Chapter 39: In a Horror Movie
Dawn evaluated the group as they walked outside, heads uniformly bent against the rain. Corrie, Naomi, Annie, Roe, and herself. Corrie and Annie would both probably do just about anything for Edie, as she would herself. She and Corrie were her best friends, and Annie seemed to have a crush on Edie. She probably half hoped that it was true that Leila was a faerie because then they would be more likely to break up, leaving Edie single.
Dawn was less sure about Naomi and Roe. Of course, she trusted both of them and knew they would be helpful, but she was concerned that they would be less able to fight faerie magic and more frightened in general. Especially Naomi. She had really only learned about the faeries today. But there was nothing Dawn could have said to stop her from going, and expressing her worries would just be rude.
The rain was nearly impenetrable, but at least the wind was consistent from one direction now, and they could protect themselves against the spraying water. She hoped this really was the last storm of the year. It certainly seemed as though the sky was trying to get rid of the rest of its water in one go.
At least there was less pouring down on them once they entered the relative shelter of the trees. Dawn was able to lift her head and look around instead of staring directly at the ground. Of course, she didn’t feel any more comfortable in the forest than she had in the open ground. It seemed like a thick barrier all around her. Though the sun had surely not set yet, it was dark in the forest, and noisy with the sounds of rain hitting the leaves and leaves falling to the ground. If anyone else was approaching, Dawn didn’t think she’d be able to hear them.
Corrie led them, keeping close to the edge of the woods so they could still see the campus and heading north. After about ten minutes of picking their way through the wet vegetation, she stopped. “The old incinerator is right ahead of us,” she said as the others clustered around her. “I think we should all spread out and look for them.”
“Is splitting up ever a good idea?” Roe asked. “I mean, we’re not exactly in a horror movie, but…”
“I don’t really mean split up. It’s not a big area—we should be able to see each other, and definitely hear each other, the whole time we’re there. It will just be quicker if we’re not all looking in the same place at the same time.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Dawn said, impatient to get started.
“Don’t leave the area where the concrete is,” Corrie cautioned. “We should be pretty safe there.”
Dawn nodded and started off, heading east, deeper into the woods. She thought it was best for her to be the one to go in that direction, since she could see where the safe part of the forest ended and what must be the faeries’ territory began. It was a different quality in the air, not a visible thing, so the darkness and wet didn’t obscure it at all.
Once she had reached that barrier—it was a few yards past the edge of the concrete, but she could still see the others—she began to look around. Her feet squished through mud and wet leaves, and they sent up a smell of rotting vegetation. At least it was a healthy smell, though. She moved north along the line of the incinerator, looking left and right and, shielding her face carefully, up. She wouldn’t want to be in any trees in this weather, but who knew whether faeries cared about getting wet.
She didn’t see anything but trees, other plants, mud, and concrete. She wasn’t quite sure what she was looking for—footprints?—but Leila’s red hair was the most obvious thing, and there was no sign of it, or of Edie.
Eventually, the five of them met up again at the north end of the ruined building. Corrie had reached it first and climbed up on a half-fallen wall so everyone could see her. She turned slowly in a circle. “What are you doing up there?” Dawn asked her when she caught up, having to pitch her voice louder to be heard over the susurrous of rain on trees.
“I can see a little farther this way,” Corrie replied. “I still can’t see them, though.”
She climbed down once everyone had finished. “What now?” Roe asked.
Corrie shook her head and sighed. “Should we look for the faeries we know are there?”
“Can we even find them again?” Annie asked doubtfully. “I know I don’t remember how to get there.”
“There’s so much woods to look through, we could be searching until tomorrow and not find them,” Naomi said.