Chapter Eight

     Rick played the flashlight beam on the ground before them as they walked down the winding dirt road that ran parallel to the lakeshore. Chris had her arm around his waist. He stopped for a moment as they came to a bend in the road, gently pulled her close, and kissed her. For once, she didn't pull away, but responded hungrily. Then she broke the kiss and smiled at him.

     "Great shortcut, Rick," she said sarcastically, knowing perfectly well that it would have been quicker for them to take the hiking trail along the lakeshore. But she didn't really mind. It was a tremendous load off her mind that he understood what she had gone through and she wished now that she'd told him about it before. It had been unfair to him, but things would be better now. She shivered slightly in the cool night air. "Come on," she said, pulling him along, "let's move it."

     "Always spoiling my fun," said Rick, grinning at her.

     Something crunched behind them.

     "What was that noise?" He spun around, shining the light behing them.

     "What?" said Chris, alarmed.

     "I don't know," Rick replied. "I heard something over there."

     "Come on, let's get home," said Chris, her nerves on edge. They weren't too far from where she had been attacked.

     The moon was full, and dark clouds scudded across it. The wind was getting quite strong. They walked quickly down the graded dirt road, their footsteps crunching on the gravel. The leaves were rustling fiercely and the trees were starting to bend. Rick and Chris squinted and leaned forward slightly as they walked.

     "This wind sure came up," Rick said, squeezing his eyes shut against some windblown dust.

     They turned off the main road and trotted quickly down the drive leading to the house. They crossed the wooden bridge over the dry streambed and the house came into view as they rounded a stand of pine trees.

     The windows were all open and the curtains were billowing out. The house was dark, except for the faint golden glow from the fireplace that kept the house from looking completely deserted.

     "Seems awfully quiet around here," said Chris as they approached the house. "It's hard to believe the wild bunch is already in bed."

     "Yeah, well, who knows with those guys?" Rick said. After that had happened to his car, he wasn't exactly thrilled with Chris' friends. He'd have been just as happy if they weren't around anymore.

     They climbed up the steps to the porch, Rick lighting the way, and Chris reached for the knob on the front door. She turned it and the door opened a couple of inches, then came to a stop, stuck. She frowned and pushed on it, but it wouldn't budge.

     "I can't get this door open," she said, glancing at Rick. "There's something behind it."

     "Here, take this," said Rick, handing her the flashlight. "Let me do it."

     He grasped the knob and shoved the door, putting his shoulder to it, forcing it open with a scraping sound. He got it open wide enought for them to slip inside.

     "Oh, no wonder," he said as soon as they got in. "Somebody put this chair there."

     He moved the wooden kitchen chair aside, thinking at first that the others put it there as a prank, but then he frowned as she sniffed the air.

     "Something's burning," he said. "Look at the stove."

     He tried the light switch as Chris went quickly to the kitchen. He flicked the switch several times, up and down, with no result. Something was definitely wrong here, he thought. He followed Chris into the kitchen.

     "Oh, real smart!" she said, holding a charred pot with a towel around the handle. Inside it were the remains of blackened, smoking popcorn. She turned off the burner, dumped the smoking pot into the sink and ran cold water over it. She made a face as a cloud of steam rose up from the charred pot.

     "The lights aren't working, either," RIck said.

     Chris stared at him, perplexed. "What's going on around here?"

     "I don't know," said Rick sourly. "You tell me. They're your friends." His tone clearly indicated his disapproval. "Listen, I'm going to go on out to the living room and check out what's going on out there."

     He half expected to find them crashed out on the couch, stoned to the gills. And if that was the case, despite the fact that they were Chris' friends, he was going to give them hell about it. They might've burned the house down.

     He went into the living room, but it was empty, although the logs in the fireplace were burning brightly. After trying the light switches in the living room, he discovered they didn't work, either. The power must be out thoughtout the house, he thought. The main fuse was probably blown.

     "Andy? Debbie?" he called out, glancing up at the second-floor balcony. "You guys up there? Anybody here?"

     He went back into the kitchen. Chris was scrubbing out the pot with steel wool by the light of a kerosene lamp.

     "Everybody else has taken off and left us," he said.

     She looked up at him with surprise. "They wouldn't do that."

     Maybe not, he thought. And the van was still parked outside. But he couldn't think of any other explanation for this kind of strange behavior. In weather like this, they certainly wouldn't be down by the lake, would they? Perhaps they were outside in the barn. If this was all some sort of prank they were playing, it wasn't very funny.

     "Well, I don't know what's going on," said Rick, "but I'm going to go outside and take a look around."

     "Rick, wait!" Chris called after him as he went out the door. "I want to come with you!"

     She quickly rinsed off the pot and put it on the counter, then ran after him, wiping her hands on her jeans.

     Outside, Rick ran down the porch steps and walked aorund the side of the house, heading toward the barn. He heard the crunch of a heavy footstep on the gravel.

     "Andy?" he said. "Is that you?"

     He started to turn when he was suddenly seized from behind.

     "Rick?" Chris called, coming into the living room. She looked around, but the living room was empty. He must have already gone outside, she thought. She suddenly felt creepy standing all alone in the empty house. She went up tot the front door and opened it, hesitating before going out on the front porch. She felt nervous about going outside.

     She stepped out onto the front porch and looked around. He was nowhere in sight. "Rick?" she called out nervously.

     Rick was only about twenty feet away, but he couldn't answer her. A large, callused hand was clamped over his mouth and nose, holding him so that he couldn't breath. A powerful arm was wrapped around his chest, pinning his arms to his sides and immobilizing him. His feet were off the ground, and though he kicked and struggled with all his might, he couldn't break loose or even shout out to warn Chris. Jason held him as easily as if he were an infant.

     Chris stood out on the front porch for a moment, looking out into the darkness, then decided to go back inside. As she closed the door behind her, Jason placed his hands on either side of Rick's head and began to squeeze. Rick gulped for air and started to scream, but the pressure ws so great that it felt as if his skull were being crushed in a winepress. A keening, high-pitched groan escaped from his throat, and then his skull began to fracture, cracking like a walnut and sending bone splinters deep into his brain. His eyes popped out of their sockets, his jawbones cracked, and his cheek bones shattered as blood spurted from his mouth and nostrils. Chris opened a window on the side of the house and called out his name, but he was hard pressed to answer.

     After closing the window, Chris headed back toward the kitchen, wishing Rick woudl come back soon so that he could do something about the lights. She started and jerked back as something dripped onto her head from above. She looked up. A steady trickle of water was coming down from overhead.

     "Oh-oh," she said. "Where's that coming from?"

     Frowning, she picked up the lantern and went up the spiral staircase to the second-floor balcony. Maybe they were upstairs all along, but they simply weren't answereing, she thought. Hell, if they were fooling around up in the bathroom and they flooded the damn place. . . .

     "I don't know what kind of game you guys are playin'," she called out, "but I don't like it!"

     There was no response. She reached the top of the stairs and stood still for a moment, listening.

     "Debbie? You guys up here?"

     She stopped in front of the bathroom door. What the hell were they doing in there in the dark? Her foot stepped into a puddle formed by the water seeping out from underneath the door. Through the door, she could hear the sound of water running.

     "Hey, come on, you guy!" she shouted, pushing in the door. "You're wrecking the house!"

     The bathtub was overflowing. She reached out and yanked the shower curtain aside. There were some clothed floating in the tub. Angrily, she reached down and turned off the faucet. Damn that Debbie, she thought, what did she do, throw some sweaters in to soak and then forget to turn the water off? Where the hell were they?

     And then she noticied a dark stain in the water. She held the lantern floser and saw that it was blood seeping out of the clothes, turning the water red. With a sharp intake of breath, she lifted the bloody shirt out of the tub, stared at it with a stunned expression, then dropped it back into the tub and raced down the stairs.

     "Rick!" she shouted.

     She ran across the living room, opened the front door, and race down the porch steps toward the barn.

     "Rick!" she yelled.

     Something had happened, something terrible, she knew it! That shirt had been completely soaked with blood. My God, she thought, what could have happened? They couldn't have gone anywhere, the van is still here, something awful must have . . . .

     A sharp gust of wind blew through the tree branches and something cracked above her. She screamed as Loco's blood-soaked body dropped down directly in front of her and hung upside down from a splintered branch overhead.

     "Rick!" she shrieked, recoiling from the grisly sight and sobbing hysterically as she ran back to the house. SHe sped up the porch steps and burst into the house, screaming, "Rick!"! Where are you?"

     The wind outside was building up to hurricane force. A strong gust blew the window open. She shrieked as it slammed against the inside wall, then raced over the window, forced it shut, and bolted it. Another gust of wind blew open the door and she screamed again, then ran over to the door and slammed it shut, bolting it and barricading it. Her heart was hammering inside her chest, pounding against her rib cage like a wild thing trying to claw its way out. She couldn't stop sobbing.

     "RICK!" she screamed, hysterically. "Help me!"

     The large bay window suddenly exploded inward shattering in a rain of glass as Rick's corpse came flying through it to fall with a soft, wet sound onto the living room floor.

     "RICK!" She threw her hands up to her face and screamed as she knelt down beside him, reaching out for him instinctively, then jerking her hands back. Her hands came away covered with blood and she gave a frenzied scream when she saw what had happened to his face. "RICK!"

     Heavy footsteps sounded on the porch outside nad she looked up, terror-stricken, to see the immense form of Jason Voorhees stepping through the bay window with an ax in his hand.

     Terror trip-hammered adrenaline through her system as she scrambled to her feet and bolted for the stairs. She ran up the spiral stairfacse, hearing his booted feet behind her, crunching the glass on the living room floor. She looked down and saw him at the base of the stairs, holding the ax and looking out from behind the hockey mask with those demented eyes. He started up after her.

     She turned to the heavy bookcase that stood against the wall of the blacony, and with all her strength, she pulled on it. The heavy bookcase tipped over, hitting the blacony railing and sending a rain of books down on her pursuer. Jason raised his hand to ward off the heavy books, but the case came crashing down on top of him.

     Chris ran down the hall. She tried the bathroom door, then hesitated, realizing that would probably be the first place he would look. She ran down to the end of the hall, desperately trying to think of a place to hide. The closet!

     She bolted inside and pulled the door shut behind her, locking it and bending down to peek out through the keyhole. There was no sign of him. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. Sobbing and hyperventilating, she bit down on her knuckles to try and keep herself from making and noise. He'll check the bathroom, then the bedrooms, and when he passes the closet and goes into Shelly's room, I'll have a chance to run back down the hall and get downstairs and out the front door. . . .

     She leaned forward and looked out through the keyhold once again. The hallway was empty, and everything seemed quiet. Maybe the falling bookcase had killed him, she thought, swallowing hard and trying to make herself think straight, fighting the mindless panic that was welling up inside her. Bust what if it had only knocked him out? What if she went out there and ran into him as he was on his way up the stairs to get her?

     She closed her eyes and bit her lower lip hard enought to draw blood. Then, clenching her hands into fists in an effort to keep herself under control, she squeezed herself back in behind the clothes hanging on the bar. And then she bumped into something. . . someone. . . .

     She turned and came face-to-face with Debbie's blood-spattered corpse propped up against the closet wall. The carving knife protruded from her throat. She recoiled in terror as the body fell forward onto the floor of the closet and, unable to control herself, she cried out, then immediately slapped her hand over her mouth as she realized what she had done. She quickly bent down and glanced out through the keyhole. . . and saw Jason charging down the hallway, his ax raised, heading directly for the closet!

     She jreked back only seconds before the ax came crashing through the wooden door, inches away from her. She screamed as the ax was pulled back for another shuddering blow, splintering the door. There was no way out. She was trapped! And then she glanced down at Debbie's body, at the carving knife stuck through her throat. . . .

     She reached down, trembling, and pulled the knife out as the ax crashed through the closet door again, putting a gaping hole in it through which Jason shoved his arm as he groped for the lock. With all her might, Chris drove the knife though the back of his hand.

     An ordinary man would have screamed in agony, but Jason merely let out a moan that was muffled by his mask and pulled his hand back. The ax fell to the floor. Pursuing her advantage, Chris lunded out of the closet, flailing at him with the knife, slashing at him furiously. He backed away, slipped on the water in the hall, and wnet down to one knee. The knife came down, narrowly missing his chest, and became embedded in his thigh. He howled with pain, clutching at his wounded leg. He was still between Chris and the stairway, blocking the hall. She remembered that there was a window in Shelly's bedroom at the other end of the hall.

     She turned and ran down the lenght of the corridor and grasped the doorknob. But the door was stuck. She shoved her shoulder into it, but it wouldn't budge. When she threw herself against the door again, then kicked it as hard as she could, it burst open just as Jason plucked the carving knife out of his leg and hurled it at her. It whistled past her head and stuck in the door frame.

     "No!" she scremed, and plunged into the bedroom. Without pausing, driven by sheer terror, she picked up a chair and hurled it through the window. It smashed through and fell to the ground below. She kicked out the remaining shards of glass, then squeezed through the window and hung from the sill on the second story. She had no choice, she had to do it. She took a deep breath as she prepared to drop when Jason reached through the broken window and grabbed the collar of her jacket. He started to haul her back in.

     "No! NO!" she screamed, pounding at him furiously in an effort to get free. But her blows had no effect, and he continued to pull her in. With a ripping sound, the thin cloth of the jacket tore and she plunged to the ground, leaving part of her jacket in Jason's hands.

     She had enough presence of mind to allow her legs to collapse beneath her and roll as she hit, dissipating the impact. She was momentarily stunned by the fall, but otherwise uninjured. She scrambled up and saw him throw the remains of her jacket to the ground and duck back into the bedroom.

     She knew he'd be coming down after her, and she needed to get around to the front of the house, where the van was parked. She'd never be able to move fast enough. Somehow, she had to slow him down. She shrugged out of the remains of her torn jacket and ran to the porch. Through the window, she could see him coming down the spiral staircase. She grabbed a heavy log off the pile of firewood on the porch and stood against the wall by the fron door, the log held high over her head. As he opened the door and came out on to the porch, she stepped in behind him and brought the log down on his head with all her might.

     He grunted and crashed through the porch railing, falling and landing facedown on the ground. She stared at him for a second, holding her breath. He didn't move.

     She rand down the porch steps and headed for the van. She made it to the door and jumped in just as Jason was starting to pick himself up off the ground.

     "Keys! Keys!" she shouted as she pawed frantically through her pockets. "Come on!"

     She found them and rammed them into the ingition switch. The motor started right up and she sobbed with relieft, shifted into reverse, and backed the van around.

     Jason staggered into her path, limping on his wounded leg.

     She set her teeth, shifted into first, and floored it, aiming the van right for him. At the last possible instant, he leaped out of the way, throwing himself to one side as the van hurtled past him. Jubilant, Christ headed for the wooden bridge. . . but the van suddenly lurched, sputtered, and stalled in the center of the bridge over the dried-up steambed.

     "No!" Chris shrieked. She turned to ingition key again and pumped the gas pedal, all with no result. The starter motor whined, but the engine simply wouldn't start.

     "Come on! Come on!" she shouted.

     Her gaze fell on the gas gauge. Empty! But it couldn't be, she thought. It had read at least half full when they pulled in! There was no way she could have known that the bikers had siphoned all the gas out. She hammered at the steering wheel in frustration and then she glanced into the sideview mirror.

     Jason was hobbling down the driveway toward the van, limping from the wound in his thigh, but moving quiclky nevertheless. Hysteria threatened to overcome her and then she suddenly remembered the reserve tank. She reached under the dashboard and flicked the switch, pumping the gas pedal to prime the carburetor. She glanced terror-stricken in the mirror as Jason came closer and closer. Whimpering with fear, she turned the ignition key again and the engine roared to life!

     She yelled triumphantly, and at that moment, the rotted, loose wooden planks beneath her cracked and splintered, buckling under the weight of the van so that the rear wheels dropped through the broken bridge planks up to the axle. Then the entire rear half of the van dropped through as the support beams gave way and Chris' body whipped back against the seat and was then thrown forward, her head striking the steering wheel.

     The engine stalled.

     Dazed, Chris shook her head just as Jason reached through the open windown on the driver's side and grabbed her around the throat. She gasped for breath, unable to cry out as the powerful fingers squeezed relentlessly. Then, in a last desperate attempt to free herself, she reached out for the window handle and cranked the window up, trapping his wrists against the top of the door frame. His hold on her loosened momentarily, and she lunged across the seat, fumbling for the door handle on the passenger side. She yanked on it, got the door open and dropped down into the dried-up streambed.

     Above her, Jason rammed his head through the window, shattering the glass and freeing his hands.

     Chris tumbled as she landed, then rolled to her feet and ran back along the streambed toward the barn. She couldn't get back up to the road now; he had cut her off. She had to get some kind of weapon. It was her only chance.

     She climbed up out of the streambed and hopped over the fence around the barn, looking over her shoulder. Jason was dropping down into the streambed after her, hobbling quickly on his wounded leg, as unstoppable as a juggernaut.

     She ran around the front of the barn and struggled to pull the door open against the firecely blowing wind. She leaned back, putting all her weight into it, got the door open, slipped inside, and grabbed the first thing that came to hand–a long-handled shovel–to drop into the slots as a cross bar. She was just in time. No sooner was the shovel in place than the doors shuddered as Jason hit them outside.

     She jumped back with a cry and started looking frantically for something to use as a weapon. The doors cracked and a gap opened between them. In another second, he'd break through! There was no time! All she could think of was escape. She had to get away from him. She ran to the ladder leading up to the soft and rapidly climbed up.

     The doors cracked and the ancient hinges groaned as Jason forced them apart still further, reaching through and knocking the shovel out of the slots. He burst inside, looking around inside the dark recesses of the barn. Then he noticed the long, heavy, two-by-four wooden crossbar leaning against the side wall. He closed the doors behind him, picked up the crossbar, and slammed it down into the slots, wedging it in place. Now she was trapped inside. With him.

     He stormed into the barn, looking for her everywhere, throwing open the gates to the wooden stalls, tearing the place apart as he searched for her. Above him, Chris clung to a ceiling rafter, praying that he wouldn't notice her up there in the darkness. There had been nowhere else to run. She knew he'd look up in the loft next. The square hayloft window was open, and if she kept extremely still, maybe it wouldn't occur to him to check up in the rafters, and he'd think she jumped. Below her, Jason was throwing things all over the place, trying to find her. Stacks of hay bales that weighed hundreds of pounds came tumbling down as he threw them about effortlessly, seeking her hiding place.

     Exhausted, Chris began to lose her grip. She tried to wrap her legs still tighter around the rafter, but she overbalanced and it took all her willpower to keep from crying out as she slipped beneath the rafter, hanging upside down by her arms and legs. As Jason moved around below her, she felt her strength ebbing rapidly and knew that she wouldn't last much longer.

     Oh, God, she thought, please, no, no. . .

     Her legs slipped off the beam. Now she was only hanging by her hands. Her arms felt as if they were on fire as she desperately tried to hold on, but it was useless. She felt herself losing her grip and she looked down. . . . Jason was directly below her.

     She fell.

     She landed right on top of him and they both crashed to the dirt floor of the barn. She scrambled up immediately, driven by stark terror, and bolted for the door. Behind her, Jason slowly recovered from the shock of the impact and pushed himself up off the ground.

     Chris grabbed the wooden crossbar and pushing up on it, but it was firmly wedged inside the iron slots and she couldn't even budge it. She cried out, throwing all her strength against it, but it was useless.

     Behind her, Jason rose to his feet and picked up the machete he had used earlier on Andy. There was dried blood on the blade. Chris, still struggling with the crossbar, looked over her shoulder and screamed as he raised the machete and lunged at her. She leaped out of the way just in time as the blade whistled through the air and embedded itself deeply in the barn door.

     She raced to the ladder leading up to the loft as he struggled to free the blade of the machete from the door. She was gasping like an asthmatic. She had almost no strength left, and was at the limits of her endurance. Only fear drove her on. She threw herself through the trapdoor in the floor of the loft and slammed it shut, rolling a hay bale over it. Then she looked around madly for anything that she could use to defend herself. A long-handled shovel was lying on top of a stack of hay bales. She grabbed it and hid behind the stack, brething like a long-distance runner after a marathon as she desperately tried to think of what to do. He'd be up after her any moment.

     Jason yanked the machete free from the wooden door and turned to go after her. Several small pieces of straw drifted down from overhead, having fallen between cracks in the floorboards of the loft. He glanced up and headed for the ladder leading up to the hayloft.

     Clutching the machete, he quickly climbed up the ladder, intent on cutting her to pieces, determined to catch this victim who kept escaping him and dismember her, chop her into bits until she was a bloody stew so that it would be impossible to recognize that the pices had ever come from a human being. The killing lust raged through him, blood pounded in his ears until it seemed as if a tribe of cannibals were beating drums inside his head. He reached the top of the ladder and pushed against the trapdoor. It moved about an inch or two then slammed back down. Something heavy was on top of it. In a fury, he shoved against it with all his might. The hay bale holding it down was knocked loose and the trapdoor slammed open, striking against the hayloft floor with a crack that sounded like a rifle shot.

     He came up through the floor of the loft and stepped out through the trapdoor, rising to his full height and holding the machete out before him. Just then, Chris stepped in behind him, and with every ounce of remaining strength that she possessed, she brought the iron shovel down upon his head.

     There was a dull clanging sound and Jason fell full length upon the floor of the loft. The machete slipped out his grasp and dropped out of the open hayloft window to the ground below. Chris stood over him with the shovel, ready to bring it down again, but Jason remained motionless upon the floor.

     Chris wasted no time. She quickly grabbed the rope hanging from the block and tackly used to haul the hay bales up to the loft and she fashioned a noose with it. Loosening it, she bent down, slipped it over his head, and dew it tight around his neck. Then she crouched down beside him and strained to roll his heavy bulk over to the window. She couldn't move him. He was incredibly heavy.

     She put her arms under his side and gritted her teeth, groaning with the effort as she tried to push him out the window. She leaned into him, straining, putting all her weight into it, and she managed to roll him over onto his side.

     His fingers twitched.

     With an agonized moan, Chris straight-armed his limp form until it rolled over once again and teetered on the edge of the window opening. . .

     As his hands, clutched at her, she pushed him out the window.

     The rope whizzed through the block like a nylon fishing line screaming from a reel when a marlin hits the hook, and Jason fell straight down at the ground until the stopper knot hit the block and the rope suddenly pulled taut around his neck. It jerked his body in midair so that, for a second, it seemed as if he were about to come up again like a yo-yo on a string. But he simply hung there, twisting slightly, dangling only a few feet from the ground, hanged as effectively as if he had been dropped through the trapdoor of a gallows.

     Chris stepped over to the window, looking down as Jason's body swung gently from the rope, his arms limp at his sides. She was at the end of her rope as well. Tears streamed from her eyes as she stared down at the awful sight, unable to take her eyes away from it, unable to believe what she had been forced to do.

     With a sob, she turned away and slowly came back down the ladder, then staggered wearily toward the door.

     She couldn't believe that it was over. A dozen times, she was sure she ahd been about to die. She felt utterly exhausted, drained, and shocked almost to the point of catatonia. She tried to push the wooden crossbar up out of the slots, but it was hopeless. She couldn't budge it.
BR>      For a moment, she sagged against the doors, crying quietly. She looked around, trying to think how she would get the doors open, and her gaze fell on a large, rusted iron pulley wheel hanging from a peg in the wall. She took the pulley down, held it in both hands, drew a deep breath, and swung it hard against the underside of the wooden crossbar. Once, twice, three times, she kept pounding at it until, finally, the crossbar moved up slightly as she jarred it loose. She dropped the iron pulley wheel to the ground, and with an effort, lifted the cross bar out of the slots and dropped it to the floor.

     She grabbed the door handles and leaned back, pulling the barn doors open. There, Jason's body was suspended directly in front of her about three feet off the ground.

     She stepped back, staring at him numbly. The cold wind blew in through the open doors, blowing her hair, making his body sway slightly on the end of the rope––and suddenly his eyes snapped open.

     "No!" she screamed, recoling from the impossible sight. "NO! You can't be alive!"

     She retreated back into the barn in stunned disbelief as jason brought his arm up and grasped the rope just above the noose around his neck. With one arm, he hoisted himself up on the rope, giving it some slack, and with his other hand, he pulled at the noose, loosening it and drawing it up over his head. As he pulled the noose off, his mask slipped and Chris saw his hideously misshapen face, a grotesque vision straight out of her worst nightmares.

     "It's you!" she cried, shaking her head and backing away from him. "No! NO! NO!"

     It all came back to her as she recognized him from the horrible night in the woods when he had attacked her and she had blacked out. Her mind had retreated into unconsciousness rather than face the awful reality of what was being done to her, and now as it all came flooding back with terrifying clarity, she broke, giving voice to a frenzied scream that bubbled up from deep within her and shattered the stillness of the night outside, echoing through the darkness.

     Jason pulled the mask back over his face and dropped down to the ground. He bent and picked up the machete that had fallen from the loft. As Chris stumbled backward, screaming uncontrollably, he advanced upon her, raising the machete for the killing stroke.

     Something hit him from behind.

     He staggered forward, thrown off balance as Ali, his face smashed and bleeding, hsi shaved skull caked with blood, threw his arms around him and tried to pull him to the ground. Jason shook him off and spun around, the machete came down with a whoosh, and Ali's right hand flew off, severed cleanly at the wrist. The biker gave a high-pitched scream as he stared at the blood spouting like a fountain from his stump.

     Jason brought the machete down again and chopped the biker to the ground. He stood over him and raised the machete once again, bringing it down with a savage force, again and again. Ali wasn't screaming anymore, but Jason kept chopping away like a crazed butcher cutting meat.

     Chris ran over to the tool rack and seized the first weapon she saw–an ax–and as Jason slashed away at the dead biker with demented fury, Chris raised the ax high over her head and moved toward him. Jason gave a final brutal bloww to the biker's vivisected corpse and turned back toward her as she gave a wild cry and swung the ax with all her might. The blade thunked through his white plastic mask and became buried in his forehead.

     Chris stepped back, shocked at what she'd done, and suddenly Jason's arms shot out for her. With the ax still embedded in his skull, he staggered toward her, arms outstretched, fingers grasping. . .

     "NOOO!" Chris screamed, staggering back, incredulous that he was still alive. "NO! NO! NO!"

     Feeling the wall behind her back, she shrank against it, screaming hysterically as he staggered closer, his hands reaching out for her. And then he fell forward like cut-down tree and landed with a thud on the ground right at her feet.

     Christ stood, trembling against the wall, staring down at him with terror. She drew several shuddering breaths and prodded his head with the toe of her sneaker, then immediately jerked her foot back.

     He didn't move.

     She was afraid to trust the evidence of her sense. She shuffled to one side, still pressed back against the wall, and then went around him in a wide circle, staring down at his massive body lying there with the bloody ax embedded in his head. She slowly edged around him and went outside, breathing heavily, her throat raw from screaming. In a daze, she walked down the path leading to the lake.

     The wind had died down and Crystal Lake was dark and smooth as glass. The night was cold, but she didn't even feel the chill. Knowing she was on the verge of collapsing, she followed some blind instinct that led her to seek safety out upon the lake, where no one could reach her. At the boat dock, she sank down to her knees and pushed the canoe, which she and her friends had brought, into the water. She climbed into it, huddled on the bottom, then drifted away from the shore into the darkness.

     She sprawled in the bottom of the canoe, staring vacantly up at the stars. The gently, slightly rolling motion of the canoe as it drifted lulled her into a deep and dreamless sleep.

     Something heavy struck the side of the canoe and Chris jreked awake, sitting up violently and crying out, "No!" And then she realized where she was and looked around. It was morning. The canoe had drifted out to the small island in the middle of the lake and had struck a drifting log.

     She siged with relief, then reached out to push the partially submerged log away from the canoe. She hesitated, staring at the log with sudden fear. She forced herself to touch it, then jerked her hand back. She set her teeth and shoved the log away, then cried out and threw her arms up to protect herself as something swept past her head. . . .but it was only a duck landing on the water. Chris squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself. Her nerves were ragged. She was starting at the slightest sound, the faintest shadow, the slightest movement. She counted to ten and opened her eyes, looking back toward the house.

     And she saw Jason's face staring out at her malevolently from one of the windows.

     She screamed and grabbed the padded out of the bottom of the boat as she saw him come running out of the house, his horribly scarred face a mass of raw, dark red and purple tissue. She paddled madly as he ran down to the shore and suddenly the canoe struck something with a jarring impact and she lost the paddle. She had run into a large tree branch submerged beneath the water and the boat was stuck. Panic-striken, she tried to shove the canoe off, but she couldn't do it and she quickly glanced back toward the shore. . .

     There was no sign of Jason.

     Terrified, she looked all around her wildly. Where? Where was he?

     Something erupted out of the water just behind her and she turned in time to see a horrifying apparition rising from the bottom of the lake, a woman covered with mud and slime, a dead woman, her body rotted and crawling with worms and maggots, and impossibly, she was alive and moving, reaching out for her. . .

     Chris screamed as the slimy arms wrapped themselves around her and she felt herself being dragged out of the boat, into the water, and down into the dark ooze. . .

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