It had been quite awhile since I last went camping, I had packed my bags and camping supplies into the bed of my truck before I got on the road. It was a few hours till I got to the camping grounds, Solomon Lake it was called, named after the man who discovered the place. When I got there I could feel the shift from bustling city to peaceful and sunny wilderness.
I parked into the lot and began to unpack the sounds of birds and forest life filled my ears. I decided to set up camp close to the lake, a little clearing where the trees parted and a small fire pit was already dug. Another hour passed before I had the tent up, the stupid thing kept falling but I finally managed to get it up. I made a fire and began to roast some of the hot dogs I had brought with me over it, I began to wonder where the other campers were at, I couldn't have been the only one here right?
As the sun began to set I readied my sleeping bag, putting away the food and setting it up into the closest tree and out of any bears reach. That's when I noticed it though, a small figure standing beside a tree a few dozen feet away. At least I believe it was a small figure. I waved and tried to greet the person but they ran off, I believed it might have simply been someones kid. But what creeped me out was how the kid ran, almost like a limping gaunt.
Night had fallen and I had crawled into my tent, a small one only big enough for one person and some supplies. I left my lantern on as I read a book, there was just something about reading out in the wilderness that made it so much grander. I was about to flip to the next page when I heard a twig snap, normally I wouldn't have been worried but shortly after the snap I heard a low chuckle. Frightened I as quiet as I could closed my book, turned off the lantern and laid down in my sleeping bag and prayed to god it was just some drunk.
I kept my eyes on the outside of my tent, the moon allowed some light inside, it had been fairly quiet for the time. I about played it off as my imagination playing tricks on me until a sound made me think otherwise, it was the sound of my tents zipper moving.
I held my breathe and looked over to the entrance, my body sweating lightly from a mixture of fear and the heat from my bag. I prayed it was only a prank but what came next frightened me greatly, a hand holding a stick popped through the small opening the zipper had made, the hand looked glossy and somewhat twisted, I tried to swallow me fear down but I couldn't. Nothing happened for a time but finally the hand snapped the twig in half but unlike the last time this laughter was loud, it sounded like an animal dying mixed with someone crying. Nearly scared to death I quickly unzipped the other opening of my tent and ran for it, I dared not look behind me.
I began to ran as fast as I could, the rough terrain not helping though as I stepped on rocks and fallen branches. I made a foolish move and looked behind me, I could see a figure quickly catching up to me, the figure had the same limping gaunt as the one from before but this time it was much faster. I ran but could still hear the laughter, I could still hear the sounds of twigs breaking and snapping in two. I kept running till I tripped over a branch and tumbled down a hill, the pain ricocheted through my body as I hit trees and rocks till finally landing on the floor below.
My entire body screamed in agony but the fear of that figure finding me screamed much louder. I used every ounce of my strength to crawl over towards a crevice made between two rocks and hid there. Trying to keep quiet and not cry out in pain like I so dearly wanted too.My breaths were short and ragged, I could then hear footsteps approach, the light chuckle came afterwards. A shuffling of feet went around the area, my body hurt so much but I couldn't focus my eyes enough to see where it went. Soon I heard nothing, no snapping of branches or laughter of any sort, still I waited several minutes before daring to emerge, once I did I quietly moved, crawling out from the crevice. I took a chance to take several large breaths till something heavy fell onto my back, I fell to the floor hard and let out a cry of pain till it was drowned out by the sound of laughter, my head was then pulled backwards till I came face to face with a torn and bloodied face with a wicked smile. Something hard then hit the back of my head and I blacked out.
When I awoke I was in the back of an ambulance, covered with bandages and had tubes sticking in me. A policeman came in and talked to me, I told him everything from the mysterious figure by the tree to the mad man chasing me.
The policeman informed me that there was no one but a dismembered body in the woods, he told me that only one man had lived out by the lake and he had been killed by a murderer who had never been caught.
I looked at him in disbelief, I informed him about the laughing man and the chase through the woods but the policeman just looked at me like I was crazy. I was taken into the back of a cop car, as the car began to drive away I looked back towards the lake and saw a shadowy figure standing there, one hand was waving and in the other a broken twig was held.
Even today I never knew what had happened, but I do know one thing, I never went camping again.
© 2018 Thomas Finney