The cabin in the middle of the woods was perfect if you wanted to take someone there to be alone together. For five girls with nothing to do it was okay. Although there was a slightly ominous feel to it.
There are two rooms, a master bedroom, and a guest room. The kitchen is what takes up the vast amount of space, consuming the better part of the front of the cabin. It was the first thing they all saw when they walked in. The living room has two big glass doors that allow you to see straight into the lake. A fireplace was nestled in a small space by the back door and under the mantel shelf.
The master bathroom is to die for. It has a sit in tub and a two-person shower. The guest bathroom only has what comes standard in every bathroom. The cabin may have been grand and spectacular but there was just something off about it. There was no homey touch, not keepsakes or knick-knacks. No family pictures or art decorating the walls. It was almost cold and distant, very much like Quinn herself.
Quinn sort of had a lazy uninterested look to her, like the cabin was nothing big to her. Without warning, she started stripping out of her clothes on her way towards the lake.
“It’s like 40 degrees outside!” Izzy called after her.
“Suit yourself you big babies,” She threw the last of her clothing to the floor and jumped off the dock, completely nude, into the water.
“Okay, what is up with her?” Nevaeh crossed her arms.
“Don’t look at me, I have no clue.” Stratus defended herself.
“Well go talk to her!” Harley pushed her towards the lake.
Stratus pouted and walked over to the dock. They all watched as Quinn sprang up from the water with pure grace. Like a scene from a movie, her hair flipped perfectly in the air and water went everywhere. Then she slicked it all back with her hands, taking in a chilling breath. You could see a fog escape her mouth every time she exhaled.
Stratus swallowed the lump in her throat, crossing her arms as she looked at Quinn.
“Care to join me?” Quinn cocked an eyebrow.
“Only if you tell me what’s up with you.”
“Ugh! Can’t you just relax and enjoy yourself?” she ducked under the water.
The other girls walked over to Stratus with a look of determination on their face. They weren’t going to give in so easily, Quinn was going to spill if it was the last thing they did. Stratus watched as they each started stripping.
“Seriously?” she complained.
“All for one.” Izzy pulled her jeans down.
With that, Stratus gave a sigh and started getting undressed.
When Quinn came up for air all four girls jumped in. She looked at them in surprise and watched as they shrieked at how cold the water was.
“Well, well, well, I forgot how big those balls were.” Quinn teased Stratus.
“Get off it.” Stratus splashed water in her face.
They laughed and started splashing water at each other. The other girls quickly joined in and the battle commenced. It only stopped when Izzy gasped at the sight of Quinn’s arm. It was her first time seeing it up close as Quinn always had it covered.
Quinn quickly ducked her arm under the water, feeling subconscious about it. A scowl finding register on her face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean too. It’s just I didn’t expect it to be so pretty, almost looks like a tattoo.” Izzy explained.
Quinn eyed her, gauging her level of seriousness. Then her icy gaze fell on each girl one at a time before she sighed and forced herself to relax.
“Yeah well, it’s not. It’s my witches mark.” she teased.
“Shut up.” Stratus splashed water at her.
Quinn lifted her arm from the water and each girl ogled it. Stratus felt fear in her gut, a fear she hadn’t felt since two years ago. The small doubt creeping in as she wondered, are witches real? Was Quinn a witch? That was ridiculous, right?
“I’m cold,” Harley shivered, her teeth chattering.
“Me too,” Neveah moved to get out.
“I’ll start the fire.” Quinn yawned seemingly unfazed by the fringed temperature.
The girls got out, one at a time, Quinn is the first to jump out. She didn’t care that the others saw her nude form at all. She grabbed her clothes off the floor and walked inside. Stratus watched after her.
“Emm Hmm.” Nevaeh eyed Stratus.
“You’re seeing things.” Stratus huffed grabbing her clothes off the floor.
“God I hope I don’t catch my death out here.” Izzy shivered.
“Come on, let’s get inside.” Harley led the way.
The girls walked in and saw Quinn lighting the fire. She flinched and jumped back when the flames came to life. Slightly embarrassed that someone saw her like that she quickly headed to the room to shower and get dressed without a word.
“Go on.” Harley urged Stratus.
“Fine. But if she chews my head off, I’m coming for your head.” Stratus huffed marching after Quinn.
Quinn started the shower and stared blankly at the water, waiting for it to warm up.
“Hey,” Stratus said, covering herself with a towel.
“Room for two if you want,” Quinn said emotionless.
They stood in silence for a moment.
“I used to come here when I was little,” Quinn said.
“Oh yeah? I bet that was fun.”
“No. The opposite actually. I hate this place.” She opened the shower door and stepped in.
“What’s going on with you?” Stratus followed her in.
Quinn ignored her and poured some shampoo on her head.
“Nothing, I just want this weekend to be over already.”
“Today is the anniversary of my parent’s death.”
“Why are you bent up about it, you weren’t like this last year?”
“I had a bad dream. Brought back some stuff I’d rather keep buried.”
Quinn just shrugged.
“Come on, you can tell me.” Stratus grabbed her hand.
“I used to play hide and seek here.”
“With my sister.”
“You never told me you had a sister.”
Quinn finished her shower in silence, letting the soapy water run down her body. She scratched at her burn mark.
“Is that really all that’s bothering you?” Stratus asked as they dried off.
“Just forget about it” She walked out to get dressed.
“Why are you so stubborn?” Stratus complained.
“Why are you so bossy?” Quinn shot back.
“Well if you aren’t going to tell me can you at least lighten up a bit, no one likes a bruiting Quinn.”
“I don’t brute.” Quinn pouted, walking out of the room now fully dressed.
“Oh, you brute,” Nevaeh said sitting at the bar.
“Do too.” Stratus joined them now fully dressed.
“Is the shower free?” Izzy asked.
“All yours,” Quinn said.
The girls watched as she giddily ran to the big shower. Quinn rolled her eyes.
When all the girls were freshly showered Quinn made them something to eat. Despite the earlier conversation, Quinn still seemed tense and on edge. No one quite knew how to handle a tense Quinn, it was a rare sight.
It was like she was forcing herself to try and seem normal. Like a puppet pretends to be human. She made small talk, had a laugh or two, but after a few seconds, her face would go cold like steel again. She would just look distant, becoming quiet.
“So now what?” Harley asked as they cleaned up their plates.
“Let’s just relax.” Nevaeh sank into the couch and flipped the tv on.
The news came to life and the words murder flashed across the bottom of the screen. Quinn quickly snatched the remote and turned it up. Their town name was on the screen, in fact, they were right in front of Quinn’s house.
“Alice Kinsley only 15 met her demise at the hands of an unidentified killer. She goes to local high school Regal high with her older brother Brandon. So far authorities refuse to comment on the situation other than saying that it is clear that this was no accident. The cause of death is still unknown but now many in this small town are wondering, is there a murderer on the loose?”
“Holy cow!” Izzy said.
“Aren’t you neighbors with them?” Nevaeh said.
“Yeah…” Quinn turned the tv off.
“I can’t believe this, Alice was like the sweetest girl I knew, she made me homemade cookies once,” Harley said.
“Sweet baker girl gets murdered? Doesn’t quite add up. Looks like we got a mystery on our hands.” Quinn sat on the arm of the couch.
“What’s your guess?” Stratus asked.
“Hmm, secret stalker maybe?” Quinn shrugged.
“A stalker is the best you got? No way, secret boyfriend.” Stratus leaned against the back of the couch.
“Or even more scandalous, girlfriend!” Izzy wiggled her eyebrows at the girls from where she had sat on the couch.
“Okay, why are we talking about a dead girl’s murderer? This is creepy.” Harley shivered.
“Don’t be a baby.” Quinn snarked.
“Don’t call her that, she’s right, let’s talk about something else.” Nevaeh defended her.
“Whatever.” Quinn rolled her eyes.
The girls watched as Quinn grabbed a black bag by the front door.
“Whatcha doing?” Izzy asked.
“I’m going for a walk to snap some pics, do whatever you want, just don’t burn this place to the ground. Or do, I don’t care.” She shrugged before walking out the front door.
“Okay.” Nevaeh dragged the word out.
“Lay off her okay, it’s the anniversary of her parent's death,” Stratus said.
“Still, she’s acting off. She didn’t act like this last year.” Nevaeh pushed the subject.
“You think maybe she knows something about Alice’s murder?” Izzy leaned into the conversation.
“What makes you think that?” Harley asked.
“Well she got all weird, and the only time she seems sort of normal is when she was talking about the murder. Didn’t you see the look on her face, she was gauging our reactions. Plus, with the whole thing she said in the car.” Izzy said.
“That was just a joke.” Nevaeh rolled her eyes.
“Maybe she’s a witch.” Stratus didn’t mean to say it out loud.
The other girls looked at her with confused expressions.
“Still on that?” Nevaeh asked.
“There is just so much that doesn’t add up about her, I can’t help it,” Stratus admitted.
“What do you mean?” Harley asked.
“Nothing.” Nevaeh and Stratus said at the same time, they were the only two other than Quinn who knew about the fire and the candle.
Izzy and Harley shared a look.
“Is this about the barn fire, we’ve heard rumors.”
“Yeah about how the candle picked Quinn out and marked her as a Witch.”
“You don’t even know the half.” Stratus shuddered.
Stratus filled the other two girls in on the whole thing. About the candle and how three people lost their lives. Stratus told them about how everyone in Quinn’s family is dead and how Quinn has always been at the center of the tragedy.
“This is crazy, are you saying she’s like cursed or something?” Izzy whisper yelled.
“I don’t know, I just know everyone around her dies,” Stratus said.
“Alice was her neighbor.” Nevaeh pointed out.
“Guys that stuff ain’t real. Witches don’t exist. You are just freaking yourselves out.” Izzy rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know what I believe anymore after that barn fire, you guys weren’t there. you didn’t see what I saw.” Stratus turned away from them.
“What did you see?” Harley asked.
Stratus thought back to that day, she always thought back to that day. Mostly because she still has nightmares about it. She still wakes up screaming, feeling like the fire is wrapped around her whole body.
She could still remember Quinn’s face just as the candle went out. The other girls were sort of annoyed, as they had thought someone blew it out too early. Stratus could still see the alarmed look on Quinn’s face. See the unsurprised look in her icy eyes. Then when everyone figured it out, Quinn looked right at her with a blank expression, just before the candle erupted.
Stratus got goosebumps just thinking about it. Unyielding anxiety bubbled up again, something she tried hard to keep pushed down and forget even existed. How desperately she wished she could forget that day.
“I can’t describe it. I just know that what happened that day wasn’t normal. There was something not right about the whole thing. Quinn’s face, she wasn’t surprised like the rest of us. I just don’t know what I believe anymore.” she sighed.
“Come on, Quinn is a witch? Quinn, our Quinn. The girl who thinks selfies are a social outcry and a bigger statement on society…” Izzy raised an eyebrow.
“When you put it like that.” Stratus forced a laugh.
“Yeah, guess she’s right, that’s just silly.” Harley also joined in on the laughter.
“A witch.” Nevaeh rolled her eyes and also started laughing.
Soon all four girls were laughing at how ridiculous they all felt.
A loud bang on the back door caused all of them to scream and jump, Quinn had her faced smushed against the glass, she was making silly faces. Her camera in hand.
“Oh yeah, she’s a witch alright.” Nevaeh snorted.
“Shut up about it okay.” Stratus felt embarrassed.
Quinn opened the back door and walked in.
“Take some pictures?” Izzy asked.
“Sure did got some good ones too. You guys should have seen your faces.” Quinn smirked to herself.
“Now what?” Harley asked again.
“I brought a boom box, and we are going to use it.” She declared.
“And what dance with ourselves?”
Quinn smiled and walked over to the boom box sitting on the counter. She set her camera down and turned on the tape that was loaded up in the radio. Dancing with myself by Billy Idol came on, Nevaeh rolled her eyes and Quinn started dancing alone.
“You are ridiculous.” Harley laughed.
She grabbed Harley's hands and forced her to join and then the two were dancing around like a couple of idiots.
“Come on, you know you want too.” She teased Izzy.
With a smile, the girl started dancing in place. Quinn cheered and pulled her into their small circle. Nevaeh and Stratus shared a raised eyebrow look. Quinn grabbed Stratus and pulled her in, forcing her to dance.
“Stop it.” Stratus laughed.
“Dancing with myself. Dancing with myself.” Quinn did her best Billy Idol impersonation.
Soon all the girls were dancing to the mixtape of 80’s music. Quinn finally found her old rhythm no longer in a sour cold mood. She was upbeat and cheeky just as she always is. Constantly poking fun at the other girl’s dance moves.
When the tape was over Quinn gave Stratus a final twirl before the two collapsed on the floor in a heap of giggles. Quinn had her arms wrapped around Stratus, Stratus rested her head on Quinn’s chest. Neveah gave Stratus a knowing look, Stratus glared at her before pulling out of Quinn’s grasp and sitting up.
“God, I love you guys.” Quinn smiled.