My parents had thought that this vacation would be the greatest trip of our lives, a learning experience. Learning how to live like or ancestors, fish, hunt, “survive.” Unluckily for us, the trip had a few speed bumps right away. We were originally supposed to have a two room cabin, moderate size, with a kitchen, two bathrooms and a small living room however, the renters had accidentally rented the cabin out to another small family, the Landers. Since they had offered to pay more than us, they obviously ended up with the cabin. My Dad being the optimist that he is decided to figure a different plan out. Since we had traveled quite a while to get here, all the way from California to Washington, we weren’t willing to just drive back so, we decided that the best course of action would be to get a couple of tents, sleeping bags and a cooler, find a camping spot near a creek or pond, hopefully at least.
After purchasing all of the necessities, and shoving it all into the back seat where my older brother David and I sat. Our legs scrunched up to the sides of the car. We began our travel into the forest, gravel and dirt replacing the once cement road. A light fog had already began to surround the entire area, giving the trees quite an eerie feel. The barb-wire fence that we have been following was barely hanging on to its fence-posts. Watching too many horror movies has definitely set me on edge, the foggy forest reminded me so much of The Cabin in the Woods.
When we had finally found a spot that hadn’t been completely trashed, the sun began to move towards the horizon, an early evening. Luckily for us, there was a small creek just a little ways away from our spot, and no neighbors would be here to bother us. As we had never really been camping, we weren’t necessarily confident in what we were supposed to do, it took us about 20 minutes to finally get a fire started and 3 times that to get our tent up. It was almost nightfall when we finally had everything set up to an almost satisfactory level but, it was pretty good for us, having never done anything like this anyways. We were all sitting around the fire telling stupid ghost stories, joking around and having s’mores, all in all, I think we all really enjoyed the night. However, of course, the night had to end eventually and everyone began to retire.
There were two tents total, one for Mom and Dad, and one for my Brother and I. Once everyone had made it to bed, I was still just laying there wide awake, laying in my blue sleeping bag. I could hear my brother snoring excessively… I swear, he’s doing this on purpose, I’m blaming him for it. I couldn’t fall asleep, no matter what I tried. It’s not like you could do much, I’m not exactly sure what it was keeping me up, I was just restless, like something was going to happen but I didn’t know what. I just didn’t understand. I couldn’t fall asleep, no matter how many times I tossed or turned. I know I shouldn’t do this, there are probably bears or cougars out there, but I decided that a small visit to the creek would calm me down.
Sitting by the creek still wasn’t able to help me, if anything it made it worse. The feeling of restlessness changed, now I felt like prey, there had to be someone watching me. It almost felt like the thing that was watching me was, right behind me. Anytime I looked back, the only thing there were trees and rocks, there was nothing around that should be able to make me feel this way. Yet that did nothing to help, the overwhelming presence of that thing was too much for me to bear. If anything I think it would be better if, when I turned around, there were glowing red eyes, a serial killer, something, not just pure darkness. I would rather know what was there than to just be completely paranoid. Maybe I’ve just read too many stories, watched too many movies, this is the first time I’ve ever been camping, maybe it is just me being overly paranoid. Hopefully anyways.
Even after some time, it wouldn’t go away, even after staying out here for 10 minutes. It’s eyes were burning into the back of my head, it was terrifying. All I wanted to do, was to crawl into a corner and never come out. The hairs on the back of my neck stood tall, chills going down my back, hopefully whoever, or whatever is out there couldn’t see the obvious fear I was feeling. I just want it to leave me alone. Why, why couldn’t we just get that cabin? Why did we even have to go on this trip in the first place? I don’t care if this is a learning experience. The feeling of absolute terror is enough to ruin this entire trip. All I’m learning, is that I am afraid, and I’m alone.
Shaking like a leaf, I try to get up so I can sleep with my brother but, as soon as I try to start standing, my knees buckled, I couldn’t stand, I was too scared, almost paralyzed. I couldn’t do anything, there I sat, just a scared, little girl, tears in her eyes, afraid of something that’s not even there. It’s not like I want to feel this way, all I want to do is to have a fun family trip, I don’t want to be this scared, to feel true terror. I can’t stand this, the thing is probably watching, amused that I’m trying so hard, yet failing to get to my brother. Why would I even be safe with my brother anyways? Even if there is something out there, what could my brother do to help? Maybe it’s just me but, if I’m going to be this scared, I don’t want to be alone as well.
‘Just leave, I don’t want to do this anymore… I want to be alone without something watching me.’ It’s probably getting a kick out of watching me laying on the ground, shaking, like I’m having a seizure, crying. I bet that’s what it wants, to see me struggle before it swoops in and kills me and my family. I don’t want to die, I don’t want my family to die.
W-what was that?
There were thuds. I could hear leaves and twigs snapping.
Who’s out there? Please, just leave me alone. By now, tears were falling in cascades down my face. Eyes red and puffy, sweating bullets, heart beating rapidly. I was going to die. The crackling of sticks and leaves continued, something sounding like a pop, a snap of a bone, I’m not sure… It sounded like it was carrying something or, maybe it was just stumbling around. I don’t want to find out.
The sounds stopped…
No breathing down my neck, no screech of an animal, no pain… There was nothing.
Scrambling to my feet, I ran to my tent, not even caring if I was seen. stumbling and almost falling multiple times, I finally made it to my brother’s and I’s tent. It was zipped up and it took me a couple of tries to even grasp the zipper strong enough to be able to unzip. Frantically and messily I was finally able to open the tent enough to fit in. I didn’t care how noisy I was, I just had to get inside. Get this thing to leave me alone, maybe it’ll leave, most likely not, it doesn’t care what I do, all it wants is to kill me and-
Not him… Please not him. He’s. He’s…
Dead. Completely burnt… Eyes wide, Mouth ripped open in a silent scream… But, how is this even possible. Nothing else is burnt and… How could have this happened, no one went in, I didn’t hear a scream, nothing. It’s like he just, died. He didn’t even struggle, he should have been screaming but, he’s gone. He was my big brother, he couldn’t die, why now, why here? He saved me, he can’t leave me now, not when I need him most. I loved him, I can’t live without him, he’s the only one that was keeping me alive. Not even my parents could do that, no one could ever replace him yet, now I’m alone, I’m all alone.
Collapsing onto my knees, tears blurring my vision, starting to cry again, sobs wracking my body, it hurt to breath, It was disgusting, the smell, the sight, the thought, it made my stomach churn. Choking, I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t stand it. The guilt, I left him alone, he died because of my idiocy, it’s all my fault. I was afraid while he was suffering, in pain, he was probably worried about me, no matter what happened to him, he never cared, he was that kind of person, he just wanted to make sure I was okay. Even though we’ve had a few “fights,” we would still come out of them like friends. He always fussed over me, he was overprotective, never selfish but, what was I, completely useless, selfish, suffering over nothing and now here I was, curled up into a ball crying about my dead brother, guilt over taking me, self hate digging deeper into my mind, I’ve never felt so ridiculous.
The sound of flames?
That smell? It’s suffocating.
Is that… Is that smoke?
Looking to the right, I could see an orange glow, shining in through the blue fabric of the tent. Is that… A fire? No, I need to get out of here. I can’t be here… How do I leave? Quickly unzipping the tent, I booked it. Darting through the trees, bare feet pounding on the hard ground, rocks and twigs stabbing into my feet… It hurt. Less than the fire though most likely. Running and running, jumping over logs, sliding on rocks and having to run through a small creek, finally, getting my foot caught under a branch, flipping me over, hitting the ground face first, knocking the wind out of me. My leg, it hurts, I can’t move it, it hurts too much… I don’t want to die… I don’t want to die… Don’t let me die… Please…
I could feel it… The warmth of the fire was catching up to me yet, I couldn’t do anything. Reaching into my pocket, I could feel my phone, I had originally taken it with me when I went outside, to get rid of the feeling of being watched. Taking it out, I looked down to call someone, but before I even had the chance to turn it on, sharp spires dug into my ankle and knocked me to the ground. I found the road, this could be my chance to leave but, the barbed-wire fence was holding on to my foot. Looking back, trying to untangle myself, I looked up. What was there… Sent chills down my spine, my skin paled and I choked on a gasp… I can’t describe it, it was so much more than what should ever be alive… It was tall, terrifyingly tall, it’s hunched over, the ribs and spine were visible, I could see all the divots and grooves of its bones and intestines. His skin was torn into a smile. The blackened skin was letting out a burnt, dead odor. The creature’s arms and legs were about the length of its body, fingers elongated, pure black claws protruding from its fingers, he had… No eyes, it wasn’t as if it’s eyes were gouged out, it was more like, there was just an absence of anything. There was only pure emptiness, gaping holes shoved into the middle of its face.
As soon as I could process that he was there, taking in the details of its god-awful body… He-He was gone. In his place was a small fire, slowly spreading. He caused this, he killed my brother, he started this fire- He’s the reason… He’s the reason I’m going to die. Shakily, I brought up the phone, to call the police, fire department, the hospital, something but, as I brought up the phone, my heart stopped…
...No signal, exactly the two words I didn’t want to see...