Chapter Five

     He saw them through the window of the barn, the girl dressed in a scaty blue bikini and wrapped in a towel, the boy in shorts, sneakers, and a T-shirt. Their wet hair was plastered down and they walked close to one another, hand in hand. They were coming up from the boat dock by the lake, heading directly toward the barn. Their voices floated up to him.

     "What're you doing?" Debbie said as Andy started to pull her toward the barn.

     "We haven't been in the barn yet," Andy said, with a sly grin. "Let's take a look."

     "Not now," said Debbie, pulling away from him and walking back toward the house. "I'm cold." The water in the lake was freezing and it had brought on a sudden attack of cramps and mild nausea.

     "How about it, Debbie?" Andy said, wiggling his eyebrows and leering. "A little roll in the hay?"

     "Go play with yourself," she said, grinning at him. "I'm going in the house."

     "Hey, wait up!" he yelled, laughing and running after her.

     Jason Vorhees slowly unclenched his fists as the couple headed back up toward the house. The bloodstained plumber's wrench dropped from his hand and fell onto the floor of the barn, next to the prostrate form of Ali. He looked down at the biker's blood-spattered body and, for a moment, the raging fever within him ebbed. His breathing slowed and became more regular. A curious sort of calm came over him, as it always did after a kill. But it only lasted for a little while, and each time the period of calm was briefer than the last.

     He had fled from the deserted Camp Crystal Lake––known to the locals as "Camp Blood"––after the sheriff, with assistance from local hunter and the state police, had organized a search for him. It was the largest dragnet in the history of the state. They had started at Paul Holt's counselor training center, the scene of the recent murders, and from there they had gone on to the abandoned camp, where they had found the ruined, patched-together cabin he'd been living in. From hiding, he had watched them carrying out the bodies of the counselors he had slain and brought them to the shrine he had erected to his mother, the centerpiece of which had been her rotting, decapitated head. It was all that remained of her after the girl name Alice the soul survivor of her vengeance, had killer her at the camp, beheading her with a machete.

     Thinking he had drowned and blaming his death on inattentive counselors, Pamela Vorhees had been driven mad with grief and she had embarked upon a murderous vendetta to avenge her son. She butchered two young counselors while they were making love, savagely hacked them to pieces with a hunting knife so that their bodies were barely recognizable. Then she had poisoned the camp water supply. Each time someone tried to open up the camp again, she stopped them until Steve Christy, the son of the original owner, returned with a setup crew of counselors, determined to reopen the camp and prove once and for all that "Camp Blood" wasn't cursed, as people in the town of Crystal Lake believed. Enraged, she killed them all, except for Alice, who, in terrified desperation, struck out at her with a machete and ended her pathetic life. Only what Pamela Vorhees had never realized was that her son, Jason, had survived.

     Jason had drowned in Crystal Lake on that fateful Friday the 13th, but some feral spark within him had refused to die. He had come to on the shore, with no memory of how he had dragged himself up out of the slime at the bottom of the lake. The last thing he remembered was crying out in terror as the waters of the lake closed over him, the awful feeling of the water rushing down his throat, flooding his lungs as he tried uselessly to breathe. . . and then nothing.

     When he found himself in a clump of bushes on the shore he rolled over on his side and retched for what seemed like hours, vomiting up filthy, stagnant water, worms, and writhing maggots. After a time, he regained enough strength to crawl a short distance from the lake and collapse beneath a stand of pine trees, where he slept while his body continued the strange process of regeneration that had kept it alive despite all the rules of nature.

     He did not know how much time had passed since he had drowned, how long he had remained on the bottom of the lake, but even had he known, chances were he would not have understood. The ordeal of his "death" had dealt an irreparable blow to his tortured mind, which had never really functioned properly to start with. Despite the supernatural ability of his body to shut down and repair itself, his mind was never fully able to recover from the effects of brain death. He lived, but he did not really reason. He was a human shark, motivated by nothing more complicated than a relentless urge to kill.

     He had avenged his mother's death, then returned to the abandoned camp on the shore of Crystal Lake to carry on her grisly work. And when Paul Holt had come to open his camp counselor training center on the lakehsore near the abandoned summer camp, Jason had killed them all, save for Ginny Field, who had survived miraculously after he left her for dead. When they came with dogs and rifles to hunt him, he fled deep into the woods, then plunged into a stream and followed its course, causing the dogs to lose the scent while he doubled back to the lake and worked his way around the searchers. Instinctively, he outmaneuvered them and did the last thing they expected him to do. He returned to Crystal Lake.

     They expected him to flee deeper and deeper into the woods, heading for high ground. They would never think to look for him on the north side of the lake, closer to the town, where there was the thickest concentration of summer homes and vacation cabins. By keeping to rocky groun and then wading through the stream which fed the lake, he left no tracks for them to follow. When it grew dark, they gave up their search.

     And then he started to hunt.

     Rick parked the battered Volkswagen just off the road overlooking a quiet cove, about twenty-five yards from the water. He switched off the radio seconds before the announcer cam on with a special bulletin updating the progress of the manhunt for "The Camp Blood Killer." There was no television in the cabin and none of th em had been listening to the radio since they arrived. So far, they hadn't heard a thing about it.

     He turned the engine off, left the headlights on, then got out of the car and walked with Chris down to the water's edge. They sat down on a log and looked out over the water, which gleamed with the reflection of the moonlight and the beams from the car's headlamps. When Chris rubbed her shoulders because she felt chilly, Rick took off his denim jacket and draped it around her.

     "Is that better?" he said, moving close to her.

     She smiled at him in a distracted manner. He picked up a few pebbles and tossed them one by one into the water. He glanced at Chris after a few moments. She seemed a thousand miles away. He suddently wanted very much to take her in his arms and kiss her, but as she put his arm around her, he felt her body tense. He sighed and took his arm away. He knew something was bothering her, but he couldn't figure out what the hell it was. Was it something he had done or failed to do? Something had really changed between them since last summer. Maybe there was someone else back home, he thought. But surely, if that were the case, she would have told him.

     "You know, I don't think I could live anywhere else," he said, looking out at the lake and just talking to make conversation, hoping he could get her to open up. "The nights are always so peaceful and quiet."

     She didn't say anything for a moment, then, still not looking at him, she said softly, "It's deceiving."

     He glanced at her sharply, puzzled byt he peculiar comment. "What do you mean?"

     Again, she was silent for a moment, as if she were struggling to get the words out. "The quiet can fool you," she said finally. He saw her swallow hard. "It fooled me."

     Rick sensed that she was on the verge of telling him about it, whatever it was, but she was having a difficult time of it. Suddenly he didn't think it was another guy back home. It was something worse. Something was really bothering her. Something had happened and she was scared.

     "Chris," he said, gently prompting her, "why did you come back here?"

     She hesitated, moistening her lips. Her mouth had gone suddenly dry. "To prove something to myself," she said at last. "To prove I'm stronger than I think I am."

     "What about us?" Rick said.

     "I'm here with you," she said, looking at him intently. "Can't that be enough for now?"

     "I don't know," said Rick, his frustration mounting. She seemed about to tell him, but suddenly she backed off again. "I mean, I don't see you for months on end, and when I do, you put this barrier between us. How do I break though?"

     She sighed heavily. "You're right," she said. "I should have told you everything a long time ago, but I just couldn't" She bit her lower lip and shook her head, looking away from him. She looked as if she was about to cry.

     "Look, Chris," he said, "you don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to."

     "I want to," she said, looking at him earnestly. "I want you to know what happened so you'll understand."

     She looked away from him and stared out at the water. She was afraid to tell him, afraid that he wouldn't understand, but she could not go on any longer without telling him about it. It wasn't fair. She owed him at least that much.

     "Everything is so clear in my mind," she said, "as if it were happening right now." She shut her eyes a moment, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "I don't know if you remember," she said, "but when you dropped my off that night, it was very late. I knew my parents would be waiting up for me. But I didn't care. We'd had such a good time."

     She sighed again and looked at him briefly before looking away once more. He was watching her intently, allowing her to proceed at her own pace, just listening and not commenting. He was doing his best to make it easier for her. Maybe he really would understand, she thought. Maybe he won't blame me, as my parents did. The thought made it a little easier for her to go on. Now that she had started, she had to tell the whole story and it simply cam spilling out of her.

     "The minute I got in the door," she said, "they started yelling at me and cursing me. We had such a big fight. My mom slapped me. That was the first time my mother had ever hit me. I couldn't believe it. I ran out the door and into the woods. I wanted to punish them. I decided to hide out all night. I'd get them so worried that they'd be sorry for what they did."

     Her voice caught and she took another deep breath, trying to steady her nerves. Talking about it was bringing it vividly into focus. Rick took hold of her hanbd and gave it a reassuring squeeze. She continued.

     "It had been raining out and the woods were cold and wet. I found a dry spot under an oak tree and I guess I fell asleep. All I can remember next is being startled out of sleep by the sound of footsteps. I was sure it was Dad, so I sat up and listened for him."

     She began to tremble.

     "The footsteps stopped," she said, her heart beating faster as she relived it in her mind. Her mouth felt dry. Her skin was clammy. "Then I heard this crackling noise behind me. I turned around and standing there was this hideous-looking man. . . so grotesque he was almost inhuman. He. . . he had a knife and. . . and he attacked me with it!"

     Tears started down her face as she gripped Rick's hand with a fierce intensity but avoided looking at him. She felt herself shaking and she fought to keep her voice steady. I've got to tell it, she thought desperately, I've got to, this is part of it, I've got to face what happened. . .

     "I. . . I was so hysterical, I don't know how I was even able to think," she said, her voice trembling as she blinked back the tears, but they were running freely now, making long, moist trails down her cheeks. "But I kicked the knife out of his hands and I ran." She gulped, forcing herself to go on. "But he ran after me and pulled me down to the ground. I was kicking and screaming, but it dind't do any good. Then. . . oh, God. . . then he dragged me by the hair along the ground. . . And I. . . I blacked out. . . I just don't know what happened after that. I-just-don't-know!"

     She broke down, sobbing uncontrollably, burying her face in Rick's shoulder as he gently pulled her close and stroked her hair. He had an agonized expression on his face as he understood for the first time why she had stiffened every time he tried to touch her, what it must have been like for her to be assaulted like that and not know what happened suspecting the awful truth, wanting to know and, at the same time, being terrified of knowing.

     "It's all right," he said softly, stroking her hair gently, feeling her pain. "You're all right now."

     He held her until she cried herself out and pulled away, taking deep breaths as she tried to calm herself. She wiped her eyes and smiled at him weakly, grateful beyond words for this understanding.

     "When I woke up, I was in my own bed," she continued, holding on to his hands. She shook her head. "My parents never said a word about it. They act as if the whold thing never happened. But it did."

     And they knew it too, she thought, and they blamed her for it and never forgave her, either. They acted as though what she put them through––which was, of course, the way they would have thought ot it––could possibly compare with an experience as terrible as the one she'd had, so terrible that her mind had blocked it out.

     "All I want to do is just forget it," she said, but I can't. I'll never forget that horrible face! Never!"

     The headlights on the car suddenly went out and she jerked as if struck.

     "What's that?"

     They turned around, looking back toward the car, but there wasn't anyone in sight.

     "Damn it, it's the battery," Ricky said. "I charged it yesterday, but it must not have taken."

     They walked back to the car.

     "It may just start anyway," he said, somewhat dubiously. "Let me try."

     He opened the door, got in, and turned the key, but it was dead as a doornail.

     "We're gonna have to walk back," he said, getting out and putting his arm around her protectively. "It's okay."

     He looked at her and could see that she was shaken, but her eyes were shining and she looked incredibly relieved. It suddenly occurred to him that she had been afraid he'd pull away from her, afraid that he wouldn't understand and that he'd shut her out after he found out what had happened, as if it were her fault that some sick bastard had. . . My God, he thought, no wonder she'd been acting that way every time he tried to touch her! She had been violated and the assault had been upon the very core of her being. She felt unclean and was terrified that he would perceive her that way and want nothing more to do with her! Sweet Jesus, he thought, did she really think I'd turn my back on her just because she had been hurt? Did she really think I wouldn't be there when she needed me the most?

     Perhaps it was a corny gesture, but he offered her his arm. And it was exactly the right thing to do. With a smile, she hooked her arm through his and together they started back down the road.

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