Cold and Afraid: A Dead by Daylight Inspired Story

Dead by Daylight is a game with some diverse and interesting characters.

Among them is survivor Jeff Johansen who was added to the game along with the killer(s) The Legion, a group of four young misfits who disappeared during the 90s at the freezing cold, abandoned Mount Ormond Ski Lodge.

Before their disappearance Jeff was hired by the gang, for 50 bucks and a pack of beer, to paint a mural of them on Mount Ormond.

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The following is a short story inspired by Dead by Daylight that includes non-canon lore for the character Jeff Johansen.

Related: Read ‘Dark Voices’, another Dead by Daylight inspired short story


“Hey Jeff, you got a minute?”

Jeff Johansen pulled his hand away from his scraggly beard which he’d been scratching at incessantly. It always started itching this time of year when the weather outside grew colder and there was a sharpness to the air. His co-worker, Charlie, bullied him about his overgrown beard. Sure, he kept it long, and maybe it was a bit bushy, but at least you wouldn’t find food particles in it from meals he’d long forgotten about. Not usually, anyway.

“What’s up?” Jeff’s voice grumbled. It was 10am and he’d only just managed to stumble into the office, wearing jeans and an old tattered band t-shirt that almost certainly wasn’t clean. Most of the time, the other people who shared the office with him didn’t seem to care. They all came in at their own times, minded their own business and then went home. It fit well with the way Jeff liked to work.

“There’s this girl,” Charlie grinned, putting his foot up on one of the boxes that Jeff had around his desk. There was always a girl with Charlie. “I’m talking like 11 out of 10. Wicked ass, man. Absolute huuuuuge,” he moved his hands in front of his chest, miming what Jeff guessed were supposed to be breasts. A woman at a desk nearby cleared her throat and glared in their direction. Charlie ducked down and lowered his voice. “Anyway, she plays the tambourine for this awesome band, they’re looking to play at The Yellow Sphincter next Saturday night, but they’re worried no ones gonna show because they’ve got no advertisements.”

“Uh, huh,” Jeff said, clicking away at his computer, wondering what this had to do with him and guaranteeing that any band with a member designated solely to the tambourine probably wasn’t as ‘awesome’ as Charlie assured.

“So, I was wondering if you could maybe get us a good price and design something up for them? Maybe make them a logo and flyer for the gig.”

Jeff sighed, leaning back in his chair and letting Charlie fidget, wondering if Jeff would take the job. Normally he wouldn’t. Charlie was nice and all, but they weren’t exactly friends. Apart from occasionally and completely accidentally running into him at the bar close to his house where he’d been forced to discuss hockey and the “hot chicks” Charlie lusted after, Jeff and Charlie never hung out outside of the office. But work this time of year, around the holidays, was particularly slow. A few of Jeff’s oil paintings had sold at the local flea market, and he always had folks coming up to his place to pick up a case of the beer he brewed, but it certainly wasn’t enough to make rent.

“What’s the band called?” Jeff asked, contemplating.

Charlie grinned again, leaning down way too close. “Pussy Witches,” he whispered, and then cackled as if it was the most brilliant thing that had come out of anyone’s mouth. Jeff couldn’t help but chuckle along with him. From what he could tell by what his co-worker had mentioned to him in the past few months, Charlie needed to get laid, and badly. This ‘lack of booty’ as Charlie called it, was probably what was behind his hysterical outburst and his desperate plea for help.

Jeff smirked. “Fine. Have your 11 out of 10.”

“Angelica.”

“Huh?”

“The girl.”

“Right. Have her call me with a logo idea. Designing the logo, if it isn’t too complicated I’d normally do for $150, but I’ll do it for $75. If it calls for lots of colouring, something that takes a lot more of my time, then I’ll do it for $100. As for the flyers, after the logo is done it won’t take long…” He grumbled lightly to himself, doing the math. “$35. She can print or copy them herself. And I’ll need my name at the bottom for designing credit.”

“Aw man you are the best. Seriously. The best. You, my dude, are rockin’.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Charlie started to back away from his desk, finger gunning in Jeff’s direction. “You’re getting a muffin basket for Christmas.”

“I’m allergic to gluten.”

“Fruit arrangement?” Charlie tried.

“Sure.” Jeff said, waving him away so he could get some real work done.

***

Jeff spent the rest of his day designing a few tattoos for people in town that had asked. He didn’t have a shop, exactly. But he had closed in his garage and allowed for friends and acquaintances to come and get tattoos done for a slightly cheaper price then they would at a professional shop. He may not have gone to school for tattooing – graphic design is close enough, right? – but his friends swore he did as good a job as anyone who’d had professional training. And that’s how his tattoo and even his graphic design business had grown – purely by word of mouth. Friends telling friends.

Jeff did very little advertising for his little businesses and yet, ever since he started brewing beer in his kitchen, designing and giving tattoos to his friends and helping local bands with logos and album cover art, he was known as the cool loner guy on the mountain that people would come to for those aforementioned deeds.

As much as Jeff disliked having people randomly showing up to his house during the evening, it was really the only way that he could guarantee he would get some kind of human interaction. He had a house phone but it rarely picked up a call properly and he didn’t really remember to check his email, so oftentimes showing up at his doorstep was the best way to contact him.

Jeff arrived at home after six hours at the office in town. He didn’t really have the space for a home office, so he rented a cubicle at one of those weird “open offices” where anyone could rent a computer and pay monthly to use it and the space. Benny, his rescue dog, was waiting just inside the front door, tail wagging, tongue out just begging to feel the open air. Jeff smiled. Saving Benny, a mutt/beagle mixture, from the side of the road was one of the better things he’d ever done in his life and, especially after the fight he’d got into that had all but ruined his eye sight in his left eye, Benny got him through the tough times and had since been the only creature he could truly rely on.

Also waiting for him on the doorstep was a newspaper from that morning that he’d tripped over on his way out the door and three other pieces of mail. Two cheques from past clients, and a letter from someone named ‘Helena Bastion’, probably asking him for a tattoo design or a case of beer. He stared at the mail as he opened his front door, letting Benny race past him into the yard to do his business. He left the front door cracked so the dog could come back inside whenever he felt like it, and placed all of the mail apart from Helena’s on the kitchen table.

He pulled apart the envelope, his mouth was dry and his throat felt scratchy from the cold, and inside was a short letter addressed to him.

Dear Jeff,” the letter started. No last name and not even his full name, Jeffery, so maybe it was someone he knew? He just couldn’t place the name. He continued reading.

You might not remember me. I’m Helena. We went to high school together. I sat at your lunch table. I know what you’re thinking: ‘I sat alone at lunch’. But, I actually sat on the other end of the table, every day. I don’t think you ever noticed me or, if you did, you never showed it. You were always doodling or sketching.  

I’m still living here in Ormond and I came across your mural the other day. “The Legion.” It’s really amazing. Chilling. I couldn’t help but feel curious about it so I looked you up. I found your address and I just had to write you a letter and ask if you were still painting. And if you might paint me something? You see, I’ve finally moved out of my parents’ place (I know, living with my parents at our age?!) and the walls of my apartment are horribly bare. I think a piece by you would be just the thing I need to make a real statement.

It’s silly, I know. To think that you’d ever write back to me. This complete stranger. But I’m hoping that you might remember me and how we sat together, but didn’t really sit together, at lunch in high school. 

I’ll put my phone number below if you wish to call or my email if you prefer that way.

Yours, 

Helena

Jeff read the letter three more times before putting it down on the table next to his couch. Now that she mentioned it, he did remember a girl sitting at the same table as him during lunch time. He remembered thinking she was pretty. The fact that she didn’t have any friends to sit with during lunch hadn’t seemed strange to him because he didn’t really have any either. He racked his brain trying to remember more about her, but all that came to mind was her lunch box. It was I Love Lucy, the TV show from the 50s. He watched reruns of it with his mom when he was a kid.

Jeff got up from the couch and sauntered over to the computer that he kept on a small microwave table in the living room. He waited for it to boot up, and signed onto to his AOL account.

He typed in Helena’s email and a message:

Got your card. I do remember you. I Love Lucy lunchbox right? – Jeff.

He sat there for a moment, wondering how long it normally took women to email men back. He didn’t really have a frame of reference, seeing as the last time he’d dated someone was sometime in the 80s. He got up, went into the kitchen throwing a frozen meal in the microwave. He stood by the microwave, staring at the metal disc moving around and around until he heard the sound of a response email. He half jogged, half ran to the computer opening up the response.

That’s me! I can’t believe you remember. – Helena

Sorry I never talked to you. My high school years weren’t exactly my golden years. -J

Hey, I never talked to you either. It’s alright.

Helena had now opened an instant message chat box between the two of them.

So let’s start over. Hi, I’m Helena. I’m sorry I wrote you a weird letter.” 

He smirked at that.

“I’m Jeff. And it wasn’t weird.” 

They messaged back and forth for a half an hour, Helena giving him an idea of the kind of piece she might like in her apartment and then, even after the business talk, they spoke about each other’s lives and what they were doing now that they were both in their late 30s. It was nice, talking to someone who knew all about Ormond and understood why he wanted to leave and start over somewhere new. They talked until 8pm when Helena mentioned that she was going out to a late night movie with a friend. Jeff said he’d work on sketching out an idea for her painting in the next few days and get back to her. She thanked him and they both logged off for the night.

***

The next morning as Jeff awoke, sleep in the corners of his tired eyes, Benny sleeping between his legs, he smiled thinking about Helena. But he could help wondering, if only for a moment, whether their conversation had really happened. He climbed out of bed, his back cracking in a few places that had grown stiff over the years and headed to the kitchen to find Helena’s letter. It was there, confirming that last night was real.

He smiled again, ran to the bathroom to take a piss and brush his teeth, and then sat down at the table to start working on the sketch for her. She wanted something like The Legion painting, but with a different subject matter. Something edgy, but not too over-the-top. She mostly gave him artistic freedom, which he loved, but it also gave him a lot of room to be nervous. What if he didn’t get it right? He supposed she would simply tell him so and then he could try something else. Either that, or she’d hate it and wouldn’t tell him and would be stuck with a heavy, useless, garbage painting forever shoved under her bed or in her closet.

At the table, he shook his head, reminding himself that she already liked his work and he just had to create something that went along with what she’d requested. It wouldn’t be easy and would probably take a few weeks to finish completely, but hopefully his hard work would pay off.

He worked for about an hour on the rough outline sketch, to give her a kind of idea of what he was thinking. He’d mail it to her over the weekend so she could get back to him about it the following week. From there, he’d continue shading and colouring until he was happy enough to start painting.

When the phone rang at half past nine in the morning he half expected it to be her.

“Hello?” Jeff answered.

“Mr. Johansen?”

“Yes?”

“My name is Doctor Concraine. I’m calling from Ormond City Hospital. It’s about your father.”

Jeff squeezed the receiver, letting out a soft breath. He knew what she was going to say before she said it.

“He has passed away. The neighbour brought him to the hospital a few hours ago. We did everything we could, but it was a heart attack and, at his age, there just wasn’t much to be done. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

Jeff barely remembered the rest of the conversation or even the next few hours as he packed up a quick bag, said goodbye to Benny, ran next door and asked his neighbour to feed him and let him out for the next few days while he went to Ormond to set up the funeral arrangements, and got in his car to drive to his hometown.

***

The funeral was a small and quiet affair. Jeff shook a half of a dozen hands he didn’t recognise and thanked those that brought food. Even Helena had come by, having heard about his father’s death in the newspaper. She tried giving him advice on the best ways to move on after a loss. To him, the death of his father didn’t feel like a huge loss at first. He’d barely talked to him in years, but there was something deep in his chest that felt tight and at the same time stretched impossibly thin whenever he thought about never shaking his hand again or having a meal together. They hadn’t always had the best relationship, but it was a comfort knowing that he was there should Jeff need him.

When he first arrived at the old house, the place was like a ghost town. Like there hadn’t been anyone living there in years. The furniture was dusty save for a few spots on the floor where his father had frequented and there were condiments in the fridge that were almost older than Jeff himself. It was familiar and yet completely and utterly different from what he remembered.

For the first few days after the funeral, Helena came by, helping him pack up boxes and bringing him lunch to be sure that he was eating properly. He had barely worked on her art piece, but she didn’t really care. After a week of packing up dusty boxes and talking about nothing in particular Jeff confided in her that he was more upset than he realised about his father’s death. He was frustrated that he never really knew his father and his father never really knew him.

“I’m sure he loved you, Jeff. All of this that you’re doing, having the funeral, getting your friends and family together to attend, packing up his things, this shows just the kind of person that you are and he can see that. I’m sure of it. And I’m also sure that he’s proud.”

Without another thought, Jeff kissed her. It wasn’t long, and it wasn’t lustful like the kisses he imagined Charlie exchanged with his multitude of one night stands. But there was kindness there and it meant something to both of them.

Later that night, as they packed up the rest of his father’s things, Jeff uncovered a guitar inside of a black case. There was a wrinkled note atop it with words scribbled in a shaky handwriting. “For my boy.”

After days and nights of feeling numb and strange, Jeff broke down, crying over the guitar, wishing that he could have just one more moment with his father to tell him that he forgave him for all the fights with his mother, for the times that he wasn’t there. He wished he could tell him that he looked forward to seeing him again on the other side.

When the tears stopped, Helena went to the kitchen, reached in the fridge and handed Jeff a six pack of beer.

“You should go up to see your old mural. I think it would do you some good. Some fresh air. And maybe it’ll inspire you. Stay for a bit, relax, and I’ll wait for you here with dinner. Okay?”

Jeff cursed himself again for never talking to her in high school, “Okay,” he responded taking the six pack, following her outside and climbing into his car. Helena waved to him from the front door, smiling, willing him to return with a new feeling of closure – or something as close to it as he could get.

Up at the abandoned Ormond Ski Resort it was freezing, but Jeff was Canadian so the cold was basically in his blood. It pressed through his jeans, but his leather jacket was enough to fight off most of the chill that came from the light breeze. As he approached the mural he could tell that it hadn’t aged well. It could probably do with a fresh new coat, but because of the wall being in the shape that it was, it wouldn’t really be the same as when Jeff had first created it.

The Legion still kind of freaked Jeff out, just as much as they first had when he painted them and their white masks. They smiled out at him, unblinking; a gang ready to terrorise all of Canada. The guy had paid him $50 and given him a six pack of beer as payment. It was his first real commission and it put him on the map, so he was thankful for it despite now feeling like he probably shouldn’t have supported a random local gang. He cracked open his first beer, took a nice, long sip and put it out in front of him for a toast.

“To Dad,” he said, a single tear falling down his cheek, “And… to The Legion.” A moment passed, and then another as the wind blew through his hair sending a chill up his spine. It was loud up there. So loud, in fact, that he didn’t hear the sets of footsteps approaching from behind him nor did he hear the heavy breathing until he felt the warmth of it on his neck.

Before he could turn around, he heard a soft giggle and then the world went black.

That evening Helena sat at the table in Jeff’s late father’s house with hot soup. She left it to stay warm on the stove so Jeff would have something hot when he got home. She couldn’t have known that he’d never return to eat it.