ProfNigma Stories #10: Schneider’s Island #1

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ProfNigma Stories #10: Schneider’s Island #1iCarly/Victorious: Schneider’s Island #10 – Sploosh[Warning – there is no sex in this story, please don’t hate me for that, but I hope you enjoy it nevertheless]”Why would they have just taken off like that?!” Spencer said, pacing the floor so heavily that he might as well have left marks, gripping one of his daughter’s dresses tightly, the material seeping through his fingers. “We agreed to stay.””They were scared,” Carly said, trying to keep her br*ther calm. “We all are, but maybe they didn’t leave. Maybe they… are just getting some air.””That sounds fucking stupid, Carls,” Sam said from across the room, the butt of the gun balancing in her palm, as the blonde tried to deal with her stress. “They left, and I’m not gonna pretend to be delusional and say they shouldn’t have.””Sam!” Spencer and Carly said in unison.”What?” The blonde said dropping the gun and catching it near the top, annoyed that she had to explain further. “If it means surviving, I think we all would at least consider the option.””But at the cost of my daughter?!” Spencer said, trying not to be too angry to someone who at least stuck around. “How could they be so selfish?””Needs of the many,” Sam retorted throwing her hands towards the window before pulling them back towards Spencer. “Needs of the few. Just makes-“”We need a clean table!”The three of them spun around to see Nate and Andre coming through the front door carrying Robbie, with Tori leading the way. They were immediately followed by Cat, Noelle, and Beck, none of which looked too pleased to be back at the inn.”What happened?!” Carly said, rushing over to check on all of them, but Spencer stepped in front of her separating Nate, Andre, and Tori, who were heading into the small dining room, from the others.”More importantly,” he added, looking at Beck, “what the hell were you guys thinking to leave like that?””Can we not do this?” the handsome young man said, rolling his eyes while the two lovers accompanying him moved towards the couch.”You knew what would happen if you left! You knew that this psycho would have killed my daughter… so why?!””Because Spencer,” Beck said his words dripping with venom, starting to stand his ground. “Someone is trying to kill all of us. Someone sick and twisted and we are sitting ducks here. I made the call to try and save people. We came back… that counts for something… not that it matters.”His eyes shot over to Noelle, who looked incredibly ashamed of her decision to stop their escape. The longer she thought about the choice to guilt the others into staying, the worse she felt. Beck might have been right- their only chance to make it out of there.”Look…” Spencer said, rubbing his temples. “I get it. I just… well, maybe if we do whatever this guy wants, maybe Savanna will be ok.””Where’s Freddie?”All 6 of them turned towards the side room where the sheriff was resting to see Jade, who had been sitting with him, standing in the doorway, grip-ping the door frame as if she might fall without it.”We never saw him,” Beck said, actually looking a bit upset by that development. “We just found Robbie… and he’s in bad shape. I think the killer might have been hunting him.””So, if Robbie’s hurt…” Cat said, looking around the room, “does that mean he’s not the killer?”* * *”We need to get him to the flattest place we can,” Nate said as he and Andre looked for the best place to put the injured nerd, until they found a side table that worked best. “Here will work.”The former high school wimp and punching bag now lay before them, breathing shallow breaths, still alive, but seemingly half asl*ep. His shoulder was bleeding out, not immensely, but enough that he was moving in and out of consciousness.Andre stared at the staunch young man for a few moments as he backed away from Robbie’s semi-conscious body. “So now what do we do?””We need to get a good look at these wounds… Looks like they missed the parts of him that would easily kill him.” Nate said, taking on a new persona, focusing like a hawk on those arrows, as he always did when a situation demanded it. It was a rare trait to have the ability to rise to any occasion, even if it meant making an ass of himself, but that was Nate Shepherd. He slowly realized how he was coming off as his two friends watched him circle Robbie, looking sceptical. “Sorry…” he said, softly. “My uncle was a taxidermist. Taught us a few things when we were teenagers.””Not complaining,” Andre said, throwing his arms into the air as he watched Tori take a seat at a neighbouring table. “You doing alright there, Tor?””No…” she said with a heavy sigh, as if this was her first breath in days, “I don’t think I will ever be alright, though.””Yeah…” Andre said, looking off into the distance for a moment as the reality of this situation hit him hard. “We’re… we couldn’t exactly just go back to the way things used to be, could we?””I’m going to have nightmares for-“”Not to interrupt,” Nate said, clearly intentionally interrupting his former love, “But I need the two of you to focus for a couple minutes and help me.””Sure,” Tori said, snapping out of what seemed like a dream, before jumping up and rushing to his side with Andre behind her. “What can we do?””Nothing fun…” Nate said, taking a breath. “But it’s going to require the three of us to work together at once, alright?”The two nodded at him, not even giving the fact that his newly discovered medical abilities came from the art of stuffing a****ls.”Tori, I need you to take those napkins over there and apply pressure around the arrow’s entry here on his leg,” Nate said, taking her hand and pressing it to the area. “But be prepared to thrust some other napkins to the back of his thigh and swap sides when I tell you.””Oh… ok,” she said, knowing what he was going to do, but in no way prepared for it to happen.”Andre, I need you to turn him on his side, and hold him in place.”The ever-present nice guy simply nodded, and gripped Robbie’s side, feeling the skinny young man’s pulse quicken, as if he knew what was going to happen, but Andre couldn’t bear to look to see if that were true.”Alright…” Nate said, shutting his eyes and placing his hand on the edge of the bolt, feeling something even more unsettling- it had metal fletchings, meaning pushing it through would do more damage. However, he still gripped it tight, and with a quick flick of his wrist, snapped the lower third of the bolt off, earning a ‘good job’ signal from Andre, who immediately then saw his hand.The sharp fletching had dug deep into Nate’s course hands, and he closed fist was now dripping with bright crimson.”Man… we gotta get you-“Nate raised his slashed hand up to silence his friend. “Later… let’s help him first… this is just a flesh wound.” The three of them all knew he was lying, but they weren’t going to pick now to call him on it.The determined Texan walked back and did the same with the one in Robbie’s shoulder, slashing his hand even further, but he still accomplished the task. Nate quickly resumed his spot between Tori and Andre, ready to remove the arrows the best way he knew how.”The shoulder one is already through…” he said, looking closely to make sure that no veins or arteries might be in the way of the push, “… so let’s start there. Then immediately go to the other one. We take this sucker too slow, Shapiro here ain’t likely to make it.”So with a mighty shove, Andre lifted Robbie up, Tori stood at the ready to create makeshift gauze, and Nate pushed the now splintered bolt through Robbie’s right shoulder.And that’s when the screaming took over the inn.* * *Through the walls, the others sat around trying to ignore the horrible sounds coming from the other room, as Jade stood and watched out the window, sitting by Singer’s sl*eping form and just wishing Freddie would come back to her. Her eyes had just started to get heavy when she heard the main inn door open.”Is everyone alright?!” came a voice Jade considered murdering just to hear again… as morbid as that was. “I heard screaming!””Freddie!” Carly shouted, rushing to see him, and wrapping her arms around his neck, followed by the others as Jade was moving slowly from sit-ting still for so long. When she reached him however, she took her time, kissing him and gripping him so hard, he wondered if he’d snap.”I missed you too,” he said, trying to keep calm and not lose himself to how thankful he was to be alive and to hold her once again.Spencer stepped behind him and put his hand on Freddie’s shoulder, looking at his long-time neighbour with a desperate look. The tech producer couldn’t say anything but just shake his head, almost ashamed for not having any news on the young girl, earning a disappointed and hopeless glance from the lovable goof he knew.”I wish I had any good news but… I don’t,” Freddie said, finally free from Jade’s grasp for a few moments so he could address everyone. “This isn’t limited to just us though… I found a few bodies along the way to and from the police station, including the two deputies, and the psychic woman from the bachelorette party.””Guess she couldn’t see that coming,” Sam scoffed, earning horrible glances from the rest of the room, before rolling her eyes “What the fuck ever…””The only thing I do know though,” Freddie continued, giving just a sliver of hope in his glance, “is that the state police are supposed to be coming in tomorrow morning. So we just have to wait until then.””Waiting’s not going to help us find Savanna though,” Spencer said, earning a few nods, while a few, including those that attempted escape, just looked to the floor.”I know… but I think the bigger issue is this- Robbie’s free and on the loose. Looks like I was wrong, and he escaped from the jail… killing the…” Freddie froze for a moment as the group looked at him as if they had something huge to share. “Is he right behind me?””Not quite,” Andre said, as Freddie spun around, seeing the musician covered in blood. “He’s alive, but just barely. We found him, shot up with arrows, covered in scratches and scrap*s in the woods when we went to get the others.””So he’s… not the one?””Not unless he did that shit to himself…” Andre said, seeming just as surprised. “Which I don’t think is humanly possible.”Freddie took a deep sigh, and stumbled over to a chair and plopped down, feeling completely and utterly exhausted. He was so quickly lost in his head that when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he nearly snapped it off.”Baby…” Jade whispered, recoiling from his jolt. “You need to just stop and take a couple minutes. Your dad is up there… and you haven’t stopped moving since your mom… you need to just take a little while to mourn. Or you’re going to kill yourself with this.””Kill myself versus waiting to be killed off… doesn’t really seem like a winnable scenario, babe.”* * *Twenty minutes had passed before anyone said much of anything else and that break was only due to Tori and Nate finally exiting the dining room, each stained a bit with the dried blood of the person they thought was to blame for all of this.”K*d’s gonna need a doctor,” Nate said, slumping into the nearest chair. “But he’ll survive I think. We got some hydrogen peroxide illegal bahis siteleri in the wounds and the way he’s layin’ is gonna keep that pressure… He’s stable.”Tori said nothing but just casually sauntered over to touch Jade’s shoulder, which she recoiled back instantly before realizing it was just her long-time friend and maid of honour. Jade touched Tori’s hand and leaned her head against the singer’s digits, savouring the feel of another person she cared so much about.”We can’t just sit here,” Spencer said a minute later, clearly agitated to sit still for even another moment.”Well, we can’t just go splitting up again either,” Andre said, earning nods from most of the room. “That’s the horror movie rule, right? As long as we stick together, nothing is going to happen to us.””Except this isn’t a movie,” Spencer added in, getting defensive.”Might as well be,” Sam said, taking a long yawn as if she was bored, while taking a swig from a beer with the other. “As shitty as this has been so far. And we all could have avoided this bullshit, if you think about it. We paid for the ticket to ‘see’ this movie.””I can’t tell if you’re being deep,” Nate said, cocking his eyebrow. “Or downright fuckin’ stupid. You care to do some elaboratin’?””We chose to come to this godforsaken shithole and now we are paying for it… all because those two,” she said, pointing and Freddie and Jade without even looking, “just had to get fucking married because Freddie has no taste.””Sam!” Cat said, horrified that her former roommate and close friend would say such a thing.”Don’t!” the blonde said, raising her hand to silence the submissive redhead. “There’s no denying that I’m right. If we weren’t here… none of this would be happening. Spencer, you want to blame someone for Savanna’s… whatever happened to her… blame Freddie.”Sam barely had time to turn when a sharp pale hand left a burning mark on the blonde’s quickly reddening face. The room was surprised that it wasn’t the hot tempered former Goth, but the former web star and Sam’s best friend.”How fucking dare you?!” Carly said, nearly screaming at Sam. “He just lost his mom, and none of this is his fault!””But she’s not wrong…” Beck said calmly, earning angry glances from most of the room, save for Sam who was still reeling and Freddie who just sat there, staring off, clearly soaking in the pain of Sam’s truth. “Plus, we all lost someone. His mom, Jade’s parents, Tori’s s*ster, and I lost Kelly-“”Because that’s a loss on par with the rest of us…” Jade said, her words dripping with acid.”Cat…” Noelle said, getting up from a couch, and gripping her quietly sobbing girlfriend tightly. “We should go sit with Robbie. Someone needs to keep watch on him, and the sheriff too, and this is far too tense for us.”The redhead simply nodded and followed her raven haired girlfriend into the dining room.”Noelle’s right… let’s go see… Singer,” Jade said, pulling Freddie up and leading him up the stairs to the room where the sheriff was still recovering.Those left in the room said nothing but simply avoided the glances of the others while waiting for some answers, or daylight, to come.* * *”You’re a lot brave than me, Noey…”Noelle quizzically looked over at her girlfriend, who was huddled tightly under the pale girl’s arm. “What are you talking about?”Cat took several moments to gather her thoughts together completely. She looked over the room, as they sat thirty feet away from Robbie’s unc*nscious form, barely watching him, focusing instead on each other and being away from the energy in the other room.”You wouldn’t leave. You were scared and you still wouldn’t leave… or let me leave.””I thought you’d be mad at me for that,” Noelle said with a sigh, fearing she’d made a mistake. “I just don’t think I could have just left.””I know… you’re so strong,” Cat said, smashing her lips against Noelle’s neck. “And brave, and smart, and so amazing…”As Cat’s words grew sultrier and her hands grew bolder, Noelle’s hairs began to stand on end, feeling the desire that had been suppressed by fear and doubt starting to well up. “Cat… we can’t. This isn’t the time. Robbie’s right there.””Simple fix…” the redhead said, standing up and this time leading Noelle to a nearby closet. “No more Robbie here.””Cat… I know what this is,” she said, trying to maintain her composure. “I’ve read about this- PTSD essentially, that causes lust to build up, and-“The writer was immediately silenced as she watched Cat, never breaking eye contact, drop her dress around her ankles, standing in just some pink underwear. She didn’t even have to say a word as she pressed Noelle’s body hard against the door and kissed her as deeply as she could, her tongue instantly snaking deep into her lover’s mouth.Cat felt Noelle’s mouth twist into a soft smile as she began to eagerly accept Cat’s activities and began unbuttoning her shirt rapidly, revealing her bra covered, supple chest to Cat who turned into an absolute fiend, once she had a breast, or a nipple to suckle. It was a strange habit, but it felt so good to have her hot, wanting mouth on her sensitive flesh, Noelle didn’t mind, and this was the most relaxed she’d felt since they got there.”Holy Shit! Guys, you need to get in here!”Noelle’s eyes clenched as the words echoed into the closet from the other room, hearing what sounded like Andre. The two girls quickly tried to get dressed and shared one last, much more chaste, kiss, nonverbally promising to pick this up later.The couple secretly slid from the closet and headed towards where the others were gathering near the secondary kitchen in the next room. They moved to the front, pushing in front of Nate to get a look. And realized that was a mistake.What Andre had found was a trapdoor in the pantry, hidden by a large rug, which was an exciting enough discovery, but the streak of blood leading from the trap door for a couple feet made the excitement turn to horror very quickly.”I read about these tunnels,” Freddie said, speaking up, still seemingly shell shocked from his night so far. “Before we came, I researched the place. The inn was built during the prohibition as a hub, so there are tunnels that run underneath parts of the town. But… I don’t think we should go down there… no telling what kind of rodents and vermin and… other stuff that might be down there.””It could also be where Savanna got to,” Spencer said, clearly finding new hope with this discovery, but he said it with the desperation of a man who had lost it all. Which to be fair… he had. The unsure looks around the group didn’t raise his faith in the others at all so he plead further. “C’mon guys… It has to at least be worth a look.”Freddie took a heavy sigh and stepped forward, earning glances from the others fairly quickly.”You can’t go down there alone,” the lost groom said, as if the words were killing him to say, fearing the worst for Savanna, and feeling at his worst, unable to shake Sam’s words of blame.”No one’s going alone,” Nate said as he stepped forward, casually slapping Andre on the back, pushing him forward, which clearly annoyed the musician, but couldn’t muster the ability to step back now that he had ‘volunteered’.”What he said,” Andre piped up with an unsteady timbre in his voice.As nearly all those standing with a Y chromosome had volunteered to explore the dark and damp tunnel, all eyes moved to the last male in the crowd. Beck stood there with his arms crossed shaking his head until finally he just took a deep sigh before speaking and stepping forward.”Goddamm you people…”* * *The girls stood in the small kitchen for what felt like an hour, but was really a few minutes, just trying to keep calm and listening out for any sounds from beneath them. Since they only had 6 guns, taking all of them down into the darkness did not seem like the best plan, so they left two upstairs. One, of course, stayed with Sam as she was the only one with any real shooting experience, while the other simply changed hands with whoever was watching the trap door at a given time.Jade, unable to sit still decided to head up to her room for a few things, and was grateful, though she’d never admit it when Carly volunteered to come along with her.As the two girls looked into the room that Jade was currently sharing with Tori, they both stopped… frozen in their tracks at the sight hanging in the window.The dress.It looked just as beautiful as it did when Jade had first tried it on months ago, and instantly knew that it was going to be her body’s cocoon as she went from being Jade West, the evil bitch of Hollywood Arts, to Mrs Freddie Benson.Without even realizing she had done it, her hand dropped to her side and she took Carly’s hand, fingers entwining, as her eyes started to blur once more, feeling the tears coming despite blowing through her duct reserve in the last couple days.”I’m sorry…” Carly said, which caused the former Goth to jerk away.”Don’t say that…” Jade said, rubbing her eyes, and grabbing a fresh shirt, turning her back on Carly as she swapped her top out, unsure whether or not Carly was still into girls or was bi or whatever… “I just want this nightmare to be over.””I think that goes for all of us,” Carly said, unsure of what to say. “I don’t really know if it has even really registered yet for me. My dad and my s*ster in law… possibly Savanna. There’s just so much that we can take.””Fuck that,” Jade said, confidently, turning back around with a comfortable t-shirt, and a fire in her eyes. “I don’t care where we have to go, or what we have to do… but I will marry Freddie, and I will wear that dress, and that fucking definite. No goddamn way I’m fucking dying here.”The anger in Jade’s eyes just now was something Carly had not seen before, not even during their day together after the loss of both her parents. “We have to believe that, I guess.”There was relative silence for a moment until Jade pushed past Carly, heading out the door.”We should check the rooms again, if that’s ok with you,” Carly said, trying not to get in the way of her wrath. “I don’t think I can just sit down there with them and just wait. At least it feels like we’re doing something.””Fair point, Shay…” Jade said, reaching back and putting her hair up in a ponytail. “Where do we start?”* * *”I don’t have the damnedest clue where to even start,” Nate said, looking at a map of the island with a flashlight in one hand while he and Andre held the map between them, both clueless as to which direction they were headed. “This might lead in a circle for all we know.””One way to find out,” Freddie said, pushing ahead with Spencer right behind him as they followed the tunnels which weren’t as cramped as they expected, but were certainly dark and damp.”If these were built during the prohibition,” Spencer said, turning to look at the map for a second. “I’d say the tunnels go to the marina at the very least. Probably to the major parts of the town, and certainly the bars.””I could use a stiff drink,” Beck said, bringing up the rear and being a pain in the ass as per usual.”You’re gonna get a stiff boot in your ass if you don’t stop being a little shit,” Nate said with about as much venom as his words could carry alone.”Hey,” youwin güvenilir mi Andre said, trying to get the attention just as much as diffuse the tension between the two long-time rivals. “You think these tunnels are how the killer’s been getting all over the place without anyone seeing him?””It’s not a bad idea,” Freddie said, offering a thoughtful glance that no one could really see with the limited light. “Makes as much sense as any-thing. This place doesn’t have the cobwebs or other signs of disuse that I was expecting.””Certainly smells like it hasn’t been cleaned in 100 years,” Beck said, not earning any arguments on his first actual point of the night. “Smells like rot, and shit, and-“”Hold on,” Freddie said, raising his fist to silence the others. “We have a problem.”As the five flashlights all moved to spotlight what was in from of them, they saw that there was indeed a big problem. Three to be exact. There were three tunnels, each one seemingly earmarked with a different amount of dried brown, which they secretly hoped wasn’t blood… but also not something far more putrid.”So we should split up…” Andre said, without doing the math first. “Oh…””Yeah…” Freddie said, with a heavy sigh. “That means someone is going off by themselves.”* * *”Any sign of her in there?” Jade asked as Carly exited the room she and Sam were sharing.”No… but I didn’t really expect her to go in there. She really doesn’t like Sam too much.””Huh… guess the k*d does have good taste,” Jade said snarkily, earning a barely scolding glare from Carly as the two girls looked into Spencer’s large room. Jade took a left and headed into their bedroom while Carly headed right towards her father’s room and her niece’s small room.Jade looked over the place, and didn’t feel the least bit of shame snooping until she found a photo of Spencer, Amy, and Savanna that had to be pretty recent as Savanna didn’t look more than a year older. They looked so happy, and the way he looked at her was… well, she knew that look, and what it meant, better than most.In fact, it wasn’t until she heard Carly’s scream that she finally snapped out of the zone, tossing the picture and rushing toward her search partner. She found Carly standing over Savanna’s bed, still and looking like she had seen a ghost.”I found something,” she said cryptically, turning to face Jade and show her the discovery. “And it wasn’t here when Spencer and I searched this room together before.”It was a Tarot card- The Tower. And it was stained with the blood of the tiniest handprints.* * *”You know that whatever we find…” Freddie said, not really wanting to look back into Spencer’s eyes, “everything is going to-“”Freddie… stop,” Spencer said cutting him off in not only speech, but also in movement, causing the two former neighbours to look each other in the eyes, weighing the pain and sorrow within one another. “I don’t believe that… and I don’t think you do either.””I don’t know what to believe, for sure.” The former tech producer pushed ahead, shaking his head, and tried to refocus on finding Savanna rather than offering half-hearted reassurance. “I just want to find your daughter and get the hell out of here.”Spencer didn’t argue and followed the trail that they had chosen, heading to the right at the 3-way fork. It was much more narrow than the main trail all five of them had followed, but still not too cramped that the lanky man had to crouch. The silence gave way to a thought that escaped his lips before he really even had time to process.”You think we’re cursed?””What?” Freddie said, stopping. “What do you mean?””Well…” Spencer said, trying to gather his thoughts fully before going on. “I mean just that. I lost my mom really early in my life… Carly lucked out because she doesn’t remember her, but I do. And you know me… I put on that face and that carefree air, because I think that’s what Carly needed when dad got strict. But now… I lost Amy, my dad too, and now… Well, I don’t know about Savanna and I haven’t lost hope yet… but I still think someone out there… or up there… hates me. You haven’t had it much easier, losing your mom like that, and you never knew your dad, and it was your wedding that…”Unable to see Freddie’s face until the light hit it just right, Spencer had no idea what he had said until the words were already out.”Ohmygod… I don’t mean it like that,” Spencer said, backtracking to make up for the word vomit. “I just meant-“”I know who my father is. We officially met yesterday.”The two stood in silence for a moment, Spencer stunned into silence at who Freddie could be talking about.”Singer… the sheriff,” he said coldly. “When my mom died… she was trying to help him off that leg trap Jade and I saved him from. He tried to warn her, but you know… or knew, I guess… my mom. She never listened.””Freddie, I’m-“”It was instant, or at least that what he said…” Freddie said with a sigh, fighting tears. “I think it was the blood loss or maybe he just decided now was the time to come clean… but he told me. He’s my dad.””Jeez, k*d… that’s really… heavy,” Spencer said, tripping over his words, unsure of what to say in this moment. “So is that why you have kinda been paranoid about him? Not want to lose the only parent left?””I guess,” Freddie said, pointing his light up ahead and walking onward. “I also think he knows more about all this than he’s letting on. He was here when the first massacre happened so I hope to get the answers I need once he wakes up and stuff.””Not to ruin any ideas you might have about Singer but my dad hated him, for sure. He would never tell me why.””Well, that doesn’t raise any red flags at all…” Freddie said, rolling his eyes even though the gesture couldn’t be seen. “Just another fucking question to add to the damned hundreds of others.””Just thought you should know…” Spencer said, unsure of how to say the next part. “You know… in case something happens. To me. Dad was always a good judge of character and if he said Singer is a bad dude, than I’m sure there’s a reason behind-“”Back up…””To which part?”Spencer felt Freddie’s arm on his shoulder pointing them to what they now faced: a dead end.”I meant turn around… we’ve hit a wall I guess,” Freddie said looking at the mess in front of them. This tunnel had clearly collapsed on itself and just a mass of stone and dirt served as the ephemeral resting place for the two of them. “Gotta wonder how the others are managing…”* * *”Did I mention how much I don’t like you?” Andre asked, unable to see much in front of Nate as he led the way down the far narrower pathway.”I may have picked up on some less than subtle hints,” the broad shouldered young man said, as he focused the light down and ahead. “Can’t exactly see much reasonin’ as to why though.””You and your damn ‘pat’ on the back…” Andre shook his head. “Black people ain’t exactly built for enclosed spaces like this.””Seriously?” Nate said with a sudden stop. “All the flack you give me about being a ‘racist’ or some kind of ‘back woods bigot’, and you’re just going to pitch me that stereotype?””Stereotype or not… that shit’s true.””So, tight spaces, bodies of water, and Miracle Whip…” Nate said, with an audible smile. “The kryptonite trifecta of Andre Harris is at last clear.””No…” Andre said, with a suppressed laugh, knowing he should be annoyed but he knew that Nate was a good guy. “Just regular mayonnaise… not sure what they do different but that Miracle Whip shit is delicious.””You are a catbird, br*ther, you know that?” Nate said, knowing the ‘br*ther’ thing didn’t come out right but he really didn’t care.”Yeah… I have no idea what that is.”The unlikely duo headed deeper into the tunnel, trying to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary, but other than a few massacred rats along the path, there wasn’t much to see.”You think we should have left him alone back there?””Who?” Nate asked, knowing full well the answer.”Beck. I kinda feel bad for him being the one on his own,” Andre said, drenching his words with compassion.”Yeah, I noticed how bad you felt when you gave him your gun,” the stout man said with a cynical tone. “Certainly more than I would’ve given him.””I can’t believe,” Andre said, getting preachy once again on the subject, “that after like 6 years, you two still hate each other as much as you do.””I’d hardly say its surprising, Harris. That boy is an asshole. Always has been… probably always will be. You don’t just grow out of that.””Just admit its more about…” the musician tried to tiptoe over Tori as the mention of her seemed to set Nate on edge, “her… than anything that either of you think of or do around each other.””Now why’d you have to ruin the mood by bring him or Tori up?” Nate said with a mild whine in his tone. “We were having such a good time.””You’re nuts, dude…” Andre said, shaking his head as he stepped on a squishy spot that he prayed was just another dead rat and not something worse.”Hey,” Nate said, stopping short and turning to Andre for a moment, as he reached into his pocket. “Heads or tails?””What?” he asked quizzically, and then saw the coin flip in the low light. “Um, tails.””Well, alright then,” Nate said, revealing the coin on the floor to be head up. “Guess that settles it.””Settles what?” Andre asked getting extremely nervous very quickly, and his heart sunk even further when he saw where Nate’s flashlight pointed. It was a duct, very small and narrow, and no doubt filled with bugs, rats, and other vermin. And that wasn’t even counting the splash of dried blood along the entryway.”Settles which one of us is going through this crawlspace.””Dude… you are seriously the worst person I know,” Andre said, throwing his hands in the air. “I just get through telling you how I don’t like how cramped this is, and now you’re going to send me in there?””I did give you the chance to call it,” Nate shot back as if that made everything alright. “Tell you what… you don’t die in there, I’ll buy you a… jar or container or whatever of Miracle Whip.””Racist asshole…” Andre said, taking deep breaths to prepare himself.”I could have said I’d buy you fried chicken and Kool-Aid,” the Southerner said as seriously as he could manage, only breaking when he saw that Andre was fighting a grin as well. “I’d say that’s progress.””You’re lucky there’s a little girl lost or else you would not get my ass anywhere near this,” Andre said, sinking down and grabbing the flashlight to peer inside as he prepped for crawling on his elbows through the duct sized tunnel. “Not gonna lie, man… this place is a lot cleaner than the tunnels.””See anything in there?””Not really…” the lifetime Los Angeline called back as he saw that there was a corner coming up. “Taking a turn though, and…”For a good ten seconds, Andre’s sentence and all his sounds stopped, causing Nate to drop to his knees to peer down the duct with his flashlight, seeing Andre’s lower legs. “You ok?””Umm… not really,” he called back, taking deep breaths as he shined his light up ahead. “There’s something in here… and I don’t know what it is… but it’s got hair I think.””Think it’s the girl?!””No telling but it doesn’t look like a full size person…” he said, his fear perabet clear from his wavering tone, and began to silently pray that Savanna was not what he was about to come across. “Guess I need to get closer.”Andre moved slowly towards the obstacle in his way, his heart racing, and as prepared as he thought he was for whatever he would find, he quickly realized he was dead wrong.Nate kept his eyes focused on Andre’s feet disappearing from sight as he crawled on, and the larger young man kept his hand on the edge of the duct, ready to climb in there if he needed to. He was just about to start his way inside when he heard a scream that made even his thick skin crawl.”AHHH WHAT THE… FUCK THIS!””What’d you find?!” he shouted into the duct, seeing Andre’s legs reappear as the musician moved backwards like a man possessed to get out of there. “Andre?!””Dude… this is fucking messed up as… fuck!” he cried out. “She was in pieces!””Holy Jesus… who’d do that to a little girl?!””Not the girl…” Andre said, feeling Nate grab his leg to pull him out of there, his dark hands once again stained with blood. “It was Trina. Or half of her…””Mother of God…” the usually calm cowboy exclaimed.”Her top half was blocking my path, but I think the legs were around the other corner and I wasn’t crawling over… I mean, Trina was a bit of a grunch, but shit, man… nobody deserves that.””You can’t tell Tori that…” Nate said, never having his former girlfriend too far from his mind. “I mean… you can tell her about Trina being dead, but not all that. That girl isn’t built for that kinda thing.””Fuck Tori! What about me not being built for this?!” Andre said, earning a fiery gaze from Nate, for a second, before Nate just shook his head. “Thanks for the help getting out though, man… I’m not ever going to sl*ep again though.””Let’s just keep hopin’ that ain’t what’s gon’ happen.”* * *”I hope every single one of you assholes dies,” Beck said to no one in particular as he treaded through the left tunnel, which was just as wide as the previous tunnel, which was overwhelmingly unnerving as it was a lot of space to fill with just him.Gone were the numerous rat carcasses, and the path was relatively worn. Far less disgusting, which set the handsome young man on edge. Someone has taken the time clean and wear this path out, he thought, a shiver running down his spine. It had to be recent… and just knowing that he was following the killer’s footsteps put his very being on edge.After walking for what felt like a good 50 yards, he reached an impasse very similar to what Andre and Nate would soon find, but far more narrow. As he crouched to look into the dark and damp abyss, he couldn’t help but feel like something was staring back at him too.I should just go, he thought. Just go back upstairs and see the others, and maybe just keep the group together so that no one else faces this shit. But there was still that knot in his stomach. He never viewed himself as selfish really. Sure, he was a bit chauvinistic with Jade and he had spiralled out with Tori, but he had gotten better, at least in his mind. His life was together, and his conscience was no longer suppressed by the toxins, and he was genuinely worried about the little girl. Which, at least to Beck, alerted him to one thing and one thing only.He was completely screwed.The young man took a deep breath and sank down so he could fully climb through the tiny tunnel. Once again, he was shocked to find how clean the duct was, allowing him to easily move along the space, unafraid of what he might touch. At least for now.Beck slowly made his way through the path, struggling with each movement whether or not he should just back away and leave this be. But just as he lost his nerve, he saw that there was an exit ahead where there was actually a little light.Taking short shallow breaths, Beck readied the gun that Andre had given him, that had adorned his back for a while now, but made it difficult to get through the corners. A fiery courage began to grow deep in the pit of his stomach and the olive-skinned actor decided at that moment that if anyone tried to make a move, he’d put them down.His mental state slowly growing from prey into predator, he climbed out from the tiny passage and stood up, to see what looked like an under-ground street. Andre still had the map, but if Beck had to guess, he had to be right near the actual hub of these tunnels. Then again, it could just be a spot, and the lights did look pretty recent.Beck stepped lightly, trying to be ready to sneak up on… actually he had no idea who or what was doing this to his friends, but he was ready nonetheless.He was so focused on looking for people that he actually walked right by a door to a small room, the first time, but luckily caught himself on the second take. It was dead bolted shut, locked from the outside, as if it was keeping something in, rather than out.Beck’s curiosity proved too much for him to just leave this alone, so he unlocked the door and slowly opened it to reveal a small bedroom.And like a princess in some fairy tale, Savanna lay on a bed, about two feet off the ground with a pink ruffle going from the mattress to the floor, seemingly fast asl*ep, awaiting someone to come and rescue her.”Savanna!” he called out, rousing the young girl almost instantly.”Mister Beck! Hey… did you come down to play with us?””No…” he said, almost yelling at her, but quickly regained his composure. “Not right now, at least… we need to get back up to your dad.””Daddy’s ok?!” she said excitedly before rushing past him.”Savanna, wait up!” he called out, exasperated and rolling his eyes. He took a quick look around the room, and saw that she had left her stuffed a****l. He headed over to the bed to grab the raggedy brown rabbit doll, “Hang on, Savanna! You forgot your-“KLANG… KLICK!Beck rushed back over to the now slammed door and tried to open it once more but it was locked up super tight and would not budge in the slightest. “Savanna! Let me out, sweetie!” he called out, but there was no answer. After nearly two minutes of sitting with his ear to the door, beat-ing it, and calling out, he threw his arms in the air in total defeat and waited for the young girl to lead the others back here.* * *”How long do you think we should give them?” Spencer said, waiting back at the hub where the path broke off three ways while Freddie paced, pointlessly checking his long dead watch for how long it had been. “I feel like it’s been hours.””Maybe two hours…” Freddie said, just trying to breathe. “Time’s been so weird. I think I got in around 2 or 3, so it’s gotta be like… what, 7?””I guess, but it just feels like permanent night-time… Things have just slowed down, and I-“”Daddy?!”Spencer didn’t even bother to look to Freddie as he just bolted, like a sprinter who just heard the pistol, down the left passageway. “K*ddo?”Freddie raised his flashlight towards the path, and had just started down it when he saw the f*mily reunited, Savanna tightly kept in Spencer’s arms as he kissed her head time after time after time.”We miss anything?” came a voice from the other side, quickly revealed as Nate, with Andre right behind, covered in just black sludge. The two looked happy to have found her, but there was a deep air of something being very wrong.”Where’s Beck?””He said he’d just wait down there,” Savanna said. “In the room I slept in. I was safe, I promise, daddy.””Yeah,” Spencer said, “I guess I can see why Beck would want to stay there. Well, we’ll go grab him later once the cops show up.”As the five of them headed back towards the entrance, quickly opening the trap door once more, they were quickly blinded by the stiff light of morning. Tori was there to greet them, wrapping her arms around each one of them, until she realized there were one person short. She wanted to say something but, Nate quickly pulled her aside with Andre as Spencer and Savanna were greeted by an overjoyed Carly, quickly followed by Jade who jumped and wrapped her legs around Freddie, planting a kiss that raised more than a few eyebrows for a moment.Cat and Noelle descended the stair in a hurry, clearly just waking up… or interrupted from something that required them to dress in a hurry. As they walked past the rows of doors, Noelle paused for a moment and ran back up, peering into the room that Singer was sl*eping in, finding only an empty bed, and plenty of blood, hopefully from his injury.Before the young writer could say much of anything, Cat raced back and grabbed her hand and pulled her into the tight group of former high school students, as this was the first real win since they had arrived on this island, and no one wanted to diminish the newfound hope.However, in the corner, a sliver of hope was being extinguished as Nate and Andre did their best to break the news to Tori in the least detailed way possible. Needless to say, the aspiring pop star just began to weep, praying that her s*ster was in a better place and she didn’t suffer much.Freddie’s eyes were so focused on the saddened girls that he barely felt the tug on his pants from Savanna.”Were you surprised, Uncle Freddie?””Oh, yes,” he said, sinking to one knee to face her. “I was so surprised and happy that we found you down there.””So does that mean I win?” she asked, as if that was a normal question.”Win what?””The game. I win now, right?”Freddie stared at the young, clearly out of touch young ch*ld, and tried desperately to understand, as he felt a slight chill go up his arm. “What game? With who?””The game with your dad… the grumpy policeman… he said you would like this game.”The small chill had become a full on icicle, and it currently felt like he was being impaled upon it, the cold feeling was so strong. He sprung up and looked around before racing toward the steps as Savanna ran after him shouting.”You do want to play don’t you, Uncle Freddie?”* * *”Yup…” Beck said with a sigh as he finally took a seat on the surprisingly soft bed. “20 minutes and still nothing…”He had paced around the room almost non stop since he realized Savanna wasn’t coming back for him, and now he was just miserable. But then again, he had his gun, and this room seems pretty safe, he thought. Can’t hurt to just rest until I hear those self righteous assholes.Beck was instantly surprised at how heavy his eyes got in such a short time, and before long he was fighting to stay awake.Unfortunately, as his fight with the Sandman came to a close, another fight, much greater than any other he’d ever faced, began and ended in an instant, as he felt a sharp pain in his back. A horrified glance down revealed that that growing pain was from a cold steel hunting knife that pushed straight through his abdomen, exiting fully, as he felt the hilt against his spine.The pain was excruciating and he couldn’t move really to get away. He could only watch with wide eyes as the knife withdrew and was shoved back into him, much harder and faster. It was the second or third time it happened that he began to realize that he wasn’t going to be alright.In that moment, feeling excruciating pain, he reached out towards the shape that was now sliding out from underneath the bed, but everything faded out before he could even get a good look at who did this. His last thought before he reached oblivion was not some life flash, or sudden peace discovery, but the phrase from the tag of the stuffed a****l: “You can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far.”

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