Our Story of Survival | Teen Ink

Our Story of Survival

March 4, 2011
By JarrodJFccla, muleshoe, Texas
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JarrodJFccla, Muleshoe, Texas
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Favorite Quote:
I believe that life is a prize...but to live doesnt mean your alive -nicki minaj (moment for life)

Author's note: I have always wanted to follow in the footsteps of Dean Koontz, John Verdon and Suzanne Collins...I have always been able to use my imagination. I have been told that i could probably make friends with a brick wall because i would give it a name and a whole background story. I just want to be able to increase my writing ability and hopefully one day have a book on the new york best times seller list.

I'm Taylor Kingston. I’m 12 years old. And I’m a survivor. I was made a character in a sick game created by a complete stranger. He was trying to justify his own sick mind by putting us in a situation he was put in… created to see just how far I would go to survive. This is my story.

My life was fairly normal. I live in a small town in northern Wisconsin and I thought my life was perfect. I had two loving parents, although they were divorced. I had two brothers and two sisters. Kyle and Luke were my brothers and Kayleb and Kollyn were my twin sisters. I was the youngest and as you can guess we didn’t quite get along. My brothers were always picking on me making a fool of me. Kayleb and Kollyn were good to me, but they never wanted to spend any time with me. They were too busy doing their girly things with their friends. But I did have awesome friends- Ashton and Paul. Ashton and I had been friends pretty much since our parents dumped us off at day care so they could run off and do whatever the heck they wanted. We first met when Ashton spilled her orange juice all over me and my new Power Ranger backpack. I was furious. After we had cleaned up the mess and noticed that the yellow Power Ranger had now become a sickly green, that made him look nauseous. We rolled around laughing and fell into a deep and rewarding friendship, or so I thought. Paul just moved to Swissleton, Wisconsin two years ago. He was a foreign exchange student from Spain and he had been adopted by our bubbly English teacher, Ms. O’Conner. Paul didn’t have any friends for the first two months that he was here. He could speak English fluently, but you could tell that he wasn’t born here because of the occasional slips of Spanish words in his English sentences.

From the inside looking out I had a pretty great life, everyone liked me, or at least enough that they wouldn’t confront me. But, there was one day in my life that ruined this feeling. My Mom had started dating about three months after she was legally divorced from my Dad. I didn’t have a problem with any of my mom’s boyfriends. They were cool. Some took me out to the batting cages on their days off of work and others would take me out for ice cream when they got off work. On February 3rd 2006, my mom brought home the most irritating, dreadful, repulsive man I had ever me. His name was Rick. My mom thought that Rick was the one, and they were married three weeks after their first date. Although they only went out for three weeks, they said that they had been talking for about two months. I always had a feeling that he had an evil side and soon I would find out otherwise. I always worried about how he was out to get me, but my mom always told me
“You really need to trust your stepdad, He’s in the law field, and he can really open up a future for you.” There will never be any trust for him.

Kayleb, Kollyn, Kyle, and Luke all adored Rick. He would buy Kayleb and Kollyn any clothes that they wanted from the West Avenue Mall. Rick also took Kyle and Luke to buy things like skateboards or videogames, just because he had the money. He always offered me money, but why would I take any donations from my sworn enemy?

Today was a good day. I woke up on this bright October morning. The sun was out and there were absolutely no clouds. Rick had gone to work at his law firm. My mom wasn’t moving around much because she’d had a killer migraine for three days. I thought to myself today is gonna be the perfect day for a hike. I grabbed my Nike Shox, black with a bright green outline. I pulled on my gray sweat pants and my old hiking shirt that had the word ‘strength’ printed on the front. I grabbed my dark blue jacket because I had a feeling today was gonna be kind of chilly. I said goodbye to my mom and told her that I was going to take a walk, leaving out the part that I was going in to the forest. I took off across the freshly mowed grass, and I could feel it sticking to my shoes making them just a little bit heavier. I decided to grab my hiking stick out of the hollowed out tree trunk that I created. I had sat a big rock in front of it so that no one could see the opening. As I rolled the rock away from the opening, I saw that Rick had pulled into the driveway and was now looking at me with a puzzled expression on his face.
“Taylor I don’t think your mom wants you out in the forest by yourself.” Rick said. ‘UGH he has to ruin everything. What does it matter to him he wouldn’t care if I got hurt!’ I thought. I was staring at two squirrels playing tag about 10 feet from me.
“I already asked mom and she said that it was fine as long as I was careful.” I lied hoping that Rick couldn’t see through my façade.
“Well ok but be really careful there are lots of wild animals out there and if you see one try not to run or panic try to be calm and call me on either my cell phone or the house phone and I will come out here and I will be right there.” Rick said sounding really worried that I would get hurt. ‘What is he doing? Why the heck is he being so nice to me?’
“Ok I will be home at lunch don’t worry about me.” I said as I grabbed my walking stick, replacing the rock, and running off without knowing exactly where I was going.

The forest was unusually quiet that day. The birds that were common in this forest weren’t chirping like usual and I couldn’t see them in the trees. The native frogs make a small clicking noise, and I didn’t hear that either. As I walked, I noticed that leaves that had fallen off of the trees made an odd crunching sound with every footstep. I was just noticing that there weren’t any leaves on the trees and the branches were a blackish-grey color when I heard it. I could hear someone else breathing --- I wasn’t alone. There was a small crunching sound from the leaves about 30 yards off. I heard the stranger approaching me, the breathing got closer, and the crunching was louder. As I turned to confront the stranger, I felt a sharp pain in my left temple and then everything went black.

The sound of crying woke me to an unfamiliar part of the forest. The leaves were all on the trees and they all looked healthy. There was chirping and clicking just like I had remembered the forest to be. Had I been dreaming that I was in the forest after I had leaned against this tree? As I started to stand the sharp pain in my wrist told me to stop. I realized that I was tied to this tree and so were 9 other familiar faces. The people that shared the meadow with me were Ashton, Paul, Kyle, Luke, Kayleb, Kollyn, Rick, Lauren (a girl that is in my class that I had a crush on since the 5th grade, April (a girl in my science class that never seemed to like me), and Devon (a guy in the class above me that always bullied me). Where are we? This doesn’t make sense. Paul was awake and tied to the tree to my left not 15 feet from me. What was going on, but then I realized that a voice was talking to me. I searched around my legs and saw that a walkie-talkie was sitting on my lap.
“Welcome all of you; I have brought you here to prove a point. I have been watching you 10 people for some time now and I have come to the conclusion that you will be the best subjects to prove my point.” said the mysterious voice. As I looked around the circle, I could tell that everyone was just as confused as I was.

“I want to see if under pressure you would do the same thing. My four friends and I were meandering through an old house in a town in south Montana and one of the rooms collapsed leaving us trapped there for 6 days. We were starving. By the 2nd day, we had to figure out what to do to survive. I killed off my friends so that I would have enough food to survive for about 1 week.” The stranger said.
I could tell by the look on Kayleb’s face that she knew what he was going to ask us to do, and I knew she could tell because I had the same expression of denial and sadness. I knew he was gonna ask us to start killing each other off.
“When the cops came and dug me out they found the 4 corpses and they sent me to a psychiatric ward to cure me. They thought that I was deranged for killing my friends. What I want to know if in the same situation with limited food, will you do the same? So here is my challenge for you. In about thirty seconds the ties on your wrists will release and you will be allowed to stand up and gather supplies in the pile in front of you. Survival is the test I give you. In ten days, you will be released from this man-made forest and will be allowed to leave and go about your own business as usual. The only twist is that there isn’t enough food to last a group of 10 that long. So now I leave you with these questions, who can you trust? To survive will you kill? Are your friends really your friends? Are your enemies really your enemies?”
With that, we heard static, a beep, and then total silence. About that time the ropes around our wrists released and we were free.
The first to stand up were Kollyn and Kayleb, They ran over to Rick and helped him to his feet, then started questioning him on what they were going to do. I didn’t trust him and I knew that I’d have to watch my back with him and Devon, because they were the only people there that I didn’t get along with at all. I knew that most likely Kollyn and Kayleb would be with Rick the whole time, so I wasn’t going to be able to confide in them. I decided that my best bet was to break off with Paul, Ashton, and Lauren and hope that we could figure out how to live. I searched the group looking for the three I most likely could trust, I saw Paul pacing back and forth along the meadow looking untrustingly at the people that stood with him in the circle of trees. Ashton and Lauren were both digging through the pile of supplies in the center when I heard Devon yelling at them,
“What do you think you’re doing? Don’t think that you are going to get away with taking all the supplies and leaving us to just die.”
Ashton was starting to back toward the edge of trees with both her arms filled with a first aid kit, two backpacks full of food, and a canteen. I knew that she was planning on filling it with water from the river that we could all definitely hear that was probably 40 feet to the north.
“No I was planning on taking this much and then leaving the rest of you to decide how to split the rest amongst yourself.” Ashton said as she turned to run, running straight into April.
“I’m not about to let you get away with that”, she said, ripping the food packs from her arms making Ashton drop the first aid kit and the canteen.
All the distractions that Ashton had just given, gave Lauren enough time to grab three packs of food, a first aid kit, and two canteens. She slipped by me, pulling on my arm motioning me to follow. We were running through the forest, and as we came to the river, I heard yelling--- probably because of Ashton’s actions. That’s when I heard the gunfire, the screaming, and the footsteps that were headed right toward us.
“What was that?” Lauren asked as she was trying to pull herself together so I wouldn’t realize that she was crying.
“I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out either”, I said. Then I realized that whoever had started running toward was getting even closer now.

“Someone is coming, follow me.” I told Lauren as I pulled her to a fallen tree over the river that was to our left. I could tell that the river was man-made because there was plastic lining the river so that it would be safe for us to drink. As soon as we were across the log, I pulled Lauren into a row of bushes that were about 20 feet from the tree to get across the river. It was in the opposite direction of the person that was coming at us.
“Who do you think died back there?” Lauren said I could see a long stream of tears running down her face. Lauren had long beautiful sandy blonde hair. She looked beautiful, I thought, even with the sweat dripping down her face and the small twigs and leaves sticking to her hair and clothes.
“I don’t know, but I’ll bet we soon find out”, I said, waiting to see who was about to run across the tree when I heard her screaming.
“Kollyn” I whispered as I heard Kayleb yell let her go. That’s when I heard the second gunshot followed by more screaming.
“We have to go now” I yelled at Lauren “there might still be time to save her.”
As I stood up, I saw Ashton run across the tree bridge and fall into the water. I ran over to pull her out. She was bleeding above her right shoulder right next to her throat.
“What happened?” I asked motioning for Lauren to bring the first aid kit over.
“April pushed me on the ground and kicked me in the side for stealing the packs. She crawled on top of me and held a knife to my throat, telling me ‘I would pay for leaving them to die.’ That’s when Kollyn shot her with a gun she must have found in the pile.” Ashton said. She winced at the pain of the hydrogen peroxide that Lauren was now pouring on her wound.
“I shoved April off of me; she swung her knife at me trying to finish me off but only clipped my shoulder. I kicked her in the stomach, and she slammed into a tree. I stood up and saw Devon running in the same direction that your Dad and sisters had just run.” Ashton stumbled over the last few words because she knew that the screaming had to come from my sister.
“Kollyn is ok. I know she is, --- she can fend for herself.” I said, letting these words comfort me so I wouldn’t start to cry.
“What happened to Kyle and Luke?” I asked changing the subject so that I could take my mind off of Kollyn. Ashton’s face became puzzled,
“I don’t know. They were both at the pile right after you two ran off but I’m not sure where they went. I guess I was busy getting beaten.” Ashton said her hate clipping her last words. I could tell she was angry that I ran off without helping her.
“Well maybe we will run into them sooner than later.” I said noticing that Lauren had disappeared.
“Where did Lauren go?” I asked Ashton.
She lifted her eyes indicating where Lauren was. I turned slowly seeing Paul holding her with a knife to her throat. “What are you doing?” I asked Paul, His eyes were red and swollen from crying. “Why would you want to kill her? She has never done anything to you.”
Paul tried to mouth I'm sorry. He started to spurt blood out of his mouth, and he tumbled to the ground taking Lauren with him. There, standing right where Paul was standing, was Rick holding a bloody knife. He had stabbed Paul in the back to save Laurens life.
Rick, why the heck would you do that? He was innocent. We could have talked him out of killing Lauren. He would let her go”, I said screaming as I helped Lauren crawl out from under Paul’s body.
“Letting him live wouldn’t help us get out any faster.” Rick said dropping the knife into the now bloody grass.
“So you’re going along with this dude’s sick games?” I yelled, pulling Ashton and Lauren across the tree so we could get as far away from Rick as possible.
“The games are real, he is watching us. Don’t trust anyone!” Rick yelled as we lost sight of him. Don’t worry I won’t trust you Rick I thought as I ran deeper into the forest.
The next two days were quiet. No one was killed. My group which consisted of Lauren, Ashton, and me, rationed off the four bags of food we had collected. We camped out down the river from where the fallen tree created a bridge. We had found another row of bushes and we built a camp inside them making it easy to watch all sides in case there was an ambush. The fourth day since I had been abducted from the quiet woods outside my window, we were slowly running out of food and bandages because of the constant changing of Ashton’s cut on her shoulder. That day everyone seemed to have grown the need to kill.

I woke to the constant whispering of Lauren telling me,
“Taylor she’s gone. Wake up she’s gone”. I woke with a short yawn, I was trying to hide how absolutely tired I really was
“Who’s gone Lauren?” I asked, looking around trying to figure out what she was talking about.
“Ashton!” Lauren cried, “She took all the food and first aid and she ran off into the forest.” I jumped to my feet turning in circles trying to decide where she would have gone.
“Why would she just strand us? Why would she want to leave us with all our food just to try and make it on her own? At least with us, she could have protection in numbers.” I yelled, because I was hoping that Ashton would hear this and feel sorry. I hoped she would come running back for forgiveness, but I knew that she never would. By this time the realization of what was happening to us was hitting Lauren’s mind. I could tell by the tears in her eyes that she knew we were going to die of starvation.
“Here,” Lauren said as she pulled two guns from a pack that I had never seen before. “We are going to go out and find her. We are going to take her out of this world for what she has done to us!” I gasped. This isn’t right. I thought. Ashton has been my friend since day care. I couldn’t possibly look her in the eye and kill her. I felt a tear run down my face.
“I can’t do this. She has been my best friend. I couldn’t possibly live with myself” I said, “Lauren, I have had the biggest crush on you ever since the 5th grade, I love you and I can say that without regret, but I can’t hurt her. I just can’t do it”. I said as I let the tears loose.
“I know you can't” Lauren said, “and Taylor I have had a crush on you too!” she said looking down at the floor as if she was unsure. “But I was afraid that you didn’t feel the same, so I kept my feelings to myself. I know that you wouldn’t be able to kill a best friend --- but I never liked her and I will have no problem with it.” Lauren said as she stood up and took off to find Ashton.
“Lauren wait!” I said as I heard her gasp.
I ran as fast as I could to find Lauren. There standing inside a small circle of trees was Lauren with her hand over her mouth, crying staring up. Ashton was hanging from a branch that stuck out over the small meadow.
“Someone must have gotten to her first” Lauren said as she fell onto the ground feeling horrible about thinking that she wanted to take her out.
“So I see you found our surprise for you.” a very familiar voice said behind me. It scared me enough to make me draw the pistol, turn, and fire all in one fluid motion.
“What have I done?” that’s all I could say after I realized that I had just shot my brother Luke-there lying on the ground in a heap after the bullet pierced his heart. The pain of Kyle tackling me didn’t kick in until Lauren had shoved him off and shot him too.
“I can't believe I just shot my brother! And how could you shoot Kyle?” I yelled at Lauren as she realized that she had just killed another human being. “He had a knife,” she cried as she dropped the gun and backed away against a tree. I reached for my neck and realized that the pain I felt was actually from a small gash in my throat that Kyle had left. I looked over at his body; sprawled out on the ground four feet from me. I could see the blood on the knife from my attack.
“Thank you, He was my brother but he would have killed me if you hadn’t have shot him. Thank you!” I struggled to stand and walked over to the find five food packs that Luke and Kyle must have stolen from Ashton and another two that they must have gotten themselves.
“Let’s go. We have to find shelter. Someone must have heard the shots and I’ll bet Devon will be on his way to take on any survivors of the attack.” I said, as we walked off into the forest trying to forget about the deaths I’d caused.

I didn’t at all sleep well that night. Lauren and I slept on opposite sides of the row of bushes I could tell by the way she was tossing and turning that she was not having an easy time forgetting the events that happened the day before. When the sun rose, we decided we would see how big this “arena” was. We walked to the north until we were forced to stop it was day six and we guessed that there were five people left. We thought if we could avoid everyone we could let the other three battle it out. Maybe we could keep to ourselves until we were released from this sick game. When we had filled our now six canteens and packed up all our stuff, and headed north, we found that our plan might not work. It had begun to get a lot colder and the farther that we headed north we found that it had actually started to snow. It was going to be really hard to survive. After about two days of tracking north, we decided to stop and move west until there wasn’t any snow. We traveled for an hour until we had left the snow behind us. The temperature warmed. Like it was spring time and it was the perfect weather for hiking. After about five more hours of hiking we found what we were looking for. As we got closer to the edge of the arena we could see that the sky looked almost too perfect. The clouds didn’t move. There was a wide open field that looked so perfect; I wanted to just run in it no matter how tired I felt. I wanted to sprint away from the nightmare I had been living and escape it all with Lauren beside me. My dream of running shattered when I heard him speaking for the first time since the first day.
“I see that you have thought the same as me? I knew that sooner or later someone would be coming along trying to find a crack in the wall so that they could escape. But I have already searched all around this arena, and there is nothing.” Devon said, he was speaking from the shadows of a large oak tree. I could only see his worn out sneakers covered in mud. I figured he had gone through the snow like we had, and now had made his way to this area, getting dirt on the already wet shoes.
“We don’t want trouble.” I said, hiding my fear, as he had stepped out from the shadow holding a bloody knife in his left hand.
“I just want my revenge on your little girlfriend here” he said stepping all the way out of the shadows, causing me and Lauren to step back so he wouldn’t be close if we needed to make a quick escape.
“Oh you don’t have to back away. I'm not going to hurt you Taylor. Like I told you, Lauren is all I want. She shouldn’t have tried to kill me, and I wouldn’t be here.” Devon said holding his left leg letting me see the blood stained bandage that I guessed was either a knife wound or a bullet wound.
“When did she try to attack you, she has been with me the whole time we have been in this dreaded game.” I said slowly pulling Lauren behind me so that she was blocked from danger.
“She didn’t tell you? About three days ago, she came to me in the night holding up a gun and told me I would pay for killing Kayleb. She tried to shoot me, but I jumped to my feet and she shot me in the leg.” Devon said, smiling, getting satisfaction realizing that my alliance would soon be over.
“You killed Kayleb? How could you? What did she do to you?” I yelled diminishing his happiness because now he realized that I wasn’t mad at Lauren for the attack. I was mad that he had killed my sister. I stepped forward trying to show off as much anger as I had ever had. Devon took a step forward so that he would seem as scary as I was.
“Don’t make this a battle between you and me because you won’t win this.” I stepped back to protect Lauren again and then I realized she was gone. I turned to see if she had backed out of my reach just to notice she was nowhere in sight. Where did she go? Did she feel like I would turn on her for her sneaking off on an assassination mission? I thought. I turned back only to find that Devon had run off. My best bet was that he had run off in search of Lauren. I took off in the direction that I thought Lauren had run. I had hiked in all directions for what I guessed was about two days. I’d been everywhere. It wasn’t until I ran into Rick that I wished that I would have stayed where I was when Lauren had run off.

“Thank goodness I finally found you.” Rick said as he ran towards me with his arms extended so that he could embrace me. As he got closer to me I could see the dried blood on his hands. I had made it to the ninth day of this test, and I was not about to let a man I never trusted end it now. I stepped backwards holding my hands up revealing my gun telling Rick not to come any closer.
“Don’t do this Taylor. I don’t want you to do something that you will regret.” Rick said. He stopped dead in his tracks. There it is again-him trying to be nice to me. Why is he doing? This it is making it harder for me to not trust him when he is trying to help me so much? I thought. I put the gun down realizing how foolish it was of me to try to do this. He was only trying to help me.
“Why is there blood on your hands?” I asked Rick. When he realized that he hadn’t cleaned his hand he quickly shoved them in his pockets hiding his secret.
“What have you done? Who has died?” I asked knowing that the death must be his doing.
“I had a little run in with that kid Devon. He had a knife.” Rick explained. I wondered if Devon had found Lauren before then.
“So did you see Lauren too?” I asked swallowing hard because I knew that I wouldn’t like the answer.
“Devon said that he looking for her and thought that you were hiding her so he had to find you. He told me to step aside and there wouldn’t be any trouble, but I told him that he would have to go through me to get to you.” He said as he wiped the blood on his dirty white undershirt.
“I had to stop him when he came at me swinging a knife. So I used the knife that I got out of your sisters pack after she died. I had to cut his throat so that he wouldn’t harm you.” Rick explained but I wasn’t really listening because I was trying to get over the fact that my newly found love was somewhere lost out in this forest. Alive but lost.
“Well I don’t know where Lauren is we have to find her.” I said pulling on Rick’s wrist.

Rick and I were the only survivors of the strangers test. Lauren had run into a trap set like the one that killed Ashton. Set by Kyle and Luke. The eight people that died were my friends and family. This stranger may have killed his friends and got away without feeling any guilt. But Rick and I cannot go a night without having nightmares that leave us screaming awake. After the ninth night in the game, Rick and I were summoned by the walkie-talkies back to the center of the forest where we first woke up. The man told us that if we walked along the white spray paint line that had been drawn. There would be a door leading into the woods, and we would have to find our way out from there. We found our way to the house and my mother had the police everywhere looking for us. After we told her of all that had happened, she was devastated with the news that her four children had been brutally murdered. We called the cops and told them the same story. They asked us if we could show them where the “arena” was, but when we took them on the same path that we had come to get home there was nothing. The stranger must have destroyed the arena and hid it before the cops could show up. They never found the man who’d made us fight for survival. Rick and I have been put into therapy, because they think that we killed all of them on our own and made up these games just to cover our tracks. We go to the meetings with our psychologist and we don’t fight it but we know the truth. If they never believe us, we know what happened in that forest for ten days. It will always be branded into our brains no way to erase the events that went on there. Since then I have been keeping a journal-trying to write letters to all those who were not as fortunate as me and didn’t make it out alive. I have written apologies to my stepdad Rick, Lauren, brothers and sisters, and even Devon. The only letter that I gave to the recipient was my mother. I had to give her the letter that told her that I killed my brother. I had to let her know that, because of me, she doesn’t have either of her sons. It devastated her and she still doesn’t talk to me. We are working on it. Our story will live on forever in our minds and we will never forget OUR STORY OF SURVIVAL.

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