14: Can We Trick It?

Air rushed into my lungs. I hopped off my back, sat up.

Carrie was kneeling beside me. I didn't know how much time had passed since I'd lost consciousness, but any amount wasn't good. Carrie looked at me with urgent, wide eyes. "Jason," she said in a calm voice with an anxious hum. "We gotta go. Now!"

My mind was scattered, trying to process what had happened in the woods, the cemetery, the mausoleum. I was still in severe pain and couldn't breathe as well as I needed to.

Carrie grabbed my arm and pulled me up with her. She didn’t care whether or not I was ready. She knew we had to get outta there.

"Wh--what just--?"

"I healed you," Carrie explained. "Just had time to do a little, so you probably still feel like shit."

She was right about that.

I stumbled passed tombstones and mausoleums alongside her. She kept glancing behind us—I supposed to see if the Slasher was coming. "Ok," she said. "I think its trying to figure out its next move. It'll try to sneak up on you again, but if we can make it back to the old church before it gets to us, we're good."

"Where are we?" I asked, remembering that we weren't even in the cemetery next to the church.

"The original church used to be at the top of this hill." That was where we were now heading. "It burnt down in the 1800s. They built the new one further in the woods. They considered it bad luck to continue using this cemetery, so they made a new one next to the old church."

I'd never heard of a church doing that before, but I'd also never heard of a place where monsters chased teenagers through the woods. At least, not a real place.

Carrie handed me a bag of something. It was more salt, like she'd been using to make her circles of protection. That must have been what I'd seen fly in the Slasher's face back in the mausoleum. Though, why had it made the Slasher leap back and fall to the ground?

"It'll protect you," Carrie insisted. "Leslie helped me make it. She said it would immobilize the Slasher."

"When was this?"

"When the Slasher got you, I went back to the basement and asked her to tell me how I could stop it from killing you."

“Oh…how thoughtful.” I was trying to be cute. Kinda my attempt at lightening the mood. The heavy silence that followed let me know it hadn’t helped. "Wait. How did you find me?"

"Leslie used my finger to point to where you and the Slasher were heading."

"She can do that?"

"They can. And it wasn't as easy as it sounds."

"Well if they know where it is, why can't they just stop it?"

"Leslie can't assert their power on anything. It has to be invited through us."

As much help as Leslie’d been, I resented the fact that she or they or whatever didn't just step in and deal with this monster themsleves. After all, weren't magical things just supposed to fight each other and leave normal people alone? Of course, I guess it was Seth and Carrie and Brad's prodding into all this that had brought the Slasher out, so in some odd way it made sense that a person would have to put it back in or kill it or whatever they were going to have to do to stop it. I just wished that person didn't have to be me.

"What did it do to you back there?" Carrie asked.

"What?"

"You were in this catatonic state. Does it have some special ability that we don't know about? Can it telepathically attack? Does it drain people of life-force before it kills them?"

As much as I wanted to lie and tell her that yes, the Slasher had some supernatural power that had immobilized me, I didn't want to mislead her scientifically oriented mind.

"No. It doesn't," I said plainly, wanting to make it clear that I didn't want to go any further.

I watched to see her reaction. Her eyebrows scrunched together, just as I figured they were going to.

"What was it then?"

Heat rushed to my face. I'm sure my cheeks were bright red. I was glad it was so dark out. "I don't want to talk about it," I said with my jaw clenched.

I knew that wasn't a satisfying enough answer for Carrie, but she was gonna have to deal with it, because I wasn't saying shit.

She gave me a quick glance, like she understood that sometimes we all have reasons not to share things, then looked back at where we were going.

"It's gotten faster, and stronger," I said, trying to change the subject and also trying to get some answers. "Why?"

"I don't know."

By now, we were over halfway up the hill, with no sign of the Grim Reaper coming after us. As much of a relief as it to have a little time to recuperate, I was still on edge. The Slasher was trying to keep me scared while it planned its next attack. It knew I was going to have to check over my shoulder no matter where I was. It could pop out from anywhere. Surprise me from any angle. And that kept me in a perpetual fear that I was sure the creature was reveling in. What an ass.

Well, I'm not dead yet, I thought. That had to count for something.

We reached the top of the hill. It dipped down into the woods, which we hurried into. We were going as fast as we could, which wasn't all that fast, especially considering how fast I knew the Slasher was now. For all I knew, it could very well, have already been waiting for us back at the old church.

Carrie suddenly grabbed me by my shirt collar. She practically threw me to the ground as she ducked down.

"Stop!" she exclaimed in as much of a whisper as she could. "I saw something."

"It's almost pitch black, and we're in the middle of the woods," I snarkily reminded her, in as soft a voice as she was using.

Even in the dark, I could recognize the subtleties in her not-so-amused scowl. She shook it off, grabbed her necklace, ripped it off her neck, and handed it to me.

"Take it," she said.

"What? No. I don't know how to use that."

"It knows where you are because it senses your energy. And there's no way we're going to make it back to the church before it comes after you again. I can create a field around you so that it won't be able to sense you, at least for a while. It'll probably give you just enough time to get back to the church."

"What about you? I'm not just gonna leave you out here with nothing!"

Carrie bit her lip. She obviously hadn't considered herself, which made sense. I was the only person it'd gone after so far. But I figured if it couldn't find me, it wasn't going to have any problem tearing into her, as it had done with Ms. Riley.

"No, I got a better idea," I said. "You say you can make me invisible?"

"Yeah. That's why it didn't sense me coming to the mausoleum."

My mind flashed back to that night when I'd been outside the girl's dormitory and seen her sneak out the window and disappear. She'd been holding her necklace and muttering to herself. That must have been what she'd done then too.

I nodded. "Okay. We can do this."

***

Every plan has its faults, as evidenced by Leslie's initial plan back at the old church. This new plan was no different, but it was better than running through the woods, waiting for the Slasher to get us.

I'd climbed up a tree near where we'd stopped. Not far up, just so that I was definitely out of the 7ft tall Slasher's reach. It reminded me of playing hide and seek when I was little. I was always good at climbing, so I'd just climb whenever I was about to get caught. Most of the other kids couldn't climb, so it was always a good getaway.

I had the bag of salt Carrie'd used on the Slasher in one hand and the necklace clenched in my other.

Carrie knelt on the ground, muttering to herself, as she I'd seen her do several times when she'd been doing incantations.

We'd been in these positions for about ten minutes, without the Slasher showing any sign of attacking. I was starting to worry that it was waiting for me to become visible again before it made its move. A quick shuffling sound coming from outside the clearing Carrie was in shook that fear right out of me, and replaced it with a whole new fear.

I watched Carrie carefully. I remembered how fast it’d been when it'd grabbed me. We hadn’t even had time to react. We were going to have to be just as fast as it. Otherwise, we were dead.

RATTLE RATTLE!

Its game had begun, but so had ours.