Riku sits out of reach.
He's upside down since I'm lying on the floor looking up. I can see his shoes. They're caked in mud and blood. This is the third time he has come in. The previous two times, he didn't say anything. Didn't stop me from cussing him out though.
"I hope you won't hold it against me." The asshole finally opens up and just as I expected, only shit comes out.
"Why? Because you're feeding me to your werewolf girlfriend? Nothing wrong with that."
He shakes his head sadly. Can't believe he has the gall to look disappointed with this situation. "You don't understand, Sora."
"Why don't you enlighten me then?"
"How long have we known each other?"
"I don't know." It's a rhetorical question but I really don't know the answer. "Three days?"
He chuckles, not out of amusement, but out of resignation. "You were always there for me when things got tough. I admired that strength. To be honest, I envy you. How can you be so strong, I wondered? Then the answer came to me: it's because you've never experienced it—loss. You had everything: loving parents, friends, and her—Kairi."
"Isn't she your girlfriend?"
"On the surface, yes, but she won't truly be mine until you're gone."
I can't lie. I've been picking up vibes from her since this whole thing started. "Does she like me or something?"
His foot stomps down inches from my face. I close my eyes as dirt particles assault me. "Don't fuck with me."
I open my eyes and answer his glare defiantly. "As far as I know, I haven't done anything."
"I'm not blind. I can see it, the way she looks at you and the way you look at her. The most frustrating part is because I know—I understand why she does. We're similar, she and I. We both lost our parents. That's why we were attracted to you. You had everything we lost. It's why she fell in love with you, and it's why I despise you."
"Couldn't we have hashed this out in therapy?"
"Shut up. You don't know anything." He drags his foot across the floor returning to his seat, leaving a trail of dirt and blood. "I never told anyone this but my father didn't die in an accident. I killed him."
I think I've heard this one before. "Did daddy get drunk and beat you every day?"
"Fuck you. It wasn't just me, he hit mother too. I had to stop him. It was only a matter of time before he'd kill himself anyways. I just gave him a little push."
"You must be so proud of yourself."
He continues despite my goading. "But after I got rid of him, mother abandoned me. She committed suicide. She would rather follow that asshole to hell than stay by my side, the one who needed her the most."
"It might because you're a raving lunatic. Just throwin' it out there."
"Shut up! I didn't deserve any of this. I wanted someone to understand, to truly feel my pain. That's when I found her, Kairi. She was so beautiful. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Anyone would fall for her. She captured my heart in an instant. That was why I had to do it. That's why I killed them. I killed them so that she could understand."
"Are you saying you killed her parents? I thought she ate them?"
"She's adopted. I killed her real mother and father. I made it look like an accident." I was wondering how he could hatch a plan to kill us all so easily. This explains it. This guy's been unhinged since day one. "Despite sharing the same pain of loss, she still chose you. I won't forgive you for that."
"Well excuse me for leading a happy life."
He bursts out laughing. "She'll finally understand once she consumes the one she loves most. I'll be the only one there for her when everything is over." He leaves the room and the door clicks quietly, followed by a series of locking mechanisms. It's cold in here.
Am I supposed to feel sorry for him? That clears up his motivations but… He's still a dick. Tons of people out there have it rough, but they don't turn into murderers. No matter how bad your past, that's no excuse to incur more pain and misery. This Sora was too dumb to realize that Riku, his longtime friend, was actually a psychopath. Why am I such a moron? I guess that's why psychos are scary. You never see them coming until it's too late.
As I lay on the floor helplessly, I realize one of the tenets of horror: no matter how strong or smart I am, I will never have control. The world dictates everything. It's why you can't punch ghosts or demons, or fend off an invasion of aliens or an outbreak of zombies by yourself. Horror is about a loss of control. Everything bad will happen and I am powerless to stop it. Even if I manage to somehow overcome the whims of this world and empower myself momentarily, it will all be undermined by a nonsensical twist ending anyways. All that work for nothing, like sand castles in the tides.
I thought of reasoning with Kairi but Riku runs a tight ship. He's purposefully keeping her away from me. I don't see a way out. I tried everything with the shackle. It won't come undone. I look to the side and spot a tray of food, no doubt laced with colloidal silver. I'd thought to refuse it on principle but since silver has questionable effects on humans at worst, I'll just eat the damn thing. Better than starving to death.
As I munch on my sandwich, I hear something clink against the window. I get off the floor and look outside.
OH MY GOD!
Olette's bloody visage is pressed against the glass. A zombie—no, a ghost? What other horrors do these woods contain? "Be gone, foul abomination! I don't have time for your ghastly shenanigans!"
"I'm alive, you idiot!" Holy shit. She can talk. That rules out being a zombie…almost. Could be a breed of intelligent talking zombies.
"Then why are you covered in blood?"
"I… I got hungry."
"The spirit of Christ compels you!"
"Shut up! It was the bear. I found it and…" Her head dips. "I had to eat it to survive..."
"You found the bear?"
"It was already dead. I was so hungry that I…"
She grimaces. "It was torn apart. What could do something like that?"
Something like a werewolf? Wait. So that's what happened! Now I get it. The bear wasn't chasing us. It was running with us. Since Olette was no longer there, Kairi had to feast on something.
"I'm not sure what happened, but next to the bear's corpse was Naminé. She was...the same as Hayner."
"How'd you know it was her? Last time I checked, Hayner had turned into spaghettiOs."
She doesn't appreciate my flippancy. Join the party. Riku doesn't either. Which is why it's so fun to poke and prod him. I'll probably regret it later. "Because I picked up her phone. I used the GPS to get here. It ran out of batteries on the way over though. I thought I was saved until I heard someone screaming." Her face scrunches in distaste. "It sounded awful. I thought I should check the cabin first."
"Smart move." I get off the floor and climb onto the bed. I check to see if she's the real deal. She buckles under my intense scrutiny as color floods her cheeks.
"What are you doing?"
"You're really alive," I conclude incredulously.
"That's what I've been trying to tell you!"
What an oversight. Nobody is truly dead unless you can poke them in the eye with a stick. We all assumed she was dead because none of us were dumb enough to dive into the river to find out for sure. Jokes on me. I jumped into the river anyways.
"How'd you even survive?"
"Luck, I guess." No such thing as luck. Only contrivance. "What's going on? Who was screaming?"
"First things first, you've gotta get me outta here. Riku and Kairi have gone crazy and Roxas is dead."
Her eyes widen in terror. "Riku and Kairi?"
"That's right. You escaped them earlier. What the hell happened?"
"I… I'm not sure. I think they drugged me. When I woke up. I was tied to a tree. I assumed they left me behind for the bear but… It didn't look like a bear to me. Then a real bear did show up. Somehow, the ropes got loose and I made a run for it."
"And you jumped into the river. Damn. Not every day a man-eating bear saves you from a werewolf."
"A werewolf?" Her brow furrows skeptically.
"Oh yeah. This sounds crazy but Kairi's actually a werewolf, and this entire trip has been Riku's plan to feed us to her as part of a ritual to cure her of being one."
"Take a look for yourself." I back away from the window so she can see my shackled ankle. "They're keeping me here."
She grips her head fearfully. "So it really was… I thought I was going crazy. Then from the start—those crazy bastards!"
"Hey, keep it down. Don't let them know you're here."
She takes a deep breath. "What can we do?"
"Like I said earlier, I gotta get this shackle off. What's the area around here like?"
"There are some other cabins but they're empty."
"Then we're all alone out here. Okay, here's the deal. They plan on sacrificing me tomorrow night. It'll be a full moon. That's less than twenty four hours. You gotta call the cops or somebody to come up here. Next, you gotta find a tool. Look around for a shed or something. I need bolt cutters or anything that can cut a chain."
"Most importantly, don't get found. Riku's totally lost it and this isn't the first time he's killed someone. If he sees you, you're a goner. And Kairi's a freakin' werewolf so you should probably avoid her too. If worse comes to worst, just save yourself."
She shakes her head vehemently. "No. I won't run away again. I'll save you. Definitely." She looks over her shoulder. "It's still dark out here. I can move around freely. I'll be back soon."
"Be careful." She disappears into the darkness.
The plot gods have answered my prayers. That river is really bad at killing people. I'm not complaining. It saved both me and Olette. I fall back on the bed and try to think of the next step but my head is groggy. I feel tired all of a sudden. Crap, don't tell me… I look at the half-eaten sandwich on the tray. Bastards drugged me…
I open my eyes.
It's the sun. This isn't good. It's already tomorrow. Late afternoon too. What the hell happened with Olette?
"Rise and shine, Sora." I turn around to see Riku. In his hands is a rifle. Worse has officially gone to worst. Bastard probably pumped me full of silver in my sleep.
"I will be. As soon as you tell me who it is."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
He sticks the barrel against my cheek. "Do you really want to play games with me right now?"
I should stop poking the fire before I get burned—or worse, get my head blown off. "How'd you find out?"
"I found footsteps outside. They lead to and away from your window. Tell me. Who was it?"
No use drawing this out. "It's Olette."
He presses harder. "Don't lie to me. She's dead."
"Nobody's dead unless you find their corpse."
He probes my face for any signs of falsehood. "Fine. I'll believe you. I'll find out eventually. It's been awhile since I had a good hunt." He walks out the door, bouncing the gun on his shoulder. Jeez, make up your mind. Do you hunt people in your spare time or are you legitimately making an effort to cure your girlfriend? He's becoming a sloppy soup of psychopathic tropes now.
Everything's up to Olette. I get the feeling that the next time I see her, she'll be dead. It's just that kind of story. Horror giveth, but mostly taketh. It's only when all hope is dashed that despair can truly take hold.
I lie in bed, lamenting for what seems like an eternity. The moon is unexpectedly clear during the day. Only a few short hours before night descends. I trace the sun's slow arc towards the horizon. The light is fading and sky grows darker.
If this story wasn't in first-person, would there be a scene right now with Riku and Olette in a game of cat-and-mouse? I have no idea what's going on out there. If I'm lucky, she manages to sneak up behind him and bashes his brains out with a giant rock. Then she'll bust in here, shoot the chain with the rifle, and we'll run off into the sunset. Scratch that. We'll run off into the moonlight. Evening has already arrived.
I thought about different methods of removing the chain but all of them are painful. It's only the knowledge that I'm in a story that prevents me from resorting to the very last of resorts, such as gnawing my foot off. It's not like I'm being tortured. I can wait around and pray for miracles a little while longer. Then again, that miracle might be getting killed by Riku right now.
The door opens. Has he returned? No, it's Kairi. She looks bad. Heavy bags and shadows cling to her face. She takes a seat in the same chair that resides within mocking distance.
This is my chance. I'll leverage her feelings for me to my advantage. I sit up on the edge of the bed and face her directly. "Is it true that you love me?" She stares at the floor silently. "Look at me."
She's hesitant to meet my eyes, but when they do, they're drenched. "It's true."
That's weird. Even though I've only known her for three days, a part of me reacts strongly to her confession. It's a feeling from this world's Sora, and I can feel him overtaking my good sense. The tears come streaming out against my will. In the warmth of her declaration is also cold despair. So this is how it feels—loss. Congratulations, Riku. I think I understand you a little bit. This is, indeed, a shitty feeling. My body aches for her. I want to touch her, to hug her, to caress her, to protect her—but I can't. Not in these circumstances. Emotion and logic conflict. My heart beats painfully and my knuckles go white as I clutch the sheets. The sensation is unbearable.
"Goddamnit." I push the feeling down and refocus my mind, but the words leak out effortlessly, "I love you too."
The words wreck her, leaving no trace of stability, and she falls apart, sobbing loudly, tears for a future that can never be. "I never wanted this."
This isn't natural. It's easy to make fun of how stupid people act when they're in love, but when you're in love yourself, stupid feels stupidly good. "I know. It's all because of Riku. It's not too late, Kairi. Get these shackles off me. Let me escape."
She doesn't hear me; her eyes are glazed over. "I can still remember it. Every detail. How they screamed for their lives, how they felt in my hands as I tore them to pieces, how they tasted..."
"It wasn't you. It was the monster."
"That's what I thought at first but... It is me. I can't help but remember the feeling. It was...amazing. I know it's wrong but I relished it. It felt good. I can't stop myself anymore. I'm losing my mind. You're the only one left who still sees me as me. I never wanted you to know. That's why… Before it's too late, you have to be the one—you have to be the one to kill me, Sora. Do you understand?"
I nod dumbly. Every fiber of my being fights against her inevitable conclusion. My body refuses to budge as she ambles over to my foot, takes out a key, and unlocks the shackle. She hands me a knife. It shatters my self-imposed paralysis and I almost drop it. She stands before me and leans over, hugging my head, and offers a clear view of her chest.
"Do it," she whispers. "Right here." She points to her heart.
I grip the knife tightly but tremble. Knowing that I have to kill and actually doing it are two different things. This is a warm flesh and blood person in front of me. Not only that, but she loves me. Can I really do this? Can I kill another person? It's understandable to be afraid of being murdered, but an unusual fear has taken hold. I'm afraid. I'm afraid to lose her.
"Riku killed your parents," I reveal.
If she knew, then… "Why are you still with him?"
"To protect you."
I wish I hadn't asked. How am I supposed to kill her after hearing that? Lives of fucking tragedy intertwined in despair. These aren't my emotions, damn it! This isn't me. It's Sora's, the Sora of this twisted, fucked up world. Just get me out of here already.
The door slams open. I can't see who it is because of Kairi.
"Let him go." Not the voice I wanted to hear. I guess it would've been anticlimactic if Riku died off-screen.
"Is she dead?" I ask, referring to Olette.
"Shut up," Riku says. "Let him go, Kairi. It's time."
"I won't." She holds me tighter. "Kill me now."
A loud bang fills the air and the window behind me shatters. He still has his rifle. Killing her now will only guarantee my death. "You know I can't."
"You have to," she urges. "I can feel it. You have to do it now or else—"
"LET HIM GO!" Riku runs up to us and smacks her in the face with the butt of his rifle. Like father like son. Her hands go slack from the pain and she lets go. In that moment, I shove the knife into his stomach. "AAARGGGHHH." I taste the rifle's stock and spill over to the floor. Shit. I think I lost a tooth. Blood specks litter the ground in front of me. I'm guessing this metallic taste is more silver than iron.
"NO, DON'T!" she screams.
A shot goes off and a hole materializes next to my hand. That's way too close! Kairi must've altered the shot. I get up and make a move for the rifle. We struggle for control but he's too strong. I can't take it from him. Kairi grabs him from behind and the rifle goes flying across the room. I run for it but a hand grabs my foot. I trip and hit my chin, accidentally biting my lip. Riku deliberately steps on my back as he goes for the gun. The pain immobilizes me, giving him enough time to pick it up.
That's when it comes to me, that flash of inspiration. I take off my necklace and rush him from behind. I put the necklace over his head and drag the chain against his neck. Since he's holding the rifle, he can't bring his hands up in time. I pull back with two tightly wound fists, squeezing the life out of his throat, the links digging deep into his skin. He writhes violently in my grasp as the rifle clatters to the floor. I ignore his thrashing and grit my teeth when his elbows strike me. I bring up my knee and press it against his back for more leverage. What is it with psychos and their utter refusal to die? He's got a knife sticking out of his gut for god's sake! How does he have so much fight in him? He gets a lucky hit on my stomach and I let go on reflex. He takes advantage and spins around, knocking me to the floor.
This is bad—understatement of the chapter. He extracts the knife from his stomach and blood gushes out. He clamps it with his free hand. "I'm going to kill you."
The room shakes from a deafening and terrible howl. We freeze, the blood in our bodies curdling in fright. Our eyes dart to the source and there she stands in her monstrous glory, a hulking, hairy, creature whose ears touch the ceiling with incredible height. Her body is ripped with loose patches of skin, fur, and veiny muscles. Most striking are her glowing amber eyes, like two moons on a grotesque masque of death. No longer human. Just a monster.
"K-Kairi..." Riku says. Before I can blink, half of his face disappears. Thin lines of red drip from her claws. I hear a sick thud on the floor. It's Riku's face—the top half.
I don't dwell on the sight. I jump for the door and shut it behind me, closing up every lock and latch I can find. On the other side, I hear a symphony of flesh—the moist noise of skin peeling and meat being ripped from the bone with blood spraying the walls like drizzle on a window pane. Poor bastard got slaughtered instantly.
I lean on the door, drawing deep breaths. My heartbeat seems to slow in concert with the sounds inside. It's becoming calm. Blood leaks out from underneath the door. I step back, leaving bloody footprints in my wake. I hear something hit the door.
"I... I'm back to normal."
"How is that possible?" Then it hits me—the silver bullet. Riku was eaten up along with my necklace. Talk about irony. Consider it an honor, asshole. "Then the ritual worked? How do you feel?"
"Before, I always felt it, the monster. I could feel its instinct and hunger, begging me to kill, but... It's gone now."
"I'll understand if you don't open the door. The things I've done are unforgivable. I'll go ahead and kill myself."
"Don't." I slam my fist against the wall. "Not when I've finally got you back."
"But... How can I forget?"
"You don't. They didn't die so you can kill yourself. You have to take responsibility for the lives you've taken. It's not your fault. Nobody could've predicted this crazy situation. Don't blame yourself. I'm here for you, Kairi. I love you. No matter what you've done, I can't change how I feel about you."
"Sora... Thank you."
Before I know it, I'm unlocking the door. A strange happiness wells up inside me. That's the last lock. I swing the door open and expect the worst. I'm breathless. There she is...naked, beautiful, and most importantly, human. Never mind the blood that's covering her. Our eyes meet and relief washes over us. A smile invites itself on my lips. The nightmare is finally over.
I blink in confusion as Kairi looks down at the hole that's been made in her chest. She gives me one last haunting smile before she collapses in a heap. Nothing comes out of my mouth. My scream is stifled by disbelief. Did that... Did that really just happen? Her body lies there, limp in a growing pool of blood. My eyes are drawn to the window where I spot a smoking barrel.
"Looks like I got here in time. Are you okay, Sora?" It's Olette. And she just killed Kairi. Shot her straight through the heart. I almost forgot what kind of this story this was. I feel numb.
"Yeah. I'm alright," I say monotonously. I want to cry but I can't. An indefinable emotion shakes my core. Tendrils of this new cold feeling seep through my vessels.
"You wouldn't believe what happened to me. I tried to call the police but all the lines were dead. I tried to get back to you last night but you were asleep. I couldn't wake you up."
"That's because..." My eyes fall on the rifle by Riku's scattered remains. "I was drugged."
"I see. I couldn't find any tools, but I did find this gun in one of the cabins. It was loaded too. It really helped me out when Riku tried to hunt me down. Once evening came, he ran off. I figured he came back."
I approach the rifle and kneel down. It's still wet with Riku's blood. "You were right."
"I found a car by one of the cabins. We can use it to escape."
I can see the ending. That's the thing about horror. Even when I know everything that's going to happen, I can't prevent it from happening. Logically, there's no reason to do what I'm about to do, but this world's Sora is overcome with overwhelming grief and pure rage. You can't reason with anguish. When I'm so close to happiness, to have it snatched away so cruelly at the last second is the greatest tragedy I can suffer. I succumb and submit to this pain and misery. I understand, Riku. I look at his half-torn face on the floor and he stares back, his eyes glistening with vindication. I go through the motions of cocking the rifle and aim it towards the window.
"Sora? What are you doing?" She smiles. She thinks I'm joking. "Let's get out of here already."
"I will. After I end this story."
If you haven't figure it out yet, you need to improve your reading comprehension. Since I'm so nice, I'll tell you what just happened: I blasted her brains out. Why? Because this is a goddamned horror story. Now I'm going to kill myself next. Why? Because I already told you. Pay attention now.
Just kidding. I put another one between Riku's eyes because, you know, fuck that guy.
To recap, I am on the only one alive. Actually, this ending has already changed five times but you wouldn't know that unless you reread this chapter, but who's dumb enough to read something they've already read once? Certainly not you, great reader. Don't worry. Because this is most definitely, without a doubt...