The sun glistened on the calm waters of Branwen Loch. ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane could be heard coming from one of the large wooden cabins in the centre of Black Mountain’s campsite, known as The Sanctuary.
Teepee-style tents on either side of the loch lay empty, as bright red and blue canoes knocked into each other with the gentle ebb and flow of the water. Two ravens were dismembering a small fish on the boardwalk and began squabbling with each other, eventually tiring each other out and flying off towards the black mountains.
Laughter broke the blissful music as a group of five early twenty somethings walked towards the campsite. A red-haired woman came out from the cabin and stood on the wooden stairs watching the five approach her. “That must be Meadow,” one of the men presumed, making their way towards the crimson haired beauty. She smiled at the group that stood before her, “you are two days early,” she whined, before laughing. “Whatever could we do until the children arrive?” she asked playfully, before walking down the rickety wooden stairs to greet them. “I’m Meadow,” she introduced, to which one of the two men smiled as he looked her up and down. Meadow’s red hair clashed slightly with her revealing emerald dress, but her beauty was striking and clearly very distracting for the boys.
“I’m Amy,” a sandy-haired girl from the group said, rolling her eyes at the men practically gagging over Meadow. “And this ditz is my guy Robby,” she poked her long-haired lover in the ribs, shaking her head. He smiled sheepishly at Meadow trying not to make too much eye contact with her as he was still flying high from the joint he had moments before they arrived. “Where are the rest of your things?” Meadow asked, leaning to look behind them, to which they all laughed. “We left the rest of our things at the entrance,” a second guy piped up. “I will go get them now,” he assured the rest of the group. “That’s a lot of bags,” Amy pointed out, with a smirk on her face, and she laughed as he flexed his muscles. Robby introduced his dark-haired friend, “This lump of muscle is Chad”. Chad bowed showily, and asked “can I bum a smoke?”. Robby threw one towards him. His thick dark locks bounced as he stood upright after retrieving the cigarette from the ground. “Let me come with you,” another girl offered, before turning towards Meadow, “I’m Tiffany and this is my sister Sarah,” she explained. Sarah smiled and waved. Tiffany hooked her arm into Chad’s before walking back towards the entrance, her short yellow skirt looked like a burst of sunlight between the trees. “Why don’t you go help them?” Robby taunted Sarah, pulling her lavender headband over her eyes. “Cool it!” Meadow cautioned them as Sarah stamped hard onto Robby’s leather sandal.
Robby laughed, but Sarah was unimpressed. “As you are here two days early you may as well choose the cabins you are going to stay in,” Meadow explained, “and when the children arrive in two days we will have a ball”, she concluded as Sarah walked off. “You should take those bells off your ankles,” Robby mocked Sarah as she stormed off towards her sister, “It’s easy to hear you coming like that!” he shouted, before Amy grabbed him by the beard and led him towards one of the cabins.
Sarah stood and watched Tiffany flirt hopelessly with Chad, she playfully touched her long worn bouffant hairstyle as she bit sultrily into her rosy pink bottom lip. Chad picked up three of the bags while Tiffany struggled to carry even one. Sarah walked over to her sister and smiled at Chad as she walked past him. She turned to look at his firm butt in his tight pale blue bellbottoms. “Eyes off,” Tiffany snapped, pushing her sister aside. “No!” Tiffany cried, noticing a scuff mark on her candy-coloured vinyl boots. “Why even wear those out here?” Sarah asked perplexed. “Why not?” was the very short answer Tiffany gave. Sarah began to sweat slightly, so she removed her lavender headband revealing her blonde braided hair. “Here,” Tiffany said pushing a Day Lily into her braid. “You almost look as good as me,” she joked handing her sister one of the bags. Sarah looked at the cabins placed throughout and between the Douglas fir trees while walking back towards the camp. Some were derelict and boarded up, while others looked as if they were newly built.
They made their way past the expansive campfire area, enormous logs were placed around the area for seating. “Amy is not going to like this,” Tiffany squirmed, lifting her bag and showing Sarah that it was full of ash. She threw the bag back to the ground and the sisters laughed as ash lifted into the air. They choked but continued to laugh, and they ran towards Meadow who was sitting on the steps of the cabin soaking up the sun’s rays. Sarah asked, “do we choose our own cabins?” to which Meadow, lifting her tinted sunglasses up onto her head, “any of the cabins that are colour coded -blue is for the camp leaders,” she explained, before sliding the rose coloured glasses back down over her hazel eyes. “The red is for the kids” she concluded, smiling at the girls.
While Sarah and Tiffany made their way up a path towards some of the blue coded cabins, Amy stepped out of hers. She was tense, her arms were folded, and a tiny crease line had formed on her forehead. She removed her ruby headband and pushed back her hair so it was out of her face. While readjusting her headband, Tiffany passed Amy her bag, she snatched it out of Tiffany’s colourfully decorated hands. “What is this?” she cried as she noticed her halter-neck top was half out of her bag and full of ash. Tiffany and Sarah were hiding their smirks very well as Amy completely lost her cool.
Sarah’s shell bracelets rattled as she lifted her hands protesting her innocence. Amy glared at Tiffany before storming off into her cabin, dragging the bag behind her. The sisters made their way up a path overgrown with ivy to two separate cabins. “It’s so hot!” Chad shouted, running out of his cabin before removing his torn white t-shirt. The summer sun baked its glorious rays down as the beautiful boy removed his powder blue bell-bottoms. “Skinny dip time!” he shouted as he ran towards the loch, his impressive appendage flopped back and forth.
The girls looked at each other and laughed as they removed their clothes, “I can’t get this damn boot off!” Tiffany moaned. Tears of laughter were rolling down Sarah’s face while Tiffany had one leg up in the air and one on the ground with her bum on show for all at Branwen Loch. Tiffany screamed as Sarah ripped off her boot causing her to fall bum first between some bushes. “Is it nettle?” she screamed showing her sister her red bum. Sarah had no air left from laughing, she just shook her head and grabbed her sister by the hand. The girls ran towards the loch, Sarah’s multi-coloured floral henna tattoos stood out on her pale skin. The sisters jumped into the calm but cold Branwen loch, and Chad laughed as they shrieked from the cold. “Come here,” he joked, “I will keep you both warm.” Sarah splashed Chad as Tiffany swam out towards the middle of the Loch. “Don’t go too far,” her sister cautioned, but Tiffany kept swimming.
The sun’s rays burnt down on her naked flesh while the cold water gave her goose bumps. She turned to see Chad dunking her sister. Tiffany was lying on her back and just floated on the water. “Are those mini icebergs I see?” Robby yelled, mocking her small breasts. She gave him the finger before swimming back towards them. By the time, she had got to her sister, Robby had removed his clothing, he grinned at Tiffany. “Don’t do it,” she cautioned him, Robby decided to divebomb her, missing her by a fraction. Amy yelled out while everyone laughed, she following her insane boyfriend’s actions but couldn’t get her top off over her head and slipped into the water. “Dude,” Robby raised his voice turning towards Chad, “it touched my leg!” Chad laughed as he circled around Robby, “stop it Chad!” Robby complained, before laughing when Chad pretended to hump his leg.
Meadow was walking towards the Loch carrying beers and towels. “A woman after my own heart,” Robby said, before Meadow threw a beer to him, or at him. He pulled himself up onto the side of the dock of the Loch exposing his lily-white bum while sipping his beer. “Amy!” Meadow called out, offering a beer which she declined at the time. “Sarah, Tiffany?” she asked holding beers up to which the girls lifted their arms with open hands. Amy held her breath and went under the water, adjusting her hair when she resurfaced. Meadow put the towels beside her and passed the beers around, she then sat on the boardwalk and dipped her feet into the water. Chad was more interested in harassing Sarah and Tiffany than having a drink but the girls were over it. Tiffany put her bottle on the dock and climbed out shaking her head while Chad begged her to climb back in. She noticed a tiny cross tattooed on Meadow’s shoulder, “I had no idea you were religious,” she joked picking up a towel. Meadow smiled, “I’m not,” she answered. “I had it done to piss off a Nun,” The group laughed while Meadow delved into her younger days as a rebellious teen in a very strict catholic school. “Religion is so messed up,” Chad chimed in, “my dad and mom forced my sister and me to go to church every Sunday.” The group sat quiet for a while, the only sound was coming from the canoes knocking against each other. “And look what that turned you into,” Amy said breaking the ice.
“Have any of you heard of the Blessed Phoenix?” Meadow asked, adjusting her sun hat. “Is that the religious group claiming to be prophets?” Chad asked as he climbed out of the water and stretched out on his back in the sun. Chad leaned over and opened a beer, he passed it to Sarah who was still in the water, Meadow took her hat off and covered his private parts, to which he grinned. “Apparently, the leader is some kind of healer as well,” she continued to tell the group. “But by the rumours going around she sounds more delusional than the nuns I had growing up. Chad sighed, “Again,” he said “religion is messed up.”
Some time had passed and Robby had pulled himself onto the dock and out of the water, covering himself with a towel. Amy climbed out laying her soaked top in the sun to dry while she snuggled up next to her guy. Sarah after a few more beers made a more dramatic exit from the Loch. “Here I am,” she sung shaking her boobs, Tiffany threw a towel at her slightly intoxicated sister while they giggled. “We should go change,” Tiffany whispered to Sarah nudging her. Sarah nodded, “We are going to go get changed!” She declared. Meadow removed her hat from Chad’s nether regions and placed it back onto her crimson hair. Chad watched as Amy stood up and walked towards the cabins, while she put her halter-neck top back on he noticed a tiny birthmark shaped like a musical note on her ribcage. “Stop staring,” Amy called him out, before sticking out her tongue playfully. She walked into her cabin while Robby dressed himself in the path leading towards it. “Damnit!” he moaned looking at the dust on his corduroys. “Idiot,” Meadow jested walking past him with Chad dry humping the air behind her making out he was going to score with her later. Tiffany and Sarah disappeared into their cabins but not before asking Chad how cold the water was. He hastily entered his cabin while they giggled some more.
The sun was beginning to set when Sarah and Tiffany resurfaced from their cabins freshly clothed, Chad strutted out of his cabin running his fingers through his hair. Amy and Robby were already standing by the campfire area, she rolled her eyes at the sight of Chad’s cocky attitude but Robby seemed distracted, maybe it had to do with the tiny amount of white powder resting on the base of his right nostril. The group were pretty mellowed out from the beers in the sun. “Should we start a fire?” Robby asked Meadow as she made her way towards them from the main cabin. Meadow nodded and instructed the boys, passing Robby the axe that was lying next to the campfire. “Go and gather some wood before the sun sets”. Meadow fidgeted with her collection of silver bangles on her wrist.
“Time for a joint,” Chad said as he rolled one, “where is your lighter?” he asked Robby, clicking his fingers impatiently. “You are wearing more rings than all the girls put together,” Robby mocked. Chad lit the joint looking at his stacked rings- tiger’s eye and amethyst stones were set in most of them. The boys walked off sharing their joint as they searched for firewood. The temperature began to drop with the sun, which was quickly disappearing behind the black mountains.
The girls made their way into Meadow’s main cabin, Tiffany noticed the tambourine behind the desk. “Do you have more instruments?” she asked, and Meadow nodded, “guitars and drums” she said, pointing to a storage closet. “Tonight will be fun,” Sarah assured the girls, slightly slurring as she picked up the tambourine. It was embroidered, with leather tassels. She ran her finger over the fine embroidery- Sarah appreciated the finer details of things. “Oh, it will be fun” Meadow grinned, she opened her hand revealing tiny green pills. “These should get us all in the right mood,” she guaranteed her female companions handing each of them one. “We need to put on the lights around camp,” Meadow instructed her fellow campmates, “we also have lanterns if needed” she continued, walking to the cabin door. “We can all go together if you like?” she asked, to which the others agreed.
The girls could hear Robby and Chad arguing about using the dry fallen wood for the fire instead of branches from the trees. “My future husband,” Amy grimaced. Meadow chuckled and sighed in pity, and they walked up to what looked like older cabins. “Are these being redone?” Amy asked looking up at the dilapidated cabins. “They should be in time,” Meadow answered while they walked up the path towards them. “I just like to have the lights on, so in the night I can see my surroundings,” Meadow explained, seeming slightly paranoid. “The lights still work in them?” Tiffany asked surprized. Meadow nodded opening the broken cabin door, she reached her hand into the darkness and flipped on the light switch. She smiled at the girls, “final cabins coming up”. The girls made their way up to the door of a cabin, when suddenly the temperature dropped. “Can you feel that?” Sarah asked, moving closer to her sister as they entered the cabin. “It’s even colder in here,” Amy whined. The light made a zinging sound as it flickered and then finally stabilized. The cabin’s interior was strange, it looked more like a storage unit than anything else.
A stuffed raven was perched on a desk with a myriad of notes and maps of the island. “What is this place?” Amy asked, kicking a red clown’s nose across the wooden floor. “This is the camp’s entertainment storage room,” she explained. “It’s one of the children’s favourite places at summer camp.” Meadow walked to the stuffed raven and picked it up, “who doesn’t like a bit of dress up and role play?” she said in a squawking voice.
Sarah glanced at a dark wooden chest sitting in the corner of the cabin. She walked over to it as if she was being drawn or lured towards it, she inspected the chest’s ball and claw feet. The craftsmanship was immaculate- what looked like gargoyle heads were carved onto each corner of the chest’s lid. She ran her fingers into the wooden beast’s mouth, and as she flipped the lid of the chest, her nose filled with the scent of lemon and mint. Her dainty nostrils flared as she inhaled a combination of exotic fragrances. Sarah pulled out a wide brimmed leather hat from the chest, and grimaced as she found a black full length gown covered in a wax like substance. “What is that?” her sister asked, dropping the heavy fabric to the side as her skin began to crawl. Sarah pulled out a mask of some kind- there was a raven like beak attached to it, the glass-filled eye openings were tinted red. Leather gloves, boots and a cane were all lying in the chest.
“I’ve not seen that before,” Meadow frowned, picking up the heavy gown. “It looks like a plague doctor’s uniform,” she explained to the three girls, now quite disturbed by it. “what is a plague doctor?” Sarah and Tiffany asked in unison. “It’s self-explanatory really,” Meadow answered, “they were doctors sent in to treat victims of the plague.” Sarah stared at the raven like beak, “were they meant to rather scare the people to death?” she asked before laughing.
Amy peered into the chest, there was straw and dried sprigs of lavender scattered at the bottom and a strange wooden heart shaped object. “That’s a planchette!” She said snatching it from the chest, “where’s the Ouija board?” she asked, searching for it. “A plan what?” Tiffany asked taking it out of Amy’s hands. It was heart shaped and had strange symbols carved into it. She lifted it up to her eye and looked through the hole in the middle. Amy pulled it out of Tiffany’s hand, “a planchette is what a psychic would use to communicate with the dead,” she explained. Meadow leaned against a cabinet while Amy filled with enthusiasm continued with her explanation. “I had a friend in Black-acre College that used one and the spirit from the board told her everything about her boyfriend and it was all true. “What board?” Tiffany asked, “The board you put the planchette on, you ask it questions and the spirit will move the planchette.” Amy explained before a deep sigh escaped from her mouth when she realised that the board was nowhere to be found. She threw the planchette onto the table, annoyed. “I’m glad it’s not here,” Tiffany confessed. “It sounds like witchcraft or something evil.” She admitted. “It’s only a game,” Meadow assured her campmates before walking to the cabin door. “Let’s go and put the rest of the lights on,” she nagged as she walked out. The girls made their way out the cabin, Tiffany turned and looked at the thick black robe lying on the floor and something about it struck fear into her heart. Tiffany shuddered as she walked out, closing the cabin door behind her.
The smell of burning filled the air along with the smell of a joint. Chad and Robby were making surprising progress on the campfire. The branches could be heard crackling in the flames as the boys stacked the fire. “Wicked,” Robby said, proud of his fire making skills. He was chopping the last bit of wood up with the axe when he said “the munchies have hit me bad,” rubbing his stomach. The girls finally finished switching on all the cabin lights and made their way to the campfire. Meadow vanished into the main cabin briefly and then came out with blankets and more beer. “Get the crisps, please” she asked Chad, who eagerly obliged, running into the cabin behind her.
The sun had almost set when Chad came out with bags of crisps, cheese straws and a guitar under his arm. Robby almost knocked Chad over, ripping the cheese straws out of his hands, and crying out “feed me!” He laughed satisfying his munchies while washing it all down with a cold beer. “You were chopping wood?” Meadow teased, “in the state you’re in?” Robby nodded proudly strutting back and forth. The girls laughed at his acting, but he loved the attention. The girls all took their party favours that Meadow had given them and washed them down with beers.
They all sat around the campfire, the girls were huddled under blankets while Chad tried to play some tunes on the guitar. Robby offered the girls a joint, which they declined. They were becoming extremely intoxicated, and became louder as the night progressed. Robby disappeared into the darkness for a while and then resurfaced seeming higher than usual, his pupils were dilated and he was chewing his bottom lip. “Let’s go find the Ouija board,” Amy begged Meadow much to Tiffany’s dismay. “Come, let’s go” Meadow told Amy grabbing her hand, dragging her back towards the cabins.
Sarah slouched over slightly before stumbling off into in the opposite direction; her body had had enough alcohol, the boys laughed as she retched besides one of the Douglas fir trees. Amy and Meadow were searching in the cabins for the Ouija board, “let’s go back to where the plague doctor’s uniform is,” Amy suggested, “that’s where the planchette was so the board should be in there somewhere.” Meadow agreed and they made their way back to the cabin. “Where’s the robe?”, she asked, pushing open the cabin door, Amy ran up to the chest and the entire plague doctor’s uniform was missing. “One of the boys must be messing with us,” Meadow giggled. The stuffed raven was now sitting on the planchette, Meadow and Amy looked at each other and smirked. “This is Robby’s handiwork,” she assured Meadow, lifting the raven. She looked at its chipped beak before putting it back down and retrieving the planchette.
Meadow was looking in the drawers of the desk for the Ouija board, but with no luck she moved onto the storage cupboards. Meadow and Amy searched the cabin inside and out but could not find the board. “Maybe there is no board?” Amy suggested while an intoxicated Meadow was deep in thought. “I’ve seen it,” she whispered to herself, “I think I know where it is!” she shouted as she grabbed Amy again by her arm and dragged her out of the cabin. The intoxicated girls stumbled towards the main cabin laughing and screaming.
Tiffany asked Chad to help her carry her sister to the cabin so she could sleep it off; Chad simply threw her over his shoulder. Chad groaned as he heard Sarah throw up over his shoulder. They got her to the cabin and laid her down on a single bed. “You know I have always liked you,” she slurred, trying to cop a feel; Chad laughed and kissed her on her forehead. “Get some sleep flower child,” he teased, while Tiffany stood and watched from the cabin door. Chad put his arm around Tiffany’s neck as they walked out, “your sister likes me,” he said and Tiffany frowned, “in her state she’s probably chatting up the bed post right now.”
Meadow and Amy had got their hands on a flashlight and made their way towards the tents by the loch. Meadow opened a wooden crate next to one of the tents. “Told you,” she said smugly, showing Amy the lid of the crate. It had the alphabet painted on with numbers from zero to nine. “Someone went to the trouble to actually make one,” Amy pointed out before Meadow handed it to her. “Let’s play,” Meadow said mischievously, running back towards the campfire, with Amy following behind. Chad had just lit another joint which he was sharing with Tiffany, while Robby was staring into the flames of the campfire. “We found the board,” Meadow gushed. Amy held it up to show everyone. Tiffany looked towards her sister’s cabin, she thought she saw someone standing in the window, “I think Sarah is up,” she groaned, “I better go and check on her.” Chad pulled her back, “she is big enough to look after herself,” he whispered, nibbling on her ear. Her skin became riddled with goose bumps and she giggled and pushed him away. Amy positioned the board on one of the logs. “Planchette” Meadow ordered, putting her hand out to Amy. “Planchette!” Amy laughed, handing it over, like a nurse handing a scalpel to a surgeon. Robby was still staring into the fire and seemed completely out of it. “Are you playing?” his woman asked, to which he gave a smile, “yeah,” he answered, and he walked over to her. Chad gazed at the board, “I’ve heard a lot about these things growing up in church,” he explained, “they say whatever you call can bring seven of its own kind with it.” Robby looked at his best mate and frowned. “Church really did mess you up Chad,” he kidded. “We have all heard some kind of story about these things,” Robby said trying to comfort his friend, “It’s nothing more than a game.”
The group sat in a circle and folded their legs, “everyone put your index finger on the planchette,” Meadow instructed, Chad looked at the faded board and Robby was swaying from side to side as if he were on a boat. They all put their index fingers on the planchette. Tiffany laughed nervously at Chad making spooky ghost sounds. “Concentrate,” Meadow instructed, with a slight smirk on her face. She closed her eyes for a moment before peeping at the others from her right eye. “Is there anyone here,” she asked staring at the planchette, “we wish to communicate with the spirit world,” she continued. Everyone concentrated on the board. Robby studied the perched ravens drawn above the words Yes and No.
“We wish to communicate with the spirit world,” Meadow repeated. Tiffany and Amy stared intensely at the planchette and concentrated on making contact with something from the spirit world. Tiffany gasped when the planchette moved slightly, “you did that!” she cried accusingly.
The others were silent. “Who are you?” Meadow asked, “where are you from?” The planchette began to creep over the letters. Chad silently mouthed over the letters the planchette hovered… “I. A-M. M-E. I am me,” Chad said, stringing the letters together. The planchette began to move at a much faster pace. “I am here,” Chad read out again, and then the planchette stopped abruptly. “Where are you?” Chad asked, before the planchette moved swiftly again. “Behind you,” Chad read. Tiffany let go of the planchette, shrieked, and looked behind her. Robby laughed, and Amy responded with a punch, and said “It was you Robby”. Her boyfriend swore he was innocent.
“I saw something in the darkness,” Tiffany said alarmed, but on a cocktail of beers and cannabis no one took her seriously. Meadow asked Tiffany to put her finger back on the planchette, but she refused, saying “I’m going to go check on my sister and walked away. “What is your name?” Meadow asked, but the planchette didn’t move at first, but then slowly started to gather momentum again. “I am me,” Meadow read, “but who are you?” she asked the board. The fire flared from a gust of wind that suddenly entered the campsite. “A-K-A,” Meadow spelled out, “your name is Aka?”. Robby called out for Tiffany to come back. “It has a name!” he shouted but Tiffany slammed her sister’s cabin door shut.
The planchette began to move robustly. It spelled out A-K-A repeatedly, and the boys became bored. “Let’s stop this now,” Amy insisted, lifting her hand from the planchette. Robby copied his girlfriend and Meadow responded by putting both her index fingers on the planchette. “I don’t think you should be doing that,” Chad warned, removing his finger. “Let’s forget about it,” Chad persisted, “let’s play some music, get to know each other better.” His flirting was way off, and any charm he aimed Meadow’s way was rebuffed. Meadow stared at the planchette as if she was in a trance, asking again “What is your name?” she asked.
The planchette did not move. “What is your name?” Meadow repeated and to the boys surprise the planchette began moving “A-K-A M-A-N-A-H,” Robby spelled aloud. “Aka Manah?” Meadow asked, and the boys laughed, “your spirit is more wasted than we are.” Meadow glared at Chad and Robby and stood up, she put the board under her arm and walked towards her cabin. Amy looked at Robby and gave him a disapproving look before going after Meadow. “You forgot this!” Chad shouted waving the planchette in the air, Meadow did not turn back, but simply flipped them the bird and carried on walking.
Chad turned and threw the planchette into the fire, and a deep, sinister moan echoed through the trees around them. Meadow and Amy span around fearfully, and Tiffany and Sarah opened their cabin door and ran out, hearing the same thing. Chad and Robby stood in disbelief as the moan faded into the wind. “Did we take acid?” Chad questioned Robby. “I don’t remember”, Robby replied. The girls all flocked to the campfire. “You wanted to play with that spirit board!” said Tiffany, blaming Meadow and Amy. “What was it?” Sarah slurred. “It was the wind,” Chad insisted. “Yeah,” Robby agreed, “do you think it was your Aka Manah,” he laughed nervously. The storage cabin door swung open, startling the group. “It’s the wind,” said Amy reassuringly. “Let’s just go to bed, Tiffany,” Sarah begged her sister. “Good idea,” Meadow said turning towards her cabin, “tomorrow is another day.”
Chad walked up to Meadow and put his arm around her while Sarah and Tiffany were talking to Amy, “do you want me to stay the night to look after you?” Robby chuckled. Meadow removed his arm from her waist, “if you had less of this,” she said grabbing his crotch “and more of this” she explained grabbing her boobs. “Then you could stay the night,” Chad stared at her in disbelief, and she winked at Amy and walked off. “I don’t mind if you swing that way baby,” Chad called after her but Meadow was not going to entertain his childish antics.
Meadow was putting on a brave face, she was worried about what she had seen and heard, and worried about what the board spelled out. She walked into her cabin and shut the door. The smell of lemon and mint filled her cabin, and on the cabin floor straw was scattered everywhere. Meadow glanced at her bed, and noticed the black robe from the storage cabin sticking out from underneath it. “Robby…” she muttered under her breath, and walking up to her bed she pulled at the robe, but found it would not move. With both of her hands she pulled forcefully, and fell backwards as she heard the moan again, this time in her cabin.
Meadow trembled as the robe swirled in a snake like manner and rose from the floor. It stretched out its black leather glove as its cane slid out of its overcoat into its hand. It chipped the wood on the floor by tapping the sharp-edged cane before it tilted its wide brimmed leather hood backward, she could hear sniffing coming from its beak-like mask. It glided back and forth a few inches from the floor while observing her. “Amy!” she tried to scream but her voice failed her, Meadow fell onto her hands and knees, and tried to crawl away. She could hear the leather from the uniform creaking as it surged forward. Meadow crawled up to window beside the record player and looked out at her campmates as the beaked menace stood tall behind her.
Blood spilled to the cabin floor as the doctor thrust its cane into her spine. Meadow heard her vertebrae crack as it twisted the cane. As the feeling in her legs began to drain away, her knees buckled, and she fell to the floor, dragging the record player with her. The record player burst into life, and “White Rabbit” played as she lay on the floor. The doctor stretched over and inspected her. She could see nothing behind the soulless, tinted glass eyes. Blood trickled from Meadow’s mouth as the doctor rubbed its raven like beak against her cheek. Meadow lifted her hand and tried to pull off its mask but it pinned her hand down, and she cried as it ran its cold leather glove from her neck to her breasts.
Outside by the campfire the others heard the music play “She is so pissed at you two,” Amy laughed, waving her finger at Chad and Robby. “I’m going to go check on her,” Tiffany decided, with Sarah following suite. As they walked up to her cabin the music stopped, and the lights dimmed. “Maybe we should leave her,” Sarah suggested, steering her sister towards their own cabin. Uneasy, Tiffany gave into her sister’s suggestion, but kept looking back at Meadow’s cabin. “She will be fine,” Sarah promised, as they entered their cabin. “Am I sleeping with you two tonight?” Chad said as he jumped up from the seating area. “Or am I sleeping with you, Meadow?” he called loudly. Amy, who was sitting next to Robby on one of the logs pulled Chad by his shirt. “Go to bed,” she advised. He frowned at Amy before walking away in a sulk. “Too much to drink,” Amy whispered to her guy as Chad walked off towards the Loch. “Leave him,” she warned Robby, she had grown tired of him always running after his friend. “Let him sleep it off in one of the tents,” she joked, “or in the sand.” Robby smiled, he kissed her and groped her behind cheekily. “Let’s go for a walk,” she teased, grabbing his hand and placing it on her breast, “I’ve been dying to get you alone all day,” she flirted . “You don’t have to ask me twice,” he laughed, picking up a lantern. They strolled into the darkness unaware of the evil that they had summoned to The Sanctuary.
Chad was sitting at the edge the Loch. The sound of the water lapping against the wooden pilings made him feel queasy. He gazed at the tents ahead of him. Squinting into the gloom he smiled, for in the darkness he saw a figure slip into one of them. “I knew you would come around,” he declared smugly looking into Meadow’s face emerging peeping from the tent. Chad stood up and meandered towards her. Chad leaned his head into the tent and grinned, Meadow’s scarlet hair pierced even the darkness; she was hunched in the corner with her back towards him. “What are you doing here?” he whispered playfully, reaching to touch her shoulder. “What are you wearing?” he murmured feeling a waxy substance on her coat.
He stepped back in alarm as Meadow rose tall, he gazed at her red hair as she towered over him. “Who are you?” he asked, knowing it was not her. “I am me,” a hoarse voice whispered. Chad turned to run but tripped on the lining of the tent. “Help me!” He shouted, turning to look back at Meadow’s face. Fear and adrenaline coursed through him. He noticed she was not blinking, and her eyes were glazed. The creature behind discarded Meadow’s head, throwing it into Chad’s lap. He screamed, and turning again to flee the creature grabbed his calf with a vice-like grip.
The tent tore as Chad was flung through it; he landed between a pile of rocks, and looked down at the blood pouring from his leg. Blood was seeping from deep gashes where the creature had grabbed him. He heard a creaking of leather and saw the monster leave the tear he had made in the tent. “What are you?!” Chad shouted as he tried to stand up, the muscles in his calf were shredded and were dangling in the soil. Chad began hopping away from the tent and was shouting out for help.
“What is going on?” Tiffany asked her sister, hearing Chad’s shouts. She opened the cabin door, his screams becoming more desperate. Tiffany and Sarah gasped in disbelief as they saw a black shape swoop towards Chad as if it were an enormous bird. It then perched itself on a branch in a nearby tree. The creaking of leather seemed to fill the campsite and only then did Tiffany realise what it was. The plague doctor pointed its cane towards her, as if marking her.
The doctor’s cane dropped suddenly from its hand, landing with a hollow thud into the ground. “Look!” Sarah yelled, pointing at the cloak; it was falling to pieces. Chad turned as the mask fell and bounced lightly off the ground. The heavy black coat followed falling into the dirt. The whisper returned, and soughed through the trees. Chad stood motionless between the campfire and the girls; he stood up straight, turned and walked mindlessly towards the black bundle of clothes. “What are you doing?”, Sarah screamed. Tiffany tried to hold her sister back but she couldn’t manage it. Sarah ran to Chad and tried to pull him back, but he turned on his heel and slapped her with a flat hand against her right ear. She whimpered falling to the ground.
Tiffany made her way to her sister’s aid. Chad began stripping off his clothing, turning to look at the back of his leg. He pulled his calf rigid, grabbed the hanging flesh, and without even a wince, tore it from his leg… Chad lifted the cloak and began putting it on. He turned to the girls and sneered as he fitted on the leather gloves. Tiffany had already helped her stunned sister to her feet, Chad had in the interim slipped on the black robe followed by the waxed overcoat.
Tiffany started to flee with her sister as Chad ripped his feathered earring right out of the lobe. He pulled the mask over his head, completing it with leather brimmed hood; he picked up the cane. Tiffany and Sarah fled screaming, Tiffany’s bright coloured skirt was nothing more than a deadly beacon in the darkness. Chad/the doctor darted between the trees hearing Sarah’s ankle bells tinkle. The sisters ran among the overgrowth between the trees, when Sarah cried out, Tiffany came to her and put her hand over her sister’s mouth. Sarah pointed down to her feet- she had stood on a broken beer bottle and the blood was pouring out of the sole of her foot.
“I can’t go on,” she whimpered. Tiffany turned to see the plague doctor standing a few yards away, watching them. “Why are you doing this?” she screamed at her supposed friend, now wearing the strange uniform. The doctor simply stood. “Who are you?” Tiffany screamed realising that it was no longer Chad and in an instant the plague doctor was in front of her face. She cried as its mask moved, “I am me,” its hoarse voice hissed while straw and lavender falling from beneath its strange beak. “Please,” Tiffany begged, but seemingly unmoved, the creature struck her leg with its cane, bringing her to her knees.
Sarah’s hand clasped a rock, and she tried to strike at the entity, but she was too slow. It struck her, and she was flung several feet before hitting a log which she tumbled backwards over. The being had Tiffany by her throat, lifting her several feet from the ground. Sarah heard Tiffany make a stifled scream, but by the time she struggled to her feet her sister and the black being were gone. She heard her sister scream again, this time in the distance. Sarah hobbled back towards the glow of the campfire. She saw that something was watching her. It was not the plague doctor, but something else. Its white powdered face peered from the darkness grinning with brown-stained shattered teeth before vanishing. “Is this just a bad trip?” she questioned aloud, looking again, but this time there was nothing.
Sarah had reached the campfire. “Tiffany!” she called again and again, but her sister was nowhere in sight. Suddenly the campfire flared up, burning brightly and intensely. Sarah glanced upwards momentarily, and squealed in horror. Tiffany was hanging naked stretched in the canopy between two tall trees suspended between the trunks with ropes.
The words “AKA MANA” were carved bloodily into her sister’s chest as she dangled like a fly in a spider’s web.
Sarah felt something strike her back, and turned to find it was a lump of flesh, a human tongue. Her stomach churned, and she began to cry hysterically. She glanced back up to her sister but Tiffany’s mouth was not bloody. The doctor walked from the shadows, pointing its cane at Sarah. “Please,” she pleaded but the creature continued to walk towards her. “Please just stop!” she appealed and to her surprise it stopped in its tracks. It dropped its cane to the ground, and Sarah asked “please let me go, “I just want to go home.” Sarah’s mind began to shut down, and her mental state began to break, she cried and pleaded over and over, with exhaustion consuming her.
She glimpsed at the axe next to the seating logs. The doctor slowly walked up to her, and it put its hand out invitingly. She could smell pine and mint amongst other scents as it looked up at her sister. Sarah stealthily retrieved the axe while the plague doctor began to make a muffled noise. She grabbed the axe and screamed, and swinging wildly she plunged the axe into the creature’s neck. Blood squirted from the wound as Sarah ripped the axe from its body and struck again.
She laughed hysterically as lunacy took over her mind. She struck repeatedly at the creature’s neck until finally she had decapitated the monster. She dropped the axe before dropping to the ground herself, she let out a harrowing scream that echoed through the trees. The sky was beginning to lighten with the breaking dawn. Sarah lay there wondering what happened to Robby, Amy and Meadow. She couldn’t believe what she had encountered, what she had survived. She stood and wiped her tears, but could not bring herself to look back up at her sister. Sarah sat in front of the dying campfire and caught her breath. She sat for a while trying to process everything when she felt something hit against her back.
Sarah turned her head and looked to the ground, she whimpered noticing one of Chad’s rings lying by her foot. She twisted her body and gazed up at a headless plague doctor, it swung the axe and it landed with a deep thud into her head. Blood frothed from her mouth; she tried to speak but could only mouth what she wanted to say. The doctor put its foot against her hip, and her body jolted as the axe was torn from her head, leaving a wide gash. The creature reached into her cracked skull and pulled a portion of her brain as if to inspect it. Sarah dropped to the ground. The doctor squashed the grey matter between its leathery fingers.
The doctor strung her up by her hands and feet like a puppet and hung her next to her sister, it sniffed the air before whispering, “I am me.” As the sun rose over the black mountains its rays stretched over The Sanctuary revealing the most terrible of scenes.
A beige campervan pulled up to the cabins, and doors could be heard slamming as a silver haired woman walked onto the grounds. “What have we here?” she asked. Several men and woman stepped out of the vehicle. She turned to the sound of laughter coming from behind them, it was Amy and Robby. They had got lost while looking for a quiet spot to spend some intimate time together, they ended up quite a distance from the campsite. They had no idea what they were about to walk into. The silver haired woman walked up to them, and asked “do you know what happened here child?” Amy was confused. Robby started to panic and began running towards what looked like Chad’s head lying on the ground. Amy gazed at her friends hanging from the trees, and let out a faint cry before passing out.
“Wake up child,” Amy heard, as the woman tapped her cheek lightly. Amy opened her eyes and found herself in a cabin. “Where is Robby?” She asked frantically. “Don’t worry about him child, he is fine” she assured Amy. “He is outside with the rest of the flock.” “The flock?” Amy was confused, her mind racing, and it didn’t help that her head was pounding. “Is Robby your husband?” she asked. Amy sat up, and said “no, he is my guy.” Amy was feeling unsure, and wanted to leave the cabin; she just wanted Robby by her side. “He told me that you two were not here last night,” she explained, and Amy nodded. “Yes,” she mumbled, remembering what she had seen.
The woman passed her a glass of water. Amy grimaced at its strange bitter taste “It’s a good thing you were not,” the woman continued. Amy frowned at her. She was dressed in a red and gold kaftan. “You have been out for several hours,” she explained. Her long silver hair contrasted with her youthful appearance. “Admiring me child?” the woman smiled. Her pale blue eyes were the kindest eyes Amy had ever seen. “Let’s get you back with your guy,” she laughed, leading Amy out the cabin. Amy looked at the doctor’s outfit being carried into the cabin. “Where was that?” she asked, but the woman did not answer. Instead she led Amy to the roaring campfire. “My name is Cassara.” Amy could smell something terrible. “My child your eyes have been touched by sin,” she said, parting Amy’s sandy-brown hair from her face. “Your soul has been touched by sin,” she continued, laying her hand on her chest where her heart lay. “What are you talking about?” Amy snapped, pushing her hand away. Cassara nodded, “you need to be purified,” she stated, as her flock closed in around her.
Amy’s fear heightened when they began to chant. “Where is Robby?” she asked anxiously, the flock chanting around her. “Purify,” they chanted repeatedly. “I am Mother Phoenix,” Cassara explained, “we are the Blessed Phoenix.” “Blessed Phoenix!” Thought Amy remembering, the conversation about the prophet. “You are the prophet.” The flock cheered at Amy’s words and Cassara smiled, “my name has travelled far I see,” she said modestly. “Where is Robby?” She insisted again. “Behind you,” she answered with an angelic smile. Amy turned and screamed, looking at Robby’s remains in the fire.
“We need to purify your soul from evil,” she preached. Two men grabbed her and tied Amy’s hands and feet behind her back. Cassara leaned forward and kissed Amy on her forehead. “May God, forgive you,” she whispered. “Ascend to the heavens my child.” Cassara pushed Amy into the flames, she screamed as the fire ate away at her skin like a ravenous predator.
She could feel her blood boiling and her skin peeling. In her last moments, she watched Cassara clap and sing as she burned. Amy regarded the cabin as her flesh peeled away from the bone and saw the doctor staring at her from the window. It pointed at her with its cane, before the flames finally engulfed and devoured her.