Chapter 13: Trouble in the Timberland
Up the hill they hiked. A small cabin could be seen above. Though it was dark, one could barely make out the sign on the door that said Information Desk. Placed to the side was a neon red sign that said Open.
Tash, who was leading the group, took the liberty of barging into the establishment. Bells jangled from the ceiling as the door opened. Waiting at the front desk was a young, teenaged girl with a long, dirty blonde braid flowing down her back.
Suavely, Tash went up to the counter and approached the adolescent.
“Excuse me, Miss, could we possibly spend the night here…?” he shyly requested.
“This ain’t a hotel!” the fledgling replied as she put her hand on her hip and shot daggers at the incoming crowd.
Slightly furrowing his brow at her unanticipated sass, Tash continued to reason with her.
“Well, we’ve been driving for hours; do you know of any other place we could stay…?”
The lass smirked, “Have you seen where you are!? You’re currently in the middle of a state forest! There aren’t any warm, snuggly beds for many miles around...”
All of a sudden, Tash’s face dropped, letting his internal concern come to the surface. His eyes widened as he slowly backed away.
“Step aside guys, I got this…” Isabel said smugly as she cut the line and gently pushed and shoved her cohorts on her way to the bureau.
She chuckled lightly and confidently, “Excuse me, um, there must have been some mistake, this is my mind…”
At that, the girl narrowed her sapphire green eyes, “…How did you get here…?”
Isabel then smiled glossily, “Oh, well, you see, I was in bed and I started breathing deeply and—”
“I didn’t ask for your life story!” the lassie retorted.
“Well!” Isabel crossed her arms in annoyance.
SunriseDaisy, who was standing beside Isabel, came forward with a question.
“Who are you, anyway…?” she asked in misgiving.
“Yeah, I don’t remember creating you…” Isabel affirmed as she grimaced and rested her elbows on the counter.
The girl casually unbuttoned her red plaid flannel shirt as she spoke revealing a black tank top.
“I’m one of your prototype characters…” she explained quietly.
Isabel put her hand on her hip in confusion, “But I’m here; shouldn’t you be dead?”
“Nah, I’m one of those characters that have yet to be created…”
“Well, you do remind me a lot of Sydney…except, you know, you don’t have a name, yet…”
The girl sternly lifted her eyebrow at Isabel.
“You sort of look like a Kathy to me…” Isabel continued.
“Get out,” the girl muttered sinisterly under her breath.
“Can’t we at least get some trail mix before we leave?” TheLyricalLeaf asked hungrily as he tried to grab some small goodie bags that were hanging from the side.
“NO! GET OUT! NOW!” the girl screamed.
With that, the wiki cluster exited the cabin and let the door slam behind them.
“Boy, we sure got some information out of that desk…” Alica sarcastically pointed out.
“Icey, why is every character you create a bitch?” PurpleJerk curiously asked Isabel.
“I have no idea…” Isabel replied somberly.
“Um…guys…?” SunriseDaisy tried to avert their attention. “Where’s our car…?”
“Well, I thought I parked it right over…” Tash pointed to a specific spot at the bottom of the hill but it was not there.
Suddenly alarmed, everyone frantically looked around for the missing vehicle. They voyaged downward over the hill.
After a few desperate moments of searching, they all miserably came to terms with the fact that their only form of transportation was indeed, gone.
“What do you think happened to it…?” a user named EpicnezzEmily asked breathlessly.
“Who cares!? The point is it’s not here, anymore.” Alica said in a cross tone.
“Well, what now…?” Chiz asked fearfully.
“Looks like we’ll need to set up a camp in the woods…” Mak reasoned.
“We should probably split up into groups,” Tash recommended.
“I call being in Tash’s group!” AllYouNeedIsSeddie declared adamantly.
“Hell, yeah!” a user named Neveischeese said. “We need to reunite Lovely Stabbing!”
Lovely Stabbing, a once secret wiki created by Slappy and Lucy, generated a lot of pride and enthusiasm in its short-lived run and quickly became something of a phenomenon. Though this wiki consisted of many well-known users, including Samlovesham and Isabel, there was a select passionate few that would go on its chat every night and have engaging talks and play various games.
That being said, Fudge, Laters, Cc, Lucy, Neve and AYNIS followed eagerly behind Tash, forming their reunion group, though Slappy was absent.
Spreading out in contrary directions were the other formed groups. Among them were Tara, Pop, xx, AJ, Churchpants and Samlovesham; Marc, McFan, Rosalie and Maryan; Reason, Candy, Alica, Becky, Ar0n and SunriseDaisy; ILoveSeddie1234321, TheLyricalLeaf, PurpleJerk, Yoshi, Seddia, SJF, EpicnezzEmily, Chiz and a user named PurpleCandyCane; and finally Jon and SFG. The rest of the users sporadically went off on their own ways.
Trudging far out in the distance were Slappy and Isabel. Wanting to catch up with the rest of her friends, Isabel began to walk faster.
“Hey, now; don’t go so fast. You’re in my group.” Slappy said.
Isabel inquisitively lifted her eyebrow, “Just the two of us…?”
“Yeah, it’s the perfect system; you protect me, I protect you!” Slappy explained.
“Yeah, perfect…” Isabel grumbled.
The Lovely Stabbing clan started out looking at fresh paw prints on the ground.
“Aw, Tash! Look at these small ones!” Cc pointed.
“Probably belong to those tame forest animals…” Tash inferred.
In the background, McFan could be seen petting the deer and the rabbits.
“MCFAN, STOP PETTING THE DEER AND THE RABBITS!” Lucy scolded.
“Hey, Tash, check this out!” Cc brought attention to a bunch of larger tracks that led to a pile of fur and bones.
“Hmm, wonder what creature did that…” Tash pondered.
“And look!” Cc continued. “This tree trunk has more of this brownish fur attached to it…and these claw marks!”
Laters grinned deviously, “Do you think it could be a bear!?”
“Could be,” Tash said as he thoughtfully stroked his chin.
“Oooh! I like bears! Maybe we could find one and keep it for a pet!” Neve animatedly suggested.
Tash chuckled affectionately, “Maybe…”
Meanwhile, Marc, Maryan and Rosalie were walking around the many trees, with McFan trailing cheerily behind putting shrubs and dead leaves in her hair.
Marc was instinctively placing several brightly-colored rocks wherever he knew he had been.
Rosalie stopped and stared at him for a moment, “You’re marking our trail so we’ll know our way back, aren’t you…?”
Marc grinned, “Yep,”
“…I-I must say, that’s very resourceful of you…” Rosalie reluctantly choked out.
“Thanks!” Marc smiled warmly.
“Which direction are we going in…?” Maryan asked.
“North!” Marc and Rosalie said simultaneously.
“You can tell because of…” Marc began.
“…because of the moss growing on the north side of the trees…” Rosalie finished.
Maryan glanced over at both of them with a wry smile, “Wow, you both seem to know a lot about nature…”
They both chuckled uneasily and looked briefly at each other as their cheeks turned slightly red.
“Oh, god…” Maryan mumbled quietly as they started walking again.
A couple miles away, Jon and SFG were strolling together at a perky pace. SFG skipped merrily beside Jon who was walking normally.
“I love skipping, yes I do! I love skipping, how about you!?” SFG chanted.
“I like skipping,” Jon responded honestly but half-heartedly.
“Oooh! Raccoons!” SFG screeched as she ran over to them. “Come here, cute, little raccoons!”
She abruptly scared them all away with her incessant giggling.
“Man, I love being lost in the woods!” she remarked happily.
Just a few trees over, Alica, Ar0n, Becky, Reason, Candy and SunriseDaisy were standing around, visualizing where they were.
“Hey, guys, do you see anything in particular that we could use as a landmark in case we lose our way?” Candy asked in a serious, determined tone.
“This tree has an abnormally large trunk…” Becky pointed out.
“Good,” Candy commended.
Reason sported a huge, boyish grin on his face as he eyed up and down the tree.
Becky narrowed her eyes in suspicion, “What are you so jolly about…?”
Still smirking, Reason looked over at Becky almost lovingly, “Nothing. This tree just reminded me of one in my backyard that I always used to climb…”
Becky couldn’t help but giggle, “You!? Climb a tree!? You’re way too awkward and clumsy for that!”
Reason’s smile turned slightly stern as he attempted to show his British comrade what he was made of.
In a surprisingly skillful manner, he made his way up the many branches, showing monkey-like stealth and agility. Becky’s mouth dropped in shock and subtle attraction.
Finally, he made it to the top branches.
“I’M KING OF THE WORLD!!!” he proclaimed as he dangled from the peak.
Suddenly, the branch he was hanging from broke and he went tumbling down, making loud, grunt noises with every hit and thump he took on the way to the ground.
“REEZ!” Becky panicked and shuffled through the fallen leaves.
Pained groans could be heard coming from underneath. Becky got down to his level and briskly hugged him in relief.
Ar0n and Alica didn’t even notice all the commotion. They were too distracted by one another to care.
Alica felt as if her every move was being carefully observed by the quiet, blue-eyed, Hungarian boy; a shy look here, a quick glace there.
With every falling leaf, with every cricket’s chirp, with every lightning bug’s brief, fiery glow, Alica could feel herself gravitating closer and closer towards him. Her heart pulsating with every step she took.
At last, they were face to face; looking deeply into each other’s eyes.
The large, yellow moon always seemed to be full in this strange place. It shined luminously and reflected off the shadow of their faces.
“Um…guys!?” Candy brought the two lost users back down to earth.
“Huh?” Alica droned.
“What?” Ar0n drowsily added.
All Candy could do was glare at them. When she looked over her other shoulder, she caught Becky and Reason laughing and jumping into leaf piles beneath the tree.
“Ugh, I clearly picked the wrong group…” Candy stated as she put her hands on her hips and rolled her eyes.
“At least you still have me!” SunriseDaisy reminded her.
“True,” Candy nodded and pointed admittedly. “Come on guys, let’s keep moving…”
Going in a similar direction were Churchpants, xx, AJ, Tara, Pop and Samlovesham.
“Isn’t this place cool, Juicy!?” Churchpants asked enthusiastically.
All of a sudden, an owl was heard hooting from behind them in a tree trunk. Samlovesham anxiously turned around and spotted its glowing, oval-shaped eyes. In an instant, it flew away.
“I don’t know,” she answered in a shaken tone. “This forest kind of gives me the creeps; I keep seeing things and hearing noises…”
Churchpants chuckled, “You do that, everyday!”
“Freaky things; eerie noises!” SLH clarified.
“You know, it’s odd that we didn’t think to get a map, or a compass, or really anything useful while we were at the information desk…” Pop noted.
“Well, we were rudely kicked out before we could buy anything remember…?” xx said.
“Oh, right…” Pop remembered.
Gradually catching up to the others, Slappy and Isabel were slowly but surely making their way through the forest.
“…So, then, my sister and I played a prank on my brother and we pretended our parents had died. We used fake blood and everything! It was pretty legit. My stupid brother totally fell for it…” Slappy proudly described.
“Uh-huh, that’s nice…” Isabel politely responded as she looked down at her feet.
Noticing that she seemed unengaged, Slappy hurriedly ran behind the tree with the abnormally wide trunk and hid there until Isabel eventually made it.
“BOO!” he yelled as he jumped from behind.
Taken aback, Isabel was slightly startled and let out a small yelp.
Slappy then began laughing hysterically in spite of himself.
Unamused, Isabel scowled and put her hands on her hips, “Slappy, that wasn’t funny!”
“I found it hilarious!” Slappy hollered while gasping for breath.
“Of course you would…” Isabel glowered.
In the meantime, SFG was still skipping and chanting and Jon was still walking pleasantly beside her.
“I need to take a pit stop,” Jon informed her.
“Oh, okay. Take all the time you need!” SFG smiled calmly.
With that, Jon settled behind a tree to do his business.
Already getting bored of waiting, SFG decided to take a look around and go a bit farther. She didn’t have to go a very long distance before she sighted a massive cave.
“Oooh!” SFG’s eyes twinkled in fascination as she rushed inside. “I love caves, yes I do! I love caves, how about you!?”
Then, out of nowhere, she heard an unusual growl. Hesitantly, she continued to sing and went deeper into the cave.
“I like caves…yes I do…I like caves…h-how about….”
All of a sudden, she heard the growling noise, again. SFG could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stick up as she gulped nervously.
“You,” she squeaked.
The darkness of the cave could not hide the gargantuan, menacing figure and the black, beady eyes staring back at her.
Scared out of her wits, SFG screamed and ran out as fast as she could as the paltry growls turned into threatening roars.
On the other side of the forest, Tash and Lucy were collecting firewood. They were both dead silent. All that could be heard were the chilling sounds of nature in the background.
After a while, Tash grew tired of carrying such heavy loads at a time.
He awkwardly cleared his throat and confronted his colleague, “Uh, Lucy, could you carry these logs to that tree with the abnormally wide trunk over there…?”
Without a word, Lucy sneered at him and tensely grabbed the logs from him.
Stunned at her attitude, Tash frowned disapprovingly as he watched her angrily drop the wood in its place.
With her arms crossed, she strutted over back towards him.
“Anything else you need!?” Lucy asked mockingly.
“No,” Tash replied miserably.
Lucy hung her head low in a depressed fashion; her hair falling in front of her face.
“Well, I need something…” she said quietly. “Actually, I need someone; someone I can talk to, someone I can share my experiences with, someone who cares and understands how I feel…”
“Well, how do you feel…?” Tash asked in concern.
Lucy was beginning to get agitated, “Well, obviously not the same way you do!”
“How could you know that…?”
“I can tell by the way you look at me! I thought that you were that ‘someone’, but apparently, I was wrong…”
“Lucy, how could you say that!? We’re best friends; you can come to me for anything…”
Devastated, she tried to hide her tears, “Ugh, you see!? You’re still so clueless!”
On that note, she ran off; leaving Tash feeling confused and unhappy.
“OOOOH! I’M THE SHRUB MONSTER!!!” McFan bellowed as she popped out of nowhere in front of Tash with shrubs in her hair.
In the intervening time, Isabel was beginning to get exhausted.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere!” she whined.
“I know,” Slappy said.
“Ugh, all of this is your fault!” she complained.
Slightly offended, Slappy stopped in his tracks and narrowed his eyes, “Oh, really?”
“We just had to go on a road trip! I mean, where were we going to go!? We had it made where we were before—I miss my hot tub!” Isabel moaned.
Slappy slumped and lowered his shoulders as he stared at her in disbelief, “You really think I’m going to stand here and let you blame me for all of this!? I only wanted to talk to you about some things…”
“What things!?” Isabel demanded.
“Important things!” Slappy yelled.
Just then, SFG came running between them.
“BEAR! BEAR! BEAAAAAR!” she screamed.
At that, Slappy and Isabel glanced at each other and then at the innocent, flabbergasted girl squealing in front of them.
“Bear…?” Slappy mouthed silently.
As if on cue, when they both turned around, a large, brown bear was breathing heavily in front of them, showing its long intimidating teeth.
For a few seconds, all they could do was blink and stare blankly.
The bear snuffed its big, wet nose and slowly passed its claws across the dirt.
That was all it took for them to start running for their lives.
Without realizing it, they ended up in the cave. Before they knew it, they were cornered and there was no way out.
In the spur of the moment, they both grabbed ahold of each other and let out a blood-curdling scream.
“S-so this is how it’s going to go down…” Isabel said as she trembled.
“Toon…if this is the end, there’s something you need to know…” he took her hands.
Strangely enough, the growling stopped.
Isabel anxiously looked around, “Wh-where did the bear go..? Weren’t we about to get eaten alive!?”
Slappy glimpsed to both sides, “Hmm…I don’t know… Anyway…”
His hands were still in hers and Slappy smiled at her in delight.
Isabel’s eyes looked into his and she flashed a remorseful look at him.
Guiltily, she let go of his hand and ran off. Even though part of her wanted to stay in his arms, another more overwhelming part of her knew it would never work out; they were just too different.
After running as fast as her legs could carry her, Isabel eventually got tuckered out and began to slow down.
It was then and there that the familiar, unforgiving wind blew the leaves all around her.
“Oh, no…” Isabel scowled and crossed her arms as she recognized the prospect.
Once again, the wind manifested itself into a female figure.
“Hello,” she said with an evil smile.
“Ugh, what do you want, Vulnerare…?” Isabel asked in aggravation.
“Oh, nothing…I’ve actually been busy wreaking havoc on your friends’ emotions and being a bear…”
For a moment, Isabel was at a loss of words, “…You’ve been messing with my wiki buddies….and you were the bear!? What kind of sick monster are you!?”
Vulnerare chuckled, “I’m not the monster…you’re the one who keeps giving your poor friend a hard time and left him stranded…”
Isabel fell silent.
“What’s the matter, sweetheart? Are you scared to be in a relationship…?” Vulnerare tittered.
“STOP TALKING!” Isabel demanded in distress. “…You don’t know anything about me…”
“Oh, don’t I…?” Vulnerare protested. “Then, why did you do it? Why did you guys break up?”
“I wasn’t ready; I was in way over my head…I didn’t know what I was getting myself into…it was going too fast and it was scary, so I was always freaked out and easily stressed and I took it out on him…” Isabel agonizingly stuttered out.
Without any warning or indication, Vulnerare was gone.
Too possessed with insomnia to question, Isabel urgently searched for the rest of the users.
When she finally reached them, she saw Yoshi and the rest of his group piling sticks and twigs in the middle of the forest. Everyone’s clothes looked tattered and muddy.
“What are you guys doing?” she asked.
“We’re trying to rebuild the car out of anything we can find on the ground!” Yoshi elucidated.
“Ow! I keep getting splinters!” Seddia wailed.
Isabel hoplessly sat on the ground, “We’re going to die out here…”
McFan was seen violently rubbing two sticks together, “Okay guys, I’m going to make a fire….any minute now….any second now…”
“McFan, we already made a fire,” Marc reminded her as he pointed to the yellow, bursting flame.
“Oh, gross! What did I just pick up!?” Yoshi exclaimed.
“Oh, I think I may have gone to the bathroom back there…” Jon recalled.
“…Could this night get any worse…?” Isabel whimpered.
In an instant, thunder began to rumble as dark clouds formed above them. As it started to drizzle, Isabel laid helplessly on the ground. The rest of the users followed her example.