After departing from art school in the early 2000's a group of 5 friends plans a meetup about 10 years later, each taking turns planning the outing. Although not having shown up for the 4 prior outings, Mallory plans and shows up for the 5th, a camping excursion for the group in the woods several hours drive outside of Springfield, Missouri.
Cast Roles Edit
- Jan Baker (Kate Elliott) - A visual artist, creating most of her works from trash and recycled materials. She is known as a stoner and is very forgetful and often late to things. She planned the initial outing which was a festival in the desert and showed off a large mechanical sculpture at the festival.
- Raymond Pierce Murasaki (Mike Ginn) - He is a single father to a daughter named Lily. His girlfriend, a veterinarian, died due to complications during childbirth. He pursued art until after his wife's death after which he attempted to pass through the police academy as a way to protect those he loved. He failed the police academy five times and is working as a mall cop to provide for his daughter.
- Adara "Addy" Nadine Morningside (Markeia McCarty) - Her name means "Fire Hope". Her art style was photo realism but for some reason it didn't work out for her. She came from a long line of chefs and had a love for food so she started a business "Morningsides" utilizing a lot of her families recipes. It has become a very popular brunch spot in the south and is slowly working its way east. She still cooks at the landmark location in Pensacola, Florida. She is very sweet tempered, a weekend yoga warrior, loves to drink, and is a vegan hopeful.
- Cindy "The Comet" Touchstone (Kelly Nugent) - She is the lead anchor of the Great Falls Minute in Great Falls, Montana. She is polished even when she doesn't need to be. While she enjoyed being an artist, she found her calling in front of the camera. She's used to being recognized by the people of Great Falls and while it does bother her to not be recognized by people outside her news area, she plays it off as a great relief to not be in the spotlight. She is nominated for "biggest smile" in the local news awards.
Chapter Summaries Edit
We are introduced to the characters at a small airport where Jan and Ray have an off-putting encounter with some locals before Addy shows up. Cindy's flight gets in last and the four of them step outside to see Mallory arrive in the back of a beat up truck driven by some more locals, Daryl and Denny. Mallory assures them he has everything all planned out for this camping trip. He's found them a ride out to the camp site in the back of this rickety truck.
Chapter 1 Edit
The truck travels out a few hours from the airport and for half an hour on only gravel roads. They pull up to a gate with 'no trespassing' and 'do not enter' signage plastered on it. Mallory tells them that this is all government land and that he found this place on a photography page on reddit. He also reveals that they have gone across the state border into Arkansas. As Mallory pays the driver, the friends make note of his slighter than usual frame and strange amount of scratches on his skin.
The truck peels off and Mallory tells his friends about The Well, a natural cave in the area that not many people know about that they might be the first to spelunk into. He shows them a map of this isolated peninsula they are on and the several sites for them to visit that he has searched up; the Well, an abandoned house, Buzzards Bluff, which is where they will camp tonight, and some others. He mentions the area is 'lawless and untouched', they could 'do whatever they want'. Before they enter the woods Mallory notices all the modern conveniences the friends have brought, and in a fit of anger destroys some of their items (notably Addy's 3DS). They chew out Mallory and he yells about how he has planned 'an experience', and they shouldn't bring 'things that don't belong'. Eventually he apologizes and they start their trek to the bluff.
As a peace offering Mallory has the four friends choose which site they will investigate first, they choose the abandoned house. The group faces a split in the trail, one fork goes to the Bluff and the other to the house. Seeing that it is 6:00pm they decide to go straight to the Bluff and not risk the darkness.
As they continue down the path, the group discovers that they are right on top of a spot that Mallory had marked for exploration, an old rock formation that the trail passes through. The group notices a series of marks along the rocks to one side of the trail, the first ones seem very old but as they move along the markings seem newer and newer until there's one with rock dust still around it. A bit further along the trail and off to one side is a small bundle of sticks with another stick tied cross-ways atop them, tilted slightly. The marker is surrounded by stones and topped with wispy weeds and moss hanging from either side of the cross stick. Raymond and the gang worry that this may be a ceremonial grounds and that a body may be buried here.
Cindy discovers some indentations in a pattern indicating something with a stride, but the indentations are rounded without noticeable feet. A failed roll ends the chapter with Raymond taking a shovel from Mallory's pack and beginning to dig in a manic search for a body. Finding it difficult to break the stony ground beyond a couple of inches of topsoil, Raymond drops to his knees, exhausted as the darkness surrounds them.
Mallory shines a flashlight across the scattered friends, Raymond; on the ground holding his head, Cindy; on the ground holding her bleeding face, Jan; staring at the blood smeared markings. Pushing the moss off of the earlier marks, Jan sees them begin to move and shift. Noticing the blood on her hand Raymond tears his shirt to make a bandage for Jan and Addy supplies gauze and Neosporin. However, the cut is no longer there, the blood is the only remaining evidence of injury. Raymond confesses he heard his daughter's voice and points out the strangeness of Jan's disappearing cut. Cindy reveals she had seen a demon.
- The reason Jan makes trash into treasure is that she used to, when she was a child, sweep trash under her bed and one night the trash became animate and crept down the hall to smother her parents. She seeks the animate trash for revenge.
- Cindy sees a fleeting vision, a demonic, smiling individual with long black hair, and slightly glowing eyes.
- This place is unexplored because the Woods themselves choose where people are allowed to go, and the safe path may not be seen or heard but may be sensed by an experienced visitor and is never the straight path. Everywhere else may be hazardous.
- Cindy stumbles over the dropped shovel and knocks out her front tooth.
- In his exhausted state Raymond hears the voice of his daughter, 'Father, why did you leave me alone? Why'd you have to go on your trip? Turn around father, turn around and come back. Turn around. Turn.'
- Jan discovers a piece of metal that looks like a good piece for her art, she reaches to grab it but it's sharp, cutting her hand. A rust-like substance she hadn't noticed moves into the cut.
- Seeing the blood from her cut, a thought occurs to Jan, the ancients once used blood for art. There are four sources of blood here with her, is her masterpiece among them? Jan leaves a bloodied hand print across the markings they had found previously.
Chapter 2 Edit
The friends leave the rocky area to head for their campsite on Buzzard Bluff. Addy and Mallory talk about Jan's mental state and Addy mentions that they may have to call it all off. Cindy hears a demonic voice calling her name and doesn't tell anyone.
The crew reaches the edge of the bluff, the ground here is covered in long, waving grasses and Mallory shows them to a clearing in a circle of trees. They get to the business of setting up camp, Jan climbs into one of the trees while Mallory and Raymond go out to collect firewood. Cindy hears the voice calling her name again. They hear a rustling, snapping of branches in the woods. Jan fashions a torch with a pan and some pine needles and, upon lighting it, sees a glint of eyes in the tall grass that disappear before the others see them, she makes a fuss about velociraptors.
Mallory and Raymond have collected armfuls of sticks and Ray mentions that he is losing interest in this trip. Mallory tells Raymond that he was the one who made the effigy they had seen earlier, he wanted to make this an experience for them. Ray asks about his daughter's voice and Mallory say he had nothing to do with it. Ray then asks how much spooky stuff Mallory has planned, and Mallory confides that he had paid Daryl and Denny to scare them when they were exploring the Well tomorrow. He mentions that it may be the two locals messing with them here as well. Mike agrees to at least explore the Well tomorrow and then make a decision about ending the trip.
Raymond builds a fire, he delusionally believes that, even with all the dry pine needles around, only the sticks will burn. They now have a raging fire to deal with, Jan quickly contains it within the perimeter of the ten trees. As the fire spreads within the clearing, each one of the ten circling trees catches alight in sequence. Mallory calls their attention to a ring of glittering eyes surrounding them in the darkness. There is a sudden flash of lights and bangs as Mallory fires a pistol that no one knew he had into the darkness around them. The friends hear the trees bend and sway with the passage of the unknown creatures. Raymond takes the gun from Mallory and removes the clip and chambered bullet.
The gunfire seems to have scared the creatures away, Mallory tells them he had the gun 'for emergencies'. They decide to set up camp with its back to the fire and drink. Mallory reveals that he is a recovering alcoholic and tells the rest of the group about the effigy and his plan with Daryl and Denny. He confronts them all about how they haven't done anything with their lives, Jan the stoner with her 'privileged, white girl, sit-on-a-throne stoner shit', Raymond the lapsed artist, and Cindy the 'fake news anchor'. He has nothing bad to say about Addy the professional chef.
The group weighs the options of continuing this trip, their vacation time, or going home in the morning. Jan argues for going home, while Addy and Ray consider at least staying for the well, Cindy argues for visiting the Well right now. Across the cove, near the Willow, a large fire ignites. Mallory says this is not part of his plan, he only planned for Daryl and Denny in the Well, he was going to be the hero that saved them with his gun. Cindy hears the voice telling her to 'Come to the Well.'
Eventually they decide to go to the Well in the morning and take Daryl and Denny's truck out of there. Addy makes a nice toast and they drink, Mallory with Gatorade, and then Mallory brings up the reason that he chose this place. 'The Well, Buzzard's Bluff and the house are all connected by a mystery. The lake is man-made and there are rumors that when they built it in the '50's not all of the people inhabiting the area made it out before they flooded the area. Also, there was a family that lived in the abandoned house and the little girl that lived there began hearing voices telling her to go to the Well. They found her body floating in the cove.'
They hear a deep growling coming from the darkness, one of the flaming trees in the circle begins to move, it walks out into the forest, leaving a trail of smoldering leaves in the trees. Have they been drugged? Is the forest haunted? They argue about what to do until both the fires suddenly go out, Addy's flashlight reveals an unburned clearing and a perfectly normal campfire. Was it all a hallucination? They retreat to the campfire to rethink their options. Mallory apologizes and reiterates that none of this was part of his plan. The voice tells Cindy to 'bring them to the Well' and she makes a compelling argument for it without mentioning the voice. They go back to the plan of taking Daryl and Denny's truck in the morning.
Addy makes some pancakes and the act of cooking brings her a little hope. Stomachs full of pancakes they all drift off into sleep.
The sun rises and Cindy awakes to see Mallory bent over her, he speaks to her about the Well and they go to the edge of the Bluff. They hear a splashing in the cove and look down to see a small girl floating there, 'save me from the Well, save me Cindy' she says. Mallory turns to Cindy and says 'She's dead like me.'
- Addy sees her friends falling apart, she sees the truth: mall guard, stoner artist, wannabe reporter, Mallory and his outbursts. She has awoken tired of all this.
- Mallory missed the previous outings as he was dead. He isn't now, his first body lies rotting somewhere, possibly out here. Or maybe it's in the cave, he can't remember. He knows deep down that he owes something, a life for each year he wants to keep 'living'.
- It's already begun, it's messing with them and it's only going to get worse the further they get. More of the things they see and hear may not actually be real. Even a simple bush moving might not be real.
- Ray looks at the lake and thinks he sees a figure, eyes glowing, walk into the water and disappear.
- Cindy falls face first into poison ivy.
- They realize that they were actually burned in a few places by last nights fire, except for Addy.
- Smoke in the air is giving them trouble breathing.
- Cindy may have over-sold her job title, she actually hosts a cable news show at 3:15am that no one watches, sometimes she recaps the news in person at a local nursing home. Raymond is the only other one who knows this.
- They find some fishing gear in the weeds outside camp
Chapter 3 Edit
Addy hastily breaks out the first aid kit and treats the others' minor burns. Mallory re-affirms their need to meet up with Daryl and Denny on their way out as they may have weapons and a truck. Cindy continues to push for going to the Well and Mallory reveals what he and Cindy saw in the water. Raymond also tells them he saw a figure go into the lake. Mallory tells them that the vision he saw gave him a feeling that something is wrong with Raymond's daughter and that the girl looked like her. They're all suspicious as Mallory has never met Ray's daughter, Mallory explains he saw her on Facebook. They all agree it's time to get out of there. Cindy hears the voice again and responds to it this time while the others are distracted with breaking camp. Jan finds some fishing gear, a tackle box and an old, steel rod.
Mallory begins to lead them to the Well, at the edge of the forest Cindy hears the voice calling to her. Cindy wants to tell the others what Mallory told her by the lake (that he is already dead) and, after taking her aside, he threatens to tell them about the voices if she does. Mallory does tell her that he thinks the Well wants him to give them all to it. He feels drawn to the Well, and Cindy tells him she does too and that she needs to know what's down there. Mallory tells her he fears that the Well wants him to kill them and that he may not be able to resist, Cindy offers to kill him, possibly by smashing his head with a rock. Cindy and Mallory return to the group and they move on. During an argument over allergy medication, Cindy hears the little girl's voice telling her to come play in the Well. Mallory vanishes during their continued conversation. Cindy takes the lead, moving off the trail through the thick woodland, scooping up a large rock as she does so. The group comes across a cleared track of forest running perpendicular to their path, the cleared space reaches up to the canopy and they hear the cries of the tree creature in the distance. They choose to believe Addy's story that it was the wind. Cindy's poison ivy rash seems to be getting worse, and spreading. Cindy remembers that she had some topical allergy medication, with a pill as well, in her pack and Cindy takes it. The medication clears up the rash and gives Cindy a little hope in this dark situation.
They arrive at a deep, dark hole in the earth, about the size of a manhole cover. Lying next to it is Mallory's backpack. They hear Mallory's voice within the Well, calling for help. Cindy kicks his backpack into the hole, assuming he is going ahead with his pranks. The pack falls for a long time before landing with an echoing thump. After a few vague cries for help Mallory goes silent. Jan uses her street smarts to search for another way in, she finds it by falling into it. The others hear her cries as the chapter ends.
- Jan's infection is spreading, her eyes turn the color of the rust-like substance. Her mouth is drying out and she is thirsty. Always thirsty. Her saliva tastes like blood and the cravings start.
- The group feels like taking their frustrations out on Raymond.
- The truth behind Cindy's foibles of late is that she has leprosy, she has lost six toes and her pinky is fake. Her nose is dying and she has lost her sense of smell, it begins to look gangrenous.
- Inside the Well, Cindy sees a giant slithering shape, a large reptile. It turns and hisses, "I require an offering of blood. It shall be your masterpiece."
- "Father, please turn back, Father. Father." A girls voice whispers to Raymond, as he stands above the well.
- There is another Truth that Zac keeps secret, I will mark it (*) when it happens.
Chapter 4 Edit
“Dad? Dad? Turn away dad. Turn back, turn back dad,” comes a small girl's voice from the Well. Ray yells that Mallory better not be messing around. “Guys come on! Help me out, someone else is down here,” Mallory's voice replies. They hear Jan's cries now as well. The voice orders Cindy to bring them into the Well, and she goads Ray into trying to go down there. Ray looks for the place Jan fell through, and discovers it, also noticing a relatively safe way to climb down to Jan. Looking around, the group sees that this isn't a traditional well, more of a cave system that someone carved a path into. The hole above them closes up and they are plunged into darkness. When Addy spins up her crank flashlight, a strange quality of the cavern walls reflects the beam. Mallory cries out to them. As they move through the cavern towards the other opening, Jan fashions another torch, this time with a mallet and WD-40. A deep humming sound emits from within the underground space as they continue.
Jan pokes at the wall with a screwdriver. It splinters and fractures then reseals itself, no one else sees this. They hear a small girl's voice saying she's trapped down here. This is the voice Ray has been hearing but now they all hear it. Cindy now reveals that she has been hearing a voice too. In fact, at that moment, it tells her to 'bring them to the Tree,'. They come upon a small, children's doll in a pink dress. Addy grabs it and Jan vociferously objects, moving away from the doll. Addy begins to feel the doll move, it starts to speak. Addy drops it and Jan lights it ablaze. The little girl voice comes from the doll, calling for 'Daddy'. Jan stabs the doll with her screwdriver and burns her hand on the flames. Ray feels a tugging on his jeans, a doll wearing blue looks up at him, “Daddy?”. Hearing more voices they look around and see several more dolls.
Cindy feels a surge of strength from within at the realization that everyone is hearing voices, she feels she will survive this, that she is more than a pretty face*. Cindy charges forward and the dolls scatter into bits in the face of her charge, pieces drifting upwards and scattering into the air. They all lean into this moment of hope and put their hands in and shout their art school cheer. As they do so another hand joins theirs and Mallory adds his voice to the cheer. Mallory tells them he found Daryl and Denny and starts to walk off into the darkness. He turns back to beckon them ahead, “Jan, are you thirsty?” When Ray offers her a drink, Mallory smirks, “No, she doesn't want water,” and he moves off again.
The group enters a cavern where Daryl and Denny are waiting, motionless, then they wave in unison. Jan drops her torch and shambles towards them, “She's alright, we got something for her to drink,” Denny says, “Let's all go home.”
As the group turns a corner, sensing light ahead, they rush forward. They enter a large cavern with a tree in the center of it, reaching toward a hole in the roof that allows light to spill in. “This is what I wanted to show you,” Mallory says, “It was in the pictures. Which is strange, because the photographer is over there.” Mallory gestures to a body leaning against the cave wall, wrapped in vines, a camera swinging loosely from a strap around its neck. Cindy says she didn't know this is what it wanted, she won't do this to them.
“It's ok Cindy,” Mallory assures her, “the same voice lead me here. That's me over there.” He points to another body, its face turned away but it wears the same clothes Mallory does. Cindy goes for Mallory with her rock, asserting her control and smashing in his skull. Blood sprays across the wall. “Ow Cindy,” Mallory says, as he falls to the ground, the rock still in his skull. Daryl puts a hand on Cindy's shoulder and says “It's ok, we wanna go home too.” Trying to protect Cindy and the rest of the group, Ray swings for Daryl with the butt of the gun. Daryl catches Ray's wrist before the gun can connect, and Denny knocks Raymond unconscious. The others fall unconscious as well, not sure what hit them.
- Addy's take charge personality is starting to crack, she remembers the time when she was young, playing in a storm shelter and accidentally locking herself inside. Claustrophobia is overtaking her. Remembering calling for parents who never came.
- They have been traveling underground for quite some time, they may be under the lake now.
- Despite her success, Addy is very stingy. Her hand-crank flashlight is second hand, and as she charges it the crank breaks off. All she has left is a partial charge.
Chapter 5 Edit
Ray, Cindy and Addy regain consciousness and discover that they are tied together. Jan is standing off to one side running her hands across the crystalline walls. The rust-like substance from her hand leaves a blackened trail along the wall. Daryl and Denny tell the group that they can either try to leave or 'just accept it'. They say that the Tree won't let the group leave, just like it won't let the two of them leave. Daryl and Denny draw the group's attention to more bodies entangled in the roots and vines along the wall, including a little girl in a red and blue dress in the same style as the dolls that had attacked them. Daryl and Denny's own freshly deceased bodies are there, the vines and roots tightening around them as the blood leaks from their wounds.
Daryl and Denny tell the group that when they tried to leave they began to hear voices and see things as well. The two men think that trying to leave is what sets off the Tree, it would talk to them while they stayed there, but if they tried to leave it would act. Denny goes over to the girl's corpse, saying that it was the girl who went missing in the '50s.
Jan starts to feel a connection to the walls, as if every place she has touched, she is still touching. She turns and places her back against the wall. Jan is lifted up the wall as the vines and roots seem to take hold of her and the blackness spreads from her. Daryl cuts them free as he and Denny begin to fade away, the knife he used dropping to the floor. Raymond picks it up and runs over to cut Jan free. He finds that the vines are not actually holding her up, the vines are retreating from the blackness that spreads from her. Reaching up to pull her down Ray stops, his daughter appears in front of him and warns him that it's too late as a bloody claw rips from inside her mouth. Her jaw drops off of her face and she lunges at him, disappearing before making contact.
A vibrating throb fills the air as the vines recede, and the Tree begins to glow an orangish-yellow while it pulses. Suddenly, a bright flash blinds them.
Chapter 6 Edit
As the light recedes from their vision, the Tree is gone and Jan hovers in the air, held aloft by a darkness. A red energy is cleansing the cave of all the vines and roots. Yellow and white lights trace along the vines as they disappear, the bodies they held slipping to the ground. Once there is no further sign of branches or vines, Jan falls to the ground. The last thing Jan remembers is cutting her hand on the sharp piece of metal. Addy searches Denny and finds a flashlight, a Bowie knife, and a small revolver that seems half full; on Daryl she discovers the keys to their truck.
Above them, light still shines from the Well opening. However, the entrance to the cavern they came through is gone. Inside Mallory's pack, that Jan had kicked into the Well earlier, they find rope and a letter. The letter is water damaged and seems like it was written years ago and folded over. It reads: I'm a fraud. I've always been a fraud. Nothing I've done in my life has amounted to anything; and everything I have accomplished has been through lies. I can't go on anymore, this is the end for me. I came here knowing what would happen. Tomorrow will be the last day. I was never good enough for my family, or my friends. If they knew who I really was, they wouldn't be my friends anyway.
After dealing with this revelation, they begin to search for a way out. Raymond looks at the letter again, and it's in his hand-writing, and signed by him. Cindy ties her rock to the rope and they toss it through the opening on the fourth or fifth shot, Jan climbs the rope and nails the rope to the wall. Addy and Cindy turn to see Ray reading the note again. They reassure him that Mallory wrote the note and he pockets it.
Once they have all climbed out of the Well they turn to see, directly ahead of them, a ring of ten trees atop a bluff, looking out over the lake. Jan repeats her pan trick, putting dry pine needles in it and lighting them. With two flashlights, one partially charged, Addy decides they should leave now, as the sun sets. Hundreds of eyes glisten back at them as they approach the darkened tree line. Addy fires a shot into the air and they hear the sound of wings as the eyes vanish. The cry of the tree creature rings out and they hear trees breaking and shifting at its passage in the dark, Jan douses her torch so she doesn't attract attention. Heavy footsteps approach the group and they see a crackling light through the trees, it seems to be the same creature from the night before, still ablaze.
As they turn to run, the flashlight beam plays across a man in jeans, a button up shirt and a large coat, with a rifle on his shoulder. He tells them firing guns in the woods at night is dangerous, it calls attention. The man asks if they've seen his daughter who went missing a few weeks ago. He says his daughter was wearing a red and blue striped dress. They deny having seen her and ask him to take them back to the gate where they came in. He's not sure what they're talking about but he invites them back to his house for the night. Jan keeps to the back of the group as they follow the man to his home, clutching a pair of scissors from her bag.
A white house, with a wooden deck and a rocking chair appears through the trees. The man tells them not to bring up his daughter in front of his wife. The group follows him inside, but Jan wants to stay outside and wanders around the side of the house. She sees two sleeping dogs, a shed and an old car. Jan checks the car visor for keys, not finding any, she walks over to the shed.
The wife pulls her husband into the other room and they can hear her arguing with him about having 'colored' people in the house. They eventually come back out and invite the group to stay for dinner. The group goes to set the table, the dishes in the cupboard look relatively new, the house is decorated in a very '50s style and there is no running water, outside are a couple buckets and a pump.
Jan discovers that half the shed is a makeshift outhouse and the other side is all hand tools. She makes her way inside through the front door. The wife murmurs about there finally being a white one. Jan excuses herself to the outhouse and notices a newspaper lying on the porch. It's a new looking newspaper with the date printed as May 10th, 1952. While the others eat, Jan searches the shed for car keys. Finding a set that is the same color as the car, she pockets them. She also grabs a hammer, tucking it into her waistband.
Before they go to sleep, the man tells him he'll take them into town in the morning. Once the man goes into the bedroom, Jan takes them all outside before revealing the things she's found and suggesting they take the car and leave now. They argue about gas and how a car works in the '50s. Tired of arguing, Jan turns the key in the ignition, it sputters and wakes the dogs who begin to bark.
The man comes outside with a shotgun. Jan leaves the car and runs around the side of the house. Ray takes three shots at the man, all three hitting his head. He runs up to grab the shotgun and a blast rings out from inside the house, the front window shattering. Ray ducks out of the way and Addy draws her revolver and fires into the house through the side window. Addy sees the wife duck behind some furniture as she screams racist epithets at them. Cindy takes position at the side of the house.
- Raymond looks at the letter again and it's in his hand-writing, signed by him. He believes it to be real, but it's an illusion.
- A small doll lies in front of each one of them, Jan's is covered in dirt, Ray's is wet, Addy's is flaming but does not burn, Cindy's doll's hair waves in a non-existent wind.
- As the stress builds Cindy starts fading in and out of her coping mechanism, sometimes participating and sometimes reporting the events as a bystander.
- Ray fiddles with the lock of his daughters hair he carries for good luck.
- Ray hasn't noticed yet that the dolls have left their impact on him. Both of his legs are wooden. Is he turning into a doll? What might the others think when they discover this transformation?
Chapter 7 Edit
Raymond lays in cover in the front of the house, feeling the warm sensation of blood dripping down his back. He looks down at his legs to see that they've become wooden pegs from the knees down, vines coil their way up his legs. His daughter stands on the front porch, “Sorry dad,” she says, “I can't hold them back. You-you have to leave.” She tells him it is too late as she shifts and morphs, shrinking into the tiny shape of a soaking wet doll. “We can't help you dad.”
Something tugs on Cindy's leg, a small doll stands there, it's hair flowing in nonexistent wind. The doll tells her to kill the lady in the house. Addy runs toward the house, reaching for the shotgun the husband dropped on the deck, she skids in a pool of his blood and sees the 1950's newspaper. Ray asks her if she sees the doll in front of him but she sees her own flaming doll behind her. It runs up her back and lights her hair aflame, causing her to stop, drop, and roll. The two dolls dance atop her rolling form and Ray grabs them up and rends them to pieces. Another shotgun blast rings out from inside the house and the shot tears up the yard near Addy. Jan enters the house from the back door and the woman turns on her with the gun up, Jan notices now that the woman is pregnant. Jan offers to take the woman out of there with them but the woman wants to stay in her home as the nearest medical facility is hours away.
“Kill the lady, close the door. The gate needs to be sealed,” the doll tells Cindy. Peeking through the window on the side of the house, Cindy looks through a child's bedroom with a crib and another small bed, through the open doorshe sees Jan with her hands up. Crawling in through the window, Cindy manages to keep quiet as she crawls along the floor.
Ray and Addy see the woman stand up while pointing a gun at Jan, Ray decides to take a shot. Jan sees the woman's chest explode as the bullet enters her back. Jan runs to the woman and yells to the others that the she is pregnant. Addy determines that they need to cut the baby out of its mother to save it. While searching for supplies and a knife, Jan sees a name placard on the crib: Gemma Baker. Horrified at seeing her mother's name on the crib, Jan screams and runs outside. Addy manages to cut into the woman's stomach without hitting the child and gets the baby free. Hearing the baby's cries, Jan returns and grabs a blanket from the child's room for the baby.
Jan holds the baby and murmurs to it, asking her mother why she left her, and then asking Ray what year it is. Jan walks out the front door, past the body of her grandmother and gets into the car. Addy follows her and gets into the front seat while Mike talks to Cindy about helping him with his legs like she did when she scattered the dolls in the cave. Cindy's doll tells her to close the loop. “Close the gate by closing the loop. You need to kill the baby.”
The car wont start and Addy tries to talk Jan into giving her the baby, Jan flees into the woods with the baby. Catching up to Jan, Addy spins her around by the shoulder. Cindy tells Ray that she is worried she may have to do something bad. Ray sees the doll whispering into Cindy's ear, telling her to kill the baby. Cindy runs after the other women into the dark forest. Grasping the lock of his daughters hair, Ray tells himself that these wooden legs are an illusion, he starts to sprint after the others and sees that his legs have returned to normal.
Cindy catches up with Jan and Addy as they argue. Jan says that she is 'the vessel', the baby is her mother and she must do this. Addy asks for the baby, telling Jan she's acting crazy. “The rust is free, the tree is gone, the seal is broken and the Gate is open,” Jan cries to herself as Addy takes the baby. Not knowing about what the doll has been telling Cindy, Addy hands her the baby as she tries to comfort Jan. Cindy takes off into the woods and Jan gives chase. Ray hears Jan screaming as he runs.
Jan feels a connection to the woods as she gives chase to Cindy, she can feel every branch, stone and turn. Cindy's doll starts to choke the baby as Jan catches up to them and leaps onto Cindy's back. Jan takes hold of the doll and bites it's head off, throwing it to the ground. Jan's eyes begin to turn red as she reaches for her baby mother. Ray and Addy run up to see Jan hunched over, moving unnaturally as she rips at Cindy's head. Ray clubs Jan with the butt of his gun and Addy grabs the baby. Ray tells Addy about the doll that was telling Cindy to kill the baby. Addy insists they get back to the car and get out of there.
As the sun rises, the group notices that, despite not having run that far, they are back on the bluff with the circle of ten trees, but the trees are at half the height they had been previously. The lake is no longer there, only a ravine with a small river at the bottom. The others argue about what to do and Jan begins to regain consciousness, there are no whites left in her eyes and her fingers are turning a rusty brown color.
The group hears the tree monster's groans and then hear someone moving through the woods towards them. Jan charges the Native American man as he emerges from the woods and he steps to the side, removing a large cloth robe from his shoulders, and traps Jan inside it, raising an ax over his head. Ray and Addy draw their weapons and the man halts, his ax still in the air. He looks at them and says something in a language they don't understand, then starts to swing the ax at Jan again.
Cindy tosses a rock and it strikes the man in the head, Ray charges in and swings the butt of the pistol at the man. Now both sides of the man's head are bleeding, Addy tries to indicate that Jan is their friend and the man shouldn't kill her. Keeping them all at bay with his hatchet while holding Jan on the ground with his knee in her back, the strange man draws circles in the dirt to either side of Jan's head and repeats the miming motion of cutting her head off.
Jan kicks the man off of her and flees into the woods. The man buries his ax into the ground, at seven feet tall he towers over the group. They try to communicate with the man, he gestures across the ravine and the group sees the burning tree monster moving through the woods there. The man makes a circular motion in the air with his fingers and picks up his ax, moving back into the woods.
Jan feels a deep, inexplicable fear of the man with the ax, she runs through the woods and comes upon some rocks she recognizes from before she took her cut. There is no effigy here though, no marks upon the rocks. Jan begins to etch the markings into the rocks with her screwdriver and a rock.
Chasing after Jan, the group comes across a clearing on the side of a hill. A deep thrumming noise fills the clearing, and they recognize the Well. Though it is different from when they last saw it, they know it to be the Well. Still searching for Jan, they move into the clearing. The booming sound from inside the tunnel hypnotizes Cindy and she is drawn inside ahead of the others. Addy and Ray lose sight of her as soon as she crosses the threshold of the opening in the side of the hill.
- You are Adara, you are born of the fire. It cannot harm you, or so you think.
- Raymond's life isn't real, a false life given by an ancient evil grooming him, a life guarding and raising his daughter in preparation for defending the rebirth of the ancient one by collecting the life force of the three chosen: his friends. This is what Ray now believes, not what IS, the madness has overwhelmed him. He believes the only way his daughter will return is with the sacrifice of his friends.
Chapter 8 Edit
As Jan carves the rocks with her screwdriver, she hears the sounds of an ax dragging on the ground nearing her position. Standing above her on the rocks is the Native American man, he makes a circular motion with his ax, the blade scratching and screeching across the rock. Jan attacks him with the screwdriver, stabbing it into his chest. He lets it sit there, embedded in his chest, grabs her hand from the screwdriver and lifts her up, holding her dangling in the air. His ax thuds into the side of her neck, a jet of blood strikes the rock. As she dies, she sees the man begin to dig her grave.
Chapter 9 Edit
Ray and Addy stand outside the tunnel, having just seen Cindy disappear inside. Ray feels a deep urge to protect the child and sacrifice his friend. Ray checks the magazine of his pistol: one bullet remains. A doll fades into being on Addy's shoulder and speaks in his daughter's voice. Ray draws his gun on Addy. Ray watches the doll as it removes a small spirit version of Addy from her ear and dances with it before dissipating. While this happens Addy draws her own gun, the two of them stand off. Ray hears his daughter whispering to him and he moves his gun under his own chin and pulls the trigger.
As his body hits the ground, the earth around him moves and shifts as vines emerge and lift him to hover a foot off the ground then take him into the cave. Addy is left standing alone, outside, with the baby. Cindy is in a familiar cave but the walls are not reflective this time. As if someone forgot to turn on the light, the switch is off, the loop has not been closed, the gate is not open. She promises to fix it, “I'll go back and the loop will be closed and the lights will come back on and I'll have done it right. Right?” she says, “I'm not bad...I'm just doing what I'm supposed to, right? Right?” she moves further into the tunnel. She hears rustling and moving behind her and turns to see Ray's body being dragged down the tunnel. “You're making a mess, I'll have to clean up after you,” she tells him.
Addy talks to herself about whether to follow after Cindy and Ray's body or to find Jan. “Addy!” Mallory calls out from behind her, “Where did you go?” He runs up to her. Mallory tells her this is her camping trip, that Ray isn't here, he hasn't seen Ray in years. “Are you on medication again? Have you been taking mushrooms out here or something?” Mallory asks.
Addy brandishes her gun towards Mallory and insists the trip was his idea. He asks about the baby and the gun. He tells her it was her idea that the two of them take a trip out here into the woods and that she ran off from their camp. “Give me baby Gemma,” he says reaching out to her, Addy's hand moves through his hand and the image of Mallory is sucked into her hand. Addy puts her hand over her eyes as a voice inside her head tells her to give them the child. “The child must leave. Close the loop. Open the gate. Give us the child.”
Removing her hand from her eyes, Addy looks down to see that the baby is no longer in her other arm. “I can't!” she shouts and runs off into the woods. She comes to the boulders Jan found and hears the sound of digging. She sees the large Native American man throwing Jan piece by piece into the grave he had dug. Addy turns and runs back to the Well and runs inside. She comes upon Cindy walking alongside Ray's body. There is a golden glow coming from the back of Ray's head. Each time a drop of his blood hits the earth, a small vine grows from the ground. Desperate and delighted that she found her friend Addy begs Cindy to leave with her. The voice tells her that she cannot leave, “I won't let you, you won't let yourself,” it tells her.
Addy looks down to see that her left hand has taken up a sharp rock and is gouging it into her arm, she regains control and tosses the rock, tearing a bandage from her shirt. The procession arrives at the cavern where the Tree had been before, the cavern walls shimmer with red light, and as a slim shaft of sunlight from the small hole above touches Ray's body, his eyes snap open. Ray feels an energy pulse within as two spots of golden light glow on either side of his head where his blood pools. Addy wants to leave and Cindy is entranced by the beauty. Ray speaks to them as his legs begin to turn to wood again and become a singular trunk. “You have to find the baby,” Ray tells Addy. “It's the only thing that's going to help you get out of here. I want you to get out. I'm sorry I had to point a gun at you, it was the island, and I was seeing s***. You can do this.” As Ray says this, the vines creep into his mouth and he turns more and more into the Tree.
Seeking a way to feed the Tree, Cindy hears the sound of a stream. Walking to the wall of the cave she picks up a rock and bashes it into the stone wall. Water begins to drip, and finally flood from the wall as the Tree begins to grow even faster. “Addy, it will cleanse the sins from us and it will feed the Tree that grows from the wrongdoings of our hands.” Cindy raves through her lisp, “My hands are cleansed! Are yours?!” The water is up to their knees now. Addy goes in search of the baby and Cindy goes after her saying she can't leave.
Addy makes her way out of the tunnel mouth and into the open air. A ghostly vision of Jan appears at the forests edge, her eyes are completely black, she is holding a baby. “Close the loop! Close the loop! Close the loop!” she shouts. Addy makes her way up the hill to Jan, grabbing the baby from her. While Jan's tormented spirit screams, Addy moves off in the direction of what she thinks is north.
Addy recognizes the flicker of electric light in the distance, across the lake. Hope fading, running along the shore line, she stumbles across a rusted, vine-covered truck: Daryl and Denny's truck.
- At the brink of madness Addy begins to believe that the baby is hers. It's always been hers. It was abducted from her, and now she has it back.
Chapter 10 Edit
The moon glints off of Daryl's old and rusted truck, weeds and grasses grown through it. Addy believes the baby she holds is her own, Jan's spirit is following behind her. Addy climbs into the seat of the truck and turns the key in the ignition, nothing happens. Jan's spirit tells Addy that it hurts and that she must close the loop. “Close the loop,” the voice comes to Addy, “Kill the child, close the loop.” Cindy bangs on the window of the truck, “Close the loop Addy.” Addy runs off toward the road and Cindy follows. Jan's spirit constantly appearing ahead, Addy shouts to leave her family alone. Arriving at the gate, Addy finds that it is now a twenty foot tall, solid metal sheet wall with barbed wire at the top and there is no hole to climb through. Jan pushes her spirit form into the baby and Addy feels the child begin to grow cold and turn blue. Glancing off to the side Addy notices the wall follows the slope of the land down into the water of the lake and it disappears below the surface of the water.
Jan speaks as the baby, urging Addy to kill her, Cindy follows them, telling Addy to close the loop. Backing into the water, Addy trains her gun on Cindy who follows along the shore, not entering the water until a moment of distraction. Cindy lunges at Addy, going for the baby. A shot rings out. Cindy floats in the water face down. Jan floats next to Addy, as she swims across the fence line below the waters, Jan is stopped. She cannot seem to cross.
As Addy climbs from the waters on the other side of the fence, another shot rings out. Addy feels a sharp pain in her right leg. She hobbles down the road, faster now. Another shot fires, another flare of pain in her leg and she falls. Another shot rings out and Addy falls into unconsciousness.
The spirit of Jan watches from the lake as Mallory comes out of the woods with a rifle. He picks up the baby and walks down the road into darkness.