Attempt to save Meredith

Whoever that is, Meredith certainly won’t be able to take it alone. You sprint off after her, screaming for her to stop.

As she approaches the campfire, she screams, the person — the creature — lunging for her.

But you’re almost there, too. You reach her at the same time, bodies crashing into one another and tumbling back towards the campfire. Without looking back, you and Meredith scramble to your feet around the fire, looking for a way out that isn’t the way you came.

But you’re stuck there, frozen in horror by the trees. Because they aren’t heavy with pine needles and snow — they’re heavy with people. Arms, legs, and torsos speared on sharpened branches, a primordial meat locker of drying human flesh.

And The Butcher, now back on its feet, has none of your hesitations. It is long and loping, fingers hooked and sharp. In the glittering fire it’s skin shimmers with blood and sweet, mangy hair covering everything except for a mouthful of bone-white teeth.

There is nowhere left to run.

A) Bumrush it again, bowling over it
B) Stand your ground
C) Push Meredith in front of you and run

Go and look for Jackie with Meredith.

“Steven? What’ll it be?”

But Steven is already walking away, obscured by the storm. He turns back to tell you that he’ll send for help, and then he’s gone.

As he slips away, you a scream erupts behind you. Before you can stop her, Meredith charges right for it.

“JACKIE! We’re coming Jackie!”

You sprint to keep up with her, climbing higher and higher up the ridgeline. The branches poke and stab, your coat/jacket in tatters, until you reach a small clearing. You freeze.

In the distance, a campfire burns through the storm. It’s in a secluded area, the shadowy trees thick with pine needles that shield it from the wind. You can just make out the silhouette of the someone before the fire, warming their hands.

“JACKIE” Meredith cries, stepping forwards.

They turn their head, looking right at you, but the face is still obscured. Meredith is already running towards it as it stands, slowly. And it’s only as Merdith is just about to arrive that you realize that this isn’t Jenny. They’re much too tall to be Jenny, the limbs loo long and gangly.

BBAAABBAAA) Help Meredith
BBAAABBAAB) Get out of there

“What the hell is going on here?”

“Look, we don’t have time to –” Steven’s words are cut off by a mangled scream in the distance.

“Oh god. It’s here.” Meredith is backing up, eyes brimming with tears.

The humming grows closer.

“What’s here? Is this some stupid Alphi Kai bullshit?” Look, just because people thought it was funny when you’re in school doesn’t mean it’s funny now. You didn’t come back to be messed with. “I’m not in the mood for games.”

“These aren’t games. This is… well, I don’t know what this is.” Steven sighs, and for the first time, you notice the blood trickling down his forehead.

“G-ggg-gg-guys…” You turn to Meredith, confusion and horror on her face. “Where’s Jackie?”

“We need to keep moving, now.”

“Steven! We can’t leave Jackie!”

“It’s too late to save her.

“Go if you want,” Meredith says, “Real friends hang together.”

They turn to you expectantly.

A) Go and look for Jackie with Meredith.
B) Get out of here with Steven.

Head towards the voices.

“I’ll be right over,” you call out. As you follow the sound of the voice, your flashlight catches something shiny, just off the trail. It looks like a watch, dangling from the trees. You can’t be sure, not in the snow, but it seems like it’s still attached to a hand…

Someone grabs you by the shoulders! In your panic, you trip and fall to the ground.

“I can’t believe you made it this far!” You turn to see three people, roughly your age. They reach down and pick you up, introducing themselves as Steven, Meredith, and Jackie. Their eyes dart around the woods worriedly.

“Thank god I found you guys! Started to wonder if I was all alone out here.”

“You’re not.”

Sheesh. Warm welcome. “I think the ropes course is this way,” you say, “I feel like I have my bearings again.”

“You don’t want to go to the ropes course.”

A twig snaps behind you. In the distance, a low, grinding noise echoes through the trees.

“We need to go, now.”

Go where? You did just meet these people after all. And something about them makes you nervous — their darting eyes and shuffling feet putting you on edge.

A) “What the hell is going on here?”

B) “Alright, let’s go.”

Go right, up onto the ridge.

Maybe you can get a better view from the high ground. You should always take the high ground. You start hiking, the sharpened branches closing in around the trail.

It’s steep. You’re practically climbing, scrambling up roots and rocks. By the time you make it to the top it’s nearly nightfall, and you can hardly see the forest floor. A light snow begins to fall, further obscuring your vision.

You fumble for the flashlight on your phone when you hear:

“Hey! Is that you? Come over here. Quickly!”

It’s not a voice you recognize. Still, your only other option is to backtrack into the gorge.

A) Backtrack into the gorge

B) Head to the voices

Find your own way to the course.

Screw waiting, you know your way The Glen like the back of your hand. You set off into the woods with a pep in your step.

It’s gotten dark since you left the dorm, as if the clouds were lower. Or maybe it’s the woods themselves. Even though the trees are stripped of their leaves, they block out everything — the sun, the wind, the sounds of campus. Your only companion is the soft crunch of leaves beneath your feet and the quiet, visible panting of your breath.

Before you is a fork in the road, and, for the first time, your memory fails you. Maybe you don’t remember how to get to the ropes course… To the left, the trail snakes down into a gorge, and you can hear the faintest sound of running water. To your right, the path shoots up along a ridge, curving away from campus.

BBAAAA) Go left, into the gorge.

BBAAAB) Go right, up onto the ridge.

Nature Walk & Ropes Course

“Careful,” the student says, smiling. “Rumor has it that The Butcher is back.” You smile at the old ghost story, a holdover from days spent hazing freshman every Halloween. It’s good to know the new students keep up traditions. No matter how long it’s been, some things never change.

Butcher or not, nothing beats an autumn walk in the woods. You thank the student and head down the old, familiar paths towards The Glen. You brush past the old, stone buildings you used to study in, each window black. For what feels like the first time, you see other people on campus, but they’re all at a distance, jackets pulled around their faces. No one turns towards you or acknowledges your presence, but you get the feeling that they’re watching you.

It’s a relief when you’re past the last building, it’s darkened windows behind you as you approach the path into the woods.

You look around for a group, but all you see is a note nailed to a tree. It reads:

“Dear Alumni, if you’re reading this, we’re already at the ropes course. If you know the Glen, feel free to find us. Otherwise, wait for the next Orientation Leader to arrive.”

So, what’ll it be?

A) Find your own way to the course.

B) Wait for an orientation leader.

Wait for an Orientation Leader

Screw that — you aren’t going in alone. You pull your coat up over your neck and sit and wait. Off in the distance, deep in the woods, you hear a low, rumbling hum. It could be the ropes course, you think.

Or, says a small voice in your head, it’s The Butcher.

You shiver. It’s getting dark much too quickly you think. The clouds are getting thicker, heavier, blotting out the light. And still, no sign of a leader. Off in the distance, the warm glow of Fraternity row beckons — a chance to get out of the cold, at the very least. Behind you, the rumbling grows deeper, louder, like a low and insistent bass note from far in the woods. It’s clear no one is coming. So do you?

A) Find your own way to the course
B) Check out Fraternity Row

“Alright, let’s go.”

Something about the look in their eyes tells you to listen. You nod wordlessly and follow them back up the trail.

“There’s no use going back to campus. There’s a peak not far from here where we can call for help,” Jackie says.

“Help from what?” you ask.

“The Butcher,” whispers Meredith.

The snow is falling harder now, so hard you can barely see the person in front of you. You reach out to grab each other’s hands, forming a human chain through the forest. Just audible over the crunch of your boots in the snow, the grating, incessant hum returns. Behind you, Jackie trips, pulling you with her. You lose your grip on Steven.

“Sorry,” Jackie says, “I hit a root or something.” Waving your arm frantically, you find his wrist again, the chain complete. “I know we’re close. Just keeping going straight.”

You keep trudging through the snow, the human chain pulling you up the trail. The trees are thinning out. In the distance, even though the storm, you can see the glow of the campus. And, up ahead, some light, a campfire is going, somehow, in the middle of the blizzard.

“Oh my god,” Jackie says, “we’re back at the ropes course.” She’s right. All around you

“Steven, we need to turn around. STEVEN, turn around!” Jackie release you. But the human chain keeps moving forward. You try to let go but it won’t let go back.

Behind you, Jackie screams.

“Steven!” You cry. “STEVEN let go of me!” As you get closer to the fire, you realize the silhouette before you is much bigger than any of yours. It’s skin, reflected in the flickering blaze, is sticky with leaves, sweat, and blood, its grip ironclad. Whatever hand is holding you, the hand leading you to safety, isn’t Steven’s.

That’s because Steven’s hand has already been laid by the fire, his skin a crackling brown. He’s next to Meredith and Jackie, each of them rolled much too close to the flames for comfort. Much too close, for anything, you quickly realize.

Anything but cooking.

Give it another go?

Get the hell out of there

You take off, in no hurry to see what happened to her. You can hear what’s happening well enough. You’re tearing throw the woods, running whatever direction you can. But it’s not long until the humming returns — louder, needier, the breath on the back of your neck.

Until suddenly there are no woods anymore. You trip in a ditch and sprawl onto an old country road, tumbling into the rough gravel street. You slowly rise to your feet, feeling blood coming from your head. Stars and lights flash through your vision, but even then, you can see the teeth. The shining, shimmering teeth, smiling wickedly from the safety of the trees.

They are the last thing you see as the very real lights swerve in the snow, the oncoming snow truck losing control in the snow as it plows through you, trapping you underneath it as it rips you to shreds over the stones. The plowman, distraught, calls the police to come, quickly, but it’s already too late. Your pieces have already been collected.

Start over?