This was all a dream. That's what she had to remind herself. None of it was real. Except her heart beat. The blood on her shoes. The crunch of pin needles underfoot. She had tried to wake herself up before, but nothing worked. She had tried staying where she was, but he always found her. There was no way out but to play the game. She had woken up before but there was a cold sense of dread in her stomach that told her he was tired of playing. There would be no escape tonight unless she found all of the notes.
Carrie headed into the trees. She was weary in body and mind. The booming hadn't stopped. If anything it seemed to have quickened its pace. She was running out of time.
The minutes dragged on until she came to the next clearing. Three huge rocks stood pointing towards the sky. She rushed forward moving around them all to make sure she wouldn't get any surprises. She had almost lost hope when she spotted it inside the ring. There was just enough space for her to squeeze through between them.
It lay on the ground, partially covered in loose dirt. She strained her eyes to read it as she crouched there and it was a minute before she realised that there was nothing written on it. It was a drawing. A scattering of trees drawn by a young child, dark and foreboding. A chill ran down her spine. Someone so young that they couldn't yet write. He liked them young.
She folded the paper and stuffed it into her pocket with the rest of the notes. As she was getting to her feet, her flashlight illuminated something white in the distance and this time she didn't hesitate. She didn't want to hear the static again, and no matter how much it pained her to turn her back on danger, she picked up the pace.
She wasn't being careful about how much noise she made anymore, there was no point. He knew where she was. It wouldn't do anything but waste time if she tried tip-toeing around.
She thought of her sister. Was she still downstairs watching that movie? Did time pass as normal here or had she been asleep for days? There was no moon here which added to the fear that time didn't pass and she could be stuck here forever.
It was maddening to see nothing but the same unnatural trees as far as the eyes could see, so when she saw the glint of something on the ground, she was almost filled with excitement. Something to change this horrifying landscape. Her light was reflecting off a small pool or pond, about five feet across and three feet wide. She shone her light down into it, but couldn't fathom how deep it was, and there were no miscellaneous sticks lying around for her to test it with. She didn't like the thought of staying there too long, but there was something in this pool, something that was glinting in the light of her torch. She knelt down beside the water and leaned forward as far as she could, but she couldn't make it out.
The notes were forgotten, the task at hand nothing to her curiosity right now. She reached a hand forward, about to slip it into the water - and the booming stopped. She held her breath. Something reached out of the water and grabbed her hand, pulling her underneath the surface. She thrashed and flailed, trying to shake off the iron grip but it was too strong. Her hand compulsively held onto the torch handle and miraculously it was still working. The light fell on her attacker.
It was a little girl. Wearing a tattered white sun dress and platinum blonde curls. Her skin was rotted and decaying. Her eyes were missing. Carrie tried to scream but her lungs simply dispelled the only oxygen she had. She pulled and beat at the hand holding her but to no avail. Suddenly she was pulled forwards and they were inches apart. The little girl opened her mouth. "Help me." she said loudly and clearly. Carrie felt her grip loosen and kicked her legs with all her might, leaving the young girl behind and breaking the surface of the water. She dragged herself out and crawled to the nearest tree, leaning back against it.
She gulped in lungfuls of air and rubbed at her wrist where she had been held. It felt dirty, like her flesh had been infected. The booming had started again, picking up the pace. She jumped when she heard a new sound beside her. It was another note, tied to the tree with a red ribbon. "Help me." Was printed in neat cursive as it fluttered in an unknown breeze.
Carrie ripped it from the tree and slowly got to her feet. She walked around the pool of water and carried on. She just carried on.