her back five more times. Laurie’s screams violated her ears. It was unbearable, although the husk carrying the slashing seemed to enjoy it. She wanted to stop it, she felt like a witness, a simple bystander in her own uncontrollable body. It was such a confusing feeling. Even though she wanted to put a stop to it, her body didn’t listen to her, and it also seemed to have a mind of its own, another Kate. One that she could not understand. That other Kate was enjoying what she was doing. 

 

She sat up and heard a whisper in her head. The Entity’s voice letting her know the last survivor’s location. As she walked around the scrapyard, her vision turned hazy, not as clear as before. She rubbed her eyes in an attempt to recover her sight, but when she opened them again, blood started to run down her face and eyes. It was like an overflowing stream. Kate opened her mouth to breath and tried to look up, desperately searching for the source of the bloodbath. Hovering above her head was herself. It was very bizarre. She was held by the Entity’s limbs, hung like a piece of meat, eviscerated like an animal. Although her first reaction was to gag at the exposed entrails, dangling from her gapping belly, the husk she was following around stretched her lips into a large grin and opened her mouth to taste the overflowing blood. Licking her lips pleased, she prowled the last survivor.

 

Adam saw her coming very determined towards him. He was horrified to see such a small being with a knife in her hand wearing such a predatory gaze as she closed the distance between them. He wanted to reason with her, but the sight of her appearance convinced him that would be futile.

 

A raging torrent of adrenaline spread throughout her body and before he would fast vault over a window, Kate stuck the knife in his spine. The man dropped down impared. She jumped over the window and kneeling down at him, she retrieved her knife.

 

‘Kate, stop’   Adam whispered.

 

‘I will’ she gurgled though the words she thought she said didn’t come out the same way.

 

With one quick swing, she slit his throat and the blood instead of gushing out and pooling underneath him, it simply spurred out, spraying Kate’s face in an exaggerated and unrealistic way. 

 

Kate heard the Entity’s pleased growls thundering above her. She got up and suddenly saw a reflection of herself in one of the unbroken windows.

 

She approached the dirty glass and could distinguish some of her facial features. The lower half of her face was one big, wide mouth with countless shark like fangs spewing out blood. With one loud scream, she woke up panting. Her pulse was skyrocketing. She touched her face and arms before checking around startled. She was in her tent, alone. It was just a nightmare.

 

Getting up, she wiped her sweaty forehead with the back of her hand and left the tent. There was no one at the bonfire, neither in the storage where she went for a bottle of fresh water. 'They must be in trials or sleeping'   she thought still trying to shake off the dreadful images from her dream.

 

She unscrewed the bottle cap and gulped thirstily from it. It was a clear night sky. The stars were all above her, shining but easily fading in contrast to the full moon. All she was thinking at that moment was how much she wanted to leave the camp. To go somewhere else. It was ironic how feverishly she wanted to get back to her friends and the camp before, and now when she was there, she felt like leaving. She was restless. There were so many questions unanswered and the more she lingered in the camp the more questions added up.

 

Rushed steps coming out of the forest stole her attention. Her eyes darted on the figure emerging from the fog. 

 

'Kate?'   Meg spoke surprised.

 

'Where were you? ' Kate dared to ask.

 

'Running'

 

'Where?'

 

'Pretty much everywhere ' the athlete replied still trying to catch her breath.

 

'Hey… c an I ask you something?'   Kate offered her the bottle of water.

 

Meg accepted the water and reluctantly nodded at her.

 

'Did anything ...bad happen to you?'

 

'Bad?'

 

'Yes'

 

'No, why?'

 

'You seem off lately'

 

'So do you'   Meg returned 'Did something happen to you?' she asked slightly amused.

 

Flashbacks of herself forced to lay prone in the cold grass tested her sanity again. She closed her eyes and suddenly felt his fingers digging in her hips, she heard the low angry grunts he let out with each new thrust. The blinding pain in her rear and the wetness which didn't help her at easing that pain. She twitched at the memory.

 

'Kate?'

 

The singer shook her head vigorously in denial. Meg let out a low scoff as if she knew Kate lied but moved on to her own place.

 

Back at the killer camp, Anna was preparing some rabbit meat at the fireplace, Evan was cleaning up his bear traps while Herman read a book in the large armchair. Rin moved around the room, bringing more chairs at the table for the dinner that was about to be served.

 

Herman chuckled louder than he realized at a certain paragraph in his book.

 

'What's so funny?'   Rin asked as she placed one last chair.

 

' Human stupidity'   he replied without taking his eyes off the book.

 

Rin ignored his reply and he didn't seem too affected by that, he clearly had no intention of debating the matter with the rest of them.

 

'Evan, can you get Danny too?' 

 

'I'll do it'   Rin jumped enthusiastic to everyone's surprise.

 

Evan stopped brushing the trap’s metal teeth. Herman even paused from his reading to look at her almost running up the stairs. Rin gently knocked on the door a couple of times and heard movement behind the closed door. Ghost Face unlocked the door and leaning his right shoulder against the door's frame he asked:

 

'Anything you need?'

 

Rin's white eyes fell down slightly abashed. She felt his burning gaze upon her.

 

'Anna asked you to join us for dinner'

 

'I'm not really hungry'   he said coldly and wished to get back in when Rin grabbed his forearm and stopped him.

 

'Please'

 

He stared at her scarred hand and she withdrew it immediately.

 

'We'd like you to be there too'

 

'We? Or you?'  he smirked.

 

Rin felt her face bursting in flames despite her skin being colder than ice. He moved out in the hall and climbed down closely followed by Rin. Herman stretched his lips in an impish smile. He was cooking something too.

 

Sally and Philip entered the lodge and they were engaged in an argument.

 

'Are you going to eat too? ' Anna asked.

 

The two killers shared a quick glance and agreed to join them.

 

'Well, we still need one more chair…'   Rin looked around worried.

 

Danny walked in the small hall close to them and grabbed Meg's jacket and the chair. He kicked the chair into place and threw the jacket into Evan's face.

 

' Clean up your mess before leaving'

 

The others looked at Evan judgmental. They weren't happy with his sloppiness.

 

'Did Kate see it?'

 

'Obviously'   the journalist replied straddling the chair he just brought.

 

The other killers threw another angered look at Evan.

 

'Maybe you shouldn't have brought her here'   Evan reasoned.

 

'He has a point too'   Herman jumped in and Ghost Face shifted his eyes on his face 'Why did you do it anyway?'

 

'She was tortured by the Entity, she fainted and I was there. This was closer than her camp'   the man explained.

 

'Oh, you big softie'   Herman mocked him ' I thought you didn't care about anything or anyone'

 

'I don't'

 

'Except her'

 

Rin looked at the journalist slightly disappointed. Herman’s keen eye quickly caught her reaction.

 

'Cut it out Herman, you would've done the same'   Sally rebuked him.

 

'Probably, probably not'

 

' You would, that's why you're here with the rest of us'

 

The doctor shrugged his shoulders.

 

'The point is'   Danny started again ' If you want privacy and less people to know about what's going on in here, you better make sure there is nothing around to instill doubt in them'

 

'First of all, there shouldn't be survivors here… with the known exceptions of course'   Evan argued.

 

'What's that have to do with your reckless action?'   Ghost Face challenged him as he took a bite of the roasted meat.

 

'Evan, I'm not siding with anyone, but he is right. You should be more careful ' Sally added  'Assume a survivor ends up here by mistake. We should be covered.'

 

'Fine'   the man replied annoyed 'It won't happen again'

 

Silence reigned for several seconds while everyone was savoring the rabbit meat. Herman tossed one clean leg bone on the table and refitting his voice he resumed.

 

'Now, going back to you and Kate'

 

'Stop it Herman ' Philip finally interfered as he was the mediator in most of their arguments.

 

'No, no, seriously now. Did you help her cause you feel guilty?'

 

'Guilty for what?'   Danny asked.

 

'You tell us. What did you do to her that she can't forgive you for? I heard you two talking. Something happened between you two. Care to share that to your fellow killers?'

 

'It doesn't concern you'

 

'Didn't we agree on full transparency when we started this… project?'

 

' This won't help any of you-'

 

'Did you perhaps assault her?'

 

'What?'   Anna asked surprised and the others shared her outrageous stare.

 

'Did you hurt her outside the trials?’   Philip asked serious.

 

'No'

 

'Not really hurt her physically, although it involved a lot of physical contact, didn't it?'   Herman grinned.

 

'You didn't'   Sally whispered shocked.

 

'He didn't what?'   Anna asked oblivious.

 

'Our Danny boy here-'

 

'Stop it, Herman '  Wraith interrupted him gesturing at Anna 'Not now'

 

'What? What happened? ' Anna asked curious.

 

'Nothing dear'   Herman smiled at her 'He just hurt her… irreversibly'

 

'What does that mean?'

 

'He broke her mentally'

 

'How?’

 

'Enough already ' Rin yelled standing up ' You didn't even give him the chance of explaining himself, you all jumped at his throat like a pack of wolves'

 

'By all means'   Herman complied and gestured at the journalist 'Enlighten us'

 

Ghost Face refused to speak so everyone went completely silent. 

 

Rin sat up and left. Anna looked at him confused. She didn't fully understand what they were talking about but it seemed they were right about Danny since he didn't protest it.


'Well, this was an amazing dinner. I just love our little dysfunctional family we got here'   Herman savored one last bite of his rabbit and went back to his book.

Chapter Text

Ghost Face Concept Art (my interpretation based on the small image on his driver's license)


 

Ghost Face sat on the balcony, bent over the wooden banister staring down at the quiet Red Forest. Few dark agents of the Entity cawed in a nearby tree. He threw a quick irked look at the black birds then looked away. Rin approached the balcony, but stopped before stepping out in the open to join him. She felt her heart hastening. He straightened his back, looked behind and smiled at her shy attitude before grasping the banister in his palms and greet her.

 

‘Hi Rin’

 

She snapped out of her trance and came to his right, looking at the forest too. He knew why she was there and decided to break the ice, knowing she would never do it on her own.

 

‘You can ask me’

 

Rin’s head twitched in surprise. She bit her lower lip.

 

‘Is it true?’

 

‘Yes’

 

‘Why? Why did you do it?’

 

He moved his head away from her face back on the forest and replied:

 

‘Because, I wanted to ruin her. To destroy her’

 

‘Why?’   Rin’s low voice echoed.

 

‘I wanted to see her powerless, hopeless, broken’   he shared Rin’s glance.

 

‘But why her?’

 

‘Back when we were out there, in our… world, she was going to be one of my targets. I prepared it in detail. I knew where it would happen, how it would happen. I thought about it so much. I wanted it to be perfect so I stalked her the longest. The more I did that, the more I grew to hate her. Unfortunately, due to unexpected events, I had to leave the state so she got away. I never forgot her though. Her perfect life, her fame, her friends and life. So happy and joyful. She felt invincible and untouchable. She was the center of attention wherever she went. She was the spirit of any party or gathering. She had everything and it was served on a plate to her. Just another spoiled… rich… bitch.’   he paused to check Rin’s reaction but she was attentively listening to him, mesmerized, so he continued ‘When the Entity came after me, I heard this scream. A woman’s scream… hers. I couldn’t deny such opportunity so I came willingly. I wanted to finish my job. However, once I understood what this place was I began to enjoy it more than what I had planned for her. I had the time and resources to torture her for eternity without a repercussion. Suddenly, the thought of having her suffering forever, of stealing everything she had one by one: friends, trust, control, hope… it turned out to be much more enjoyable than killing her. So one night I went after her, waited for her to leave the safety of the camp and I did it.’ he ended with a smile.

 

Rin looked in his eyes. They definitely gave up a hint of cunningness, but overall they looked so humane, sometimes warm. She watched his smile and couldn’t tell if he was faking it or was genuine, but he sure could act charismatic even when he related such disturbing details. 

 

‘Did you… do it to others?’   Rin asked worried barely looking him in the eye.

 

The man chuckled, amused by her question.

 

‘I’m not a rapist'   he cleared it up.

 

She looked at him distrustful.

 

‘You know what I mean. That was… different. It served a different purpose, it was the result of different feelings, the end goal was another one.’

 

‘Did you not enjoy it ?’   she asked him.

 

‘I did enjoy it. Cause I knew how much that will hurt her, how much it will screw her up.'

 

‘I meant… physically’

 

He smirked briefly as he peeked at Rin’s visibly embarrassed stare.

 

‘Sure, I enjoyed it both... physically and mentally, but only because I knew what that will do to her. If you really need to know all details… it was a hate fuck. How much can you enjoy that really?’

 

‘I didn’t need to know that’

 

‘Then why did you ask?’

 

‘I just asked if you enjoyed forcing yourself upon her, cause that would make you a rapist’

 

‘No, that’s not why I enjoyed it, nor the reason I did it. I don’t need to assert my dominance or power over women to feel strong.’   he shifted and faced her ‘You’re worried I would do the same to you or someone else here ?’

 

‘N-no, I didn’t mean-’   Rin stuttered.

 

‘Sure you are’   he smiled ‘ But I never did that before or to someone else. I’m a killer Rin, not anything else, although I can see how my answer bothers you’

 

‘What are you talking about?’

 

‘I’m not saying you’d want to experience such a traumatic event, but you were thinking about a consensual one.’

 

‘That’s not-, I didn’t- ’ Rin felt her face on fire and didn't dare to face him.

 

‘The thing with me Rin is that I read people. It’s my… gift. And I know why you came here in the first place’ he moved closer to her ‘ You wanted to make sure I’m not some kind of a creep, a disgusting piece of garbage forcing women to sleep with him, because you see… that would be such a travesty in this realm. We accept murderers, cannibals, pedophiles, deranged doctors and vengeful souls, but God forbid a rapist would join these pristine moral ranks, right ? Cause even these trash people that the Entity tossed in this huge dump have some standards. You couldn’t fuck a rapist, could you?’   Ghost Face pinched her chin to force her look him in the eyes ‘Am I right, Rin?’

 

The woman gulped embarrassed and started quivering in fear.

 

‘Get over yourself, we’re all a bunch of shitty people’   he released her chin with a vigorous push almost annoyed ‘ You can sleep assured nothing will happen to you, consensual or non-consensual.’

 

‘Danny’   Rin’s voice cracked ‘ It wasn't my intention to insult you. I never implied such a vile thing about you. I was the one to stand up for you that night.’

 

‘You think I care what you think of me ? Or anyone else ? You think for a second I busy my brain with the likes of you?’   the man laughed.

 

***

 

It was late, at least that's what it seemed to them. Kate sat right outside of the storage and watched the others eating. She didn't want to join them. Lots of questions and thoughts raced through her mind. Her eyes shifted abruptly on Meg's figure. The athlete was sitting down on the cold ground and played with the fork in her plate, moving the food from one side to the other. Kate wondered what she was thinking about because she was clearly lost in thoughts. A loud giggle caught her attention.

 

Laurie punched David's shoulder once she stopped laughing and the man gave her a gentle nudge with his left elbow. Kate's eyes returned on Meg and looked surprised to see the other girl staring back at her while she sat up. With a serious look she set the plate down and stretched her legs for a while before she left. Kate's eyes followed her silhouette losing itself in the thick forest. This was her chance.

 

'Are you sure you don't want some? ' Claudette asked interrupting Kate's momentum.

 

'Yeah, I'm fine'   she looked desperately at the woods.

 

'Feeling okay lately?'   the botanist asked concerned.

 

Kate recalled her nightmares where she was killing her fellow survivors. She felt so weird and guilty to talk to them as if everything was fine when she was daily envisioning them dead and laughing maniacally as her knife slashed them.

 

'I'm good'

 

'Did he do something again?'

 

'I haven't seen him for days'   Kate whispered almost to herself.

 

'Aren't you glad?'   Claudette asked surprised to see Kate dispirited.

 

A vivid flashback of his arms carrying her to safety dazed her. She remembered his intoxicating energy, the smell of wet leather and death, his slow breaths underneath his mask, his touch when she collapsed on the ground after her torture. She remembered when she woke up in their camp the second time and it was just him. He probably asked the others to leave to give her peace of mind. She remembered how he lowered his knife when she literally begged him to end her life. Suddenly, the violent memory of his slap when he caught her that night dismissed all her pleasant flashbacks for a split second. But then again, that same hand that hurt her, that stole intimate touches and discovered her body without permission was the same one it caressed her cheeks in a curiously careful yet sick manner. The fathom sensation of his fingers brushing against her lips back at the pond caused her to touch her own mouth.

 

'Kate?'

 

'Yeah, I'm very grateful’ she hurried.

 

Why would she think that way about him? Why did she miss his touch? Not just miss it, but craving it. She gulped at the memory of his words back at the pond and refitting her voice she interrupted Claudette:

 

'I'm going for a walk'

 

'Be careful’ the botanist yelled after her.

 

She practically ran away from their camp. It was as if the others could read her mind and see the perversity crossing it. Kate rushed after Meg, hoping to catch up to her but the athlete was fast and careful to cover her tracks. She made peace with losing her and her thoughts quickly drifted towards him again. For quite a while, she thought about paying a visit to the killer camp so she followed the road to the Red Forest. Soon, she recognized Meg's figure walking with a determined pace towards the big lodge. 

 

Kate hid behind a tree when she saw the other girl pausing to check the surroundings. The fog helped Kate tremendously at sneaking on the location undetected. When she reached the lodge, Kate saw Meg walking inside without a worry. She checked the balcony and seeing it abandoned, she dashed forward at a window. Silently, she raised her head just enough to spy inside. Meg sat next to the big table in the center of the room with Evan, Philip and Rin. Evan was unmasked. Such an unusual sight for Kate. Killers never reveal their faces to survivors. 

 

She struggled to see him, but she didn't want to risk giving away her hideout so she complied to catching slim glimpses of Evan's figure. They were all slouching over the table, staring at something. It looked like a huge map.

 

Meg pointed at something on the yellowish piece of paper and the others nodded their heads. Kate couldn't make out anything from their low voices. Only indistinctive whispers reached out her ears no matter how much she strained to listen. Philip used a piece of chalk and marked an area on the map, but Rin immediately shook her head apparently disapproving his decision and then she pointed at another location. Meg straightened her back and crossed her arms on her chest. She bit one of her nails thoughtful. Evan pulled himself away from the table and stared at the map.

 

The next thing Kate saw disturbed her more than the fact Meg was presumably plotting something with the killers. She saw the athlete marking an area with the piece of chalk Philip offered and said something. The other killers all shook their heads in a clear denial. Meg seemed to debate on that matter until Evan reached her face. His hand glided over her red braids almost petting her. Meg caught his hand in her palms and tried to reason with him. She drew closer to the hulking man and placing a small hand over his chest, she looked up at him.

 

Philip seemed to take Meg's side because she gestured at him cheerful before returning her face at Evan. The man continued to refuse the deal, shaking his head vigorously. Meg tapped the map a couple of times and said something and the other two killers. Unexpectedly, Evan caught her chin between his thumb and index finger and leaned over her face. She completed the other half of the distance and kissed him, always nodding and whispering words that were meant to reassure the man she's going to be fine, all the while he was denying her plan.

 

Kate tried to pull away from the window in shock when a hand wrapped around her mouth and dragged her away. Her words came out muffled. She tried to catch a quick glimpse of the attacker, but a low whisper in her ear betrayed his identity.

 

'Do you know what happened to the curious cat?'

 

Kate's heart jumped in her throat. Adrenaline rippled through her veins. She could finally see him. That unmistakable face, bearing an eternal large grin.

 

'Be a good girl and stop fighting me. You wouldn't want the others to be aware of your presence. They could get quite territorial and overprotective.'

 

Kate felt his other hand shamelessly moving up on her hips and her stomach instantly twisted in coils. 

 

'Let's find a more private place'   he dragged her away forcing her to stumble on her feet.

 

She kept fighting his hand off her mouth, wiggling her entire body in his tight embrace. He forcefully shoved her between two stacks of large logs further away from the lodge. He shifts her around to face her. He still keeps his hand over her mouth but brings the other one in her hair, playing with her curls, carefully moving them behind her ear. Her eyes opened in fear at his sight and touch.

 

'I can see why he likes you'   Herman said in a slightly amused tone 'You're a feisty one'

 

Kate didn't listen to him and kept attempting an escape when he pushed his large body against hers to force her in place. She froze between him and the damp logs. His energy was so similar to Ghost Face’s, yet so different. It was like each killer had a certain signature energy, as if their auras bore a fingerprint of their character and personality. Herman’s was constantly overwhelming but very measured, it was almost like it could be described through a mathematical equation, very precise and determined, whereas Ghost Face’s aura started calmly and persistent just to end into a chaotic and wild, very much passionate and artistic way.

 

'I'm going to let go to my hand and I strongly advise you to refrain from screaming because this place is stacked with people willing to hurt you. Do we have a deal?'

 

Kate nodded slowly and he released her mouth. 

 

'Such an obedient girl'   he caressed her right cheek with two fingers.

 

'He would help me'   Kate dared to speak staring into his wide eyes.

 

'You think so?'   he asked amused.

 

'He helped me before. He is so selfish and self centered he couldn't allow you to become one of my fears. He would stop you ' Kate winced when she saw his hand raising.

 

'Pity he’s in a trial now. Before he finishes it, I'd be long finished with you'

 

Kate swallowed with difficulty as she heard him.

 

'Are you here for him by any chance? ' the man asked serious slowly watching his own fingers grazing across her right arm.

 

Kate looked away and quivered at the touch. She was disgusted.

 

'Stop'   she mumbled.

 

'Answer the question'   he sent a low shock down her spine forcing a pleasant feeling in her.

 

Kate closed her eyes at the tingling sensation and suddenly felt sick. Her head was spinning, everything became a blur. It was so surreal, everything she witnessed in the lodge and what was happening to her at that moment it had to be a dream. She squeezed her eyes pinning her hopes on waking up at their camp.

 

'You should stop torturing yourself my dear’   his voice toned down a little ‘I understand why you seek him out, but I got an alternative’

 

'I don't need anything from you'   Kate jerked again in his arms.

 

'Listen to me’   he grabbed one side of her head ‘I could make you forget everything he did to you'

 

She looked up at him suddenly intrigued.

 

'I see I caught your attention'   he said pleased 'Would you like to have no recollection of that night? Would you like to regain your power?'

 

Kate's lips parted away and trembled.

 

'Imagine he has no control over you anymore, he's just another killer to you. You’ll be yourself again'

 

She started to feel the static of the therapy in his fingertips. The sensation in her brain almost drugged her. She closed her eyes half way, as if she fell under anesthesia only hearing the hypnotizing buzzing near her face. 

 

'Let me see that memory'   he guided her.

 

In what it felt like a split second Herman could see and feel all her synapses activating at the memory. She shrugged when she recalled Ghost Face's hard slap across her face and started to breathe harder when she felt her knees hitting the cold grass.

 

'That's it, dear'   he whispered.

 

Kate relived the rest of it and soon different neural connections lit up in her brain like Christmas lights. She wished to stop the trail of sensations, but it was too late. Herman smirked at what he saw.

 

'Stop it, don't do it ' she pushed his hands away from her temples.

 

'Interesting'   he replied as he took note of Kate's body reaction to each particular action Ghost Face did.

 

Not only she was hiding a dark secret about that whole ordeal, but every time she would reiterate step by step of her abuse, her body would react to it. That hard slap triggered a void in her guts, the moment he pushed her down on the ground her heart raced and tension built up down her slit. The sound of his pants being unbuckled caused her inner walls to contract in anticipation. Her thighs would come together and press against each other in an attempt to control the throbbing feeling between her legs at the thought of him testing her entrance. 

 

Herman looked down at her legs.

 

' Very interesting ' he remarked fascinated ‘This Pavlovian response in humans is amazing’

 

‘What ?’

 

‘Never heard of Pavlov's dog?’

 

‘No’   Kate tried to catch her breath.

 

‘It's this experiment where Pavlov's dog got examined while receiving food. Pavlov noticed the dog started salivating for food before he would even see or receive the food. He salivated at the sound of the assistant's footsteps bringing the food. Later on, Pavlov introduced a metronome and before food would be delivered to the dog, the metronome would let out a clicking sound. Soon the dog started to salivate at the sound of that click. He learned a new connection between food and metronome. The animal reacted to a stimulus before actually receiving the food and eat it. Similarly, you’re associating his gestures with that final act. Every slap you might get, every hand you’d feel exploring your body would take you back to that memory and your body starts to react to it’

 

‘Are you comparing me to an animal?’

 

‘A much more complex animal, yes’

 

‘You, killers, are animals’   Kate managed to push him one step behind but the doctor caught her head between his hands and pinned her again.

 

‘I’ll leave that memory untampered because I can see how much you treasure it’   he laughed at her ‘But I can’t let you go with what you saw here’ she could hear a sizzling loud sound in both her ears as his fingertips pressed on several points of her skull and she charged right into his body.

 

He backed away several steps and saw her dashing to the right. He rushed after her dodging the tall trees in his way. Kate checked behind her and seeing the doctor was tailing her, she felt the same fear she used to feel during the trials. Suddenly she hit something solid which forced her to look in front of her.

 

‘Jed?’   her labored breath suppressed her voice.

 

The man grabbed her shoulders and pushed her away from him when he saw Herman approaching.

 

‘What’s going on?’   Ghost Face asked but Kate already sprang away.

 

‘Catch her and bring her back to our camp. She saw them’   Herman gestured at Kate.

 

Ghost Face turned around and with an annoyed sigh he followed Kate’s trail. He quickened his pace and saw her bolting through a couple of bushes. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw him shortening the distance between them and already feeling the impact of her intensive trekking on such a difficult terrain her knees started to give up. 

 

The woods had some slopes and the latest rainy days made it nearly impossible to reach certain areas. Her boots slipped on several occasions and she barely managed to regain her balance a couple of times but in one moment of distraction as she checked on him, her left foot stepped over a wet root and she fell down in the mud.

 

She heard his boots burying themselves in the deep wet dirt and the second she jumped to her feet to get away from his reach, he snatched her right arm and pulled her to his direction.

 

‘NO’   she cried ‘You won’t take me back there’

 

‘What did you see ?’   he asked without releasing her.

 

Kate stared at his mask completely silent, for a second forgetting to breath and then resumed panting. She fought his grasp and saw his gloved hand slipped from her clammy forearm. She dashed to a side but fell down again. He walked at her and hopped on top of her, placing one knee on each side of her hips. Kate gulped in a familiar fear and started to crawl away when she saw his hand grabbing her throat.

 

‘What did you see ?’  he echoed.

 

‘Meg...and the others’   she muttered shivering underneath his weight ‘ They were talking and pointing something on a map and…’

 

‘And?’

 

‘Meg and Trapper’

 

Ghost Face lowered his head as if he didn’t want to hear that.

 

'Alright, get up'

 

‘NO’   she yelled and hit his hand escaping his choking.

 

Kate attempted to crawl away but he filled his hand with few of her brown locks of hair and pulled her up inflicting a burning sensation in her scalp. She came crashing onto his body.

 

'Do I really need to use force?'

 

'Like that would be a first'   she pushed him and tried to sprint away.

 

Ghost Face took two long strides and seized her scruff. He kicked her legs once and she fell down in the mud splashing her clothes and face with the dirty water that pooled in one small pothole.

 

He pushed onto her neck, forcing her down on her stomach. She struggled to protect her face from meeting the chunks of mud and soon felt his right arm grappling around her throat. He trapped her throat in the pit of his elbow and pulled her back against his chest. She arched her spine in an attempt to push away when his voice hissed in her ear:

 

'It's been a while'

 

'Don't touch me’   Kate strifed in his pin although pressure started building up down her crotch, instantly realizing what the doctor meant by Pavlovian’s response.

 

'I haven't had such fun in a while, and you've always been my favorite prey. What do you say we play a game, for old times’ sake?   he hummed.

 

'If you believe for one second I'll let this happen without putting up a fight, you're delusional'   Kate grunted as she tried to release herself from his arm.

 

'Oh, I'm counting on it'   he replied enticed.

 

Kate grabbed his forearm with both hands and she bit onto it. The man let out a low growl. She could taste sweat and blood on her tongue once she let go of his leather coat. She pushed onto her feet and tried to dash forward when he caught her ankle and pulled her back under him. Kate turned on her back and kicked his chest but all she managed to do was get both her legs captured. She hassled to keep them close together, but he forcefully spread them open and seizing her jeans’ waistband, he brought her back under him.

 

'Stop it'   she could feel his energy pulling her whole body towards him, draining all her sanity and that last drop of control she might’ve possessed just like a black-hole devouring all matter around it.

 

'Make me'   he laughed.

 

She stared at his mask speechless. A distant caw broke the deadly silence that reigned for what it felt like an eternity to her. She looked defeated.

 

'Are you done?'   he spoke in a low tone although his rapid breathing was coming out in louder huffs.

 

Kate nimbly raised her torso and threw a right hook which he easily parried. He pushed her hand away and smacked her face sending her back on the ground. She massaged her jaw and felt her entire face stinging. 

 

'Now, let's do this'   he reached for her shirt.

 

'No, I won't let you do it again'   Kate roared as she pulled herself away from his grasp causing a couple of buttons from her shirt to fly in different directions.

 

'I meant going back at the camp'   his eyes lowered down on her exposed sweaty chest.

 

She instantly covered her bra with both arms and shifting on a side she went prone before clawing her way out.

 

The man sat up and exhaled tired. Kate could hear him approaching her and quickly felt his hand around her neck, helping her up. She let herself being brought back on her feet and he turned her around to face her. She was so dirty. Mud covered her face, her hair, her clothes and now her chest. He looked at her captivated.

 

'You've always been a troublemaker’   he reached out for one of his coat’s gravitating straps and ripped it.

 

He caught one of her wrists and with an undeniable dexterity, he secured her hands with a serious knot. Kate understood it wasn’t the first time he did such a thing. He then grabbed her thighs and hoisted her over his shoulder.

 

'What the hell are you doing?'   she yelled hardly hitting his back 'Put me down right now'

 

He responded by tightening his arm around her waist and because she was wiggling her body like a helpless fish on shore, his right hand climbing up her thighs to tame her restive legs. She quickly settled down. 

 

He moved so much better and easier than her around the forest, and she realized it was because his boots had a better grip in such challenging environments. It was curious how well prepared he was for anything that realm threw at him.

 

'This is all your fault'   she muttered.

 

'How is it my fault you were there tonight?'   he asked amused.

 

‘Because-’   she stopped and stared at the long straps floating around him.

 

‘Why were you there?’   he asked already suspecting her reason.

 

'I- wanted to talk to you'   she said shyly.

 

'Talk? What could we talk about?'   he considerately slowed down his pace knowing they were approaching the killers’ camp.

 

'Really? After everything you did... you fucking owe me this much'   she raised her voice.

 

'I don't owe you a thing’   Ghost Face scoffed as he carefully dodged a tree to fend Kate's body from impact.

 

Just when she thought to herself what a nice gesture that was, he tossed her down on the ground as if she was a bag of potatoes.

 

'You will listen to me'   Kate snapped and jumped up.

 

'Or what?'   he stopped in front of her, towering her.

 

'You owe me an explanation for your hateful act'   Kate toned down her voice and felt a shiver riding down her spine as her vision was entirely cut off by his body.

 

'No Kate, I don't-'   he tilted his head.

 

'You made me feel worthless, you… used me, like I was some cheap whore. Do you feel stronger by stripping women of their power?'

 

'You seem to mistake my act for a rape. This wasn’t for my pleasure… well’   he chuckled  ‘It was definitely pleasant, but my pleasure is your pain… your mental pain.' 

 

‘It was rape’   Kate shouted enraged.

 

‘Was it really?’   he leaned over her face and arrogantly asked in a whisper.

 

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ she didn’t dare to look at him.

 

‘Look, I tried to be a gentleman’   even for him that word was funny in such context and his voice betrayed his true opinion on his ironic choice of words ‘I tried to let you live in your own lie, denying the truth and obfuscate it with these pretended acts and forced spiteful words, when in fact we both know the reality of that night’

 

Kate gulped feeling the tips of her ears bursting into flames. He couldn’t know. There was no way he could’ve realized how she felt close to the end.

 

‘Look me in the eyes and deny it’   he brought a hand to his mask and to Kate’s awe he took it off along with his hood.

 

Suddenly time stood still. Kate’s heart ceased to beat. Her breath paused. Her eyes finally locked on his true identity. Her lips sputtered at the sight. His messy brown hair was slightly falling over his sweaty forehead. His dark brown eyes saw deeper into her soul with each blink. His high cheekbones complemented by the rough, strong jawline never made a man look so masculine and authoritative. The second his lips stretched into a contradictive charming and cunning smirk, Kate lost her senses. Her breath resumed in one prolonged gasp.

 

‘Well’   he raised his right hand and cupped her jaw forcing her to share his look ‘Deny it’

 

Still in shock Kate couldn’t find her voice. She was stuck on his eyes, on his lips.

 

"Buck and Wild, / Swing to be free, / Your hands just can't keep ahold of me."   Ghost Face recited slowly as he leaned onto her face.

 

Kate felt his hot breath down on her neck and the gap in her stomach seemed to have stolen her ability to articulate any word.

 

‘That’s why I did it’   the man released her jaw ‘ To prove to you how full of shit you are’

 

She coughed once to regain her voice and whispered slightly afraid to argue with him.

 

‘That’s not what the song is about. I’m not singing about being controlled physically‘ she muttered.

 

‘Did you just insult my intelligence ? ’ the man smiled briefly.

 

‘N-no ’ she stuttered feeling her heart desperately trying to escape her chest.

 

She noticed his eyes slowly dropping down on her heaving chest. Her rib-cage swollen even harder. She brought her tied hands under her chin to cover herself, but he grabbed the binding and pushed her hands back down enabling himself to grab hold of her open shirt.

 

'Please, let me go'   she begged throwing him a quick squint 'He's going to erase my memory… all of it' she emphasized her words.

 

'Wouldn't you be happier?'   his hands reached her collarbone and gently gliding his fingers across the neckline, he seized each side of her shirt’s collar. 

 

'I don't want to forget anything'   she muttered.

 

'Why not? ' he moved his hands down her breasts intentionally allowing them to graze her bare skin and meticulously started buttoning her shirt. Kate looked breathless at his hands and then up at his face. She still couldn’t believe that man did everything she saw and read about. Although some of his features could hint his cunningness and malice, such as his keen eyes and that condescending, playful, almost sadistic smile, Kate admitted he looked mostly like a normal guy… even handsome.

 

'What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger'   she fret her hands.

 

'That's bullshit and you of all people should know it by now. What doesn't kill you, fucks you up to no redemption'   he grabbed her right arm and pushed her forward, towards the lodge 'See exhibit A' he gestured at her.

 

Kate yanked her arm forcefully like an untamed mustang trying to set free when he pushed her closer and she suddenly behaved herself for the rest of the walk.

 

'Go on'   he gave her a nudge towards the entrance.

 

'I'm scared'   Kate finally turned around shaking from all joints with her big cerulean eyes begging for his mercy.

 

'He won't hurt you'   his eyes stopped on her trembling lips.

 

'What if I forget everything? My friends, this place, how to survive here... even... you?'   she said the last word in a lower voice.

 

'Don't worry my little Kate'   he leaned over with an enchanting smile which ultimately became Kate's Novocaine 'I'm very good at making memories' he resumed as he guided her inside.

 

Getting closer to the entrance, her heart precipitated, her whole senses went haywire as she felt so many different energies hoarded together in one single place. As soon as she entered the lodge, the clamoring inside abruptly cut off and everyone stopped what they were doing.

 

Anna lowered the butchering knife she was using to chop some unfortunate rabbits, Philip and Sally turned their heads from the map towards Kate, Rin froze on the stairway staring at the young woman somehow bothered by her presence, Herman raised his head from the same book he was reading and turned interested at Kate, and Evan, now masked, stepped out from the shadows. She felt like a baby deer surrounded by a bloodthirsty pack of wolves. Their gazes almost pierced her skin. Suddenly, her only beacon of hope emerged behind Evan, only the athlete’s face foretold something dreadful instead of soothing her.

Chapter Text

(Flashback)

 

He sat in the car, laid back on the driver's seat, one hand still attached to the bottom of the wheel, as if he forgot it there for hours. His eyes shifted from the rear mirror to the window next to the passenger seat and stared concentrated at a woman getting out of a diner. She had a large smile on her face as she walked out the door and shook her head twice to readjust her brown curly locks of hair. His back tensed against the seat and his hand instinctively squeezed the steering wheel. He felt the urge growing within second by second as his eyes laid upon her joyful face. 

 

She walked to her car, constantly looking in her phone. She was so distracted by it that the moment she engaged in crossing the street, a hard break brought her back to reality. She looked at the driver startled and tried to apologise but the man, clearly spooked, yelled at her and called her names before driving away. 

 

He flinched at the sight of that near miss. He was quite glad she got away unharmed. The woman opened the car's door when someone interrupted her. She turned around all happy and greeted the other woman. The stranger asked her to take a photo together and she gladly accepted. She proceeded signing a piece of paper for the fan and shared a few more words, when a violent knock interrupted the stalking man.

 

He turned his head to his window and saw a police officer gesturing to lower the window. He quickly obliged and with a mild smile he asked:

 

'Is there a problem, officer?'

 

'What are you doing here, mister?'

 

'Just… you know, taking a break'   he continued looking up at the police officer.

 

'A break from what?'

 

At this point, the man started to feel slightly anxious yet a bit adventurous. With a low chuckle, he brought his other hand on top of the wheel and continued.

 

'Am I doing something illegal?'

 

'Answer the question'

 

'I've been traveling for a while, I felt a bit sleepy so I had to take a break. Quite dangerous to drive exhausted'   he added with a smile.

 

The police officer placed his right hand on top of the car and leaned down the window to better see inside the car and the man at the wheel.

 

'Right, very dangerous. Where are you driving from?'

 

'Ohio'

 

'Quite a trip'

 

'Eh'   he shrugged 'Not a long trip, but still tiring'

 

'Business in town or pleasure?'   the police officer continued the interrogation.

 

The man scoffed at this point and became bolder.

 

'I'm sorry officer, is there a problem?'

 

'Just answer the question mister'

 

He exhaled pretending to be tired and replied 'Pleasure… sir. Just a break… from work'   he ended with a small smile.

 

'Can I see your license and registration please?'

 

'Sure'   his heart beat intensified as he reached for the glove compartment.

 

He reached for its contents, slightly moving around the items, carefully concealing the hunting knife and the leather gloves. He pulled out the registration and handed it together with the driver's license.

 

The officer examined them for a few seconds while the man threw a fast squint at the woman he was following. She was now in her car and drove off.

 

'Mister Johnson, I suggest that you take a night at a motel and hit the road early in the morning, just to be safe'   the officer handed his documents back 'After all, we don't want you or anyone else be harmed'

 

'No sir, we don't ' he smiled 'I'll be on my way then'

 

'Enjoy your vacation, mister Johnson'   the officer pulled back and looked at him very serious, even threatening in Danny's eyes.

 

'May I ask something?'   he ventured.

 

The officer crossed his arms on his chest and nodded, though he seemed uncooperative.

 

'Is there something… foul going on here? '

 

'What do you mean by foul, mister Johnson?'   the man asked intrigued by his question.

 

'Well, all these questions and speaking to random people as if they are suspected of something… doesn't quite scream a quiet town. I'm just concerned for my safety, officer. I wouldn't want to linger in a town dealing with something sinister'

 

'You're safe. Just take some rest and head your way to your vacation. There's no foul play here'  the officer tried to enforce a soothing feeling in Danny.

 

Danny looked behind the officer, at a newspaper stand and saw the front pages of all newspapers. The Ghost Face mask covered ⅔ of the page and the headline was quite catchy. If only the officer could read the pride in Danny's eyes at his work. The officer looked behind him in the direction Danny was looking and then turned back at him. 

 

Danny smiled at him in such an arrogant manner the police officer felt really dumb. The man was screaming on the inside in satisfaction. He could even hear his maniac laughter in his head at that particular scene. It was a great pleasure for him to see his face on the front page and see himself within the police's reach right before dismissing him into freedom.

 

'Just move on'   the officer waved his hand forward.

 

'Of course officer'   he smirked before putting the car in first gear and driving away, constantly smiling at the ironic yet whimsical encounter he had.

 

(End of flashback)

 

Ghost Face blinked as he came back from his quick flashback clearly triggered by Kate’s slow shake of her head to remove some stray locks of hair from her face. Anna slammed the knife’s blade into the wooden table and grabbed a rag lying on one stub. She rushed at Kate and started wiping her dirty face and arms when Ghost Face stopped her with a harsh tone:

 

‘Not now, Anna’   he pushed her hand away.

 

The huntress stepped back unhappy and muttering something in a strange language, she went back to her rabbits.

 

Rin, still in shock on the stairs, looked down at the two of them and her eyes froze on Danny’s face.

 

‘You showed your face to her’   she whispered surprised with a clear hint of unhappiness.

 

The other killers looked up at Rin and then back at him.

 

‘So ?’   Kate dared to speak leaving everyone in consternation ‘Trapper was unmasked with Meg  too, what’s so abnormal ?’

 

‘She dares to speak to me’   Rin rushed the rest of the stair approaching Kate in a menacing way.

 

‘Enough’   Danny halted her.

 

Kate flinched when she heard Rin’s tone and slightly hid behind Ghost Face. Herman noticed her reaction and how Danny curiously stopped Rin from bringing harm to the survivor and smirked.

 

Evan trusts me’   Meg broke her silence ‘He showed me his face because he had a pretty solid reason for doing it. A killer removing their mask in front of a survivor is a sign of trust’

 

Kate looked at her in awe. She couldn’t bring herself to understand why a survivor protected a killer.

 

‘What the fuck are you talking about? ’ Kate hinged in Danny’s grasp enraged ‘ What is this ? Why are you here, Meg?’ she poured question after question.

 

‘You wouldn’t understand’   Meg came forward ‘ There are things survivors don’t understand. We’re all blinded by hatred. A hatred forced upon our minds by the Entity’

 

‘They’re killers. They killed us, me, you… our friends. What is the matter with you ? How could you betray us ?’   Kate yelled.

 

‘Do you think they enjoy doing this ?’   Meg spoke for all present killers ‘Do you think they want to take part in this endless game? To be tortured for their failures ? Do you even know what kind of punishments they have to endure ? ’ Meg’s voice cracked.

 

The singer felt a knot in her throat.

 

‘Evan wasn’t like this before ’ she gestured at his body ‘But the Entity constantly twisted his mind and body in order to do its bidding… sacrifice us’

 

Kate moved her eyes from Evan’s body to Sally and Philip. They were carefully checking the survivor’s intentions and reactions. She could see Sally’s lower half of her face but her eyes were slightly covered by a veil. The more she watched the two killers, the more she could see their misery and sadness.

 

‘Why are you here, Meg ?’   Kate asked her still curious.

 

Meg approached the map on the table, standing to Philip’s left side and placing both palms on top of the map, she leaned over it. With a low gasp, she said:

 

‘We’re trying to escape’

 

Kate felt her heart stopping for a second before resuming a racing pace.

 

‘What?’

 

‘We’re looking for the way out’   Meg reinforced her statement.

 

‘Out of here? Of this realm?’   Kate asked almost mocking.

 

‘Sounds crazy, right ? But Benedict managed to find this place and get in. That means there’s a way out too’

 

‘And did you find it?’   Kate resumed with a condescending tone.

 

Meg smiled at her obliviousness.

 

‘Look at you, all judgemental and mocking us, when you’re the one in the dark. You’ve got no idea what’s going on here, do you? You think this is our first time?

 

‘What are you talking about?’

 

‘You believe this is your first time in this realm, don’t you ?’   Meg asked.

 

‘I don’t understand’   Kate looked at her confused.

 

Meg gestured to Evan to give her something and the man gave her a small notebook which sat hidden somewhere between the couch’s pillows.

 

‘Take a look ’ Meg slid the notebook on the table and Danny pushed Kate forward.

 

She reached the notebook with her tied hands and with unsure moves, she opened it.

 

Meg’s Journal


Meg, I want you to read this thoroughly and as many times as you need and believe every word I say because this is YOU from a previous cycle.

 

Yes, you read that right. This is not the first time you're here although it feels like it. You were brought here many times, so were the others, killers and survivors alike. Well, mostly we think just the survivors cause the killers couldn't really get out, but all at the right time.

 

THE LINK & TRIGGER

 

First things first, you have no memories of this place, of the other survivors or killers, but there is one killer you need to seek out: you and the others will call him the Trapper. His name is Evan MacMillan. He is your LINK in this realm. You need to find together the trigger of your link. I know, it sounds overwhelming and absurd, but the sooner you trust me, the better. Don't lose time cause you've done that so many times and it doesn't help anyone. Evan will also have notes from himself, he will also look for you and try to establish the connection.

 

Last time the trigger was me helping him to find a trapped rabbit and he was kind enough to share that meal with me. The trigger is different every time just like the portals to the outside world. Here I am again jumping into details too fast, but I don't have time, we don't have time Meg. Bear with me.

 

In order to leave the realm, all survivors and killers need to find their link and establish their connection through a trigger. The trigger varies from cycle to cycle. Once you've established the connection, you can now look for the exit together. 

 

ISSUE

 

Here's the problem we encountered every damn cycle: only the survivor can get out, the killer is left behind and we have no idea why... yet. You need to find out why. Perhaps they need to do something more, perhaps they need to atone for some sins, we're literally oblivious of the reason. 

 

What we do know, is that every time we escape, we find ourselves back here with no recollection of this place and we're back to square one. If both links don't escape, the cycle will forever continue in a never ending loop. I’m sure some other survivors tried to do this but since they never bothered to document their progress, they already have no idea what they did before nor that they can escape.

 

Read Evan's logs too and give him yours too. You need to work together. There are other killers aware of what's going on and willing to help until they find their links and triggers. Anna, Rin, Sally, Philip and Herman. Consider them your friends, however much of a stretch that would sound like.


THE EXIT

 

The exit portal is spawning randomly too, you need to look for it. Benedict marked several locations on the map. He managed to enter and leave the realm several times. He is alive yes. He didn't have a link, because he chose to enter in this realm by himself, which is why he can stay outside this cursed world forever, though he sometimes pays visits to give us more details. He said he even met Vigo in one of his cycles here. 

 

He doesn't remember if the scientist had a hideout though but he saw him studying the Fog. He even spoke to the hermit and guess what he found out: The Fog is filled with our lost memories. About our lives outside this realm, memories from our past cycles, etc . The entity is stripping our minds of these memories and stores them in this Fog. If we could find a way to reclaim them… Don't bother with this now, all at the right time… we have a workaround for now, writing down our experiences. 

 

EXPERIMENTS

 

  • We still have no idea what would happen if we kill each other outside the trials, but we presume we'd die for real. 
    • And in that case, we have no idea what would happen to the other half of the link. Will it be able to leave because there's no connection to establish? Because the counterpart is dead? Or will that link remain trapped here for eternity? 

 

  • There are some killers that never found their links 
    • We assume it's either because they killed it at some point
    • Never found it
    • Or found it, tried to get out but the cycle resumed and they forgot about it

 

We're not sure there's a killer that hurt a survivor outside the trial, but who really knows? Most of us forget everything. I encourage you to write everything, all that you see and hear. All of it. It can help us all.

 

AND REMEMBER - Don't ever mention anything to anyone else but those involved. If the others are still blind to this masterplan the Entity is fashioning, you need to keep your mouth shut.

 


 

Kate dropped the notebook on the table and backed away feeling her knees weakened and light headed.

 

‘Is this a joke?’   she looked around at all killers and then at Meg.

 

‘It's the truth’   Meg nodded.

 

Kate backed away more and more until she bumped into Ghost Face. She turned around and looked into his eyes frightened. 

 

‘Is this one of your sick games?’

 

The man shook his head slowly and Kate hurried past him when he caught her arm and dragged her back in place.

 

‘Sorry, but you can’t leave just yet’   he continued.

 

She turned around and saw everyone staring at her. 

 

‘Meg’   she began ‘ I’m your friend, you can’t let them hurt me. I won’t say anything’

 

‘Sorry Kate, I only showed you the truth so you can see I never betrayed you or the others, but-, we can't let you go with this'   she looked at Herman.

 

‘NO’   Kate struggled in Danny’s arms as he lead her to a chair ‘PLEASE, don’t do it. I promise… MEG’   she cried as Evan and Danny set her on the wooden chair.

 

Ghost Face cut the black strap binding her wrists and started tying her hands on the chair’s handles. Evan secured her ankles.

 

‘Jed’   Kate whimpered close to his face as he was still tying her left hand ‘Help me!’

 

The man smiled at her in such a charming and comforting way, she believed he mocked her.

 

‘You'll be fine'   his whisper came into her ear so soft and low it sent shivers down her spine.

 

She desperately looked after him as he moved around the table stopping next to Anna. The huntress handed him a big wooden spoon and he came back to Kate.

 

‘Open your mouth ’ he ordered.

 

Kate shook her head fighting him. He raised his left hand and Kate instinctively winced expecting a slap. Instead, his palm patted the top of her head and gently climbed down on her cheek, to her lips and stopped on her chin. He grabbed the chin and the bottom lip and pulled them down.

 

‘Open it’   he echoed placing the spoon’s handle between her teeth ‘ Good girl’   he smiled at her although her misty eyes were harvesting so many tears they couldn’t stick together anymore and started crawling on her cheeks.

 

Her eyes jumped from one person to another in panic. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, everything was spinning around her, it felt like she was witnessing a tragedy in the works with no power to make it stop. The sense of helplessness seized her mind when she finally stopped her gaze on his figure. His eyes were so unnaturally warm. In that very second, a deep void pierced her heart and time ceased to exist. Everyone in that room turned into statues... lifeless... immortalized in a picture thrown in the back of her head.

 

She was afraid and sad… not of the upcoming procedure, but of its aftermath. She wasn’t concerned about what she learned and the fact she will have no recollection of such important information. In that second she just... missed him. He was standing before her and she actually missed him. Her logic battled that sickening feeling with no success. With difficulty, she managed to murmur:

 

‘I don’t want to forget… anything, not even you’

 

Ghost Face’s lips curled upwards. She was his… if he ever had a doubt, that moment proved him once and for all the truth. As he walked past Herman and gave him a look, the whole scene came back to life in Kate’s eyes. The doctor returned him a mild smile and came in front of her.

 

‘This won’t be nice to look at’   he advised the crowd and Meg quickly left the room.

 

Anna and Rin followed immediately. Sally and Philip looked at each other somewhat guilty and agreed to leave too. Kate could see now only three men with her. She felt scared and alone and the only one she somehow felt comfortable with ignored her completely. He sat down on the couch checking some photos. Evan sat way behind Herman. His mask obscured his emotions.

 

When Herman brought his hands to Kate’s temples, she started to agitate on the chair and tried to scream, calling for help from Meg or Danny. Before proceeding with the therapy, the doctor turned his head to Evan and said:

 

‘You should check on her. Hearing her friend crying for help and in constant pain isn’t going to be an easy experience to go through… alone’

 

The man nodded and left the room. At that moment, Herman’s fingers reached Kate’s face and she could feel the low, gentle tinglings that the small sparks of light forced under her skin. She jerked in her restraints and cried again for him to stop.

 

‘Easy there’   he soothed her lowering the intensity enough to make her all woozy, almost falling asleep ‘So, I don’t suppose she knows, does she?’ Herman addressed Ghost Face.

 

‘No’   the man replied staring captivated on one photo 'And, stop being so gentle with her. I want to hear her scream’   he moved his head to Kate’s direction and ordered the doctor.

 

Is it to fool the others or for your own pleasure ?’   Herman asked increasing his power.

 

‘Both’   Ghost Face returned his eyes on Philly’s display.

 

Kate’s eyes struggled to open as she caught some of their words, trying to make some sense of them, and the second she felt drifting away she felt another powerful shock riding down her spine bringing her back to reality. She cringed at the painful and intense ache in her muscles. Her screams could be heard from outside the lodge. Even the dark agents of the Entity scattered out at her cries of help.

 

‘So, why are you hiding this from the rest of us?’   Herman allowed Kate to catch her breath for a couple of seconds before shocking her again.

 

'What’s the point of telling them ?' Danny replied standing up and approaching them ‘I don’t commit to things that don’t last’ he said as he raised her head to face him and removed the wooden spoon from her mouth gently wiping away her drool with his thumb.

 

‘What do you mean?’   Herman stepped away.

 

‘She would never get out’   Ghost Face proceeded untying her hands and legs and felt Kate’s inert body falling over him.

 

He caught her and carried her to the couch where he dropped her nonchalantly.

 

‘Why?’ 

 

‘Cause I have no desire to leave this place and we both know what happens when only one link gets out’

 

‘Danny, Danny'   Herman chuckled 'Look at you acting so cold-hearted when you’re actually trying to protect her from the disappointing moment of realizing she can't get her freedom because of your selfishness'

 

'Stop psychoanalyzing me'   he faced Herman annoyed.

 

‘Can’t help it. You’re one interesting, complex individual ’ Herman commented approaching him ‘I’m in love with your mind ’ the doctor continued.

 

Ghost Face looked at him, slightly scowling.

 

‘It must be confusing even for you' Herman continued fascinated by Danny’s behavior ‘Not understanding why on the one hand you choose to be a hero and save her from disappointment but on the other hand you play the villain and let her know the truth just so she could torture herself with the illusion of being free one day. It’s like... you’re contradicting yourself'

 

‘Your interest in me is flattering’ he replied ironic and moved his head immediately in Kate’s direction as she shifted her position and muttered something indistinctive.

 

She batted her eyelashes desperately trying to distinguish her surroundings. She rolled onto a side and tried to push herself into a sitting position using her right elbow, but she failed lamentably. Her muscles were sore and unresponsive. Searching the room, she finally saw him standing close to the table staring back at her and Herman to the right, closer to the couch. In a rush of adrenaline, she managed to jump down from the couch just to fall on the ground helpless.

 

Herman drew closer to her and offered a hand. She stared at it terrified and crawled away still remembering his torture.

 

‘Don’t touch me’   she stammered.

 

Ghost Face stepped forward, shadowing the doctor’s gesture and Kate’s weak hand reached out his.

 

Her head was spinning, her knees were weak, she barely held her balance but what struck her the most was her recent and vivid memories. She threw a fast, shy squint to Herman and understood he spared her. A sense of shame tried her, realizing she acted defensive and mean towards him for no good reason. Her voice came out as a low whisper before gaining strength.

 

T-thank you’   she looked down humble ‘But why?’

 

Herman looked at Danny for a split second and with a mild smile he answered:

 

‘It would be a pity to ruin such a talented and creative mind like yours. But you do realize the seriousness of this, don’t you?’

 

I won’t speak of it to anyone, not even to Meg’   she looked to both Herman and Danny.

 

‘Smart girl’   Herman said.

 

‘Can I ask you something?’   she addressed the doctor.

 

‘Always’   he replied excited.

 

‘Is it really true ? Can we get out ?’

 

‘In theory… yes’   his eyes quickly shifted from her face to Danny’s.

 

‘How? How can I get out?

 

‘You’ll have to find your link first’

 

‘What’s that?’

 

‘Another person in this realm to whom you are tightly connected by a strong bond, a powerful memory or somehow... related, but of which you are totally oblivious’

 

Kate instinctively looked up at Ghost Face. He merely returned her a serious look. She felt her blood raging in her veins and wished to ask him but she was too afraid to be let down.

 

‘How can I find my link ?’

 

Herman shrugged his shoulders.

 

‘It’s really random. It just happens, you just need to understand it happened when it happens, otherwise, you could’ve already met your link and still have no idea you did’   the man said with a smirk staring back and forth from Kate to Danny.

 

‘So, how do I know I met my link ?’   Kate asked growing more interested.

 

‘I wouldn’t know. I never met mine and since you can’t talk to Meg about it either… you’ll have to discover that by yourself ’ he continued.

 

‘What if I already met my link and don’t know it ?’

 

‘That’s highly possible’   Herman chuckled.

 

What about you? ’ Kate turned to Ghost Face ‘Have you met yours ?’

 

Danny stared in her hopeless eyes for a second and replied in a colder tone:

 

‘No, not that I’m interested in this anyway’

 

‘Why not ? Wouldn’t you want to get back to our world ?’

 

‘Hypothetically speaking’  the man started ‘Would you live with yourself knowing you allowed someone like me get back there ? Knowing that every following victim of mine would be on your conscience, their blood on your hands ? Would you sleep well at night, knowing I’m at large, hunting innocent people?’

 

Kate gulped being put on the spot, but she found the courage to challenge him:

 

‘Who said I’ll let you go free ? I would obviously call the police on you, giving them all the details they need about you and your alter ego’

 

‘Birds of a feather and you’d still rat me out’   he said in a softer voice.

 

Kate frowned clearly offended by his innuendo. Herman watched them and seemed to enjoy their interaction more than he would like to admit.

 

‘Hopefully your link is an honest man and worthy of freedom ’ Danny resumed ‘Otherwise… you’re doomed to wander this realm for eternity’

 

‘And I hope your link is the worst of the worst, forcing both of you to rot in this hellhole together, forever plaguing this land with your malice’   Kate replied spiteful.

 

‘Me too’   Ghost Face pinched her chin and his voice came out as a sneer. 

 

He retracted his hand and pulled his mask on instantly when he heard someone interrupting them. Kate looked at the intruder and recognized the smiley face mask. Frank ignored them although he saw the survivor in the presence of the two killers. He went upstairs clearly bothered by something.

 

‘You should leave before the others get back ’ Herman pointed at the exit door

 

Kate didn’t wait to be ordered a second time and left the lodge just in time because Evan, Rin and Anna returned close after her departure. Meg followed them slightly behind. Ghost Face removed the mask almost at the same time as Evan and started walking towards the staircase.

 

Anna was already preparing the rabbit meat she was previously chopping and turned after Danny:

 

'Where are you going ? Food will be ready soon'

 

'I lost my appetite'   Danny continued up.

 

Meg watched the man vanishing upstairs and then locked her eyes on Herman. Her worried face almost betrayed the question sitting on the tip of her tongue. He shared her glance and waited for the athlete to ask.

 

‘Is she okay ? Was she hurt? ’ Meg’s voice came out strangled.

 

‘She’ll survive ’ Herman said.

 

‘I wish there was another way’   Meg muttered grabbing her left arm feeling a tinge of guilt while Herman watched her in silence and smiled.

 

Danny closed the door behind him and walked at the small table under the window. He took off the right glove, grabbed the index and middle fingers of his left glove with his teeth and removed it. As he squeezed the leather fabric in his palm, the moonlight sneaked through the window and reflected in the golden wedding ring on his finger and he slipped into another memory.


(Flashback)

 

(I was heavily inspired to write this scene by this song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPCG2MSGpvc&list=RDqPCG2MSGpvc&index=1 )


He sat down at the table in the kitchen and read the newspaper. His lips twisted in a displeased way at the columns he read. The journalist who wrote that particular article had a very bad taste in stories and lacked the skill to bring them to life for the public.

 

He folded the paper and tossed it on the counter behind him with an annoyed sigh. The coffee before him went cold since he started reading the same paragraphs over and over. As he watched hypnotized at the dark liquid in the small porcelain cup, slow steps on the hallway caught his attention. The woman started hopping on her right foot as she adjusted the shoe in the left foot. For a split second she lost her balance but managed to quickly grip the frame of the door and gasped relieved. His eyes climbed up on her dark long hair. The green dress she was sporting made her pop out wherever she went. She would steal all glances in a room full of people. She was beautiful.

 

'Oh, you're up'   her severe tone brought him back from trance.

 

'I couldn't sleep'

 

'Right'   she replied uninterested.

 

'Should we talk about last night? ' the man stood up and drew closer to her.

 

'What's there to talk about?'   she avoided his look and grabbing her purse she tried to get out.

 

He walked in front of her, stopping her momentum. Her amber eyes moved up on his face.

 

'Danny, stop it'

 

'Where are you going? '

 

'I told you yesterday'   she raised her voice and pushed him aside.

 

The man seized her wrist and pulled her back in his arms but she struggled and released herself.

 

'I said stop it. I'm sick of this… I'm sick of you and your…'   she stopped and looked down.

 

He felt his heart beating faster and faster.

 

'Last night you said something. Were you serious? ' he asked half hearted.

 

'What do you think, Danny?'   her eyes jumped on his.

 

'I told you it's hard to-'

 

'It's always someone else's fault for your failures'   she scoffed 'Because you're so damn perfect there's no way you could be in the wrong'

 

'I never said I'm perfect, but my writing and my style is not this… trash you and I read daily in the newspaper. It's harder to find something to work on when the editors and the public want to read only extraordinary and unrealistic stories. This is real life… there isn't anything mind-blowing happening each and every hour of the day'

 

'It seems you're the only journalist unable to find such stories'   she attacked him.

 

'What do you expect me to do? Fashion outstanding fake stories just so I can get a column in a newspaper ?'

 

'No, I don't want anything from you… not anymore. Do whatever you want'   the woman tried to walk past him but he grabbed both her shoulders and stopped her again.

 

'I'm doing everything I can for us, but I cannot lie. You know that. I don't lie. I never sell myself for fame or money. But be sure that I'm doing anything I can… for you'

 

'I can't take it anymore, Danny'   she started to cry 'You don't have a real job, your principles are so important and strict that you can't discard them for my sake, for our future. I have no future with you. You're a mediocre writer. There... I said it'   she cried harder as she realized she insulted him when in fact she didn't believe that about him 'You don't want to keep up with the times, you're stuck in your own… world. I can't… I just can't'

 

'You can't what? ' he asked with a steady voice although all he could think of were her words regarding his work, he felt hurt.

 

'I can't do this anymore'

 

'What ?'

 

'Us'   she covered her face and cried harder 'There's no future with you, Danny. You can't keep a steady job, you can't write unless it's what you want and you barely find something interesting to write about'

 

'I do my best'   he took her hands away from her face and wiped the tears from her eyes and cheeks 'I'll do whatever is necessary for you'

 

'No'   she shook her head trying to pull away 'It's too late. We've been talking about this for too long. It's over'

 

'Please don't say that'   he took her head in his palms and brought her forehead to him to place a kiss on it 'Tell me what you want me to do and I'll do it'

 

'Nothing, I want it to stop. Danny, look at me!'   she gasped for air and pointed at her clothes 'This dress is merely something a woman wears at such an event. Even my look says how bad we're doing'

 

'That's not true, I think you look gorgeous'   the man caressed her left cheek 'You used to believe in me, I remember that was the reason you married me, cause I was different and you loved my writing. What changed?'

 

'What changed?'   she yelled 'I grew up. I see the world and not the fairy tale I was living in. My friends are married, with successful husbands, raising children or partying. They can buy anything they desire, they-'

 

'Is this what it is? You feel a failure among them because of me? Are you ashamed with me?'   he changed his tone to a more severe and hurt one.

 

'It's not you. If this works for you, fine, but it's not for me. I need a life… a real life'

 

'You worshiped me not even a year ago. You read my stories so excited and with a big smile on your face you'd kiss me and tell me what a great job I did, so… just tell me the truth'   he confronted her.

 

'It doesn't work. I want different things. I don't see us together anymore, you're not a reliable man. You're not a man I can talk about in my social events. You're… a nobody, for crying out loud Danny, you're just like a ghost'

 

The man released her and looked at her cried eyes. Her mascara was already smeared on her cheeks. He couldn't believe how beautiful she was, even then. Sniffing and whimpering, she grabbed her wedding ring and pulled it off with a violent movement. She placed the jewel on a table near them and left the house. 

 

Danny looked at the ring and suddenly felt alone, abandoned and lost. Walking back in the kitchen, he took the cup of coffee and poured it in the sink. He grabbed an apple from a metal basket and removed a knife from the wooden stand. Quickly he wiped a lost drop of sweat from his brow and in a moment of distraction as his eyes stole a quick glimpse of the front page of the newspaper, he cut himself. He placed the knife back on the counter and wiped the blood with two fingers, cleaning them on his tongue. The front page was covering a murder story he didn't read yet. He hard swallowed as restlessness took over him.