This is an icky little horror short about Lina & what she discovers about her friends one night camping out in the woods. Inspired by the song "Friends" by The Police.
They were all sitting in a circle around the fire and the light was flickering across their faces in patterns masking guilt and sadness and fear and other less understandable things. It had been a full five minutes since anyone had said anything other than the occasional murmur of Brad's voice against Jenna's ear or the rustle of Sandra's ubiquitous cargo pants as she shifted in the sand. Deepa's fingers were twisting and untwisting in her lap and Mike was nervously downing beer after beer from the cooler in the back of the Hummer. The fact he was sitting there drinking made Lina want to scream and she started to get to her feet but was pulled back quickly, Jack's hand on her wrist.
Lina wrenched her wrist from Jack's hand, turning wildly furious eyes on him. She saw him cringe and some part of her that wasn't righteously angry felt a twinge of regret before she shrugged it off and got to her feet. "Damn you all," she said under her breath.
Sandra turned bright, angry eyes automatically toward Lina. "You said what now?"
"You heard me," Lina answered, not looking at Sandra. Knowing it would piss the other girl off more. "Damn. You. All." She punctuated each word with a sharply pointed finger at each grouping of her friends around the fire.
"Damn you, bitch," Mike answered with a crunch of a can against his chest but his voice trembled with alcohol bravado and the hint of hysteria. He began giggling as he popped the top on a new can. "Damn me," he said under his breath as it exploded all over his clothes.
Really?" Lina's voice was shrill and Deepa almost whimpered. Brad pulled Jenna closer and shook his head, eyes accusatory as his girlfriend began to sob against his chest. "Really," Lina said, more calmly now.
Deadly calm. She'd been the only one not involved in this. She'd walked in, been lured in by Jack. She couldn't believe this now. Couldn't believe how they had all just been celebrating and laughing a few minutes ago knowing Christine was out there. Suffering.
And when Christine, naked and covered in muddy cuts, her eyes haunted and skin stretched taut over starved bones, had stumbled into their camp and collapsed after that terrifying not truly human cry... well Lina had gone insane. That's the only thing she could think to explain how she was now staring down 6 people guilty of attempted murder out in the middle of nowhere.
Mike crumpled his latest can against his chest and then, almost with only half a thought, threw it at Lina. The can sailed through the air and clanked off the back of Lina's dark hair, taking her by surprise as it cut her scalp. Suddenly she was shaking with fear, the anger draining from her with a cold blanket of shock. Her fingers, trembling, felt through her hair and came back dark and wet in the firelight.
Deepa let out a bray of neurotic laughter. Her fingers popped and crackled in their joints as she twisted them and Sandra grinned, her teeth so white against dark skin.
"What the hell, Mike?" Jack growled and Lina had a momentary surge of renewed affection for her ex-boyfriend. Maybe he hadn't known about all of this. About Christine.
But then Christine, still lying by the fire, moaned. Her eyes were rolling and Lina could only register dismay as Jack breathed in deeply, savoring. Savoring what?
Lina began to back away, horrified. Her fingers curled uselessly around the cell phone in her pocket. The one with no bars out here. "How can you do this?" she demanded.
Jenna lifted her face from Brad's chest and Lina could see she hadn't been sobbing. Her eyes were clear and bright like she was laughing. "It's easy. Well it will be soon," she murmured, her eyes now wild as she held firm to the bottle of vodka they'd all been passing around ten minutes ago.
"E-easy?" Lina asked but she was sure she didn't want to know the answer.
"Yeah," Mike said through a belch that ended in a keening giggle. "Real easy now that we have the seventh."
"The seventh makes us strong," Deepa said reverently.
"Strongly hungry," Mike tittered with a hiccup.
Jack chuckled genially. "You're always hungry, Mike," he said and Mike nodded and leered strangely at Lina.
Lina's heart flew into her throat. And when the glass vodka bottle flew through the air, she knew it was over.
When they all transformed before her eyes in the split second before the bottle smashed into her face, breaking her nose, Lina felt suddenly less than human herself. Flashes of elongated snouts and gray fur, bright or dark as the clouds passed the moon. Something primal was taking hold. A fear that had survived deep in the heart of human beings from before the time of recorded history.
And in the time it took her body to drop to the dirt where Christine had been moments before she too had transformed, their teeth were gleaming blood red in the firelight. She had only two breaths left before Deepa, howled hyena sick and coyote strong.
Then the chorus of jackal calls rose into the night.