In the moment- drabbles of moments from Wrong Turn
Author notes: I do not own these characters. Each of these brief scenes is exactly 100 words long and form a continuous story together, giving greater insight into the characters before, during, and after the events of Wrong Turn.
Carly had said all along that Drew didn't deserve her, that she could do better. Still, they'd been dating for six months. Jessie had slept with him, and she wasn't the sort of girl to give it up to every guy who tossed a wink her way. Being dumped hurt, and over the friggin' answer machine…that was the ultimate low.
"Let's get everyone together and go hiking," Carly had said. "We'll ditch work and just have fun, Jess, that's just what you need to forget that loser."
She didn't have Drew anymore, but at least Jessie had her friends.
As Jessie clambered into Francine's mother's car, waving to the giggly, snuggling Scott and Carly in the back, she noticed the issue of everyone's clothes. Clearly no one other than herself had ever been hiking before. Between Francine, Scott, and Evan wearing shorts and Francine and Carly sporting shirts that showed considerable amounts of both stomach and cleavage, they were going to get bit by mosquitos and give themselves greater exposure to poison ivy. Not to mention sunburn. She knew they hadn't brought sunscreen or sunglasses.
She thought of saying so, but decided to let it go. It was only one day.
The Ride Over
Evan and Francine bickered as usual, but there was a gleam in Fran's eye that told Jessie they were on again, if not yet officially. Scott and Carly sprawled together in the back, kissing, whispering, and giggling; once in a while Carly came up for air, leaned forward, and touched Jessie's arm as she talked to her, as if feeling out her emotional mindset. Jessie could have felt like a fifth wheel, but she didn't. she felt nice…almost peaceful, in the midst of her friends and their happiness. She was happy for them.
Sitting in quiet, she just listened.
The jammed highway lay behind him, and the time for his meeting drew closer with every passing moment. His cell phone had no signal, and he was literally in the middle of nowhere. Chris had to get to that meeting somehow. His job could depend upon it.
The man at the gas station hadn't been very helpful, but that map, the one marking a shortcut through Bear Mountain Road…if the road wasn't too rough on his car and if the map was actually accurate, it could' save his ass a lot of trouble.
Turning, Chris made a decision.
Meeting of the Victims
If he had to crash into someone's car, he could have picked a worse group of people to do it to.
The redheaded girl was nice enough looking, if not really Chris's type. Something about her seemed sly, cat-like, and she was definitely pissed at him, not that he blamed her. The Hispanic girl, Carly, wasn't bad either, if a little shrill.
But the brunette, Jessie…no doubt about it. She was a hot one. Looking into her narrowed dark eyes and hearing her muttered sarcasms, Chris watched her walk away and decided quickly that this girl, he'd follow anywhere.
It must have been shock that kept them lingering inside the cabin for so long, shock, curiosity, and pure stupidity. Clearly there was no phone, nothing they could use to bring help…and anyone who kept stacks of old dolls, keys, tools, teeth, and human organs wasn't likely to provide it anyway.
Jessie touched the child's rhinestone tiara, her stomach churning. She just wanted to get out before the people who had taken it returned. She had always heard the stories about the West Virginia mountain people, and the last thing they needed-
Outside a truck engine rumbled. Everyone froze.
Under the bed
Fingers digging into Chris's back, Jessie stifled her sobs against his shoulder. Eyes wide, breathing staggering, she felt her heart pounding wildly, her stomach tightening with terror. Under the bed it was cold, filthy, claustrophobic, and Francine's blood trickled ever closer.
They had killed her. They had taken her friend and choked her with wire, cut her up before her eyes, and Jessie couldn't scream, couldn't move, couldn't try to save her.
And now she could only pray that they wouldn't see her, that they wouldn't kill her too.
Huddled against Chris, Jessie struggled to keep control. It was nearly impossible.
So many cars, so many victims…it was terrifying, incomprehensible to see. But Jessie thought they'd have a chance. Even when hit by arrow, they'd got Chris safe, got the truck, and old as it was, Jessie could drive it. Scott was catching up, and they would get out, they would be okay. They'd survive.
But they shot him. Three arrows to his chest, and Scott, who had been so freaking smart, Scott who had been genuinely the nicest man Jessie had ever met, Scott with his gentle smile and his patient ways, was gone.
Three down, three to go.
They were only men. As she tore down the dirt road fast as the truck could handle, Carly sobbing hysterically beside her in Chris's arms, Jessie told herself fiercely and repeatedly. They were only men. Not monsters…not demons.
But their slack-jawed faces, their grizzled hair and deformed hands…their pitted skin and split mouths…and their eyes, the way they glistened with animal savagery. The way they laughed…
How long did it take, how much evil could men do, before they became as monstrous as the deepest evil that lurked within their hearts? Were all capable of becoming monsters?
Say they eluded the mountain men…what if they got lost? What if someone broke a leg and they couldn't carry the person out? Chris had been shot, how long could he run? Without medical care, what if he got infected? Carly was barely keeping it together. What if she just sat down and refused to keep going? What if she lost it completely?
They had no food, no water, what if they passed out from heatstroke or exhaustion? How would they get help with no phone, no map, no car, and no road?
Just keep going…don't think. Just run.
Carly had always been a good friend. Jessie had known her since her freshman year of college, and she loves Carly like a little sister. Carly is sweet, playful, fun, always up for a good time, and she's always been there to listen even if Jessie didn't' want to talk.
But Carly is weak. Carly is emotional, Carly is scared, and when Carly is scared, she falls apart. And that could cost them their lives.
Carly is her responsibility now. It's Jessie's job to look after her, to keep her going, keep her safe. It's on her…she owes her.
Jessie was on the track team all the way through her senior year of college. She still enjoyed her run every day at 6 am. She lifted weights and sometimes did yoga, enjoying the feeling of pushing herself to the limits, of strengthening her body and extending her muscles beyond their previous capabilities.
She hiked at least once a month, often swam laps in the YMCA, and took karate until she was a teenager. Jessie was proud of her body and it's physical aptitude, the work she'd put into it.
Then why was it so hard to keep running now?
The moment Jessie saw it, hope arose in her heart, catching her breath. There could be radios or even phones, some way of reaching the outside world, calling for help. There could be first aid, food, water, flashlights…at the very least, the tower could provide shelter, a place to spend the night. And maybe the mountain men wouldn't think to look there.
The tower was their first piece of luck, of a possibility of escape. The tower could be their salvation.
Until the torches arrived, and the smoke announced the flames' ascension. Then the tower became their doom.
Jessie had always been something of a thrill-seeker. Driving fast, running hard, working herself to the max revved her up, made her feel alive. At amusement parks she rode the wildest roller coasters, she only played the most action-oriented video games, and it had always been one of her dreams to go hang-gliding. Windsurfing, body art, bungee jumping- been there, done that.
But leaping out twenty feet from a burning building 200 feet in the air into the darkness, blindly grasping for a branch to break her fall with murderous men beneath…that was too much adrenaline for her.
She saw it coming, but not fast enough to warn her, not fast enough to scream…not fast enough to save her. Two seconds and an ax slammed into her best friend's mouth, pinning her to the tree...separate from her body.
Chris's hand clamped over her mouth, his arms tightly around her, holding her together, lending her control, support. Jessie trembled, struggling not to cry, suppressing screams. Leaning back into the tree trunk, they were silent, still, praying not to be detected as their harsh breathing and rapid heartbeats seemed to echo loudly.
Jessie had failed to protect her.
An act of daring
There was a lot that could go wrong, if she did this.
She could slip, of course, and fall, fifty feet below. She could hit her head, break her leg- or even worse, leave herself open to the mountain men's attacks. She could move too slowly and draw their arrows to her back, their axes into her torso. Chris could fall…Chris could miss, or knock her off the branch accidentally instead.
But it was the best shot they had, maybe the only shot they had. As Jessie called out, exposed, her voice raw and cracking, she was ready.
Under the waterfall
It was shelter for the night, their noise and thickness of the falls shielding their presence. It provided water, a place to rest, to recoop.
A place to allow herself time to break.
Her head against Chris's shoulder, Jessie let herself sink against him, to let the tightness of her chest uncoil as sobs shuddered through her and tears began. Chris held her close with no words, dirty hands gently stroking through the tangles of her hair.
Here she felt safe to relax her guard, to allow herself space to feel. She wept, releasing pain, as night became day.
Seeing the road, hope rose again, and they started to run, eager smiles lighting their features. So close…so…
But then they were there, weapons in hands…seizing Jessie with savage cries, ripping her from his reach, her screams echoed through the forest grounds.
They'd hurt her, they'd kill her, they'd chop her to pieces, store her organs in jars, cackling away…they'd hurt her while she was still alive, giving her as much suffering and fear as possible, enjoying her anguish.
No. Chris wouldn't allow it. He would save her, whatever he had to do, he'd free her.
On the bed
The gag in her mouth was filthy with a sour taste; Jessie swallowed bile, terrified she would choke. Her head throbbed, bleeding from the earlier blow, and her eyes darted wildly as she attempted to pull her wrists and ankles free from the wire restraints, only succeeding in chafing her wrists. Through the gag she pleaded; her captors ignored her, finishing their dismemberment, before coming towards her.
Jessie prided herself on her strength, both emotional and physical. She was no victim, no damsel in distress. But as the deformed figure held the knife to her throat, she could only sob.
Saving the day
Jessie had never seen anything so beautiful as the sight of the old truck smashing through the cabin's exterior, the bright flames beginning to lap at its sides, and most of all, the set face of Chris as he plowed through, intent upon the rescue. Even when his shots missed, even when their foes gave back more than was Chris was dishing out, even when they wouldn't die and it was Jessie, with a primal scream, who delivered the last killing blow, to her, Chris was the epitome of a hero. After all, he had at least untied her.
The ride home
The roads were rough, jolting their bruised, battered, and bloodied bodies painfully with each bump, but they were too weary to care, to feel anything but numbed relief. Jessie drove, compulsively checking the mirrors, fearful of any car that might come behind her. Chris leaned against the door in silence; for both, 20 minutes passed before their pulses lowered.
It was strange for Chris to think that missing a meeting had once been his biggest worry. For Jessie, being dumped seemed comparable to a mosquito bite. Both were grateful for their lives, but numb to all emotion but exhaustion.
When the police were notified, statements were given, and contacts for both Chris and Jessie had been called, a trip to the emergency room resulted in treatment of Chris's arrow wound and examinations of both. Both were found to be bruised, battered, dehydrated, and profoundly exhausted, but stable. Both, the doctors and nurses noted, refused to leave the other's side during exams or even to relinquish physical contact. They still hardly knew each other, but they had survived a war, and that was enough to forge a strong bond.
They rented one room at the motel. Things were just understood.
It's the nights that are hardest. Jessie wakes screaming from nightmares, cold with fear, sweat drenching her shirt as she struggles against invisible foes. After she weeps, the faces of her friends strongly in her mind's view. Chris wraps her in his arms and strokes her, not speaking; there is little he can do for comfort but be there.
Only he can understand the guilt gripping her heart, the pain, and most of all, the fear that one day she will open her eyes to a deformed face leaning over her, giggling and grinning just before the ax descends.