The Stranger's Tale - [non-writer] [ACF2016]
A stranger wandered into a campsite, looking worn out, dehydrated, and perhaps a little in shock. Phil, his girlfriend Sue, and their buddy Ted
offered him a place by the campfire, and some food and drink.
"Hey, thanks for sharing your fire, and the food! There were times I thought I'd never enjoy such simple things again."
"So, what happened to you, man? You look like you've seen a ghost.", stated Phil matter of factly.
"I know you won't believe me, but everything I am about to tell you is true. I wouldn't believe it myself, had I not been there, and had my friends
not seen it all as well. I'd think I was crazy, which is no doubt what you'll think when you hear all I have to say. I can't help that, and you need
to know. Your lives could well depend on it! You shouldn't be here.
"It all started with Mark, James and I decided to do some weekend hiking and camping, way back in the wilderness. Work, for all of us, had been
really stressful, and we wanted to get away from people, save close friends, and just enjoy nature. We loaded up Mark's truck with our gear, and
started off for the trail head."
"Is that the red truck in the parking area? We thought it was abandoned!", exclaimed Sue.
"Yeah, that's it, and well, I guess it is in a sense. Mark won't be back for it."
"Dude, seriously, what happened? Maybe we should contact the rangers or something." Ted was starting to think that this stranger eant business, and
wondering, a litte, if he wasn't a threat himself.
"You can, but it would be better to just pack up and leave. It's not safe here."
"Come on, I am not buying that. Sure, there are bears and all, but we are being careful, and there hasn't been an atatck in ages." Phil wasn't
buying this guy's claims.
"It's not the bears you have to worry about. This is something else."
Sue began to look nervous, "Something else like what?? Bigfoot?? UFOs? What? Maybe we should leave."
"Relax, woman!", Phil said, "He's just trying to scare you. We are safe here. We have guns, and we know the area. Been camping here for years.
There isn't any threat."
"I wish that were true. I'd give almost anything for that to be true." His voice broke, and his slumped shoulders began to shake with sobs. Sue
moved over to offer some comfort. "Hey, it's alright, just tell us what happened."
He took a few deep breaths, then continued, "We spent the first night here. It was too late to do any real hiking, so we planned to go in the
morning. Morning came, and we folded up the tents, got our packs ready, and headed out. We stuck to the trail for a while, but then took a detour,
wanting to avoid any other hikers. We headed up toward the ridge, planning to stop at the head of the falls. The weather was great at first, sunny
and clear, and not too warm, but then it changed. It got cooler, fast, like a storm was coming in, but there was no wind. Then the fog came. Never
saw anything like that! First it was just a mist on the ground, but ot got thicker fast, and in no time, we couldn't see more than a few feet ahead.
We moved on, carefully, trying just to find a spot clear enough to set up the tents. No way could we safely make the ridgeline!
"Finally we came to a clearing, and that's when we really started to worry. We've taken this route before, and thought we knew the area, but this
clearing was no place we'd seen before. Much larger than any we expeted to come across, and oddly barren. Just a little grass, and the place was a
bit too round as well. With the fog so think, though, we didn't have any choice; we had to stop or risk falling off a cliff.
"We set up the tents, and then Mark said he was going to gather some wood for a fire. James told him not to go too far, and to try and stay in sight.
He said he didn't feel like it was safe. We all felt the same way. There was something menacing out there. We felt watched. Mark went off, but he
ddn't stay gone long. After no more than a few minutes, we heard a blood curdling howl, and Mark came running back, 'There's something out there!!
We need to go, now!'
"I tried to calm him down, and ask what he saw, but he was frantic. You have to understand, Mark is a big guy, and I never saw him scared of
anything. We were stalked by a grzzly one summer, and he never once worried. Seeing him like this was as big a shock as that howling."
Sue couldn't handle this any longer, "Howling?!?!? Phil, baby, let's go, please! This is bad, I want to go!"
Phil was mad now, "Alright, buddy, that's enough! We were being nice, sharing the beer and burgers and all, but this is gonna stop now. I don't know
what your game is, but it's over." He pulled the pistol from his hip, to emphasize his point.
Just then, they all heard it, a distant sound from the dense forest, a primordial howling that raised the hairs on the backs of their necks! The
stranger froze, stock still, hie eyes ready to burst from his head. "I told you! It isn't safe! Now it's too late. We'll never get out of
Ted was convinced. "Alright, guys, clearly there is something going on. Maybe we should head into town for the night, and see about getting someone
up here to check things out."
Phil looked angry, but he couldn't argue with the logic, and started tossing gear together. "I'll take this stuff to my truck, and ya'll gather up
what you can. The tents can wait till tomorrow." He picked up the gear and headed down the trail to the parking area. The others started picking up
loose items, tossing stuff into packs, and trying to get as much done as fast as poossible. The stranger just sat there by the fire, staring into the
flames, a terrible haunted look in his eyes.
Phil came running back up the trail, still carrying the gear, "Someone hit the truck! The tires are flat. Hell, both trucks. We aren' going
Sue began to cry now, "I knew it, I knew it! Why did I ever agree to this trip? A nice B&B, some shopping, but no! We had to go camping!"
Ted tied to tune this out, and look around. No more howling, which should have been reassuring, but the forest was too quiet now. No insects, no
frogs, nothing. "Alright, bub, since we appear to be stuck, how about you tell us what else happened. And remember, we are armed, so if you and your
friends have anything planned, it won't go well for you."
(continued in post #2)
edit on 11-6-2016 by LadyGreenEyes because: status added to story