“Okay, you go out there, get the souls and come straight back. No screwing around.” He grabbed his wallet and pulled out fifty bucks.
“I know.” She took the money folded it neatly, and placed it in her purse.
She smiled wryly at him and made her way out the door, Mason began to follow when Rube grabbed his hand.
“Don’t do anything stupid, and keep an eye on her.” He instructed.
“Everything will go just fine. Relax.” Mason replied jerking slightly to get free of Rube’s grasp.
Rubes let go of Masons right hand causing him to stumble back into the table across from theirs, then sunk casually in the booth grumbling something Mason couldn’t quite hear.
She waited outside impatiently standing against the side of the restaurant. She was a little nervous about going to the woods, one hundred miles away from civilization. The inconvenience of the whole situation made her wonder, ‘Aren’t there other reapers that can do it?’ She sighed and kicked at a small rock.
She jumped slightly when she heard the door shut and turned to face Mason.
“Ready to go?” He asked.
“Yeah.” George answered with an unsure smile.
“Let’s go then.” He made his way toward an old blue pick up truck that looked as if it wouldn’t even make it out of the parking lot. George followed after him.
He got in the drivers seat bent down and started attaching a bunch of wires. George crawled into the passenger’s seat and put her purse on the floorboard, watching him curiously as she shut her door.
“I thought you didn’t have a car.” She said as she buckled herself in. “I don’t.” Mason got the car started and looked at her. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Before she could say anything else, Mason stepped on the gas.
The car’s tires screeched loudly against the pavement, as they sped out of the parking lot, and onto the free way. George looked at Mason, and whimpered.
“What?” He asked looking back.
“You’re going to fast.” She pointed at the speedometer.
“No one’s really out on the freeway but us.” He shrugged.
“That doesn’t mean the cops aren’t.” She sighed.
“We won’t get caught, trust me on this.” George arched her eyebrow and looked at him with uncertainty. Mason looked out the rear view mirror then back at George.
“Just trust me.” He said in an almost reassuring tone.
George shrugged and sat back in her seat. “Okay, but if we do--” Mason put his right hand over her mouth and looked at her “We won’t, I promise.” He pulled his hand away and smirked at her. George a little surprised by what he did just stared at him. She looked out her window for several minutes watching the amount of restaurants, department stores, and office buildings grow smaller the farther the got, until it was nothing but trees.
“What time are the souls due again?” George scrambled through her purse and pulled out the two post it notes. “Both are due at eight o’clock p.m. tomorrow.” He nodded and laid back. ‘Well, this is fun.’ George thought to herself as she slumped back in her seat.
Mason looked out his window then at George. She caught him staring at the corner of her eye. She turned her head at him to stare back.
“Why are you staring at me?” She asked.
“You were makin’ this cute little pouty face.” He smiled teasingly.
“Cute.” She arched her eyebrow at him.
“Yeah.” He smirked.
“Okay.” She half smiled. Normally if someone said that to her she’d be upset, she didn’t like being called ‘cute’. And normally it would come from her parents, relatives, and well mostly older people. But, this was is no way normal; she was a young undead woman in a junky truck, with a hot undead British guy, driving to a small cabin in the middle of the woods to take the souls of an older couple. So she was a little flattered. ‘What the fuck? Why am I feelin’ this way! George don’t let him get to you, it was just a stupid compliment…..I think.’
She was jolted out of her thoughts when the truck bounced and began to slow. Then came to a complete stop, the engine coughing and sputtering with exhaustion.
“Shit!” Mason yelled hitting the steering wheel hard with his fist. George jumped at his sudden outburst, she’d never heard him like this before. She looked at the gas gauge, it was completely on empty. ‘Oh this is just great.’ She thought to herself.
“Um, what do we do now?” She asked Mason who had his head on the steering wheel. He lifted it up to look at her. “I’m thinking.” He replied.
“ Right.” She said staring at her shoes. ‘Okay let’s take a look at the situation; our truck broke down, we passed up the nearest gas station fifty miles ago, and we had the wonderful luck of breaking down in a pretty much people-less area. Sum it up and the answer is we’re screwed.’ She groaned and laid her head against her window.
Mason lifted his head back up and looked at the hopeless expression on George’s face.
He sighed and got out of the truck. George lifted her head when felt the truck budge as he shut the door. She watched him walk around the backside of the truck to her door. Then moved back a little as he opened it. She gasped in surprise when he grabbed her by the waist and set her on the ground.
“What the-I can get out on my own you know!” She yelled as he grabbed her purse and jacket and handed them to her. “Maybe, but I don’t think you would have gotten out of the truck if I told you we were walking.” He explained simply shutting her door.
“I am not about to walk!” She growled walking back to the truck. Mason ran up in front of her to block her. “See?” He grinned. She crossed her arms and stared at him. Giving him that pissed off woman look she’d seen so often from her mom. He just stared at her and grinned that stupid grin he always made when he talked to her.
“Let’s go then.” He laughed. She just stared at him.
“No.” She growled. He stepped a little to the side.
“I give up.” He sighed. George eyed him carefully, ‘Not putting up a fight? That’s very un-Mason like of him.’ She reached for the car door when Mason grabbed her hand. “Let’s go.” He smirked. He pulled her halfway passed the car, when she jerked loose and ran back. He ran after her quickly, and grabbed her again. “George! C’mon! I’m not jacking around!” He yelled. She held on tight to the car door. “ I’m not—going out there!” She yelled back. “Bloody hell! Just….let….go!” He made another hard pull and she fell backwards on him.
“Umph!” He grunted as she fell back into his stomach. Both lay there for a moment panting. “Okay….now we’re doing things my way.” He stood up and picked her up.
“God, you’re an ass hole.” She panted.
He looked down at her and grinned. “I know.” She sighed, and let her head fall back against his arm as he carried her into the woods.
Everything was dark, the only thing that gave any kind of light was the moon that peaked through the outreached tree branches as she looked up. There were tress all around them, and they stood tall their branches gnarled and intertwined with each other. She could hear so many things, an owl perching on a branch and hooting softly, the scraping and scurrying of smaller animals across the ground, the trees swaying and clapping gently in the wind, and distant grunts and growls. It was too eerie for even her. She wanted to reach in her purse for a flashlight, but was afraid what she would see if she used it, she hated it here it was to dark. She grabbed at Mason’s jacket, and whimpered quietly. Mason stopped when he heard her and grinned.
“George?” He asked quietly.
“Y-yeah. What?” She answered trying not to stammer.
“Um, are you uncomfortable? Here let me set you down.” He whispered as he lowered her to the ground.
“N-No!” She squealed hugging him hard.
“Are you scared?” He asked tauntingly.
“No I just uh, I just don’t feel like walking.” She covered up the best she could.
“Well, I think I’ve carried you long enough, you’ll live.” He lowered her down again.
“Stoppit!!!!!” She yelled.
“So you are scared.” He said in fake surprise.
“Shut up.” She said with her face buried in his jacket.
“Make me.” He said in an I-Dare-You tone. She didn’t respond.
“That’s what I thou--” He tripped over a branch, and fell on her.
“Ow!” She hissed. Mason lifted his head and looked at her. “Jesus.” He whispered.
“What?” She asked.
“Uh, nothing that just really hurt.” He whispered.
“Yeah, lucky for you I broke your fall.” She said trying to get up. “Ow! Fuck!” What the hell is that?” She groaned trying not to look.
Mason rolled off her and looked at her leg. “Oooohhh.” He winced when he saw a branch had gone straight through her leg. He squatted over her so she couldn’t see. He reached in his jacket and pulled out a knife, lifted her leg a little to find the base of the branch and cut it. He tossed it aside and tucked his knife back in. “George. Lift your leg up as high as you can.” She nodded and lifted it until the pain was unbearable. “Keep it there.” He said.
He pulled what was left of the branch out from the bottom of her leg, with a quick pull.
She gasped in pain and thought she was going to faint. He ripped off a piece of his shirt and wrapped it tightly around the wound. “There.” He wiped his bloody hands on his shirt. “That ought to work.” He said looking at his handy-work. She sobbed a little and got up on her haunches, to look at the damage.
“Thanks.” She smiled.
“Yeah.” He picked her up again. “Oh and nice knickers.” He winked.
“You know, you could’ve gone without saying that.” She grumbled.
“Are you blushing?” He asked looking closely at her.
“No!” She squeaked.
“Yeah you are!” He snickered.
“Whatever.” She said monotonously.
She looked ahead to see a small light hidden by trees, and tugged on his jacket. Mason looked down at her. “What?” He asked still smiling. “Look over there.” She whispered pointing toward the peculiar dim light. Mason paused for a moment staring, then began walking toward it. As he neared the light, it was clear that it was coming from a window, which means it belonged to a house. Mason looked at George then back at the only visible window. He reached in her purse that he carried on his left shoulder, and pulled out the flashlight. He clicked it on letting the beam of light search over the place, uncovering the face of a frail cabin that looked warm and inviting yet, lonely all the same.
“Do you think this is the place?” George asked hopefully. Mason moved in closer, carefully and quietly as if the slightest noise would set off some sort of alarm or something. “Maybe, a little to convenient, but it just might be the place.” He replied.
He ran along side the face of the cabin to the front door, and set her down at his left side handing George her purse. “Let me handle this.” George whispered leaning on him. He arched his eyebrow in uncertainty and knocked on the door. George felt nervous; they weren’t sure what kind of people lived here, sure it was an old couple, but were they friendly, or were they those mean scary people that’ll shoot anyone or anything that crossed their property. The fact that they lived in the woods secluded from almost any human contact had to mean they weren’t exactly social butterflies. Not that their personalities would change the whole thing, it’s just if they were mean and people hating types it would make George and Mason’s jobs a hell of a lot more work than it really ought to be.
The door opened slowly with a loud creek, and an old woman peered out. Of course she was surprised to see people, but even more surprised to see how scraggly the couple standing before her looked. The young man (unMason) looked like a drunk, or a homeless person with a ratty blood stained shirt and the unshaven face, the younger woman (unGeorge) looked even more pathetic. She was thin and sickly looking with a wan quality about her and she had these dark circles around her eyes as if she hadn’t slept in weeks, she also noted her left leg with a piece of blood stained material wrapped around it as a makeshift bandage. The old woman gasped quietly to herself and came out slowly. “ May I help you?” She said uncomfortably. George smiled at her then at Mason.
“I am so glad to see you ma’am we’ve, been stuck in the woods for days, and I thought that we were surely dead, oh and…..and we---” She clasped her right hand to her mouth and started sobbing loudly. Mason pulled her closer and looked at the old woman. “I apologize for my wife, it’s been dreadful especially for her, you see she was sick even before we got lost out here.” He explained calmly. The old woman clasped her hands together at her chest and knitted her eyebrows together in sympathy. Mason coughed a little and cleared his throat. “We don’t mean to be a burden to you ma’am but can you spare us a room for the night?” Mason looked at her with sad puppy dog eyes. The woman took a breath and lead them in. “Why it’s no problem at all dear.” She said as she pulled them into her tiny living room. Mason sat on an old antique rocking chair, while the old woman helped George onto a lime green floral patterned old couch. She ran back to the front door and shut it quietly. The old woman rushed around in the tiny kitchen and peeked her head into the living room. “How did you two end up out here?” She asked kindly. George looked at Mason then at the old woman. “Well we were on our way to see a cousin of mine, see she’s a doctor.” George began. “Well anyways our car broke down and we went looking for help, which lead us into these woods.” She finished, fixing her skirt unconsciously. The old woman nodded and went about fixing something up for them in the kitchen. She came back out with two cups of tea and handed them to the couple who took them graciously. The old woman sat near George on the couch and folded her hands in her lap. “I am so sorry to hear that.” She spoke in concern. “Lucky to find us though, most who get lost in these woods don’t make it.” She started. “Herbert, my husband, usually finds them, some deceased and some barely clinging by a thread of life.” George shifted uncomfortably giving a worried look to Mason. “How come?” She asked naively. The old woman looked at her. “My dear, these woods hold more to them than just trees and animals.” She said. Both George and Mason raised their heads at her strange remark. “ What d’you mean?” Mason asked curiously. The old woman sighed and shook her head slowly as if she didn’t want to touch the subject, then eyed both of them. “It’s said that these woods are haunted.” She said quietly. George sat up a little more at her statement and got very still. “I’m not sure by what exactly, there are several stories, all different, yet one stands out above the rest it was a story my Grandmother told me about a young woman who drowned in Dark Wood Creek. She paused and looked at the two who were extremely attentive. “ It’s a creek north of here, deep enough to be called a river though. Anyways those who have encountered her say she wears nothing but grey. It was said she was the daughter of Horace McGilliam. George sat her teacup down on the floor. “Horace McGilliam?” The old woman nodded. “Yes, then the McGilliam’s were the top of the town, their property was settled on an oil site. Mrs. McGilliam didn’t want to bother with such big business she preferred a simple farm life, but Horace was an ambitious fella’ he wished to have a wealthy life style, and saw this as the perfect opportunity. So he contacted a bunch of local companies and that’s about the time they made it big. Years passed and the once close-knit family began to fall apart. Money became Horace’s main focus, and his presence at home became less and less. One day Mrs. McGilliam went to see what was keeping Mr. McGilliam, she arrived at the town’s pub and saw him with another woman. At this point she went mad, and shot him. The wife turned and looked at the girl he was seeing. She pointed the rifle and shot, missing her by an inch. The young woman screamed and left the pub, and out of the safety of the town. She ran as far and as deep into the forest as she could, never looking behind her. She stopped at Dark Wood Creek and looked about her, no one could find her there, as no one dared go that far into these woods, or so she thought. Hours passed and she still sat, until something happened, something had her. The rest of the story went with her, drowned out by the cool murky water. No one’s quite sure whether she committed suicide, or whether she was murdered by Mrs. McGilliam, no one found her body. Some say she can be seen sitting by the creek, crying.” George rubbed her arm and looked up at the old woman. “ That’s strange.” Mason ran his hand through his hair and got up from the rocking chair. “She’s a restless one but I don’t think she’d harm anyone.” She finished, and stood up. “I have a small spare bed room, it’s not to comfortable, but it’s better than sleeping outside I suppose.” She smiled warmly and showed them the room. She pushed slightly at the door and opened it. “Here you are.” She let them walk ahead of her and look at the room. “I’m afraid I’ve not had time to make this room more cheery, and comfortable, but then again I don’t get many guests.” She chuckled a little and began to walk out. “Oh, my husband’s in town getting groceries, so we’ll have something to eat tomorrow.” She smiled one last time and clicked the door shut on her way out.
George scanned the bare walls, they were covered in cobwebs, then she looked at the old king sized bed against the left wall. “Cozy.” George sat herself on the bed and lifted the grey floral patterned sheets. “No bugs.” Then she looked under the pillows. “No bugs here either.” She shrugged.
“This place is depressing.” Mason said, throwing himself on the bed causing George to hit her head against the wall.
“Ow.” She groaned rubbing her head.
“At least it has springs.” He observed.
“Yeah I noticed.” She rolled her eyes and laid down facing the wall.
“Grumpy.” He said to her back.
“I am not.” She whined at the wall.
“Are to.” He snickered.
“Am not.” She spat back.
“Are to.” He nudged her.
“Am not times one hundred.” She protested louder.
“Are to times infinity.” He spoke like a five year old, folding his arms to his chest in victory.
“Am not times infinity plus one hundred thousand and five!” She came back.
“British stupid guy!” She snapped.
“Toilet Seat!” He said quickly.
“Whatever.” She smirked.
“Whatever.” He mimicked her.
“Are you mocking me?” She asked turning her head slightly.
“Are you mocking me?” He repeated.
“ ‘Cause if you are you need practice!” She snapped using that as her only defense against his childish comebacks.
A small pause fell between them at her statement. Then he started up again.
“Hi my name is George and my knickers are always in a twist. I don’t even know what the word fun means, oh how I wish someone would show me.” He spoke in a girly tone.
“I do not sound like that!” She huffed.
“Yeah you do.” He grinned. She looked at him quickly then turned her back to his face again. He smirked then pulled at her bra strap letting it hit her with a loud ‘snap’.
“Ah!” She jumped up at the sudden pain.
“You had it coming.” He chuckled.
“Screw you.” She growled.
Mason looked her up and down and arched his eyebrows.
“Is that an invitation?” He grinned wickedly. George’s mouth fell open at his simple yet suggestive remark. “I’m game if you’re game love.” He winked. She half smiled then got close to him, putting her hands to his chest. “Maybe,” She brought her face close to his then whispered in his left ear. “Maybe not.” With that, she pushed him off the bed. He fell with a ‘thud’ against the hard wood floor. She grinned widely and looked over the edge of the bed. He was on his butt with an expression of surprise and disbelief. “What? You had it coming.” She stuck her tongue out. George laughed quietly at his expense for once and crawled back to her side of the bed. He pulled himself back up on the bed and smirked. “Fair move.” She nodded with a sly smirk and pushed back a stray lock of hair from her face. “You okay?” She smiled. He sat up and nodded. She sat Indian style on the bed and sighed.
“Mason?” She asked quietly, breaking the uncomfortable silence.
“Hm?” He turned his head to meet her glance.
“Do you believe her?” George asked thoughtfully.
“Belive who?” He replied with a yawn.
“The old lady.” She said.
“The old lady? Oh you mean Mrs. O’toole.” He answered.
“Yeah, do you think the woods are haunted?” She asked quietly. Mason stared at her expressionlessly for a moment, then smiled. “You actually believed the old chit?” He shook his head, and looked back at her thoughtfully. “It’s a bunch of bull shit.” George shrugged and laid down. Mason looked down at George. “And even if the woods were really haunted, it wouldn’t pose a threat to us.” He laid down still staring at her. “Why not?” George turned to face him. “ ‘Cause we’re already dead.” He made an amused face.
“Oh, right…..” George paused her eyes fixed on the blood stain on his shirt. She then looked at her own clothes and unconsciously made a face. Mason cocked his head and looked at her shirt. “Uugghhh…..” George muttered to herself. “What?” Mason asked curiously. George looked at him then took off her jacket, and tossed it on the floor quickly. “God, I need a shower.” She whispered to herself. Mason stared at the jacket crumpled up near the small window that was at the left of the bed. George undid her hair letting it fall around her shoulders. “Do you think she has a shower here?” George asked tossing the hair holder near the jacket.
"I don't think so." Mason turned his back to her and sighed sleepily into his pillow. "Just wait 'til we get back." He yawned. George groaned and laid down facing the wall once more.
"Do you believe?" Came a strangely whispered voice.
"Do you, do you.....do you........." The whispers of the strange voice dissipated into a high pitched hissing noise throughout the room. In her head. She stumbled out of the musty bed, onto the cool hard wood floor and stood herself up slowly, overwhelmed by the screeching hisses.
She looks around the dark room, specs of dust float in the air in flie like motions. The shadow of the tree outside the dirty, cracked cabin window, moved quickly, surrealy in fast forward across the dingy floor. She felt a cold prickling sensation at the back of her neck and froze. The left sleeve of her shirt began to slide slowly down her shoulder. She gave a frightened gasp, spinning around to see Mason. He was on the bed, stripped down to a pair of blue jeans straddlind a strangely dark figure.
"Mason." She vied for his attention, he being the only thing she was familiar with in this strange place.
He did not reply, did he even hear her? She called out his name once more, he made a jerky motion as if he were fighting the still figure pinned beneath him. He began singing to himself.
"All good girls die pretty." He sung the words over and over in a bizarrely haunting tone.
George's eyes unwillingly traveled from him down to the thing he had pinned at the wrists. The shadow that was veiling it cleared away swiftly like a creeping fog exposing what appeared to be a woman. Her skin was a sickly pale color, with large blue purple bruises covering a large majority of her left side. Black veins bulged from he grotesquely distorted face. Her mouth lay limply detached far from her jaw, as if she were a giving a silent scream. Her teeth were rotted and mud caked. George's eyes met with the woman's shallow empty sockets. Brown, murky water leaked out from them, pouring out onto the bed.. The sight was sickening, she wanted to move away, to run from the nightmarish vision, but her legs betrayed her. And she stood there frozen.
Her eyes go back to Mason. He turned his head slowly to meet her fearful glance.
"Ssshhh...she's sleeping." He whispered with a grin.
"Mason." She asked but her words were shallow and echoed throughout the dark room.