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Alexander Richard Harding

"I did not sign up for this crap..."

0 · 401 views · located in Halbrooke; A small, wooded town in Washington

a character in “Slenderman”, as played by Erik7622


Casual Name: Alex Harding
Age: 19
Sex: Male
Profession: Student
Appearance: He stands 5'11, and is relatively thin, very nearly "bony", but not quite. His face has fairly prominent cheekbones, with slightly crooked teeth, a thin nose, thin lips, and hazel eyes. His fingers are long and slender, with his fingernails trimmed very short. His hair is cut similarly short. He normally wears a three-quarter-sleeve shirt for informal occasions, along with dark blue jeans, a belt, and worn boots.


He is studious and somewhat shy, a perfectionist at heart. Around people he knows, he is fairly talkative, and prone to explain to the point of boring people, or ruining a joke. With strangers he is more withdrawn unless he must talk, and then he tends to be more brief. He is at heart an altruist. He is also a huge fan of several guitarists, including Joe Pass, John McLaughlin, Steve Howe, and Alex Lifeson.


He does not own any typical weapons. His main instruments are a steel-string acoustic guitar (his most-used, which he took to the conservatory), and an electric guitar. He recently acquired an old twelve-string guitar, and has since been enamored with the sound.


Alex grew up in a moderate Catholic household with very little incident to distinguish him from others. He was baptized and confirmed in the Church, and was relatively active, having sung in the choir until he left for the conservatory. From an early age he was fascinated with music, having listened many times to jazz records from his parents. He later discovered Jazz-Fusion and Rock music, and has taken to both with gusto. He went to a conservatory several miles away to study music, and has just returned from his first school year.

So begins...

Alexander Richard Harding's Story

Alex picked out the individual notes of a chord, letting each ring, before strumming the entire chord, and letting that ring. Even the guitar's beautiful chime seemed dull in the stormy night. He strummed a few short chords, then put the guitar to lean on the wall and sighed as the unwelcome truth came upon him.

He was bored, and suffering from an acute case of writer's block. This was a rare occurrence for him: usually, the notes came naturally as simple arrangements of chords and melodies, as music always was. Whether he was on his electric, his favored acoustic, or even on the new twelve-stringer he used now, he could simply improvise a set of chords, and just like that, a song would appear to him. It sometimes seemed to him like the muse was hidden in the guitar, but yearned to come out and sing the song of its people, if only Alex could figure out the right chords to call it.

But now, the muse was silent, and worse, Alex could not conceive why. The night was dark and rainy, usually perfect at least for composing a simple dirge, anything to break the mindless chord strumming and boredom. Alex looked out, coincidentally as a flash of lighting illuminated the clouds. A second or two later, and thunder broke through. Alex wondered idly if being in the storm would solve any of that trouble. Wasn't that a silly idea! He then corrected himself: he wasn't far off from the potential solution. Perhaps a quick bite to eat at the Cafe would be helpful, for nothing if not the boredom.

After quickly grabbing a rain jacket and informing his parents of his plans, Alex set off into the night. The Cafe was only a short walk away from his house, but he still felt soaked by the time he arrived. Peering through the windows, he noticed several people he knew: Seth, Chris, Evan, Claudia (Tithe, he corrected himself), and Amnell. He entered cautiously, pulling the hood back and unzipping the soaked jacket. "Well, I certainly didn't expect to see all of you here!"

Tithe glanced over at the door when someone opened it and gave a faint smile. She had always admired Amnell's work and generally enjoyed the girls company as she was a very interesting person. When she walked over to the table Tithe was sitting at, Tithe gave a small smile that was a simple substitute for a 'hello'. It was something she did to people often, when things were silent. Though as she sat there, several different replies crossed her mind, however she refused to say any of them. She had a fear of looking stupid in front of them, even if they were all her friends. She also had a large dislike for having the last word when things were awkward and mostly silent.

It wasn't long before another figure walked through the door, however it was not one she expected. The guitarist, Alex. As he entered the cafe his voice was a nice change to the rather depressing silence that had been there before.
"Well, I certainly didn't expect to see all of you here!"
Tithe gave another small smile and waved her hand, thought it barely even rose from the table. "Hey." The words were nearly a squeak and she cleared her throat lightly afterwards. It wouldn't surprise her if he didn't hear her, since the words were barely even over a whisper. The thought though made her gaze quickly move to the table.

She gave a small sigh while sitting there before moving her attention to Evan. She couldn't shake the small pain she felt for him, as she knew how close he had been to little Faith. She tried to hide it, but the look on her face was obvious. It was the same when she had found out he had been robbed, full of sorrow and worry. She wanted to say something to comfort him. When his eyes met hers, her throat constricted and her thoughts started to go rapid as she tried desperately to think of something to say to him. However, it wasn't long before he looked away and began speaking.
"Okay, who else isn't here yet? I think Jude and Stephen are the only ones left to show. Then we can get started."

Her eyes stared at the table as she tried to calm herself. As she did so, her index fingers started to slide from side to side as she felt the table top. From there, she began to notice how her arms were uncovered, exposing the massive amounts of freckles that seemed to taint her pale skin. She glared at her arms for a second before snatching her bag and placing it in her lap. Quickly, she dug out her hoodie and set her bag aside. After standing up, she slipped the hoodie on and felt the warm embrace. Out of all the little ways she hid herself from the word, wearing her hoodie was her favorite.

Now with her source of comfort and warmed, she started to calm down. She watched as Evan passed out the drink, which suddenly gave her the craving for her usual, a vanilla cappuccino with extra french vanilla creamer. "I'll be back." She whispered softly before nearly skipping to the counter.
"Chris" She called getting his attention before she realized she might not have any money. Her hand slipped into her pocket and pulled out the small wad of bills. "You want your usual, Tithe?" Chris asked with a small chuckle. She gave a small nod before placing the bills on the counter. As Chris went off to make her drink, Tithe tried to straighten out her money. First she unfolded it and placed it all facing the same way. Then she pressed her hand against it and rubbed it back and forth, as if her hand were an iron and she was ironing clothes.
"Here you go." Chris announced a few minutes later, while placing the medium sized drink on the counter in front of her. Tithe ironed the bills one last time before handing four ones to Chris. "Thanks." She whispers, wrapping both hands around the cup like a child might. Then again, her hands were rather small, which forced her to carry most things like a child would.

Now with a drink in her hand, she slowly walked back to the table where she had once sat. To most, it would seem as if she had just had a mood swing, though anyone who knew her would realize it was simply her feeling secure. Many people had accused her of acting completely differently when she wore a hoodie. The statement was very much true.

After sitting back down, she played with the small straw, which she would use for a normal straw. After mixing the drink a little, she took a sip. At first it was cold on her lips from the ice that Chris had put in there, which was something she had always requested. She smiled taking in the warm and sweet vanilla aroma. For the time being, her thoughts were calm and a small smile was perched on her face.

When the door opened again, Tithe watched as Stephen walked in. The man honestly was interesting to her, since he was practically the only person she had ever met with such a deep accent. As he walked over to them, she noticed the oil stains on his hands, despite the fact that the rest of him was clean. "Hey.." She greeted softly as he set his chair down next to the table. Her eyes slowly moved from Stephen to Evan. "Now all we need is Jude, right Evan?" She asked, her voice still rather soft as she spoke.

Seth recieved his drink. The liquid wasnt as clear as from his own faucet, but hey. Its a bar. What are you gonna do. He spun himself around to look at the group as they arrived. All good friends of his. All people he knew quite well. All people that shold have been meeting under better circumstances. He hooked his feet on the spools under his seat. He too a small sip of his water and placed it on the counter behind him. He ficked the excess water from his fingertips into the air with a small smile.

First to enter after Seth was Tithe. He liked her legal name fine, but who was he to judge someones nickname. He waved to her as she trudged across the tiles in her wet converse. Poor girl. He smiled. 'Guess you shoulda dressed for the weather.' Every time Seth saw his hooded friend Jack's Lament came to his mind. One of his favorite movie tunes. He took another sip, hummig the new tune. That damned hoodie, always getting in his head.

Next came Nel. This girl... He couldnt begin to expain how he felt about her. The term would be... Smitten. He couldnt help butfind every little quirk about her interesting, and dare he admit it, adorable. Seth smiled at her when she arrived, bearing her new camera. Looked like this was turning into a 'Blair Witch Project' fiasco.

Then there was Alex. A younger member of their little group. This guy held a special place in Seth's heart because he was a musician. And a very good one at that. He waved to Alex as well

Seth hadnt been saying much. That was unlike him. But this situation didnt call for the norm.

One more person entered the cafe. The 'ol grease monkey, Stephen. He was a good guy. and A good person to have around. Considerig he is always packing.

Seth stood. He decided it was time to join the group. No need to be antisocial. He grabbed a seat with the group and smiled to them all, still humming the tune of Jack's Lament. "Good to see you guys, It's been too long"

Colin Davis
Colin continued to drag on his cigarette, and then put it out and left it in the ashtray when his coffee was done. He grabbed the cup of coffee and traded it out for three dollars, then sat back down with Evan as everyone began to arrive. He nodded and gave all of his friends warm smiles as they filed in.
"Okay, who else isn't here yet? I think Jude and Stephen are the only ones left to show. Then we can get started.", Evan finally said as everyone began to get comfortable.
As if on Que, Stephen strolled in, his hands and shirt stained with oil as usual. Colin nodded and grinned at him. Stephen was a favorite among the group of friends.
With a few words exchanged, things became silent as the friend waited for Jude to arrive, then Seth decided to join them at the table.
Good to see you guys, It's been too long" , Seth said.
"I know right?", Colin said, stirring his coffee. "You'd think that in a town of three-hundred, it wouldn't be that hard to find time to hang out".

Alex gave a quick wave to Seth as he obliged Evan's request, folding his jacket roughly and placing it on an unused table before walking over to the seat Evan had indicated. The thin cushion yielded under him as he looked around at the others gathered. Seth he knew fairly well, as a fellow bird of the musical feather. Of all the rest of the group, Alex had always felt less...intimidated, by Seth. Perhaps it was that common bond of music. Then again, Claudia (Tithe!) wasn't very intimidating either, she usually seemed a tad introverted. Colin he had first met at a firehouse gig, but had warmed up to in due time. Chris, well, owned the café Alex had just entered, so it made sense he knew him. Amnel was also a familiar face, though Alex's eyebrow shot up upon sighting the camera.

Alex then turned to Evan, giving him his attention. "My help? What for? Is it related to why everyone else is here?" Things that had happened previously then hit him, subtle like a tap, but the ramifications more like a train crash. "This is about that girl Faith, isn't it?"

He was anxious to know if something had happened to Faith, good or bad. He hadn't known the girl, nor her family, but he did worry about her, especially in light of the mysterious circumstances of her disappearance.

In response to her weak attempt at conversation, Evan gave a simple, sincere "Well, it could always be worse" in his deep but reassuring voice. He continued: "And thanks for bringing the camera, Am. We're gonna want as many pictures as possible."

Amnell brightened up. Talking about photography (or any of her interests) naturally made her lower her guard. She was about to open her mouth to talk about all of her new camera's nifty features, how it was the latest model in image capturing technology, when the cafe door swung open to reveal a young man who looked surprised to see them. His name evaded her until Evan called him by it, which made her turn away in slight embarrassment. She had been introduced to Alex before, and during that meeting had gathered that he was shy, younger than her, and almost compulsively obsessed with music theory and guitars. However, she had never actually hung out with him enough to consider him a member of the gang, especially since he was usually busy with college and music-making or whatever he did.

At this point Tithe stood up, shrugged on her signature hoodie, and then left rather energetically to get a beverage from Chris. Claudia's behavior was occasionally enigmatic, but she was a thoughtful girl with a muted warmth and intelligence that people often overlooked. To be honest, Amnell herself upon first meeting her had merely passed her off as another stud-and-converse wearing wannabe goth girl, but the older girl quickly rescinded that opinion after a few more group get-togethers. She would never admit it, but Amnell often fought back a bizarre urge to kidnap the younger girl, confiscate the hoodie depicting Jack Skellington's round and luminous face, and dress her up in drastically different and classier styles... A weird fantasy, but that was Amnell.

The next to join them was one of the newer additions to the group, Stephen Mann, smelling strongly of motor oil. His country accent, grease stained clothes, and brazenly casual manner more often than not made Amnell uncomfortable, but he seemed like decent person. She occasionally found herself imagining what he would look like in a well-tailored suit, cleaned up and liberated from that boring blue baseball cap. "Sad state of affairs, ain't it?" he said as he sat down, and Amnell nodded humorlessly.

A familiar tune reached her ears; the source, Seth's humming, as the music teacher decided to stop being a loner and approach his friends. Amnell instantly recognized it as Jack's Lament, which was one of her favorite songs in the history of Disney movies. She couldn't express how much that cheered her up --- Seth always managed to cheer her up, intentionally or not --- though she did feel a little guilty for daring to be happy when there was a little girl missing. This was not a group reunion; it was a search party. She straightened her back, folded her hands in her lap, and waited patiently --- waited for Jude, waited for Alex to be debriefed, waited for the inane chatter to cease and for their mission to finally begin.

"Okay, so Colin, Seth, and Stephan will drive." Amnell did a quick head count, fingers silently tapping the air. "Since there's... nine of us, let's do three people to a car." She had kind of wanted to drive, but there was no way anyone was going to fit into the infamous pigsty that was the backseat of her car, so she tried to meet Seth's eyes and convey that she wanted to ride with him. Seth had always been much friendlier to her than the rest. She had never really stopped to think all that closely about it. But being in a smaller group with him would make it easier to loosen up and be herself. It was probably obvious to everyone that this larger group, some members of which she didn't quite trust yet, made her vastly uncomfortable.

At her side, she heard Claudia meekly volunteer to go with Colin, who was heading out the door to his pickup. The angles of his body silhouetted against the door frame, beside a rain splattered window illuminated by a single street lamp, struck her suddenly as an interesting contrast... or it would be from a different view. Amnell leaped from her seat, knocking over her chair and a few other chairs in the process, and ran to the other side of the cafe. Ignoring the ruckus, she slid onto the counter that Chris had wiped down mere minutes before, lifted her camera, and snapped a photo of the interior of the cafe before anyone else left. A flash went off and the instant camera whirred, ejecting the film smoothly.

Damn it. Colin wasn't even in the shot, just his shadow, its limbs weirdly elongated due to unexpected change in the lighting outside. What on earth had possessed her to believe that she would make it in time? At least it was a fairly clear capture of the beginning of their search, so Evan might still find use in it. Unsatisfied with her work, Amnell set it down and began putting the chairs she had knocked over back in place, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. She could hear Enid timidly request to ride with Stephan. No surprise there. He was definitely the individual that was most open to receiving her. Amnell was probably going to hell for thinking this way, but after taking shit from customers all day, she thought it was kind of refreshing to see someone frightened of her.

After the chairs were stacked up properly, which took no time at all, Amnell ventured a try at organizing groups, not wanting people to linger about awkwardly trying to find a car. Time was of the essence, after all. "Hey Evan, why don't you ride with Colin and Claudia?" she suggested. "You're a big strong guy." Even if he was kinda clumsy sometimes often. "Umm... Caroline, can you go with Stephan? Alex, come with me and Seth."

Hopefully this arrangement would suit everyone. She searched for Seth's confirmation and crossed to his side with a tiny smile. "Hey you, how about we blow this Popsicle stand?"

Evan had turned away from the group. His eyes seemed to be scanning the bar. He eventually made contact with Seths eyes, but they werent quite looking at him, but past him. They moved away from him and finally stopped... focused on the window. Seth was really confused. He spun around and looked out the window where Evan was staring. He saw nothing. Rain and the streetlight. Nothing else. What was wrong with Evan?

Evan explained himself. "There was a guy JUST outside." Seth shook his head Slowly. He didnt want to call his friend on seeing things. It must just be the greif. There really was nothing there. This worried him. Evan wasnt th type to freak his brain out. Seth merely shrugged. Hehad nothing to say.

Nel spoke up eventually, trying to get them out the door, and Seth couldnt agree more. He wanted to get moving soon. She made eye contact with seth. Sort of like that look you give your buddy when the teacher says you will be working with a partner. This was good. Seth as definitely closer wth her than many of the others. This was because he was sweet on her. He gave a slight nod and a smile.

His gaze shifted back to the window. Evan was still staring out at the road with the most perplexed look on his face. Seth did the same. He must have missed something. Evan couldnt be going crazy.

He heard a ruckus and turned to see Nel vaulting over chairs to get to the other end of the bar. She did this kind of thin often when she saw a good opportunity for a picture. The flash illuminated the room and it was done. Nel gave her picture a little snarky frown and moved along, resetting the chairs she knocked over.

She came to Seths side and Grouped everyone together. She was in Seths group along with Alex. Seth was perfectly fine with that.

"Hey you, How about we blow this popsickle stand?" Seth nodded with a smile. "You've got it" he looked to Evan. "We're heading out bud..." he turned hs head violently to Alex "Alex!, lets bounce." he joked.

Alex almost did bounce, eager to do something rather than be stuck in the depressed cafe. He rose and followed Seth and Amnell to the door, stopping to grab his folded rain jacket and shuffle it over his shoulders. Looking at the wind, he elected to zip it up as far as he could, and pulled the hood over his hair as well. Right before he stepped out into the rain and wind, he looked out over the lot briefly through the window. Maybe it was the dust on the window, but a white outline that looked like a head seemed visible in the distance. Alex shook it off as a trick of perspective before bracing himself for the rain.

He shoved the door open, and heard the roar of the wind and the rain. With a brief effort, he opened the door into the wind and stood in front of it, holding it open for the others to exit. He gestured to the waiting cars outside. "Let's get going, then! Faith shouldn't be out here for more than a second longer if we can help it!"

As the others began to exit, some more reluctantly than others, Alex looked out again into the rain, and realized that what he had dismissed as a trick of perspective before was...something more; he couldn't quite figure out what. An unfamiliar figure appeared to be walking away from the cafe. It was already at a considerable distance. Oddly, the figure seemed extraordinarily tall. Perhaps it was some kids in a giant suit? A kid on stilts? But why in this weather?

As the figure disappeared into the thick of the rain, Alex strained to see it, forgetting that he was supposed to be going somewhere.

As the rest of the group started to move, Amnell slipped on her raincoat and headed outside, making sure to reclaim her umbrella, which was still fairly wet. She snapped the metal spikes to life and raised it above her head, enjoying the sound of the rain drumming indiscriminately onto the stretched canvas. Then she glanced back at Seth and Alex, the latter of which seemed to be distracted by something in the distance. “Alex.” Amnell poked him in the shoulder. “Focus.” When she had obtained his attention, she pointed at Seth’s jeep. “I’ll be with you two there in a sec. I’m going to grab a waterproof cover from my car.” She then gave both of them a very direct and pointed look. “Also, I call shotgun.”

When she felt they had sufficiently grasped her message, she strode away to her own vehicle and retrieved the item she needed, as well as a few other things. Opening the door on the driver's side, she emptied her purse, a one of a kind bohemian styled bag purchased from a vendor on Etsy, and stuffed its contents into the pockets of her raincoat (cellphone, wallet, a rather flimsy flashlight with a wind up crank, some aspirin). Lastly, she debated changing into something more suitable for trekking into the woods --- since there was an emergency pair of trousers in the back and she figured no one would be able to see her changing within her car in this weather --- but she ultimately decided against it. The combat boots, which were fortunately expensive enough to be durable, tall, and terribly cute, and the raincoat would keep her dry and warm, and she didn't care if she got mud on her dress anyway. What was one more dirty article of clothing to a laundress?

She locked her car and returned to her riding buddies, umbrella and camera (now safely tucked under its waterproof cover) in tow. "All right, I'm set." Without waiting for permission, she buckled herself into the front passenger seat and looked over at Seth.

Seth's umbrella was in the car, so as for protection from the rain, he was shit out of luck. He really didnt mind though. He always loved he rain. Whenever he had a chance he would take a walk in it. It was very therapeutic, but most people just thought it was stupid. Nevertheless, he couldnt be out here all night without protection. but for the walk to his car he enjoyed the raindrops splattering on his face.

Alex had stopped and was staring into the distance. He had the same bewildered expression that Evan had earlier. Something was wrong. Ryan made his way to Alex to ask him about it, bu Amnell spoke up. She called shotgun. Seth chuckled and puths arm around Alex. "Come on man, we dont have time to waste." he pulled the boy away from his static position and lead him to the jeep. He opened his driver door and pulled the seat up so Aelx could get in the back. It was only a two door so sometimes it got a little tiht when driving more than one person.

Alex got in and settled in the seat behind the passenger. good choice, Seth had long legs and liked to sit as far back as possible. He pushed the seat back and quickly hopped in. Nel finally arrived with her newly waterproofed camera and an umbrella. She jumped in the seat and buckled up. Seth looked over at her and smiled before starting the car an did the same. The engine rumbled to life, but it couldnt cover up the sound of the rain thundering on the soft top of Seths Jeep. He reset the Emergency brake and graapsed the shifter knob. He turned to his two passengers. "Where we goin first?"

Alex started as Amnell poked him. "Focus." How had he let himself get so distracted? He tried to snap himself back to focus, missing whatever anybody said for the next moment. What was going on? Where was he supposed to be going? Oh right. Get supplies. Find Faith. Right.

Easier said than done, he thought morosely. Then he checked himself: No. Stop being negative. We'll find her. She's just lost. No criminal would attack here. He felt unconvinced, though. Seth's arm around him, guiding him to the Jeep, barely registered to him. He blinked several times, then shook his head quickly. He felt strange suddenly. He focused on the positive thoughts as he walked robotically to the Jeep and automatically got into the back seat on the right. He was so used to getting in there, it made sense. Plus Amnell would want shotgun. Hadn't she said something about it? He didn't remember.

Snap out of it! He shook his head to clear the strange murk, and looked over at Seth right as he entered, pushing the seat back for legroom. "Where we goin' first?"

Alex thought for a second, then forced a response. "CVS may have first-aid stuff. That's all I can think of." His voice still sounded hollow. Dammit, snap out of it!

Amnell, now buckled in with her umbrella and raincoat dripping water onto the seat and floor, chuckled slightly at the naivety of Alex’s idea. “I dunno, buddy. I think Colin’s got that covered.” She felt that their firefighter friend would definitely be able to handle any injuries that their search might throw at them, and the idea of driving to CVS to buy a flimsy little first aid kit when they had a trained EMT in their group struck her as wildly unnecessary. Unless, of course, Colin was somehow incapacitated. But that wasn’t going to happen.

She twisted her upper torso slightly to glance at the teenager in the seat behind her own and was suddenly struck by how thin and ashen he looked. His voice had sounded a bit hollow, and he seemed more absent-minded than usual. “You okay there? Don’t get spooked by the dark wet forest before we even set foot in it. Here, use this to protect you from any monsters.” She pointed her flashlight playfully at Seth and clicked it on. Nothing happened. “Fudgesicles... I guess I have to wind it up first. This thing is so useless.”

Amnell began turning the hand crank. Above the tiny whir of the device being wound, she contemplated their options. “Anyway, let’s head toward the park entrance, where Evan said we should meet. We can beat them there and start searching on our own, even.” Her serious, inscrutable eyes gleamed with the spirit of competition. “How great would it be if we found Faith first?”

Seth hadnt moved yet. He was waiting for a decision from his group. But he couldnt help but think about Evan and Alex. They had been acting so weird. It was like they had seen a ghost or something. He couldnt wrap his head around it. Hopefully they werent so emotionally broken by Faiths dissapearance that they wouldnt be much help in the search. He shook his head. He was sure they were fine. No problem.

Nel lightened the mood. One of the many things Seth loved about her. She was always there to make people smile when they were down. She tried to shine the light at Seth, but to her dismay it was not charged. Seth chuckled in victory and continued to wait for them to speak up. He never really went anywhere other than the school and his house, unless he was with the group, and even then he didnt tend to drive. He'd much rather be in the passenger seat singing with the radio.

Nel put an air of competition into the search. He smiled. She could turn even a situation as downtrodden as this around into something fun. They would definitely find her. Seth had full confidence in that. "Nel, we will definitely find her first." he smiled and turned the car on. So their destination was chosen, down to the Park it was.

He turned the jeep on and they hit the road.

Colin sat in his massive F250, waiting for the others to come out as the rain picked back up and slammed against his windshield. A few moments later, Amnell, Alex and Seth walked out of the Cafe, Nell going for her car first before they all went to Seth's Jeep and then taking off after a few more moments.
Colin lit another cigarette, probably his last one for the night, not knowing how his friends would feel about him smoking around all of them on their search.
The firefighter sat back, listening to the rain patter steadily on his Truck, then he remembered his Cd-case in the visor. He reached up to the thin, 6-sleeve case and pulled out a disc labeled "Nine-inch Nails: Lost Highway" and then slid it into the disc receiver, then made sure his player wasn't on shuffle so that it would play the first track on the disc. Colin turned the volume up to a moderate level, then leaned forward, pulling his jacket off so that he wouldn't sweat in the warmth of the Truck. The ambient warmth combined with a long shift at the fire station began to take it's toll on Colin, and before he knew it, his eyes began to shut as he drifted off to sleep.

As the car traveled through the rain to the park, Alex couldn't help but smile. They were on their way, and getting somewhere. Damn the odds, they'd find Faith! He didn't honestly care if they found her first, so long as they found her, alive and hopefully unharmed. If she had died, they'd have found the body by now, right? Which meant she had to be alive. Good logic, solid logic.

At least, that's what he would tell himself. He wasn't sure what black mood had possessed him earlier, but he felt quite free of it now. Amnell's useless flashlight helped with that, funnily enough. A little bit of unintentional humor was fine by him, and it lightened the mood slightly enough for him to forget the strange man. Probably an optical illusion of a much shorter man. But who would be walking outside at this our with no hat, umbrella, or coat to speak of? Forget it, he told himself.

Soon, the trees of Halbrooke Nature Park loomed before them. Alex put his hood back up as he stepped out of the car, and gave a small smile and thumbs-up to Seth as they made their way away from the car, and into the woods. A few steps, and Alex then realized his problem. "Wait, I'm forgetting a flashlight. We do have flashlights, right?"

They arrived at the park in no time, ahead of the other two groups, and pulled into the parking lot that was out front. Amnell unbuckled her seatbelt and slid out of the jeep, once again making use of her umbrella to keep her dry. She started to follow Alex into the gloomy woods when he stopped abruptly, questioning their lack of flashlights.

“Sorry! I just have this one,” she replied, clicking it on again. Thankfully this time a sliver of light immediately shot out of the end, illuminating a section of the path in front of them. “Hey, Seth? Did you bring any?” She squinted at the thick clusters of trees on either side of the muddy path as the rain continued to beat down on her umbrella. They were tall and spindly, jutting into the sky like the serrated edge of a blade. The first stirrings of fear sliced into her warm chest. “Maybe Miss Cardiff was right about waiting until the weather clears up a little. It's really hard to see anything out here when it's this dark and rainy.”

But what else was there to do? Wait in the car until the rain let up? Or at least until Evan and Colin arrived with supplies and directions? That was probably the smartest idea. Giving up on the idea of being the first to find Faith, Amnell shrank back towards the jeep. She could vividly imagine a young girl of six or seven hiding amidst the trees, huddled fearfully beneath a tangled web of branches. If that was the case, there was no time to waste, but there was no good in wandering around aimlessly and ill-equipped.

Alex sighed in response. His moods felt all over the place: one moment he was out of it and numb, next he was gung-ho and ready to find Faith, the next he had a moment of common sense, and now his optimism felt deflated. What was next?

Through the rain, he heard a child-like voice. "Is someone there? Hello?" Alex whipped around and looked in the direction he thought the voice came from. He could not tell for certain, but he thought he saw a child standing at the edge of the forest. Faith?! Instinct took over, and he ran back to the forest. If she was there, they would be fine, they would be all done, everything would be back to normal again.

As he reached and passed the treeline, he realized his mistake. Faith was nowhere to be seen. And for that matter, neither was anybody else, certainly not through the rain. Even though the trees kept the rain from making him wetter, the cover only made him more nervous, as it also darkened the area around him. He looked around, trying to see what the source of whatever optical illusion had convinced him charging headlong into a dark forest was a good idea. After all, it could have been a person.

A sudden noise behind him made him jump again, whirling around to find...nothing.


Enid didn’t much mind the car ride. Nothing really happened. It was rather boring with little to nothing being said. For once the silence she usually hated allowed for a small reprieve from earlier when she felt the open hostility to herself. At least she was with the other new girl as well as with the one person in the group who hadn’t been mean to her.

From what she knew about him, he had been an outsider for a while as well. That fact alone put her at ease. Maybe there was a chance to slide her way into the group. This search might actually help the fact. At least she really did hope that it would.

Turning her mind from the past few minutes, she brought herself back to the present. They didn’t have any flashlights. The whole reason she had left the safety of her house was to get batteries. Now she was going into an even worse situation. Her chest tightened and she fought to get her breath. This was not what she wanted to think about.

Forcing herself to calm down as they reached their destination, Enid pulled herself out of the low riding sports car. She shut the door quickly glad to be out of the tight space and letting the rain wash over her to help calm her nerves. Finally she glanced around the area. One other vehicle was there, but only two of its passengers. Where was the third?

The young woman was sure that it was a male that was missing, but she didn’t know his name. Oh this wasn’t good. Maybe it was because they had just got there and didn’t know what was going on.

“Where is the other male?” She asked before she lost herself to her nerves again. She would be going home and taking an extra dose of her pills so she could get to sleep or at least lay in bed without the lights on. She took a deep breath as she walked over to the others. She was trying to push past the fact that the girl was one of the ones that really hadn’t liked her. But if something had actually happened, maybe the other would forget about it and Enid could actually be of some help. Or at least not be hated so much.

Alex walked forward carefully. What the hell caused that? I swear something could have been right here... He edged forward, straining to see in the dark, his pulse racing in his head and his breath held. He investigated the tree to find nothing. This is not okay...

A sudden prolonged scream made him jump and almost scream himself. Even through the rain he could hear it clearly, but could not tell who it was. He turned in the direction of the voice, and started to make his way through the woods towards it. A second later, another scream came.


That time the voice was unmistakeable. Amnell?! He began running into the dark, trying to find her. "Amnell!" He tripped and fell, bracing himself with his hands for the inevitable impact with the ground. He hit the ground and grunted as the impact ran through his arms, little shocks of pain that traveled to his elbows and shoulders. "Shit," he muttered as he tried to pull himself up and continue forward.

Unfortunately, he didn't see the steep slope in front of him, and he slipped on the slick leaves and mud, falling again and sliding down the hill. As he reached the bottom, his view was forced uphill in a roll, and atop the slope he could have sworn he saw someone remarkably similar to the mysterious figure outside the cafe. Before he could think about it, he had landed in deep water, and forced his stunned body to move and drag himself from the water, coughing and shivering.