“Oh, not this again,” Kristy groans. “Really, Dawn, these stories are getting old.”
Dawn bends over the camp-fire, prodding at it with a stick.
“It is more than a story,” she insists. “All the locals swear that it is true, and I believe them.”
As she throws the stick aside and settles herself on a nearby tree trunk, the only sound that can be heard is the chirping of the crickets. The sky glitters with stars. If Dawn’s tone wasn’t so spooky, and if her horror stories didn’t completely freak Mary Anne out, Mary Anne might have found it peaceful. No such luck.
Kristy fixes Dawn with her best you have got to be fucking kidding me look. Then she shares a look with Stacey and Claudia, who seem just as uninterested. When she glances at Mary Anne, she notices that her best friend has already gone pale in anticipation.
“Oh, Mary Anne,” Kristy shakes her head. “You’re not seriously freaked out by Dawn’s story already, are you? You haven't even heard it yet.”
“I’m fine,” Mary Anne lies. She wills herself to stop being such a baby.
Either her friends believe her, or they just decide to let it drop. Probably the second option.
“Okay,” Kristy sighs impatiently. She focuses her attention on Dawn. “Shoot. Let’s get this over with.”
Dawn doesn’t seem to care that her friends aren’t exactly sharing her passion. Her eyes light up anyway. She can barely contain her excitement.
“I was reading--”
“You can read?” Kristy asks sarcastically.
Dawn ignores her.
“Anyway. I have this book on supernatural legends. And you guys will not believe where one of them takes place.” She doesn’t give anyone time to guess. “Here! At Camp Mohawk! All the locals insist that it is true. There was once this little boy, a camper, who drowned in the lake because he didn’t know how to swim and the counselors weren’t watching him. His name was Jason.”
Dawn pauses for several seconds, letting her friends soak in the information. Stacey is the one to break the silence.
“Um, Dawn?” she asks, furrowing her brow. “That is really awful for the boy and everything, but I’m not getting the point you’re trying to make.”
“Because,” Dawn says exasperatedly. “He drowned on Friday the thirteenth.”
“Friday the thirteenth is cursed, everyone knows that. And on top of that, it was a full moon. Really bad day to let someone drown, you know. They are twice as likely to come back and haunt you.”
“… Right. So Jason came back to haunt the counselors that let him drown?”
“Nah,” Dawn shook her head. She threw a few more sticks into the fire. “Jason massacred the entire camp.”
Mary Anne gasps. Something about being around a camp-fire in the dead of night and in the middle of nowhere makes her willing to believe about anything.
“It’s not true, Mary Anne,” Kristy speaks up, shooting Dawn a look. “Ghosts aren’t real.”
“Well, he’s not really a ghost,” Dawn clarifies. “No one is sure exactly what he is, but--like I said--all the locals insist that he exists. He was a little kid when he died, but now he’s a fully-grown man. Not many people have seen him and survived, but those that have say that he wears a white hockey mask to hide his deformed face.”
“Well,” Stacey speaks casually. “At least he has the decency to spare us from looking at his awful features. Wanting to kill us is bad enough, he doesn’t have to scar us for life too.”
“Maybe that is how he kills his victims,” Claudia adds to the discussion, grinning. “He takes off the mask and makes people look at him, then… poof!”
Mary Anne notes that she seems to be the only one taking Dawn seriously. Somehow, it only intensifies her worry.
“Medusa turned people to stone, actually,” Kristy points out.
“Oh, you know what I--”
“Guys!” Dawn cuts in angrily. Steam would be coming out of her ears if it was possible. “I’m being serious here. We need to stick together and find weapons.”
"If you really believe this crap, then why are you here?" Kristy demands.
"I think it is fascinating," Dawn says, an odd look in her eyes. "Just think of the poor boy, if he is here. He's grown up all alone. No friends, no family…"
"Right," Kristy mutters. She clearly thinks Mary Anne's sister belongs in the loony-bin. "So you've come to camp so that you can play therapist to a poor little murderer."
Dawn glares, and looks like she might say something else, when Mary Anne speaks up nervously. "Wait. Why haven't we heard about reported killings at camp before?"
This seems to be what Dawn was waiting for. "Because," she replies, placing her elbows on her knees and leaning forward. Mary Anne remains as still as a statue. "He only attacks on Friday the thirteenth. There hasn't been a Friday the thirteenth while camp was open in years, but the next one…"
"… is tomorrow," Kristy fills in dully. "Ooh, I'm scared."
Mary Anne forces herself to laugh, although her heart is beating wildly. Dawn is just messing with them, right? She looks around: Claudia and Stacey have apparently lost interest and are lounging on their backs in the grass. Claudia is playing with Stacey's hair. Dawn still has that eerie look in her eyes. Kristy looks bored.
“He is here,” Dawn insists. “A merciless killer with nothing to lose. Like I said, we need to stick together at all times. We’ll gather weapons and then go to one of the cabins. He’ll find us, of course, and then--”
“Stab him to death with Stacey’s nail filer?” Kristy suggests.
If only looks could kill.
“I don’t have a problem gathering weapons and sticking together,” Mary Anne speaks up timidly. Dawn looks pleased, but Kristy sighs. Mary Anne hurriedly adds, “I mean, what can it hurt? No harm done, right?”
“Fine,” Kristy shrugs, standing and brushing dirt off her shorts. “You two can hide out in a cabin with matches and baseball bats and whatever else. I, however, am going to sleep tonight. The campers arrive in two days and we are nowhere near finished with all the preparations.”
“Kristy, I don’t think that is a good idea,” Dawn looks absolutely horrified. “If you are alone, he will target you first. But if we are together, we can beat him. We always win.”
“Drop the act, Dawn,” Kristy rolls her eyes. She starts to walk toward her cabin, calling over her shoulder. “It got old a long time ago! And you’re scaring Mary Anne.”
Mary Anne watches as Kristy starts to sprint. Moments later, she is gone. She considers going after her, but it is like she is frozen in place. She knows the story is probably just that--a story-- but what if it’s not? She feels like she could puke.
“Stacey? Claudia?” Dawn asks hopefully.
Stacey had been nodding on and off. Claudia had been concentrating on braiding Stacey’s hair. Both of them jump when Dawn calls their name.
It takes them a minute to realize what Dawn is talking about, and then---
“Oh, no,” Claudia laughs, stretching as she gets to her feet. “We’re going to the boys’ side. Stacey wants to see Robert.”
The mention of Robert’s name seems to do the trick. Stacey hops to her feet and smiles. “Yeah, I guess we should get going. See you guys tomorrow!”
Stacey and Claudia quickly grab their backpacks and sling them over their shoulders, then take off running into the woods.
“Should we go after them?” Mary Anne asks Dawn timidly. “And maybe we could get Kristy, too?”
“They aren’t going to come with us,” Dawn tells Mary Anne sadly. She checks her watch and her eyes grow wide. “And we have to get going, now. It’s almost midnight.”
Now that Dawn knows three of her close friends won’t be joining her, she doesn’t look nearly as excited. Her face is as white as a ghost.
They carry baseball bats, canoe paddles, shovels, and various sharp sticks to Dawn’s cabin. Then they push everything, except their weapons, against the door to create a barricade. They lock all the windows and close the blinds.
Then they huddle together in a corner, their weapons in various positions around them. They are each holding a shovel defensively. Mary Anne is shaking, but Dawn looks ready to charge.
At two o’clock, Mary Anne decides that Jason isn’t coming. She falls against the wall in relief, finally loosening her death-grip on the shovel and letting it clatter to the hard floor.
“Dammit, Mary Anne!” Dawn hisses. She looks around, panicked, as if she thinks Jason could have somehow entered the room without her noticing. “He could have heard you!”
“Do you really believe he is coming?” Mary Anne wants to know, turning to look at her step-sister accusingly. “Or did you do this to scare me?”
“Do you really think I would do something like this to try to scare you?” Dawn demands angrily. Mary Anne looks at her guiltily. “Focus, Mary Anne. We can beat this thing. We have to beat it.”
Mary Anne realizes that Dawn believes everything she is saying. Her eyes are full of pure terror.
Something is outside. Dawn is instantly on alert, tightening her grip on her shovel.
It is probably just a wild animal, Mary Anne reasons.
But she doesn’t move from her spot, or say a word, because what if Dawn is right? She knows the story is probably fake, and logically she knows that creatures like Jason can’t exist. It is against the laws of nature.
Instinctively, Mary Anne reaches behind her and retrieves her shovel. She lays it down in front of her, very slowly. Her fingers wrap around the handle gently. Cautiously.
The animal is still out there.
On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest, Dawn’s panic level must be somewhere somewhere around seventeen.
Voices can be heard outside the cabin now.
The closer they get - the louder the voices get - the more sure Mary Anne is that the voices belong to Stacey and Claudia.
“So,” Claudia’s tone is teasing. Her and Stacey are close enough now that Mary Anne can identify them easily. “Is Robert any good?”
Stacey laughs. “Why do you need to know?”
“Come on, Stace,” Claudia begs. “I’m your best friend, you have to tell me everything.”
The animal is still out there. Mary Anne is convinced that it must just be a dog or something.
“Well…” Stacey trails off playfully. “He wasn’t bad. Not bad at all, if you know what I mean.”
They are walking away from the cabin now. Their voices are fading, although Mary Anne can still make out most of what they’re saying.
“I still can’t believe you actually did it,” Claudia sighs. “I am so jealous.”
The animal’s footsteps are fading, too.
Claudia is the first to scream.
It is by far the most awful sound Mary Anne has ever heard. She wants to do something. She wants to help.
She can’t move.
Claudia is sobbing as she screams her best friend’s name. When she is silenced mid-scream, Mary Anne realizes she is sobbing too.
Dawn is frozen in terror, too horrified to even spare a tear for their friends.
Jason, she mouths to Mary Anne.
The sound is faster now. Jason is running.
And he’s getting closer and closer.
They locked the cabin door, but it doesn’t matter because Jason manages to get inside within a matter of seconds.
Mary Anne is more emotionally exhausted than she has ever been in her life, but she isn’t going to allow this monster to kill another one of her friends.
She jumps to her feet, shovel in hand. Dawn copies her movement.
She is ready. They are ready.
Her and Dawn will defeat Jason, for Stacey and Claudia.
Jason kicks the bed out of the way, breaking the frame.
Mary Anne has a good view of him, now. He’s wearing a hockey mask and carrying an ax like a club. Mary Anne starts shaking so badly that her shovel clatters to the ground. Jason shoves the dresser in her direction, clearly intending to crush her, and she barely has time to step aside. He snarls and comes forward, holding the ax high above his head.
“Nooo!” Dawn shrieks.
Mary Anne never knew she could move so fast. When Jason’s ax comes down, it hits the ground sharply. While Jason is distracted, Dawn whacks him on the head with her shovel. Then she grabs Mary Anne’s arm, running and dragging her step-sister along.
Mary Anne chances a look over her shoulder and notices that Jason is already following them.
They lose him in the woods.
It is a miracle he doesn’t find them, since they are breathing so deeply.
But neither of them is crying, anymore.
There are no tears left to shed.
Mary Anne is relieved when she realizes that he’s given up looking for them (for now) until she notices that he is headed toward Kristy’s cabin.
She is on her feet in a flash. Coming after her is one thing, but he will not hurt Kristy.
“Mary Anne, what are you doing?” Dawn demands, trying to pull her back down. Her eyes are wild and panicked. “Get down before he sees you!”
“We have to help Kristy,” she explains desperately.
This time, Dawn’s eyes are full of realization and horror. She jumps to her feet, too, dragging the shovel along.
Jason has had a head start, so they know they have to hurry.
When they reach Kristy’s cabin, it is too late.
When Jason finds Mary Anne and Dawn, Mary Anne charges at him with Dawn’s shovel. Dawn finds a sharp branch and stabs him in the chest. He grabs Dawn’s arm and twists it. Snap. And then he tosses her like a rag-doll.
But Dawn is still alive. Moments later, she is staggering to her feet and holding her arm.
Jason hasn’t noticed Dawn yet. Now he has Mary Anne backed into a corner. She raises the shovel with the little strength she has left and swings it at him. He intercepts the shovel mid-swing, easily getting it out of her grasp.
He’s all business as he raises the shovel, swinging at Mary Anne for a second time…
“Meow,” Tigger smacks Mary Anne’s face with one of his paws.
The dream isn’t as clear now.
Jason is still bringing the shovel down and Mary Anne thinks she must be about to die.
“Meow,” Tigger rubs his face against Mary Anne, covering her mouth in cat fur. She sputters and nearly falls off the living room couch.
When she opens her eyes, her heart is still beating frantically. The first thing she notices is that the Christmas tree lights are still turned on, illuminating the room. She rubs at her stiff neck, sitting up on the couch and breathing deeply. She must have fallen asleep on the couch while watching that Friday the 13th marathon with Dawn.
(“No,” she’d said when Dawn had asked her to watch the marathon with her. “I don’t like horror movies.”
“Friday the 13th hardly even qualifies as a horror movie,” Dawn had insisted as she plopped on the couch with a bowl of carrot sticks. “It is not scary, at all. Trust me, you’ll laugh all the way through it.”
“It is two days before Christmas. We could watch It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street,” Mary Anne had suggested hopefully.
“Those movies are boring and predictable,” Dawn had argued with a grimace. Then, brightening: “But we can watch Nightmare on Elm Street instead, if you want.”
“Fine,” she’d surrendered bitterly. “I’ll watch Friday the 13th.”
If she hadn’t missed Dawn so badly, there was no way she would have given in. But since Dawn lived with her father and attended Vista for high school now, Mary Anne hadn’t seen her since July. Mary Anne decided that if a Friday the 13th marathon was what Dawn wanted--although why someone would want to watch hours of horror movies, she would never understand---then a Friday the 13th marathon was what Dawn would get.)
“What is it, Tigger?” she whispers gently to her cat, her voice still shaky. The dream had been so real. And so detailed, for a dream anyway.
“Meow,” Tigger says.
Mary Anne pets her cat on the head, then picks him up and snuggles him close to her chest. Still holding Tigger, she slides her feet over the side of the couch and almost steps on Dawn.
Dawn rolls over and groans, then blearily opens her eyes and finds Mary Anne.
“What time is it?” she asks groggily.
“A little after four,” Mary Anne smiles. It was just a dream. She isn’t shaking as much, now. “We must have fallen asleep during the movie.”
“You fell asleep during the movie,” Dawn informs Mary Anne, rolling her eyes. “I thought you’d at least last longer than an hour! Jeff came in here for a little while and watched Part 2 with me, but Richard saw what we were watching and made him go to bed.”
She said this as if she thought Mary Anne’s father had been completely ridiculous.
“Well, Jeff is only fourteen.”
“Jeff has been watching these movies since he was eight,” Dawn snorts. “He was livid.”
Mary Anne doesn’t respond. She carefully side-steps Dawn’s makeshift bed on the floor and walks toward the entertainment center. She turns television on, puts Tigger down, and then rummages around in the stack of VHS tapes.
Dawn shoots up, interested.
“You want to finish watching the movie?” she asks Mary Anne hopefully.
“No.” Mary Anne isn’t giving in this time. She finds It’s a Wonderful Life and inserts it in the VCR. She switches the television to video mode. “My turn.”
After Mary Anne fast-forward through all the previews, Dawn notices the movie that Mary Anne has chosen and flops back down in bed defeatedly.
“That movie is so boring, Mary Anne,” she complains. “I am going back to sleep.”
“Suit yourself,” Mary Anne shrugs unconcernedly.
I am not going back to sleep any time soon, she thinks.
She settles herself on the couch and snuggles beneath a soft blanket. Tigger curls up on her lap.
At least this movie will not give her nightmares.