A Short Story: The Camp Fire


“And the last thing he saw was the claws of the lake demon coming down to darkness!”

The group sat staring at Nick as he finished telling the last scary story for the night. Gathering around the camp fire was a nightly ritual during summers at the camp. Hundreds of campers had come and gone telling hundreds of spooky stories, passing them on to younger generations.

It was that time of night again when the campfire was doused out and the campers along with their guides all headed back to their assigned log cabins for another night. A group of four boys trailed behind the rest of the campers; four friends who’d been going to that camp for three summers in a row, it was the one thing they looked forward to every summer; hanging out with “the boys”.

“Ooooh!” chanted Tyler as he wiggled a piece of tissue in front of Sam’s face.

“Stop it!” laughed Sam, he knew Tyler always liked to goof around.

Joel looked nervous; he had drunk a little too much juice at the campfire. The boys were not far from the lavatories located near the cabins, nobody would care if he took a quick pit stop.

“I need to stop at the bathroom guys. I’ll meet you back at the cabin,” he said.

Lucas poked fun at him. “You sure you don’t need us to wait outside or like hold your hand?” he joked as the four boys burst into friendly laughter.

What a bunch of knuckleheads, Joel thought as he parted ways with his friends and made his way up a small hill toward the washrooms; a small building containing several toilet stalls and shower stalls.

The wind was brisk for a summer’s night; Joel zipped up his jacket. He looked down at his wrist and checked his watch, it had stopped working at 9:00 PM. “Piece of crap!” he said, shaking his wrist around in an attempt to get the watch to work again. He had saved up two months of his paper route job to afford that watch.

Joel walked up the path toward the doors to the washroom. The wind picked up and his cap blew off his head onto the ground. In an effort to catch it he reached, missing it by inches as it continued to blow into some nearby bushes.

“Great,” said Joel. That was his New York Rangers cap that his father had given him for his birthday earlier that month; he was not about to lose it to some wind! He followed the hat which had landed in the middle of the bushes.

As he reached for the cap, a cold clawed hand grabbed his. Joel screamed in horror.

***

“What’s taking him so long?” asked Sam as he looked out the window in search of Joel. It had been about fifteen minutes since their return; it was almost time for lights out.

The three boys gazed out the window with multiple, horror story-like scenarios played in their minds. Maybe he was just getting them back for teasing him earlier. A hand on Tyler’s shoulder startled the boys out of their trance. Their guide, Nick was standing behind them.

“Where’s Joel?” he said, staring at each boy for a brief moment.

“He stopped to use the bathroom. He was right behind us,” said Sam.

“The Lake demon.” whispered Lucas.

“That’s not even funny. Besides, that’s just and an old camp story we tell to scare you guys.” laughed Nick.

“Well it worked!” said Lucas.

“Alright, I’ll take a flashlight and go see what’s holding him up. You three get settled for bed. I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” said Nick as he grabbed a flashlight and headed out the door of the cabin.

***

Nick walked toward the lavatories with his flashlight in hand. As he got closer, the wind began to pick up and the air became chillier than usual. The flashlight began to flicker; Nick gave it a swift tap with his hand. The light came back on.

“Damn batteries” he muttered to himself. 

Nick entered the showering area, the lights were turned off and it was dead silent; not a soul in sight. As he turned away to leave he heard footsteps as if someone was running around the area where the toilet stalls and sinks were. He slowly made his way toward the wall on the other side of the showers. He reached his hand around and switched on the lights. The lights slowly flickered on. He slowly peered around the corner, his heart beating a mile a minute; nobody was there. He proceeded to check each stall one by one; all six of them were empty.

Nick turned off the light and left the small building. When he got back outside he saw it; Joel’s hat on the ground beside the bushes. He called out to Joel with no response as he walked closer to the bushes. He could hear muffled, raspy breathing; the bushes close by swayed slightly.  As Nick knelt down he saw something that shook him to the core; the dead body of Joel, being caressed by a horrifying creature; it looked limber with thin long arms and legs. Its face was that of a nightmare; pale skin, slanted demonic eyes and thin lips encasing razor sharp teeth. Its face was covered in what looked like blood. Nick was too terrified to say a word, the creature stopped eating its prey; it noticed him. He began to crab-crawl backward away from the bushes as quickly as he could. He stumbled getting back to his feet as the monster followed close behind, it could smell its fear. He kept on running. He looked behind for a brief moment; the monster seemed to have vanished. He sped up and ran as quickly back to the cabin; he needed to get help!

***

“There he is, why’s he running?” Sam questioned and pointed out the window at Nick who’s face was sheet white. He was running fast toward the cabin. He had Joel’s cap in his hands. He swung open the door, slamming it behind him as he tried to talk while catching his breath.

“Slow down, where’s Joel?” asked Tyler. The boys were beginning to become concerned, other campers began to climb out of their bunks to see what the commotion was all about.

“Something’s out there, some kind of a monster. It was behind me. It got Joel.” sweat poured down Nicks’ face, he was trembling as he peeked out the blinds on the window of the cabin door.

“Great acting, Nick. Seriously, where’s Joel?” asked Lucas as he reached for the door handle. Nick grabbed Lucas’s hand and stopped him. “Don’t go out there, it’s not safe!” he said.

Lucas was scared, “the lake demon.” he whispered as the cabin lights went out and the group of campers heard a thud at the cabin door…

***

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