I took a job as a Fire lookout in the middle of the woods, I found a strange set of rules to follow - Chap 7
The scratching stops shortly after I go under my covers. I can literally feel her hunger in the air, looming above my tower, focusing in on me. I peek from my bed once I’m certain that the scratching noises have stopped. I don’t want her to catch me off guard, I want to be ready for anything she throws at me. I stand up, and circle around the balcony of my hut, scanning the surrounding area. Where she stood before, she no longer does. I knew she was fast; previously she had beaten me back to my tower when I found her crying in the woods. She could be anywhere. I turn back to walk into my hut. I’m looking out one of the windows, as the reflection of the dull lamp starts to flicker behind me. Shit.
Rule 4. At night, always sleep with your lamp on. If it starts to flicker, quickly run to turn on your main light until morning. If your lamp flickers off completely before you can do this, hide under your bed until morning.
My eyes adjust as I look at the reflection of the lamp, and she’s there. Right in front of me, through the glass, standing on my balcony. It’s her. Her broken arms distended. Her straggly hair wet. Her eyes large. Her smile wide.
Rule 6. If you wake up, and see the smiling woman staring at your through your window, hide under your covers and hold your breath. She will come into your hut and you will feel her breathing right above you as if she is hovering over you. DO NOT breathe. This will last only a few seconds. Once you feel her leave, turn on the main light until morning.
The lamp flickers once more, then shuts off, plunging me into darkness. I have two rules that I need to follow. Two conflicting rules. I can’t look away from her, but I know I have to turn on the main light.
Her neck suddenly snaps to the side, and she starts to walk fast. I mean, fast. Stomping loud with each step, as she makes her way around the balcony towards the door on the other side. Oh fuck. I turn and sprint to the main light. She’s about halfway to the door when I turn it on, and now I have to decide whether I hide under the bed or under the covers.
I choose the covers. Rule 6 specified, ‘She will come into your hut’, and she’s about to do that. I run toward my bed, and pull the covers over my eyes. As I do so, I see the door of my hut open. I hear her loud, fast footsteps charging toward me, but I see only darkness now I lay beneath thick covers. I hold my breath.
I can feel her. Just as the rule said I would. She’s right above me. I feel her breath. It’s cold. My eyes are shut, but I know she’s there. I’m trying to hold my breath. My heart is pounding out my chest, my stomach is churning in fear, but I refuse to breathe. Yet she waits, desperate for me to do so. What happens if I breathe? Will she kill me here and now? Will she possess me? My chest hurts. I can’t hold it for much longer. She can sense it. She senses I’m struggling. Her exasperated breaths are getting more and more excitable. I feel her hair dangling either side of me from above the covers, wet. I can’t do it. I need to breathe. This is it. I’m fucked. My mouth opens-
She’s gone. She just, vanished. I hold on for 3 or 4 seconds more, as long as I physically can, before coughing and gasping for air. But she’s gone. No more cold breath, no more presence. I was alone again. I peel back the covers. My hut’s door is wide open, swinging in the wind. My main light is still on, as is my lamp once more. Did she use the flickering of the lamp as an attempt to try to get me to fuck up? To choose the wrong rule? If I had chosen to hide under the bed, would she have killed me?
It’s been quiet for a few hours. My main light is still on, so is my lamp. I feel slightly safer, but I think that’s her game plan; to lure me into a false sense of security. I’m not letting my guard down. And thank fuck I didn’t. I see a fucking campfire. Right by my tower. The glare of the light from the hut makes it harder to see, but I see it. In fact, I see more than one. There are campfires all around my tower. I walk around the balcony’s edge. I count 6 fires. By each fire, there are dark, human figures with their backs turned toward me. What the fuck? They’re all standing, one per fire, looking into it. The figures are of different sizes, one looks like a child. I can’t make out any specific features in the darkness, just their shapes. By the sixth fire, there is no figure. Why is there no figure there? Just as my eyes start to adjust to the darkness below, the figures begin to fall into their fires. One by one.
The first to fall into its fire resembles a man. The figure is tall and skinny. He drops face first into the flames, almost willingly. As he squirms, the flames engulf him making it impossible to make out any of his features. His screams pierce the air.
As I stare in horror, another figure, a woman, then falls into her fire. She screams as the flames cover her, writhing in the fire. But she does not attempt to escape it.
Next, the smallest figure. The figure of a child. A boy. As he falls face down into the fire, I gasp. I can’t bring myself to scream, my whole body is in shock. The child is silent, but twitching violently as the fire burns him.
Fourth, the largest silhouette. A wide, sturdy shape of a large man. He falls into his fire, grunting in pain, holding back screams, but barely moving as he burns.
Lastly, the shape of a woman. I turn to her before she falls. I need to see. I run inside, grab my flashlight, and run back to where I stood before. As she falls into her fire, I shine it upon her, catching only a glimpse of her messy blonde hair and red checkered shirt, a rip along its sleeve, before the flames take over.
There is just one fire left burning. The sixth fire. The fire with no figure by it.
As the screams of those below me echo into the night, I hear the faint sound of a woman crying. Somewhere in the trees below.
“Oscar,” a voice calls out just as the first rays of sun peek through the trees, “Oscar, are you there?”
I run to the balcony, albeit cautious, and see Sam, Mark’s daughter, standing below. She’s in the same clothes as the last time I saw her.
“Sam!”, I yell, “Sam we have to get out of here! There-”
“Oscar,” she shouts back, “Oscar, I know! I know everything. I know about Allison, about her sister! I know about Harvey and his family. About Rick! I know everything.”
“We have to get out of here, Sam-”
“We can’t, Oscar”, she cries out, “we have to burn her! We have to burn Allison’s sister!”
“Why the fuck do we have to burn her?!”, I scream.
“That’s rule 10, Oscar. She’s going to follow you, no matter where you go. If you leave this place, she’ll be a step behind you forever. Unless you burn her! That’s rule 10 – find her body and burn it!”
Rule 10. Burn her body, or she will chase you forever.
“How the fuck are we supposed to find her body?”, I shout, defeated.
“I know where it is Oscar”, Sam smiles warmly in an attempt to calm me, “let me explain everything on the way. It’s nearby”.
I’ve survived all the other rules. Now I just need to survive one more.