Who’s Behind the Mask?

October Challenge Winner


Katie Larsen

Katie Larsen, Contributor

The wind roared through the trees. Nicole couldn’t sleep. Her long blonde hair hung limp over her face.  The night sky stood as an inky canopy of darkness freckled only by the fewest of stars, where just hours ago it had been a blue summer’s day. The occasional hoot of a hidden owl was the only sound that lingered in the silence until a roar of laughter rang out. Nicole shuddered. She knew that this had something to do with the mask, but how. Nicole listened to the other girls snoring and wondered how they could be asleep. She sat in her bed thinking back to what had happened earlier in the evening. The frightening memory invaded her head. Unable to block it any longer, the vivid details came crashing back.

     A fire crackled in the center of the campsite, projecting long shadows on the surrounding areas. The light cast by the flames danced across the dark trunks of the trees, twisting and curling in obscure shapes and providing a large radius of light. All the campers had been laughing and having fun until suddenly, the fire went out. The noises stopped. The silence was like a gaping void, needing to be filled with sounds, words, anything.

     Out of nowhere a mask dropped to the ground and an eerie laughter  had began. It was a cruel mocking laugh. Then suddenly, a voice called out “Touch the mask I dare you, but if you do everyone here will die.”  It was low, with an agreeable trace of huskiness and a hint of power. Nobody knew what to do. We didn’t know if it was a joke or if it was real. Nobody moved.

     A group of boys had started saying that it was prank and were blaming each other. The oldest of the group stepped forward slowly clapping. “I applaud the mastermind behind this glorious prank but I have to put it to an end” he said, spitting on the mask. Everyone had realized that it was just a stupid prank. The counselors had restarted the fire and were then trying to figure out who had set up the prank. The rest of the evening had been uneventful but something had irked Nicole.

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     In her bed, Nicole was trying to decide if she believed that the mask was really a prank, since it seemed kinda hard to pull off. She sat with her arms wrapped around herself.  All of a sudden she heard a scream. It was the kind of scream that made your blood run cold, you could hear the panic in it . It pierced the brain and ignited some primeval pathway. The need to go run and help overwhelmed Nicole. The scream was followed by the laughter from before. Nicole knew this had something to do with the mask instantaneously. She jumped from her bed as did all the other girls.They were all freaked out. A counselor had come in and said, “ Go back to bed. We will inform you all of the situation in the morning.” Nicole didn’t need an explanation she knew what had happened. He was dead.

     When they were told what had happened in the morning most of the campers wanted to go home. Nicole couldn’t because her family was on vacation. What had worried her the most was there was no murder weapons or cause of death.

     Slowly over the weeks, more and more campers had been murdered the same way. The camp was sending home everybody as fast as the can. By the end of the month there was only about ten campers and five counselors left. The camp was like an abandoned house. The grim and gloomy buildings was the worst excuse for a camp she’d ever seen, it was like a long-abandoned prison or insane asylum. The doors and windows were covered with a thick layer of dust.

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     Nicole was left at the camp with no friends, no protection and no way to contact her family. The counselors were so unhelpful but that was expected. Each day that she stayed there, the more she felt the panic spread. Every night the screams tore through the air. Each one with more despair than the last. Nicole was unable to ignore it anymore. Her protective instincts took over. The need to investigate was so intense because it pained her to just sit there and watch other people’s lives be destroyed.The mask has to have came from somewhere. It wasn’t magic. Nicole went to research this terrible event.

     At first all of her searches on the camps computer were pointless She was coming up empty handed. Nicole was ready to blow a gasket. Desperation had overfilled her body, she felt ready to drown in it. Then suddenly, a story popped up. It read:

     Summer camp , Camp Clear Lake, was shut down a year ago today due to a mass murder. The killer has still yet to be found. The murders span between June 8th to July 29th. There is no evidence or leads other than the  mask left at each crime scene. There is only one camper who survived this massacre. The police urge you to step forward if you have any important information.

       The tightness in Nicole’s chest increase with each word of the article. In that moment, she knew she wasn’t going to make it and silent tears streamed down her cheeks. Nicole decided then and there, in the musty library surrounded by books, that when he came for her she would not scream at the masked figure. She would remain unafraid.

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Later in that week, Nicole was asleep laying as still as a brick. The only movement was the slight rise and fall of her chest. She was woken to the sound of footsteps. The floors creaked loudly. Her heart beat was loud in her ears as she turned towards the sounds. She saw a large dark shadow of a man standing over her bed.  The heard voice from the night of the campfire said to her “None of you believed I would kill you, but I did and you’re the next to go.” The figure laughed loud and hard. A leathery hand reached towards her and she felt a strong need to scream but she refused. She would let her fear stop her.

     Nicole didn’t try to run or fight because she knew her small stature wouldn’t stand a chance. She  just looked up to the tall man standing over her and smiled sweetly. On the outside,she seemed as calm as death itself. But on the inside, her heart had stopped and her stomach was a ball of nerves. She could tell the figure was confused by her reaction towards him.

     The pair stared at each other for what seemed like eternity. Then a single word slipped out of Nicole’s mouth. “why”. The masked figure’s shoulders slumped instantaneously.  The man would not look at her.

     He backed out slowly of the cabin. As he stood at the open door prepared to walk out into the dark wilderness. He whispered “ I don’t know. I’m sorry.”  The masked man was never seen again and he never committed a murder.

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     Sixty years later,  Nicole was old and sick. Even though it was ages ago  she still remembered her encounter with the masked figure.From that day on she never let her fear make her decision and she lived life to the fullest.   She didn’t know who he is or where he is. One day, a package came inside was a mask she recognized instantly and and a card that said, I did it to feel alive. What makes you feel alive Nicole?