Chapter One: Charley Horse

Fayora Christoph had her forehead pressed against the cool glass of the car, watching as the scenery flew past, the giant trees looming over the car she shared with her parents. The girl was fifteen, fresh out of school for Spring Break, and bored out of her mind. They were going on a camping trip, and while she didn't mind it too terribly, she hated the fact that they had opted for the 'scenic' route. The campsite was only an hour away by freeway, but they had been driving all day and she was getting tired of it.

"Faye, sweetie," her mother's cheerful voice drifted from the front. She peeled her face away from the window to look at her. The woman was giving her the look and eyeing her half full water bottle. "Really, at least finish one bottle of water. I know you'd rather we got you a soda, but with all the running you were doing, water is better for you."

"I know. You don't have to keep reminding me." She picked up the bottle and took a small sip to appease her mother, who went back to discussing time off and when they needed to be back by with her father.

The last softball game before the break had been that same day, and they'd left right after. She was still in her uniform, minus the constricting green socks that proudly displayed her school colors. Of course, she'd be well hydrated if her mom would just let her get a soda or something good instead of something so… Tasteless.

At the rate they were going, they weren't even going to get to the place that night. What was the point of a camping trip if they were spending the first night elsewhere, anyway?

"Do we have a plan for sleeping tonight? I'm not getting the car unloaded in the middle of the night, and I don't think you guys want to either."

"We're going to get there soon, Fayora." Her dad refused to use her nickname, and she had long since grown used it. "We're stopping at a nice little town for the night. Better to be well rested for our first day out."

She sighed and went back to leaning against the window, staring out at everything, and not absorbing any of it.

At least, not until the sign welcoming them to the town appeared. She pulled away and twisted around to watch it fade into the distance, to make sure that she'd ready it right.

"Welcome to Springwood, huh?" She couldn't help a small grin. She'd always been a horror buff, and the idea of staying in Springwood thrilled the part of her that loved to watch horror on her laptop at three in the morning, with a blanket over her head to block out the light. She'd have to see if B wanted to rewatch the Nightmare series later.

That thrill increased as they turned onto a street and she caught sight of the street sign. Elm Street, huh? That gave her a little chill. Heh, maybe there was a chance she'd meet even Freddy.

Probably not. Freddy Krueger was a fictional monster in a fictional world. He wouldn't be able to do anything to hurt her, and that was the only reason she even entertained the thought. The chill only got worse as they pulled into a bed and breakfast in a house that had a very familiar set of numbers. Fourteen Twenty-Eight.

For a fictional story, she was… actually beginning to get the creeps. She shook it off, laughing at her own silliness. B would make fun of her forever if the other girl knew that Faye was getting spooked that easily. And plus, if she got too freaked out, all she had to do was bring a mirror into bed with her. It had worked well enough for Alice, hadn't it? What was that rhyme she used?

Now I lay me down to sleep, master of dreams my soul to keep. In the reflection of my mind's eye…

"Faye, please." Her mother opened the car door for her. "We need you to carry your stuff in too, you know. Not all of it, just a couple of changes of clothes and the essentials."

She grabbed her backpack and nodded, looping one strap around her arm and looking up at the house. It even resembled the place from the movie. Faye took out her phone and got a picture of it to show off to her friends when she got back home. This was going to be great.

When they walked in, they went were greeted by an old woman who Faye thought looked very much grandmotherly. She'd never really gotten to know her grandparents. The two from her dad's side had passed away when she was young, and her mom refused to talk about her own. This place was really starting to grow on her.

"You're Mr. and Mrs. Christoph, right? And this must be Fayora-"

"Ah, Faye, please." She could sense her dad opening his mouth to scold her for interrupting, but the old woman just smiled and nodded.

"Faye, then. Well, you three will be staying in a couple of rooms upstairs, all right? There's no one else here tonight, but we'll have a nice dinner, and then you can get to rest. It's probably been a long day, huh?"

Their dinner was a very rich chicken soup that settled heavily in her stomach. The game and the drive were really starting to catch up to her, and between that and her very full stomach, she was more than ready for bed. Her parents were making idle chit chat, and she was starting to doze at the table.

The old woman reached over and lightly touched her arm when she noticed. "Why don't you head on upstairs, dear? It's late, and you look tired. Your room is the first door on the left upstairs, all right?"

"Yes ma'am." She grabbed her bag, bid her parents goodnight, and trudged up the stairs. Her legs had stiffened from the long car ride and they screamed at her as she worked them. Oh, she was going to get some good sleep. The only thing that could have relaxed her more was a hot shower, but it was just a bit too late for that. Instead, she changed out of her uniform and into some cuddly pajamas.

The bed was soft, the sheets were cool, and somehow… She couldn't get to sleep. As sluggish as her body was, her thoughts were racing. The earlier fears that had seemed so silly in the daylight were bothering her much more now that the lights were off and she was alone. She tried to laugh it off, but… It wasn't so easy.

The girl retrieved her phone and shot a message to B. If anybody would be awake to talk her out of this, it was her. The message stuck on 'sending' and when it didn't go through after a minute, she dropped the phone on her bed and sighed. It was too late and she was too tired for this.

Sleep… Still wouldn't come. She could remedy that, though. The girl got out of bed and went for her backpack, digging around until she found a small tin. She popped the top off and took a deep sniff, the soothing lavender and honey of the tea bag seeping into her nose. This would definitely help.

She walked down stairs slowly, so as not to wake anybody up. Save for the soft squeaking of the steps under her feet, she made no noise, although she did hear something… Maybe the television? If the old woman had put something on, that might be it.

As she got closer to the foot of the stairs, she realized the sound was not coming from inside the house, but outside. And as she stepped to the window to push aside the curtain, she almost felt her heart stop. There on the front lawn were a handful of children who were all dressed in white. A couple were throwing a ball, and three more were playing jump rope. As the girl in the middle jumped, the chant she had heard started over.

"One, Two, Freddy's coming for you

Three, Four, better lock your door

Five, Six, grab your crucifix

Seven, Eight, better stay up late

Nine, Ten-"

"Never sleep again?" She stepped away from the window and swallowed nervously. It had to be a tourist thing, right? But what kind of parents would let their kids run around in the middle of the night singing tunes from old horror movies, even for tourists? The girl wrapped her arms around herself and stepped back, away from the window. She had never gone to sleep, so it couldn't be- Freddy wasn't real! Freddy wasn't-

"If I'm not real," a gruff voice whispered in her ear, "then why are you afraid of me?"

As an avid consumer of horror movies, Faye was accustomed to yelling when characters did something stupid. But no amount of sitting and watching could prepare her for the freezing terror that seized her muscles when she heard that voice. Even her breathing caught and she-

No! She was not going to do this! She was not about to die just because she had frozen.

She ran, forcing her tired muscles to work. Away. She had to get away. But which way? Back upstairs? No, she'd be trapped. Not downstairs either. She threw herself at the front door, grabbing the knob and twisting. Some part of her expected it to be locked, so when she fell through easily and landed hard on her side, it caught her off guard.

Where could she go? It didn't matter. It was a dream, so all she had to do was get away. She pushed herself to her feet and took off, her bare feet pounding against the rough pavement. The gravel and rocks cut her feet, but she hardly felt it.

All that mattered was getting away. Keep moving until she could wake up. That was all she had to do, right? Keep moving, don't stop and-

She stepped off the road into grass, and vines wrapped around her legs and yanked them out from under her. She scrabbled to dig her fingers into the dirt, but it was packed too tightly to get any purchase. The vines dragged her back to the house, and she managed to grab onto the railing of the stairway. She tightened her grip on it and the vines snapped taut, pulling hard on her ankle.

The vines tightened, and she tried to hold on, but her hands slipped and she was dragged through the door.

It let go of her, and she staged to her feet, grabbing for the door knob. This time, it was locked. The girl brought her fist down hard against the wood, but it did nothing.

She turned around to look at the place, and pressed herself against the wall when she realized that it looked different. Old, worn, as if nobody had seen the inside of it in years. The windows were boarded up, and she could smell something foul that made her gag.

"Calm down, Faye." She whispered to herself. The sound of her own voice helped her gather her nerves a bit, and her legs became a little bit less shaky. Maybe… Maybe she could wake herself up. She took a deep breath and began to slowly walk up the stairs. She couldn't panic; panic was the enemy. She had to stay calm. After all, he fed on fear. So maybe if she stated calm, she'd be okay. Right?

An eerie screeching sound, metal on metal, filled her ears. It sounded like it was coming from somewhere just behind her. She didn't want to turn around, she wanted to start running again. It was… as if something compelled her to. She made a promise to herself that she'd never insult a horror movie character if she got out of this.

She turned around and- … There was nothing there. The dream demon was nowhere to be found. Yet… She was on a catwalk, and red light filtered through the air and felt almost like it was choking her. She turned back ready to try the door again.

There he was. Freddy Krueger himself, clawed fingers clicking against the rails of the walkway. The movies didn't do the man- no, the monster justice. The tattered fedora on his head was tilted to cover the upper part of his face, and he the half-burned lips were curled into a cruel grin full of broken yellow teeth. His skin was charred, spots of it oozing a foul thick green liquid what made what she had smelled before seem pleasant. The red and green sweater had tattered edges, and holes that revealed even more burned flesh.

Her eyes went to the last thing, the final trademark that anybody who knew about Freddy would know was his and his alone. The glove on his right hand, four blades glinting in the light.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" He stalked forward, running the blades along the metal bar. "Looks like this little piggy came to the wrong pen. What should we do about that?" His grin widened. "I have the perfect idea."

The floor dropped out from under her, and she screamed and scrabbled to grab onto something, anything. There was nothing to grab, and gravity yanked her down, down, down against and onto a hard floor. The impact squeezed the air from her lungs, and for a terrifying few seconds she couldn't take in anymore. It felt like an entire minute before she was able to gasp and inhale again.

Once she was breathing steadily, she looked up, searching for the hole she had fallen through. It was either closed, or she had fallen too far to see it. Either way, she had no way to get to it.

There had to be something! Freddy, a creature who she could no longer deny existed, liked to play with his food. He would put an exit in there if only to taunt her with it.

Faye pushed herself up off the ground, and as she looked around the dark for a way out, something brushed over her bare foot. She screamed as thousands of little things started to crawl up her legs. The girl ran and batted at her legs, smacking all the little crawling creatures until the only thing left of them was an itchy reminder. She coughed and choked down a sob. She was not going back that way, not without shoes or bug spray.

She decided to continue the way she was going and pressed forward, using her hands to make sure she didn't run face first into a wall. They came into contact with something. Something… warm.

Hands closed around her wrists and another scream tore into her ripped up throat and something pushed her into the wall. He used his left arm to pin her there, and gently held one clawed blade against her cheek.

"Clumsy little girl. You fell into my ant farm." He chuckled as she tried to pull away. "You hurt some of my pets. I think I have to teach you a lesson." He brought the blade down and she could only let out a soft whine as pain seared across her face.

"Death by a thousand cuts," he muttered. "Ever hear of it? I've never gotten to try it before, but I like new things. But maybe if you beg real nice I'll kill you fast."

In response to that, she kicked forward and her foot connected with the man's crotch. Even to a dream demon it seemed to hurt, bad. He let go, stumbling back, and folded over himself. The girl turned to run; anywhere would be better than right next to an angry Freddy Krueger.

The plan failed almost immediately when she tripped, her foot caught in something that dug into the soft skin and didn't let go. Footsteps slowly approached her, metallic screeching following close behind and echoing through the room. The girl curled up and tried to muffle the sobbing that she couldn't help but give into.

"You really think cryin' is gonna do anything to help you?" Something brushed against her arms and pulled them up and away from her body, stretching her across something that felt like a table. A lamp appeared over her, and she flinched from the sudden bright light. It burned her eyes after so long in pitch blackness.

"Believe me," he continued, running a claw down her shirt and clicking the nails against the buttons. "I would love nothing more than to make this last. But I only get a few toys, and I don't want to lose you. Not when I'm so close." The blade moved and stopped over her heart. He grinned one last time, drew his hand back and-

The girl felt a horrible pain. It made her want to scream, but she could only let out a muffled sob. And yet- This couldn't be death. Because the pain wasn't in her chest. It was in her leg.

She sat up, the blanket she had been sleeping in tangled around her. Her pajamas were soaked in sweat, and they clung to her. The room was dark and almost comfortingly small, but pain stilled burned her leg.

She reached down and grabbed the toes of her feet, pulling them back and forcing the muscles to relax. Faye closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Had… it been real? Or had it just been a dream brought on by the location?

One hand went to her cheek, and when she felt something wet and warm, she knew. It had been real. It had all been real. It had been real, but- But she had done it! She had escaped! She felt something swell in her chest, and the girl burst into something that was a mix between giggles and sobs. It had really happened, but she had escaped. She had survived an encounter with Freddy Fucking Krueger, the Dream Demon himself.

The girl did not sleep again that night. She gathered her day clothes and snuck to the bathroom, where she cleaned up the cut on her cheek and ran cool water over her bruised ankle. It was only once she was cleaned up that she changed and went back to her room. From there, she went back to her room and spent the rest of the night.

They were immediately worried over the cut, but she brushed it off and said she had gotten her foot tangled in blankets and tripped, scratching herself on the way down. They had believed her, and on the way out, the old woman gave her a small, sad smile.

It wasn't until they were out of that town that she leaned against the window and shut her eyes, enjoying the brief respite. She was going to enjoy every last bit of undisturbed sleep she could manage.

She slept until the car slowing down woke her up, and she yawned, rubbing her eyes. Camping would be fun, after that. She smiled to herself as they slowly drove down the dirt path, trees surrounding their car from every angle. This was going to be relaxing, she could have a nice time with her parents, nothing would try to kill her… It was a win on all accounts.

At least… That was what she thought. That was what she thought right up until she saw the sign over the entrance to the camp, and all thoughts of mirth and joy flew out the window she was leaning against.

The sign read "Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake."