The fire crackled and spat, like it was angry at the wood it was consuming. The smoke swirled upward in the still air obscuring the dusky sky that was
visible through the forest canopy. The sounds of nature were singing their evening chorus. It was a good time to be in the woods.
“They say if you stare deep enough in to the flames of a fire you can see the future,” Kurt said trying hard to sound philosophical. He was hoping
his comments would impress the attractive woman, named Lynn, sitting across from him. They didn't.
“My husband tried that once...took months for his eyebrows to grow back,” Karen joked further derailing Kurt's train.
“Where is Dan, anyway?” Bob asked as he poked at the fire with a long stick. Sparks mixed with the smoke and swirled upward as he prodded the logs
into proper position.
“He said nature was calling,” Karen answered. “It was probably a wrong number...”
Everyone felt a little uneasy laughing at Dan behind his back, but it was kind of funny. It was obvious to the group that Dan and Karen were having
some issues. They each cast silent glances at each other as if seeking approval while Karen stared into the fire snickering at her joke.
The truth was that everyone on the trip had issues of some kind. Thats what this trip was for – getting back in touch with your true inner self and
healing. Bob hoped this group would be as good as the last one he brought out here to Camp Sanity, as he called it. It was always a little odd being
in a strange environment with strange people but that was part of the deal. No one was on their home turf and they needed to work together to make it.
He wished he had been informed of the last minute addition to the group though. She just walked in to the campsite like she owned the place and took a
seat at the fire. It would have been nice to at least know she was coming.
“I like that bit about camping in that Star Trek movie. I think it was the fourth one,” Kurt said knowing full well it was. Kurt, the oldest of
the group, had spent the greater majority of his childhood, and a good portion of his adulthood, glued to a television set, but always seemed a little
ashamed of it.
“Spock said he did some research on camping and discovered that they were supposed to toast some marshmellows. Bones asked him what they were
supposed to do after that. He said, “Consume them.” I laughed my butt off.”
“Didn't they have a sing along?” Beverly asked.
“Oh gawd...” was Karen's only response.
“Or not,” Beverly replied.
“Does anyone know any spooky campfire stories?” Bob asked in the uncomfortable silence.
“I know one,” Karen said. “It's an oldie but a goodie.”
Everyone settled in to more comfortable positions eagerly awaiting Karen's tale. The bottle of Jack that had been circling the campfire just out of
Bob's line of sight was on its last legs. Karen reasoned that the time for telling her story wasn't going to get any better than this.
“Some people say this is just an old urban legend, but we all know that urban legends all start with some degree of truth. This forest preserve is
called the “Willis Nature Preserve” but years ago, when I was growing up here, it was just called Big Hill-Little Hill. You saw the big hill on
the way in. No one goes to the little hill any more.”
Karen was looking down at the ground in front of her with a very troubled look on her face.
“Years ago there were a bunch of people camping out here when one of them went missing. The others were worried, of course, but they stayed near the
camp fire and waited for a long time calling out but got no reply. They thought he was trying to play a joke on them or something so they figured they
would wait him out. After a couple of hours the joke wasn't funny any more and they decided half the group would go look for him and the other half
would stay at the campsite.”
“This sounds spooky already,” Bob said, stirring the fire.
“Three people from the group went looking for the guy while the other four stayed by the fire in case he came back, and because there was safety in
numbers, campfire or not. Two of the other guys and the missing man's girlfriend went looking for him. The four at the camp, the other three girls and
the fourth guy, could hear the other group calling out the guy's name but no one answered. Their shouts grew more and more distant until they couldn't
be heard any more. The search party figured they could cover more ground if they split up, and with the sun about to set time was running out. The
girl was afraid of being out in the woods alone but the guys said she should stay in the middle and they would branch out on either side of her. They
said they would be able to hear her if she shouted out for them. She agreed and they split up. After an hour or two the two men made it back to the
campsite but the girl didn't.”
Lynn pulled a cross on a chain out from under her sweater. It sparkled in the light of the campfire. Beverly asked if she could look at it more
closely and Lynn complied.
“That is one of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry I have ever seen,” Beverly commented genuinely.
“Oh, thank you,” Lynn replied. “It was a gift from my boyfriend. I love how the little diamonds on the edges are mounted. They catch the light
edit on 16-5-2016 by Vroomfondel because: (no reason given)