Hi. You there with the big teeth and the appetite for human flesh. I’m the girl who’s going to survive your horror movie. Yeah, me here in the driver’s seat of the van. I know there are a bunch of rules and tropes and things for how this is supposed to go down. But before you unleash any more blood and mayhem on this little road trip my friends and I are on, I’d like to explain a few things to you.
First: I’m not a virgin. I am therefore not eligible to serve as a sacrifice to your standard-issue elder gods and other assorted demonic entities. In fact, I’ve already had sex twice during this movie, and I enjoyed it too.
Speaking of that sex I had, see my boyfriend there in the passenger seat? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. He looks like the guy who always dies first, right? Wrong. In fact, if I have anything to do with it–and I will because I’m your protagonist–he’s not going to die at all.
Also not going to die? My plucky, hard-drinking, chain-smoking best friend in the back of the van–who, FYI, is also not a virgin. But she’s not going to survive because some dashing young hottie swoops in to save her. She’s going to survive because she’s smart and tough and totally hip to your particular brand of shenanigans. That’s why she’s my best friend. Not to mention that, from her point of view, she’s the protagonist, and I’m the plucky best friend.
As for squirrelly guy . . . Yeah, he’s a different matter entirely. None of us even remember inviting that mouth-breather along.
Conveniently, our GPS and cell phones have all lost their signal. We asked that creepy old dude outside the taxidermy shop for directions, and he warned us to turn back. He was a bit ominous-voiced and wide-eyed crazy about it, but he also seemed pretty serious, so you know what we did? We turned the hell back. Creepy dude looked really surprised.
But you had another twist in store for us–namely that collapsed bridge, curiously unmarked and lacking in work crews or police activity. I’m not thrilled about this oddly desolate route we’ve been forced onto, but we’ve got some old-school paper maps, and I navigate like a Viking.
So far we’ve passed an Indian burial ground, an abandoned town, an abandoned hospital, an abandoned carnival, an abandoned summer camp, hillbillies, a hitchhiker, a cabin in the woods, and some silver-haired kids peering out from behind cornstalks. Every damn one, squirrelly guy wanted us to stop. Insisted he had to pee. So we handed him an empty beer bottle. I also busted his phone as soon as he suggested documenting our little adventure. I am not going to end up in one of those damn shaky cam found-footage videos.
As you know, we did eventually stop for gas. Squirrelly guy was immediately all “I’ll be right back.” We tackled him before he could wander off alone. We have a rule about not splitting up, especially when the rusty mini-mart door is creaking in the breeze, and there’s nary a customer nor gas station attendant in sight.
Not surprisingly, we found Latin words scrawled on the bathroom mirror in what looked like blood. Squirrelly guy tried to read it out loud, which was when we put the duct tape over his mouth.
That’s also when I noticed you were getting desperate. The rustling followed by a black cat jumping out from behind the ice machine? Please. That only served to put me more on guard than before. Besides, I’m allergic to cats; I’m not going to breathe a sigh of relief at seeing one.
Anyway, after the requisite search to make sure a monster or serial killer hadn’t crawled into the van during our bathroom excursion, we were ready to be on our way. But nope, you couldn’t resist: an unmarked door squeaked its way open, just enough for us to see stairs leading down into a pitch-black basement.
This time, when squirrelly guy darted forward with a duct-tape-muffled “Let’s check it out!”, we just let him go. I did offer him a flashlight–I’m not totally heartless–but of course he didn’t take it. A lot of noise and screaming followed. By the time squirrelly guy staggered back up, drenched in blood, we were all armed. Sword for me, gun for the boyfriend, flamethrower for the BFF.
“It’s okay,” squirrelly guy claimed, the torn-up strip of duct tape dangling from his mouth. “I killed it.”
Ah, those famous last words. You don’t just kill it. You decapitate it, slice it into a thousand bits, burn it, sprinkle holy water on it, sink half the remains to the bottom of the ocean and blast the other half into space. If squirrelly guy had actually been our friend, he’d have known that. He also wouldn’t have tripped over nothing trying to get away when you snuck up behind him.
We all had a key at the ready to avoid the inevitable escape-cut-short-by-car-key-fumble, so getting back in the van while you ate squirrelly guy was easy. But of course, the van wouldn’t start, hence why I’m sitting here addressing you now. This dependable-until-a-minute-ago vehicle underwent a thorough inspection and tune-up before we set out on this little trip, but I didn’t expect you to play fair. That’s your problem. You’re predictable, and you expect us to be the same.
But here’s the thing: we’ve got an extensive collection of weaponry and explosives in the back of this van, along with holy books and relics from several different religious traditions.
You see, I’m going to survive your horror movie, but I’m not your final girl. And my friends aren’t expendable props to prove how wholesome and special-snowflakey I am in comparison. We’re not playing by those rules anymore. We’re in this together, and we know what you’re going to throw at us.
© 2017 Barbara A. Barnett