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Wilderness Guide

by Brandon Phifer about a month ago in slasher
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Know the Company You Keep

"The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window."

After a long, strenuous trek up the mountainous terrain, the two hikers were excited to relax by a campfire and listen to a story from their wilderness guide.

"He always lit a candle after a kill." Blake continued.

"Somewhere, in his twisted mind, the symbolism of letting light shine after his cruel, dark actions released him of the consequences."

"Weirdo!" Becky interrupted with a loud cackle.

Becky's comment irritated Blake, but he took a deep breath to compose himself.

A quick laugh escaped from Rachael's mouth too, but she noticed Blake's dissatisfied demeanor and managed to let out a "Shhhhh" so he could keep telling his story...

"To the killer, finding this abandoned cabin felt like a reward for eliminating people that deserved it. The police were after him for murdering 4 girls from the university in town and some say he retreated to this densely wooded area to avoid capture. The uninhabitable shelter became his hideout and he learned to live off the land."

The cabin is not easy to find and in the thick brush it cannot even been seen from a helicopter traveling over the area.

"People say that cabin is somewhere in this vicinity, but most people are too scared to go off the main trails looking for it. It could be just 100 feet away, tucked behind that thick brush over there. You would not even see it until you were right on it..." Blake warned while pointing to the Northeast.

"...and then, it would be too late." he whispered for dramatic effect.

Becky laid the sarcasm on thick, "I'm soooOOOoooOO scared."

"Why won't she just shut-up?" Blake wondered through clenched teeth, tightened jaw, and eyes closed firmly to gather his composure.

Rachael rolled her eyes and leaned in toward Blake, "You'll have to excuse her, she talks like this when she's tired and a little nervous. Please, back to your story. Did the police check this area after the murder of the four college girls?"

"Well, they lightly scoured the area, but there was no real indication the killer had retreated into the woods. They didn't have any leads so they searched enough to say they did, if that makes sense."

Rachael didn't think this story carried too much validity, but nevertheless felt her heartbeat increase as she considered how far away from civilization they are and how dark and creepy the forest seemed at night.

"Wait. Are you saying he hasn't been caught?"

"Nope. He's the most elusive serial killer in years. He's known to stalk his prey in this area. Every year at least one person is killed in these woods, but the police don't want to acknowledge it could be the same person that killed the four teenagers several years back. When a person is reported missing they search the area. If they don't find any evidence they say she must have runaway. If they do find the remains of a body, then they write it off as an unfortunate animal attack."

"You said 'she.' Are all the victims girls?" Rachael asked.

"Yes, so far."

What's up with the candle lighting thing then?" Becky inquired, becoming a little more interested.

"Well, the media reported that the four university girls were each found brutally attacked and next to each of them was a lit candle. On the wall, of their dorm room, written in blood, was "my god turns my darkness into light."

"Serial Killers are known to kill until they are caught. So some say the killer lurks through the wilderness, waiting to find his next victim, but others say it's all just an urban legend."

Becky and Rachael were really curious now, and they were suddenly aware of all the sounds of wildlife rustling through the wilderness nearby.

"Could he be out there? Just out of view, waiting to strike?" Becky and Rachael wondered.

The idea that a killer resided in the same wooded area they were now sitting had them nervously scanning the trees.

Blake sat in silence and stared at the girls as they looked around nervously. The light from the campfire bounced and caused shadows to dance back and forth with the flickering flames.

Rachael began feeling increasingly uncomfortable as she was putting together the pieces of the story and slowly looked back at Blake, "H- How do you know about the cabin?"

"I've seen it! Last year I decided to hike off trail and I stumbled upon it. I noticed the candle in the window, but the cabin was clearly abandoned. The roof was caved in on one side and many of the planks had fallen off. The door was only connected by one hinge and hung loosely from the frame. I saw the candle in the window and remembered the story of the killer lighting candles before possibly retreating to the wilderness to avoid capture."

"And you brought us out here?! Knowing a killer, that prefers murdering girls, may be in the area! What wrong with you man?" Rachael asked while trying to ignore the chill shooting up her spine and the hairs raised on her neck.

"Well, it's the best route to where we're headed." Blake explained.

"Where exactly are we headed?" Rachael asked, searching for clarification that might calm her growing uneasy feeling.

"Whatever!" Becky groaned, trying to release the tension.

"None of this is real. You're just trying to scare us. And you know what? It's not cool!" Becky continued.

Blake narrowed his gaze and locked eyes with the Becky, as if to ensure she started catching up to Rachael's intuitiveness.

He stared back at both girls for a few seconds before letting a grin spread slowly across his face. Then he laughed out loud and slapped his knee.

"I had y'all going didn't I?" Blake chuckled.

He leaned down and grabbed a couple twigs, tossing them into the fire.

Rachael inhaled deeply and realized she'd been holding her breath for a minute. "Yeah! You really did. You're a great story teller. I even forgot to breathe!" she said with some residual fear in her chuckle.

"So, how many years have people been dying up here?" Becky inquired.

"Can we just talk about some--" Rachael was cut off.

"16." Blake said without hesitation. "In the past six years there have been 16 murders."

"Well, you don't know if they were murders. How could you say that so confidently? You said they were written off as animal kills. Maybe some of them were. Maybe all of them were." Rachael said hopefully.

"They weren't." Blake said sternly.

The girls froze and looked intently at Blake. He stared back at them. He loved controlling the tension of the conversation. He sat quietly, letting them process the story and put some pieces together.

"If you found the cabin, wh- why didn't you re- report it."

Blake slowly pulled out two candles from his backpack.

"Don't you believe light overpowers darkness?" Blake inquired. "Hasn't the killer already been forgiven for those past kills?"

He leaned forward and wedged each candle between a couple rocks they had used for their fire pit border.

The girls looked down at the candles, then back up at Blake. Panic and fear had taken over their entire bodies. Clearly they were deliberating on how they could get out of this nightmare.

Blake's eyes seemed to go black as he stared deep into the souls of these two girls. "I'd like to thank you for selecting me as your guide. We are very close to the cabin now. Soon I will need to light these candles."

Blake looked up to the sky and took a deep breath. After a long exhale he looked back at Becky and Rachael as their eyes widened in terror.



About the author

Brandon Phifer

Happily married, father of four. Writing has always taken a back seat to life, but I seem to always find my way back to it. I've decided to finally trust my mom's lifelong encouragement and write more consistently & let creativity flow!

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