I kept my hand on the back of Nick's the entire way back into the well lit area where everyone else was standing. I couldn't get him away from the others fast enough. It was like...I could feel them staring at us from behind, but I didn't dare to turn around. I can't believe that I actually allowed them to put their hands on my kid brother. After the threats and the danger and the overall weirdness they put me through...I should KNOW better. Why can't I shake them? Or this feeling of their influence as it courses through my veins? Even now, with every step that I take away from them, I feel that energy fading into the air around me. That unity, that strength, that protective blanket of theirs...it seemed to leave me the second that I was away from them. And as nervous as I was to be anywhere near them...I felt like I missed it. Like the energy itself missed ME. And what was once a normal feeling in the center of my being suddenly felt....empty.

"Slow down..." Nick whined, after having me push him along for a few more steps. I didn't want to force him, I just wanted to get back into the light. Away from 'them' and into something a bit less intimidating. Nick stumbled a bit, and his little pet jumped out of his hands. "You made me DROP it!" He scowled, but I didn't allow him to slow down. I took big steps and guided him back into the light where people could see us clearly. It wasn't until then that I finally found the courage to look back and see if John Boy, Kristin, and the twins were still watching. But as I scanned the area where we were just sitting, I noticed that they were all gone. Without a trace. I didn't dwell on it for long though. Cyrus was definitely serious about sending his goons out to collect me, and I had no intention of giving him the satisfaction. Whatever it was he was tempting me with was bound to lead to something no good.

"Hi, Wesley..." I stopped walking with a jolt, and gripped Nick tightly by the neck as I came to an abrupt halt. Thank God it was only Freddy.

"Freddy...geez, I'm sorry. You just...you startled me."

"I didn't mean to. I was just getting ready to go back to my cabin, and I saw you walking. I just...wanted to say g'night, I guess." He said, directing his eyes down to look at his feet. Then he glanced up for a uick second to say, "Hi, Nick."

The look on Nick's face had drooped a little, and it took him a moment or two to answer with a softly mumbled, "...Hey." I noticed that Nick had sightly taken a step back away from him, a sheepish look on his young face. It was weird. I practically put Nick in front of the devil himself and he greets them with a smile. In front of Freddy, he suddenly thinks he needs to be on alert.

I think Freddy noticed it too, because his eyes went right back down to his feet again. "Anyway...I didn't want anything. Just...g'night."

"G'night, Freddy. I'll see you tomorrow? I thought we might...you know...talk some more." I said, hoping that the gesture might somehow cancel out my brother's silent insult. He looked up for a moment, and gave me a slight grin. But the doubt and fear that he had concerning me before had returned with a vengence. Possibly dismissing our last few conversations as a figment of his imagination. Who knows, maybe it was a figment of BOTH of our imaginations. Perhaps it was a Pandora's box that was better left closed before I flirted my way right into his life and screwed it all up. Besides, I don't even know what made me do it in the first place. Flirting with Freddy...what was I thinking.

"Sure. Tomorrow." He said quietly, and then looked back over at the rest of the crowd for a moment. Seeing our parents sharing a laugh with one of the church pastors. Then he sighed a bit, and gave me a fake smile. "Take it easy." He walked away from us, and I sorta felt bad for him. Freddy never asked for much more than a smile and a few minutes of conversation. I doubt I was ever given the chance to give him anything more than that. But after my sudden hormonal rush on him this afternoon...I think his expectations of what he wanted and thought he couldn't have tripled. I've always been careful with Freddy's feelings in the past, just in case. But just watching him walk away from me...I was almost tempted to follow him. Maybe find a nice dark place in the woods where we couldn't be seen. And do my best to....'cheer him up'.

Shit...there it was again. That wicked impulse was beginning to build up inside me again, and I suddenly noticed that my lips were curled up slightly into a smile, my eyes focused on Freddy's delicately feminine walk and the bounce of his soft supple ass cheeks as they carried him further up the road. That urge to taste him was filling me up inside, and my mouth was salivating heavily at the thought of it. The scratch marks on my back began to heat up with the most pleasureable burn. Almost enough to be uncomfortable, but not quite. And I licked my lips as though I could find traces of Freddy's flavor on their smooth surface. The feeling was dark, and deep, and it was spreading through me like a virus. Sweeping over me and making the thought of easing Freddy's suffering an almost orgasmic proposition.

It was only Nick's voice that brought me back into reality and allowed the swelling sexuality fade back into the recesses of my mind again. "Do you think Freddy's a homo?" He said.

"What?" I said with a frown.

"Dad says Freddy's a homo. He's always being nice to me. I don't like it."

"What's wrong with someone being nice to you?"

"He kisses boys. That's gross! I don't want him kissing me. Dad says we shouldn't even talk to him too much. Dad says..."

I turned Nick to face me, and squatted down a bit to see him eye to eye. I kept a firm grip on his shoulders, and said, "Listen to me, ok? There's nothing wrong with Freddy, do you understand?" Nick wrinkled his forehead up a bit and looked away from me. "Look at me! Freddy is my friend. And he's just like everybody else."


"FORGET what Dad said. You hear me? Don't you dare let him pollute you with all that garbage. Just because you don't understand somebody doesn't mean that you have to be scared of them. It certainly doesn't mean that you have to hate them." I felt Nick squirm a bit, and realized that I was holding onto his frail arms pretty tightly, probably cutting off a great deal of circulation. But I just wanted to make him understand. God forbid he ever turned out as 'one-sided' as my father was by ruining the entire homosexual reputation before Nick was even old enough to make his own decision about it and ask why.

"I still think it's gross..." He pouted.

"Sighhh...whatever, just...don't treat Freddy like some kind of stranger just because somebody tells you to. Ok?" Nick shrugged his shoulders. "OK???"

"Fine! Geez, whatever." He said, and pulled away from me. I doubt I made much of a dent. But hopefully, if they ever find out about me and I'm forced to leave home or something...he'll never have to look at me like that. And he'll never hate me for the simple reason that he was 'taught' to. The last thing the world needs is another version of my father's ignorance.

As soon as Nick was out of my grasp, he backed away from me with a confused look. "You've been acting super weird lately."

"Yeah. Tell me about it." I said, and let him walk off to mingle with the rest of the campers again. He didn't care one way or the other, and he was hardly a malicious person. But I'm pretty sure that's how it starts.

I took my time getting closer to the crowd of people gathered in the field between camp buildings. Many were just having their own secluded conversations with one another, occassionally letting loose with a fabricated chuckle that they used to be polite whenever someone told a corny joke or two. I could have moved inward, become a part of the crowd and smiled politely right along with them. But I didn't. Instead I kept myself walking along the outside perimeter of their little world there on the lawn. Just outside of the light, traveling along the edge of their selected society, with one foot in their graces, and the other foot in darkness. One step slowly put down in front of the other. I watched, and I listened to them chatter along endlessly about nothing of importance. And I felt that sensation inside of me. Something confusing, and yet liberating. Focused and chaotic simultaneously. It was a feeling that fell just a few inches short of hatred...and I liked it.

As I walked around them, I felt my lips turn up into a smile again. The futility of it all. These people...milling around like grazing cattle, pretending to be sorry for the loss of people that they didn't even know. Pretending that they're rehearsed blessings and empty prayers could somehow reach up into Heaven itself and bring them back again. Even the kids, playing and laughing and running around freely, seemed monotonous in their presentation. I couldn't explain it at the moment, but I felt elevated all of the sudden. Stronger in mind, body, and spirit, than they ever could be. And because of my superiority...I felt outcast. Knowing that deep down they wanted to send me far away where they would never have to feel inferior ever again. It was like they were scared of me. Maybe they should be. Maybe I'm tapped into something that they could never have access to in their limited view of the world.

The truth.

My circle around the crowd became wider, and I found myself more comfortable walking in darkness than I did anywhere would they could see me clearly. Almost as if I were a predator, staking out its future food supply and its habits. My smile seemed to express something so deep inside of me that I was nearly frightened by it. But that fear excited me. It tantalized me from behind a thin curtain that I was hesitating to lift myself. But it was there. Like an itch in the back of my senses. I moved further to my left, almost completely in the dark now. Outside of the halo of light that they so peacefully congregated under. And I continued to watch them. I thought about what John Boy had told me...about how I'd like being better than the rest. Is this what he was talking about? Is this the feeling they've been trying to inspire in me? I couldn't tell. But it felt good. It felt free. I was happy to be exiled from their pathetic world if it meant living in this darkness. Outside of their light. Away from their chosen values and misguided rules about life. They offered me nothing new other than what you could see on your average television sitcom. Or what they learned from their parents in an older time that no longer exists in the minds of the youth. Parents who were even more lost than they were. What did they know about people like me? Or people like Freddy? Or even people like Cyrus? Nothing. So why should they get to be in charge of making the rules that govern us? Even better....why should we ALLOW them to?

I saw an older lady being held steady by some of, what I assumed to be, her family members. She was crying. Weakening sobs that nearly made her knees buckle. Probably the family of those who died in the diner. A few church goers came to give their condolences, and offer some comforting prayers for strength. And for the first time, I thought about whether or not Cyrus and his gang could have possibly started that fire....and I just didn't care. I know that sounds insensitive, but it was the truth. It didn't bother me at all. In fact, her tears seemed almost blasphemous to me. Probably shed over someone who couldn't have cared less what happened to them until they turned up dead. Three hundred and sixty five days of the year, and I'm sure they took them for granted for all but a week of it. This week. And soon, they'd go back to their dismal lives and take more people they love for granted until they, too, turned up dead in the future. So why cry for them now?

My thoughts kept slipping away from me. As though they were being dictated to me by some kind of inner aggression that I never knew existed before. Something about that anger, that rejection from the others, had been set free inside of me. And it was looking for a way out. It was trying to get to the surface, and show itself at long last after being suppressed for so long. And with it, it carried sex, and rebellion, and question, and mischief, and all of the little evils that I had been taught to avoid from day one. It was like being insane, and willfully allowing yourself to enjoy it. I don't know for sure why this is happening, but I think if Cyrus was here....he'd be proud.

"What are you doing over here in the dark?" I stopped walking and saw Kyla approaching me from out of the shadows herself.

Some of my senses reurned to me, but the feeling wasn't really going anywhere. No, I think I wanted to 'experiment' with those thoughts for a little bit longer...once I had some privacy again. "I could ask you the same thing." I told her.

"Buying weed. Hehehe! Me and Jack were planning to smoke a couple of fatties tonight, and I'm fresh out. I'm sure I've got enough for all three of us if you're game."

"No thanks. Not my thing." I grinned.

"Nothing ever is." She rolled her eyes and gave me a playful slug in the arm. "Still, you manage to have some kinda fun everytime you come out with us. So you must be doing something right. You got another excuse handy?"

"Excuse? Excuse for what?"

"What do you mean, for what? To get out of the house, dork. I heard the rich kids love Rainbow's End, and the more we can get them to come out, the more we can get free liquor to come with them. By the way, remind me to pick up some mouthwash. Jack's almost run out." She said, fixing her hair abit before stepping back into the light. "So are you gonna come up with another excuse, or am I gonna have to go fill up that telescope box with sticks and rocks again?"

"Kyla..." I started.

"What? What's the matter?"

"I...I can't go back there."

"What are you talking about? Of course you can go back there."

"No, Kyla...I can't. I mean...I shouldn't."

"Look, if you're worried about Cyrus and those guys, don't sweat it. You got away from them last night, didn't you? I'm sure they got the hint." She said. I started to speak, but she interrupted me. "If you're really hung up about it, you can stick with me and Jack all night. We'll be right there to protect ya if you need it."

"Ahh, wonderful. The greatest bodyguards since Cheech and Chong." I smiled.

"Hey, now...just because we'll be having a little fun, it doesn't mean that we can't look out for our camp boy. Besides, I fight better when I'm high." How she gets away with so much, I'll never know. Her father must not pay her any attention at all. Luckily she was 'fun' about it all.

"Nah..." I said after a slight pause. "...I think I'm gonna skip the next couple of days. I don't need to be anywhere near them for a while."

"Wow...they must have really done a number on you, huh? Alright, suit yourself. But there's only a little over a week left in camp, you know? Once you get back to the old lame routine, you're gonna wish you partied more."

"Yeah well, I'll suffer through that agony when it strikes me. Right now I need to steer as far away from trouble as humanly possible." I told her, and she took that as a definite no. I'll have to admit though, there was a part of me that was longing to see Cyrus again. I wanted to see all of them, but it was Cyrus that intrigued me most of all. He was the center of all this newfound energy, and something about him kept calling out to me. It made me wonder why Cyrus never came to see me himself. Any other time, the whole tribe would walk together and exist as one solid entity. But ever since I ran away from them last night...Cyrus has been unusually quiet. Damn near invisible. Maybe he's waiting until the last minute to see me. Maybe...maybe he's waiting for me to see him.

My parents finally broke away from their obligations to meet and greet with every single person out there in the field, and began searching the crowd for me and Nick so we could all go home. I stood there, on the edge of the shadows, and waited to see if they found me. I didn't want to step into the light, not even for a second. That would mean that I was like them. Giving myself over willingly, just to be a part of their circle. I didn't want that. I can't tell you why...but I just couldn't stand to be a part of their world at that particular moment.

My father spotted Nick first and called him over. Typical. He had his favorite accounted for. If it weren't for the fact that he didn't trust me to stay out of trouble...he probably would have turned around and left me out here. Sometimes...I think him pretending to love and care for me was as fake and temporary as his concern for the unfamiliar faces in those picture frames in the church tonight. Something he did because he had to. Because he couldn't get into Heaven without bearing the awful burden of my existence. Maybe, if I was gone, he wouldn't have to seek me out. He'd be free of me. We'd be free of each other. He wouldn't have to pretend anymore. And neither would I.

As I took another step back, into even darker shadow, I smiled at how 'fulfilling' that concept could be.

"Wes?" My father called out, his eyes still searching the well lit areas of the field. Oh no, father...you won't find me out there. "Wesley?"

Something came over me. More foreign thoughts that seemed to come from some dark abyss in the center of my spirit. A center that I never really explored before. It was like...my mind was operating on an entirely different wavelength. And I missed being linked with the rest of my pack. I longed for their connection. I ached for their understanding. I didn't want to 'fake' my life anymore. Not after getting a taste of what it's like to not have to do it all the time. As my mother's voice joined my dad's in calling out my name, I waited there in the darkness. The blackness of night surrounded me. Consumed me. It was like I was breathing the darkness into my soul, where it stayed, and grew stronger. I don't belong with them. I never belonged with them. They hate me...I can feel it. They despise me for being myself. For not falling into the same disgusting patterns of the rest of these robotic clones. They don't even want me to fit in to their well lit society anymore. They push me away. Why should I want to be with them. I'd rather be with Cyrus. Cyrus will love me. Cyrus will take care of me. Of all of us. He knows what is good for us, and we should give him our allegiance. We should trust his word, and obey his laws...for he is our true father. It makes sense, does it not? Of course it does. Perfect sense....

"There he is! Hey, Wes!" Nick called out, pointing over in my direction. I straightened up, and saw them heading my way. It was then that my body began to loosen up again, and my dreamlike thoughts rose above the cloud of fog that I had just been lost in. It was like coming out of a deep trance, and I had to shake myself free of the last few remaining images that were spinning rapidly in the center of my mind. I could barely even remember what I was thinking a few seconds ago. "Didn't you hear us calling you?"

"No...I was just..thinking." I replied, and looked up briefly at my father's eyes. I don't know what I expected to see there. Anger maybe? Frustration? Disappointment? Funny...but he didn't seem all that aggravated at all. In fact he seemed quite normal.

"Come on. We'll go home and get some dinner started. Your mom and Mr. Rigby are going to use the car to help transport some of this leftover food and flowers to the family. So we're going to walk. It's not that far." He said, and reached out a hand to put it on my shoulder. For some reason that I couldn't explain, I jumped at first. My body had this strange knee jerk reaction to his touch, and I leaned away from him, causing him to give me the most confusing look. "Wes?" I looked at him for a second or two longer, my mother and little brother looking back to see what was wrong with me. Then, without allowing him to touch me again, I walked forward to lead the way home. I just kept stepping forward, passing between them as my mom went to go help and my dad turned to walk behind me. It was like I couldn't stop. My whole world seemed to be operating all on its own, my body being controlled by something that I didn't understand anymore. It wasn't a mentally driven action, pulling away from my father like that...it was more...instinctual. Like...like this automatic sense of rejection that refused to let him have any influence over me. And what's even more weird than that, I almost felt as though I were betraying Cyrus by even being in his presence. I didn't want him to touch me, I didn't want him to talk to me, I didn't even want him to walk in front of me on the road...just because it gave me a sense of him leading me somewhere. It was almost as if he had no right to do so anymore.

On the way back, Nick worked his steps to a tiring pace, trying to keep up with me. He chit chattered away about whatever candycoated thoughts he had swimming in his head, but could hardly keep talking because he was so out of breath. My dad began to lag behind a little bit, but I didn't slow my steps down at all. I could have walked uphill all the way to the end of that road with no problem, and didn't care if he lost sight of me or not. I'm sure that my father just thought that I was still mad at him for punishing me so ruthlessly, and chose not to push me any further. I guess I should be glad. I don't think I could have suffered through another speech about how I was going down the wrong path and couldn't be out of his 'holy shadow' without indulging in my evil ways. And yet, despite his attempts to just leave me alone for a change, I never felt so separate from my family before. I didn't hate them...I just didn't want them around me. Does that make sense?

We were almost to our cabin as Father Mackenzie crossed our path on the road. He didn't stay all that far from us, his cabin being a short ten minute walk closer to camp. And he gave the three of us a hearty smile. "Looks like your boy's are enjoying their youth a lot more than you're enjoying your wisdom at the moment, eh Henry?" My father shared a chuckle or two as he panted heavily from the forward climb.

"Indeed they are." He said. "My wife took the car to help carry over some gifts from the church to the grieving family, so..."

"Ahh, God bless her heart." Father Mackenzie replied. I had stopped momentarily to wait, but didn't see why I should stick around. Besides, just looking at my father was tightening the muscles in my stomach. The further I could get away from him, the better. I turned and started walking again, and I guess my dad decided to take the hint. So he wrapped up his greeting and started to walk behind me. That's when Father Mackenzie called back, "If you'd like to stop by for a couple of late night cups, I could sure use the company."

I saw my father smile, and replied. "Certainly. I guess I could come by later and share some coffee."

"I'll be sure to have it nice and warm when you get there." And with a wave, he kept traveling down the road back to his own cabin while we traveled to ours.

I was the first one in the door, and pretty much just went to my room without saying another word to anybody. Even with Prince wagging his tail playfully at my feet, I didn't stop until I had kicked my shoes off and was laying on my own bed again. I made sure to shut the door, and my father didn't bother to knock. Nick had already dropped to his knees on the floor to wiggle around just as much as the excited puppy was, and that bought me some peace and quiet in that closed off room for the time being. Time to think.

Everything seemed so hazy. My thoughts weren't...connecting like they usually do. I just felt really 'incomplete' all of the sudden, and I hated it. After about twenty minutes of just laying there in silence, I felt another soft fever race through me, and my clothes began to itch and cling to my body in the most uncomfortable way imaginable. I don't know why, but the material itself just felt all 'wrong'. I unbuttoned my shirt and pulled it off quickly so I could get some air. The moonlight was shining so brightly through the window that it seemed almost artificial in nature. My body began to overheat a little bit, and my forehead was wet with perspiration. I unfastened my pants and stripped down to my boxers, turning on the small fan we had in the corner and sitting in front of the spinning blades. It didn't do much to cool me off. The heat was coming from inside of me, and I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. Even my boxers felt like they were twisted and constricting...I entertained the thought of even taking them off too. But didn't want Nick bursting through the door while I was stark naked. So I pulled my socks off and just tried to cool off as much as I could in front of that fan.

The fever mellowed out a bit, but I could still feel it in my bones. I was squirming on the bed, but eventually had to stand up. I began to pace back and forth, back and forth, my eyes focused on that window and the splash of moonlight pouring through it. Back and forth, back and forth. I needed....'something'. I needed food. I needed action. I needed sex. I needed...shit...I don't know WHAT I needed exactly! But as that moonlight grew stronger and my pacing got faster, I suddenly felt so captive in that room. An animal, caged in a place too small to survive on its own. I felt like I wanted to jump right out of that window and get out in the night air if for no other reason than to roam outside alone. To experience that darkness again. To just get away from this place and run free for a while. I almost wished I had taken Kyla's offer to break me out of this prison and take me back to Rainbow's End. Maybe....maybe if I just sneak out.....for a little while....

There was a knock at the door, and I quickly straightened up. I sat back down on my bed as my father slowly opened the door and peeked his head in. "Wes?" I was sitting still, but my foot kept bouncing nervously. Bouncing up and down on my toes. Antsy, anxious, impatient. I had to get out of here. I can hardly breathe in this room. "I made some spaghetti if you're hungry. Your brother's already helped himself..." His voice sounded...pleasant. Almost sheepish. My father was never one to admit that he has 'feelings' unless it was church related, but at that moment, it almost seemed as if he were making an attempt to connect with me again. But instead of me taking it as a touching sentiment, I found myself looking at him sideways, waiting for the punchline.

"Um...ok." I said, my foot still bouncing madly beneath me.

"Yeah..." He said quietly. "I'm going to join Father Mackenzie for some coffee. Your mother should be home soon." He paused, as if waiting for an answer or a protest from me. But I didn't quite know what to say to him. I just wasn't used to him being 'just human'. "Well, keep an eye on your brother until one of us gets back. Alright?" I nodded, and he nodded back. Quietly closing the door behind him.

I shifted slightly and stared out of the bedroom window, now both of my feet tapping away repeatedly on the floor, my fingers now tapping on the bed. Calm down, Wes, geez! What's with the sudden sugar rush, huh? I forced myself to lay back on the bed, and propped myself up with some pillows. But my eyes couldn't stop staring at that flash of natural light as it blazed across the surface of my window sill. It was the kind of uncontrollable fascination that I imagine Razor feels when staring at those burning matches of his. But I fought it anyway. I shouldn't go anywhere. Hell, now that my dad was gone, I didn't have much choice. So I just tried to settle down, and maybe pick up a book or something to keep my brain occuppied with something else.

I doubt I had the book open for more than two sentences when Nick opened the bedroom door and plopped down on the bed next to me. Naturally, his energetic playpal was right behind him and proudly trotted his way over to my bed where he whined for me to pick him up. "Come here, Prince! Come to my bed! C'mon, Prince! Over here!" Nick patted his bed but barely got the dog's attention. "He never answer's me when I talk to him."

"I know this might be hard to believe, Nick...but it's quite possible that the strange dog you found wandering around in the woods all by himself might not actually be named 'Prince'." I said, refusing to help the bundle of wiggles up on my mattress.

"I know." Nick said with a slight pout, signalling that he had completely forgotten that the dog hadn't been with us for more than a week. He bent down and picked the dog up to put him on his bed, and it curled up between his legs to sit still for a minute or two.

Nick reached over to his nightstand and grabbed a handheld game to play. He turned the volume down, but I could still hear it pretty clearly. Every bell and whistle making it hard to read more than a sentence without having to start over again. Our dad was gone, our mom was gone...we had this whole damn cabin to ourselves...and he decides to sit right next to me and play a video game. What's worse...if I were to get up and go in the other room, he'd just follow me and fight for the tv remote. It's really hard to tell if little brothers do that to worship you or to annoy the piss out of you. Either way, you're stuck with them.

My eyes were drawn back to the window again, and that silver light seemed to be creeping its way even further into our room. It was so alluring. I don't think I had ever been so enchanted by it before. But as I lay there in that room...I got increasingly uncomfortable. I don't understand it. Everything felt so compacted and insufficient. I felt like I was bound and gagged in a cardboard box or something. And something about Nick's presence really began to bother me. Not in your typical little brother way, either. It was more serious than that. My skin crawled with frustration, and I tried to scoot further over to the edge of my bed to get away from him. But...I just didn't want him there. He was in my space. Breathing my oxygen. Letting his soundwaves mix with mine. Tainting everything around him with his very existence. I gritted my teeth, and squirmed some more, getting off my bed and going to sit on the floor in the corner of the other side of the room. Nick paused his game and looked over at me for a second or two to see what I was up to. And even THAT bothered me. It was like he was further 'capturing' me by simply catching me in his line of sight. I frowned, and looked back down at my book. Trying to escape him, trying to get away from his presence. And I just couldn't. I could hear him breathing, and that game, and his thumbs hitting those little buttons, and little creeks in the matress. It was maddening.

Finally, I just couldn't stand it anymore. "Nick! Do you think you can do that someplace else?"

"Do what?"

"Play that damn game. I'm trying to read." Go! Get out! Just go away! God, my whole body itches just having him in the room with me.

"But I'm being quiet..."

"Well, go be quiet in the living room, ok? Please?"

"I won't play anymore." He said, shutting the game off. "I beat it already, anyways. So what are you reading?"

"NICK! Dude, can you just...leave? PLEASE?"

"Why? I'm not even playing the game anymore..."

"I know, I know....just...don't be a pest, alright? I wanna be alone." I said, wishing he would just go already. He gave me a weird look, and then swung his legs around to take his puppy and leave. "Thank you!"

"When did YOU become so territorial, anyway?" He mumbled, and left the room in a huff. I felt so relieved once he was gone. My chest wasn't as restricted, and I breathed a little bit easier. Finally, back to my silence.

Nick was probably making more noise with the dog and the tv then he was sitting on the bed quietly playing his video game. But it didn't annoy me as much since he was some distance away from me. But as a few more minutes went by, I heard a loud thump come from the other room. What the hell is that boy up to now? Geez! I ignored it, and went back to reading...but then I heard another thump. I sighed outloud in frustration, and then heard another one. "Nick! Knock it off!" I shouted.

"WHAAAAT! I didn't do it!" He yelled back. Then after a couple of seconds, I heard another one, this time it was louder.

"DAMMIT, NICK!!! I'm not gonna tell you again! Knock it off!!!"

"It's not me!!!"

"I'm not playing games with you! If I gotta come in there, it's your ass!"

"I'm telling you the truth! I'm not doing anything!" When I heard two more loud thuds outside, I threw my book down and stormed my way into the living room. I swear, when I get my hands on that damn boy....

I was getting ready to snatch Nick by his hair and toss him out of the cabin when I noticed him looking out of the living room window. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I think somebody is throwing stuff at the house." He said.

"What? Throwing stuff at the house? Get outta here! For what?"

"I dunno. It's like...clumps of rocks and dirt or something." Nick said, looking away from the window for a moment. Just then, a big clump of mud slammed against the window in front of his face and stuck there, causing both of us to jump.

I felt my breath catch in my throat for a second, and very slowly moved towards the window. I peered out of it, and saw nothing but darkness in all directions. The only light was coming from the house itself. "What happened to the lights on the road?" I said outloud to myself. "There should be lights out here. Always. I've seen them before." SLAM! There was another ball of mud thrown against the window, and this time it was thrown hard enough to make a crack in the glass. I quickly backed away from the window, and for a moment...in the distance, I could have sworn that I saw a pair of eyes staring back at me. Nothing else...just eyes. Glowing gold and green...squinted slightly, as if narrowed by an evil grin.

Then another thud, and another, and another...a loud barrage of projectiles hit the house from all sides, and a few more of the windows got cracked in the process. Prince began barking wildly in all directions, and I backed further away from the front of the house. There was definitely something outside. Maybe even a lot of somethings. That's when we heard a loud thump on the roof of the cabin. And more clumps of dirt were thrown extremely hard against the front windows and front door. I pushed Nick behind me and we moved further back into the kitchen by the back door. But the second our backs touched the door, we heard a few loud galloping footsteps approaching at a rapid speed, and a large huff of breath, as something massive SLAMMED it's full weight against the door, nearly knocking us both to the floor!

Nick screamed as we rolled over on our backs andscooted away from the back door. I looked under the door, and could faintly see the shadow of...some giant animal, sniffing at us from behind the door. As if it were trying to inhale us from that small amount of space between the bottom of the door and the floor. It's breath was so heavy that every exhalation blew dirt and dust from the back porch under the door in a small cloud. "What is it?" Nick whispered to me.

"I don't know." I whispered back. Somehow, I knew that the creature could hear us. And it was then that it lifted it's nose, and a deep guttural growl rumbled around in its chest. I looked over to Nick, and put my finger to my lips to keep him quiet. "Shhhhhh...." He nodded, and I slowly rose to my feet. I was afraid to make even the slightest of sounds, but I took it one step at a time, and slowly started moving to the back door. I could see that the bottom lock was on, but the top lock and the chain was off. If I could just get to that chain and lock...I think we'd be ok. I think we could keep whatever it was out there from getting into the house.

I took a few steps closer, my heart pounding as I tried to stay as silent as possible. Some more clods of dirt suddenly hit the side of the house, and the nise rattled me so badly that I stopped dead in my tracks, feeling my stomach drop down into my shoes while my heart leapt up into my throat. There were more noises above us. Like heavy footsteps on the roof. Pacing back and forth, occassionally stomping down hard to rattle me. More noises came from the right side of the house, and every last one of them made me jump. But I had to keep moving forward. I was almost at the back door now.

I reached out a very shakey hand before even reaching the door all the way, and I heard the creature growl again. That mumbled roar was so deep that it shook your bones just to hear it. It was breathing in giant gusts of air, blowing the hot air out against the door. My hands were trembling so badly, that I thought I'd be too shakey to actually turn the lock once I got my hands on it. All the time, from all sides of the house....thump! Thud! Crack! And those footsteps above us. Clump, clump, clump...STOMP! And then silence, making me uneasy, and even more unprepared for the next noice. But as my hand got closer to the door, my quaking got worse. I held my breath as my fingers finally touched the chain...and I gulped as I slowly, quietly, raised it up, and slipped it into the little locking mechanism on the door. The second I got it in there, there was a frightening roar from the other side of the door, and a thunderous crash as it SLAMMED itself against the door again! This time hard enough to almost dent the wood! Nick screamed, and I thrust myself against the door to brace it while I twisted the second top lock! The creature banged away loudly at the door, and I shouted as the fear gripped me in its icy grip! It pounded and pounded away at the door for a minute or two while I pressed back against it, unable to move. And then...it stopped!

It was brief, but it stopped. And it was then that I heard a howl, and the massive weight of the monsterous creature moved away from the door! I heard it's horrific growl, and then felt it's galloping strides rush away from the door in great leaps! My eyes widened as I heard it moving around to the side of the house. And then I heard the footsteps on the roof follow it overhead! I couldn't feel my legs, the terror had numbed me into staying in position...but as the gallops got faster and the sounds started moving to the front of the house...I saw that the front door wasn't locked either! Not even the bottom lock!

I sprung forward from the door and charged the front door a top speed, leaping over Nick and climbing over the living room couch! The gallops were SO fast! They were gonna beat me there! I wasn't gonna make it in time!!! I sprinted fast, nearly breaking my neck tripping over furniture, and then braced all of my weight against the door and clicket both locks just as the noises outside reached the entrance! I backed away, listening at the pounding and clawing and growls of multiple monsters at our front door. The pounding was so fierce that it shook the whole cabin. Prince was hiding under the kitchen table, and Nick had gotten up to hug me tightly around the waist as I tried desperately to hold him close. Trying to give him the faith that my frail arms could do anything to really protect him if those things actually did get into this house.

The pounding got louder, so did the roars. Nick shouted out, "WHAT'S HAPPENING???"

"We're ok, Nick! We're ok!" I said, and we moved to the center of the living room as the pounding fists rattled the front door. Then, with a lethal series of barks, some of the galloping footsteps moved back to the roof in numbers. Others moved to the right side of the house. Others still moved to the left. And then we heard a pounding at the back door as well. We were completely surrounded, and the nerve wracking sounds of these monsters banged at every door, every wall, and scratched their long claws at every window, looking for a way in. Nick and I huddled helplessly in the center of the floor, grabbing each other tight as the creatures kept running all over the house and around the corners. Testing for weaknesses. Somebody has GOT to hear this noise! They've GOT to! "Help's coming, Nick! Don't worry, k?" That's when a window shattered behind us. Then another. We could hear the growls even louder now, and they continued to attack the house. Nick was holding his knees and crying out loud...and that's when the lights went out.

Somehow, they killed the power, and we were sitting in complete darkness. When I heard more slamming at both the front and back doors, stomping on the roof, and another set of windows breaking, I knew that we had to get somewhere safe! "Nick! Come on, Nick! Get up! Get up, come on!" I had to literally pull Nick to his feet and race to the bedroom. But as soon as we shut the door behind us...the window in our room was shattered into a million pieces as well. I dragged Nick back out of the room and shut the door tightly behind us. The bathroom! There was only one tiny little window in the bathroom and only one door with another lock on it. If they get in the house, it won't 'save' us, but it'll buy us some more time. I felt Nick pulling back on me, his hand on the door frame. "NICK!!! Let go!!!"

"Prince! Where's Prince???"

"Forget the damn dog!"

"PRINCE!!!" He squealed, and luckily for the us, the dog picked now to learn his name. Because he came running.

We shut ourselves up in the bathroom and stepped into the bathtub, our backs against as solid wall as pure chaos was taking place outside around us. Nick held on tight to the dog, and even tighter to me. We stayed put for a while longer, and then we heard the sound of a long demonic howl coming from way out in the distance somewhere. It was strong, powerful, and all of the other noises around the house stopped immediately when they heard it. Nick and I were breathing so hard, our heartbeats causing our whole chest to tremble and vibrate. But the noise came to a dead halt, and...if I wasn't mistaken...I could have sworn that I heard laughter. Young laughter. And then the sounds of galloping feet carrying the creatures back out behind the house and away from us again.

I don't know how long Nick and stood in that bathtub, drying tears, and catching our breaths, and trying to find the courage to even peek our heads out of that bathroom again. But when we finally did go back into the living room...it was trashed. The windows had almost all been busted in, and the chain on the back door was broken along with both locks. I was barefoot and Nick was in his sock feet, so we had to watch our step. Sighhh...somehow, I don't think explaining this to my parents is going to be easy.