I sighed, pressing my face against the glass window and gazed out as mountains that were too big to be considered anything else passed me by. The glass was unusually cold, considering how hot it was outside. The countryside was beautiful and yet I couldn't bring myself to be excited about the view.
My mother hummed a tune along with the song that was playing on her car radio. It sounded so old that it wasn't a surprise that I didn't know what it was. My stepfather and his dog, Bailey, who was lying on my lap had fallen asleep half an hour ago so it was just me and mom that were up.
"We'll be there soon, sweet heart," my mother said, looking at me through the rear-view mirror and smiling.
"Great," I replied, though I was thinking the complete opposite.
For some reason my parents had decided that it'd be a good idea to drag me along on a weekend camping trip to Prince Gallitzin State Park. Usually I wouldn't have cared since it was summer and I wouldn't have anything to do besides sit up on my computer, listening to the latest songs on iTunes. But this year was supposed to be full of parties and the biggest of them all was going on during this exact weekend.
I'd been looking forward to that damn party ever since my sophomore year at college started last fall after hearing rumors about how Jessica Nell had planned it out. Her parents were going away to Hawaii for their fifth Honeymoon, or so they said. I just kind of figured it was so they could get away from Jessica. That girl had a serious attitude problem, which was probably the reason she was the most popular girl in school.
There was supposed to be loads of alcohol, tons of food, and "fun fun fun!" as my best friend Lily had put it. Jessica's pool had been opened earlier on in the spring, meaning lots of hot guys in swim trunks, showing off their muscles. I sighed again, louder this time before smacking my head against the window, hard enough that my mother looked back at me at a red light.
"Kaylin, what in the world are you back there sighing about?"
I looked at her and narrowed my eyes in a glare but when my mother gave me a serious look, I let my face relax. "I'm supposed to be partying. Not going with my mother and her husband to some stupid park."
My mother smiled. "Don't be so overdramatic. You should have thought of that before you decided to stay in our house for college. Besides, Prince Gallitzin State Park isn't stupid. We can go swimming and hiking and boating and fishing…" She continued to list things we could do but I blocked her out, keeping my eyes on the red light. No one was coming down the adjacent streets but that light seemed hell bent on keeping us there. "Are you listening?" my mother finally asked, snapping me out of my daze.
"You know, mom," I replied, hoping to change the subject. "No one is coming. You can probably just go."
She looked in front of her then to both sides. "I don't want to get pulled over."
"There isn't anyone around. The grass might be high," I pointed to the long grassy plain all around us and the large hills. "But I doubt its high enough to cover a whole cop car."
I placed my iPod earpieces into my ears and turned on Hero by Tantric and watched as the single tree that was on my right started moving backwards before we turned the corner and it was behind us. I looked out the back window, staring at it and wished I could go back.
"We're here!" My mother's voice was full of excitement and so loud that my stepfather jerked awake.
He fixed his skewed glasses and looked around. "Oh, how beautiful," he said, just as Bailey lifted her head and hopped over to the window, her tongue hanging out and as she panted little spit particles flew off and hit the glass.
I reached over to pet her and she turned to look at me, her eyes wide with fascination. "Yeah, it's nice, I guess." It was better than I thought it'd be, at least.
There were a lot of trees and high hills, surrounding us in green. The sky was the most beautiful blue and a few wispy clouds flew over us, though they didn't offer much shade for the parking lot we were currently in.
My mother and stepfather opened their doors, walking outside while I put Bailey's collar and leash on then opened my own. Bailey immediately tried to take off and I was practically dragged out of the car, almost falling on my face before gaining my balance and tugging on the leash.
Bailey stopped and looked back at me, almost apologetically, if dogs could feel that way. "Chill, Bailey," I said, walking to her. She moved forward like she was about to walk away but I said, "Sit," and she did as she was told, her look changing to one of anticipation. If I were a dog I would've been annoyed at being told what to do but Bailey didn't really seem to mind.
And if I didn't know any better I would have thought that she didn't mind because she knew that I would let her walk eventually, but somehow I doubted that.
I roped the leash around my hand to get a better grip on it in case a squirrel decided to run past and looked up at the sky, shielding my face from the sun with my free hand.
"It's so nice out today," my mother said, still in that excited tone. I was mildly surprised that she was happy to be here. I figured she'd be as miserable as I was, considering the fact that she wasn't an outdoorsy person.
It was actually my stepfather, George, who had brought up the subject of camping. And my mother had gone along with the idea because that's what their marriage counselor had told them to do. "Join in each other's activities," the pudgy man had said. "Be sure to be open to new ideas and try something new."
I also hadn't thought my mother would ever see a counselor but after going through two very unhappy marriages, she'd decided to try it and so far I guess it was working because she seemed happier than I'd ever seen her.
I guess it wouldn't kill me to act excited. "Yeah, it's really nice out," I smiled at her when she looked at me surprised.
"Well, I'm so glad you both think my idea was worth the drive," George said. He knelt down and called Bailey but she didn't move from my side.
That wasn't just because of my amazing dog training skills, it was because Bailey loved me more than anyone else, even though she was actually considered George's dog. I played with her the most and let her on the furniture and fed her my food when no one was looking so she had bonded with me easier than my mother or George. "Go on, Bailey," I said, letting go of her leash.
She looked up at me then ran to George, almost bowling him over. She was still just a puppy but she had grown fast from when we'd gotten her. We weren't even sure what she was. The woman we had gotten her from said she was a mix of pit bull and some other things. We just considered her a mutt.
Her tail wagged happily as she licked George's face.
We were close to the "Welcoming" cabin, which was the only thing I could figure to call it since it said "Welcome" on the front of it in big red letters that stuck out against the brown wood.
"Well, I'm going to check us in," my mother said, petting Bailey on her way up to the big cabin.
I watched her leave then went around the back of the cabin, finding more trees. Surprise, surprise. They went back far climbing up a hill and I could see them continuing on both sides of the cabin. I looked to the right, where the trees seemed to be so close together it would be hard to get through them.
"That's where we're staying," George said, following me around the cabin. I looked at him and he was pointing to where I'd been looking. "There's a cabin deep in the woods there. Hopefully, we won't get eaten by bears."
That perked me right up. I had a thing for the forest. I loved wolves and bears and almost everything else that had to do with woods. It looked like this trip was going to be a lot more fun than I'd originally thought.
I walked forward closer to the trees but stopped, just as Bailey began to growl.
Something was there, in the forest. I could feel it but I couldn't see anything. I squinted and saw something move, but it was so slow and so far away that I couldn't be certain that anything had moved at all. I took a few more steps, stopping when I was close enough.
There was something shining there. Two somethings. Small enough to be eyes.
I was close enough to the trees now to reach out and touch the bark of one of them and those two small eye-shaped things just stayed there. My heart was pounding in my chest as I took another step forward.
A hand touched my shoulder and I screamed, whipping around to see my mother.
"Geez, what was that all about? Come on," she said, without waiting for an answer. "Our cabin is down the road."
She walked back to George who was busy petting Bailey who looked awfully distressed in the way she kept sitting and standing, her eyes watching the forest.
I looked back; following her gaze but the two eye-shaped things weren't there anymore.
"Coming," I yelled back to my mother and George, keeping my eyes on the woods while I walked backwards and finally when I was far enough I turned and walked back to the car with them.
Whoo! New story! Finally chapter one is finished. I'm so proud of myself for actually getting something done!
Chapter fifteen of Kiss of Darkness will be posted as soon as my last beta gets finished with it. Then I'll wait about a day before posting chapter sixteen, which is finished as well but needs to be beta…ed.