Taken by Moonlight

By: Violette Dubrinsky

Chapter One

October, 2008

“Oh God, please don’t let me die.”

It had started innocently enough, with Vivienne stooped behind a swarm of bushes five minutes away from the campsite, her panties and gray sweats tugged to where her knees extended as she balanced herself on the tips of her gray sneakers. If not for the fact that she absolutely had to go, she would have held it until tomorrow. One night. That was what she’d stupidly agreed to when her sister had told her that she would be celebrating their birthday by going camping. Vivienne had other ways she wished to celebrate, ways that had nothing to do with dying off the side of a mountain that was also a camping site, or getting flayed alive by a hungry bear or a mountain lion.

From the moment of their simultaneous conception, Vivienne and Cassandre Bordeaux had been different. Although they mirrored each other, with the same long and slender physique that had been gangly and awkward at first but had eventually turned graceful and attractive, the same small, heart-shaped face that fit two honey-colored eyes, and the same rich butterscotch-almond brown complexion that usually made it difficult to select a shade of makeup, their similarities ended there. Cassie loved adventure, had welcomed it from the time she was six and had discovered insects in their backyard. In contrast, Vivienne preferred the more mellow life, her nine-to-five, her work rituals, and she hated nature!

Okay, that was a gross exaggeration brought on by potential West Nile. She didn’t hate nature. She actually found it quite beautiful, but she disliked camping, and she’d only done it for a few hours. There were bite marks on her legs, arms, and face, from the millions of possibly infected mosquitoes that lived in these parts, and she wasn’t assured by Cassie or any of her friends that something wouldn’t bite her down there as she attempted to relieve herself.

A sigh exploded from Vivienne’s chest when she was finally through, and she shook herself, much as she’d shaken herself when she was a child and her father had pulled over at the side of a highway because his two little girls couldn’t hold it, before standing and pulling her sweats and underwear up. She shuddered.

Shower. That was first on her list of things to do when she arrived back at her apartment. A long, thorough shower.

Turning in the direction of the campsite her sister had set up, Vivienne put one foot before the other, intent on heading back and humoring her sister before going to sleep. Tomorrow was their birthday after all, and she loved her twin. But for love, she wouldn’t have even contemplated this madness.

Because it was dark, the only thing illuminating the tall trees and shrubs in the area was the full moon. From this higher altitude, it even seemed larger, brighter. She’d taken a few steps when the snapping of branches and the sound of a soft whine alerted her she was no longer alone.

Halting, Vivienne shook her head. “Seriously, Cassie. Aren’t we too old for these games?”

She referred to the countless times Cassie had scared her within an inch of life. As she grew older, she came to expect attacks from her sister. When there was no telltale sign of muffled laughter, Vivienne felt the chill of the night air seep into her bones. Normally, when she was called out, Cassie usually laughed and made a witty comment. Maybe she was with her friends and they were keeping her from doing so?

“Simmer, simmer, children. You’ve watched me pee. Fun’s over.” She said in the most mocking way possible, hoping to rile them into confronting her.

Only silence greeted her taunting. But for the rustling of leaves on tall tree branches, everything seemed still. Before she could ponder it further, twigs began to snap rapidly. As the sound raced closer Vivienne realized someone was coming at her at full speed. Her sister and her friends could not move like that. No human could move like that. It was an animal! Oh sweet beautiful Jesus, she was being chased by an animal!

Instinct kicked in, and she turned and bolted in the opposite direction. Vivienne was faster than the average person, as she’d run track most of her academic life, and she cleared a good distance the first minutes of running.

Oh God, please, don’t let me die.

The chant had begun in her mind as she raced through the moonlit forest and had gradually become words on her lips as she increased speed. She wasn’t a religious person but she vowed that if she survived this night, she would be. Why had she come out here, again? Why had she allowed Cassie to persuade her into this? Why the hell had she agreed to this? She’d seen horror movies and knew better!

And now, something was chasing her and the campsite was in the opposite direction. Oh Jesus, if she survived the night, she was going in to be baptized, right after she murdered Cassie! Even in frantic fear, her mind managed to autocorrect her feelings. Seriously injure Cassie.

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