Despite the situation she had fell into, Nicole could honestly say that she hadn’t felt so at peace in a long time. The campfire wasn’t as crowded as it had been when she had first arrived due to some of the survivors had been called to go into trials, so it made her feel a little more comfortable.
Dwight was sitting on one of the logs, Nicole sitting on the ground beside him with her head resting against his knee. It’d been about a week since she’d arrived (or at least that’s how it felt) but she hadn’t been put into a trial yet, to Dwight’s relief and the ire of some of the other survivors.
Nicole had been told about the trials, and she’d heard stories from the other survivors about what happened during them. Most of them were bad stories where a killer camped the area or situations where three of the four survivors ended up in the basement, but once she told them that she understood the dangers that came with trials more of the stories became lighthearted and victorious. Currently a fighter by the name of David King was telling her about the time where he had managed to loop the killer around what they called a “jungle gym” long enough for another survivor to open the exit gate which was right next to the jungle gym. The survivor who had opened the door was named Claudette Morel, though she shyly looked away when Nicole’s eyes landed on her as David told the story. Giving a small smile, she looked back at David and listened as he continued the story. Hearing him talk about how the team of them had all worked together to escape made her hope that she’d be able to be as good to them as they were to each other.
During her time settling in she’d asked the other survivors about what she would have to do and some pointers on things. While it was nice to see she was taking this seriously, the other survivors knew she would end up screwing something up. It just happened with new survivors until they got the hang of it. Nicole had learned about when to use a toolbox, how to patch up wounds, some of the better ways to run the killer around, and things of that nature. All that was needed now was to have her be put into a trial to earn experience.
Since she hadn’t been put into a trial yet she’d made friends with those who were around the fire with her. Surprising to everyone was that she’d become close friends with Ash. Around others Nicole could be quiet and somewhat shy, preferring to observe and listen than to talk, and Ash was…well, Ash. Most of the time while others were in and out of trials Ash was left behind at the fire, so one day she went over to where he was sitting and said hello. That single word turned into a close bond between the two, and the others observed that if Nicole wasn’t around Dwight then she was around Ash.
She’d become friends with some of the other survivors, like Adam, Bill, Ace, Jeff, and Jane, but her friendships with them weren’t as close as her bonds with Dwight and Ash.
Suddenly she felt something. Something…off. Looking up at Dwight from her resting point, she thought for a moment before nudging his knee with her head. He looked down at her. “When do you know you’re being summoned?” she quietly asked him. It was then that Dwight’s fears came to life. She wouldn’t be asking if she didn’t feel it.
“It feels like a niggling in the back of your head by the base of your skull. If you don’t move to answer the call it ends up hurting really bad until you do.” he explained to her, feeling it himself. Dwight nudged her off of his knee and both of them stood up. He led her close to the fire, where Meg and Ash were standing as well.
“You know what to do. Most of the time two or three of us start a trial together, so just stick close to whoever you’re with for now, okay?” Dwight asked her, hoping that she would be okay.
Nicole nodded. “Alright, I can try.” she told him, her hands behind her back, one hand clasping around her opposite wrist.
Feeling something be slid into his hand, Dwight looked at what was placed in it and saw that Adam had given him a piece of a petrified oak tree. He gave the teacher a small grateful smile of thanks before they were whisked away to the trial.
The piece of petrified oak burned to ash in his hand, the grey powder slipping from his fingers as he arrived at the trial. Taking a look around, he hoped Nicole would be okay. It could be worse, they could’ve been at The Game.
As Nicole looked around at her new surroundings, she saw what she could only describe as a swamp. Cattails were grown in, the ground was extremely muddy, and it tried to suck up her shoes as she walked.
“Okay Nicole, look for flashing lights.” she muttered to herself as she started to wander in search of a generator. Finding one, she looked around to see if she could see anyone. When she didn’t she continued to the gen only to hear someone working on it. Going to the other side to see who was working on it, she saw it was Ash.
“Hey Nicole, get on the side next to me and we’ll get this thing cooking.” he told her as he continued to work on the generator. She did as he told her to and then started to work on the generator with him. So far so good, and they managed to get it about halfway done before a heartbeat started sounding off in her ears.
“Ash?” she muttered, her voice sounding a bit scared though not stopping her progress on the generator.
“You’ll be alright, the killer’s just nearby. They tend to like to chase me, you know.” he told her before getting up from his crouched position. “I’ll lead the killer away, but don’t stop working on that generator, you hear me?” he asked her. Upon seeing her nodding, he turned and started to run away.
As he ran Nicole heard the heartbeat get really loud, so despite him telling her to not stop working on the generator she stopped and pressed her back against the side she was on, hoping the killer wouldn’t notice her. Footsteps moved up to the generator and Nicole held her breath, hoping they would go away. The generator got kicked a couple of times, some sparks hitting her skin and burning her slightly, and then the killer left. Once the killer seemed to be gone, she breathed a sigh of relief and turned back around to continue the generator.
Soon enough the bright lights came on, illuminating her in its yellow glow. One generator done, now to try and find some more. Far off in the distance she noticed another generator light up and a couple of people walking away from it. Must’ve been Meg and Dwight. Looking towards the giant boat in the middle she noticed an injured Ash vault the upper section of the boat and land on the ground. Unfortunately the killer did the same thing and managed to slash at him as they landed, causing him to go down with a shout.
Nicole finally got a look at the killer; they were wearing black and had on some type of mask. According to the others this one was the Ghostface. Ghostface hooked Ash, who gave a loud cry of pain at the penetration of the metal in his shoulder. Moving over to a knocked down log, she looked to see what Dwight and Meg were up to. It seemed that Ash had some “hang time”, as they went to go start working on another generator. Looking back at Ash she knew she couldn’t leave him up there. So she watched where the killer went off to, then started walking in to rescue her new friend.
Getting over to him, the sharp spider-like tendrils were forming around him, but hadn’t yet tried to claim his soul. Getting right up to him, she reached up and grasped him under his arms before pushing him up off the hook and helping him land on the ground again. Nicole was about to go in for a heal when Ash shook his head and started heading up to the top of the boat. Following him, she went over to the middle section where a chest was. At least here there was coverage. Getting to work, she started to patch him up and she kept looking around to see if Ghostface was coming back. Glancing behind her she saw the aura of Meg running around the outside of where the boat was. The way she was running suggested that she was being chased by the killer right now. Focusing her attention back on Ash, she finished healing him up and then they both went to the generator nearby and started to work on it.
The brunette did her best to work quickly and efficiently on the generator, but unfortunately she did manage to mess something up. It was a moment’s mistake, and it literally blew up in her face. Ash moved his arms to cover his face and then looked at Nicole with an annoyed look. They had been almost halfway done. Preferring to look into the generator instead of looking at his face, she mumbled an apology. Ash sighed and pat her on her shoulder in a silent way of saying that he forgave her.
The two managed to get another generator done by the time Meg went down and got hooked, the loud horn of the boat belting out for all to hear. Somewhere further off another generator came to life. One more left, they could do this.
“I’ve got the save this time, you go find Dwight and finish the last generator.” Ash told her. Nicole nodded and she went down the stairs to try to find Dwight or a generator, though both at once was preferable. Meg quickly got saved, and Nicole quickened her speed to try and find a generator or Dwight. In the end she found Dwight working on a generator by what was known as the Killer Shack.
Going up the small hill towards the generator she saw Dwight quickly get up and start running away from it. Rushing over to the generator she continued to work on it so they could keep the progression going. Glancing up occasionally she saw that he was being chased, and when she couldn’t physically see him anymore she instead saw his aura. Huh, could all survivors do this? She’d have to ask later.
Never before had she felt so much pressure, but overall she was handling it to the best of her ability. At least, until Dwight went down. Hearing his shout sent ice shooting through her veins, and she began to panic a little. Attempting to push through her panic, she continued to work on the gen, and Meg came over to help her finish it. Hearing Dwight scream as he was hooked caused Nicole to accidentally pull a tube free, which caused the generator to blow up.
“Come on Nicole, he’ll be fine, just finish the gen.” Meg said, sounding annoyed. To be fair, they had almost been done with it. Even as the heartbeat grew closer to them they worked on that generator. When Ghostface was in sight Meg ran towards him to try and give Nicole time to finish the generator. She got hit and ran off, and luckily it was enough to finish it.
Running off, Nicole went for the door on the opposite side of the map to prepare it. Running was hard in the swamp, as the mud kept sucking at her shoes and slowed her down. Finally getting to the door she forced the lever down as hard as she could and watched as the lights on the gate’s lever lit up one by one. Soon after it gave three loud alarm sounds and Nicole let go of it. It was ready.
Meanwhile with Dwight he couldn’t help but worry about Nicole. She must’ve been terrified, and this was all so new to her. But from what he’d heard from Meg and Ash she had been doing decently. He was saved from the hook by Ash, who quickly healed him up under the hook while Meg was being chased.
“Go prep a door, I’m going to try and find Meg.” Dwight told Ash, who nodded, gave him a two finger salute before heading off towards the other door. Ash rarely answered to anybody but himself, but just this once he figured that it was for the best to listen to Dwight. Ash went to the door, and Dwight chased after where he thought Meg would be. With a scream piercing through the air he knew that Ghostface had gotten her. Rushing towards the sound he watched as she struggled against his hold and he hopped into a locker in the event that the killer could see the others after hooking a survivor.
Meg got hooked and Ghostface looked around before heading towards one of the doors. A survivor had to be there. He passed by the locker, not even thinking about checking it. Before he could get out of the locker, he saw Nicole run by it and go over to Meg, grabbing her off the hook with Ghostface not far behind. Meg bolted, and Nicole felt a stinging on the back of her neck like she was being watched. Looking back she saw Ghostface and then she started to run. He chased after her and they ran over to the second door, the one Ash was at. Dwight quickly got out of the locker, went to the door Nicole was at and opened it. At least if someone got left behind there was a second option of escape. Hatch was always the last option.
With fear in his heart and running through his veins he rushed over to the other door, which was now open. Nicole was trying to loop Ghostface while Ash healed up Meg, but he managed to get a hit on her. And it was the only one he needed. With a scream Nicole dropped to the ground after being slashed. The killer was about to pick her up when Dwight did something he’d never done before.
“Hey! Leave her alone!” he shouted at the masked man.
“Take me instead.”
Ghostface turned and looked at Dwight, then glanced over at the girl on the ground. Interesting, he would have to pin that idea up for later. Deciding to give it to the sad sap of a leader, he looked at the bespectacled man. Dwight felt the stinging sensation that came with being vulnerable, exposed even, and suddenly Ghostface came at him and Dwight turned to run.
Ash and Meg quickly moved to pick Nicole up and heal her while Dwight was occupying the killer, and with there being two of them it was a quick process. But then Dwight was downed, and Ghostface had a trick up his black sleeve.
Once Dwight was down he straddled his hips and brought his knife down into his back, into his side, and then down into his back between his shoulder blades where his heart would rest. Nicole could only watch in horror as her best friend was murdered in front of her, the killer taking a picture as if it were a memory to be had.
“Dwight! Dwight, oh my God! No!” Nicole shouted, and Ash and Meg were quick to each grab one of her arms to drag her to the exit gate. “He killed him! Oh my God, he’s gone!” the brunette cried out, struggling against her teammates.
“Come on, we’ve gotta go or else he might do the same thing to us.” Meg said, trying to get Nicole to leave with them. Ash sighed and did what he knew best, he pulled Nicole, Meg following suit, and they forced her out of the trial with them following behind her. Once they were out the two let go of her arms. As they headed back to the fire Nicole started crying, wrapping her arms around herself.
“Nicole, he’s not actually dead.” Meg said to her. “Nobody dies forever here.”
“Yes he is. People don’t just die and then come back from things like that. It’s not possible.” Nicole replied, shaking her head.
“I was given a potion back in the 1300s where I slept and my body was conserved for over 600 years. Trust me Nicole, when I’m around, shit gets weird.” Ash said to her, trying to comfort her in his own way.
When they got back to camp Dwight was talking to Jake and David, though turned when the former pointed out that the rest were back. Seeing Nicole in the distressed state she was in, he couldn’t help but to go to her. And seeing that he was there and okay, she did the same. Meeting in the middle they hugged, her crying now one of relief at seeing that he was okay. That he was here and that he was alive.
“It’s okay…it’s okay. I’m so sorry you had to see that, but it’ll be okay. We’re okay.” Dwight said to her as he held her to him, rubbing her back as she clung to him.
“How are you here? I…I thought I’d never see you again.” she said, then realized what she said. “I mean, you know, for the second time.” she added.
Dwight gave a soft chuckle, as they both felt that way when they were apart. It would’ve been cruel to be ripped away from each other by death after reuniting.
“The Entity allows the killers to sacrifice us to it to get our souls. If the Entity likes what they do then it gives them rewards. What happened where I was killed is called a mori. Depending on what kind of mori a killer offers up, they can kill the last survivor in a trial, any survivor in a trial, or all of them.” he explained to her. “The Entity keeps us alive because our souls keep it fed and satisfied.” he told her.
“Does it ever worry you that one day the Entity might not need you anymore?” she asked him.
“All the time. But we can’t think of that now. We’re here, we’re okay, and we’re going to sit down and relax.” he told her. Wiping her eyes, Nicole nodded and followed him over to a log, sitting down beside him on the log and wrapping her arms around him.
She never wanted to let go of him again.