A New Day
Amy moaned softly as she woke up. “Finally, a good night’s sleep,” she mumbled, stretching, “You sleep well, Monica...?”
She turned to her right-and frowned. For Monica was not in her bed, which was made and looked as if no one had been there. Judy was also not on the floor, and none of the other girls’ possessions were in the room. Amy slid out of her bed. Had they gone to breakfast already? But why, then, take their belongings...?
She walked to the window and threw the blinds open. No one was visible outside, and there were no footprints outside, which at least put her at ease. Still, the fact she was completely alone was unnerving, especially since there were no sounds from outside. Amy bustled to the door and threw it open. Her anxiety immediately got even higher: all the other room doors were wide open, and there was no sign of anyone inside. All was empty and dead quiet around her. Was this some crazy hazing, or had everyone abandoned her in the middle of the night...?
“Hello?” she called up the hall worriedly, “Monica? Judy?” There was no response at all. Amy’s heart started pounding. She started running up the hallway. “Hello!? Craig!? Beth!? Dylan!? Patrick!? Anyone!?” she called out loudly. Still no answers. The front lobby was empty as well. Amy rushed outside despite being barefoot. The others’ cars were still where they’d been parked yesterday, but the other teens were nowhere in sight-and Amy could see no footprints in the snow.
“Guys!?” she cried out loud, her voice echoing around the hills, “Are you here!? Can you hear me!?”
Suddenly a hand roughly grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. A huge, menacing figure, dressed from head to toe in black and wearing a ski mask, loomed over her. It then raised a bloody knife high over her. Screaming in terror, Amy kicked whoever it was hard in the chest, broke away and took off running. “HELP!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, begging someone was around-and alive-to hear her, “SOMEBODY, ANYBODY, PLEASE HELP!”
But it was no good, as the figure tackled her to the ground roughly from behind. Her assailant rolled her over on her back and slapped a hand hard over her mouth. Amy could only let out the hardest scream she could into the hand before the figure placed the knife to her throat and slashed hard...
...at which point she bolted upright in bed with a shriek. Breathing heavily, she shot a quick glance at the clock on the nightstand, which read quarter to three in the morning. The light on the desk next to her blazed on. “Amy, what’s wrong!? What’s wrong!?” a concerned Monica jumped out of her own bed.
“Nothing, nothing, I’m fine, Monica. Just a bad dream, that’s all,” Amy told her, wiping sweat from her brow.
“What’s going on?” a drowsy Judy rose up from the floor, “What’s all the shouting about?”
“I’m OK,” Amy repeated, her breathing starting to return to normal, “It was just really intense...”
“Want to talk about it?” Monica walked over and sat down next to her friend, “It sounds like that really affected you.”
“Well,” Amy took a deep breath and related the details of the nightmare to Monica. “And to be honest, I’ve been having a lot of similar nightmares lately,” she confessed when she finished, “They’re a bit different, but basically in all of them someone’s chasing me wanting to kill me,” she shivered, “I just...I just have a bad feeling something terrible’s going to happen to me...”
“Great going, Monica. You scarred her emotionally by telling her about Christy Bryant’s ordeal,” Judy sighed, rolling her eyes.
“You don’t have any enemies here already, do you, Amy?” Monica asked her, “Any bad experiences in the past that might trigger a nightmare?”
“No. I’ve had a pretty normal life; I don’t know why I keep having these nightmares,” Amy shook her head. “So, not that I don’t trust what the two of you said earlier,” she looked between both girls, “But you’re absolutely, positively sure we’re safe out here? We are basically in the middle of nowhere...”
“Amy, trust me, we are perfectly safe here,” Judy stressed firmly, sitting down on Amy’s other side and putting an arm around her, “No one’s going to bother us this weekend, certainly not any psycho killers. Nothing bad is going to happen-and even if it did, all of us would fight for you, because all of us stick by each other as friends to the bitter end, you have my word on it. Now are you going to be OK?”
“Yeah, yeah, I should be, Judy,” Amy nodded, “I never have more than one nightmare in one night.”
“Good. OK, try and have a reasonably good night’s sleep going forward,” Judy patted her on the back and trudged back to her sleeping bag. “Lights, Monica,” she called to the brunette, sliding into the bag and turning towards the wall. Monica obligingly reached over and switched off the light. “You need anything?” she whispered to Amy.
“No, I’m good, Monica, thanks,” Amy whispered back, taking a deep breath, “Do you think I’m going crazy having these nightmares? Or Is there an actual danger here that we don’t know about yet?”
“Like Judy said, Amy, we’re all right here. I’m guessing it’s just the trauma of the move playing havoc on your subconscious,” Monica proposed, “It should pass in time. In the meantime, just remember, God answers the troubled. Sleep well, Amy.”
She squeezed her close before heading back to her own bed. Amy lay back down and pulled the blankets up to her neck. She glanced up at the ceiling and folded her hands. “Heavenly Father, protect me and my friends,” she prayed to the Almighty, “If there is any actual threat, keep us safe from it. If I’m going out of my mind, keep me sane and ease my soul. And let me have peace for the remainder of the night. In the name of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
Fortunately, peace did come to her, and she slept well for the rest of the night. In fact, the next thing she heard was a soft knocking on the room door. “Hey, wake up, you sleepyheads,” came Dylan’s call from the hallway, “It’s past nine o’clock; you don’t want to miss the whole day.”
“Coming,” Amy mumbled, sliding to her feet. Monica and Judy were dressing already. “Sleep better, Amy?” the latter asked, tying another neck scarf into place around her neck.
“Pretty much,” Amy nodded, digging out another sweater and pair of jeans from her clothes bag, “You?”
“Once I got back to sleep, yeah,” the other blonde nodded, cinching the neck scarf’s knot and stuffing her wallet and phone into her pockets.
“Sorry, Judy, I really had no...”
“I’m OK with it, Amy, really. No harm, no foul,” Judy was understanding, “Hurry up, I’m hungry for breakfast now.”
“Just one thing...” Amy hustled to the window and looked outside through the blinds. The snow was still coming down steadily, and had erased any signs of footprints that might have been out there. “I didn’t see any sign anyone was out there either, Amy, and I looked good,” Monica assured her, “So I’m guessing what we heard last night was either a wild animal or a falling chunk of ice. So nothing to worry about.”
“Good, good,” Amy said, relieved. She quickly dressed and followed Judy and Monica down the hall to the dining room, where the other Sidekicks were seated, eating and conversing. “I’m sitting with Patrick; I promised him last night. Enjoy your breakfast, ladies,” Judy told Amy and Monica, bustling over to the table Patrick and Dylan were seated at. Amy followed Monica to the nearest table to the right, where Beth was seated, chewing on a spoonful of cereal. “Morning, you two,” she greeted the other two girls, gesturing for them to have a seat with her, “Sleep well?”
“More or less,” Amy told her, relieved she hadn’t woken Beth and Craig up with her scream, “Craig...?”
“Setting up the TV; we wanted to see the latest weather report on how much snow we’re getting,” Beth told her, pointing to her brother fiddling with the set across the room. She leaned forward. “And I’d just like to say thank you, Amy, for bringing out everything you have in Craig,” she told the newcomer with a grateful smile, “Seeing how happy you make him...it’s just great to see him like this after...well, after he had some bad luck with love last year...”
“What went wrong? If it’s OK to ask...” Amy hesitantly inquired.
“No, it’s OK, Amy. Craig asked out Priscilla Welker, who’s on the cheer squad, to the big spring dance. She said yes at first, and even went out with him a few nights, then jilted him for her ex. She’d only said yes to make him jealous and get him back. And Craig had been as nice with her as he’s been with you the whole time, so that was a really painful knife in his back. He was a broken wreck for a week after she dumped him, and although I gave him all the encouragement I could, he only got back to normal slowly. Seeing him that badly hurt, well, it hurt me too. I guess twins have a psychic connection with each other or something. I was worried he was never going to take a chance on another girl again.”
“That’s terrible. I’d never do that to a boy,” Amy shuddered, “Well, is he OK now?”
“It took him a while, but he got over it. I told him there’d be plenty of other girls out there, and I’d look for one for him if he’d want. But it looks like he found what he was looking for in you, Amy. I don’t know quite what it is, but something in you must have touched him deeply. And to see him this happy...”
“Well good morning, beautiful princess,” a smiling Craig approached Amy and gently hugged her from behind, “Great to see you again today.”
“Good to see you again too, Craig,” she smiled back-although the smile faded when she turned around and noticed Laurie giving her an even more murderous than usual glare across the room. The redhead spun back around without saying a word to her. “Everything OK?” Craig frowned in the direction Amy was looking.
“Oh, uh, yeah, yeah,,” she said quickly. “Beth, want you to know, Judy’s inviting you to join Monica and I for an all girls sleepover at her house next week,” she turned to the black-haired girl.
“Oh good, sounds great,” Beth rubbed her hands in delight, “It’s been a while since we girls have had a night to ourselves. Maybe I’ll see if some of the girls on the varsity team can come over too, Amy; that way you can meet some of them. I think you’ll like a few of them.”
“Just hope some of the others can let their heads deflate a bit so it can be all us girls,” Monica glanced at Laurie and Andrea at their table, “It really won’t feel complete without...”
There was a scraping sound to their left. “Mind if Judy, Dylan and I join you guys?” Patrick was dragging another table over to theirs, while Judy and Dylan carried over several chairs behind him.
“Not at all, Patrick; come on over,” Craig nodded. Patrick stopped when Monica scooted her chair out and sideways before pushing his table against hers. “Hey Shawn,” he called to the bespectacled boy, who was at a table by himself, reading, “Want to come join us all?”
“Um...I don’t know...” Shawn was noncommittal.
“Come on, buddy, why sit alone?” Patrick goaded him. Shawn nodded softly, rose up, and came over. “Good, have a seat,” Patrick gestured for him to sit in one Judy was setting up at the end of the table. He took another and put it down on Amy’s left. “Good morning,” he also greeted her with a smile, “Ready for another day of fun?”
“Guess so, Patrick,” she nodded, “What’re you looking at, Shawn?” she asked him, seeing him glancing off to the right.
“Uh, well, it’s, uh, it’s, well...it’s Laurie,” Shawn confessed, staring longingly at the redhead at her table across the room, “I’ve...um...I’ve thought she’s really pretty for a while now...”
“Have you told her?”
“No. She, she wouldn’t like me...” he lowered his head, “I wanted to reach out to her after she got hurt, but...she’s above someone like me...”
“Oh Shawn, don’t put yourself down like that,” Amy reached over and took his hand, “I may not know you that well, but you seem like a nice boy to me. Tell you what, when I get the chance, I’ll tell her how you feel.”
“Oh no, no, no, please don’t do that!” Shawn begged her, “She’ll laugh in my face, she’ll turn me down flat...I couldn’t take that.”
“Besides, Amy, are you sure it’s a good idea when Laurie’s still as angry as she is?” Judy raised her eyebrows at the other blonde.
“Judy, this might help both her and Shawn, so I think it’s worth it. And besides, Christian charity says to reach out to our enemies, right Monica?” Amy turned to the brunette, who nodded. “Just be careful, though, Amy, and go about it right,” Monica cautioned her, “I’m worried the wrong spark’ll set Laurie off.”
“I’ll be careful, Monica, promise. Trust me, Shawn,” Amy turned back to him, “I’ll do what I can for you and her.”
“OK,” Shawn flashed a brief smile, then turned back to his book. “That’s really sweet of you to want to do that for him, Amy,” Patrick commended her.
“I have to pay you guys back somehow for inviting me along with you; that’s my way of thanking Shawn,” she said. “Anyway, Patrick, what do you have in mind for fun for us today, since you seem up for it?” she asked him.
“Well, with all this snow coming down, why let it go to waste, I say? We’ve never tried sledding down the hill on the south end of the hotel property before; let’s take some of the cafeteria trays and use them as sleds?” Patrick proposed to everyone else.
“Or better yet, how about a mattress so we all could do it together?” Dylan added, “We can take one or two from the upper hotel rooms and pile on...”
“You sure there’s enough room at the bottom of the slope for us to stop safely if we go sledding?” Judy asked, skeptical, “I’m not sure looking at it. And after we read Ethan Frome in literature class last semester, I would kind of have...”
“Hold on, shh, here comes the weather,” Beth held up her hand and pointed at the screen, on which a local weather report was beginning. The table went silent as the weatherman started his segment: “...some accumulation was expected, but now it looks like our area could be in for a major snow event. Let’s take a look at the radar: this cold front coming in from the west is now sliding over our area; however, indications now are it will slow down and stall. This could not have come at a worse time, as this coastal low coming up the eastern seaboard has shifted farther west than expected and will merge with the front. As such, the entire area will now be blanketed by a much bigger snowfall than we expected just twenty-four hours ago. The storm will be long lasting too; it will hang on over the region until finally sliding out to sea Sunday night. Let’s look at the snowfall totals you can expect: valley communities now are looking at eight to ten inches of the white stuff, and the higher elevations over a foot. Visibility will be greatly reduced during the height of the storm, and temperatures will drop well into the single digits at times. Highs will be...”
“Whoa, that is a lot bigger a storm than I thought,” Craig’s face was taut now, “They were saying no more than four or five inches yesterday morning. What do you think, sis?” he turned to Beth, “You think we should ride it out, or should we bail and go back to town while we still can?”
“Hmm,” Beth frowned, “That’s a tough call. I was hoping for the whole weekend here. Deep down, I’d like to stay, but I don’t want to be stranded either.”
“Three miles from town isn’t exactly stranded, Beth,” Dylan countered, “We can easily walk back in an emergency. I say we stay; this way if it is a big storm, we can stay longer, since school’ll be cancelled Monday for sure, if not Tuesday too.”
“But do we have enough food to last, Dylan?” Judy shook her head, “I’m in favor of heading back out while the roads are still passable. We can all stay at Amy’s for the weekend; it’ll still be the same...”
“Well one of us can go get enough food to last through Monday or Tuesday,” Dylan proposed, “If they leave quick enough...”
“Tell you guys what,” Craig cut in, “Since this is Amy’s weekend, why don’t we let her decision be the final one?” he turned to her.
“Well,” Amy thought hard, “I understand the concerns about being snowed in, but deep down, Craig, I’d really like to stay here as long as possible. I was hoping for a full three day weekend here too, so let’s have that three day weekend while we’re here-heck, I’d be glad if it’s longer and we lose some school days. So let’s stay here.”
“You’re absolutely sure, Amy?” Judy grilled her, still looking hesitant, “If we decide to stay, there’s no turning back; the roads’ll probably be impassable for a while.”
“Yeah, Judy, I’m absolutely sure,” Amy nodded slowly, “We all came here, we might as well enjoy it as long as possible.”
“Still, I like Dylan’s idea to have someone run to town and get food and other supplies while we still can,” Beth spoke up, “Better safe than sorry if we’re staying. Any of you want to volunteer?” she asked everyone at the combined tables.
“Well, since I thought of it, I guess I’ll volunteer,” Dylan raised his hand, “First chance I get, I’ll head on out. Can’t be sure how long it’ll take, though.”
“Just get back safely, Dylan, that’s all we ask,” Beth told him. “On that note, Craig,” she turned to her brother, “You think we should go ahead with the soccer games if it’s going to be pouring down snow?”
“Probably,” Craig nodded, “As long as we can see the ball, no reason we can’t play.”
“Besides, it’ll add a whole layer of fun playing snow ball,” Patrick added, “We haven’t really done that before.”
“OK then, after breakfast we’ll hold today’s game,” Beth agreed, “But since it’ll be cold and snowy, we won’t switch to our uniforms; no point going out there and freezing to death in T-shirts and shorts. After the game, then we’ll spend the afternoon having fun in the snow,” she nodded at Patrick, “Sledding sounds like a reasonable idea to run with.”
“And let’s make the game a loose one, Beth,” Monica proposed with a grin, “Anything we want to do with the ball, let’s do it.”
“Well, OK, I guess that’ll be fine,” Beth nodded, “A freestyle match sounds good. OK then, dig in everyone,” she told the others, scooping up more cereal, “The quicker we finish eating, the quicker we can get out there and start playing.”
“Let’s eat,” Amy poured herself a bowl of cereal and started eating. It looked like this was going to be a very enjoyable day indeed if everything went right.