The leaves were still mostly green, but those which had started to turn blazed bright in the last of the day. Tommy stretched, with a smile that a feather lipped cat would appreciate and closed her eyes to bask in the warmth of the autumn sun. Kirk trailed one hand lazily up the length of her naked torso, before lowering to rest his lips against her neck. Tommy brought her arm down around his shoulder, and pulled his face to hers for a kiss. She sighed.

“Well that was worth the wait, I’d say.” Kirk nodded, his forehead resting gently against her temple.

“Agreed. Imagine how good it will be when we have a room to ourselves. I hope that camp isn’t too derelict.”

Tommy’s brow furrowed a bit. She let her hand drift across his upper arm, tracing the lines of his muscles before responding.
“Yeah, about that. I’m starting to think that it’s not going to be as awesome as we were led to believe. I’m not sure that Herb isn’t wrong with his advice about the motel.”

“Why? What’s up with the camp?”

“It seems like we were misled about what is actually there and it’s one of Nate’s monster haunts, apparently. He has this interest… Let’s go back a bit. I’ve known Casey and Cassie since we were all about 12. I was a dorky, gangly, pimply thing.”

“I seriously can’t imagine that.”

“Oh there are pictures, much to my dismay. Anyhow, my folks got a divorce and that was unusual back then. Along with the awkwardness I embodied, it further rendered me persona non grata. My mom ended up with custody and made friends with Leslie, Cassie’s mom, at a single mom support group or something which was probably just an excuse to drink wine and shit talk exes. She dragged me to their house one Saturday and that was it.”

“That’s really cool. I wondered how you all met. It’s obvious there is history, the comfort you have with one another is palpable. When you invited me along, I wasn’t sure about road tripping with a bunch of people who know each other so well, being the new guy. But I don’t feel excluded at all.”

“Well that’s good to hear. Yeah we go back, and they’ve known Nate since second grade so he’s always been around as well. A few years ago he got into the legends and lore surrounding dead places of America. Haunted houses, that sort of thing. Which is whatever. Casey was into it too, some of the stories from a historical perspective are pretty interesting. But then it started to dovetail into darker places where there were extraordinary tragedies. Mining disasters, flooded towns, weird cults. And the bigger the body count, the more intrigued he was. And then it evolved into an interest in serial killers and human monsters, which is honestly about the least interesting part of humanity I can imagine. I mean, we’re capable of so much amazing shit, you know?”

“Yeah I don’t totally get it. So something bad happened at this place? Like what?”

“I don’t really know. I was too mad to stick around for the story. I can only imagine it’s some wingnut who went off and murdered a bunch of campers or something, or a group of people who decided to build a resort in the middle of nowhere and ended up invoking the wrath of vengeful tree spirits. If you want to bail, I get it.”

“Well, I’m not crazy about being lied to, but we’re already here. Maybe we can stay at the motel tonight and go exploring in the morning. So everybody gets what they want. I get you all to myself for the night and Nate and Casey get to go monster hunting tomorrow, in the daytime. Because everyone knows monsters don’t come out in the daylight.” He leaned in and flicked his tongue against the lower lobe of her ear, as he rocked his hardening cock against her thigh.

“Mmm, except this one. Well, aren’t you a delightful surprise. Country air gets you hot, hey? We should definitely go on more trips.” She sighed as his lips and tongue moved along the line of her throat, and lower, pausing to catch and suck on her peaked nipple.

“Oh my god don’t ever stop doing that-”she captured his head between her hands and held him steady, then lifted her gaze to meet his. “Except for like a minute because I have to pee.” He laughed and rolled onto his back, his hand reaching for his cock and stroking it lightly as he watched her walk across the glen and into the trees.

“Damn woman, you are a sight. The things I’d like to do to you…”

She threw a smile and a wink over her shoulder.
“Hold that thought. And hold that cock for me too. I’ll be right back.”

As she stepped out of clearing, she shivered, suddenly feeling the chill of evening’s approach. She glanced around to make sure she wasn’t about to roast her backside with poison oak and squatted down. The errant thought that she was so brazen as to let Kirk see her entirely naked, but still hid behind a tree to relieve herself flitted through, and she smiled to herself. Lost in thought, she didn’t register that the birds had stopped singing, the silent woods growing dimmer with every moment. Feeling the hair lift on the back of her neck, Tommy straightened quickly, eager to get back to Kirk, and the sunshine. Immediately there was a sharp pain under her shoulder blade, like a low branch she’d not noticed poked her upon rising.

The area around the injury heated, the pain emanating out from the source as her brain got the message that something was wrong and her blood started pumping harder. The backs of her legs were wet and she looked down, dismayed to learn that she’d pissed on herself. She saw red streaks, and her dismay turned to frustration.

“What the fuck? I’m not due to bleed for another week at least. The sex wasn’t that vigorous….” the words died on her lips as she realized the blood wasn’t slowing. The ache in her shoulder grew worse and she turned to determine how sharp the branch she had run into was.

A figure in a dark hoodie stood there, bloodied knife in hand, shadowy smile on his face.

“What the…Nathan? What have you done, you fuckwit?” She stepped forward, lifting to swing a punch with an arm that felt as though it was getting heavier by the second. He ducked and came up quickly, the knife held in front of him so that she very nearly threw herself on it with the momentum. It took all he had not to tumble backwards with her atop him. He relished the way it felt sliding in, so much smoother than he’d expected.
Tommy’s eyes widened and her mouth firmed into a line of pain. She gasped and tried to yell, her scream coming out as more of a gurgle as the air in her lungs was replaced with blood. He was struck the sensuality of the act, how his thrusts compared somehow to the ones she’d accepted so readily from Kirk a short time before. But his were the sort she’d remember for the rest of her life, which was likely just a couple more minutes.

She dropped to her knees, her arms going slack at her sides as her head started to waver, the effort required to hold it up more than she could manage. Nathan dropped to his haunches to watch, fascinated that this powerhouse of a woman could so easily be taken out. It gave him hope that the rest of the plan would go as smooth. He leaned in so he could whisper to her, aware that raised voices would alert Kirk, who he wasn’t sure he could handle on his own. He would need help once the element of surprise was gone.

“Oh Tommy, everyone knows the first rule is don’t have sex. I suppose you thought your strength would save you, but everyone bleeds. And everyone dies. Some sooner than others. If it’s any consolation, I’m really sorry that you had to go first. It seemed like the only way to ensure things go as I planned. And you can rest assured I’ll always have a special place for you in my heart. You never forget your first.” He smiled, and then leaned closer as he realized she was trying to speak.
“What’s that? Some last words for me?”He put his ear next to her lips.

With the last of her strength she hammered him in the balls, the punch sending white fire into his brain as his testicles tried to hide behind his liver. He toppled back, unable to do anything but hold himself and rock, fighting the urge to throw up and pass out simultaneously.

Tommy fell forward, coming to rest on the ground next to him, a small smile on her blood stained lips, her eyes open, unseeing. Somehow that made it worse, that she had used her last breath to cause him the most pain he’d ever experienced, and then died laughing at him.

Realizing he had to get away before Kirk discovered them, he stumbled his way back to the cafe. How he would climb back through the bathroom window with his aching balls swelling more by the moment was a mystery, so he tried to breathe through the pain and relish the sensation of having the balls-no, the guts, to cross from being a fanboy wannabe to being in the club of walking nightmares. Even if at the moment, the best he could do was crawl.

Embracing the Darkness came with a cost, it seemed.