Whoa... Terribly sorry for the long wait guys. I actually had this done a few weeks ago. I sent it to my beta-er but never got it back. Overtime I grew impatient and said w/e, I'll beta it myself. In other words... sorry if it sucks :
I felt the cold ground beneath the palm of my hands as I lay face down in the mud. The atmosphere was a combination of a cool humidity and a chilly eeriness that was almost impossible to explain. My eyes were closed, but I was conscious, somewhat praying that my past memories had simply been a horrific dream. Moaning slightly, I slowly opened my eyes and sat up.
A vague and quick glance at the environment caused a sudden urge to shut my eyes again. The atmosphere matched the ghostly inhabitant. I hadn't the slightest idea where I was, but it resembled a forest-like structure. Bizarre shapes twisted into abnormal ways straight into the ground and it took me a while to realize these 'things' were he Ghost Zone's idea of trees. My vision turned to the sky and my mouth dropped.
Enormous clouds of green swirled and danced in hypnotizing designs. What really caught my attention, though, were the lone doors that were scattered across the Ghost Zone. They bobbed up and down in a slightly haunting way, and every so often one would open to revile a ghost, only to have the entity float over to another door and vanish from my view.
If I had been here under any other circumstances, this place would have fascinated me to no end. Every time I thought I understood this odd world, something different would catch my eye and defy the laws of physics once more. The Ghost Zone was impossible to decipher. But then again, researching the Ghost Zone wasn't my in priority at the time; I needed to find Danny… and the rest of Group One for that matter.
I may have been unarmed, but I had a much higher survival rate than Lancer, the Foley's, or the Baxter's. I rose to my feet and shivered from the slight eerie coldness that surged through my body. How could anything—including ghosts—possibly find this place comfortable enough to call a home? To make matters worse, every noise I heard was either a Group One member, or a horrific, man-eating monster that resided on my floating rock. Somehow though, I found the courage to move forward.
"How could I let this happen?" I muttered as the memories crept there way into my mind. "If I hadn't pressured Danny into coming here—This is all my fault…"
"AHHHHHHHHHH!" The scream was faint in the direction I was heading, but it still made me jump with unwanted excitement. "No! No! GET AWAY! AHHHHHHH!" The last bit was enough to tell me that the scream was human, and I soon found myself running to investigate. A small cliff lay ahead of me, and it was increasingly clear that the scream was below it, especially when the owner shouted again. It was female, probably Mrs. Baxter. Ironically she's the first person I found in this haunting place. I leaped over the boulders, landing neatly on the other side and faced the outcry from my terrified colleague.
Mrs. Baxter was taking refuge in a corner. Her one arm shielded her face, while the other wielded a dull stick that she was swinging around carelessly. Her clothes were slightly torn and her face was a somewhat dirty, but aside from that she seemed perfectly fine.
"Mrs. Baxter?" I asked, getting up from my frog-like stance and walking over to her cautiously.
"STAY BACK!" she shrieked. "I KNOW HOW TO DEFEND MYSELF FROM YOU! I DO!" My eyes narrowed from annoyance and boredom and in a swift move I snatched away the woman's weapon.
"No, you don't. Now calm down. What's that matter with you? You look like you've seen a—"
"Don't finish that sentence, Fenton!" She barked, her eyes flashed me an evil glare and she grinded her teeth together. Stumbling slightly, she rose to her feet. "Where are we anyway? I was walking along, looking for Dash and then I was attacked by some weird thing."
"Well that's specific…" I muttered. She caught my sarcasm and growled.
"I'm serious, Maddie! This place isn't right! I mean look at that!" She pointed to a green squirrel scurrying up an almost circular tree. The squirrel had two tails, one eye, and two sharp, pointy fangs that extended down to its chin. When it noticed us, its eye turned red and it hissed violently before it scurried off and disappeared into the thick bush.
"Not right!" Mrs. Baxter's voice was an ecstatic whisper. Her eyes shot around in every direction and every noise made her jump.
"You're not right…" I muttered. She gave me an irritated look and was about to respond before I cut her off to avoid an argument. "Have you seen the others?"
She blinked in confusion. "What?"
"The others? Lancer, the Foleys… your son?" How stupid was this woman?
"No, I haven't." She mumbled. "Do you think they're far?"
"Probably not, we all did get sucked in at the same time right? Wouldn't we all have ended up together?"
Mrs. Baxter shrugged. "I don't really know, I was kind of asking you…"
I rolled my eyes and walked past her. Her eyes widened and her breathing grew louder. "W-Where are you going?" She asked; panic scattered in her voice.
"Looking for everyone else..." I didn't try to make it sound sarcastic, but honestly… DUH!
"We'll don't leave me here!" She shouted, snatching up the stick she had previously.
If only… "Come on then!" You idiot.
It didn't take long for the anxious woman to be right on my heels. She was so close to me that I could hear her breathing, swallowing, and muttering some nonsense to herself. I tried to ignore her, but it was quite frustrating. Not to mention anytime I stepped on something that would make a noise she would shriek and swing her twig around carelessly. She hit me in the back of the head a few times and I was tempted to take it and backhand her. I was actually surprised that I didn't, but her nervousness did eventually get to the point where I couldn't take it anymore.
"Would you stop that?" I snapped, tossing the twig to the right and rubbing the back of my head. "You're giving me a headache."
"Well sorry that we can't all be used to ghost territory." She snapped. Just to make her mad I purposely crunched the stick to dust under my feet. She shrieked and scanned the area. We were completely surrounded by misshapen trees.
"What was that?" she panicked. I tried to hold back a smirk.
"I don't know." I stated in fake fear, "Maybe a malevolent, horrific monster dining on a ghost's bones. Painfully crunching slowly and enjoying the screams of its victum… or a twig… you never know." I turned to face my counterpart. Her face was fixed into a fearful expression and she was slightly pale. Her mouth kept opening and closing and she kept swallowing as if it were dry.
"Relax, I'm just kidding. It was nothing, really." My reassuring words didn't stop her from coming closer to me. I frowned in annoyance, but didn't say anything about it. Talking must've calmed her down somewhat because she continued her mumbling from before, only this time she seemed like she wanted to communicate with me.
My patience was growing thin and I wanted so desperately to get her useless conversation over with so I finally asked her what the heck she wanted.
"Oh… um… nothing." She said. A few seconds passed and she her ramblings again. "What do you think— um… never mind."
"No, what?" I asked, coming to a complete stop. Her tailgating cased her to bump into me.
"Well… um… I was just wondering if… What do you think… um…"
"I can't give you an answer to a question you didn't ask." I folded my arms and raised an eyebrow.
"What do you think Danny Phantom and that other ghost were fighting about?"
My eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Well… that other ghost had Phantom beaten up pretty badly, from what I could see anyway. But then again you were the closest to him… I just wanted to know what they were fighting about."
I turned around and continued walking, rolling my eyes in the process. Either Mrs. Baxter didn't seem to care that I completely ignored her or she didn't notice, but she wouldn't get the hint that she was annoying the hell out of me.
"Who do you think he was?" I sighed as the nosy mother tried to keep up with me.
"Do you think that he was Phantom's dad? Oh wow! Talk about abuse! Poor Phantom! Or maybe it's—"
"I DON'T CARE who it was… okay? I don't care!" I snapped. "I don't care about Phantom, I don't care what he did or how he knows that ghost, and I most certainly don't care about how he got hurt! All I want to do is find the rest of the group, find Danny, and get the heck out of here! Okay?"
Mrs. Baxter blinked then crossed her arms. "Well then…" She stuck her nose up in the air and even added the snobbish 'humph'. I rolled my eyes and kept walking.
"Hey!" She shouted worriedly. "Wait for me!"
"Seriously, Skulker…" An all-to familiar voice came to the left of us. "You would think that the Ghost Zone's greatest hunter would be… well… great?"
"What was—?" I smacked my hand around Mrs. Baxter's mouth and dove in the bushes before we were spotted. A bulk, mechanical-like man with flaming blue hair in a Mohawk-like style was about ten feet away and facing the opposite direction. In front of him was a cocky holographic version of Danny Phantom. The hologram was floating in the air, his arms were crossed and his trademark grin was planted on his face in his obnoxiously confident way. I knew this side of the ghost kid almost to well.
"Seriously, Skulker..." The holographic Danny repeated. "You would think that the—"
The mechanical ghost had pulled a hidden weapon out from the side of his suit that I hadn't noticed before. The shot went through the hologram and smashed into a rock behind him. The boulder exploded on impact and Mrs. Baxter and I had to shield ourselves from the dirt cloud that spiked up from the ground. When the dust cleared, only the ghost remained. My hand still clasped Mrs. Baxter's mouth and I felt her whimper through my fingers. She trembled in my arms and I had a slight feeling that if I let go of her she'd either scream or faint.
"Please don't hurt us Mr. Ghost Guy…" Our heads whipped over to a blonde teenager and overweight teacher suspended in a net attached to a tree. Lancer seemed out of it. He looked dazed and his eyes wandered around like every little detail fascinated him. "You already made Mr. Lancer loopy! Don't you think that making my English teacher smarter than me is enough damage for one day?"
Increasing my grip on Mrs. Baxter so she wouldn't run over to her son and blow our cover, I looked back at the ghost now identified as Skulker. The ghost hunter completely ignored the boy's question and set up another holographic image. It was Phantom again. This time though he was sitting down looking lazily at Skulker and sighing in a bored way.
"Come on, Skulker!" The fake Danny mocked. "Can't you at least pretend to be good?" Skulker gritted his teeth and fired another missile at the rock behind the hologram. When the dust cleared, another hologram was in its place, but this time it wasn't Phantom.
The Wisconsin Ghost was grinning mischievously at the mechanical man in front of us. Now it was Mrs. Baxter's turn to hold me back. I almost dove toward the two ghosts who were having a conversation that I soon found myself listening to.
"Plasmius? What do you—?"
"Want?" Plasmius interrupted. "Well for starters, I really didn't like how you couldn't catch something as simple as a child, Skulker."
Skulker grinned. "You're not mad at me. You're only upset because you kidnapped Danny right in front of his mother."
Plasmius sighed. "I really didn't want it to come to this, but the boy just wouldn't cooperate. I had to do what I had to do, and if that means kidnapping the child of a ghost hunter than so be it."
I felt my blood boiling. I knew running out now would be a really stupid thing to do, but I wanted so badly to just attack them both. Even if one was a hologram.
"And the child?" Skulker asked. "Where is he?"
My heart sank at the image before me. Plasmius pulled the limp body of my barely recognizable son on screen. He was bound and duct-taped around his wrists and mouth and there was a small gash near the rim of his hairline. A trail of blood trickled down the side of his head and on his left cheek where he was bleeding again from an open wound. His eyes were slightly open, but they weren't looking at anything: fixed on a position in space.
I whimpered slightly and fell to my knees.
"Is he dead?"
My heart stopped. I turned around and peaked through the bushes, feeling slightly lightheaded at the same time.
"No he's not dead." Plasmius responded, tossing Danny out of camera view. "Not yet anyway. Do you have the others?"
Skulker pointed at the two swinging from the net. Dash smiled dumbly and Lancer was playing with his hands.
"Only those two?" Plasmius asked, irritated.
"It hasn't been that long since they got here." Skulker responded. "I'll have the others very shortly."
"Perfect." Plasmius grinned. "You know what to do when you get the rest. This is your last chance Skulker. DON'T SCREW IT UP!" The hologram of Plasmius vanished and Skulker turned around to face the two he had caught.
"I'll be back for you." He pulled out a machete and slowly ran his finger along the blade, grinning widely as he did so. With one last smirk, he disappeared into the woods. I didn't let Mrs. Baxter go right away, although she was struggling against my restraints. At first it was to stay out of sight from Skulker, but eventually my mind drifted back to Danny. I couldn't get the brutal image of his battered figure held in that creep's hands out of my mind, and I only snapped back to normally when Mrs. Baxter successfully tore through my grip.
"MOM!" Dash shouted with glee at the sight of his anxious mother running toward him.
"Hang on, honey!" She chirped, climbing up the twisted tree to untie the two. I walked over to where Skulker was standing just moments before and reached out as if I could bring back the image of Danny and pull him to safety.
A loud snapping sound and a shriek of shock and pain behind me made me sigh. I didn't have to turn around to know that Mrs. Baxter had fallen out of the tree and was still unsuccessful with loosing the knot that held the two captive. Without me, these people wouldn't stand a chance in the Ghost Zone. It hurt so much for me to say it, but Danny was going to have to wait.
"You could help a little bit you know!" Baxter yelled; straightening herself up from the fall she just took. She scurried back up the tree. My eyes dropped and scanned the ground until I found what I as looking for.
A small blade, no bigger than the palm of one's hand lay buried in the dirt. I figured with Skulker being a hunter he would have had something sharp he dropped lying about. Slowly I picked it up and ran the blade along my finger. It was awfully dull, but still sharp enough to cut through my glove and make a small white mark on my skin. It would be perfect for cutting the rope.
"FENTON!" Mrs. Baxter shouted. My eyes darted behind me, but I still couldn't see her. "Would you be so kind as to HELP US?!"
I spun around and tossed the switchblade at the opening in the rope. It sliced through and Dash, Lancer, and even Mrs. Baxter who had somehow managed to cling to the net's side fell to the ground with a thud. All three members got up, moaning in the process. I walked by them, both agitated and upset.
"THANK YOU!" Mrs. Baxter shouted sarcastically after she had brushed the dirt off her torn clothes.
My eyes dashed over to Lancer. "What happened to him?"
Dash blinked and bit his lower lip. "When we woke up we were right next to each other. Lancer said he thought it would be best if we headed away from plains eye view for safety purposes or whatever. We were walking for about five minutes and then I accidentally tripped on a string. A whole thing of darts came flying out of nowhere and at least five hit Mr. Lancer. Because I fell on the ground nothing hit me, but when I got up to go near him we set of the booby-trap, net-thing we were in. That's when that one ghost came and left and then you guys came and got us."
"SHHHHHH!" Lancer surprised us all. He hadn't spoken a word and the first thing he does is shush us. "The sky talked to me! It told me a really funny joke. Apparently a banana named Antonio is part of a Mexican mariachi band and he is trying to grow his mustache back."
"He's just drugged." I assured the Baxter's and their confused look turned to me. "It'll wear off eventually. For now, let's just look for the Foleys. I'll get you guys out of here, and then I can go get Danny."
"Sounds like a good plan." A chilling voice interrupted. All four of us were engulfed in a shadow twice our size. "You're just forgetting one thing…" Skulker's grin sent shivers down our spin. "Your plan interferes with mine…"
Again, if you found any crapiness I appologize dearly. Especially for me posting this late. Hey, on the good news, you now know that I haven't lost interest in this story and I will be working on the next chapter ASAP.