5.0 Four Little Girls (ditch) School

by Matt P.

“Bonnie,” Antigone grumbled as she blearily ran a hand back through her hair and reached for a sweatshirt. “Why, exactly, are we up before dawn?”

Three of the four of them were sitting with equally foggy minds and sleep touched eyes, half-heartedly reaching for clothing while still in their pajamas. One of the four, Siobhan, was already mostly dressed in black leggings and a black sweatshirt that read ‘Halestorm’ with a stylized skull underneath it. She was pulling her hair back in to a pony-tail, having let it run long in the last several months, as she walked around looking for a pair of boots to wear. “Because we’re going to find whatever it was that was screaming in the woods,” she answered simply.

Monica stood and stretched, grabbing her backpack so that she could sneak away and change. “You mean the one that beat up armed professionals last night?” She asked, pulling the strap over her shoulder and raising an eyebrow. Lacey was just barely managing to sit up, and furiously scrubbed at her hair with fast moving hands in an almost ritualistic attempt to fully wake up.

“We’re up at the ass-crack because she figures it’s the best chance to avoid Dad,” Antigone answered. “You know we have to go to school, right? Or are we calling first period a lost cause fr tilting at windmills.”

“Given we have Lit first period…” Lacey said with a yawn as she stretched and stood, as she too grabbed her backpack and stood up to begin heading for the door. “You think we could get credit for going all Don Quixote?” She padded toward the door, grabbing Monica’s hand on the way and dragging her along.

Siobhan shook her head. “Windmills should be tilted at for their own sake. Wear good running shoes in case it’s vampires or a wendigo!” She called out cheerfully, if quietly.

“We only brought one pair of shoes each, dork,” Monica responded as they walked out in to the hall.

**** ****

The woods looked vastly different with the light of dawn beginning to stream in to it. While they hadn’t gone with their father the evening before, Siobhan and Antigone were not opposed to nighttime walks—and they had both agreed the woods were damn eerie at night. With the light blues and pinks of dawn spreading her fingers through the trees, it was significantly less so—but like so many things in Border, it couldn’t quite shake the lingering sense of menace that inhabited it.

As they hit the woods, Monica strode forward to take the lead. She was wearing a maroon sweater, dark jeans, and a pair of boots more fashionable than hike worthy—but she moved confidently across the ground. “There’s a bunch of…hollows and little ditches a little bit further back in to the woods. If I was hiding from someone here, that’s where I would try to do it.” Siobhan gave her a questioning glance, but Monica shrugged. “I live nearby, remember? Lots of opportunities to explore.”

Siobhan nodded, and jogged a little bit to take the lead beside the taller woman. She had thrown a leather jacket (black) over her sweatshirt, and tucked the large knife her father had given her into her belt where it would be covered by the jacket. She kept a hand casually resting on her belt above it, somewhat ruining the concealment factor for the large knife. They walked for a few minutes at a brisk pace, the exercise warming them further on the chill day before they heard a sound on the light breeze.

“Is that…” Siobhan began to ask, before her eyes widened as she heard it slightly better. It sounded like someone crying, almost sobbing in pain or fear or both. Without thinking or waiting for the others, Siobhan tore in to a run in the direction it was coming from, grass frosted with morning dew crunching under her boots. She heard the others starting to follow her, but she didn’t slow down as her legs churned underneath her.

The crying led her down around into what looked like it was a small dried up riverbed. The ground was dark red with clay churned up by the recent rains—until Siobhan realized a second later it was only red around one spot. Near what appeared to be a small cave or tunnel, maybe five feet off where the river used to be, a pale figure lay. Her skin was almost painfully pale and her hair was a light, almost white blond. Vivid on her skin and the dark, torn clothing she wore, she was splattered with an almost shocking amount of blood. Some of it was drying to the dull red and brown of old blood, but some of it was clearly fresh.

“Shit…” Siobhan cursed, stumbling in to the mud and down to the girl’s side. She reached out quickly to check her for any obvious wounds, even as she shouted back to the others. “Call Dad, and call an ambulance!” She heard them crashing toward the scene, and repeated her call a second later. She found no obvious wounds, but it was difficult because she was trying to be careful not to touch the blood for risk of a bio-hazard. “It’s ok, we’re here, you don’t have to worry…” she told the girl in her most reassuring voice.

The girl hadn’t seemed to notice her, but jolted at Siobhan’s last words. The girl had eyes that were shockingly pale, ice blue almost faded away to white, and seemed larger than the full moon as she turned them on Siobhan. She grabbed Siobhan’s arm, and her voice was hoarse as she rasped a warning through her sobbing. “They’re coming!”

Goosebumps raced across Siobhan’s skin at the sheer terror in the words, and she looked around quickly. “Who? Who is coming?” But the girl had turned insensible again, racked with sobbing, and at that moment Antigone, Lacey, and Siobhan finally caught up.

“Christ you’re fast…” Monica almost gasped with a shake of her head, as Antigone was clearly dialing her phone. “What the fu—” she continued, but then stopped. It was the sound—a scrabbling sound, the sound of nails grinding against something that people only scraped their fingernails on in a situation of desperation. Following that, a grimy and gore scattered figure burst out of the hole in the ground, and began running directly for Siobhan and the others.

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