Reap Day sucked.
That was the only thought in Mackenzie’s head. If he thought about it in any more detail, he’d throw up. The easiest way to comprehend what was happening to him was three little words: Reap Day sucked.
He repeated the phrase subconsciously, like a prayer he had learned years ago, as he nestled into the hay bales of the barn. The barn was one of the safest places on Reap Island, and Mackenzie believed he was the only one who knew about it.
Sat on the top of the highest hill on Reap Island, the barn was concealed at the edge of the forest. Its red paint had now faded, the exterior just as grim as the rest of the town in Reap Island. Not that Mackenzie had stayed around long enough to explore the town. The klaxon had blared throughout the island and Mackenzie had made a run for it.
Reap Day was the worst day of the year. Twelve unsuspecting high school students dumped on an island far from their hometown with only one purpose. Survive. It was a kill or be killed situation, all in the name of science. The winner would go home, their ego stroked, and their trauma pushed to the side as if Reap Day never happened. They’d be subjected to tests of all kinds, analysts trying to figure out how they had survived the toughest challenge anybody had ever faced.
Like Mackenzie said, Reap Day sucked. He couldn’t believe that his parents, his school, and his entire hometown felt as though this was the solution, the only viable answer to the scientists deranged needs. What was it all for anyway? Mackenzie didn’t know, just like the eleven other classmates that now inhabited Reap Island.
Bringing his attention back to the barn, Mackenzie was getting worried. He had been holed up in there for five hours since Reap Day had begun, and things didn’t seem pretty on the outside world. Within the first half hour Mackenzie had heard a blood curdling scream, no doubt from one of the girls. On the second hour he had heard a gunshot that had shook the birds out of their trees. It had made Mackenzie jump, but he wasn’t surprised someone had pulled a trigger. Weapons were strewn around the island like candy on Halloween, and everybody wanted a bite. Even Mackenzie. A small blade sat in the back pocket of his jeans, just in case.
It was now nearly reaching noon, and Mackenzie could smell a storm coming. With the sun high in the sky, the barn was like a furnace. Mackenzie’s clothes stuck to his skin, and he was sweating from every orifice. His hair was slick against his forehead, and he pushed it back as the first raindrops fell on the roof.
The tapping of rain started slowly, and then it fell all at once. Lashings of rain fell from the sky at a surprising rate, the tin roof of the barn making a racket. If someone hadn’t found the barn before, they sure would now. You’d be able to hear that noise anywhere from the forest.
A leak from the roof caught Mackenzie’s eye, and through the hole of the crack darkness loomed. The storm had come in hot and fast, and now it looked more like midnight than midday. Mackenzie swallowed hard as he pictured someone sneaking up on him.
“Calm down.” He whispered to himself, just as the wind picked up and the barn door flew open.
Mackenzie pulled the blade from his pocket, careful not to disturb the hay bales, and hoped it had been the wind that had opened the door. But wind didn’t make footsteps, and wind didn’t whistle a creepy, off-tune version of Singing In The Rain.
“Anybody home?” A voice called out, followed by the noise of the barn door closing. “Because I really need a place to dry off and I would hate to be killed today.”
Mackenzie nearly died inside. That voice had been familiar to Mackenzie since he was four years old. Guy Jackson. The pair had been on and off friends since as long as Mackenzie could remember. As they grew up together, the witty banter had stopped being funny, and had turned into insults to try and put each other down. Mackenzie wasn’t sure if Guy realised it, but their sharp friendship could slip into enemy territory surprisingly fast. Mackenzie prayed that Guy was feeling nice and didn’t fancy being anyone’s enemy. He shook his head at himself, knowing he couldn’t fool himself.
“Come on, who we got in here?” Mackenzie couldn’t hear Guy’s movements over the sound of the rain but was relieved when a thud came from the other corner of the barn. “Okay not here. Where you at? I promise I won’t bite.”
Guy laughed darkly. Mackenzie’s head swirled, his inner self struggling to know what the right decision was. He swallowed hard and stepped out from the bales. Guy saw the movement immediately, bringing a bloodied axe up in front of him in a fighting stance. He clocked Mackenzie, noticed the awkward way he was standing with his knife, and let his guard down.
“My God…” Guy whistled, taking in Mackenzie’s appearance. He had to shout to be heard over the rain. “Mack, don’t tell me you’ve been a pussy this entire time?” He flashed a Cheshire Cat grin.
Mackenzie bit the inside of his cheek, fighting an aggressive retort. “I’ve been trying to keep out the way. You may be an asshole who thinks it’s okay to kill people, but I don’t.”
Something shifted behind Guy’s eyes. His grin dissolved, replaced with a sneer. “Oh yeah, because I love killing people. Get a grip Mack, I hate this as much as the next person but it’s gotta be done.” He swung his axe casually, and started pacing, “You know there can only be one survivor right?”
Mackenzie shifted his grip on the blade. If Guy was going to make a move, he wanted to be ready.
“Cut the crap, Guy. What’re you saying? You’re going to kill me too?” The idea scared Mackenzie out of his mind. If Guy did kill him, no one would hear it. The rain was still pouring, and thunder could be heard rumbling in the distance. It was all getting so much worse and if Guy wanted to be the lone survivor, Mackenzie was an easy target.
Guy stopped pacing and turned to face Mackenzie. Guy’s face was scrunched up in an expression Mackenzie couldn’t read in the darkness, and Guy cleared the distance between them in three strides. Guy ripped the blade from Mackenzie’s hands before he had a chance to even make a move; Mackenzie’s arm bent the wrong way and he let out a growl while Guy kept his grip tight.
“Let. Me. Go.” Mackenzie spoke through gritted teeth.
“Mack, listen to me. I’m going to drop my weapon now. I’m not going to kill you, idiot.” Guy rolled his eyes and dropped the axe. He pushed Mackenzie away, and he reached to rub his arm. Mackenzie eyed the axe, its blade covered in a dark substance. He wondered how many people Guy had killed in the past five hours. Guy followed Mackenzie’s eye line and sighed. He collapsed onto a hay bale and invited Mackenzie to do the same. He sat, still wary of Guy’s intentions, but was relieved that his time hadn’t run out just yet.
Overhead, the rain sounded like it was easing. The pair no longer had to shout to be heard.
“Three, if you’re wondering.” Guy said, shrugging his shoulders. “Lily, Matthew and Jenna. I’m not proud.”
All Mackenzie could do was nod. He hadn’t been particularly friendly with those people, but he’d grown up with them, seen them in lessons, had been to birthday parties when they were younger. It all seemed way too much to go through at such a young age. Mackenzie made a mental note: Reap Day sucked, and some.
“I’ll stay here until the storm ends, if you decide not to kill me first.” Guy smiled at Mackenzie, “And then I’ll be gone. For now, just no fighting. No killing. And if it ends up just us being the last two in this shitty experiment, in this damn leaking barn, then we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.”
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