Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Twenty-five:

Patrick Mackenzie (Late morning of September 10, 1994)

I looked to see if either of my parents were around to hear me before trying my now third attempt to get Zach to go back into the woods with me. Thankfully, they were both in another room. “You don’t have to go inside, you know? You could just be my lookout,” I still whispered to him, just in case.

Zack had been laying on the floor, stomach to carpet, in front of the TV. “Pat, I said no,” he responded, not even turning his head to look at me.

“Oh, c’mon! You’re telling me you’re not the least bit curious as to what’s down there?”

“Nope.”

“Down where?” Suddenly, Ma came into the living room with a basket of dirty clothes in hand. I tried telling her that we were talking about a game we had played earlier, though, I got the sense she had a tough time believing that. Still, she didn’t ask any further questions and was able to move past it. “Well, boys, I’m gonna be doing laundry, down in the basement. Do you need anything while I’m still up here?”

Both Zack and I shook our heads, simultaneously. Before we knew it, she had disappeared out of viewpoint.

“It’s not that I’m not curious, I am,” Zack explained, getting up from the floor and sitting next to me on the couch. “But you said that these guys might be out there murdering and eating children.”

“Your point?”

“So you got a death wish, Mackenzie?”

“I know it’s risky, but what if Adeline was telling the truth. What if there really is a kid down there in danger? In need of our help?”

Zack sighed and turned away to look back at the TV.

“What if it was you down there?” I asked, finally, hoping it would change his mind, at least a little. It seemed to have worked, considering he turned back towards me as soon as I said it. “You’d want me to come and rescue you, wouldn’t you?”

Zack stared at me blankly, before opening his mouth to speak. “I’m not going in. I’m gonna be on the lookout and that’s it.”

“Deal,” I agreed, holding out my hand to shake on it.

At first, he was still hesitant about the idea, but then Zack took said hand and rattled it. Afterwards, we both stood up and headed towards the door once again; this time with a vivid plan in mind. However, in the time of me turning the doorknob, we had been abruptly stopped by my ol’ man.

“Going exploring again, already?” he asked suspiciously.

“Yeah, we, uh, left something in the woods,” I fibbed.

Pops had used the same tactic Ma always used on us kids when she didn’t believe a single word coming out of our mouths: stare us both down until one cracks. Thankfully, Zack and I were able to hold our ground. “Uh-huh, well, don’t stay out too long. I was just about to order some pizzas for lunch. Cheese and meat lovers alright with you two?”

Zack and I nodded in agreement and left the foyer almost immediately after Pops did. As we were walking down the paved pathway, I noticed Jacob, sitting on one of the next door neighbor’s porch steps. He watched as the Baker boy played a game on his Nintendo device, which sounded like the new Donkey Kong from where I was standing. While continuing to make way towards the woods, I tried my best not to make eye contact with him. He’ll just want to come with and will end up ruining everything. However, it didn’t really work; he still saw me.

“Where are you off to?” I heard him ask.

“Don’t worry about it,” I called out. I’d only glanced over at him a split second, but that was enough time to see he’d gotten up and had an angry expression on his face. I instantly sped up, gently nudging Zack to do the same. The sound of snickering echoed behind us.

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