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Emily had barely been back on the Washington property, and already, her body was screaming at her to turn back.

For one thing, it was a long fucking hike up to the lodge, and once she got there it was sure to be an awkward shit show. She could picture it already- Mike and Jess sucking face on the couch. Mike would probably run his hands through Jess’s hair. He’d loved doing that when he was with Em. He’d always been a very physical person. And Jess did have really nice hair, so Emily couldn’t really blame him for wanting to touch it.

Emily used to braid it for her all the time, actually. She’d be sitting on the bed in Jess’s room, while Jess would usually sit in front of her, cross-legged on the floor. There would be music playing, some trashy pop that they both liked, and the two of them would talk for hours while Emily played with Jess’s hair. Em was a tactile person herself, she realized. She’d always been physical with the people she was closest to.

“Em?” Matt’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts.

“What?” She snapped. Matt shifted, dropping the bags so he could open the gate.

“Oh, I was just asking if you were okay. You seemed kinda zoned out,” Matt said, as he swung the gate open and gestured for Emily to step through it. She obliged.

“I was thinking about how long we’ve been walking. Seriously, couldn't they have built the lodge, like, right where the cable car ends?” Matt frowned, picking up his and Emily’s bags.

“I don't think it would have been, like, as pretty, ya know?”

“And where's the bellboy when you need one?” Emily asked, disregarding Matt’s statement. He was right, but that didn’t mean she had to acknowledge it. The pair walked towards a covered bridge.

Another reason Emily wasn’t exactly delighted to be back at the lodge was the notable absence of the twins, and, even more uncomfortable, the reason they were missing. Thinking about the twins still made her uneasy, and even more so now that she was back on the mountain. But for whatever reason, Josh thought getting everyone together at the lodge would be a good idea. And Em may have been a bitch, but she wasn’t about to deny the wishes of the guy who was still grieving his sisters. Especially not when she was kind of responsible for what had happened to them.

“Brr… gettin' chills…” She wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt to fight off the cold feeling that had seeped its way into her bones.

“We're almost there-“ Matt started, but Emily interrupted him.

“No, I mean… gettin' kinda creeped out,” She said. Matt paused.

“Oh. Yeah.”

“Gonna be weird seeing everyone up here again,” Emily voiced a small fraction of her thoughts. Matt nodded.

“Definitely not gonna feel like a regular party. I mean, what do you think-“ Matt was cut off as someone jumped in front of the pair, letting out a loud scream. Emily jumped back while Matt raised his fists, before the pair recognized that the asshat in front of them was just Mike.

“Woah! Dude!”

“Jesus!”

Mike laughed, taking an exaggerated step back and clapping his hands together. Emily glared at him. That hadn’t been funny at all. He had to know that they’d all be on edge being back on the mountain after what had happened the year before. The last thing they needed was more fucking pranks fucking things up.

“You guys!” He said, still laughing like a total idiot.

“Michael!” Emily snapped at him.

“You really, really should've seen your faces right there.”

“Dude, I almost clocked you just now,” Matt added angrily.

“Michael, you're a jerk.”

“Come on guys, we're all friends here, right? No need for violence, just a little harmless fun. We're up in the woods, it's spooky, come on, let's get into the spirit of things!” He said goofily. Was he seriously not taking this… well, seriously?

"The spirit of things? Seriously, what's wrong with you?”

“I’m just trying to lighten the mood, Em. Don't be like that,” Mike said. What the hell was that supposed to mean? Emily’s glare intensified.

“Like what?” She asked.

“The way you're being, you always get like this,” Mike said, annoyance beginning to tinge his voice. Emily was about to retaliate, but Matt spoke up before she did.

“Michael… I'm just gonna lay it out, otherwise this whole weekend's gonna suck ass for everyone. Um, this is super awkward, and we all know it. Let's just, uh, acknowledge it now, and move on. Okay?”

“Matt-“ Emily began to protest, but Mike talked over her.

“I hear you, man. I get it. I don't wanna make this weird.”

“Cool. So we're good?”

“All good.”

“You guys gonna make out, now?” Em asked sarcastically. She was done with them acting all… friendly. Civil. Chummy.

“Oh my god, totally, we're so gonna make out!” Mike said in a mocking tone, before reverting to his regular voice. “Uh… no, seriously, I'm gonna go check on the cable car back down the trail.”

He did some sort of weird arm motion that pissed Emily off because it was Mike, before continuing down the path.

“See ya, man,” Matt said.

“See ya.”

“Alright.” Matt said, and Mike raised his arms above his head.

“See ya!” He repeated.

As Mike left, Matt began to pick up the bags that he’d dropped earlier. Emily glanced toward the cable car station. She did want to talk to Mike without Matt around, and this could be her only chance. She frowned.

“Ah, crap!” She said.

“What?”

“Hey, could you take these the rest of the way?” Em said, trying to sound apologetic, knowing she probably sounded bitchy instead. She always sounded bitchy, according to Jess. Some people had resting bitch face, she had resting bitch voice.

Jess had also said that wasn’t a bad thing, though. People listened to bitches. She wondered if Jess still thought that about her. The part about her being a bitch, probably. Whether or not that was good… well, the jury’s still out.

“The bags?” Matt asked, confusion seeping into his voice.

“Yeah, just… all the bags,” She said, trying not to sound suspicious.

“Uh, why?”

“I need to go find Sam,” Em lied.

“Okay…?” Matt said.

“Sorry, I just-I really need to go find her. I totally forgot I needed to talk to her before we get all the way up there.”

“This really can't wait? We're almost there,” Matt said. Emily almost felt bad about lying to Matt, but she really wanted to talk to Mike in private. She was still pissed at Mike, but in spite of herself, she missed Mike, and she just wanted to talk to him without any prying eyes. She knew Matt got jealous, anyway, so it was probably better if he didn’t know.

“It's important. Matt, please,” She said, attempting to sound vulnerable. Guys like Matt loved it when a girl like her opened up to them, acted emotional. It made them feel needed. Apparently, it did the trick, because after a moment, Matt gave in.

“Alright… Fine… If it's so important. I guess I can pack horse the rest of the way… but you owe me one,” Matt said. Emily frowned.

“Excuse me?”

“Well then, we're even, at least.”

“I’ll think about it,” She said, with no intention of thinking about it.

“Just be careful,” Matt said. His concern was unnecessary, but still pretty cute.

“See you up there sweetie. Thank you.”

Emily began to walk down to the cable car station. She wasn’t sure what she’d say to Mike when she caught him, but… well, she just felt the urge to talk to him. He had been her go-to person for months, and Matt just… wasn’t the same. He was good in different ways, but he wasn’t Mike.

She spotted Mike’s silhouette not too far ahead and jogged down to catch up to him, careful not to trip over herself. It was hard to run in boots.

“Michael!” She called from a ways behind him. He looked over his shoulder, confused for a moment, before appearing to recognize her. He turned around and walked to meet her halfway.

“Hey, Em. What’s up?” Mike asked. Emily frowned, shifting her weight from one foot to the other inconspicuously in an attempt to conceal her nerves. She felt awkward standing in front of Mike, realizing that she didn’t really know what to say to him.

“I just wanted to see how you were doing,” She said. Mike smiled at her, and she hated that it still made her stomach flutter the way it used to when they had first gotten together. She swallowed hard and shoved that feeling down. This was just going to be a quick, boring conversation between two… friends. Friends who used to date. That’s all it was. Emily composed herself.

“I’m doing alright. How about you, Em?” He asked, looking genuinely interested in her response. He’d always been good at that, at making people feel like what they had to say was important. It was a useful skill for the class president.

“Well, you know. I’m doing fine.”

“Mmm. Right. Well, I know things are… crazy weird between us now, but we’re still friends, right? So if anything’s up, you can talk to me. Or, you know, anyone else. We don’t bite,” Mike added. Emily frowned. Could she really, though? There was something… weird about going to your ex with your problems, and she definitely couldn’t go to Jess anymore. Not after she’d… not after everything.

Matt was an option, she figured, but it was only a matter of time before they broke up, too. They’d met in high school, after all. She’d been naive to think she and Mike would last, and she wasn’t about to go through the same thing with Matt. She wasn’t going to kid herself. She knew going in that their relationship wouldn’t last, but she’d rather have a boyfriend than be alone. Matt was sweet, and he wasn’t bad looking either, but if she started getting all… emotionally vulnerable, then it would hurt more when they inevitably broke up. So, yeah, she wasn’t going to spill her metaphorical guts to him.

She wasn’t really that close with Chris or Ashley, and nobody had been as close with Josh since his sisters had died, with the exceptions of Sam and Chris, who hadn’t been involved in the prank. Emily could probably talk to Sam, but she was such a painful optimist. It was exhausting talking about your problems to someone like that. Sometimes you just want to wallow rather than be cheered up. Still, she nodded.

“Yeah, I know.”

“I still care about you, you know?” Mike said, and Emily felt like she was going to throw up on the spot. He had no right to say that. He had to know what that did to her. It would be one thing if he was faking it just to be polite, but she could tell he meant it by the way he said it. He cared about her, but he’d still chosen her best friend- former best friend- over her. But instead of voicing any of that, she forced a smile.

“Yeah. I still care about you too,” She said, and before she knew what was happening, she and Mike were hugging. It was just like before, only… different. Now, there was this twisting in her gut that urged her to pull away, because she used to have Mike and now she didn’t. But she stayed in Mike’s embrace, even when it lasted slightly longer than a friendly hug typically would.

They separated, and Mike looked her over. He sighed. “I better get going. I- Jess is waiting for me.”

Emily’s mood immediately soured. “Well, you better get moving then. She doesn’t like to wait.”

Mike let out another breath. “Em-”

“No, Michael, I get it. Go ahead. I should be getting back to the lodge, anyway,” She said. Mike looked like he was about to protest, but he just nodded.

“Alright. See you up at the lodge, Em.”

Mike turned and headed down toward the cable car station, not looking back once. Emily’s stomach sank, but she just turned and started toward the lodge. Still, that sinking feeling stuck with her the whole way up the mountain.

Emily paused outside of the lodge. She needed a second to compose herself. She knew that the second she saw Jess and Mike together, she was going to lose what little chill she had. She looked over the snowy landscape.

One year ago, they’d played a prank on Hannah that had lead the twins to their deaths. Did that make it her friends’ fault? Maybe a little, but still, nobody had told Hannah to run off into the woods in the middle of the night, and nobody told Beth to follow her. Still, no matter how much she told herself that, Emily still felt guilty when she thought about the twins. Not that she’d admit it, of course.

She cast one final look around, savoring the silence, before turning to head into the lodge. Of course, the first thing she saw upon entering was Mike and Jessica together on the couch, their bodies pressed close against each other. Emily’s stomach swirled with jealousy. She crossed her arms and walked to the center of the room.

“Oh. My god. That is so gross. Are you trying to swallow his face whole?” She asked, disregarding the fact that they weren’t even making out, just cuddling. Honestly, that just made it worse.

“Em…” Matt said, but Emily barely spared him a glance.

“Seriously, can she be any more obvious? No one wants in on your territory, honey.”

“Excuse me, did you say something?” Jess said, getting off of the couch. Emily was reminded of the last time she’d seen Jess, just a month or so prior. That had been the first conversation they’d had after Mike had ditched Emily for Jess. Needless to say, it hadn’t ended well.

“Oh did you not hear me? Was your sluttiness too loud?” Emily said, gesturing with her arms.

“Sounds like someone's bitter she didn't make the cut,” Jess smirked, pointing back to Mike. Emily almost rolled her eyes.

“Yeah. It's all a big cattle call with that dreamboat. Congrats, you're top cow!” She said, pouring on the obviously fake cheeriness.

“Cuts real deep calling Miss Homecoming a cow.”

“Em, come on-“ Matt tried to speak again, but Emily held her arm out to stop him.

“Shut up, Matt-“ What was with Matt siding against her tonight? First with Mike, and now Jessica. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he was about to dump her for the two of them. Emily dismissed that thought as quickly as it came.

“Stay out of it, you dumb oaf,” Jess cut Emily off. Something stirred in Emily.

“Hey, watch it-“

“Oh you're the only one who can put him down? No one else can play with your toys?” Jess said, and Emily honestly didn’t have anything clever to bite back with, so she settled with the basic.

“You're such a bitch!”

“Whatever. I don't give a crap what you think,” Jess said dismissively. That just made Emily even more pissed.

“At least I can think. 4.0, bitch, honor roll. Suck on that when you're trying to sleep your way into a job,” Emily replied. She had never been one to let someone else get the last word. However, as she knew all too well, neither was Jess.

“Who needs grades when you've got all the natural advantages you can handle?”

“Oh please.”

“You couldn't buy a moldy loaf of bread with your skanky ass,” Jess bit back. Emily scoffed.

“Are you serious? Do… you think that's insulting?”

“That bitch is on crack or something,” Jess said, and the sheer ridiculousness of the statement almost made Emily laugh. Jesus, if anyone was on crack, it was Jess.

“Jessica, you need to shut your mouth, okay?” Matt said. About time he was on her side.

“No, you're the one who needs to keep your nose out of other people's business!” Jess said angrily.

“I’m about to get right up in your business you bitch-“ Emily snapped.

“Are we about to get real? Cause I am down to get real,” Jess stepped up to Emily, preparing for a fight. Well, if Jess wanted to fight her, she wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to get a few good hits in on her. Just as the situation was about to escalate, Josh rose to his feet.

“Stop it! This is… not why we came up here. This is not helping. It's not what I wanted. If we can't get along for ten minutes then maybe we need a little bit of a break, right? Mike- why don't you check out the guest cabin. The one I told you about,” He said. Emily frowned. Of course Michael and Jessica got the private, cozy little guest cabin. She could only imagine what they’d be getting up to.

At least she wouldn’t have to watch them fornicating together all night, but still… ugh. She’d just have to distract herself. Maybe making out with Matt could make the lingering feelings go away.

“Yeah… Yeah, alright,” Mike said, turning to Jess. “Want to go do that?”

“Any place without that whore,” Jess said, and Emily flipped her off, not even trying to be discreet.

“It's right up the trail,” Josh told the couple, who then walked out of the lodge. As soon as they left, Matt imitated his head exploding.

“Phew… Glad that’s over,” He said. Emily rolled her eyes as Josh stalked back to the fireplace.

“Yeah,” He replied.

“So Josh... Uh, should we get this fire going?” Matt asked, as Emily walked up to her bags. She looked them over, before frowning. One of her bags was missing. Matt must have lost it somewhere.

“Where's my bag?”

“Huh?” Matt turned to face her. Emily rolled her eyes.

“My bag! The little bag with the pink pattern! The one I got on Rodeo! Matt are you listening?” She spoke quickly. “Oh my god, don't you remember? Next to the Italian shoe place where I got the stilettos and you knocked over the rack while you were drooling all over that girl at the counter?”

Matt walked toward Emily, raising his arms defensively. “Well, I mean, she was asking about my letter jacket-“

“Right. Because she gave a shit about your ‘designer’ letter jacket,” Emily said. Matt could be super naive. He just… trusted everyone automatically. Admittedly, it wasn’t necessarily always a bad thing. Hell, it was probably part of the reason he hadn’t broken up with Em yet. She could be a total bitch to him at times, and not everyone would put up with that. But his trusting nature also meant that he could never tell when girls were flirting with him, which got on Emily’s nerves. Like hell she was going to let someone else attempt to steal her man again.

“Why do you hate my jacket?”

“Matt I need my bag!”

“Oh my god Em, maybe you just forgot it-“ Had he met her?

“Do you seriously think I'd forget my bag?”

“Well, I-“

“Do you?” Emily demanded. Matt paused, before deflating slightly.

“Guess not.”

“You must have left it down by the cable car station,” Emily said. Matt groaned. “C’mon hun. We'll be back soon.”

“And then we can get warm?” Matt asked.

“We can get very warm,” Emily said, making sure to use a suggestive tone. She looked up at Matt, and the look in his eyes told her that she had won. Score one for Emily.

“Okay. Okay. Let's go,” He said, pointing towards the exit. The couple left the lodge together, but Matt paused near the stairs and looked back. Emily turned around and glanced at him, already on the path to the gate.

“Hello, earth to Matt? You gonna come with me to get my bag?” She called. Matt seemed to snap out of whatever weird trance he was in.

“Yeah. Yeah, I'm coming.” Emily watched as Matt picked something small off the ground.

“Is that a butt?” He asked. Emily smiled slightly.

“You're a butt.”

“Who the hell's been smoking a cigar?” Matt frowned.

“Not me.”

“Maybe Ashley’s got a weird stogie habit,” Matt joked, and Emily stifled a laugh at that mental image. The idea of her with one of those cheap cigars hanging out of her mouth like some sort of thirties gangster was definitely a sight she’d like to see.

Matt opened the gate for Emily, ducking his head as she passed through.

“Here you are, madam.”

“Why thank you, sir,” Emily played along. She liked it when he acted like a gentleman. The pair of them walked down to the viewing station, where they paused to look around.

“Hey, Em?” Matt said.

“Yeah?”

“I think we should start the weekend over. Right now. Clean slate,” Matt said. He had Emily’s attention now.

“Oh?”

“No arguing, no Mike, no Jess. Just you and me enjoying ourselves in all this nature,” Matt said. Emily certainly liked the idea of no Mike and no Jess.

“Oh you mean, au naturel?” She said playfully. Matt smiled at her.

“Damn straight.”

“I can get with that,” Emily said, and it was true. A light turned on, and Emily heard Matt jump as she turned down a different path.

“Okay! Alright…”

“Hey! Doofus! Come this way,” She needed to erase some memories, and Matt was exactly the person to help her forget.

“You, er, tryin' to get me somewhere private?” Matt asked. God, he could be pretty cute when he wanted to be.

“Why don't you come find out,” She smiled at him as they continued to walk. “Matt…?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for helping me find my bag… I know I can be a little high maintenance,” She said, dropping a little bit of her front. If there was one person who she knew wouldn’t judge her, it was Matt. He’d always been the least judgemental of their little group. Matt smiled at her.

“It's no prob, babe. But you gotta remember that there's more to this guy than just bein' a lean, mean, luggage lifting machine.”

“You gonna back that up?” Emily jokingly challenged.

“All day,” Matt replied, before they both began to laugh. What the fuck did that even mean?

“What?” She asked, still laughing.

“All day,” Matt replied in a deep voice.

“Wait, what does that mean?”

“Like, ‘all day… long.’ I was bein' like… sexy,” He paused as they reached the destination Emily had been leading them to, a small clearing with a wooden picnic table in the middle. It had one of the best views on the property. She’d scoped it out a couple of years back.

“Huh. Cool.”

“Oooh, it's so pretty out here tonight…” Emily said, sparing a glance back at Matt. He looked good in the pale glow of the moon that shone through the trees. As much as Emily hated on his letter jacket, she had to admit it suited him.

“Wow… yeah,” He replied softly.

“And it's so nice to be here with you, muscle man,” Emily grinned.

“I’m not all muscle… There are some brains in here too,” Matt replied.

“Well, you’ve got enough brains to like me. So let's see that brawn.”

“You ever done it outside before?” Matt asked slyly.

“Outside of what?”

“My car.”

“I like your car. Roomy.”

“This ain't roomy enough for you?” Matt said, and Emily watched him wipe some snow off of the picnic table. Her stomach sank a little bit. She knew what was hidden beneath that snow. Shit, why hadn’t she realized he’d do something like that?

“Ah… You know what? Maybe there's a better spot,” She said. Matt only smiled up at her.

“Does this ‘spot’ start with a ‘G’?”

“There are lotsa places out here-“ Emily started.

“I already started clearing this off for us. Like a gentleman.”

“Come on, let's look around-“ Emily said, but stopped as Matt wiped off a little more snow, looking more closely at the table. As his expression sank, so did Emily’s heart, dropping into the pit of her stomach. She knew he was looking at the heart she and Mike had carved into that table the year before.

“Oh. Well look at that.”

“Hey…” Emily started, but she wasn’t sure what she planned on saying after that.

“What the hell, Em.”

“Don't be jealous-“

“Why would you take me here? Make me feel like a chump,” Matt said, and Emily took a step toward him.

“Don't be so sensitive. I'm here with you. Right now. Mike's the chump.”

“Okay… maybe "chump" isn't the right word,” Matt replied, slightly calmer.

“What is?” Emily asked hopefully.

"Lucky."

“Mmm… You're gettin' there,” Emily grinned.

“What's so important in the bag, anyways?” Matt asked.

“It’s just my undies… the lacy ones…”

“Well why didn't you say we were scooping up such precious cargo? Andale, andale!” Matt said showily, and Emily stifled a laugh.

“Woah, nellie, didn't realize it was so important to you-“

“Didn't reali- Uhhh, hello? Why do you think I'm even on this silly trip?” Matt smiled at Emily, and she felt herself smiling back.

“Ohhh-kay. Well, now I know the secret to getting you to do what I want, when I want. Duly noted.”

“Not a secret. True fact.” What a fucking dork. Emily glanced up and got a glimpse a large totem pole, which the pair began to walk towards. A plan began formulating in Emily’s head. She smirked.

“Look at the sexy kisser on this thing. Dare you to put your hand in it,” She said, taking a step toward it.

“Hey I wouldn’t-“ Matt said, before Emily shoved her hand into the totem pole’s mouth.

“Just slide it up in there-“ She suddenly jerked forward, letting out a dramatic scream, as her arm appeared to be pulled into the totem pole. Almost immediately, Matt was rushing forward to help her.

“Emily! Emily!” Matt called as he pulled her out of the totem pole. Emily began to laugh.

“Haha! Gotcha, big dip.”

“Jesus. You're ridiculous,” Matt said, his arms dropping to his sides.

“Oh, come on…” Emily started, but stopped as a scream tore through the forest from somewhere in the distance. Emily looked up at Matt.

“What was that?”

“Uh, not sure… Probably just an animal, or…”

“Do not like!” Emily said as Matt dropped down, reaching up to help Emily down.

“Here you are, madam.”

“Thank you. Oh my. Very impressive.”

They hadn’t walked very far beyond that before the couple encountered a pig’s head dumped on the side of the path. Emily’s nerves returned to her, but all she could think of was Lord of the Flies. She remembered reading that book the summer before eighth grade. She’d hated it. The way everyone treated Piggy got on her nerves. She read it again junior year, and she’d been able to appreciate the message better. Funny, that book was about how kids need structure or apparently they start murdering each other, and here they were, unsupervised, at the site of two of their friends’ apparent deaths. Why had they thought this was a good idea, again? Better question- why had Josh thought this was a good idea?

“Hey… what the hell?” She said.

“Somebody made a snowman?” Matt offered. Emily would have laughed if she weren’t so thoroughly freaked.

“Uh... that was not there before. Is that a note?” She said, and Matt reached down to rip a piece of paper out from under the head. She read it over Matt’s shoulder. ‘Welcome Back’… what the fuck. And what was the Northern Provinces Penitentiary?

“Whoa,” Matt said.

“Uhhhh…”

“It's gotta be Chris. Or Josh. They're just trying to mess with us.”

“Kind of uncool, guys. I don't like this,” Emily called out, careful not to be too loud. She had a bad feeling that it hadn’t been Chris or Josh who had left them the note, but she didn’t want to voice it and get written off as paranoid.

“Me neither,” Matt said, just as all the lights around them turned off. Matt shrieked.

“Matt!” Emily shouted, already on high alert.

“The hell is going on? What the hell did this?”

“You know, I'm kinda not giving a shit about my panties anymore. Kinda just wanna split,” Emily said uneasily. Matt nodded, sounding equally unnerved.

“Agreed.”

It had taken a while to get back to the lodge in the dark, but when they’d spotted it, Emily had never been happier to see it in her life. Just as she and Matt were getting close, she saw two figures heading their way.

“Chris! Ashley!” Matt recognized the pair before Emily did. As they approached, Emily was horrified to notice that both of them were crying, Ashley was covered in what looked like blood.

“Blood, blood, whose blood is that, Ash?” Her words tumbled out frantically. First the pig’s head, now whatever the hell this was… something wasn’t right.

“Are you okay?” Matt asked.

“Chris, what happened?”

“J-Josh…”

“Josh what, dude?” Matt asked.

“He's dead-“ Chris said, and Matt cut him off, horrified.

“Wait, what?”

“Right in front of us, man-“

“What are you talking about?” Emily asked.

“T-there's a maniac-“ Chris started, but Matt cut him off again.

“Maniac?” He asked. Emily’s mind was racing.

“Oh my god. We gotta get outta here,” She said, glancing around nervously, as if someone was about to jump out at them. Was this connected to the pig’s head? Had the head been a warning or something? What did it mean?

“I don't understand what happened-“ Matt said, he and Emily sharing a look.

“There's a maniac! And… he was- there was a saw… and it was either him or Ash and I didn't know what to do!”

“Oh god…” Ashley moaned.

“Cut right through him and- spilling out fucking everywhere-“ Emily cut him off this time.

“What? Oh my god Chris what?” She said. What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck.

“I-I killed him! I-I killed him…” Chris said, practically sobbing.

“Whoa, Chris-“ Matt started.

“Oh god!!” Ashley interrupted him.

“It was my fault, Matt-“ Chris said, and Emily could feel everyone losing their heads. They needed direction, something to do, something productive…

“No. No, this is insane. We need to go get some help,” She spoke up.

“Cut right in half…” Chris rambled incoherently.

“We're gonna figure this out, man,” Matt reassured him.

“I don't know I don't know I don't know…”

“Matt, we need to go get help now,” Emily said. They were vulnerable out in the open, and they weren’t doing anything to get themselves away from the psycho either. They were sitting ducks.

“Chris, she's right. Who knows who'll be next, alright? We just gotta go,” Matt said.

“Yeah-yeah. It's the only sane thing to do. We'll go get help-“ Emily started, but Chris spoke over her.

“No, you just want to save yourself.”

“No, I just don't want to make hasty decisions that get everyone killed. You can get everyone else together… and I'll go get help. With Matt, right?” Emily said matter-of-factly.

“Umm… okay,” Matt said. Ashley and Chris, who had finally stopped crying, headed back in the direction of the lodge, while Emily and Matt walked together to go get help.

Emily and Matt walked toward the cable car station together. Emily had been thinking about what Chris and Ashley had told them. They’d seemed pretty distraught earlier, but something wasn’t adding up.

Things like what they’d described didn’t happen. Not in real life. In horror movies, maybe, but not in real life. She was the type of person who liked to verify everything herself, and she’d feel a lot more… right about the whole situation if she had actually seen Josh’s body, as morbid as it sounded. She voiced her thoughts to Matt.

“I can't believe Josh is dead.”

“I can't believe how he died…”

“No I mean, what if they were wrong?” Emily clarified.

“What?”

“Maybe we should've checked the shed to see if it was really true,” She said. Matt frowned.

“I don't know. There are some things that once you see them, you can never unsee them.”

“Yeah. I guess… but some things you have to see for yourself,” Emily replied.

“I’ll take their word for it,” Matt said. Whatever. Emily wasn’t going to push the issue that hard. She wasn’t exactly gunning to check out her friend’s dead body.

The pair approached the cable car station. Emily watched as Matt’s attention was immediately drawn to an axe lodged in the door.

“Look, an axe…” Matt considered it for a moment, before taking it. “I feel better with an axe.”

Emily tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t give. She groaned. “Oh what now? This is locked, Matt!” She paused. “Well, break the door down will you?”

“Whoa, wait a second. We start smashing shit down he's gonna hear us,” Matt frowned, turning to face her. He was probably right, but Emily would be the last one to admit it. She opted to glare at him instead.
“You got any better suggestions?”

“I dunno. What about… look!” He said, pointing at something behind her. Emily turned, unsure of what she was supposed to be looking at. There was nothing but a bench and a small window that was cracked open, but there was no way Matt was going to fit through there.

“What?”

“A window,” Matt said. Another astute observation, courtesy of Matthew Taylor. Emily crossed her arms over her chest.

“That's great Matt, I can just about fit my lip balm through that little slot.”

“No, come on, Em.”

Emily rolled her eyes. “You will never fit through there, big guy.”

Matt seemed to consider this, staring intensely at the window for a couple of moments before looking back at her. “I won't fit, but you will.”

Emily blanched. “Are you nuts? You're gonna shove my ass through that little hole?”

“I’ve seen you slip into some pretty tight jeans, Em,” Matt said.

“Uh? Excuse me?”

“It's a talent!” Matt raised his hands placatingly. As much as Emily hated to admit it, this was probably their best bet of getting inside. She sighed deeply.

“Fine, let's do it.” She made her way over to the open window. “Ugh, alright. Here goes.”

She climbed up onto the bench, before taking the plunge into the window. It took a little bit of maneuvering, but she made it inside in one piece. Despite that small victory, she was far from satisfied. It was creepy as fuck with the lights out.

“Ugh, dammit. Come on. Oh my god! It's pitch black, I do not like this.”

“I’m right here, Em,” Matt’s muffled voice came from outside. Yeah, she sure as hell hoped he was still there. The last thing she needed now was her boyfriend ditching her inside the fucking cable car station. She walked straight into what was probably a table.

“I can't see anything! There's so much crap in here I keep bumping into!”

“It's okay! Can you find the latch?” Matt called, and Emily chose not to respond, instead searching for the latch.

“Anything?” Matt called again. Jesus, could he wait a damn minute? She was the one searching around in the dark. Emily’s hand brushed against something that felt distinctly like spiderwebs, and she jolted back.

“Ewww… Matt, I think there are spiders in here!”

“Be careful!” Very helpful, Matt.

“It's hard to be careful when it's freaking pitch black, you dip!”

“Hey- um, I'm just trying to help,” Matt replied, like Emily didn’t already know that. He was just doing a shitty job of it, not that he could do much more than offer support. Emily made her way to what was probably the door, and reached out to open it.

“Almost… Almost… ugh!”

The door swung open, bathing the room in glorious, glorious light. Matt was standing outside facing her, and honestly, she was so happy that she wasn’t in the dark anymore that could have kissed him. She didn’t, of course. They had more important things to worry about, like murderers. Kissing could wait.

“Wow, I did it,” She said instead, a little impressed and a little surprised, but mostly extremely thankful that the experience was over.

“Good job, Em. You rock,” Matt smiled widely at her. She felt a pang of affection towards him, and shot him a small smile in return.

“You're okay too. That was good. We did good.”

“A-plus, would buy again.”

Emily didn’t justify that statement with a response. Fucking goofy asshole.

She made her way to the light switch and flicked it on, before taking a step back. The cable car station had been totally wrecked. Jesus, what the hell was going on here? How far ahead had this murderer planned things? How could they have known who was going to be on the mountain far enough ahead of time to plan something like this? Something really wasn’t adding up.

“Oh. God damn,” Matt said. That was one way to say it.

“What happened?” Emily asked, knowing that Matt wouldn’t be able to answer her.

“This is crazy-”

“We were just here like a few hours ago- this must have just happened!” She said, feeling her nerves intensifying.

“What the fuck is going on?”

“It's gotta be the guy... the one who got to Chris and Ash… and Josh…” She said, wincing at the thought of Josh just… Jesus. They hadn’t been that close, but still. It was fucked up. The idea of that same person, after all of them? Getting to her? It gave her chills.

“He's gotta know this is the only way out.”

“Don't say that,” Emily said. She really didn’t want to believe they were trapped up here with a fucking insane murderer. There had to be a way to get out of here.

“Look. The cable car's all the way up there,” Matt said. It looked to be about ten feet away from the platform. Emily looked to Matt pleadingly.

“Well that's… I mean that's not far, right? You… you can jump it?” She said, knowing full well that he absolutely couldn’t.

“Ha. I'm good, Em, but not that good. Flattered, though.”

“Well Matt, if you can't jump that, what are we gonna do?” With no way off the mountain, they were all fucked.

“I… I don't know.”

The pair stepped back inside, looking for something else they could possibly use to get the cable car started.

“God, everything is like, so busted up…” She said as she looked around.

“I think they knew exactly what they were doing,” Matt said. God, she really hated the idea of someone planning this to such an extreme. Why would someone do something like that? And why to them?

Emily was pulled from her thoughts by Matt’s voice from across the room.

“Hey look! Fire tower.”

Emily rolled her eyes. He was getting distracted, which was exactly what they didn’t need with a killer after them. “Hey. Magellan. Maybe we should get the cable car working and get this show on the road, huh?”

“A mental hospital,” Matt spoke again. Jesus, he was still looking at the fucking map?

“Great. That's like totally…”

“Gross?”

She shook her head. “No… just… creepy.”

They went silent again for a few moments, before Matt broke the silence yet again. He’d finally left the map, thank god, and was instead looking at the wall, where ‘die’ had been written several times in what Emily sincerely hoped was red paint.

“Very friendly,” Matt commented. Em rolled her eyes.

“Ugh. Un-follow.”

“Someone really did a number on this joint,” Matt said. Emily nodded.

“Such a mess. This place was barely in working condition before, and now…”

“Great. No keys, no cable car. Sooo… back to square one,” Matt said from across the room, where he’d been looking at the control panel for the cable car. Emily frowned, considering their options, before remembering something.

“What about the fire tower? On the map you found?” She asked. Matt frowned.

“Well… I guess it's an option.”

“Maybe it has a radio or something. I mean, it would, wouldn't it?”

“Probably, yeah.”

Emily steeled her resolve. She was getting off the damn mountain if it killed her. Preferably it wouldn’t come to that, but still. “Matt. We gotta get to that radio.”

Matt seemed to consider this for a moment, before agreeing. “We can use the radio to call for help. Somebody's gotta pick up the signal.”

Emily smirked. “Oh. Well. Someone's learning to play by the rules.”

“What? What rules?” He asked, looking genuinely confused. It was kinda adorable, not that Emily would ever say that out loud.

“Rule number one, ‘Emily is always right.’ Rule number two, ‘Nothing else matters because Emily is always right.’”

“Uh huh,” Matt replied somewhat dryly, before heading out of the cable car station. The pair looked around for a moment, before Emily’s eyes caught on something.

“Oh! Hold up!” She reached for a ladder she’d spotted, that was just out of her reach. Matt made his way over to her.

“What's cookin' good lookin?” He asked. Emily resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

“Gettin' us out of here, Mister Meat for Brains.”

Matt kneeled down in front of her, cupping his hands to give her a boost. With his help, she managed to pull the ladder down to their level. She climbed across it to make her way over onto a smaller platform attached to the station, where she found a discarded flashlight.

“Look at this bad boy. You're comin' with me, buddy. And just like magic. Come on down, we can totally get out of here this way!”

Matt climbed down after her and onto the ledge, and the pair began to edge their way forward. Emily momentarily glanced back at Matt, and in that moment, her foot moved past the ledge. She leered sideways, losing her balance, as she let out a small scream. Before she could tip over the edge, she felt Matt’s hand latch onto hers, pulling her back onto the solid platform. His arms wrapped around her, and she felt them both let out a collective sigh of relief.

“You alright?” Matt panted, releasing his grip on her. Em nodded, heart still beating a mile a minute. She had just almost died. If it hadn’t been for Matt, she would be dead.

“Yeah. Uh… thanks, maybe um, you should go first. To protect me,” She added the second part as an afterthought, as if it weren’t obvious that she just didn’t want to be in front anymore after almost falling off.

Matt obliged with no complaints, and they continued on their way around the ledge.

“Almost… almost…” Matt said nervously. Emily swallowed.

“I'm feeling kinda faint…”

“Don't look down…” Matt said, and she probably would’ve snapped at him for how obvious that statement was, if she weren’t so preoccupied with trying not to fall to her death.

Thankfully, they made it over to the other side without any other near-misses. Emily breathed out a sigh of relief as soon as they were back on solid ground.

“Okay… okay…” Matt said, rubbing the back of his head nervously.

“Holy cannoli, thank god that's over.”

“Yeah, for real.”

They began to make their way down the snowy trail to the firetower. This was their last hope, Emily realized with a jolt. If it didn’t work… god, what were they going to do? She spoke up suddenly. “What if it doesn't work?”

“What?”

“The radio,” Emily clarified, though it was pretty obvious what she’d been referring to.

“It'll work,” Matt insisted.

“But… okay, if it doesn't… we need a plan.”

“Maybe… We can just climb down,” Matt said hesitantly. Emily frowned.

“Climb down what?”

“The mountain.”

…He wanted to climb down Blackwood Mountain. In the dark. Like, all of them. That was more exercise than Chris got in a month, not to mention he and Ashley were both total wrecks, and Jess and Mike were off who-knows-where. There was no way that they were going to climb down the mountain.

“Are you serious?” She asked incredulously. Matt shrugged.

“What's the big deal? It's not like it's floating in the sky.”

“It might as well be, it's pitch black out!”

“Hey, hopefully we won't have to.”

“You think the psychopath is just going to give up and run away?”

“No… but… maybe we should find a safe spot, hole up, wait it out. It'll be a lot easier to figure this all out in the morning,” He was probably right. Everything was creepier in the dark, so their nerves would all be on high. Still…

“As long as we don't hide in the lodge. That's where he expects us to go,” She said. She didn’t get a response, only hearing a creaking sound behind her. She turned and saw Matt lifting up a loose board from the bottom of the covered bridge they’d just crossed, and pulling out a fully frozen phone. Her heart skipped a beat as she recognized the phone case.

“Whoa, this is Beth's phone,” She said, willing her voice not to betray how freaked she actually was. Matt frowned.

“I thought the police like, swept the whole area…” He said thoughtfully. Emily shrugged.

“Well, looks like they missed this.”

The pair continued onward until they reached a snowy clifftop. Emily looked around carefully.

“Watch where you step around here, Em,” Matt said. Emily rolled her eyes.

“Yes Matt, given the choice I'd prefer not to spend my evening plummeting to my death off a snowy cliff top,” She said, but she did appreciate his concern. A moment after that, a loud scream split through the forest. Emily jumped.

“Matt! What is that?”

“I don't know!” Matt replied, sounding equally as freaked out as she felt. Emily spotted movement in the forest and turned suddenly, only to see a huge hoard of deer emerging from the forest. Her heart began to race.

“Jesus! Shit!” She said, backing towards the edge of the cliff. Matt stood in front of her, one arm holding the axe, the other shielding her.

“Oh… damn…” He said, backing up with her. He took a deep breath before speaking again. “Stay calm… relax… they're just deer… they just want to check us out is all…”

“No no no Matt they're gonna hurt us-” Emily started, but Matt cut her off with a shushing noise. Normally she would be pissed that he’d interrupted her, but she wasn’t about to do anything that could potentially provoke the deer.

As Matt began to move forward, the deer parted for him. Emily stayed close behind him, hugging herself. Fucking deer.

At the end of the herd, they reached an elk that was blocking the path. It sniffed Matt’s hand, and Emily’s heart raced even faster. It was right next to Matt, it could attack him at any moment, and then what would she do?

It paused for a moment, before stepping carefully out of Matt’s way. Emily let out a sigh of relief. Jesus, this night had been hell. The weekend getaway from hell.

“Just walk slow. It's okay. Come on… it's okay,” Matt said, his voice soothing. Emily followed close behind him as they made it through the rest of the herd. They reached a pile of rocks, which Matt jumped over. Emily followed after him. Thankfully, there were no deer beyond that.

From there, it was a short walk to the fire tower. Gradually, Emily’s heart rate calmed down, and she let out a sigh of relief as their destination grew more and more visible. Still, she couldn’t relax yet. She couldn’t relax until she was off this fucking cursed mountain.

“If we do manage to get someone on the radio-” She started.

“We will.”

“Then we tell them we need help. What do we do while we wait?” She asked. Matt frowned.

“We go back to the lodge and get everyone else.” Had he not heard her earlier when she’d said that was a shitty idea?

“Oh god, not the lodge. We should stay here. In case whoever it is needs to get back in touch with us?”

“Let's get that radio working first,” Matt said, dismissing her. Whatever, she could figure out a plan without him.

Emily was suddenly hit with a blinding white light, and jerked backwards, shielding her eyes.

“Ahh! That's freakin' bright!”

“No kidding!” Matt agreed.

“I can't see- what is that?”

“It's just a security light. Motion sensor, probably.”

They made their way up to the fire tower. Emily found a ladder and began to climb, with Matt following close behind.

“Ugh, why is it so windy all of a sudden?” She asked, as she continued upwards.

“We're almost inside,” Matt assured her.

Emily reached a hatch, which she managed to push open, and climbed up into the room at the top. Matt climbed up after her.

“You alright?” He asked. Emily nodded.

“Yeah…”

She immediately made a beeline for the radio, attempting to turn it on, but nothing happened. She groaned.

“Ah come on! Great. No power. Gotta be a switch or something around here…”

She headed out to the deck that wrapped around the inner cabin, and almost immediately found the fuse box. She popped it open and pulled the switch, hearing the power immediately roaring to life. Emily was unable to contain her excitement at something going right for once.

“Fuck yeah! Here we go.”

“Nice work,” Matt said, as she stepped back inside.

“Okay. Score one for Matt and Emily,” She said, stepping back to the radio and fiddling with it for a moment, praying to hear a response, when-

“-ranger service for Blackwood County. Over.”

Emily was so relieved she could’ve cried. “Hello? Anyone there? Hello! Please say something if you're out there, please we need help! Over, over! Shit!”

There was silence for much longer than she would’ve liked. She felt her heart sinking, when the radio crackled back to life.

“...Hello?”

“Oh my god! Thank god! We need help, please!” She said desperately. There was another pregnant pause.

“…Hello, is someone trying to contact us? This is the park ranger service for Blackwood County. I'm not getting your signal very well. Please speak slowly and clearly, over.”

Emily spoke quickly, her nerves catching up with her. “Please! Please please please help! Oh my god we're stuck on Blackwood Mountain and there’s a maniac-”

The ranger spoke again. “…If you can hear this, please repeat your message as I am unable to understand what you are saying, over.”

Emily willed herself to speak more clearly. “We need help, please!”

“Hello? Can you please identify yourself? Over.”

She took a deep breath, in part to keep her frustration at bay, but mostly to calm her nerves. “Oh my god, okay, this is… My name is Emily… Hello?”

“You're not coming through clearly, please repeat, over.”

Shit, what if the connection was just too bad, and they wouldn’t be able to understand her? Emily frowned, shaking her head to dispel that notion, and spoke again.

“We're on… Blackwood Mountain… by the ski lodge… there's a killer and he's after us and he's already killed one of our friends. Oh god, please help, you've got to help us!”

Just then, the light turned on outside.

“Something tripped the motion sensor. Probably a fucking deer,” Matt spoke up from across the room, looking out of the window to get a better look.

The radio crackled again. “I read you, ma'am. Please do not leave your position. We will send out helicopters to get you as soon as the storm has subsided, over.”

She heard Matt let out a sigh of relief, but Emily was far from happy to hear that. On the contrary, she felt a sudden pang of fear. She had hoped they’d be able to get off the mountain immediately. Who knows how many more of their friends the killer could get to before the storm was over?

“What? When? How long?” She asked desperately.

“Dawn, at the earliest. Not until dawn, over.”

As the ranger spoke, the hatch that the pair had entered through banged loudly, causing both Emily and Matt to jump.

“Jesus!” Matt shouted. Emily’s heart began to race.

“Oh my god, he's here, he's coming for me!” She said, close to tears. The banging stopped abruptly, but just a moment later, the tower began to lean to the side. Emily let out a strangled yell.

“Oh my god Matt what is happening!”

“The tower!” Matt shouted back. Holy fuck, she was going to die. They were both going to die.

“Oh god!”

The tower continued to tip over, quicker now, and Emily felt herself begin to fall.

“Shit… Don't move! What the fuck?” Matt shouted, just as the tower tipped over sideways. Emily screamed, feeling the air rush past her as she was no longer standing on solid ground. She screwed her eyes shut and the wind was knocked out of her as she landed, hard, on the window. She heard Matt call out from somewhere above her.

“No! Emily! Emily!”

She slowly opened her eyes, only to be faced with a deep chasm. The only thing that was separating her from certain death was a flimsy sheet of glass that was already beginning to crack.

Apparently, it wasn’t broken enough to satisfy the universe or whatever higher power had it out for her tonight, because just then, a printer dropped down from the wall-turned-ceiling and plunged toward her. She just barely managed to twist out of the way, before she was rolling back and falling through the hole the printer had left in the window. She let out another shrill scream, barely managing to catch herself on the outer deck’s railing.

“Fuck me… Jesus shit!” She sobbed. The printer and the radio, both on fire, fell past her, barely missing her.

“Shit! Ahh! No, don't! No!”

“Oh shit!” Matt screamed, just as the tower fully tumbled over the edge, taking them both down with it.

Emily was barely able to keep her hold, but thanks to a combination of willpower, adrenaline, and luck, she managed to keep a firm grip as the tower caught on a ledge. She heard Matt cry out from somewhere above her.

The tower shook and Emily choked back another sob. Was Matt okay? She needed Matt to help pull her up, or she was surely going to die.

“Oh fuck! Dammit! Dammit!” She heard him call again, and felt a small flicker of hope.

“Maaattt! Oh god Matt help me please!” She screamed out.

“I'm comin'! I'm comin'! Em, this is pretty unsteady over here…” He said as his face popped up over the edge. She was happy to see him, but right now, all she wanted was to get on solid ground.

“Matt you've got to do something right now what are you waiting for!?”

“I'm thinking! Let me think!” They didn’t have time for him to think, she needed to get off of that fucking tower.

“Don't think, you idiot, just get me outta here!”

“Is that why you still like Mike? He’s a thinker!”

“Matt! I don’t-” Emily cut herself off, because she couldn’t say it. She did still like Mike, but she also liked Matt, even if she didn’t show it. She wasn’t going to lie to him. Matt sighed.

“I’m gonna try and get to you and pull you up,” He said. Emily could tell he was shelving the topic of her and Mike, and was going to bring it up later, but she didn’t particularly care. She would rather he just fucking help her now.

“Now will you please get me off this goddamned tower?! Please please please, Matt! Just do something!”

“I'm coming,” Matt panted, reaching down to grab Emily’s hand. “Here…”

At that moment, the tower shook, and Emily fell again, managing to grab another piece of railing. If she fell again, though, there was nothing below her to grab onto.

“Shit! Oh shit! Matt!” She said frantically.

“Woah woah… I don't wanna tip it!” Matt said, carefully leaning down again. “Oh… come on! Come on!”

“Jesus!”

The pair reached for each others’ hands, almost closing the distance, when the tower shook again. This time, Emily lost her grip fully, and began to plummet downwards. She let out a shrill scream as she fell, the wind whipping her hair into her face. Those few seconds felt simultaneously fast and excruciatingly slow. She had just enough time to think, not for the first time that night, ‘this is it, I’m going to die’, and shut her eyes, before she was jerking unceremoniously to a stop.

Was this death? She didn’t feel dead. She didn’t feel much pain at all, except for a sharp tightness in her ankle, which was… hanging above her? She opened her eyes to see that she was facing the bottom of the pit she’d fallen into, still, somehow, far below her. She clamped her hands over her mouth to keep herself from throwing up. Holy fucking shit.

“Oh god!! Oh my god!! Matt!! Matt!!” She called, but knew that he was probably either far above her, or far below her. She could only hope that he was alright.

From what she could tell, the only thing keeping her from falling to her death was an old rope that had wrapped itself around her ankle. That wasn’t exactly comforting.

“Oh… Jesus… Shit. Oh shit! Dammit!” She breathed, grunting.

First things first, she needed to get somewhere safer, which, given her current predicament, was pretty much anywhere other than here, dangling precariously above a chasm. She caught sight of a fallen ladder, hanging out over a ledge. It was positioned in a way that, oddly enough, reminded her of the monkey bars at her old elementary school. She and Jess used to spend all of recess on the monkey bars, climbing across them and on top of them. Now that she thought of it, the muscle memory from that might have saved her life. Shit.

The ladder looked to be as good a way to get out of there as any, so she swung herself back and forth several times to build momentum, willing the rope to hold, before she finally managed to grab onto the first rung. And not a moment too soon, because just as she did so, the rope snapped. She breathed out a sigh of relief.

“Alright…”

Emily monkey barred her way across to the end of the ladder. Just as she was above the ledge, something fell on her from above, leading her to lose her grip.

“Shit! Shit!” She cursed, as she fell, landing on her back on the ledge below her. As she opened her eyes, she saw the remains of the fire tower above her beginning to fall towards her, and hurriedly sat up.

“Oh god,” Emily breathed, horrified.

A rock fell and hit her shin, and she let out a small scream. Emily quickly scooted herself away from the edge, holding her shin. At that moment, the fire tower plunged down, and broke off the ledge where she’d just been standing. She shakily stood up, rubbing her shin.

Emily looked around wildly, trying to get her bearings. She was at what looked like the mouth of a cave, and shit was on fire around her. She recalled something Josh had told them about the property ages ago, about how there used to be a huge mine system on the mountain, but it’d been shut down after an accident. Apparently, that had been a part of why his dad had wanted to buy it. Something about it being an inspiration for one of his movies. Emily cursed Josh’s creepy dad. If they’d just gone to her fucking beach property last year like she’d suggested, none of this bullshit would’ve happened. Nothing bad ever happened on the beach. Except for, well, drowning and shit, but she didn’t think Hannah would’ve run off into the ocean and drowned.

Not that it mattered what could have been, since for now it seemed like Josh’s dad’s creepy ass mines were her only way out of here. She couldn’t just go wandering around in the pitch dark, though. She was going to need some sort of light. Emily glanced around, looking for something to use as a light.

“Oh, god. Here goes six hundred bucks… Better be worth it, I looked great in that top.” She said, her words slurring slightly. She couldn’t be bothered to care. It wasn’t like there was anyone around to hear her.

She ripped a strip of fabric from her top and wrapped it around a stick, before holding the end over a pile of flaming rubble until it caught fire.

“Alright. Now we're talkin',” She said, her breathing short.

She started forward into the tunnels, the torch casting a dull glow around her. god, this was so fucking creepy. Everything about this situation made Emily just want to bolt, but she had a bad feeling that whoever was after her would hear her. She couldn’t help feeling like she was being stalked. Hunted. It made her feel small, and if there was one thing Emily Davis didn’t like… okay, there were a lot of things Emily didn’t like, but one of them was feeling small.

Suddenly, a shrill shriek sounded from somewhere ahead of her, once and then twice. Emily felt herself beginning to shake.

“Hello?” She whispered, but it came out as more of a sob. She continued forward.

Emily found herself at a dead end. The only ways out were the way she’d come from, and a locked door. She was definitely in a mine, she thought, as she walked up to a long abandoned minecart. She looked down the track, and saw that the minecart track lead right to the door. If she pulled the brake on the cart, it would probably bust straight through the door, because there was no way that wood was any less than fifty years old. That shit was ancient.

Emily activated the minecart, and just as she’d expected, it rolled forward down the hill and smashed the locked door apart with a series of loud noises that made her wince. It did the trick though, she figured, as she made her way down and into the next cavern.

Immediately, she made a beeline for what looked like an elevator. Emily used her torch to light a small fire next to it, before stepping inside. She tried pulling the lever, but nothing happened. Shit, of course there was no power down here. There was no power fucking anywhere on this godforsaken mountain from hell.

“Shit! Okay. How do I get this thing on?” She panted. Emily stepped out of the elevator, looking around the rest of the cavern for something of use. She hadn’t made it very far, when she heard a loud screech coming from nearby. It was much closer than the other noises she’d heard. Immediately after, she saw a burst of flame somewhere above her and to her left.

“Ah! What?! What the hell?” She slurred.

Emily came across a danger sign, warning of structural collapse. God damn it.

“Fuckin' busted elevator's my only way out.”

She then made it to a ladder, and began to climb up to a higher platform. Emily let out a breath as she reached the top, setting her torch down, but just as she did that, the ladder detached from the platform. Emily screamed as she and the ladder fell backwards, crashing through the flimsy wooden floor. Of course, just Emily’s luck, she fell into what could only be described as a slide, if slides were made of rocks and you were in a cave and having the worst night imaginable.

She landed hard on her knees, scraping her already injured shin against a jagged rock.

“Fuck! Ugh… god damn…” She let out a string of curses as she slowly pushed herself to her feet. Unable to see in the pitch black, she was reminded of her phone in her pocket. Emily pulled it out and turned on the flashlight, pointing it ahead of her only to let out another shrill scream. She was face to face with a decent sized pile of human skulls.

“No! No no no! Gross, gross, gross! Oh god. Ugh. Disgusting…!” She sobbed, clawing at the wall behind her, trying to climb back up, but to no avail. There was no way to go but forward, then. She pushed down her fear and disgust, and walked past the skulls. God, there were so many of them…

Another one of those inhuman noises echoed from somewhere above her. Emily’s breath hitched.

“Matt…” She said, more just to hear his name than because she actually thought he was nearby. Shit, what she wouldn’t give to have him with her right now, even if he said a lot of stupid, unhelpful bullshit. God, or Sam. Sam would definitely know what to do. Fuck, she needed to make it out of this hellhole alive if she wanted to see Sam, or Matt, or anyone ever again.

Emily reached a wooden barrier, and took a deep breath before ramming into it with her shoulder, grunting as the wood gave way. She made her way into the next cavern, heading for a jagged rock wall. She began to climb up as quickly as possible, nearly losing her grip a couple of times, but making it to the top safely. Thank god for all those gymnastics classes she’d taken as a kid.

She reached the top and pushed onward, her entire body feeling somewhat limp. God, her limbs were aching. She heard another loud noise, and took in a sharp breath.

“Matt!” She whispered again, as if to will him into existence next to her. Obviously, it didn’t work.

A few moments later, Emily’s phone beeped urgently, giving her a low battery alert. She picked it up, cursing.

“Come on, for fuck’s sake!”

The phone died, leaving her in the dark. If she had known she would’ve been going impromptu cave exploring or whatever the fuck, she probably wouldn’t have played music the entire bus ride up the mountain.

“Son of a bitch.”

She took another couple steps forward, before another burst of fire, accompanied by a roar, came from somewhere ahead of her.

“Jesus, shit!”

Another couple of steps and her torch was in view. She quickly picked it up, thankful to again have a source of light. On top of that, right next to it is what looks like a power switch. She grabbed the handle, sent out a couple prayers to every deity she can think of off the top of her head, and flipped the switch. The lights around her began to flicker, and a steady buzzing could be heard. Emily was so relieved that she almost cried on the spot.

“Oh my god. Finally. Something works.”

The lights died after a moment, but the buzzing was still audible. That was good, at least. The power was still working. Emily continued to look for a way out, heading down another dark tunnel.

Another loud screech sounded out from somewhere behind her. The more she heard the noises, the more she wondered what the fuck was in the caves with her. It wasn’t human, that much was certain, but beyond that, she didn’t know of any animal that made noises so… utterly chilling. She shuddered.

“Matt?” Emily called out. There was no response.

She turned a corner and found herself in a brighter cavern. When she looked up, she was faced with a beautiful sight- the night sky.

“Yes! Yes!” She cried, attempting to climb up the icy slope to freedom, but she merely slid back down. “Shit.”

Emily turned back to the cavern and looked around. She crouched down to inspect a broken sign warning of danger. She huffed.

“Lovely. Danger is my middle-fucking-name.”

Looking around more, Emily’s eyes were drawn to a piece of paper that was lying, discarded, on the floor. Curious, she leaned down to get a closer look. As she picked up the paper, her breath hitched in her throat. It was a picture of Hannah. What the hell…?

Beyond that, she saw a pair of familiar glasses, thoroughly broken, lying on the ground. Oh god…

“Hannah…?” She breathed.

Around the side of the cave were some wooden boards, propped up deliberately. Emily tentatively reached out and pushed them to the side, revealing marks scratched into the side of the cave. Tally marks, and a date… oh, shit.

“That's… exactly a year ago… What does this mean…?” Emily asked the empty room. She knew full well what it meant. She just didn’t want to think about it.

Further down the tunnel, she saw what looked like a shoddy wooden cross lying in the dirt. With a deep breath, she kneeled down to flip it over. Beth was carved into it in shaky letters. Emily let out a muffled sob.

“Beth… oh Jesus,” She dropped the cross back on the ground and stood up. She just wanted to get the hell out as soon as possible.

Emily continued down the path she’d started on, making her way to an old, rusted door. She reached out and pushed it to the side with a loud creak, before stepping into the room.

Something in the corner of the room caught her eye, deliberately propped up on a rock. Emily hurried over, unable to see what it was in the dark, and reached out to get an idea of what it was. As she touched it, it rolled towards her, and Emily let out a loud scream. That was Beth. Or rather, Beth’s head. Decaying, disgusting, and, most notably, no longer attached to her fucking body, holy shit.

“Oh god oh god. Beth. No. Oh god Beth. No!” Emily sobbed, stumbling back, tripping over herself, but not really caring about anything except for getting the hell away from Beth’s head.

She pushed herself to move forward. Beth hadn’t made it out of the caves, but she sure as hell wasn’t about to be Beth 2.0. That was probably a fucked up thought, but she’d been having a fucked up night, so sue her.

Just as she was about ready to have a breakdown, she caught sight of the elevator. Thank fuck. She stepped inside and pulled the lever, willing the elevator to fucking MOVE.

“Come on! Let's go!” She said, and as if to spite her, the elevator stopped before reaching the surface. Emily felt like a two year old about to have a tantrum.

“No!” She whined. She took a couple heavy steps out of the elevator, before catching sight of an imposing figure swiftly making their way over to her. She ducked back behind the corner, holding her breath.

“Oh god please don't come this way,” She whispered, and after an excruciatingly long moment, she took off running, the stranger hot on her trail. If the man behind her said anything, she didn’t hear it, her quickening heartbeat drowning out all other noise. She noticed two gaps ahead of her in the bridge and steeled her nerves before jumping across both of them. Some of the shit she’d done so far would’ve been pretty fucking cool if she hadn’t been about to die the entire time, she noted.

On the other side, she looked around frantically for a moment for something she could use as a distraction. Her eyes were drawn to a puddle of liquid on the ground, leaking from a tipped over barrel. Oil, probably. An idea popped into her head, and she tossed her torch into the puddle. It burst into flame and she kept running. The torch had served her well.

Just as she thought she was about to lose the stranger chasing her, she found herself at a dead end.

“Oh god…” She said, her horror mounting. She made the split second decision to hide, maneuvering herself behind a wooden frame. She willed the man not to see her, but her luck didn’t hold. He made eye contact with her in the gap between the boards and huffed.

He reached out and grabbed her hand. Emily let out a loud shriek. The man hushed her, which, okay, this random man who’s holding a god damn flamethrower and who stalked her through these fucking creepy mines is trying to shush her. What was his fucking problem?

 

“No- stay away!” She shrieked again. The man looked behind him suddenly, before shrugging something off of his shoulder and tossing it to her.

“Use these! And get the hell out of here… now!” The man called. He didn’t have to tell her twice.

Emily crawled backward away from the man, but there was nothing underneath her. She tumbled down a ledge for the umpteenth time that night.

She landed on her back, the bag that the stranger had tossed her landing on her stomach before bouncing off to the side.

“Oh shit… oh shit… oh boy!” She groaned, getting to her feet. Shit, she’d used her torch and now she didn’t have any source of light. Emily kneeled down to look in the bag, and let out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was full of flares. Maybe she’d misjudged that guy up there. Whether his intentions were good or bad, though, he’d given her a source of light.

Emily lit one of the flares with a loud pop, and found herself smiling for the first time in a while.

“Yeah! Oh my god! Alright Em… alright let's go,” She said to herself, swinging the flare bag over her shoulder.

After a while walking around the mines, searching for an exit, Emily stumbled across a gap between some rocks. She crawled in between it, edging her way forward slowly.

“Okay… okay, this is gonna be the way,” She panted, reassuring herself. She had barely taken five steps when, with a loud screech, a hand burst through the boards and barely missed Emily’s face. Her heart rate rocketed, and she turned and ran back the way she’d come.

“Shit! Shit!” Whatever that was, she didn’t want to stick around to figure it out. Whatever it was, it sure as fuck wasn’t human. Its hand had been unnaturally long and pale, and that sound… was definitely not human.

Emily reached a bridge with a gap. She cleared the gap easily, but fumbled and dropped her flare down into the mines below her. Damn it. No time to think about that, she just had to fucking run.

Emily made it to a fork in the road, and instinctively chose to go right. The creature dropped down in front of her, screeching, and she turned back as fast as possible and went the other direction, the image of… whatever it was burned into her brain.

It had long legs, gray skin, and so many teeth… Emily felt her heart in her throat. Fuck, she would rather have fallen out of the fucking tower than get killed by that thing. Jesus fucking Christ on a stick.

Emily found herself at the elevator again, and pulled the lever. She cursed silently as it let out a loud groan.

“Come on! Breath out… breath in…” She said, not daring to speak louder than a whisper out of fear that that… thing could hear her. “Oh god… oh god! Okay, okay… snap out of it, Em.”

The elevator jolted to a stop.

“Shit!”

The elevator began to shake. Emily heard a guttural, inhuman shriek from behind her. She winced, cursing everything that had led her to this point in her life. Emily turned her head to the side slowly and saw the creature perched outside the elevator just behind her. Her breath caught in her throat. She willed her body to stay still, and after an unbelievably long moment, she heard the creature look away. Emily let out a small sigh, before booking it out of the elevator as quickly and as quietly as possible.

“Okay…” She breathed. She caught sight of a chain up ahead, that seemed to be attached to some sort of hatch, and yanked it as she passed by. Sure enough, a bunch of rocks came tumbling down to block the creature’s path. She continued to run forward, knocking over a barrel in her way. Emily grabbed a second barrel as she reached the end of the building, and holy shit, she could taste fresh air. The barrel tipped and began to spill oil, and Emily yelped as she set off another flare and tossed it into the puddle.

Emily didn’t stick around to see how the creature reacted to her little surprise. She dropped down off the platform with another yelp, reaching a conveyor belt. She hurriedly pulled a lever, activating it, and began to crawl frantically up the belt.

“Oh come on…” She mumbled, scrambling upwards. Just as she reached the top, she looked down and saw that she was face to face with an ore grinder, because of-fucking-course she was, because nothing could go her way, could it?

She jumped a moment too late, barely latching on to the edge with a grunt and a guttural scream because, yet again, she was faced with certain death. She slipped suddenly, and her hand reached out for the ledge, but her fingers just barely brushed it.

Emily fell.

She barely had a moment to accept that she was really about to die, before the lower half of her body was in excruciating pain. Emily screamed louder than she’d screamed all night, no longer caring who or what heard her. At that point, the fucking mine demon could eat her for all she cared.

That was her last thought before the world went black.