See Previous Chapter: Stranded: Part VI
“What should we do with him?”
“Your guess is as good as mine. He’s been asleep for three days now. I’m surprised he’s still breathing…”
“I say we dump him…Maybe he can get that beast off of our trail and give us time to hide.”
“We’re not leaving him here to die! He’s bound to wake up soon and we haven’t seen it in a few days!”
Kellen now began to stir.
“Your compassion outweighs your sense of judgement. If we don’t leave him here then we both die!”
As the arguing continued in the background, Kellen regained his consciousness and was now slowly reaching for his gun. He had placed his hand where his gun was but now he all he felt was the torn pieces of what used to be his pants. His heart began to race. Not only was the torture of his hallucination still haunting him but now he was in the midst of reliving the very circumstance he just imagined; only this time he had no gun, no knife, and no way of defending himself against the two strangers. He calmed his mind and began to assess the situation around him.
Peeking one eye open, he saw that he was still in the woods joined by a man and a woman. The man couldn’t have been more than 40 years old but his figure suggested that he had been a weightlifter for a good part of his life. The woman was petite but the way she argued with the man told Kellen that she was stronger than her size gave off. Both were brown haired and the way their clothes were torn suggested they had been out here just as long as him. The argument had now broken up and the consensus was that Kellen would remain with the strangers…for now.
The woman stomped away from the man but landed right in front of Kellen’s head. He certainly had no intention of hurting the girl but what was a man supposed to do in this situation? He snapped to his feet, wrapping his right arm around the throat of his victim. The girl screamed out for help but by time the man turned around, Kellen already had a death grip in hold.
“Hold on there….” the man said raising his arms in surrender, “there’s no need to get violent.”
“Who are you people and how did I get here?” Kellen shouted in response.
“We found you! A few days ago…we happened to stumble across you and we brought you here to our camp. Please, let my wife go!”
“That’s not good enough! I need more details! Who are you and where did you come from?”
“My name is Robert and the woman you’re holding’s name is Katrina. We were on the plane that crashed and we’ve been trying to find help. We’re not here to hurt you!”
“How do I know you’re telling the truth? I want proof!”
With everything that Kellen had been through psychologically he wasn’t going to take any more chances. He had already seen his father haunting the woods and he watched his wife and daughter “die” in front of his face. What’s to say that these people aren’t hallucinations; or worse, killers?
Robert quickly explained their predicament and where they had come from. Like Kellen, they were on the way back to America from a vacation in Japan. Upon hearing their story Kellen let Katrina go and began to gather his thoughts. Recent days had been filled with life altering event after another. Does he trust these two? Should he believe their story? They seemed so real but so did the demon. He was slowly but steadily losing his mind and he found himself lacking trust in his new friends. It was then that he was reminded of the couple’s conversation and their mentioning of a “creature”.
“What is this that I heard about a creature you were willing to sacrifice me to?”
Katrina glared at Robert,
“I…was scared. We’ve been running from a large animal for a few days now and I was just frightened of dying. We didn’t want you to die but you had been out cold for three days and we weren’t sure if you would wake up.”
“What kind of a large animal?” Kellen asked, this time curiousity overwhelming his mind.
“We don’t know what kind of animal. We haven’t seen it fully fleshed out; but it took our son and daughter a few days after we crash-landed. It’s been hunting us ever since…” The man replied as the woman began to cry.
“I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. I’ve been haunted, if you will, by something the past few days as well. I can’t really explain it. How did your children die? If you don’t mind my asking.”
Clearing his throat and comforting his wife Robert responded,
“When we crash landed we made camp near the body of the plane. The first night was ok other than the confusion and fear of having experienced what we just did. The next day I noticed a few strange markings around camp. I initially brushed it off but something wasn’t right. Day three came and I started seeing and hearing something moving around our campus. I couldn’t quite make out what it was but it was large and on two feet. Night three I awoke to piercing screams from my children. I jumped up but I couldn’t see anything. The fire had been put out and it was pitch black. I called after them but their screams became farther and farther away. We searched all night but couldn’t find where they had gone or what had taken them.” Robert began to choke up at this point. “As we ventured out deeper into the jungle we only found some pieces of their clothing. The only other thing we could make out around the area was a large groove in the ground. Something large had been through there and we think it took our children.”
At first Kellen was pushed to believe that the very demon haunting him had targeted this couple. After hearing their story he could only assume that something else had set its sights upon them. Kellen never mentioned any details about his experiences but something was still settling him the wrong way. This island had completely destroyed his psyche and now he was standing in front of two people stranded, just like him, claiming a very large beast is hunting them.
“What is this place?” Kellen thought to himself.
As the conversation continued on, he noticed that Katrina was unusually quiet and never uttered much of anything while her husband spoke. His first impression was that she was a strong woman but it seemed that she had reverted back to another state of mind. He couldn’t quite shake the feeling that there was something off about the two. He felt that he couldn’t trust anything or anyone but what choice did he have at this point? They hadn’t threatened to kill him, they didn’t have a demon hallucination haunting them so he decided to remain calm…
Night fell on the island once again and the trio found themselves trying to make use of the forest floor for a bed. The couple had scrounged some supplies from the airplane just as Kellen did but they didn’t find much before the animal came and pushed them off. Kellen would have contributed to “dinner” but all of his supplies were left back at his camp. So, they simply rationed out what they needed and each one went to their own place to sleep. Even after being out cold for three days, Kellen found himself slipping into a deep sleep before his head even touched the floor.
The hours passed through the night, the mosquitos buzzed, and for all intents and purposes the world was ok; if even only for a moment. Kellen was sleeping soundly when he heard a rustle in the bushes. Amidst his deep sleep his eyes snapped open and he looked over to where the couple was sleeping; both accounted for. Another noise echoed through the forest, this time louder and closer than before.
“Wake up. Wake up! Something’s in the woods.”
Robert snapped to attention and drew a knife that he had sheathed away in his pants, ready to fight whatever was lurking. Kellen noticed a pattern in what he was hearing. The sound was circling them, very reminiscent of his previous experiences. They were indeed being hunted. A bush would move to the side of them, and then a branch would break behind them, and so on and so forth.
“It’s the animal! It found us!” Robert whispered violently over to Kellen. Now Katrina began to whimper and cry once more, afraid for her life.
“She needs to stop crying! Whatever it is knows we’re here but it doesn’t need to hear us!” Kellen whispered back.
“Katrina, please! Be quiet!” The pleading only made her worse.
“She needs to shut up!”
“Katrina! Enough!” This time Robert’s voice grew louder.
“Katrina I said enough!” No longer was he whispering but shouting.
An eerie silence came over the camp as Katrina quit moaning. No more sounds were made from the perimeter and it seemed like animal had left.
“Well, whatever it was must have…”
Kellen was interrupted by the sheer horror of what he saw lunge out of the forest and wrap it’s body around Robert’s. A snake, at least seventeen feet, had begun suffocating Robert, all the while staring at Kellen and Katrina. Kellen had never seen such a thing in all of his life. Katrina let out a shrill scream as Kellen stood in shock. The snake stopped what it was doing only for a second, but in that second Kellen could sense that the snake was looking right at him thinking, “You’re next.” The snake opened it’s jaws and began to devour Robert inch by inch. Coming to his senses, Kellen ran to Katrina, grabbed her by the wrists, and pulled her shocked body off the ground and drug her away from the scene. All the while the snakes jaws grew larger and larger to compensate for the size of it’s prey.
Lightning flashed through the sky, accompanied by a roll of thunder that closely resembled the sound of an explosion that would have killed hundreds.
The night had only just begun.
Check back on Sunday for the thrilling finale of Stranded!