"You know, I'm getting kind of sick of camping." Mike yawned, rubbing his eyes as he wandered out of his tent. His three friends, Sarah, Alex and Jade were already awake; heating their feeble breakfast of baked beans and pita bread over a portable stove that Jade had brought with her.
It was the height of summer, and Alex had mentioned how a wood near him had a clearing in the middle that would be perfect for a camping trip. The wood had always been strangely quiet, so they didn't need to worry about dangerous animals.
"Then by all means go home if you can't handle the tent." Sarah laughed as he slumped down onto the group next to her and began to eat.
The morning passed lazily, punctuated by Jade's regular insistence that they should go for a walk around the woods. Alex groaned at the thought of the excess exercise and complained that if he was meant to go for walks then there should at least be something interesting there. At last, though, they all agreed that they would wander around for a while.
That afternoon, after an hour or two of walking (and an hour or two of bitter complaining) they came to another clearing.
"Alex, this one would have been way better for the tents!" Sarah exclaimed, looking around, "the ground's completely flat and there aren't any trees blocking the sun!"
"I don't know." Jade shuddered, "This place is really creeping me out."
"What? You've just been watching too many scary movies. I bet you expect that we'll find an old cabin inhabited by a hermit with a creepy basement soon enough." Mike laughed. Jade glared at him.
"Hey- look at this!" Sarah called out, pointing to a crack in the base of a particularly old tree. She stuck her hand in it and pulled it back, holding a small wooden box.
"What's in it?" Mike asked.
"Probably nothing valuable." Alex shrugged.
Jade on the other hand, was staring at the box with a terrified look on her face. "Don't open it Sarah."
"What? Why not?" The woman started to undo the rusted, metal latch on the front of it.
"I'm serious!" Jade squeaked, "This thing is really starting to freak me out! Just put it back where you found it and let's go back to the tents!"
Sarah had already opened the box and dug about inside it by the time her friend finished speaking. She withdrew her fingers holding a bright white mask, which she held up to the light to look at.
"Wow a mask." Mike said, disappointed.
"I wonder why it's here." Sarah muttered thoughtfully. "Hey guys, check this out."
She pulled the mask onto her face and tied it up, looking around at all of them.
"You look gorgeous." Mike laughed as Alex joined in. They glanced around to see that Jade wasn't there.
"I guess she freaked out and went back to the tents." Alex shrugged, "We should probably go apologise to her for scaring her."
After they had eaten and Jade had grudgingly forgiven Sarah, the four returned to their tents. Alex lay awake for a while, regretting drinking his entire bottle of water in one sitting and just before he went to bed. He sighed; it looked as if he would have to get up to find a place to go to the toilet. He left the tent, scowling when he saw that no one had packed away the cutlery and plates from earlier. He quickly bent down and packed them all into their respective boxes. Alex looked briefly for a few of things that appeared to be lost- a couple of forks, a knife and a cracked plate- before giving up and resolving to finish it in the morning.
He was returning to his tent from behind the tree they had designated as the temporary men's' toilet when he saw a figure standing a short way off. He recognised it by the short build and curly red hair as Sarah and walked up to greet her. He stopped when he noticed that something was very off about the woman; she was standing totally rigid, staring straight ahead at the dark forest, and was still wearing the white mask they had found earlier.
"Um... Sarah? Are you alright?"
No reply. He walked closer, to see something glinting in her hand. The missing knife from earlier.
"Sarah? It's Alex, Are you alright?"
Still no answer. Despite every impulse he had, telling him to try to run away; Alex walked so that he was standing in front of Sarah.
"Sarah, is something the-"
Mike awoke to the sound of screaming from somewhere not too far away. Muttering about how it was probably Alex's idea of a practical joke, he stormed out of his tent and in the direction of the noise.
He cried out in surprise as he felt something wet drip onto his forehead. Looking up, Mike saw that the leaves of the trees above him were dripping with red.
"Alex? Sarah? Jade?" He called out. He froze as he saw Sarah standing a short distance away, with her back to him.
"Sarah! You're ok, I saw the leaves and I thought you might have been hurt!" He gushed in relief, running towards the red-head. Sarah turned around, and it was only then that he saw the splatter of red all up the front of her clothes and the stained knife in her hand.
Sarah looked down at Mike, admiring her handiwork. At last, she felt the same compulsion as she had earlier that had told her to attack the two men. With no resistance, the woman lifted the knife to her own throat.
Jade rolled out of bed early the next day. She left the tent, only barely registering that no one was outside. She guessed that they were all still asleep and so after calling Sarah's name a few times, entered the woman's tent.
She was gone.
Jade went to the other two's tents. They were missing as well.
The next few hours saw Jade searching the area frantically for her three friends before using her mobile to call the police.
Weeks later and there was still no sign of Mike, Sarah and Alex. All they did find was a bloodstained knife and a dark red mask.