The Fading by Anonymous
Chapter 2: Lanna
A brief second passed before Jason’s words rang clear. No one knew really what to do. In fact, no one really believed what they had just heard. After a gunshot, the silence that follows is deafening. So when Chris finally broke the silence, he sounded very loud. He asked what everyone was thinking, but no one was asking.
“Hey, did any of you guys just hear that?”
Martha nodded first, then Jason and Mark repeated the gesture.
“Roger that.” Jason replied. “Let’s go.”
With an unofficial yet unanimous conclusion, they all trudged away from the stream and into the forest. Jason was in the lead, followed closely behind by Martha. Chris and Mark hung at the back, as they were the slower of the group. Many thoughts rang through their heads as they slowly went back to the road.
“What probably happened,” Mark said “Was a shooting of some kind.”
“A shooting?” Martha replied, laced with sarcasm. “Here? In the middle of nowhere?”
“Well…Yes.” Mark replied.
“It might have been a fungus.” Chris chimed in.
“What?” Jason replied. “A ‘fungus’?”
“You know, like the ones that can affect your mind. The Imadum Fungus”
“Ima…dum?” Jason thought about it for a second, then replied harshly. “Chris, you nimrod.”
Everyone but Jason laughed at the joke, which was what Chris always was known for. Jason became a little silent for a second, then said,
“I want to know what just happened.” Jason said.
“I can’t exactly tell you that now.” Said Martha
“Well, why don’t we find out?” Jason said loudly.
“Are you kidding?” Chris said. “This is beyond us. Besides,” Chris went on “What is the shooter is…Still out there?”
“We could take him.” Jason stated, flexing an arm.
“Wait.” Mark suddenly said. “I see something.”
Jason stopped walking, then turned around sharply. Mark gestured in the direction he was facing. The rest of the group stopped, then looked back at him, confused. Martha however, ruffled about in her backpack, and took out a pair of binoculars. Convenient thought Mark. As Jason and Chris fought for a turn with the binoculars, Mark thought over what he’d just seen. He was shocked. The looks on both Chris and Jason’s face confirmed he’d just seen what he had seen. That had happened a lot today. But this time, Mark suddenly faced the reality of the situation that he was in. At that moment, it got a lot darker. Then he realized Martha wasn’t with them.
“Hurry!” Martha said.
Mark ran towards a small drop between some rocks where a canvas lay over an object. As Mark got closer, he realized that he had been right. The thing he had been seeing all along spelled trouble. The Canvas was draped over a sprawled form. Martha had already begun to edge a little too close towards the scene, and was gazing intently at the canvas. Chris and Jason followed close behind, and stopped, stunned. Jutting out from under the canvas, or blanket, or whatever the blue cloth was, lay a cold hand, clenched closed. It wasn’t moving.
Jason ran over immediately, and flipped of the blanket. Mark was there as well. It didn’t look good. A girl, about the same age as Martha, lay on the ground, a pool of red surrounding her. Streaking black hair covered her face. Three slashes ran across her side. Blood drenched her jacket.
“Is she…” Asked Chris, clearly troubled.
Mark quickly checked for a pulse. Jason and Chris stared, frozen with anticipation. Mark knew very little of first aid, but tried his best. He had no idea what to do if there was no pulse. He checked everywhere for a pulse. Strange though, he swore he could detect a breath, but no pulse. He stepped back, and looked at the claw marks. They were very clean, definitely not made by something wild.
Jason and Chris awaited the final verdict, while Martha searched hurriedly for something useful in her backpack, but couldn’t find anything quickly.
“I can’t tell if she’s alive or dead.” Said Mark,
Chris rubbed his eyes, and Jason muttered something under his breath.
“But perhaps we can try to stop the bleeding?” Mark suggested.
Picking up the blanket that Jason had thrown aside, Mark saw a name on the crumpled blanket.
“Lanna,” cried Mark, “It says Lanna S. on it.”
“Geez.” Jason said.
“I never knew someone called Lanna” Said Martha. “She was probably from out of town. How it came to this…”
They spoke no words after that, and did they’re very best to cover up the slashes. They wound the blanket around and tightened it so that the bleeding was halted for the moment.
Chris stayed silent, as the event seemed to take a great toll on his normally optimistic self.
The whole group was too stunned to do anything else, and sat around by the scene for a while. No one said anything, for no words could have broken their thought.
Jason looked down at Lanna. “Wait, he said. She’s holding something!”
All four swarmed around, and read the note, then read it again.
I don’t have much time left.
Don’t call the police, don’t tell anyone,
Tell her she has 3 days left.
Don’t call the police, don’t tell anyone, except Lanna.
Please, I need her to know tha-
The ink trailed off after the last word.
“It almost seems as if she knew we were coming.” Martha said.
“We should call the police!” Chris said.
“No,” Jason said, “We should at least uphold her last wishes.”
Martha all of a sudden made a sign for them all to be silent, and motioned towards the path. Two police officers were trudging down through the ferns, and over a fallen log, clumsily trodding on all sorts of twigs and pebbles. The ruckus could have been heard from Jupiter. They were talking to each other about another case, when they came upon the scene. As soon as they appeared to see the scene, a very serious tone descended on them.
Jason, Martha, Chris, and Marthus all hid in behind various roots, and rocks, but remained dead silent to hear the officers.
“That’s two Dave.” The first one said. “Two.”
The second officer, whom the other called Dave replied “They’re almost exactly two weeks apart.”
“I don’t like this.” The first officer said, “This bears way too much in common with the other case.”
“The Slashing case” Dave said.
“Shhhh! That’s classified!” The first officer said.
“Give it a break, we’re in the middle of nowhere!”
“He could be anywhere!”
“Even…right behind us.”
Both officers padded their pistols with care.
“The Slashing case?” Whispered Jason.
Martha scribbled something down in one of her thousand notebooks.
“What are they talking about?” Asked Martha, even though she knew the answer would just be shrugs and confused words back.
But Chris, who had recovered slightly, whispered. “They must be referring to someone who’s in these very woods!”
Somehow, the officers hadn’t noticed whoever the girl was; Mark was sure that this wasn’t Lanna anymore.
The officers walked off deeper into the forest, but the four still stayed hidden until they were sure they were long gone. No chances. Just as they were emerging from their hiding places, they heard yells, then two shots, each within the same second, then silence. They stayed hidden for a bit longer after that.
“Do you think it’s safe?” Asked Chris.
“Let me check.” Said Mark.
Just as he did, Martha cried out “You may want to look at this.”
All four then gazed at the spot where Lanna once lay. A trail of blood led from where she used to be, and into the deep dark woods.
“She’s gone!” Cried Jason.