Rayen gripped her jacket tiger, shivering as the cold night wind sang through. Ghostly, glooming trees faded in and out of the black. The quiet haven seemed wonderful at the beginning until she remembered the day’s events. Under the cloud-filled sky and whispering trees, tales of dragons and demons seemed more believable than a boy creeping through the woods.
A twig snapped just out of Rayen’s thin sight. She strained to see past the first layer of trees, wary of being too close. She stood ten feet away, and already her heart beat erratically. Hundreds of imagined monsters lurked out of sight, blood-thirsty and glowing red eyes. Rayen gulped nervously.
The wind blew individual blades of grass together. They seemed to laugh. Rayen’s frightened expression altered to a determined scowl. Of course it was only a boy, there was no such thing a demons and monsters. There was only a boy who stood in the shadows, laughing at the frightened teen.
Stubborn nature coming out, Rayen took a step closer towards the forest. There could be no way she would let another stuck up teen show her up. She would prove that nothing would scare her, least of all a forest at night.
Rayen hesitated before taking another few steps. Her heart thrummed an uneven beat, skipping more and more the closer she went into the depths of the forest. The frail beam of her flashlight waved back and forth, banishing the leering shadows before causing them to creep back up.
Rayen trained her flashlight on one particular human-shaped shadow. As the flashlight slipped from her fingers, a terrified scream echoed around the campground.
Noah peered outside of his tent, looking around with worry. Three in the morning, and Rayen was missing. He had no idea how long she had been gone, but he felt nervous for some reason.
“Hey Scarlett,” Noah whispered, effectively waking his friend up. The brunette sat up and rubbed her eyes, gazing around sleepily.
“Hmm, yeah,” she murmured. Noah’s eyes were trained on the tent across from theirs. Both tents only had their screen zipped up, too hot to close the other flap. He could see inside Rayen and Nemu’s tent, and the lone figure sleeping in the middle.
“Did Rayen say anything about going anywhere tonight?”
A yawn escaped Scarlett’s lips. She was already wrapped back up into her blanket. “No, she probably just had to use the bathroom. Relax, everything is fine. No murderers or kidnappers here.” Noah shook his head. Of course Scarlett was right. Rayen would not just leave like that. He must be more tired than he thought.
Noah curled back up in his own blanket, casting another look at the tent across from his. Nothing was out of place except for the missing girl. “Of course she only went to use the bathroom. Stop freaking out so much,” Noah mumbled before closing his eyes.
Nemu waited until Scarlett and Noah fell back asleep. She had been awake for thirty minutes, waiting for her big sister. There had been no sign of Rayen, and obviously, neither Noah nor Scarlett knew where she was.
Nemu crept out of her tent and slipped on her shoes. She was going to head to the bathroom to see if Rayen was there. As she walked down the path to the public restrooms, Nemu imagined Rayen hiding in the bathroom, waiting to scare her little sister.
She scowled, if this was all a prank, she would never forgive Rayen. This was Nemu’s first camping trip ever, and she did not want to go in the first place. Her dad would not let Rayen go unless Nemu came along. Not wanting to let her bid sister down, Nemu reluctantly agreed.
The light above the bathrooms gave of a sickly yellow glow, a subtle beacon for sleepy campers. Nemu opened the door; three stalls resided on the cramped space. She looked into each stall hopefully. As each one showed that it was empty, Nemu felt her heart sink. Rayen was not there.
After opening the last door, Nemu stood in the middle of the bathroom, fighting back her tears. Where could her sister be? The door creaked open. Nemu wiped her eyes before walking out of the door. She smiled briefly at the woman stumbling in.
Nemu hurried back to the camp. Maybe she had just missed her sister passing. Rayen could be at the tent right now, looking for her. She increased her pace, hoping with all her might that the dark feeling resting in her chest was just irrational fears.
Peering into the red tent that was her and Rayen’s, Nemu felt her tears coming back. Yen still was not there. Despite her blurred vision from stained glasses and tears, Nemu noticed that her big sister’s jacket was missing.
Blinking rapidly to clear her vision, she looked for other missing items. Their giant flashlight, a water bottle, and a few snacks were gone as well. Rayen must have just gotten restless and decided to go for a walk. She would be back before morning.
But still… Nemu glanced over to the green tent where Scarlett and Noah slept. She did not want to stay by herself. This was her first camping trip, and Nemu did not like the dark. That was why Rayen suggested two people share a tent. So Nemu would not be picked on for staying with her sister.
The only other person that knew she was still afraid of the dark was Noah. Nemu glanced at the green tent again, biting the inside of her cheek. If she woke Scarlett up, the girl would just laugh and tell her to suck it up. Noah, on the other hand, might pick on her, but he would still help. Making up her mind, the frightened girl carefully unzipped the green tent and stuck the upper half of her body in.
“Noah,” she stage-whispered.
“Wha-“ Noah twitched before blinking his eyes open. As he sat up, Nemu noticed a stream of drool escape his mouth. She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“Nemu? What d’ya want?” She pushed up her glasses and chewed on her cheek again. By now, Noah was alert and fully awake. “What’s the matter Mu?”
Nemu could see tears blurring her vision again. She silently yelled at herself for crying so much. “Rayen isn’t back yet. I was hoping you would stay with me until she was.”
“Of course, come on.” He sat up and placed a hand on her back, guiding her towards the red tent. While Nemu wrapped herself up in a hot pink blanket, Noah curled up Rayen’s green one. By the time Nemu was under the covers with her glasses off, Noah was back to sleep and snoring softly. He probably would not even remember how he switched tents in the morning.
Nemu yawned, it did not matter. She felt safer with Noah in the tent. Her mind slowed to a dull crawl as she drifted off into sleep.