This was it. Spring break of Jenna Sims' senior year was just around the corner, and she didn't intend to waste it. After all, this would be one of the last bits of freedom she would be able to enjoy before life's responsibilities-like college, work, a boyfriend/husband, etcetera-came rushing full force on the heels of high school. As of late, thoughts of the future weighed heavily on Jenna's mind and she looked forward to a reprieve in the form of a spring break camping trip with her best friends: Emma Waters, Nicole Starr, and Jessica Dalton.
Jenna felt like a square-peg in a round-hole world throughout most of her school years, which made it difficult to bond with anyone, but this unlikely set of friends accepted her as-is, with no questions asked. To outsiders, rather than looking like a tightly knit caste of friends, the four resembled more of a random group of misfits who banded together against the ills of the world. Emma always had her nose in a book and preferred the fantasy genre that described adventures of fairies, dragons, and the likes. The artist, Nicole, saw things as they were and tended to draw her world with charcoal in black and white. Jessica, the motor-head, loved anything with wheels and an engine, which meant she could usually be found in or under her Jeep, or carving trails on her dirt bike. Jenna completed the quartet and loved experimenting with culinary inventions in the kitchen. Although each of their individual interests seemed vastly different from the others', their diverse personalities meshed perfectly creating harmony and formed an inseparable bond between the four of them.
Each girl looked forward to the camping trip with anticipation and talked about it incessantly for weeks prior to the break. All four members of the group agreed three days at Lake Easton campground, which was just on the other side of the pass, would be the respite needed to regroup before the end-of-year push. Although the plan was for each to provide a meal or two during the outing, Jenna volunteered to do a lion's share of the cooking. The thought of testing her culinary skills in a primitive setting excited her and she had ideas of things with which she would like to experiment.
At last, finals were over and teacher conferences were done, marking the start of spring break. The quartet planned to leave bright and early at 10:00 am Monday, well, bright and early in high school girl-think. They took the weekend to prepare by gathering and packing equipment, and shopping for provisions and sustenance items they would need during the trip. Jenna spent the better part of Saturday afternoon at the supermarket squeezing tomatoes, sniffing melons, and examining the wide selection of cheeses to find the right compliment for her planned menu items. She returned home with five overstuffed grocery bags and began the process of separating the various items into piles for each of the intended menu dishes to ensure nothing had been forgotten.
Sunday morning, Jenna searched the garage for elusive camping equipment, none of which was where she thought is should be. She was thankful that Aunt Donna took the day off because she needed help finding all the gear, and she swore it would be stored in one location upon the completion of the trip. Aunt Donna raised Jenna since the age of three after the death of her own mother, Diana, Donna's sister. Donna didn't mind providing help because she enjoyed the time with Jenna and knew it would not be long until she was ready to spread her wings and fly from the nest. Finally, with a little perspiration and a lot of dust, all the gear was located and packed. Jenna finished preparations by putting the food into a plastic bin for ease of transport. She called the other girls to make sure they had everything they would need, and cautioned them to pack for sunburn-hot and blizzard conditions because the unpredictable Northwest spring can produce either, sometimes in the same day.
With all the readying done, Jenna was tired but excited by the end of the day. After a particularly grueling yawning session, she told Emma she had to get some rest and hung up the phone. She quickly did her nighttime routine and jumped in bed. Although exhausted, Jenna had a hard time falling asleep due to the multitude of lists she mentally checked and double-checked to ensure she had not forgotten anything for the trip. Slumber finally found her around 2:00 in the morning and shortly thereafter, The Dream began. In The Dream, Jenna could see a woman, yet Jenna was the woman at the same time. She scurried around the house gathering things of importance. Garbed in mid-nineteenth century clothes, the woman was frantic about an impending danger. She had to pack quickly because they were coming. Jenna didn't know who they were, but was sure they wanted to hurt her. Jenna twitched in her sleep while the Dream played out. Hasty packing complete, the woman fled from harm's way on a wagon drawn by two horses. Jenna bolted awake just after the woman turned to see her house ablaze in the distance as she made her escape.