"I still cant believe I won this trip, isnt it cool?" AJ bounced up and down in her seat like a little kid.
"Maybe we can have a nice and quiet Halloween for once," Chase commented as she took her eyes off the road for a moment and snuck a glance at her smiling partner, "Yeah, right."
The brunette grinned, "Nothing, just agreeing with you that this should be a fun weekend."
"I havent been camping since I was a little kid, and we were in tents instead of cabins like well be in this time. I remember the counselors warning us to check our sleeping bags every night to make sure no creepy crawlies had climbed in there during the day. I thought they were full of crap and were just trying to scare us until I got into bed that first night and my foot came into contact with a huge wolf spider. I swear the thing was the size of a dinner plate." Chase snorted her disbelief, "Okay, so maybe it wasnt THAT big, but it was gargantuan."
"So what happened after that?"
"Oh, I borrowed a softball bat from the recreation counselor and beat the hell out of my sleeping bag before I got into it from then on. I guess the word got out amongst the spiders and I never had a problem with them again."
Chase laughed, "So thats where you picked up your mean softball swing."
The blond spotted the wooden sign with the campground name emblazoned on it, "Camp Crystal Elm. Has a nice ring to it."
"Yeah, I could definitely think of worse ones. Looks like were going to have some company this weekend." Chase pulled into the parking lot in front of the camp headquarters."
"Cool, maybe we can all get together and make smores and tell ghost stories."
Chase didnt feel the need to break the mood by telling AJ that maybe not everyones idea of a good time at night included mass quantities of junk food and scaring the hell out of themselves with tales of terror. But even if their park neighbors didnt want to join in, Chase would make sure AJ had her fun, shed even gotten some stories from the Internet to tell around the fire.
The pair entered the main building, it was very quaint with wood paneling, a fake fire roaring in the fireplace and a set of couches and chairs sitting in front of it. There were a few people seated and a couple others stood around looking at some of the items on the walls and having refreshments.
A sandy blond woman dressed in khaki pants and shirt walked over to them, "Hey guys, Im Teresa. You must be Chase and AJ. Welcome to Camp Crystal Elm." She shook the gals hands, "Were just getting acquainted right now and having some snacks before we take care of some of the paperwork for the sweepstakes stuff."
"Its nice to meet you," AJ announced, "Im so excited about this weekend."
"Well, help yourselves to the food and well get the contest winners together to sign their paperwork in about 15 minutes." Teresa announced before she left to get the papers in order.
AJ and Chase wandered around the room and over to the table where the snacks were set up. "Oh yeah, this is the good life," AJ commented as she took a plate and filed it with chips, small sandwiches, cheese cubes and cookies."
"I think you missed the vegetable tray," Chase commented as she placed some carrot and celery sticks on her plate.
"Nope, I dont miss not having those things at all," the blond replied as she popped a chip in her mouth.
Chase shook her head as she followed her partner who then took a seat on one of the couches and made room for the taller woman to sit next to her. Sitting across from them were a man and woman. He had close-cropped brown hair, and his companion was a redhead who caused AJ to remember her crush on Gillian Anderson.
"Hi, Im Jane and this is my boyfriend Dan. Were from Houston and Dan won the trip here. What about you guys?"
AJ swallowed a mouthful of chips, "Beavis and Butthead, were from Amphipolis and I robbed a little old lady for her winning ticket."
Chase rolled her eyes and tried hard not to laugh out loud at the expressions on the others faces.
"Im Chase, and this smartass is my partner AJ. Shes the lucky one who got us here."
Before anyone else could comment, Teresa got everyones attention with a short blast of her whistle, "Okay, the contest winners get to stay here and fill out all the legal junk that comes with winning stuff. The rest of you are going to go with my assistant Mike and hell give you guys a tour of the grounds and get you set up in your cabins."
As she was being ushered out of the room, Chase looked back at AJ who was being handed a clipboard of papers, "Make sure you read those before signing them, I dont want you selling me into slavery or anything like that."
"No worries, Ill make sure you go for top dollar."
"Dont you have a computer we can do this on?" AJ complained as she filled out what seemed the hundredth form, "I think Im getting carpel tunnel," she flexed her overused hand.
"No kidding," a girl in her twenties with black, spikey hair chimed in, "not like theyre going to be able to read my handwriting anyway."
The girls name was Shayne and AJ liked her. The kid seemed sort of like a smartass little sister to her.
Jane glanced over at AJs latest form, which was barely legible, "I make sure I spend at least an hour or so a week working on my penmanship so I dont write too sloppy," She missed AJ rolling her eyes at her new dark haired friend. "The form says to put your full name," she pointed to the first name line.
"AJ is my first name. My parents put up an eye chart and each took a turn throwing a dart at the thing to decide what my initials would be. I think I actually lucked out with AJ."
Shayne looked at her skeptically, "Dude, youre so full of it."
The blond laughed, "Yeah I am. Truth is my folks couldnt decide what to name me, so they just used the first initial of their first names, Alyssa and Jack."
"Wow, thats kind of cool," that younger woman announced.
"I dont know," Jane disagreed, "I think the trauma experienced by a child with an unusual first name can cause lasting damage into adulthood."
AJ was about to show the Dr. Phil wannabe a little trauma of her own when she sensed a familiar presence behind her and turned to see Chase standing there. "Are we playing nice?" The taller woman asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Umm, well " AJ began
"Dude, you are sooooo busted," Shayne remarked to AJ as she handed her forms over to Teresa. She then turned her attention to the blue haired girl who was standing next to her. "Hey Joey, this is AJ. I think she has worse handwriting than even I do."
"Yeah, and she has the nerve to grade her students on penmanship," Chase commented as she bumped AJ with her hip.
The small blonde returned the bump, "Shayne, this is my personal assistant, Chase, shes good at reaching things on the top shelf, so I keep her around."
Shayne looked up and laughed, "I can see that."
"Okay ladies, thank you for risking hand and wrist injury by filling out the forms, youre all free now to go out and enjoy your weekend here at Camp Crystal Elm. Well have meals here at the lodge; your camping buddies got the information from Mike. Feel free to stop by and grab something."
The pairs began heading for the door, "So did you miss me?" AJ asked Chase as they took the lead.
"Nope, cant say I did." The brunette answered, "I was having too much fun getting a tour of the camp while you slaved away in there."
Shayne and Joey caught up with them. "So what are we going to do now?" The latter asked.
"I think we should get to browse the camp while the others take care of the bags since they got to have fun while we were getting handwriting lessons." AJ suggested.
"Oh you do, do you?" Chase asked, "And whos going to protect you from the spiders Im sure are just waiting out there for you?"
Joey caught the uncertainty mixed with fear in her new friends voice, "Thats right. Mike warned us they grow em big here."
"And hairy," Chase added.
Shayne placed her arm around AJs shoulders, "Maybe we could help them with the luggage and then they can be our spider protectors."
"You might have something there. Alright, well help unload the cars and then well meet back here for our tour of the place."
"I dont know if its such a good idea to be out and about in the dark if theres a spider problem," Jane suddenly piped in.
"Dont worry, Honey. Ill keep you safe," Dan promised with such sugary sweetness that AJ worked hard not to gag.
Chase could tell her partner was battling her inner smartass so decided to get them out of there before she lost control and said something outrageous, "Sounds like a plan. Well get things settled in our cabins and then decide what to do next."
The campers had placed the bags in their cabins and then took a walk of the grounds. AJ couldnt wait to see the place in the light, especially the lake. They d decided to call it a night since the next day was going to be a busy one filled with fun.
Chase was in the bathroom when she heard a soft thudding sound coming from the bedroom, she hurried out and found AJ attacking the bed with a metallic softball bat. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Im not taking any chances with those spiders." AJ announced as she took one more swing before placing the weapon beside the bed within reach for emergency smashing.
The architect walked over and grabbed the bat from the floor and moved it across the room, "I dont want you mistaking my toes on your leg for a spider and you pulling a Babe Ruth on me."
AJ crawled under the covers, "Fine, but Im holding you responsible if a big, hairy spider attacks me during the night."
"Trust me, its not the spiders you have to worry about attacking you in bed," Chase smiled evilly before making a flying leap onto the mattress.
After sleeping in, Chase and AJ showered, dressed and headed out to grab some breakfast. They walked through the door into the lodge and saw Jane and Dan sitting at a table drinking coffee. The woman seemed to droning on about something and her boyfriend appeared to trying to tune her out. Chase leaned over so only her partner could hear her, "I know they can be annoying, but try to behave."
AJ feigned shock, "Me, misbehave? What ever are you talking about dear Chase?" A grin pulled at her lips and she play punched the taller woman in the arm, "No worries, Chief. Ill play nice."
Chase gave her a dry look before going over to the table where a breakfast buffet of sorts was set up.
The small blond followed behind her, the smell of bacon and eggs causing her stomach to growl embarrassingly loud. Shed behave as long as Jane kept her annoyance to a tolerable level, otherwise all bets were off and she wouldnt be responsible for what happened.
The pair was finishing off their breakfast when Shayne and Joey dragged themselves into the building. Jane, whod been sitting fairly quietly at her own table made some comment about kids having no ambition and just sleeping their lives away. Chase was glad to see AJ remained quiet.
After getting their food, the youngsters brought their plates over and took a seat with AJ and Chase. "Howd you sleep?" AJ inquired of the sunglasses clad duo.
"I kept thinking I felt things crawling on me and thought spiders were all over me." Shayne complained.
"Yeah, I finally got tired of all the leg jerking and light turning on and off and went out and slept on the couch." Joey announced around a yawn.
There was a scraping of chairs on floor as Jane and Dan scooted their chairs over to join the others. "What are you guys planning on doing today?" Jane inquired. "I was thinking maybe we could all go on a nature walk and enjoy the beauty of the area."
"I was thinking more along the lines of getting some worms from the tackle shop and snagging some fish," Chase countered.
AJ suddenly found herself hoping for a third option. As much as she loved Chase, she really didnt like fishing. The thought of drowning slimy worms in an attempt to trick icky fish into thinking they were getting a free meal wasnt AJs idea of a good time. Besides, it required AJ to remain quiet and still for an excessive amount of time, something her self -diagnosed claim of ADHD didnt allow. Course the alternative was going on a hike with Jane and probably learning more than she ever wanted to know about the trees and shrubbery in the area. Her mind did a quick assessment of the pros and cons and decided she had to go with the lesser of two evils.
"I think a nature walk sounds fun," AJ announced not believing she was actually saying those words.
"Id really like to do the fishing thing," Dan told the women.
"I guess we could break things up and some of us fish while the others walk," Joey suggested.
The others agreed with Joey, so the group was split into two separate ones. Shayne, Chase and Dan would go fishing while Joey, AJ and Jane would hit the trails. They agreed to meet back up at the campground in three hours.
Chase pulled AJ aside for a moment, "Now remember all those CSI episodes youve watched. If Jane should mysteriously disappear on your jaunt into the woods, they will figure it out. If she becomes too much for you to handle, give me a call on this radio and Ill talk you down," she winked at her partner to show she was having fun with this.
AJ took the small handheld radio and tucked it into the pack she wore around her waist, "Thanks, Im going to miss you. Catch lots of slimy fish," she stood on her tiptoes and planted a kiss on Chase, "Ill help you in the shower to get the slime off when we get back."
"Hmm, now thats something to look forward to."
Chase watched as AJ and gang disappeared out of sight into the woods. She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked down to see Shayne standing there.
"Im sure theyll be fine," the youngster assured her fishing companion. "Besides, they have Joey to keep them out of trouble."
A chuckle erupted from Chase, "I hope Joey knows what shes getting into. Where AJ goes, trouble just naturally follows."
The morning air had a bit of a chill to it, but now that shed been walking for a little while, AJ found herself getting a little warm. She removed the flannel shirt she wore and flipped it over her shoulders like a cape and tied the arms together in front to keep it secured.
So far shed managed to keep from pushing Jane over any ledges, or dropping any large rocks on her head, but shed come close to giving Chase a call on the radio when the other woman had begun making comments about how there were just too many gay people on TV now a days. Fortunately Joey had stepped in and countered Janes point of view with a very intelligent and thought provoking argument where as AJ would have been more likely to tell the lady to kiss her ass and to crawl back under whatever rock shed come from.
Jane was busy admiring some weed or flower, AJ couldnt tell the difference, while Joey leaned against a tree checking the numerous pockets in her cargo shorts before checking the small ones in her orange, padded vest. The younger woman glanced up from her task disappointed, "You dont happen to have any cigarettes do you?"
"Nah, dont smoke," AJ answered. "You run out?"
"No, well, kind of. Shayne wants me to quit and Im really trying, but all this fresh air is polluting my once smoke filled lungs and this damn patch isnt doing a thing," she lifted the sleeve of her black tee shirt to reveal a nicotine patch on her upper left arm. "Right about now Id kill for a smoke."
AJ thought about telling her she thought Jane was hiding some cancer sticks and seeing what would happen, but remembered she told Chase she was going to behave. "You want some gum instead?" AJ pulled a pack of cinnamon flavored gum from her pocket and offered her friend a stick.
"Hey thanks." Joey took a piece and unwrapped it before folding it in half and placing it in her mouth.
The blondes parents had instilled some manners in her, so AJ turned to where Jane was standing, "Gum?"
"No thanks, I dont really see the appeal of looking like Elsie the Cow chewing her cud."
Putting the gum away, AJ counted to ten silently in English, French and Spanish before returning to English once more. She decided she needed to check into a couple more languages for situations like this.
"I say we take this trail now," Joey announced as she pointed out a small dirt path that ran through deeper woods.
"Thats not an officially sanctioned trail according to the map," Jane admonished.
"Sounds like fun to me," AJ remarked as she went to stand next to the blue haired girl, "Maybe itll end up at the lake."
"Youre not supposed to leave the marked trails. I think we should keep going on the one were on. Theres supposed to be a breathtaking display of local wildflowers not too far from here."
AJ and Joey exchanged looks before announcing in unison, "Boring," and took off running down the new path.
Chase felt the tug on her line and gave the pole a jerk trying to set the hook before she began reeling in the line. The fish at the end of the hook was a fighter and Chase had a little difficulty getting it close enough to the surface for Shayne to net it. She almost chuckled when she saw the size of it. Like her partner, it was a bit on the small size, but had the attitude of a whale and had found a way to get into trouble. The fisherwoman took hold of the fish and removed the hook "Go home little fishy," she told the animal before placing it back in the water.
"How many is that?" Shayne asked as she watched the silver fish disappear.
"I really havent been counting," Chase admitted. She just enjoyed catching and releasing the creatures. Maybe if she was relying on the fish as a food source shed pay more attention.
"I think its like 8 or 9," Dan chimed in as he tried to untangle his line from the stick hed caught on his last cast.
"How do you think the girls are doing?" Shayne asked as she took a seat in one of the folding chairs they had set up on the dock.
"Well, I dont see any smoke so at least they havent burned the place down." Chase half joked as she re-baited her hook.
"Oh, you dont have to worry about that," Dan assured the women, "Im sure Jane will keep them out of trouble."
Chase frowned as she spotted the redhead in question emerging from the woods without the other women in tow. "AJ, what trouble have you gotten into?"
AJ and Joey walked along the wilderness path taking in all the trees and shrubbery. Animal noises were everywhere, from the birds overhead to scurrying sounds in the fallen leaves. AJ just hoped she wouldnt encounter any spiders during this stroll.
"What do you think Jane is doing?" Joey asked as she took a swig of water from a bottle.
"I guess it would be too much to hope that Yogi the Bear ran out of picnic baskets and got really hungry," AJ then decided she wouldnt wish that kind of indigestion on anything. "My guess is shes probably oohing and ahhing over those wild flowers."
The blue haired girl began strolling again. They werent really going anywhere in particular, just enjoying the weather, the scenery and having some fun. "Or she hightailed it back to the others to tell on us."
"I can totally see her doing that. I bet she was a hall monitor in school and used to give out detention slips if you didnt have a pass."
Joey nodded, "I spent a lot of time in detention, actually thats where I met Shayne."
"Yeah, I pretty much had a desk with my name on it," AJ confided. "Never would have guessed Id become a teacher."
Joey suddenly stopped walking and glanced around a bit anxiously, "Man, I really gotta pee, but I dont think there are any bathrooms out here."
AJ surveyed the area, "Well, I dont see anyone else out here. I see no reason you cant go behind a bush or something. I mean thats what people did before there were bathrooms."
"I guess youre right. This is one time I wish I was a guy, they have it easy with the outdoor peeing thing."
Joey began making her way into the wooded area looking for a good place to relieve herself, "Dont leave me, its kind of spooky out here."
The blond turned her attention in the opposite direction to give the other woman some sense of privacy, "No worries, I wouldnt know where I was going anyway."
About five minutes later AJ thought she heard some footsteps on the fallen leaves, but when she glanced around she didnt her friend. "Joey?" A mix of uncertainty and fear was evident in her voice. There was no response. "You want to make smores tonight?" She asked a little louder incase Joey didnt hear her before.
AJs question was met with silence except for the creaking of tree limbs that swayed in the wind that had begun to pick up. The temperature seemed to be dropping and she felt a chill run down her spine. The blond took a moment to put her flannel shirt back on as she observed the sky was growing darker. The teacher walked slowly towards the spot shed last seen Joey and hoped the woman would forgive her if she caught her mid-squat.
"Joey? You over here?" AJ continued walking and talking to herself as she starting actually searching for her friend. "Joey, this isnt funny. Where are you?" Panic began creeping into her voice.
The sound of a branch snapping nearby caused AJ to whip her head around in the direction the noise had come from. She didnt see anything, including the vine at her feet that tripped her. The ground felt pretty hard as she did a four-point landing on her hands and knees. The string of curses that had been about to spew forth from her mouth, were suddenly caught in her throat as she spotted a familiar orange vest off to the side. She looked around in the hope she would find the owner, no such luck.
AJ cautiously walked over to the item of clothing, just sure that Joey was going to jump out from behind a tree and scare the hell out of her. Heck, she was hoping that was the case and shed do it really soon, this was starting to really freak her out. AJ picked up the missing girls vest and almost dropped it in shock as she noted with horror fresh blood stained the material. She yelled out Joeys name, but was drowned out by a sudden boom of thunder.
The fishing group had retreated from the water as the storm clouds began to roll in. According to Jane, AJ and Joey had taken off, against her recommendations, down a non-marked path. Shed decided to return to camp without them.
Chase watched as a streak of lightning tore across the sky followed by a thunderous boom. Then the bottom fell out of the sky and the downpour started. The architect knew her partner didnt like storms, and hoped the girls had been able to find shelter. Chase zipped up her jacket after placing a small nylon bag inside of it. She was glad shed had the foresight to pack the raingear.
"Youre actually going out in this?" Jane asked with disbelief "I mean they brought this on themselves for not following the rules. If theyd only listened to me, they would be here warm and dry."
"Ill go with you," Dan offered while he ignored the look he received from his girlfriend.
"Me too," Shayne added.
"Thanks, but I want you two to wait here incase I miss them and they end up getting back before me. If that should happen, keep AJ here, no matter what," Chase pulled out another walkie-talkie and handed it to Shayne. "I have one and I gave AJ one before they left this morning. Hopefully shell try contacting us on it. If they do get back here on their own, give me a call and Ill head back. And Ill call you if I find them first.
Turning on the small radio, all she heard was static but she hoped shed soon here AJs voice come through it. She clipped the electronics device to the collar of her shirt and then pulled the hood up on her jacket and tied the strings to keep it from blowing off. "Ill check in once in a while so you know things are okay."
"Good luck, Chase. Stay safe."
"Thanks, and make sure theres some hot water ready when we get back, cause Im sure well be wanting some hot chocolate." She noted the worried expression on Shaynes face, "Dont worry, Im sure theyre fine. Probably holed up in a cave somewhere having the time of their lives."
The rain that fell after the thunder drenched AJ within moments. She shielded her eyes from the drops as she tried to locate somewhere to get out of the rain. Unable to find anything in her immediate area, AJ began moving and hoped she might get back to the path she and Joey had left.
Thunder and lightning continued around her as she stumbled through the wooded area, half blinded by the cold, driving rain. Her hands were going numb, but she held tightly to Joeys orange vest. Then, without warning, the ground beneath her feet gave away and she found herself sliding down a bank of mud. AJ landed with a splash at the bottom of the slope. The water in the small stream rushed around her, but fortunately it was only thigh deep, so once AJ was able to get to her feet she made it to the bank and began crawling up it.
AJ made it to the top of the bank and lay there resting a moment before she stood on wobbly legs and started off again. Her eyes fell on a sign for the Flower Bend Cave and she almost started crying with relief. The blond stepped into the cave and leaned against the wall before sliding down it till she was seated on the ground. It was dry in there, though dark and a bit creepy. AJ removed the pack from around her waist to see if there was anything in there to eat. Her fingers hit something and she pulled the radio out of the bag, "Please let it work." It took her a couple of tries to get the thing turned on but it seemed to work fine. She spoke into the receiver "Can anyone hear me?" She let go of the button and listened, nothing but static. "This is AJ, Chase are you out there?"
The rain beating against the jacket hood was interfering with her hearing so Chase pulled it down. She moved the radio to her ear and could barely make out AJs voice. "AJ, can you tell me where you are?"
She was greeted with static at first, but then her partners voice came in a little clearer, "Chase, Im in a cave, the Flower Bend Cave."
The brunette got the map out and saw she was about five minutes from the spot. "Ill be right there, AJ. Stay put."
Chase made record time running down the muddy path. She entered the cave out of breath and barely had time to catch it before she was hit by120 pounds of AJ. The smaller woman was soaking wet and severely shaking. She looked so pitiful it made Chases heart hurt. She was relieved to see AJ and had forgotten for a moment about the other missing woman. "AJ, wheres Joey?"
Tears rolled down AJs face as she told her partner what had happened. While she was telling the tale, Chase worked on trying to warm her up. She helped her change into the dry clothes shed brought along and just held her while AJ recapped the days events.
When she finished, AJ stood there quietly wrapped around Chase.
"Itll be okay, AJ. When we get back to the cabin well call the police to come out. Theyll bring the search dogs with them and I bet they find her in no time. Shes probably holed up in a cave of her own."
"I lost her vest," AJ announced suddenly.
"Im sure shell understand," Chase assured her. "Looks like the rain is letting up some, I say we make a break for it. Are you okay?"
"Thanks to you. I love you Chase."
"I know, Im pretty lovable," she replied with a wink and was glad to get a small smile out of AJ.
When they got back to camp, they learned that not only was the electricity out, but the phones were down and cell reception was unavailable. Teresa volunteered to drive to the Sheriffs station and let them know what was going on. Shayne decided to go along so she could fill them in on Joeys details and give them a photo of the woman.
Before they went out to the car, Shayne took AJ aside, "You know she probably just ran off to get some cigarettes or something. She thinks its fun to scare the hell out of people. I bet shes sitting in a restaurant, drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette and laughing."
AJ tried to smile, "Yeah, I bet thats it. She was telling me she needed a cigarette really bad."
The car drove away and Chase led AJ back to their cabin, "I think you need some rest."
"Im not sleepy." AJ protested, though she wasnt very convincing.
"You dont have to sleep. Lets just lie down and enjoy the warm, dry bed."
Snuggling with Chase after the day shed had was an idea she couldnt resist, "Okay."
The first thing AJ noticed when she opened her eyes was the almost total darkness, followed by the fact she was alone. She slowly sat up and glanced around the room trying to locate Chase. The door to the bathroom was open, "Chase?" No answer.
AJ slid out of the bed and padded over to the bathroom and found it empty. She tried the light and was almost blinded when it came on, "Ugh. At least we have power."
She left the light on and put on some jeans and a black, long sleeved tee before grabbing a flashlight and heading out the door to find Chase.
The rain had stopped, but infrequent lightning flashes still lit up the sky. AJ began walking to the lodge when she thought she heard someone calling her name. Thinking it might be Joey trying to get back, AJ headed towards the sound.
Her eyes searched the ground and surrounding area as she moved slowly forward. A muffled voice got her attention and she shone the flashlight in that direction. The beam fell on a familiar figure lying on the ground, "Joey!"
AJ raced to the fallen womans side and noted the cuts on her arms and face as she knelt down next to her, "What happened?"
A wheezing sound could be heard as Joey inhaled to speak, "Jane."
"What? Jane did this to you?"
The flashlight was knocked out of AJs hand by a blow that sent her reeling backwards. She landed on her butt and rolled over quickly to her hands and knees as she began feeling around for the flashlight. A flash of lightning lit up the sky and AJ made out a figure standing over Joey. Then she heard her friend cry out, followed by a squishy sound that caused the teachers stomach to clench and then silence.
AJ stood and ran as fast as she could towards the cabins, the flashlight forgotten She yelled for Chase as loud as she could and hoped her partner was able to hear her. She headed for the lodge its lights bright and inviting. She slowed to round the corner on the home stretch when she was detoured by a set of hands that firmly grabbed hold of her and pulled her into the darkness. "AJ, its me. Shhh."
The blond almost melted into her partner as relief flooded though her at the sound of the other woman's voice. Then she felt Chases body grow rigid and AJ could hear someone stalking by their location. She held her breath in fear, afraid the person would hear her and stop. She exhaled slowly when the person passed and Chase moved them silently further into the darkness.
"Whats going on?" AJ whispered.
Chase swallowed hard thinking of the best way to tell AJ the news, "Theyre all dead."
"Dan, Teresa, Shayne. I went to the lodge to get some snacks, I figured youd be hungry when you woke up. But I heard a noise and when I went to check it out I found Dans body pinned to a tree with some sort of blade. I ran to the lodge and Teresa and Shayne were in there. A tree had blocked the road so theyd come back to the camp. We were coming to get you when we were ambushed. It happened so fast, there was blood everywhere."
"Are you okay," AJ began running her hands over Chases body when she came to a spot on her arm where the clothing was sticky and wet. "Youre hurt."
"Its not too bad. I think the bleedings stopped." Chase took AJs hands in her own.
AJ felt like crying, "What are we going to do?"
"I dont know," Chase answered honestly, "But I think were okay for now."
"Guess again," a menacing voice growled
AJ had heard the term "scared shitless", and almost experienced it at that moment. Chase grabbed the blond, who seemed to be frozen in place, and got her moving. Unlike the horror movies AJ watched, the person chasing them did not move at a snails pace but instead kept a pretty good clip.
They seemed to be running in a circle when Chase tripped over something and fell. She grabbed her leg, grimacing in pain. "Run, AJ."
AJ checked for the other person and didnt see them, "Im not going anywhere without you."
"I cant make it, I think my legs busted. Get to the lodge house, maybe the phones are working and you can call for help."
"Not without you," AJ pledged as she judged the distance to the lodge building. "Okay, hold on."
Before Chase knew what was happening, AJ hoisted her up in a fireman carry and was stumbling towards the target structure. The strain on the smaller woman was evident, but she was filled with such determination that nothing was going to get in the way of her goal. "AJ, wait."
AJ silently thanked Chase for making her do all those squats and lunges in the gym, who knew they would actually come in handy for something other than making her butt look good in jeans. She was a few feet from her destination when she heard someone clearing their throat. Sighing, she turned and saw a masked person standing there with a large knife in their hand.
A sudden rage filled AJ, no one was going to hurt her partner, especially not some Jason Voorhees wannabe. She sat Chase down on the steps of the building, "Get inside, Chase. I dont care if you have to crawl, or scoot on your ass, just do it." She waited a moment to make sure Chase was going to move before she looked for some kind of a weapon. A discarded rake laid on the ground. AJ picked the item up and in one swift move, broke off the flimsy rake part leaving her with only the handle.
The classes shed taken came rushing back to her as the newly armed woman gave the staff a twirl to get comfortable. "You messed with the wrong person asshole."
The masked person seemed unsure and took a step backwards. AJ was about to go postal on the knife carrier when someone staggered around the corner interrupting the moment.
It was Jane, and without a word, she leveled a handgun at the attacker and fired several times. The man fell to the ground and didnt get back up. She then dropped the gun and started crying. AJ walked over to her cautiously and took her by the arm, "Chase is hurt, we need to get her and get the hell out of here."
Jane allowed herself to be steered up the stairs and into the lodge.
AJ pushed the other woman through the door before entering herself. She stood there a moment taking in the scene before her. The television was on and seated on the couches watching it, or pretending to be, were Chase, and the rest of the gang, alive and well.
"What the hell is going on here?"
Chase stood and walked over to her partner with no visible limp. She put an arm around the smaller womans shoulder and guided her towards the couch. "Well this place isnt exactly what it appears to be."
Teresa scooted over to make room for both women, "My husband, Mike, and I enjoy horror movies and saw there were lots of people out there like us. So we decided to open up a camp slash theater where the campers get the hell scared out of them. You are part of the test group to help us work the bugs out before we open for business. We got your names from the Horror Con mailing list and made you winners."
AJ frowned, "But in the woods, the bloody vest."
Chase nodded, "While you and the others were filling out forms, the rest of us were let in on the plan and what was really going to be happening this weekend."
Joey leaned over and patted AJs knee, "I was told to take that path off into the woods, there was someone waiting there with some fake blood and who could get me back out without you seeing us."
"Jane shot someone outside, I saw her do it."
"Blanks," the man in the mask announced as he held up the gun. He took off the mask and it was Mike.
"They werent expecting you to go Ninja on his ass," Shayne explained, "So when Chase got in here and told us what was going on, we sent Jane out there with the gun to save poor Mike."
The man laughed, "I dont think Ive ever been so happy to be shot before. I was thinking there was really going to be some blood shed and it was going to be mine."
"Man, you guys really scared the hell out of me," AJ admitted as she leaned against Chase exhausted from the ordeal.
"Im sorry, baby," Chase kissed the blond head that rested on her shoulder, "but did you have fun?"
AJ thought about that before replying, "Yeah, I actually did. I think this is really going to catch on."
The group laughed, talked and partied into the night, sharing stories about what happened to them during the weekend. When AJ and Chase finally got to bed, the taller woman wrapped herself around her partner, "I dont think I thanked you for being my knight in shining armor tonight. I cant believe you actually picked me up."
"You mean the world to me Chase," AJ confessed quietly, "And there was no way I was going to let some freak in a bad Halloween mask do anything to hurt you."
"I love you, AJ Armstrong. I think Ill keep you around."
"Remember that when the chiropractor bill comes in."
Things were quiet for a while as the women just laid there when AJ started chuckling, "Stop tickling my leg."
"Then what " AJ shot up, "Get the bat!"