Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the WWE! I also don't own the words to "Nightmare" used at the beginning of this chapter. That would be Avenged Sevenfold.
Summary: A ghost story. Sent off course on a stormy night, five superstars are stranded together in an old house. But they're not alone. Something is haunting them, and they have to find a way to combat their deepest, darkest fears in order to survive the night.
Characters: AJ Lee, CM Punk, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Eve Torres
Pairings: Miz/Eve, one-sided Punk/AJ
Author's Note: Welcome this little horror story known as Fear Itself, lol. For those who know my writing, yes, I realize I haven't written a full-out horror story before, but there's a first time for everything, right? This idea has actually been brewing for quite a while, and I have to send a special shoutout to Ana of Rohan for reminding me about the basis of this idea that we had however long ago. So, thanks so much for that, dear :) Also have to thank GuenVanHelsing for convincing me to post this today, lol. I'm not sure when I'll update next since not all of this is done on my end, but I'll definitely update when I can! So, I hope everyone has a happy Halloween, and I hope this can scare ya just a little bit ;) Feel free to read and review, just no flames please. Enjoy!
"Can't wake up in sweat
'Cause it ain't over yet
Still dancing with your demons
Beyond the will to fight
Where all that's wrong is right
Where hate don't need a reason..."
–Avenged Sevenfold, "Nightmare"
Part I– Crash and Burn
The thick, black smoke was suffocating. The heat was unbearable. The crackling flames were deafening as they continued to press in...
With a quiet gasp, April Mendez's eyes snapped open as she quickly looked around, sighing and brushing a few strands of dark hair that had fallen loose from her ponytail out of her face when she realized that she was sitting in the passenger seat of a rental car. She chanced a glance at the dark-haired, tattooed man sitting behind the wheel next to her, raising an eyebrow when she saw the slight smirk on his face. "Did I fall asleep?" she wondered.
Phil Brooks, better known as CM Punk, chuckled quietly as he turned on the windshield wipers when a few larger raindrops splashed against the pane. "About fifteen minutes ago," he confirmed. "But you were starting to get restless and mutter in your sleep, so..."
"Oh. Sorry about that." April was sure she felt slight color rise to her cheeks as she looked away from the Straight Edge Superstar. This was only her first week being a part of the main WWE roster as the spunky diva AJ, and after some confusion about who she was supposed to carpool with to get to the show in New Jersey the next day, she had been faced with no other choice but to travel with Phil and his usual road crew since she hadn't wanted to be left behind at the hotel in Boston.
She was then brought out of her thoughts when she heard a quiet sound behind her that sounded eerily like snoring. An equally quiet laugh followed, and April glanced over her shoulder to look at the other three members of their group.
"Clearly someone has no trouble sleeping in this car," Michael Mizanin, WWE's loudmouth better known as the Miz, stated as he cast a pointed glance at the blond man leaning against the opposite window.
Eve Torres smiled from where she sat between them, reaching over and ruffling Nick Nemeth's hair. "He'll be out until we get to the hotel," she added when she didn't get a reaction, shaking her head slightly at the company's resident Show-Off, otherwise known as Dolph Ziggler.
"I'm okay with that," Mike muttered, tightening his arm around the waist of his girlfriend of three years. Eve smiled, resting her head on his shoulder.
"You mean I have to put up with that obnoxious sound and PDA from you two for the couple hours we have left before we get to Jersey?" Phil mock complained from behind the wheel. "Damn it, that's gonna be a pain in the ass..." He chuckled quietly when Mike gave him the middle finger.
April looked out the window at the steady rain that had been persisting for the better part of the drive, her thin fingers wringing nervously on her lap. She wasn't used to traveling with this particular group, but as Phil had said, there were only a couple short hours left until they reached the next city. She knew she could last for that long.
Phil glanced over at April, sighing quietly when he saw how stiffly she was sitting in her seat. "Hey, just relax, okay?" he muttered. "I mean, I feel bad that you got stuck with us, but we'll be there soon."
"Oh, trust me, it's not that at all," April replied quickly. "I like you guys. It's just..." Her sentence trailed off when the Straight Edge Superstar arched a questioning eyebrow, and she quickly looked away again.
Eve smiled as she leaned close to Mike's ear. "Isn't it cute?" she asked in nearly a whisper.
Mike looked back at her with confusion. "Isn't what cute?" he wondered.
"You don't see it?" Eve chuckled and rolled her eyes when her boyfriend continued to look at her with a blank expression on his face. "Never mind."
The self-proclaimed Awesome One opened his mouth to ask what she was talking about, but he was interrupted by a louder snore from Nick, who shifted position in his seat as he continued sleeping, and the conversation was dropped.
As the hour drew on, the steady rain continued to harden, soon turning into a heavy downpour. Phil cursed under his breath as he increased the speed of the windshield wipers, still not quite enough to completely clear the raindrops that were continuously obscuring his vision. April sat beside him, glancing up at the dark sky when a bright flash suddenly caught her eye. She bit her lip when a loud crash of thunder nearly shook the car as it echoed around them. The sound was enough to wake Nick, who quickly raised his head from the window before he looked around frantically.
"Wh-what was that?" he murmured, his words still heavy with sleep.
Mike smirked from where he was keeping a secure hold on Eve's hand. "Well, well, well. It looks like Sleeping Beauty has finally rejoined the living," he said.
Nick sent him a glare before he rubbed his tired eyes. "Damn, when did it begin storming?" he asked as another flash of lightning split the sky.
"Not too long ago," Eve answered, her eyes flickering nervously when another loud rumble of thunder shortly followed. "It seems like we're right in the middle of it too."
Mike leaned forward slightly and rested his arms on his knees so that he could get closer to the dark-haired man. "Hey, how much longer until we reach Jersey, Phil?" he wondered.
"Um..." The Straight Edge Superstar glanced briefly at the glowing green numbers of the car's clock before looking back out at the drenched road ahead of them. "I'd say another hour, give or take."
Eve glanced around her boyfriend to look out the window, seeing that they were one of the few cars traveling on the usually busy side road. "Phil, maybe you should slow down..." she suggested quietly.
"I would, Eve, if it wasn't for this asshole following us so closely." Phil narrowed his hazel eyes as he looked in the rearview mirror, pushing down on the brake just enough so that the back lights would flash. A slight smirk turned up the corner of his lips when the car behind them slowed down somewhat. "This is treacherous."
Nick looked out the window himself, stifling a yawn. "Just be careful, man," he said, leaning back against the seat in attempt to get comfortable.
Phil rolled his eyes but otherwise said nothing. From beside him, April suddenly jumped when a bolt of lightning touched down not too far from the road, a nearly deafening rumble of thunder following soon after. The dark-haired man briefly glanced at her, his brow furrowing slightly. "Hey, calm down, girl," he muttered when he saw how nervous she looked. "It's just some rain. We're gonna be okay."
"Well, it's a bit more than just a little rain, Phil," Nick argued from the back as he closed his eyes again. But then, they opened quickly when he felt a sharp slap on his arm, and he found himself facing an angry glare from Eve. "Ow! What the hell was that for?"
Eve just shook her head slightly as she leaned forward and set her hand on the seat in front of her that the younger woman occupied. "Just try and relax," she told her, emulating the Straight Edge Superstar's earlier words of comfort. "We'll get to Jersey soon."
April smiled weakly in return. "Thanks," she murmured, her gaze faltering slightly when another rumble of thunder echoed around them. "I just really don't like storms... and lightning..."
The Latina nodded in understanding while Phil sighed quietly, his eyes moving down to the glowing numbers of the clock once more. "Well, it should lighten up soon."
But as they continued driving while evening crept in, the storm's rage persisted, the heavy downpour making visibility difficult and the forceful wind making it even harder to stay in the lane. Nick had managed to fall asleep again, Mike was lightly twisting a strand of his girlfriend's brown hair around his finger while Eve tried to connect to a news website on her phone to check the weather, and April had closed her eyes and started to hum a song quietly to herself to try to calm down.
Finally, Phil sighed as he shook his head slightly. "Look, guys, I'm gonna try to find a place to stop so we can wait the storm out," he announced. "With as dark as it's getting, I'd rather not risk anymore driving."
Eve glanced up from the bright screen of her phone for a moment. "That's a good idea," she agreed. "I'll check to see if there are any stores nearby that we can stop at."
"Smart," Mike muttered, his light gaze lingering on the downpour outside. "Even if there was anything close, you really couldn't see it. You'd probably miss it."
April took a deep breath as she stared intently out the window at the pressing darkness ahead of them, her body tense as the sound of the heavy rain hitting the front windshield nearly drowned out Nick's quiet snores behind her. Then, another bright flash of lighting suddenly illuminated the road around them, and she gasped loudly just as the crash of thunder followed immediately after.
"Phil, look out!" she screamed.
The Straight Edge Superstar's eyes widened in fear when he realized too late that he hadn't seen the sharp turn in the road ahead through the torrential rain and growing darkness since the car's headlights hadn't reached the trees that lined the bend. He frantically started to turn the wheel as he eased up on the gas, but he knew it wouldn't do any good.
April closed her eyes tightly as she felt the car start to turn before it went off the road, hearing the startled screams of the rest of the vehicle's inhabitants as they continued past a few trees before they came to a sudden, crashing halt.
Red and orange leaves gently rained down to the fresh green grass. The sound of a dog barking echoed around the yard. A tall man, his face hidden by the hood of a sweatshirt, stood looming on the wooden porch...
A quiet groan escaped from April's throat as her eyes fluttered open. She slowly raised her head and looked out the window next to her, seeing that the rain was still falling heavily around them, a low rumble of thunder off in the distance. She rubbed her head and sighed when she saw the front end of the car dented around a tree, a thin trail of smoke rising from underneath the hood.
But then, she stiffened when she noticed something that was more concerning to her. The strong smell of gas.
Thinking quickly, April looked to her left, seeing that Phil was lying back against his seat, his eyes closed and his head resting limply on his shoulder. She reached out and started to shake his arm. "Phil," she whispered anxiously. "C'mon, Phil, wake up..."
Another pained groan reached her ears, but not the one she had hoped to hear. April quickly looked in the backseat, watching as Mike slowly awoke at Eve's gentle nudging. "Hey, are you okay?" the Latina asked with concern, lightly brushing her fingers over her boyfriend's cheek.
Mike closed his eyes for a minute as he quickly shook his head, attempting to clear it. "E-Eve?" he muttered when his gaze landed on her.
Eve smiled slightly in return. "Are you okay?" she repeated.
"My... my knee..." Mike muttered as he sat up slightly. "Must have jammed it... in the crash..."
The diva turned her attention to the knee he was pointing at, lightly setting her hand on it. Though Mike winced, she was able to tell that it wasn't out of place and hopefully hadn't suffered any other sort of serious damage. "You'll be okay," she told him. "You probably just bruised it."
Mike nodded in agreement as he passed a hand over his face before he looked up at his girlfriend again. "Are... are you okay?" he wondered.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Eve assured him with a slight nod. "My shoulder just got caught in the seatbelt when we stopped..."
His eyes narrowing with concern, Mike reached out and carefully moved her lightweight sweatshirt aside a bit to see that a large bruise was starting to form across her shoulder and collar bone. He then set his hand on the back of her neck before resting his forehead against hers. "I'm glad you're okay," he murmured.
Eve briefly met his lips in a quick kiss before she turned to meet April's gaze. "Are you okay, sweetie?" she asked.
April slowly nodded in answer. "I'm not really hurt."
The younger woman gave her a weak smile, but then she quickly turned to the Straight Edge Superstar when she felt him move slightly under her hand. "Phil?" She leaned a little closer to him, brushing a hand through his short dark hair to try to elicit more of a response out of him. She then sighed with relief when she was met with the sight of his weary hazel eyes, but concern immediately replaced it when he winced as he tried to sit up straighter.
"Whoa, Phil, are you okay, man?" Mike wondered, keeping a tight hold on Eve's hand as he leaned forward slightly.
A moment passed before Phil nodded, opening his eyes as he turned back to look at Mike. "My ribs..." he said quietly. "Hit the steering wheel..."
Mike's eyes narrowed with concern as he leaned forward more while Eve turned to the last member of their group who had yet to make any noise. Her eyes widened when she saw him, and she immediately reached out and set her hand on his arm. "Nick!"
April, Phil, and Mike all turned to look at the blond-haired man at her shout, seeing with worry that his eyes remained closed where he was leaning against the window, a thin trail of blood leaking out from his hairline. The self-proclaimed Awesome One leaned over with his girlfriend to help wake him, but Phil's brow suddenly furrowed as he looked around the car. "Hey, does anyone else smell gas?"
Eve paused for only a moment before she started to shake the Show-Off a bit more forcefully. "Nick, wake up!" she yelled.
A quiet groan escaped from Nick's throat, and he slowly opened his eyes and weakly looked around. "What... what happened..."
"All right, guys, get him out as quickly as you can," Phil muttered as he fumbled with his seatbelt for a moment before finally getting it undone. "I'll help you from the outside."
"Phil, we can't go out in that!" Mike protested, pointing out the window at the darkness. "We'll never find our way in that storm!"
The Straight Edge Superstar sighed as he looked back at the other man. "Do you have any better ideas?" he countered. "We can't risk staying here with that gas smell."
Knowing he was right, Mike sighed as he undid his seatbelt as well while Eve worked to get a weary Nick out of his. April sighed as she slowly took off her own, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth as she glanced out at the pouring rain. Phil glanced at her to make sure that she was prepared, sighing quietly as his gaze passed over the t-shirt she wore.
"Here, take this."
April looked back at Phil, surprised as he slipped out of his red sweatshirt and offered it to her. "Won't you be cold?" she asked, seeing that he was now only wearing a t-shirt.
Phil just chuckled. "Nah, I'll be fine, girl," he answered. "C'mon, let's go."
Sighing quietly as she attempted to give him a thankful smile, April slipped the sweatshirt over her head. Phil returned the look before he pushed open the door with a little difficulty since it stuck fast before stepping outside into the rain. She did the same on the other side, pulling the hood of the large sweatshirt over her head as she hurried around the car to the other side just as the Straight Edge Superstar started to pull Nick out of the backseat while Eve helped to nudge him out from the inside. Phil then took the blond man's arm and wrapped it around his neck before wrapping his own arm behind his back to help support him. The Latina stepped outside next, pulling the hood of her lightweight sweatshirt over her head in a futile attempt to keep dry before Mike left the car last, shutting the door behind him.
"Now what?" Eve shivered slightly as a strong gust of wind blew past them, having to raise her voice to be heard over the storm.
Phil sighed as he looked around at the few trees that surrounded them as Mike took Nick's other arm and wrapped it around his neck as well. "Let's get back to the road!" he told her, having to raise his voice as well. "That'll be our best chance to find something!"
"What's out here on the outskirts of Jersey, man?" Mike pressed, his tone slightly frustrated. "We didn't see anything before we crashed!"
"There has to be something," Eve tried to assure him, setting her hand on his arm in a placating way. "Maybe some people live out here or something. We have to find a way to get some help for Nick!"
Phil looked at the Show-Off that he and Mike were supporting, noticing that though Nick was conscious, he still appeared exhausted as he looked around at the surrounding area. Eve was right. They needed to find some way to help him. "We'll just keep walking down the road in the direction we were driving!" he announced, raising his voice once more when another low rumble of thunder was heard in the distance. "We're bound to hit something eventually!"
Mike grumbled under his breath, but a small smile appeared on his face when Eve squeezed his hand reassuringly. The self-proclaimed Awesome One then shifted his focus to supporting Nick as he and Phil began to lead him along the grassy path, the Latina and April following along close behind.
After nearly slipping as they tried to get up the slight hill out of the trees, the quintet finally made it to the road, noticing that there wasn't any traffic. "This way," Phil muttered, nodding to his left as he began to pull Nick along with him and forcing Mike to follow. The two divas stuck close together as they made their way down the slick pavement, keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of shelter.
"Do... do you think we'll really find anything soon?" April wondered, her voice shaking slightly as another cold gust of wind blew at them.
Eve tried to pull her sweatshirt a little closer around her. "I... I hope so," she said. "It wouldn't be good for any of us to stay out in this storm for very long."
From ahead of them, Mike sighed as they continued along, his sore knee causing him to walk with a slight limp. "Come on, Phil, what are the chances of actually being close to something out here?"
Phil winced slightly as he glanced back at him, his ribs protesting to all the movement. "It's not impossible," he replied before turning his gaze to Nick. "Hanging in there, man?"
Nick blinked a couple times before he met Phil's gaze. "Yeah... I'll be fine," he said quietly. "Thanks for the help..."
Mike smiled slightly as he nodded in return. But then, the look vanished as he looked at the Straight Edge Superstar. "Oh, shit! What about our bags, Phil?"
Phil sighed. "Well, let's find something first," he told him. "Then if it's possible, we'll get a ride back to the car to get them. Else I'll just walk back."
"If that's the case, I'm going with you," Mike muttered. "No use asking for trouble in this storm."
"What about your knee?" Phil questioned, arching an eyebrow as he eyed the limp the other man was walking with.
Mike smirked. "What about your ribs?" he countered.
Phil gave him a small scowl. "Touché."
"Guys, what's that?" April suddenly asked loudly from behind them.
Mike and Phil brought Nick to a stop before they turned to see what the diva was pointing at while Eve squinted slightly to see what appeared to be a large black shape sitting on a vast lawn against the dark sky. A small flicker of lightning lit up the rolling storm clouds above, but it was just enough to reveal that it was a sizable Victorian-style, two-story house.
"Let's go see if someone's home," Eve suggested, wrapping her arms around herself as she continued to shiver. "At least we'd be able to get out of this rain."
"You think they'd really let five strangers into their house?" Mike wondered incredulously.
Eve narrowed her eyes slightly. "Do you have any other ideas, Mike?" she snapped. "We can't just stand out here in the rain!"
"Please, stop fighting..." April murmured, an uncomfortable look crossing her face.
"Yeah, you're only making my headache worse," Nick added, rubbing his forehead.
"Don't even think about it," Phil spoke up just as Mike opened his mouth to retort. "Look, Eve's right. We can't just stay out here all night. Let's just go up to the house, see if anyone's home, and decide what to do from there."
Mike rolled his eyes, but a low rumble of thunder caused him to nod in agreement. "All right, let's go."
The group of five made their way across the gently sloping lawn as quickly as they could, their steps hindered slightly by their feet sinking into the mud-soaked grass. They passed a couple thick-trunked, tall trees, their branches bare of most of their brightly colored leaves due to the heavy downpour. Nick stumbled a couple times, but he was kept upright by Phil and Mike. April and Eve trudged along behind them, just looking forward to getting to the house.
"Well, I don't see any cars around," Eve muttered as they finally started to make their way up the old, creaking stairs that led up to the wooden porch. "And no lights are on. Doesn't seem like anyone's home..."
Phil sighed as he looked around the porch as both divas lowered the hoods of their sweatshirts, glad to be under the shelter of the awning, spotting a fragile looking rocking chair sitting near the corner. "Here, Nick, have a seat," he told him, guiding him over along with Mike.
Nick took a deep breath as he slowly sat down in the rocking chair, which protested under the sudden weight. "Thanks, guys," he said, resting his head in his hand.
The Straight Edge Superstar nodded slightly with a small smile before he crossed his tattooed arms as he watched Mike walk to the front door and ring the doorbell. A moment passed, but they heard nothing except for the heavy rain that continued to fall around the house.
"No luck, man," the self-proclaimed Awesome One announced with a shrug, trying the door handle only to find that it was locked. "Doesn't work."
Undeterred, Phil squinted slightly as he looked into the dark house through the window. "No one's been here for years," he added. "Back away from the door, Mike."
Mike arched an eyebrow as he did what the other man said anyway. "What are you–!" But his question was instantly interrupted when Phil's foot suddenly connected forcefully with the door handle.
"Dude, what the hell are you doing?!" Nick demanded from where he sat in the rocking chair, Eve and April staring at the now open door with fear. "We can't just break in!"
"Trust me, no one's been here for a long time," Phil said as a form of explanation as he pushed the door open further. "Look for yourselves."
Mike, April, and Eve all cautiously leaned forward, seeing that the floor was covered in a thick layer of dust and there were white sheets covering all the furniture that made up the living room. It definitely appeared as though the house had been abandoned.
"It's better than nothing for now," Phil continued. "We'll leave as soon as the storm's over and figure out how to get to the city."
Eve sighed quietly as she exchanged a look with Mike before she nodded slightly. Though he still appeared slightly hesitant, Mike made his way back over to the rocking chair where Nick was sitting, taking a hold of his arm and helping him to his feet. Eve briefly set her hand on her boyfriend's arm as he approached her, glancing back at Phil and April before she followed them into the dark house.
Phil ran a hand through his short dark hair as he started to go after them, but not hearing footsteps behind him, he glanced over his shoulder at the new diva. "You coming, girl?" he asked.
April gasped quietly as she met Phil's gaze, but the Straight Edge Superstar had definitely noticed the nervous look that had passed over her face. "Um, yeah, coming," she answered quietly, her eyes once again traveling over the house warily.
"Um, okay. Whenever you're ready, then," Phil muttered, giving her a small smile before he walked inside himself.
A few minutes passed as April lingered behind on the porch, pulling Phil's sweatshirt a little closer around her as the wind picked up again. There was something about the house that was unnerving. She turned over her shoulder to look at the vast lawn behind her, and she gasped quietly when she saw a tall figure just out of the corner of her eye. But when she turned to face it completely, there was no one there.
Author's Note: Well, there's chapter one! I know, it's kinda the cliché setup for a horror movie/story, but for those of you who know my writing, you also know that I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve, and this story is no exception. As said before, I'll update this when I can! Hope you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!