Matt’s jeep came to a stop just as the sun finished rising for the day. Next to him, his girlfriend, Lori, and in the back seat was their best friend Bridgett. Lori was first to swiftly exit the vehicle to start the journey to ensure her eyes were first to see what the trio came to explore. She hit the trail first while staring back at Matt and Bridgett with a “move it bitches” look in her eyes.
It only took her a few steps in to realize that the fog, like most mornings, was thick and oozing over their path. “Buddy system!” With that, she grabbed both Matt and Bridgett’s hands and began to move forward towards the destination. No one wanted to admit it, but their surroundings scared each of them a bit. As they walked, branches snapped underneath them, and leaves crumbed. In the distance, woodland creatures were waking up and letting their presence be known.
Matt broke the tension with his best news anchor impression, “So, the three freshmen entered the woods that faithful morning. Little did they know it would be the last time they would be seen alive”.
“What the fuck Matt! Don’t be a dick”, Lori cried out. Bridgett just tried to brush it off as a poorly timed joke. Inside she wanted to drop hands and bolt back to the car. After their short adventure through the woods, eight minutes to be exact, and six of those minutes were in silence, the trail ended.
“There it is!”, Lori says as she points ahead of the group.
Lake View High School or better known to the locals as Satan’s School sits in a slightly wooded area, rotting away. The large white columns and brick are covered in ivy and spray paint. Yet, the thick fog obstructed the view a bit.
As they walked through the fog, they could hear the school’s lake to their right. Bridgett tried her best to make out the shore of the lake but was taken out of the moment as she slipped on some mud. Luckily, Matt caught her and she was able to bounce back quickly without getting a face full of mud.
“Thanks, Matty, it’s so slippery close to the water”, Bridgett said. Lori paid no attention and marched forward. As the three of them reached the front steps of the school, they had to take in the large structure in front of them. Again, Lori led the way through the front doors. Inside was more graffiti and signs of the 96-year-old building. Chipped paint, missing windows, and trash were the visuals provided to the group.
After a moment of taking it all in, Matt spoke up, “Wow. It’s so much bigger than I thought.”
Lori giggled, “You’ve heard that before!” Matt turned bright red and changed the subject quickly. He walked straight to a set of large double doors and looked back at the girls. “Let’s go check out the courtyard.”
“Ugh. I want to go upstairs first! It’s too foggy outside to even see the courtyard. Come on Bridgett, let’s go. With this Lori grabbed Bridgett’s hand and pulled her up to the large staircase.
“Watch your step!”, Matt yelled as he chased after the girls.
Upstairs, a long dark hallway greeted them. Lori took a few steps down the hallway, then turned to the right to enter the first classroom. The other two followed. What was laid ahead of them was a run-down classroom with a wall full of either broken windows or cracked windows that were way too dirty to see out of. Dirt and mold covered the floors and the chalkboard that once had mathematical equations covering it was now smashed and covered in graffiti.
“This is depressing. Why did the city let it get this way?”, Bridgett asked.
“After so many failed attempts at trying to get the community interested in restoring the school, it just sits there. It’s been closed since the ’80s or ’90s. It’s a historic landmark and yes, super depressing that it is in this shape,” Matt replied.
“Ew, bulldoze this bitch down. Put something the people want here, like a spa or theater,” Lori snapped back.
“Why do you always have to turn everything into what you want babe?”, Matt responded.
Lori rolled her eyes, “Shut up Matthew! Just admit that this school is shit and there are much better things to put in its place”.
As Matt turned red again, Bridgett slipped out of the room to avoid the awkwardness. Lori and Matt's fights tend to last a while and sometimes with objects being thrown. As she traveled back downstairs, she still heard Lori giving Matt hell. She made her way to the courtyard, in hopes that the fog was cleared up. It was not. Yet, there was something still so pretty about the space. Bridgett could make out some trees, ivy, and other wild plants in the surrounding courtyard. In the middle was a huge tree that cut through the fog to make its presence known.
Bridgett was in awe and took a few steps closer to the tree. She felt a bit of nostalgia from when she was growing up. She would lay under trees during the Georgia summer. Her little sister would run around in the grass while Bridgett looked up at the leaves and would catch a glimpse of the blue sky when the wind ruffled the leaves. As she got closer to the tree, she ran into something solid and heavy.
She dropped to the ground and immediately felt pain and blood. She regained her focus and realized she ran into a cement bench. Her knee was throbbing and there was quite a bit of blood. Enough so that she could see bright red even through the fog. Then she heard a bell ring. This sent panic into her. She looked around the courtyard and for a second as she swore she could hear footsteps around her. She brushed this feeling away and thought that maybe Matt and Lori found the school bell to ring. Yet, she felt so uneasy, as if she was being watched. She stood up and carefully made her way back to the building.
Inside she was better able to see her knee. To her delight, the wound wasn’t as damaged as she thought it was. Still, her leg was covered in dirt so she wanted to get it cleaned up right away. She climbed the stairs while droplets of blood hit about every two or three steps. She then entered the classroom where she left Lori and Matt.
“My clumsy self...”, Bridget stopped in her tracks. Before her eyes were Lori on the ground with her hands and feet tied with a rope. Matt stood up quickly to face Bridgett.
“Bridgett! I had to. She’s been in the way for months now.”
“What?”, Bridgett cried out.
“I know this might seem extreme, but it is the only way we can be together. Lori would
never-”, Bridgett cut him off.
“Together?! What are you talking about Matt? Untie her!”
“I noticed how nice you are to me. You’re nothing like Lori. You are so kind and sweet.
Bridgett looked down again at Lori and noticed she wasn’t moving and that her eyes were closed. She ran to Lori’s side and called out to her.
“What happened to her? What did you do?”
“I didn’t mean to, she was being so awful. I didn’t mean to push her that hard. She hit her head.”
“Then why the fuck is she tied up Matt?!”
Matt then took more rope out of the corner of the classroom. He swallowed then spoke again, “I knew I had to get rid of her. I was just going to tie her up and use some bricks to sink her into the lake. For you. For us.”
“There is no us! Matt, please stop this.” Bridgett then noticed a pile of bricks in the same corner he retrieved the rope from. Then Lori began to move. Bridgett jumps at the chance to comfort her friend. She tells her she is sorry and starts to untie her hands. Matt then shoves Bridgett back away from Lori. Lori then starts to scream for help. Matt demands her to stop and shut up, but she doesn’t.
Matt then picks up a brick and very quickly slams it into Lori’s face. Bridgett is stunned. Matt doesn’t stop there. He then repeatedly takes shots with the brick at Lori’s face as if she was a prized piñata at a child’s birthday party. There is so much blood. After about a dozen blows to Lori’s face, Matt stops and drops the blood-soaked brick. Lori lays lifeless on the ground. Matt then turns to cry and sees a still very shocked Bridgett.
He makes his way over to Bridgett and places his blood cover hand onto her cheek. Bridgett feels Lori’s warm blood staining her face. Matt is standing above Bridgett as he tells her, “It’s going to be okay baby. I love you so much. I did this for us. Let me take care of the body, then maybe we can go for breakfast?”
Bridgett can’t fathom the words she is hearing. Her mind is as foggy as the land outside of the walls of the school. One thing sticks out to her though. She knows she has to get away from Matt. She has to escape and then get help. So she looks Matt deep into his eyes. He smiles and turns red again. Then with all of her might, Bridgett slung her leg up to kick Matt right between the legs, connecting on target with his manhood parts. He falls to his knees in pain and Bridgett runs.
She darts down the stairs to the front door of the school. As she makes her way to the land in front of her, she has to take a moment. The fog seems to have grown thicker. She is unsure of which way the trail to safety is. She takes a few steps forward and then hears the lake. The water seems calm but helps her get a sense of where she is. From behind her, she hears a primal scream from Matt, “Bridgett!”
She picks up her speed moving in the direction she believes to be the right one. Her eyes start to adjust and she can see the opening of the trail in the distance. She takes off but quickly lands with a hard and slushy thud. She has slipped on mud, the same mud from earlier. She hears Matt running. It’s getting closer as he lets out another round of, “Bridgett! Come back!”
She is in pain but realizes she is close to the water’s edge. So she slithers in the muck into the cold waters. She has no time to brace herself. It is not like easing yourself into a pool or beach in the summer, she does not have time to hesitate. She does not go too deep into the lake. But enough to have the water cover her up to her neck while kneeling.
As Bridgett trembles, half with fear and half with the low temperature of the lake, she focuses her gaze on the shoreline in front of her. Gone are the sounds of Matt’s footsteps and screams. For a moment her mind drifts. It swirls with questions. Why does Matt think we are a thing? Did I lead him on? Is this a joke? Bridgett is jolted back to reality as she hears movement in front of her. She can make out a shadow, Matt’s shadow. So with a deep breath in, she goes underwater.
The sounds are muffled as water surrounds Bridgett. She is so frightened that she can not help but urinate on herself. Providing a brief cloud of warmth. She is unsure of how much longer she can stay hidden. The seconds underwater seem like hours. She does her best to focus, but she starts to feel light-headed and surrenders.
As she pops out of the water to catch her breath, things come into focus and there he is. Matt is standing feet away from Bridgett in the entrance to the lake. Before she can scream, he lunges forward. As Matt slams his foot onto Bridget's back, he starts to cry.
“You weren’t supposed to be here. I was doing this for us, why are you running!? Why do you want to hurt me?”, Matt screams.
Bridgett is submerged underwater gasping for air. Her hands dig into the mush below her to try to crawl away. Matt added more of his body weight and things started to pop and crack in her back. She is losing the battle. At this point, she is panicking and clawing at the ground. Then, silence. The battle is over and she has lost.
Matt releases his foot and Bridgett’s lifeless body floats up. Still crying, he drops to his knees to hold her. After a moment, he picks her up and leads her to the school's courtyard. As he places her by the large tree, memories play back to him. All the times she stood up for him to Lori. Helping him with school work, smiling at him with her deep blue eyes, and the way she hugged him. All these were signs that she wanted to be with him. She must have loved him as much as he loved her, yet she showed no sign of that today. He took care of Lori, so why run?
Matt continues to look into Bridgett’s eyes. He is thrilled they are still open. Then he does something he has waited years to do. He kissed her soft lips as his tears trickled onto her already wet face. Then he speaks, “Just like when you were younger. Look at the leaves and sky.”
Next, Matt climbs the tree. The fog has cleared up enough for rays of the morning sun to peek through to the courtyard. The concrete benches were now covered in warm light. Windows surrounding the courtyard sparkled with the light. It was beautiful and sinister all at the same time. This was the last image in Matt’s brain before he looked down at Bridgett and leaped. The rope snapped his neck immediately. The area grew silent, the only sounds being the rope and Matt’s body swaying above Bridget's.