Dear Journal,

Both of them were waiting for me at the kitchen table this morning when I went down. Niki must have gone home last night while I was still shut up in my room. Dad looked like he hadn't slept again, Mom like she'd been crying. My stomach folded in on itself just knowing that I was the one who did that. I never wanted to make her cry.

They sat me down, told me they understood the strain I was going through with Jon's disappearance, and that they should have paid closer attention to how I was handling it all. I put on a "brave face" for them but I shouldn't have. Now wasn't the time to try and hold back our grief, but to lean on each other for support. Be strong as a family. Too bad we're just a broken one. You can never be as strong in pieces as you were whole.

I know they love me. Or, at least, they love the me I used to be. I feel sorry for them. They've lost more than one child through this.

I asked about Niki. Dad said she'd gone home early, before I woke up. Guess she was too distraught to go home last night. She had good reason, though. Her sister had been taken yesterday. Another goddamn child. I feel sorry for her now. I don't understand how it feels to be so torn apart by a loss like that. I didn't feel anything when it happened to me. Dad told me that I wouldn't be going back to school. Not until I felt better, anyways. Just as well, I never did make any progress on that paper.

But he doesn't understand that going to school is my only reprieve from this place. I didn't want to argue, to agitate him further. He's had enough. So I stayed quiet. I don't want to make things any worse for them.


Dear Journal,

I didn't go back to school today, either. Both Mom and Dad are skipping work to stay home with me. I'm thankful. I don't know what I would do if they left me here alone. I can't stand to be alone. Especially here. Not when I know he can come in. I don't think that should he finally come after me, that being around someone would honestly make a difference, but it's a small comfort nonetheless.

Though honestly I would rather just stay at school.


Dear Journal,

It's so depressing. I see the people on the news, the ones that have gone missing. The amount keeps growing. The police are trying to find a clue, anything. There are no traces, no marks, no hints, no patterns. And no bodies. That has to be the worst part. Not knowing. I thought about going to see how Niki was today, but that probably wouldn't be a good idea. Even though she might have calmed down, I know she must still have some doubts about me. And honestly, one bite through the arm is enough.

Dad's cleaned up my arm pretty good, though. Whatever he put on it makes it so it doesn't hurt as much. Though he's still debating whether we should just go to the doctor to get it looked at. He hasn't decided yet. I don't know why, but him not knowing kinda hurts. I don't know why. Gah, this sounds so stupid. I'm gonna stop writing now.


Dear Journal,

I'm going stir crazy. I have to get out of here. But they're breathing down my neck, just waiting for me to break. Their eyes follow me even when they know I can feel it. Crawling through my skin, searching me. Tracing every hairline fissure in my mind. I'm going to go nuts if I stay here for much longer. If they truly want to help me, what they need to do is just leave me be. Not alone, just be. Maybe they can sense it, the way I've changed. And those looks aren't meant for me but for the stranger wearing my skin. Only, that stranger is me, so what am I supposed to do? I just want to be normal for them again.


Dear Journal,

I wish I was a child again. Back to a time where you believe the things your parents tell you. If your head is covered by the blankets the monsters can't get to you. You'll be safe so long as you stay there. But at night, when I have the layers of blankets suffocating me to the point of asphyxiation, I realize that they're only sheets of cloth. And no matter how I twine myself in them, I can still sense him. Because monsters are real. And no matter what you do, they can get you. There is no protection. There is no hiding.

And no matter how loud you scream, no one can save you.


Dear Journal,

Have you ever-ha, I'm talking to a book like it's an actual person again. Funny. But I seriously doubt I'd be able to actually ask this question to any normal person. Have you ever wondered if maybe the reason a cat watches the mouse isn't because he's waiting to strike, but because he's waiting for the mouse to come to him? The cat's not toying with the mouse, he's just waiting. But maybe he's waiting for an entirely different purpose.

Or he really could just be waiting to eat it. Ew, I can't stand to watch as my cat kills this thing. Pardon me while I go puke.


Dear Journal,

It seems wrong to not know her name as I sit here, watching her from this distance. She's crying. It's that way that only children can cry, shaking with the power of their own overwhelming sobs. Like their entire body is being used to do this single act. You'd have to be completely heartless to not feel something when a child cries like this. I feel bad for not going to her, but I don't dare. Not when I can see him watching, too. She's too close. I'm scared for her. I wish I were braver. Then maybe I could scoop her in my arms, run away. Protect her in the way I couldn't protect Jon.

He's beside her. Too long arms spread to engulf her. Her eyes go wide. She falls silent.

I'm so sorry, Niki.

She's gone.


Dear Journal,

I shouldn't have done that. I just couldn't stand to sit around there for a minute longer. They'll probably come after me soon enough. They'll know I ran here to the park. Or maybe they won't. I don't know if they actually know this is where I've been hanging out, recently. They've been so absorbed in the search and everything that I don't actually know if they've noticed I haven't been coming home when I usually do. No, they had to have noticed, right?


But now I'm sitting here, alone in the park. And that's really the last thing I want. But I don't want to go back, either. At least I don't see him. And I don't feel him. I can wait here. Until someone comes to get me.

[Tears stain this entry and the handwriting is dark and rough.]

They didn't fucking come. They don't care. I was sitting there in the park for hours, until it got so dark I couldn't see. I didn't even know what time it was until I walked in the front door. Four in the morning. They didn't even bother to wait up for me. They were asleep in bed when I got there. So I grabbed my flashlight and my camera. I'll come back tomorrow. But I'm too fucking angry right now to stay.


Dear Journal,

I went back to the house tonight. They didn't say anything as I walked up to the stairs. My chest feels like it's trying to cave in on itself. It hurts so bad. I don't know whether I should stay here or if I should go. But where would I go if I did leave? I can't. Even if I'm not wanted here, I can't just leave. I'd never make it.

To top it all off, my camera is glitching out on me. Useless piece of crap.


Dear Journal,

They're pretending it never happened. Fine, I can deal with that. It's easier than actually trying to figure out why the hell I do anything, anyways. Moving on.


Dear Journal,

I heard Mom talking on the phone to Grandma. I think they're trying to arrange for me to fly out there. I don't know who they think that'd be better for. Me or them. Dad's just sitting on the couch in silence. It scares me. They're supposed to be strong for me. If they give up, what am I supposed to do? They can't just send me away when things get too tough for them. That's the whole point of being a fucking parent. To be there for your kids.

Even when if we're no longer the same person.

I don't want to leave.

I don't want to be alone.

Someone needs to be there for me.


Dear Journal,

Some of the kids from the news are here. Some of them are crying, some of them are just shaking and being silent. It's so hot out here, the heat is melting off my skin in small drops and making my hand stick to the page. It's really annoying. And it fades out my pen. I seem to be the oldest one here. The children haven't seemed to notice I'm here yet. Too caught up in their own misery, perhaps. Or maybe they just haven't decided to look up. I don't remember climbing this tree, but I'm quite a ways up here. I can see Jon (or what I think used to be Jon) below my feet, and some weird guy a ways to my left. One of the kids found the mail lady's scarf. The blobby mess, now a gross brown, fell out of it and the kid started freaking out. Another is poking at it. He looks confused.

What's wrong, kid? Never seen a human heart before?


Is it so wrong to want someone to be there for me? I just want to have someone to turn to. I want a constant. Anyone.



[This entry is inked out.]


Dear Journal,

I'm not as afraid as I was before. Even now as I sit here in broad daylight, as lucid as I could ever be, just staring back at him from the swing. His arms spread out loosely at his sides, the smoke writhing behind him. But I'm not paralyzed with fear. I don't feel threatened. I'm still scared, but not in the same way as I was before. In fact, it's sort of comforting. He's not going to leave me alone, is he? I'll never be alone.

I'll never be alone.

don't hurt me

don't hurt me I need someone





Dear Journal,

They've made the arrangements for me to go to Grandma's. They told me it was so I could go somewhere where all this negative crap doesn't hang over me. They make it sound like they're just thinking about me while doing all this.

For some reason I find this incredibly funny. I can't stop laughing.


Dear Journal,

The kids have sort of started to cling to me. They follow after me as I wander around in the woods. I sort of feel like the pied piper from those fairy tales Mom used to tell me when I was little. Most of the kids here seem to be around six to eleven. I know Niki told me the age of her sister once...I think it was eight. So I know one of them, anyhow. I like her. She's really quiet. She doesn't cry or whine like some of the other kids. But she seems to latch onto me the most. I've asked her her name, but she refuses to talk. I wonder if she's always been that way or if this is a new thing.

He's been following along everywhere we go. I wonder if he's the reason I can never get out of here. I keep walking in circles, with the children tripping over my heels every step of the way. I wonder if they think I can save them. I hope not. I could hardly save myself let alone them.

We never get tired of walking around. And we never get hungry. Even when it's long since gone dark and we can no longer see him watching us. I wonder why.


I didn't want to kill him I didn't just couldn't stand his crying anymore.

you can't go home none of them can just had to shut him up before he gets angry with you

I did it for his own good. I saved him. If this is the only mercy I can give, I will save them from him. I don't want them to hurt. I don't want them to suffer. I don't know why he chose us but I wish he'd either let us go or kill us.

Maybe I'll go insane before he ever makes up his mind.


Dear Journal,

I'm supposed to go to Grandma's in a few days. I wonder if I actually can. Even if I get on that plane, will I still end up in the forest the next day? I seem to stay there longer and longer. At some point I think he's just going to keep me there. But it'd make the children happy. I'm the only one that leaves. The rest of them stay there, all day and night, huddled together like little lambs before the slaughter. I'm kind of like their shepherd. What that makes him, I don't know. God, maybe. Always watching, never interceding, staying silent in the shadows.

We're in a sort of balance at the moment. Nothing can disrupt it. I fear what would happen if it were to be.


Dear Journal,

Tonya. That was Niki's sister's name. She came back with me this time. I was so happy she was here. And really surprised. I thought I was the only one who got to escape. But she was here, if only for a short time before he came to take her back. I think it was a mistake. She wasn't supposed to get out. But I took a picture of her right before she had to leave. My camera had only just begun to spaz out on me before he came in. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of her. It'll probably be one of the last ones she'll have. But at least it's something. I'll keep it around in my journal, to keep it safe. I don't want anyone to forget her.


Dear Journal,

Over these past few days, I've come to the conclusion that I can't leave these children alone. I won't. I'm the only thing that keeps these kids from the brink of despair. I won't abandon them the same way I was. I'll be strong. I may be the only one that he doesn't still terrify. If nothing else, I'm going to to make sure they still have one comfort. I'll protect them. Until I no longer can. Until their tiny bodies sit in the trees and the warm blood goes cold and black.

I haven't really thought about what I will do after.