A Twisted Vacation

Ponyboy and Soda decide to convince Darry to take them to a hotel in Kansas for winter break. A vacation away from such a dangerous place like Tulsa and with your best friends sound tuff, right? However, some escaped mental patients just so happen to be on the lose. They just so happen to want revenge!


4. Arriving to the County Lodge

Johnny's POV

Finally...that's all that I could think when Darry pulled up in front of The County Lodge. Man, it was a whole lot bigger than I pictured that it would be, considering I always figured that every lodge was small. But then again, I'm usually always wrong when it comes to thinking certain things through. This wooden lodge was basically the size of a full hotel!

Strangely though, there weren't that many other vehicles parked in the parking lot. The entire thing was basically vacant, only having four or so other cars parked along the employee parking. As for the guest parking, there was a rusty SUV that I could've sworn that I saw before, and that was it. Out of the whole winter break, this was all of the people who decided to head to The County Lodge? Uh...why do I have a bad feeling about this? It was as if I could've sworn that somebody was watching us at that very moment. I was already having this sort of sick knot form in the pit of my stomach, but I honestly knew that I couldn't tell the gang that I suddenly felt homesick or something like that. My home life was already a living disaster, and after traveling for all of these hours, there was no way that we were turning back now. Besides, I basically had a jumpy feeling towards everything that I first laid my eyes on.

Two-Bit suddenly whistled, his breath scented like chocolate, which honestly had my stomach quietly grumbling. I guess that a single chocolate bar and a can of Coke wasn't good enough for my hunger after eleven hours straight in the Curtis' cramped up truck. Golly, I wonder what in the world our trip back to Tulsa at the end of winter break will be like.

"Golly," Two-Bit snickered, as if he had read my mind. "Would you look at the size of this place? I never knew a lodge could be this huge!"

Ponyboy secretly rolled his eyes at Two-Bit's wide smile and slimly surprised tone. "Two-Bit, a lodge isn't just a small log cabin like others portray it as, you know? A lodge could just mean a place that's used for shelter. So, I believe that The County Lodge is really a hotel."

I could've sworn that I had instantly flashed redder than a red bulb on a Christmas tree. Embarrassment had struck me, but I hid it the best that I could as I scratched the back of my neck and gazed anywhere that wasn't in my kid sisters or any of the gang's eyes. I honestly thought that we were going to be staying in this little log cabin, because that's the only lodge that I ever pictured in my mind. I should've known that I was going to be wrong.

Steve rolled his eyes at Ponyboy's smartness. "Whatever," He then growled. "Let's just get out of this truck before my legs decide to stay numb forever!"

Without another moment of hesitation, the entire gang unbuckled their seatbelts and unlocked the doors, pushing them open afterwards. Darry had decided to park it not far away from the front entrance into The County Lodge, and a little close to the rusty SUV.

"Ah, freedom! Freedom!" Two-Bit practically chanted at the top of his lungs with overexcitement, just as he hopped out of Darry's red truck and began to freely skip around the parking lot with his arms shot up in the air.

Vinny confusedly raised an eyebrow at Two-Bit after she got out of the truck herself, and she walked over to the other side only to see him committing yet another one of his childish antics.

Steve irritatingly ran his hands through his hair, probably cursing in his head about how he had to share a room with Two-Bit throughout the whole winter break. Darry had explained to each of us just as we were about maybe fifteen or so minutes away from The County Lodge about the bunking arrangements. Nobody seemed to mind who they were rooming with, especially me since I got my kid sisters and Dally rooming with me. Unfortunately, Kitten and Vinny ended up cussing with absolute rage and firing back and forth many dirty insults to the point where I had to cover Cassidy and Jocelyn's ears all over again. Atleast Steve kept his irritated feelings to himself, cursing under his breath to himself and scowling away at the madly grinning Two-Bit.

"...What in the hell is wrong in your head, Mathews?" Steve hissed as he rubbed the sides of his head. That time, Cassidy covered her own ears, and I gently took a hold of one of her arms so she could hop out from the truck. I was holding Jocelyn in my free arm, and she was simply drooling on some of her fingers as she sucked on them, and she rested her bouncy; jet-black curls on my shoulder.

"A whole lot if it means gettin' to have a blast!" Two-Bit released his rare laughter as he continued to skip around the parking lot.

Darry looked unpleased, rolling his eyes as he grumbled something to himself that I didn't catch, but I could tell that he was beginning to grow impatient already. We technically never even began this winter vacation, and he was already getting annoyed by our behavior.

As everybody began to groan softly as they stretched their arms and legs, and Darry headed to the trunk so he could start taking out our luggage, Vinny suddenly leaned over towards me. At first, I thought that it was because she was stretching too, but I was proven wrong when I noticed that her eyes were still on Two-Bit, and she whispered close to my ear so no one else could hear her: "Is it wrong that I find his childish personality a major turn on?"

My face instantly turned bright red, and I just looked at her with huge eyes. She knew how much Dally already hated how Two-Bit has had a crush on her for God knows how long, but I've always thought that Vinny wasn't interested in Two-Bit at all. I could tell by the way that she acted around him that she wasn't interested, but I guess that moods and feelings can change sooner or later. I think that Two-Bit's already adored her since he first met her over a year or two ago at a rumble, and she was busy beating the living crap out of this one Soc with just her bare fists.

I made sure that Cassidy stuck to my side like glue, and I held Jocelyn closer to my chest as I studied how tall The County Lodge was. From where I was standing, it looked like it had maybe fifteen floors, which honestly made me begin to feel sick to my stomach since I was absolutely terrified of heights. I thought that that rollercoaster that Dally dragged me on when we were just kids at the carnival was dangerously tall, but The County Lodge definitely broke that record.

As I slowly turned my attention towards one of the windows that were close to the front doors, I could've sworn that I saw a hand quickly shoot back behind the long; slimly opened drapes. My eyes shot huge all over again and I could've sworn that I went pale for a few seconds. In every horror film I dared myself to watch, there was always somebody spying at the main victims in the very beginning.

"Hey, Johnnycake," The sound of Kitten's voice startled me, and I released a small squeak that nobody else really noticed since they were all busy getting their luggage from Darry. Kitten, on the other hand, already had her decently big; leopard-printed suitcase, and she was concernedly gazing at me after hearing me yelp.

Embarrassedly, I gulped and attempted shaking what just happened off, but it was instantly mended into my brain.

"Are you alright, Johnny?" Kitten softly asked so she probably wouldn't have anybody else swarming around me to ask a bunch of questions.

Hesitantly, I nodded. "Yeah, I guess I am..."

Confusedly, Kitten's eyebrows raised. "What do you mean, you guess?"

I just looked at her and kept my mouth shut, but I could tell that she wouldn't let what I just said go if I didn't answer it. That was Kitten Elizabeth Andrews for you, though. Whenever she wanted to know something, she wouldn't let it go until she got the direct answer. You couldn't lie to hear about anything either. I swear, it's as if she, Dally, and Vinny were the top three members in the gang that came with built in lie detectors.

I peeked back over towards the same window where I was sure that I saw somebody's hand, hesitating a bit more to see if I would see it again. When I didn't after another five or so seconds though, I gulped a little embarrassedly to myself and turned my attention back towards Kitten. I could tell that her confusion and concern were only expanding.

"Johnnycake, are you sure that you're okay?" Kitten quietly asked.

Again, I nodded after a little bit of hesitation. "I'm sure...it's just...well...I think that I saw something there..."

"Where?" Kitten narrowed her eyes with concern, and I used to my free hand to point towards the one window that I could've sworn there was a hand.

Kitten didn't wait to shoot her curious eyes in the direction where I had pointed, but just like I suspected, she sooner gazed back at me and said: "I don't see anything, Johnny."

"I could've sworn that I saw this hand though, Kit-Cat! It was this pale hand...as if it was a hand that belonged to a ghost from a horror film..." My eyes went wide and I shuttered to myself at the picture of a ghost haunting The County Lodge, but all Kitten did was playfully roll her eyes at me.

"Johnnycake, there is no such things as ghosts," She giggled a little, despite trying not to. "There are some other vehicles parked along in the employee parking, and there's a SUV right there. You possibly just saw another guest, an employee, or you're just imagining things. We've been cramped up in Darry's truck all this time, so it's probably just your imagination."

I took a moment to take in and digest each of Kitten's assuring words. I then bit down on my bottom lip and nibbled on it for a moment, before shrugging my shoulders. "I guess that you could be right..." I sighed with some relief, but some nervousness still remained inside of me.

Kitten offered me a pretty grin as she gently pat me on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Johnnycake. Nothin' is going to happen to us and we're going to have one memorable winter break here. By the way, Dally just wanted me to tell you that he's goin' to carry in your luggage, as well as Cassidy and Jocelyn's."

Understandingly, I nodded, even though I honestly wanted to tell Dally that he didn't have to do that. The only people Dally truly listened to from time to time was Darry and sometimes my kid sisters and I, but as for everyone else, he barely cared to hear a word. It was as if they entered through one ear and flew out the other, but that's the way Dally liked it.

"All right, now I believe that I went over what'll happen if somebody misbehaves. This is our first vacation together, and I doubt that any of us want to spend the winter break in our rooms." Darry firmly instructed with a drop-dead serious expression plastered on his face.

Two-Bit playfully rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah. We dig you, Superman. We'll be on our best behaviors."

Darry narrowed his eyes at the wisecracker in a serious manner. "You know, that'd be more convincing if you weren't the one to promise us anything, Two-Bit."

Dally blew out a smoke ring from a cigarette that he had recently lit. "Come on, Darry, let's just go in already. It's freaking cold out here!"

"Best behaviors..." Darry sternly stated one final time as he pointed a warning finger at everyone, before Dally put out his cigarette and began leading the way with Darry. The rest of the gang followed, carrying their luggage with interest glimmering in their eyes as we headed towards The County Lodge's front glass doors.

My eyes instantly went huge, and my jaw seemed to drop straight down to the dark wooden floor after we made it inside of The County Lodge. This place was unbelievable! Fancy paintings and other wall decorations covered the brown painted wall, and there were different fancy patted chairs, along with a few rocking chairs and couches, sprawled around in a neat circle by this huge fireplace. A toasty fire was busy crackling away, and there were a couple of deer heads; along with a moose head mounded over the fireplace. Honestly, that made the sickness in the pit of my stomach only grow.

Nobody seemed like that they were around at all. The whole place looked as if it has been abandoned.

Confusedly, Vinny gazed left to right. "Are you sure that this place is open?"

Dally rolled his eyes. "Of course it's open! There wouldn't have been any other vehicles parked in the parking lot if it wasn't!"

"Well then, where is everybody?" Vinny sassily challenged, narrowing her eyes dangerously at Dally and placing her free hand on her hip.

"How in the hell should I know?" hissed Dally through now clenched teeth.

"Shush! Can you two just be quiet? I said that we must be on our best behaviors and we've only been in here for no less than a minute!" Darry informed as he headed up to the front desk, where nobody was standing. Dally and Vinny glared at each other as we each headed after Darry, standing still behind him after he slapped his hand down onto the old looking; silver bell.

When waiting, I decided to peek over my shoulder so I could focus my eyes on the window where I could've sworn I saw that hand, but it looked like nobody has been by that window. I brushed my thumb both nervously and caringly across Cassidy's knuckles as I continued to hold her hand, and in my other arm, Jocelyn was still sucking on her fingers and resting her head on my shoulder.

I started to think more about Kitten's words all over again, and I attempted convincing myself that she was right. Ghosts weren't real, that was true...but I could've sworn that something wasn't right about The County Lodge. Why else would that Belinda back at that gas station try talking Dally and I out of heading here with the rest of the gang? Quietly, I just gulped and hoped heavily that everything was just in my head.

Again, Darry rang the silver bell, but when no one still turned up, Vinny irritatingly groaned and furiously slammed a clenched fist down on top of the bell. A louder BING sound seemed to echo throughout the whole lodge, but Vinny didn't seem to care, even when she received Darry's warning stare; Dally and Kitten's scowls; and the rest of the gang's confused looks. Little sister like older brother.

"Some staff that this place has," Steve rolled his eyes, just as Dally went on cursing under his breath to himself. "Where in the heck are all of the employees?"

Darry opened his mouth to most likely respond, but before he could get a word to come out, squeaky footsteps were heard dashing into the room, followed by a different male voice panting out: "My apologizes for the wait!"

"Who are you?" Ponyboy unsuccessfully raised an eyebrow the best that he could after this tall man made it behind the front desk. He had dark brown skin, and his black hair was decently long, combed in complicated swirls like Steve's. I'll seriously never understand how they make their hair like that. As for this man's eyes, they were pale blue, as if he was blind, and he was dressed in a gray suit with a red tie around his neck.

Darry scratched his chin with his index finger and studied this man as he continued catching his breath.

"Hey," Darry then spoke up with complete curiousness. "Aren't you Mr. Roberts? The man I spoke with over the phone?"

Instantly, a wide smile spread across the dark brown man's face, and he nodded his head. "Yes, that's me! I'm Mr. Patrick Roberts, the owner of this fine hotel. And if you say that you talked to me on the phone, then you all must be the Curtis' group, right?"

Darry nodded, along with Ponyboy and Soda.

"I'm Darrel Curtis, sir," Darry offered out a hand like his father would do in a time like that, and Mr. Roberts didn't wait to gently grasp and shake it. "These are my kid brothers, Ponyboy and Sodapop. As for the rest of these people, they're our best pals since childhood."

Understandingly, Mr. Roberts nodded, but he suddenly had this questioning grin on his face. "So, those are their real names?"

Ponyboy's ears turned red as he turned his attention down to his waterproof boots. I knew how much he disliked it whenever somebody else questioned his or Soda's name because he thinks that all that's going to happen next is humiliation.

Soda, on the other hand, smiled widely and chuckled. He liked being different from everyone else, so he didn't care about what others said about him.

"Yes, sir. Our old man was a very original person." shared Sodapop.

Mr. Roberts touched his chin and examined all of us, studying from the bottom of our boots, to the top of our heads. Honestly, that made me feel very uncomfortable and unsafe all of the sudden. I wasn't so sure about Mr. Roberts...something inside of me was just making my heart leap faster with every pump it made in my chest. First there was this shadowy figure on the road that I can't forget about, followed by this Belinda's warnings at the gas station, then I could've sworn I saw somebody's hand in the window, and now I didn't feel secure about this Mr. Roberts. What's going on?

"I'm a very original father myself, so I'm not the type of judge. Just ask my daughter; she's in the feasting room with her boyfriend and some other guests that decided to come here for winter break." explained Mr. Roberts.

"Speaking of other guests," Vinny confusedly raised an eyebrow. "How come such a huge place like this doesn't have many people staying for atleast just one day of winter break?"

Mr. Roberts suddenly looked uncomfortable after he caught Vinny's question, and he started to roll his pale blue eyes all around so he couldn't stare at Darry, Dally, Kitten, or anybody in general. To me, it was as if he was afraid to admit something. I could tell that Dally must've been thinking the same exact thing, because he suddenly had that suspicious stare of his glued onto his face. His teeth were beginning to slimly grind, his lips were warningly pulled back, and his eyes were slowly beginning to sharply narrow. Though, just as Mr. Roberts' opened his mouth to most likely answer Vinny's question, a pretty female voice was heard from down the long; gigantic like hallway. It called out a single time: "Daddy!"

"Oh," A wide smile spread across Mr. Roberts' face, as if he never looked nervous. "Here comes my princess now."

This time, Vinny raised both eyebrows in confusion and exchanged her concern with mine for a split second. She then just shrugged and we all turned our attention towards the direction where we heard Mr. Roberts' daughter sweetly holler out for him. Squeaky footsteps were heard, and after a few more passing seconds, a girl who looked about my age came strolling into the main lobby of The County Lodge. Beside her, there was a blonde boy with much paler skin following her. She had long, silky looking, chocolate colored hair that was curled and flowing to the center of her back, and her eyes were like Soda's, dark brown and shimmering with everlasting life. Whoever her mother was, she must've looked more like her than her father, because the only thing that it looks like to me that she got from him was her skin color. A gorgeous smile was spread across her face, giving off the dimples on her freckled covered cheeks.

"Hi, Daddy!" Her beautiful voice rang, standing there with the blonde boy now resting his arm across her shoulders. She was wearing a plain pair of dark blue; worn out jeans, white flat shoes, and a white tank-top that was covered with different shades of blue floral designs. She was mighty beautiful, that's for sure.

"My precious Utopia!" Mr. Roberts' held out his arms, as if waiting for a hug, but soon enough, his daughter came skipping over to him until she was able to throw her arms around his neck. As for the pale blonde boy, he simply stuffed his fingerless; black gloved hands into his leather jacket's pockets, just as he coolly strolled after Mr. Roberts' daughter. No questions needed to be asked. I could tell that he must've been her boyfriend.

She flipped her dark brown hair and stared at the gang, studying them like her father did, but she suddenly stopped when her eyes met me. She grinned a little and bit down on her bottom lip, nibbling on it for a short matter of seconds before she gazed back at her dad.

"Who are these people, Daddy?" She sweetly wondered.

"These people are more guests, Utopia. They're the Curtis' group that I told you about." responded Mr. Roberts' as he motioned one of his arms towards me and the rest of the gang. He then turned his head and offered a small smile. "This is my beautiful daughter, sixteen-year-old Utopia."

Utopia, huh? Couldn't get anymore original than that...

Utopia smiled widely all over again, revealing all of her purely white teeth as she waved. "It's very nice to meet you all!"

The blonde boy flipped his long hair, bringing his hands back out of from his pockets and connecting them around Utopia's waist.

Utopia's eyes instantly lit up, and she giggled a little after she gave his cheek a kiss. "This is my boyfriend, Ashton Fisher."

This Ashton was as pale as a vampire, having bluish/grayish eyes with little specks of green dazzling in them as well. His blonde hair met a little below his jawline, barely combed and ruffled up. He was also dressed in a plain white T-shirt, a leather jacket, some cowboy looking boots, and a pair of fading; torn up jeans. To me, he looked rougher than Dally, but there was no way in heck that I was going to say that.

"...Sup, Curtis' reservations..." Ashton simply raised his head and tipped it back, acting as if he was one of those tough gangsters from Tim Shepard's gang. Man, he and Utopia were definitely complete opposites.

Mocking him, Dally tipped his head back and said: "What's up, Shady?"

Vinny didn't wait to nudge him hard in the ribs, which instantly had Dally releasing a soft grunt and sending her a scowl right after as he rubbed where she nudged him.

Suddenly, some more footsteps were heard coming from the creaky hallway where Utopia and Ashton just came from. Everyone turned their attention towards the huge hallway, and soon enough, two twin teenage girls that looked about Ponyboy and Kitten's age came strolling into the main lobby. One twin girl had short black hair that was scrunched up in a bunch of curls, and the other twin had much longer black and wavy hair. Both of their eyes were dark green, and their skin were different shades of tan. One twin had dark tan skin like mine and my kid sisters, but the only had much lighter skin. Unfortunately, there was one main difference that was majorly noticeable between the two twins. One of them was model thin...but the other had a showing stomach...the other twin was pregnant.

I tried not to seem so stunned, but I was sure that my eyes had shot huge to the point where it was pretty obvious. She looked so young...and she was carrying a living, breathing thing inside of her.

"Golly, that girl is..." Ponyboy began to softly speak, only so Soda could quickly cover up his mouth before he could finish.

"Shush, Pony!" Darry quietly hushed his youngest kid brother.

Utopia grinned widely at the twins, but Ashton only seemed to be slightly smiling at the pregnant one.

"Hey, Faith! Hey, Jill!" Utopia waved at the two girls.

"Hi, Utopia...are these more guests?" the non-pregnant twin questioned with a small grin on her face.

Utopia and her father nodded their heads. "Yes, Jill. This is the Curtis' residents that my father was speaking about."

That must've meant that Faith was the twin that was pregnant. She didn't want to look up after meeting Ashton's eyes, so she kept staring down at the floor and smoothing her hands around on her maternity shirt that said "Mama Bear" on it, and there was a picture of a teddy bear wearing a blue scarf. So that maybe meant that she was having a baby boy? Man...from what I picked up from health class, she looked about seven months in.

"Well, it's very nice to meet you all," Jill flashed a smile. "I'm fifteen-year-old Jill Carols and this is my little twin sister, Faith."

Shyly, Faith waved for maybe about three split seconds, but after that, she went back to rubbing her stomach.

"Um, yeah...nice to meet you, too..." I could tell that Darry was trying his best to be polite, but it wasn't easy to hide your shock towards something like this.

Jill kept grinning widely, her hands now folded and in front of her, resting against the front of her thighs as she studied us. Strangely, I had an even more uncomfortable feeling attacking me compared to when Mr. Roberts examined us.

"Where did you all come from?" Jill's eyes froze on Ponyboy, as if she was asking only him. "My kid sister and I came from New York, along with Ashton. Without us, he wouldn't have ever met Utopia."

Pony scratched the back of his neck, and I could see how his ears were beginning to turn light red towards Jill's wide smile and twinkling eyes.

"...We came from Tulsa," Ponyboy hesitated before answering, only so he could peek over at Darry and see if he approved of giving away their home area.

"Tulsa?" Mr. Roberts raised his eyebrows with concern.

Steve shrugged. "Yeah, why?"

"Well," stated Mr. Roberts. "We have three other guests who are stayin' here after traveling all the way from Tulsa. Though, I believe that they're settling in right now, so we can't meet them now."

"Can't you atleast tell us their names?" Kitten innocently questioned with a shrug of her shoulders. "I mean, Tulsa has pretty tight neighborhoods. We're bound to know these three other guests of yours."

Mr. Roberts frowned and shook his head. "I'm afraid that neither of us can tell you. They asked to be unknown by any other guests unless those guests catch up with 'em. But I'm sure that you'll meet them soon enough, considering breakfast comes fast."

"Speaking of breakfast..." spoke Two-Bit as he placed his hands on his stomach. "When will it be lunchtime?"

Utopia placed her hand over her mouth and giggled, which made Ashton roll his eyes in what seemed like an uncaring manner to me.

"Very soon," Utopia answered.

Mr. Roberts nodded his head with agreement, right before he reached into some lower compartment of his desk and pulled out four different pairs of keys. Each one had a room number on them, and by the looks of it, two of our rooms were on one side of the hallway, and the other two were across on the other side. We were on the seventh floor, too. Oh man...my fear of heights were returning...

"Indeed, lunch will be ready in the feasting room soon. But before we can get to that, we should let you all get settled into your rooms and make yourselves at home." Mr. Roberts said as he handed the keys over to Darry.

Utopia seemed to be gazing at me again, and her sweet grin grew some more. "And if any of you need anything, just give me or my father a holler."

Understandingly, everybody, except Dally, nodded their heads, and we each hitched our luggage back up as we made our way towards one of the elevators. As we piled in, actually not all bunched up since the elevators were a whole lot roomier than I thought, I couldn't stop my suspicion from returning to my system. Utopia seemed alright to me, but Ashton and Jill didn't seem so secure in my mind, and Faith seemed awfully quiet. I guess Mr. Roberts wasn't so bad.

Darry kept one of the keys for him, Ponyboy, and Soda, but he gave another to Steve, one other to Vinny, and the last to Dally.

"All right, let's get all settled in." Darry announced after the elevator opened up to the seventh floor. The hallways were narrow, but not extremely thin, and different staircases were behind two gray doors, one on the far west side of the curved hallway, and the other on the far east side. The walls of this hallway were painted dark purple with different little designs of fancy seashells added in, and the floor was a lighter brown wood compared to the dark brown wooden floor in the main lobby. As for the rooms, they were nothing but straight ahead from the elevator, but it looked like to me that we were possibly the only ones that had this floor to ourselves. Unfortunately, I did say possibly...

"We'll meet up again when it's time for lunch, okay?" asked Darry after each of us got with our bunk mates and got to the whatever dark red door that said the number that on printed on our keys. The Curtis' room were on the right side of the hallway with Vinny and Kitten rooming next to them. Steve and Two-Bit, on the other hand, were bunking beside the room that Dally, Jocelyn, Cassidy, and I had, across the narrow hall.

Understandingly, the gang agreed and unlocked their doors, heading in and closing them shortly after they opened.

The room that Dally, Jocelyn, Cassidy, and I were bunking in was decently big, just like all of the other rooms. The floor was a plain white carpet, soft and amazingly clean, and the walls were painted in a sea color. A few paintings of the woods, along with the sunset, which was my favorite, hung on different spots of the wall. Two different clocks that told the same time were above the two beds, which were covered with comfortable looking dark red blankets and cozy white pillows. A closet, which I suspected was empty, was in the corner of the room, along with a body mirror and a plain lamp. A bookshelf rested against the wall, not far from another door that I figured entered a bathroom, and there were a few rocking chairs. Lastly, the view that we got from the seventh floor seemed as if you were flying in the sky, but there was no way that I was going to head over to that window. My fear of heights would only make my head hurt and make my stomach feel twisted.

"Hey, Dally, what's in this?" Cassidy innocently questioned as she entered our room, trudging Dally's other duffle bag with her the best that she could. I entered our room last, still holding Jocelyn in my arms, but it was too bad that I didn't realize that a dark figure bolted straight across the door. I just simply closed the door and locked it behind me.

Dally chuckled at Cassidy and tossed his other bag onto one of the double beds. He then tossed mine, Jocelyn, and Cassidy's luggage onto the other double bed that was closer to the window.

"Oh, that's just my knife collection. I believe I packed my heater in there, too." Dally simply shrugged, as if it was no big deal.

My eyes instantly shot huge, and I could've sworn that I turned as white as a sheet as I took no hesitation to snatch Dally's other duffle bag away from Cassidy. I then handed Jocelyn over to her, as if we were trading, but Cassidy decided to just softly lay her down in this wooden crib that was inbetween the double beds. What luck...we got the room with a crib.

"Dally, really?" I demanded to know, but I made sure that I kept my voice soft so nobody else could possibly hear us.

"Better safe than sorry, Johnnycake. We never know when trouble is just lurking 'round the corner." Dally coolly declared as he plopped himself down onto one of the comfy looking beds.

I sighed. "Dal, we're on vacation. You shouldn't have brought any of your weapons. We're not in Tulsa anymore; there aren't any Socs here or anything like that."

Dally shook his head at me. "Trouble never takes a break, Johnny. No matter where we go, it could be just waiting for us. Now let me have my knife collection."

I didn't wait to obey, knowing how tough and serious Dally was, and he snatched his other duffle bag from me after I offered it to him. Instead of unpacking and of his blades or even his heather though, Dally just slipped that other duffle bag underneath the bed that he would be sleeping in. Cassidy wanted to have me with her at all times, so we were going to share the other bed, and Jocelyn simply was in the protected middle, all bundled up in the wooden crib.

I began to help Cassidy unpack our clothes and Jocelyn's few toys, leaving Dally to just uncaringly leave his own luggage packed. That's Dally for you; he never gave a hang about any of that stuff.

Cassidy's POV

So far, so good. I liked The County Lodge after getting all settled in and having such a delicious lunch, followed by a fantastic dinner later on that evening in the feasting hall, back down on the first floor of The County Lodge. Mr. Roberts, Utopia, Jill, Faith, and Ashton all joined us, of course. However, whoever those three other guests from Tulsa as well were, they didn't bother to come down from their own rooms and fetch a bite to eat all day. And by the looks of how huge the feasting hall was...how come there weren't as many guests staying at The County Lodge? I still didn't understand why Mr. Roberts didn't answer that question from Vinny earlier that day.

All throughout lunch, that Jill wouldn't stop fixing her eyes back on Ponyboy. He must've noticed too, because I could see how his ears were beginning to go bright red. But neither of them said anything to each other.

As for dinner, Faith...fifteen and pregnant...didn't show up until about ten minutes after dinnertime was announced, along with Ashton...the vampire looking guy. I swear, he looked like nothing but doom and gloom, while Utopia was full of positivity and had a golden light of sunshine for a heart. How could they be a couple?

Later on that night, after I got dressed into my pajamas and Johnny headed off to our room's bathroom to give Jocelyn her bath, I rested on my knees in front of the window and gazed out at the stars. I just admired how they twinkled one at a time, each one somehow different from the other...just like people. Anytime I saw a shooting star, I would wish for a better life in Tulsa...no more rumbles, no more robberies, no more vandalism, no more abusive home life...unfortunately, I don't think that that wish would ever come true.

I rested my chin on my folded hands, which were laying on the windowsill, and I continued to study the stars. Sometimes I would have Ponyboy and Johnny glancing at them with me, but Johnny was busy with Jocelyn and Ponyboy already fell asleep back in his room with Darry and Soda. I believed that it was just 10:30, but it did take a long time to travel here in the first place.

Dally had already fell asleep himself, shirtless and in a pair of his baggy pajama pants. He looked as peaceful as an angel sent from heaven when he was asleep...but don't be fooled. He was sleeping with one of his switchblades resting beside his bed on the nightstand.

As I continued to scan the nighttime sky, adoring each of the stars, I decided to take a risk and peek down. I was the adventurous one in my family, considering Jocelyn was just a baby and Johnnycake was terrified of heights. A mixture of eagerness and excitement instantly pooled up into my eyes as I leaned myself forward until the top of my forehead was gently meeting the frost covered glass. I couldn't see any part of the ground or anything, considering that it was so dark and snowy, but when I turned my head over just a little bit more to see if I could spot anything from a different angle...

My eyes seemed to bulge out of my head, and a terrified shrill bolted up my spine. I couldn't believe what my eyes had just met. That exact shadowy figure from the road was pinned to the outside wall of The County Lodge, as if he or she was climbing, and they stared right back at me from not far below from the window that entered the room that Johnny, Jocelyn, Dally, and I were staying in. The oversized winter jacket, heavy army like boots, and floppy rain hat that this dark figure was still wearing were covered with snow, but I couldn't see any part of their face except their eyes...their beating red, glowing like eyes...

I jumped far back, tripping over my own bare feet and falling straight to the carpeted floor as I let out a bloodcurdling screech.

"What in the hell!" Dally bellowed out at the top of his lungs, just as he instantly shot up into a sitting position. It was as if he wasn't ever asleep.

"Cassidy!" Johnny gasped at the top of his lungs, and I soon enough heard the water from the tub being splashed in louder than before. Johnny had grabbed Jocelyn and wrapped her bare body up into a warm towel, only so he could race back into the room to see me now shivering as I sat there on my rear end.

Dally rubbed his eyes and threw the covers off from his body, right before he quickly stood up from his bed.

"Cassidy, what happened?" Johnny was by my side in seconds, helping me up from the floor and holding me close to his side as he held Jocelyn in his other arm.

"I...I..." I was beginning to cry rapidly from being so frightened.

Johnny quietly shushed me and stroked my hair. "You what?"

I sniffled, wiping away as many tears as I could. "I saw...I saw somebody outside the window! It was...that dark figure from the road...you know, the one that Darry said wasn't real!"

Johnny's dark eyes went huge, and I could tell that he took down a gulp. "Are you sure, Cass?"

I eagerly nodded my head and berried my face into his pajama muscle shirt, shedding more and more salty tears by the minute.

"I knew that that freaking thing wasn't any damn imagination!" Dally protectively swiped up his switchblade and began to angrily make his way towards the window.

Johnny quickly covered Jocelyn's ears, and I covered my own that time, but I removed my hands just a few seconds later.

I snuggled myself closer to Johnny's side as we watched Dally stomp towards the window, but just as he shot his blade up in the air when he furiously stared out to catch the dark figure, he froze up and didn't do anything.

"What the..." Dally mumbled to himself, right before he did a face-palm and lowered his switch.

Johnny confusedly raised an eyebrow. "What is it, Dally?"

Dally turned himself back around and rolled his eyes. "There ain't no shadowy figure out there. All that's outside is the snow and the darkness."

"What?" My eyes shot huge all over again, and I quickly scampered back over to the window. Dally crossed his arms over his chest and watched as I peeked out, this time more hesitant and nervously, but to my shocking discovery, Dally was right. The dark figure was gone, as if he or she was never there to begin with. But...that's impossible! I saw their glowing red eyes with my own dark brown eyes! I know exactly what I saw!

"Your kid sister still must be rattled up by what happened earlier on the road, Johnnycake." Dally informed, as if I wasn't there.

"No!" I cried and flashed myself back around. "No, I saw the shadowy figure! I know what I saw! They were out there!"

Jocelyn instantly then burst into tears herself, and Johnny sighed as he began to attempt rocking her in order to help calm her back down.

"Cass, it's late, and after everything that happened on our road trip here...who knows, maybe your eyes are playing tricks on you..." Johnny innocently told me, which honestly struck me right in the heart. My own brother didn't believe me...

"No..." I whimpered, as if I was a lost and starving puppy. "...I know what I saw...and no matter what you guys say, I know that he or she was out there...I know it..."

Dally softly groaned at my words and ran his hands through his hair, obviously not in the mood. Johnny, on the other hand, flashed that puppy pout of his and sighed.

"Cassidy, just get into bed, all right? It's too late to discuss this now and we're all exhausted after bein' cramped up in the Curtis' truck for eleven hours straight." Johnny released a soft, tired yawn as he continued to pat the whimpering Jocelyn's bare back, and running his fingers through her damp curls.

Tears slowly continued to drench down my face as I just stared at Johnny and Dally. "I can't believe that you guys don't believe me..."

Dally rolled his eyes and took Jocelyn from Johnny's arms, taking over the comforting the best that he could. Surprisingly, Jocelyn began to settle down and suck her thumb, as if she was never crying.

"It's not that we don't believe you, Cassidy..." heavily sighed Dally, but he didn't say anything else when I tearfully shook my head at him and Johnny.

"Whatever," I snarled in sorrow, going back to wiping as many of my tears away as I could. "I know what I saw...please...just believe me, okay?"

I didn't give either of them any chance to say anything back. Instead, I walked right over to the bed that Johnny and I were going to share and I berried myself underneath the dark red covers. Quietly, I ended up whimpering myself to sleep, but not without me feeling Johnny's arms sooner protectively wrap around me around 10:40 was my guess. Dally, on the other hand, got Jocelyn diapered up and dressed into a pair of her footsy pajamas before he settled her down into the wooden crib and tucked her in. As if by magic, she was out like a light, and Dally fell asleep shortly after himself.

However, I wish that one of us had realized that those same exact red eyes were watching us from the closed and locked window at that very moment...

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