Just Because I Don't Like It, Doesn't Mean It's not Real
Luke was the best at spilling secrets out, but he knew good stories about everyone in their university. Henry did sit next to Zoe, but Ezekiel didn’t catch the other free seat next to her. That was how she ended up between Mark and Henry; on the other side, Alice did sit next to Ezekiel, whom after a beer or two became very talkative. Andy was sitting close to Ezekiel and was pushing the beer cans out of his reach. It was a funny sight.
“So, are you ready for the real fun?” Zoe didn’t want to know what real fun meant in Gabe’s vocabulary. “Let’s have a contest! We’re all artists in the end!”
Mark and Henry started to dance and they were really good. One of them was more passionate than the other, but the other had a better technique. They were a great pair. After a few beers, Henry got more courage and danced sexily around Zoe. She blushed and covered her eyes with her hands while the others were laughing loudly.
The one who started the singing contest was Ezekiel. Zoe remained dumbstruck when he started to sing. He had a soothing voice and she was going to use that later. Maybe she could go to sleep easier if someone was singing to her.
But the deadly moment came. It was inevitable.
“Let’s start the scary stories! I’ve been waiting for this the whole week!” Gabe chuckled at Luke’s excitement.
“He actually prepared for it,” the older man told his friends. Luke narrowed his eyes at his friend.
“Anyway, I heard this story from my grandmother who actually met this person. So, it’s about this group of friends who went camping during the 1980’s. Two of them were involved in a romantic relationship. At some point, they went into the forest saying they were going to look for wood for the fire. That was bullshit, of course,” Luke started. It was not scary yet. “But while they were being busy by themselves, the guy who remained at the camp site became very aware of how creepy the forest looked at night. He started to feel paranoid and swore he saw something in the distance. He went over to check it out.” The wind started to blow, and everyone got closer to the fire. “It was nothing. But when he returned to the camp, he realised that the fire was extinguished. The wind began to blow much stronger than would have been normal in that summer. He started to hear voices.” Luke was really good at telling stories. He was modifying his tone and was animating the whole atmosphere.
While he was telling his story, Zoe glanced at Ezekiel, who was completely drawn to Luke. She rolled her eyes; boys were always boys, but when Luke mentioned the voices, she became aware of how opportunistic their situation looked. It was the best time to wreak havoc and she was sure Eneizar and Iaosur were definitely around.
“The voices lured him in. They told him that his friends were going to die. They told him that Rubber Donni was the master of that forest,” Luke continued. Zoe frowned and glanced at Ezekiel again.
“Rubber Donni?” Henry asked, not believing a single part of the story.
“Hey, I swear I didn’t make it up. My grandmother assured me that it actually happened.” Luke said in his defence.
Zoe glanced at Henry and sighed.
“I have a better one, but I will let you finish yours first.” Luke and Gabe glared at each other before the younger one continued his scary story.
“They said that he’s very elastic and can crush you in his hand. He got scared and went to look for his friends. But when he entered the forest, he heard a loud scream. It was the girl. He rushed there only to find her dead against a tree. His other friend was not there. He’d vanished,” Luke continued. Zoe rubbed her hands together. It wasn’t a good story, but he was a good story teller. “He walked deeper into the forest and heard a scream. He turned quickly just in time to see his friend falling at his feet. He was dead and covered in blood. That was when he saw Rubber Donni. He saw his long face and scarily long limbs. They looked into each other’s eyes before he started to run. He got out of the forest but the car wasn’t working. Rubber Donni caught him and cut his right leg. Slash! Slash!” He was really trying to scare them. Well, Henry did look scared. So did Alice, but for completely different reasons.
“And he survived,” Gabe added. Luke nodded. “Shouldn’t everyone die in order to be scary?” the older friend asked. Luke rolled his eyes and kicked the boy.
“Just tell us your story.”
Gabe’s eyes widened in excitement as he leaned in.
“Right. I have one that’s not scary, but it gives you the creeps.” Luke rolled his eyes and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “I don’t know his name, so I’m going to call him Guy. Well, Guy came here once for work. He really loved nature and he was a landscape photographer. He wanted pictures of this place, so he entered the forest by day and found this little river coming from the mountain. It was beautiful and he snapped a few shots of it. When he got home, he developed the pictures and noticed something. In the corner of every picture of the river was a face. The face of a young guy. His eyes were black and dead. That much he could figure out,” Gabe started.
The story wasn’t scary, yet Zoe felt herself shiver. She glanced at the forest and licked her lips. This story was different. It was plain but it was real.
“He went back to the river and inspected the place. He found a gravestone right where he saw the guy. Guy realized that it was a ghost. That’s what he originally thought. That was quite cool. He captured a ghost. He made three new pictures and developed them. The face didn’t appear anymore. He went there one night, because he realised he lost his phone. He looked for it for a while but couldn’t find it.”
Zoe flinched, her anxiety growing with every detail shared. She gulped and glanced at Henry who leaned closer and wrapped an arm around her waist. She didn’t know if it was for her safety or for his. She glanced at Ezekiel and saw him getting really close to Alice. Zoe rolled her eyes at his behaviour. Who was the guy there? He wasn’t supposed to get scared. He’d already been possessed! What could be worse than that?
Her eyes wandered around the place. It was dark and the forest looked scary. She was slowly calming down when she heard someone chuckling in the distance.
“Did you hear that?”
She froze because everyone heard it, not only her. That wasn’t a good sign.
“Guy went to the river and heard his phone ringing. He found it in the water. It was weird because even if the phone was still working, it didn’t have any signal up here. We don’t either,” he clarified. She heard Henry gulp. He wasn’t the only one getting scared; Mark got closer to Zoe, too. “He responded.” Gabe coughed and changed his voice a little. “I want your soul,” he said in a low and sore voice. It kind of scared everyone more; the wind picked up and it almost pulled out the fire.
“What happened next?” Even Luke got over his annoyance and became interested. Gabriel shrugged.
“No one knows. That was the last day they heard about him. He vanished. The ghost killed him and stole his soul.” Gabe didn’t look scared at all. “Well, I want to go rest now. That’s how you say a scary story, Luke!” The two started to bicker again.
“Did you see anything?” Ezekiel walked to Zoe when Mark got up.
“Hey! Where are you going? Gabe!” Alice grabbed everyone’s attention. Gabe grabbed his phone and turned on the flashlight.
“Luke said that my story is not believable, so I’m going to look for that river and take a picture of it.”
Zoe got up quickly and ran to him.
“I want to come, too.”
Ezekiel’s eyes widened. She was stupid.
“I’ll come, too. Just let me get something from my bag.”
Zoe watched Ezekiel skeptically. She already knew what he wanted to bring along.
“I-I will come too!” Henry wanted to look all manly, but everyone saw just how freaked out he was during the story. “Or maybe I’ll just stay here with Mark, Luke and Alice. But if we hear one of you screaming, we’ll come after you.”
That was a good save. That statement was directed only towards Zoe, though, Ezekiel scoffing in the back. She was the one who didn’t need advice. Even if there was a ghost, he was sure the demons wouldn’t let her die.
Once they entered the forest, Gabe started to ramble and swear. He and Luke weren’t the best of friends, but he didn’t expect him to get so annoying during the trip. And they were sharing a tent, above everything!
“Do you even know where the river is supposed to be?” Ezekiel asked the older guy. Gabe glanced at his hand in response.
“Why did you bring books with you?” That shut Ezekiel up instantly.
Zoe waited for Gabe to get further away from them until she opened the subject again.
“You didn’t have to bring the books. The only demons around are the ones connected to me.”
“I got possessed by one of them. I’m not risking it.”
She sighed heavily. It was so complicated.
“You still didn’t tell me where you found out the information about the commander.” Zoe started. He wasn’t sure if he should tell her and make her angry or keep it to himself and have a normal conversation. “Was it Andy?” He stopped. He couldn’t even look straight into her eyes. “Look Ezekiel, I’m not the commander.”
“Yes, you are. Andy said that everyone knows. They know how the commander looks and that’s you.”
“Mehrdir appeared after you called me. He told me that the commander has a sign on his arm. I don’t have it. He checked and I don’t have it. I am not the commander.” She took care to emphasize what was important. “Who do you believe? Me or a ghost?”
Well, he definitely responded fast. She scowled and resumed searching for the river.
“Where is Gabe now?”
They’d been going in circles and they didn’t find their new acquaintance.
“That’s because you started to talk about things that we shouldn’t talk about in a forest!” Ezekiel complained, narrowing his eyes at her.
“Now it’s my fault? Why is everything my fault? Did I even invite you in my life?”
“You certainly invited me to this camp.” Ezekiel combated. That was right. “I told you this was a bad idea! You have demons and ghosts around you! What part of your life is even normal enough for you to go camping with people you just met?!”
Ezekiel watched her with pity. He’d understood everything after he talked to Terrance, but hearing it from her was even worse. She knew what was going on, but she preferred to act stupid and let the demons do whatever they wanted.
“Maybe it’s time for you to learn,” he mumbled quietly. She looked up at him.
Ezekiel was ready to say more, but they heard someone screaming. Their heads turned to a certain place and they ran over. They found Gabe staring into nothingness.
“Gabe? Are you all right?”
Gabe didn’t move or respond. Ezekiel wanted to take a step closer when Zoe stopped him.
“Dark mist doesn't gather around humans. Who are you?”
The false Gabe glanced at the woman over his shoulder and chuckled darkly.
“I will devour your friend and you will watch him squirm until he dies.” He turned around slowly. His eyes were completely white and he looked pale. Ezekiel took a look around and realised something.
“This is the place from the story. The river and the gravestone.” He squinted a little in order to see the gravestone. It didn’t have any name on it. “There’s only one thing left.” He glanced at Gabe. “The phone.” The ghost started to laugh like a maniac.
“Do you really believe that story? Ha! This place doesn’t exist. It’s only my playground. I take it with me everywhere I go. Humans find it endearing when they see a gravestone. They all think that someone died in that place. How stupid.” Gabe’s white eyes moved on Zoe, staring at her curiously.
“Have you been following us from the city? This place is empty."
“Do you think I followed you, Zoe?” His voice was low, but it wasn’t sore. It actually sounded very familiar. He tilted his head to the side and chuckled.
“Who are you and why are you here?”She asked, keeping an eye on Ezekiel while also talking to the demon.
“This is my playground. You just stumbled upon it. This young guy was ready to scare you all but I interfered.” She still didn’t get the answers she was looking for. “I’m quite honoured to be in your presence, Commander.” Seeing her frown, the demon took one step forward. “Yes, the commander of numerous legions of Hell. Zoe Lestrade. Through some twisted way, your ancestor got connected to him and so, you got connected to Hell, but you love it.” He smirked. It wasn’t evil. It was playful and content.
“I don’t love it, and I’m not the commander."
“Oh, Mehrdir. That greed demon became your babysitter after the original one left. You did something and your guardian left you to rot. I guess that’s what demons do.” He sighed and leaned closer to her face. “But when he comes back to you, you will have to follow him to Hell. That’s when the dark side of the moon will face the God's World and darkness will engulf humanity.” He chuckled bemusedly.
“Get out of here.” The demon raised an eyebrow. “Get lost.” Her tone was different. It sounded empty. She knew only one way to get the demon out of Gabe; she had to touch him. She was ready to do that, but someone moved faster.
The demon got thrown against a tree. Her eyes widened when she saw Iaosur appear before him and grab him by the forehead. Gabe screamed loudly before silence engulfed the whole forest. The place disappeared with the demon.
“What did you do?”
“I sent him back where he belongs.” He raised an eyebrow and continued to stare at her. “Go back home quickly. I got you a present.”