Estimated reading time — 61 minutes
WORK AT CAMP OAKWOOD! LOOKING FOR MAINTENANCE STAFF! NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED!
The ad stuck out like a sore thumb on the wall at a coffee shop I frequented. It was also new, given that I was at the coffee shop the previous day and the poster wasn’t there. At the time, I was unemployed and living at home with my parents, so every time I would go to the coffee shop, I would browse the wall in search of jobs I could possibly obtain. Of course, there wouldn’t be any big-paying jobs available, but I hoped there would be something appealing. And in the middle of that wall was that poster about a summer camp located many hours away from home.
I don’t know why it piqued my interest, though it was probably the aspect of me being able to get away from home. A job that would let me live somewhere without my folks sounded luxurious to me. It also paid decently well; so after thinking over it a bit while sipping my coffee, I decided to take the poster off the wall and bring it home. The shop allowed that, of course; I wasn’t gonna steal anything I wasn’t allowed to take.
As I walked out of the coffee shop, I noticed a blonde-haired lady staring at me from the opposite side of the street. Once I noticed her, we stared at each other for a few more seconds. Then, she began walking away. I found it odd and a little creepy, but didn’t harp on it and walked home.
I arrived home and watched TV for a few hours. After binge-watching a show, I decided to call the phone number on the poster. After a few rings, someone picked up.
“Hello?” a female voice said.
“Hi, is this Camp Oakwood?” I asked.
“Yes, this is,” she answered. “Are you calling today to register your child as a member?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “I’m actually calling about your ad looking for employees. I wanted to apply as a janitor.”
“Oh, our online ad?”
“No. It was a poster in a coffee shop in my town.”
“Huh. Well, we don’t print many ads, but we put some up from time to time.”
She then asked me for my phone number, email, and asked a few questions. I told her basic information about myself. After answering them, she told me when I would need to show up to start working. I was confused and asked her what she meant.
“Yeah,” she said. “You’re hired. We need people.”
“Wait, so I don’t need to do a background check or something like that?” I asked.
“Nope, I believe everything you told me,” she said. “You’re hired.”
After a few seconds of shock, I became ecstatic.
“That’s great!” I said in disbelief. “When do I start?”
“You will need to come in May 26 for orientation/training, and the first camp will start the following week. The camp has 6 one week sessions, and you’ll be working each one. You will be one of four janitorial/maintenance employees. I am your overhead boss, but your supervisor will be Graham. He’s the head of the maintenance staff.”
“Cool. Thank you for hiring me.”
“You’re absolutely welcome. I believe you’ll do a great job. If you have any more questions, you know where to contact me. Welcome to the Oakwood family!”
Just as she was about to hang up, I realized I hadn’t even given my name. During the entirety of the questioning and introductions, we both had not given our names.
“Wait, I never got your name,” I said.
“Oh, shit,” she said. “Yeah, sorry. My name is Amy Garlania, and I’m the camp director.”
“Ok,” I said. “My name is Harrison Tracy.”
I then heard a thump and her gasp in pain.
“You alright?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m good,” she said. “Just banged my elbow on my desk. Well, can’t wait to meet you Harrison. See you soon!”
I hung up the phone with mixed emotions. While grateful that I found a job, I found it perplexing that I was hired so quickly. I figured there was more to it, but at the moment, I was just too grateful and exited to really worry about it.
That night, I told my parents about my new job. My mom was thrilled to hear that I would finally have a good paying job, but my dad practically spat out his food.
“Curtis, you okay?” my mom asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine, honey,” he said, grabbing a napkin to clean his mouth. “You’re working at Camp Oakwood?”
“Yeah,” I said. “It pays really well, and I heard it’s an easy job.”
“Sorry for my reaction, Harrison,” he said. “I haven’t heard that name in a long time. That’s because I worked there myself many years ago as a counselor.”
“Really?” I asked him, to which he nodded.
I proceeded to ask him some questions, but he seemed very hesitant to answer them. After failing to get anything, I went back to my room.
Later that night, I heard my parents talking in their bedroom. They were trying to whisper, but I could still hear a decent amount of their conversation.
“He can’t go,” my dad said. “That’s the place I told you about.”
“We don’t know if that is,” my mom responded. “The camp started long before he was born. Nothing’s gonna happen. If something does, he can handle himself. After all, he has before.”
They went back and forth for a while. I honestly had no clue what they were talking about. I guess my dad must have had some bad memories from that place or something.
When the time came, I packed up my stuff, told my parents goodbye, and headed off to Camp Oakwood.
* * * * * *
Amy told me I would be living in a two-story housing wing located about fifty yards away from the main camp. There were four apartments, two on each floor. Two or three employees would live in each one. The counselors would be sleeping in the cabins with the campers, so that left the nurses, cooks, and maintenance staff inside the wing. There were eleven of us (3 nurses, 4 cooks, and 4 janitors), so I had a ¼ chance of getting a two person apartment. I didn’t really care, but I crave privacy, so I was hoping for the best option.
I must have been lucky, because I got the two person room. When I arrived, someone was inside unpacking. He was a pretty young guy, maybe a bit older than me (I’m 21), but very muscular. I made my way in to introduce myself.
“Hey, I’m Harrison,” I said.
“Julio,” he said. “Nice to meet ya.”
“I guess you’re my roommate. I’m new here, so I don’t know who else is here besides you and Amy.”
Julio chuckled, and then said, “Same. At least I’m not alone.”
Before I could speak again, I heard someone walk in. I turned to see a large, older dude, with a Santa Claus-style beard and tinted glasses.
“Julio? Harrison?” he said, his deep voice bellowing.
We both said, “Yeah.”
“I’m Graham. I’m in charge of you guys. I just wanted to come by and introduce myself.”
“Oh, well, nice to meet you,” I said.
“And you guys as well,” Graham said. He then pointed to a guy pulling things out of a white truck before introducing him as Carson, the fourth and final maintenance worker. Carson just waved to us and continued on what we were doing.
“Do we start work today?” I asked.
“No, but I will be showing you around, basically what you will be doing and the like. I’ll be next door to y’all with Carson and one of the cooks. I’ll come back in a half hour.” Then, he left.
Like he said, Graham returned thirty minutes later.
“Alright guys,” he said. “Follow me.”
Accompanying Graham was Carson. Now closer, I could get a better look at him. He was old as well, but skinny and bald. He didn’t say anything or acknowledge us in the slightest, so I assumed he wasn’t a social butterfly.
Graham led us to a large golf cart and we all hopped in. As we drove off, Graham began speaking.
“Ok, so our job is pretty basic. We clean every building three times a week. Taking out the trash, dusting the rooms, and getting rid of any infestations. We also take care of the “nature” aspect, so lawn care, trees, etc. The last day of each session is a party day, so we also set up decorations, props, and other kiddie stuff.”
He went on about how when we clean the cabins, we have to make sure we put every bag and piece of furniture back in place. We also had to keep an eye out for wild animals, as they could be dangerous to the campers.
“So we’re janitors, maintenance staff, and security guards?” Julio asked jokingly.
“Basically,” Graham said before bellowing a laugh.
He showed us several of the activity areas during our drive. There was an archery station, a swimming pool, the lake with a large rope swing, a playground, an open field, a basketball court, a sand volleyball court, and a rec center with ping pong tables, air hockey, and a foosball table. There was also a small building that Graham said was a chapel, but he said it was never used and we wouldn’t need to worry about it.
“I’m still surprised Amy was able to get this all situated in just two years,” Graham said quietly.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“We had to move camps three years ago because the city bought us out,” Graham said, knowing he had to explain now since I’d heard him. “Eminent domain.”
“Why did they buy it out?” Julio asked.
I thought his response was odd, but I didn’t ask anything afterwards. After driving around some more, Graham took us to the main lodge. The counselors were already there, and the cooks were in the kitchen cooking dinner. Graham told us to mingle with the new counselors so we could at least know who we would be working with for the next seven weeks.
Julio and I split off to meet the others individually. Most of the counselors were teenagers, with only a few being about my age and some being older than that. However, I was immediately made very uncomfortable by the ones I met. Every time I would introduce myself, they would just stare in astonishment at me. It was as if they were staring at an elite celebrity making a surprise appearance. Some of them would even walk up to me and just stare, not saying a thing. After being made thoroughly uncomfortable, I went into the bathroom and hid until it was time to eat dinner. I sat in the far back corner of the room, away from everyone else. However, even as I ate, I still felt eyes on me.
After we ate our food, Amy got in the front of the room and began to speak. It was actually then that I finally saw her in person. She was a middle-aged woman, maybe my parents’ age, with gray-streaked black hair wrapped in a pony-tail and a face that matched her age.
She told us that she was glad we had decided to work/return to work for the camp, and that she was excited for another great summer. After speaking for a few more minutes, we were dismissed for the night.
I ended up staying back to talk to Amy about the counselors acting weird around me.
“Well, you and Julio are the only new employees this summer,” Amy said. “We usually don’t get that many new employees, so they are probably just surprised to see someone new.”
“But whenever I said my name, that’s when they began to act weird,” I said.
She just looked at me, not saying a word.
“What?” I asked.
“Nothing. Look, just don’t worry about it. If you’re still uncomfortable, go back to your apartment.”
With that, she walked away. I was so confused and actually a little concerned, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was right; the counselors might be just really weird people.
I walked back by myself to my apartment, but as I was passing the chapel, something caught my eye. I walked up the stoop and looked through the window on the door. Inside, there was a small light flickering at the far end of the room. I could see the outline of someone kneeling on the ground, their back facing me.
I knelt down and put my ear up to the door to listen, and I began to hear whispering.
“Dear savior, I have discovered it, and I will do it. This is what you’ve wanted. I’m so excited to meet you.”
I then began to hear crying, but not of pain or despair. Rather, it was crying of joy. Then he began whispering again.
“We won’t let you down. I won’t let you down. We’ll all be at peace soon.”
Creeped out, I decided it was time to go, but when I got up and looked inside again, I nearly pissed myself.
The figure was now right against the door looking out the window, staring at me with any angry look his face. I recognized it to be Carson.
I bolted back to the apartment, and was thankfully not followed by Carson. Once inside, I slammed the door behind me, scaring Julio half to death.
“You good?” he asked.
“Yeah. Some dude just scared me on the way back. Just popped out at me from the bushes,” I lied.
“Probably one of those counselors, huh?” he snickered.
“That’s not funny,” I said. “Wait, how did you find out?”
“I could see how uncomfortable you were, plus I couldn’t help but notice that they were constantly staring at you.”
I didn’t respond and just went to our shared bedroom to go to sleep, only to wake up at an unknown time. I heard voices coming from outside my window. I peeked through the blinds to see Amy talking with Graham and Carson.
“I’m telling you, it’s him,” Amy said.
“And I discovered how to finally perform it,” Carson said. “It’s almost time.”
“Look, whether it’s him or not, I don’t care,” Graham said. “He’s still my employee, and for all you know, he could be an innocent guy. The last thing we need is another innocent person being attacked by one of your employees.”
“I’ll make sure once again it’s him,” Amy said. “I haven’t figured out how to do it yet, but I’ll figure something out. I still question why I let you work here if you don’t agree with our beliefs.”
“You told me your reason when I was hired,” Graham said. “Besides, you wouldn’t be able to let me go without me being a threat to your safety.”
They kept talking, but I stopped listening. Horrified, I quietly sauntered back to my bed and curled up in a ball under the blankets. Julio, thankfully, didn’t wake up from me moving around.
Somehow, I managed to fall back asleep and woke up the next morning. At breakfast, I was eating my food when I noticed that ten of the counselors at another table were again taking glances at me. Every few seconds, one of them would look my way. At that point I had enough and walked over and confronted them.
“What do you want?” I asked.
None of them responded to me.
“Really?” I asked angrily. “You stare at me and when confronted you have nothing to say?”
Before they even got to say anything, I felt someone grab my shoulder. I turned to see Amy, looking at me with a stern look on her face.
“What’s going on here?” she asked me.
“These guys have been staring at me for the last ten minutes,” I said annoyingly. “I asked them what the problem was, but they refuse to answer me.”
She sighed before speaking again.
“I’ll deal with them. Sit back down and eat. I don’t need any more shit starting because of you, Harrison.”
“How is this my fault?” I asked her, only to get no response as she walked away. I’d had enough and decided to throw my food away and walk back toward my apartment. During my walk, I passed by the chapel again. Given that it was now daytime, I decided to get a better look at this place.
As I looked around the room, I saw a large painting of a man. The man was pretty tall, his body stocky and built. He appeared to be in his thirties, if not a little younger. He was shirtless, and in his left hand was a red book. Below the painting was a word in blue letters. I assumed it was a name, but I had never heard of this name before. It said:
I was so intrigued by the painting that I didn’t even notice someone had walked up to me.
“What are you doing?” someone asked.
I slowly turned to see Graham standing there.
“Uh, just looking in there,” I said nervously.
“Okay,” he said. “Again, there’s no point in going in there. Besides, I don’t get their obsession with this guy.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The people here dedicate this entire place to the guy who the camp is named after. He’s remembered as a hero.”
“What did he do?”
“Yep. Now come on, I want to show you the shed with all the lawn equipment in it.”
We walked off, me still feeling very weirded out by everything here. Camp hasn’t even started yet, but I already regret coming here.
What have I gotten myself into?
A few days later, Camp Oakwood’s first session officially began. Around 100 campers, aged 5-10, were dropped off by their families for their weeklong stay. Julio and I watched from outside our apartment as the mass of children were greeted by a cheerful Amy and all the counselors.
“So glad I am not a counselor,” I said.
“You and me both,” Julio responded.
After the staff finished their cringey introduction, the campers were all brought to their respective cabins to, I assume, unpack their belongings.
Graham told us that, on the first night of each session, there would be a big bonfire that was supposed to symbolize the beginning of the campers’ time at Camp Oakwood. Graham put Julio and Carson in charge of setting it up while Graham and I were to clean it up once the whole thing was done. A 50/50 split of work, as Graham liked to call it.
At that moment, I was feeling mixed emotions. On one hand, I was still creeped out by the counselors and other staff, and I didn’t know how bad the kids would be. On the other, however, I was ready to start most of my work so that I could hopefully get my mind off of everyone’s behavior around me.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait too long for that.
While Julio and I continued chatting, Graham called us over the radio, telling us to hurry over to one of the cabins. Apparently, a camper had already vomited all over his cabin’s floor and some of the campers’ bags, and we needed to clean it up.
Graham and Carson were already busy setting up bullseye targets at the archery station, which meant that we, the rookies, would have to get our hands dirty. We grabbed the necessary supplies from the small maintenance shed that was located next to our housing wing and hurried over to Cabin 5.
We arrived to see about 20 campers and two counselors outside the cabin holding their noses with their shirts from the smell. One camper stood away from everyone else. You could see stains on the kid’s shirt from a mile away. You could also smell it from another city away.
One of the counselors, who I had not yet met up to that point, came running up to us. He was young as well, maybe my age, with really light blonde hair in a fade-styled haircut.
“I’ve already called the nurses,” he said. “They’re on their way.”
“Okay,” Julio said. “Get the others away from the building. The last thing we need is someone else to get sick.”
“You’re right,” the counselor said before turning to the campers and the other counselor. “Alright guys, we’re heading to the main lodge. Paxton, stay here; the nurses will be here soon. Everyone else, let’s go.”
With that, they briskly made their escape, leaving Paxton alone with us. We told him to stay outside while we walked toward the cabin. We had all of our cleaning supplies ready, but we had to fight the smell and the urge to vomit at the same time. We finally got enough courage to go inside.
After several long minutes, we managed to get rid of the vomit itself. The smell lingered, but not as strong as before. Just as we were walking out, I noticed a poster hanging on the wall above the bed directly next to the door.
It was a replica of the painting hanging in the chapel.
“Hey look at this,” I told Julio while pointing at it.
“It’s just a picture of Horace Oakwood, the guy who founded the camp many years ago,” he said.
“That’s what Graham told me,” I said. “Some war hero.”
“Yeah,” Julio responded. “He defeated a powerful tribe back in the 1800s. They were heavily outnumbered and on the brink of defeat, but Horace mounted a tremendous comeback and managed to defeat the tribe. He was even stabbed in the back but survived, and rocked a pretty neat scar for the rest of his life.”
“So he was a badass?” I asked sarcastically.
“Yep,” Julio said before we both laughed.
“Was he called Sharrino?” I asked.
“Yeah, that was the nickname Horace made for himself. Horace claimed ‘a warrior needs a unique nickname that separates him from the rest’.”
“But why Sharrino?”
“Honestly, no one really knows. He never explained how he came up with it and what it was based off.”
“Interesting,” I responded before grabbing my walkie to radio Graham.
“Hey Graham, we finished cleaning up the vomit. What now?”
About five seconds later, Graham came over the walkie.
“Okay. Carson and I finished setting up. We now need to go set up the rec center. Start heading over there.”
Julio and I put the stuff back up and walked to the rec center.
As I previously mentioned, the rec center was a small shelter that had games such as ping pong, foosball, and air hockey. There were also smaller games, like checkers and chess, that were set up on benches and tables. It was mainly used by the more quiet campers during the “free time” of the day, which was during the 2-hour interval for lunch.
Well, it was supposed to have all of this stuff. The problem was nothing had been set up yet. When we Graham drove us by the rec center the previous week, the doors were closed and the windows were tinted, so I couldn’t even tell if there was stuff already inside. Graham told us what was in there, but he never told us that it wasn’t set up yet.
Graham explained that we needed to set all of it up so the campers could begin using the stuff the next day. There was a small locked shed behind the rec center where all of the stuff was kept. It took a while, but we managed to bring everything in and set it all up accordingly.
While setting up, I kept noticing Carson taking glances at me, at one point staring at me for a solid minute. I was already fed up by the counselors doing this, so I already knew I wasn’t going to deal with this bullshit; however, given what happened in the chapel the week before, I didn’t want to confront Carson on my own. So I stopped what I was doing and decided to tell Graham, who I found back in the shed pulling out a box full of board games from one of the shelves.
“Hey, Graham,” I said. “Carson will not stop staring at me. I don’t know what his problem is, but please go tell him to stop.”
“Well, why don’t you tell him you have a problem with it?” he asked me.
I really, really wanted to explain what I had seen the previous week in the chapel, but I bit my tongue and just told I was very creeped out by him. He could probably tell I was holding something back, but he accepted my excuse and told me he would handle it. He gave me the box of board games and left the shed.
As I walked out, I could see Graham and Carson talking, but couldn’t hear them because they were talking quietly. In the end, Carson nodded and Graham walked back to the shed. True to Graham’s word, Carson didn’t stare at me again after that.
Well, at least I hoped he didn’t.
After we finished, we hopped back in the cart and drove back to our housing building. Graham dropped the three of us off and told us to keep our walkies on in case something popped up. He then drove off towards the main lodge building.
Julio and I went back inside our apartment and decided to chill for the rest of the day. We had already eaten lunch earlier in the day before the campers arrived, so we wouldn’t have anything else to do until the bonfire later that night. While I was on the couch watching some show on our really old TV, Julio piped up from the small kitchen.
“Wonder what made Amy hire a guy like Carson?” he said.
“Beats me,” I responded. “Amy probably just hires anyone who is interested in working for this camp. He’s a very weird guy.”
“I know,” he said. “You know, I’ve noticed you’re always very uncomfortable around Carson. Why’s that?”
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“I saw you go complain to Graham earlier today about Carson constantly staring at you. I noticed as well and was just waiting for you to do something about it. But even before that, you were already uncomfortable and, honestly, looked a little scared every time we are around Carson.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“C’mon man, it’s obvious you’re creeped out by him. You can tell me the reason why.”
Up to that point, I hadn’t told anyone about what I had seen at both the chapel and outside our window. However, at that moment, I felt like I was trapped in a corner. Julio could tell something was up, so I needed to either come up with an excuse or spill the beans. And after a quick deliberation, I chose the latter. I needed help, and keeping it on my chest would only make it worse.
So I ended up telling him everything. From Carson in the chapel, to Amy, Graham, and Carson talking outside our window in the middle of the night.
Julio just stared at me, taking in what I was saying. When I was finally done, all he said was, “Wow.”
“I’m very creeped out right now, dude,” I said. “I don’t know why he and those counselors act strange around me. It’s so fucking weird.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up when they were talking outside our room?”
“Uh,” I stuttered. “I don’t know.”
“Well, if something like that happens again, wake me up,” he said. “Given that you just told me everything, I’m involved in this shit just as much as you are now.” He then went outside to smoke a cigarette.
I stood there, wondering if what I just did was the right decision. I mean, someone needed to know, and I spent more time with Julio since we practically slept in the same room. But I could have told Graham as well, since he seemed to be on my side when I found him, Amy, and Carson talking outside my room the previous week. I made a mental note to at least tell Graham when I had the chance, but I had to find the right moment to do so.
Later that night, all the campers and staff gathered around the campfire. I ended up finding the counselor from Cabin 5, and I decided to formally introduce myself. To my shock, he didn’t act surprised when I said my name. He introduced himself as Percy before proceeding to tell me that he’s been a counselor here since they moved locations.
“I always like coming back since it’s so much fun,” he said cheerfully. “Just being able to hang out with my other friends and giving the campers a good summer camp experience. How has it been for you?”
“Pretty good,” I lied.
“Well good,” he said. “It’s always great to hear that new staff members are enjoying it here.”
“I’m just hoping it isn’t too chaotic with all these kids running around,” I said jokingly.
“Oh it isn’t,” he said. “These guys are the most behaved and peaceful kids you’ll ever meet.”
“For real?” I asked inquisitively.
“Yeah. Most of them come from strict, well-to-do families. We only have to discipline maybe five or so campers every session. And none of it is ever major. Just a couple of minor scuffles on the playground or escalating arguments over the ping pong paddles.”
“Anything ever major?”
He paused, mulling over something in his head. After about ten seconds, he continued.
“Well, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but there was one thing that happened a while ago…”
Before he could finish, Amy called for everyone’s attention. She was standing on top of a bench, holding a small bell in her hand.
“Hello everyone!” she said enthusiastically. “For all of you who are returning for another fun summer, we’re glad to have you back. To those who are new, I would like to welcome you to Camp Oakwood. We are very glad to have you all here tonight, and I am looking forward to getting to know each and every one of you over the next week. We will pass out s’mores soon, but before that, we will sing the camp’s official song. If you don’t know it, or are afraid of singing, then that’s fine. But to those of you do know it, feel free to sing along.”
With that, she raised the bell over her head and shook it. The small bell sounded like a thousand chorusing church bells. I stared in awe, trying to make sense of it. Everyone else didn’t really react, as if they had expected this. Once the sound of bells deafened, she began to sing.
None of the words sounded like English, so I wasn’t able to understand it. I have to admit, though, she had a beautiful voice. It was honestly so angelic that I looked up at her to make sure she wasn’t playing a recording or something. After I looked up, I noticed everyone, though only some were singing along, were all bowing their heads. Well, except for one other person.
As I panned the crowd, I saw Graham standing in the back, leaning against the trunk of a tree. We made eye contact with each other. I made a confused face, trying to figure out why he was away from everyone else. All he did in response was shake his head in what looked like disappointment. I then turned back around and bowed my head once again.
Amy finished her song and everyone looked back up at her. She then said excitedly it was time for s’mores, which was met by the cheers of the campers.
I got up and began walking over to Graham. He met me halfway.
“What was that?” I asked.
“It’s a small ceremony done at the beginning of the camp,” Graham said. “Amy loves music; she studied it in college, and has always had a passion for it. So she likes to implement it at some points during each session.”
“Do you what language she was singing in?” I asked.
“I think Italian, but I could be wrong,” he responded.
Graham told me I could get a s’more if I wanted one, but I told him I wasn’t hungry. We just stood there, watching everyone else eat their s’mores before they began to disperse back to their respective cabins. As planned, Julio and Carson left, so Graham and I were the only ones who would be extinguishing the fire and cleaning up the remnants of chocolate and marshmallows. After cleaning quietly for a while, Graham broke the silence.
“I see you and Percy are getting along,” Graham said.
“Yeah, he’s pretty chill,” I said. I looked up to see Graham smiling while throwing more detritus into a black bag.
“You seem happy about that,” I said.
“No,” he said. “I’m happy because the first night is always so full of joy. The rest of the sessions are just sort of…bland.”
“Is it boring?”
“No, it’s not that. After the first night, each group follows their own schedule, and each group straight up ignores the others. You would think most campers would branch out with those who are older and younger, but they stick together in their age groups like glue. Also, most campers aren’t as happy the rest of the session as they are on the first night. Probably homesickness or something. It’s been the same for many years, and it honestly makes me a little sad to see it.”
To be honest, I didn’t think Graham could become that emotional or deep. My first impression of him was a stone-cold, hard-nosed man who just did his job and nothing else. But now, he’s starting to appear more human. I don’t know why, but I was just fascinated by it. So fascinated by it that I forgot to tell him what I had told Julio hours before.
We finished cleaning up not too long after and went back to our respective apartments. Julio wasn’t there when I arrived, but his car wasn’t either, so I guessed he’d left the campgrounds to do something. I didn’t know if that was allowed once a session was in progress, but I decided not to do anything about it.
Once I got inside, I decided to take a shower. After spending about ten minutes under the showerhead, I turned off the water, grabbed a towel, and pulled open the shower curtain.
After drying off, I went to grab my clothes, but when I checked the countertop, they were missing. I’d thought I had placed them on the countertop before I got in, but I must have forgotten to. So I wrapped the towel around my waist again and started walking toward the bathroom door.
That’s when I noticed the bathroom door was cracked open.
I was positive I had shut and locked it, so my body immediately tensed up. My phone was in my bedroom charging, so if I had to call for help, I would have to build up enough courage to get out of the bathroom. I eventually peeked my head outside the door, and when I did so, I saw no one in sight.
“Julio?” I called out, hoping he was just pulling a messed up prank on me.
I got no response.
I peered back to my left and found my clothes on a chair next to the table.
Dammit, I left them out here, I thought to myself as I reached out for them.
All of a sudden, a bright flash filled the room. I turned around and saw a hooded figure dressed in black and wearing sunglasses holding a camera. I cursed out loud in shock and the hooded figure ran for the door. Amid the chaos, I managed to grab the back of his hood, making the back of his head visible. Before I could do anything else, the hooded figure opened my door and ran out into the night. I would have ran after him, but I was in only a towel and barefoot, and the ground outside was gravely, so I knew there would be no chance I could get him.
Although I didn’t see his face, I knew who it was. I recognized him based off the blonde, fade-styled haircut.
It was Percy.
Julio returned a few minutes later to find me shaking in terror.
“Dude, you alright?” he asked worriedly.
“Somebody broke into the apartment and took a picture of me,” I told him. “It was Percy.”
“Who’s Percy?” he asked me.
“That counselor from Cabin 5,” I told him.
“Have you called the police yet?” he asked.
“Not yet,” I said. “I guess I’m still in a state of shock.”
“Ok. I’m gonna call Amy. Go put your clothes on.”
I grabbed my clothes and went back into the bathroom. Through the door, I could hear Julio on the phone. About two minutes later, there was a loud knock at the door. Julio opened it and both Amy and Graham walked in.
Amy quizzed me on what happened, wanting to make sure that it was indeed Percy who broke in. Graham, meanwhile, sat there silently.
After several minutes of questioning, Amy got up to leave. I asked her if she wanted me to call the police, but she said it wouldn’t be necessary.
“If I can get him to both confess and destroy the photo, then we should be alright, and I can just send him home. Besides, if he didn’t steal or break anything, and all he did was just take a photo of you, I don’t think the police should be involved.”
Before I could even respond at all, she slammed the door, leaving the three of us in the apartment.
“Sorry about this, Harrison,” Graham said.
“Hey, no need to apologize,” I told him. “You had nothing to do with this.”
“I know, but still, you’re my employees,” Graham said. “As your boss, your wellbeing is one of my priorities.”
“Percy’s probably gonna get fired,” Julio said.
“I don’t even know if it was him,” I said. “All I saw was the back of his head, and Percy’s hairstyle and its color was the closest one to it. I just can’t believe Percy pretended to be normal around me. I guess him telling me nothing major ever happening around here must have been a complete lie to gain my trust. Guess the same goes for the major event that happened a few years ago.”
“Actually, that part is true,” Julio said.
“Julio!” Graham yelled, causing me to jump.
“Shit, sorry,” Julio said.
“What?” I asked.
Both of them looked away from me, not saying a word.
“Julio already said it’s true, so you guys might as well tell me now,” I said. “Or maybe I should go and ask Amy about it.”
Before I could even move, Graham stood up and grabbed me by my arm with a very painful grip.
“Do not make that mistake!” he said to me. I, now legitimately scared, just nodded, and he let go of my arm.
“Alright, I will tell you, but you need to promise me you will not tell Amy at all. Same with you Julio, though I doubt you will.”
Julio nodded while I remained silent. Graham sighed and then began.
“Five years ago, a young camper named Sharon went missing after supposedly wandering off during a group hike. Amy freaked out when she heard the news and spent a full day and night searching for her alone in the woods. She didn’t want to, but eventually, she had to call the police. The camp was shut down, and all the campers were picked up and taken home. They eventually found Sharon a couple of weeks later. I’m not gonna go into detail on what happened to her.”
“One of the counselors was arrested after his DNA was found at the crime scene. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sent to a psych ward. Amy tried to reopen the camp the following summer, but not many families signed their kids up out of fear that something would happen again. So the summer after that, Amy changed two things: have younger counselors and move the camp to a new location. She didn’t change the name, though, as she really couldn’t.”
“I thought you said the city bought the land out through eminent domain,” I said.
“That was what she ordered us to say,” Graham said. “She told us to lie so that we ‘could move’ on from the tragedy. Amy, Carson, and I are the only ones left from the original camp, and she told us to not talk about it ever again. However, it’s an open secret, so to speak, and many of the new employees either already know about it or eventually hear it from one of their coworkers. However, if Amy found out we still talk about it, she would have our heads on a silver platter.”
“I already knew this stuff before I came here,” Julio said. “Remember how Graham said it was at a different location? Well, the city Camp Oakwood was originally located in was actually my hometown, and that murder was the talk of the town. You heard about it, whether you wanted to or not.”
“So does this have something to do with why Amy doesn’t want the police involved?” I asked.
“Sort of,” Graham said. “She doesn’t like the police being involved because she’s afraid that any other crime, no matter how small it is, could ruin the reputation of the camp again. Camp Oakwood is one of the most popular summer camps in our region, so another criminal act could hurt us again. But for your case, I don’t think so. Like Amy said, if nothing was stolen, and the only thing done, besides breaking into the apartment, was taking a photo of your unclothed back, then there would be no need. It’s not a serious issue. I doubt she’ll call the police for something as small as this.”
“So wait, why exactly does she not want new employees and campers to know what happened to that girl?” I asked.
“Would you want everyone to keep talking about how one of your campers was murdered by one of your employees several years ago?” he asked me in response.
“Uh, I guess not,” I said.
“That’s what I thought,” he said. “Look, sorry to come off so aggressively, but I want to protect my job and follow the rules. I could care less if someone else told you, but I refuse to talk about it anymore. Amy is a scary lady when she gets angry. In fact, I’m gonna go find her to make sure she doesn’t do anything to Percy.”
Immediately after saying that, he got up and left.
“Wait, what did he mean by the fact that Amy couldn’t change the name?” I asked Julio.
“Oh, you didn’t know?” he asked me. I shook my head and he continued. “Camp Oakwood is the name of about thirty camps across the world. Not the country, but the world.”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he responded. “They started the franchise of camps around 30 years ago. There’s only camp located in each country. Thirty camps, thirty countries. We are like any other summer camp with one caveat: we only accept approved campers and employees. They must be from a select family and approved by the camp director of the camp they applied for. Makes it easier for the camp to run if we at least accept campers and employees who we know won’t be a problem.”
Maybe that’s why all the counselors act so damn weird, I thought to myself. I guess me, Graham, and Julio are the only normal people they’ve ever hired.
Moments later, we got another knock on the door. Julio opened it to reveal a police officer.
“Harrison Tracy?” he asked.
“That’s me,” I said.
“I’m Officer Marino,” he said. “I’m here to get your statement on the break-in that happened earlier tonight. Percy has already confessed and is currently detained. However, we want to get your statement about what happened. The more facts, the better.”
Huh, guess she did decide to call the police, I thought to myself. I gave a brief rundown on what happened, and Officer Marino thanked me and left.
I was up nearly all night trying to figure out what Percy’s motive was. Nothing appeared to be stolen, so I couldn’t really say robbery was the main motive.
I did come up with a crazy theory that maybe his motive was to take an indecent photo of me and then use it as some sort of blackmail. However, I wasn’t completely naked; I was wearing a towel pretty much up to my belly button, and my back was facing him. All he would have saw was the back of my head, the back of my neck, and my entire back, which kinda amounts to nothing.
Eventually, I decided to just let it go and move on. Percy had been taken away; he was no longer a threat to me now.
At around 11 AM the next morning, while Julio and I were hanging around the apartment, we heard a commotion coming from outside. We looked outside to see the counselors ushering the campers back into their cabins and other staff running over to the chapel.
We followed suit and ran over to the chapel. A few people were yelling for the nurses. Eventually, we found Graham in the crowd and asked what happened.
“Carson stabbed himself,” he said.
“Um, what?” I asked him.
“That’s all I really know for sure,” he said. “I wasn’t close enough to see it, but I’ve heard a couple of people say he was screaming while holding a knife.”
A few minutes later, the nurses came out with Carson. The front of his shirt was stained red. Everyone stared in awe as he was carried towards the nurses’ station. I noticed no ambulances or EMTs around, so I guess Amy didn’t want them involved either.
After the small hysteria ended, everyone went back to what they were doing. Graham told us we would have finish any work we still had that day without Carson, which thankfully wasn’t too much. We ended up finishing around 2 PM.
As you can probably imagine, I was near my breaking point. In fact, I was very close to going up to Amy and handing in my resignation. However, a part of me wanted to at least finish this session in order to get some money. I didn’t care if it was much, but I would rather leave with some money rather than no money. I’ve come this far; why stop now? But still, I was seriously coming close to quitting; I’d had enough of the secrecy and the weirdness of it all.
At around 6 PM, while I was still contemplating whether I should quit or not, I got a text from Amy:
“Meet me at the house. I need to talk to you.”
I sighed and began putting my shoes on.
“What’s up?” Julio asked me from the couch.
“Amy told me to meet her at the house,” I said. “Don’t know why.”
“Probably heard about Graham telling you about Sharon’s murder,” he said.
“Ha-ha,” I responded and walked out.
Amy lived by herself in a single floor house on the other side of camp. After several minutes of walking, I eventually reached the house. I knocked on her front door and she opened up.
“Good, you’re here,” she said. “Come on in.”
She led me into her kitchen and told me to sit down. Once I was seated, she sat down directly across the table from me.
“So why did you want me to come over here?” I asked her.
“I wanted to check up on you,” she told me. “How have you been doing since Percy broke into your apartment?”
“I’m doing alright,” I said.
“Glad to hear that,” she said. “Would you like some coffee?”
“Sure,” I responded.
She got up and grabbed two cups from her cupboard, then grabbed the coffee pot. She began to pour coffee into my cup, when all of sudden, she dropped the pot, spilling hot coffee all onto my shirt.
I screamed out in pain from the hot coffee, and Amy began profusely apologizing for spilling it on me.
“I’m so sorry, Harrison,” she said.
“It’s fine,” I said. “It burns like a bitch, though.”
“Well, here, give me your clothes,” she said. “I’ll wash them for you. It’s the least I can do.”
I didn’t give up my shorts, but I gave her my shirt. I turned around to grab more paper towels to clean up the coffee on the table.
“What’s that on your back?” she asked me.
I asked her where on my back, and she pointed near my waistline, right where the waistband of my shorts were. I didn’t even have to look in the mirror to know what she was pointing to.
“My scar” I responded. “I got it when I was little. The reason why though is pretty messed up.”
“What do you mean?” she asked me.
I described to her what had happened. It was, without a doubt, my worst childhood experience.
* * * * * *
I was six years old at the time. I was outside playing by myself in my backyard, kicking a soccer ball around. I would spend a lot of afternoons outside, doing whatever I wanted.
I had just kicked the soccer ball into the miniature goal I had when I heard the backyard gate screeched open. I turned to see a red-haired woman with a scary face. Before I could even let out a scream, she charged at me.
I don’t remember much after that, but I do remember being rushed into the hospital, and my parents crying hysterically. My back was on fire, and I remember seeing blood on my clothes.
Thankfully, the wound wasn’t too serious, and I was stitched up and good to go. My parents quickly moved to another town several hours away, which is where I still live now.
The woman was never caught, even though my dad got a full view of her face. He said he didn’t recognize her, and even though he met with a sketch artist, no new leads came of it.
* * * * * *
“So you have no idea why this woman did this to you?” she asked me.
“Not a clue,” I responded.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said. “Well, I’m gonna wash your clothes. I have a towel in the bathroom down the hall you can use to dry off. I’ll be back soon.”
With that, she walked off, and I went to the bathroom to dry off.
After I got out, I saw another room down the hall with a bluish light coming from it. I looked inside to see the light was coming from a turned-on computer monitor. I looked at the webpage and discovered it to be a chat room. There were about thirty people in it, and I recognized a few names, including Julio, Carson, Percy, and Amy.
Curious and a bit snoopy, I scrolled through the chat logs and eventually reached the week I had applied for the job. My body tensed up while I read what they were talking about.
Given that I don’t remember everything that was said, I’ll try and recount the important bits of it. Some of the names I don’t recognize, but I will state them anyway.
Amy: He hasn’t called yet, but I hope he will soon. Based on the look on his face, he seemed very interested.
Carson: Awesome. Hopefully you hear back soon.
Rafael: Has anyone found the right sermon yet? I’m tired of waiting.
Wendy: No. Andy just tried another one, but that one also failed. I’m hoping we find out soon. The world is a mess.
Amy: If he’s who I think he is, we could do it.
Carson: Remember these traits: we have to carve it the same way it was carved into Horace, with the same amount of time it took, and with the same angle of the crescent.
Zander: Kert said the date of an important day of his life could correlate to the pages of his book and the corresponding prayer.
Julio: I know. But we’ve already tried the day of the battle and his birth and death dates and the pages corresponding to them. We have to keep digging.
Rafael: Maybe Kert was wrong. I mean, we all remembered what happened right?
Amy: Shut up, Rafael. He was right in some parts. Yet he was too much of a coward to admit that he royally fucked up.
I scrolled down to another conversation, which was dated a few hours after I discovered them talking outside my window.
Amy: I’ll figure out a plan soon. I’ll keep you guys updated. I’m also currently thinking of a plan B in the case plan A doesn’t work, though I highly doubt that will happen.
Carson: We have to make sure it’s him, but we also have to make sure Graham isn’t in our way.
Julio: If I see anything, I’ll let you know. He just spilled the beans to me. Said he saw you three talking.
Amy: Well, shit. Okay, stick to the plan. Everyone is coming in soon. We need this to work.
The last message was right after that, and it was dated from the morning after Percy broke into my apartment. That morning.
Carson: I figured out the first process. Haven’t solved the other one, though. It’s a different prayer, but I don’t know which one specifically.
I could feel my heart racing a mile a minute as I stared at that computer screen. I had a deep suspicion that there was more to Percy breaking into my apartment, and this seemed to confirm it.
I looked up towards the top of the screen to find another tab open. I clicked on it to reveal a grid of black and white security cameras. My stomach churned when I saw one of a very recognizable bedroom.
My shared bedroom.
It was being filmed from the top corner of the room. I had never noticed it before, so it must have been hidden in the wall.
There was a date and time slot near the edge of the screen. I decided to snoop through it. Sure enough, it showed me and Julio going through our daily rituals. I then noticed that one of the cameras was outside the housing wing on the corner of the building, which gave a perfect view of our front door. I decided to navigate to the footage of the previous night.
As I’d expected, Julio left a few minutes before I got back. It then showed me walking in and shutting the door. I fast-forwarded to about ten minutes later.
What I saw sent chills down my spine.
Percy walked up to the door, but behind him was Amy. Amy stepped forward and used a key to unlock my door. Both of them went inside. A minute or so later, Amy came out and gave a thumbs up to Percy inside my apartment. A few minutes later, Percy sprinted out of the apartment, and a couple of minutes after that, Julio pulled back into the small parking lot next to the wing.
I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. This whole shit had been planned by Amy, but why? I couldn’t understand why.
And then I realized: my scar.
My scar would be the only noteworthy thing on the back of my body. However, I knew for a fact that my towel covered it up, considering how close it was to my tailbone. Also, my scar was a straight-line; it wasn’t that impressive.
If anything, I thought to myself, Horace’s crescent stab wound would be much more impressive than…
But then it hit me. I couldn’t believe that this little detail slipped from my mind. I never considered it important, and none of my coworkers mentioned it all to me, despite how seemingly obvious it was.
SHARRINO is my name unscrambled.
Before I could even process any more information, I heard Amy yelling from down the hallway, announcing that my shirt was ready. I shut off the computer and briskly made my way back to the kitchen. I made it just in time, because she arrived in the kitchen about five seconds later.
I thanked her, trying to hide my fear as best as I could, and raced back to the apartment. I grabbed my keys and dashed to my car, only for my worst nightmare to be realized.
My tires were slashed.
I raced back inside the apartment. Julio wasn’t anywhere, but I saw his car in the parking lot. Honestly, though, I was glad he wasn’t there. I saw his name in the group chat; he was in this shit just as much as they were.
I didn’t know what to do. My only way of transportation was now ruined, and I didn’t know the woods well enough to try and run out into them.
I was hyperventilating and on the verge of tears, so I drank some water and began to plan out my next steps. I had to stay calm, but I also needed to be quick if I wanted to get out of there.
After about twenty minutes of debating what would be the best course of action, I decided I should at least call for help, whether it was the police, my parents, or somebody. I went to grab my phone, but then I began to feel awful.
My head started spinning, my vision blurred, and I began to feel sick and weak. That’s all I remembered before passing out.
* * * * * *
I jarred awake at an unknown hour. I didn’t know how long I had been out, but it appeared to have been a while. I found myself on the floor near the couch. There were no lights on in the apartment, but I saw an orange light coming from outside. I cautiously peeked out the window.
Outside, surrounding a campfire, were the counselors and other staff. I saw Julio, Amy, and the other staff members I recognized all sitting around the fire talking. Graham wasn’t anywhere in sight, and neither was Carson, but I saw Percy near the back of the group. There were also no campers in sight.
Before I could even react or try to figure out what the fuck was going on, my phone dinged. I checked my phone to see that it was a text from a number I didn’t have on my cellphone. It read:
“Get out of the apartment through your bedroom window. There is a bicycle located right outside the window. Take the path behind your building and bike towards [redacted]. Use your phone for directions. Make sure you’re not followed.”
Just as I finished reading that text, I felt that familiar feeling of having eyes on me again. I didn’t want to look up, but I forced myself to.
Everyone at the campfire was now watching me. They were all looking at the window, staring at me with hateful, evil looks on their faces.
I immediately bolted toward the bedroom window and practically ripped its screen off. Outside was a large yellow bike resting against the wall. I hopped on and started pedaling as fast as I could down the back path, with it eventually leading me into the dark forest.
I pedaled as fast as I could until I reached the location, which turned out to be an abandoned grocery store’s parking lot. In the parking lot was a white truck with its headlights turned off. I then got a text that read:
“I’ll come to you. Stay put.”
The driver side door opened and out came a man who appeared to be his thirties. When I saw him, I felt like I had seen him somewhere before. His face I knew I had seen somewhere not too long ago, but I couldn’t pinpoint where, though.
“Did they follow you?” he asked me.
“No, I don’t think so,” I said, still trying to catch my breath. “Who are you, and why did you save me?”
“Name’s Doug,” he said. “I saved you because those guys are crazy, and I also wanted to give you some answers. You’re probably wondering what the hell is going on at Camp Oakwood.”
“I mean, shit’s pretty weird,” I said. “Some guy broke into my apartment, another guy stabbed himself, and I found security footage of my own bedroom in the camp director’s house.”
“Oh, yeah, that would be Amy. Yeah, she likes to act like Big Brother quite a bit.”
“Gee, no surprise there. Anyway, I think I already have an idea about what is going on.”
“Okay. Well, you can tell me what you know later, but I want to give you a clear picture of what is going on.”
I didn’t respond, so Doug began talking.
“The camp franchise you work at is part of a cult called Horace’s Harmony. That guy who founded your camp, Horace Oakwood, started it way back in the day after he defeated a tribe in a battle. He then proceeded to take the tribe’s teachings, tweaked about 95% of it, and rebranded it as his own religion. And thus, he began his work as a pastor for his community.”
“Horace prophesized that the world would be an extremely messed up place once he was gone, and that his followers’ mission was to obtain world peace. However, the process of how to obtain that was nothing you would have expected. Horace claimed that the only way to obtain it was to conjure his spirit, and then the body he was possessed inside of would have to die. According to him, there were two ways to do this process. The first way is for someone to conjure his spirit by themselves, and then die either by suicide or by being killed by someone else. The second way is to conjure the spirit into another person by performing a ritual, and then sacrificing the victim.”
“Anyway, Horace eventually died. The day after he died, Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand. That’s what triggered World War I, which made his prophecy all the more believable. Pretty soon, the entire world starting turning into an all-out violent place. Wars between countries, outcry within them; so much hate and despair everywhere. His members never worried, though; they knew that one day his spirit would be conjured, and they would finally obtain world peace.”
“Now here’s the funny part about this whole thing. Horace may have told them that they needed to conjure his spirit, but he never explained how to correctly do so. His reason why was because he claimed that world peace would already be a near-impossible task, so, in order to obtain it, his followers needed to figure it out how to do it on their own.”
“So many years, and I mean, MANY YEARS, went by without any clue on how to conjure Horace. Then, about twenty-five years ago, a prominent member of the cult named Ferris Kert made a breakthrough. He claimed that the correct way to conjure Horace was to recite a prayer in Horace’s self-made Bible, along with carving a crescent-shaped wound into your body. During the great battle Horace was in, he received a stabbed wound from one of the tribal men that was shaped like a crescent moon. As his life went on, he believed it to be an important sign that all of his followers should remember.”
“Now, Kert was well-known throughout all the camps and members located around the world, and when he made the supposed breakthrough, many members started performing the process, whether on themselves or on another people. Well, long story short, his breakthrough ended up being false. Many members, out of excitement that it was finally solved after all this time, either committed suicide after they believed Horace was inside their bodies, or were arrested after killing innocent sacrificial victims. There were also members who left the cult, not wanting to be involved anymore out of fear that they would be connected to the crimes. Horace’s Harmony lost almost 80% of its followers in a short span of time; so many people fell for it. Kert, realizing what he had done, and also realizing that many members were now calling for his head, managed to escape the cult and went into hiding. He hasn’t been seen since. Even his ex-girlfriend, who is also a well-known member of the cult, has supposedly never been able to find him.”
“Even though Kert may have been wrong initially, many people believed they did have to recite a sermon, but it had to be the right one. There are over 3000 pages in this book, so there would be a lot of stuff to dig through and figure out.”
I stood there in disbelief while listening to everything Doug was explaining to me. I honestly couldn’t tell if this guy was being serious or not. Still, I kept quiet and let him continue.
“The killings and suicides kept happening, but more members kept joining, and those members would marry and have children. That’s one of the reasons why the camps were set up about 30 years ago. It was so the members’ children who were aged 5-10 years old could learn about the teachings of Horace’s Harmony, and then go home and continue practicing the religion. The camps were also made so that it would be easier for all the members located around the world to stay connected. I will say that many of the deaths have stopped, with the last notable one happening at your camp five years ago.”
“Sharon,” I said.
“Yep, Sharon Ida Raffington,” Doug said. “A counselor killed her when he was convinced that he discovered the right page number and prayer. However, like all of the other documented deaths, it didn’t work, and the camp came under fire again. Yet, they still were able to rebuild and move on.”
“How has no one stopped them yet?” I asked him.
“That I really can’t explain,” Doug responded. “But more than likely, there are high power people involved with them that probably help hide the cult from the outside world. Politicians, police, etc.”
“So why are you explaining all of this to me?” I asked.
“Well, my friend, you are most likely the next person to be killed when they attempt to make Horace’s spirit possess you. There has been some talk that someone inside your camp successfully conjured Horace by themselves. Now, you would think that the person who conjured Horace would just kill themselves so that everyone else can obtain world peace. But actually, the plan is for them to meet in the middle of the rituals. What I mean is this: somebody, Person A, successfully has Horace possess them, and then performs the “victim ritual” on Person B. Then, Person B is killed, and world peace finally comes. So it’s basically both rituals being performed at different points in time. The same process for both.”
“Jesus Christ,” I said, the seriousness of the situation hitting me hard. “I could have sworn they were after me because I was Horace resurrected or something.”
“What?” he asked me, looking perplexed.
“My name is Harrison, and Sharrino is my name with some letters rearranged. I also have a stab wound on my back, though it is a straight line and not a crescent.”
“Uh, no,” he said. “Horace never prophesized that he would come back in a resurrected form. He always explained from the beginning that he would need to be conjured and then possess someone’s body. Your name being an anagram for Sharrino is just a crazy coincidence. Besides, you look nothing like Horace. If someone were to be resurrected, they would most likely look the same.”
“So why the fuck am I a target?!” I yelled at him.
“Revenge,” he calmly said.
“Wha…What?” I asked in complete bewilderment.
“Well, besides the obvious ‘trying to obtain world peace’ bit, from what I understand, you are a target to also get revenge on you.”
“I haven’t done a single damn thing to them,” I said.
“Then it must be someone you know,” he said. “Did you ever have family or friends that worked at one of the camps or was a camper?”
Oh, you got to be kidding me, was the first thought that formed in my head.
“Yeah,” I responded slowly. “Yeah, I do.”
“Then I would talk to them and get some info. I wish I could tell you the exact reason, but it hasn’t been explicitly stated.”
“How do you know all of this?” I asked. It was a question I had been wanting to ask since he began his monologue on the history of Horace’s Harmony.
“I have an inside guy reporting to me on what’s going on. I’ve had family killed by these guys, and I plan on taking this whole shit showdown.”
“Well, who is it?” I asked.
“Now that I’m not gonna tell you. I don’t want to risk his safety. I will tell you this, though: there are two other employees at your camp that also aren’t part of this cult. It’s one of the older workers and his son. It might seem weird that a cult would hire two people who don’t believe in anything they believe, but your camp did just that. There’s probably more to it. Anyway, if you can find out who they are, they can help you.”
I then heard a text alert, and Doug pulled out his phone and read what was on the screen.
“Look, sorry I have to end it here, but I need to get going. Your best bet is to keep pedaling away from here and go into hiding. You have a massive target on your back, and they will not stop at anything in order to complete their end goal.”
Just as he was getting back into his white truck, I yelled out to him, “How am I supposed to trust you?”
“That’s up for you to decide,” he said. “But if you didn’t trust me, then why would you have stayed here for the last few minutes talking with me when you know they are coming after you? Also, I saved your ass and led you to a pretty well-hidden location in these woods. Just think about that.”
As he got in, he turned back and yelled at me.
“Oh, by the way,” he yelled out. “If you mess up the victim ritual after someone already has Horace inside of them, Horace will disappear again. That’s one of the theories I’ve heard. May want to use that to your advantage if you do get caught. Also, I heard another theory that states if a person is possessed by Horace, they have the ability to appear physically as him. So yeah, trust no one that looks like him, though I doubt you already trust that many people in this area. Good luck!”
He then started his truck and drove off, leaving me alone in the parking lot. I still didn’t completely trust this guy, but I trusted him over everyone else at the camp. Heck, I couldn’t even trust Graham at this point, though he hasn’t shown himself to be a huge believer in this stuff. But who knows what he does in private; he could have a shrine to Horace Oakwood for all I know in his apartment. But if he isn’t, maybe that was the old guy Doug was referring to. But he never mentioned he had a son, so I wasn’t sure about that, either.
All I knew was that I needed to get out of these woods and figure out my next steps. I hopped back on the bike and started pedaling back down the highway that was connected to the parking lot.
After about an hour of biking, I needed to take a breather. I hopped off and went into the tree line surrounding the highway. Thankfully, it was completely dead at night, so I didn’t see any cars coming up and down the two-way road.
The whole hour I was biking, however, all I could think about was my dad. He claimed he had been at this camp before as a counselor, but he must have done something so horrific that they are after me now, even though it has been years and time usually heals the wound. Unless, of course, it was really bad.
I needed answers, and needed them now. So even though it was in the middle of the night, I called my dad. After a few attempts, he finally answered.
“Hello?” he said.
“Dad, it’s Harrison,” I said. “I need you to tell me the truth.”
“Harrison, it’s the middle of the night,” he said. “Unless you are dying and need help, I’m going back to bed. The last thing I need is to wake up your mother.”
“What have you been hiding from me?” I asked him calmly.
“What are you talking about?” he asked me, his tone becoming more annoyed with every passing second.
“You said you worked at this camp, but this place is a goddamn cult and you know it,” I said. “They are after me because of something you did. What the hell did you do?”
There was a long pause, and I mean long. It must have been about a minute before he spoke again.
“I’m so sorry, Harrison,” he said. “I thought that part of my life was over. I thought I could get away.”
“Dad, one of those cultists stabbed me as a child. You also named me Harrison, which is Sharrino but the letters rearranged. Now tell me the truth!”
I expected him to tell me the reason. But instead he told me something else that threw another curveball into this whole saga.
“I shouldn’t have told them that I found a way. They listened to me and it got so much worse. So many people still blame me, and I thought I had escaped. I did everything, but I guess naming you Harrison was a clue on who I really was. Although I wanted to leave that part of me behind, I just couldn’t. It was too much a part of my life.”
“But they would never leave me alone. So I hoped that…well…maybe you being there would finally get them off my back. It was a real shitty thing to do you, son, but I was tired of it. I’m so sorry.”
He then began quietly sobbing, but I didn’t even get to do anything else. While listening to my dad, I hadn’t noticed that a car had pulled alongside the road. When I finally did notice it, I saw blue lights blaring on top of the car.
It was a police car.
An officer turned on his flashlight and pointed it at me. I ended the phone call and began shielding my eyes.
“What are you doing?” I heard a familiar voice ask.
“Officer Marino?” I asked in return.
“How do you know my name?” he asked me.
“It’s me, Harrison Tracy,” I said. “My apartment at Camp Oakwood was broken into a couple of days ago. You asked for my statement.”
He gave out a surprised “Oh right,” before turning off his flashlight. He led me back out onto the side of the road to talk to me. I began to tell him about what was going on, how I had basically ended up hiding on the side of a highway in the middle of the night.
“Okay,” he said. “Don’t worry, Amy will take care of you.”
I looked up at him, dumbfounded by what he said.
“What?” I asked.
And then it hit me like a bullet to my skull. I remembered what Graham had told me when Amy said she would take care of Percy.
“Amy doesn’t like the police involved.”
If Amy didn’t like having the police involved, why would she have called them specifically for me?
I looked up at Officer Marino, and a soul-killing smile formed on his face. Before I could even react, he pulled a pistol out of his belt and pointed at my head.
“Now come on, Harrison,” he said. “It’s time.”
I then heard footsteps behind me, and just before the world faded back into darkness again, I finally remembered where I had seen Doug before.
He was the man in the painting in the chapel at Camp Oakwood.
I awoke in a dimly lit room. The back of my head was aching terribly, but when I attempted to touch it, I discovered that I couldn’t move my arms. I looked over and found that my arms were tied up. I then looked down and found my legs were tied up too. They were tied up so that I was lying on my back spread-eagle on whatever I was on, which felt like a wooden board.
I then noticed that I wasn’t even on the ground; the board that I was situated on was about six feet off the ground, the board slightly angled back. I also noticed that I wasn’t wearing any clothes except for my boxers.
“He’s waking up,” I heard someone say.
I looked forward and saw that there was a massive crowd, at least 200 people, standing there watching me. I then recognized the room that I was in to be the chapel at the camp. In front of the large crowd were three figures wearing black robes, their faces shrouded with hoods.
Once everyone’s attention was on me, the three hooded figures lowered their hoods, and I immediately recognized them to be Amy, Carson and Julio. I also recognized some of the faces in the crowd, including Officer Marino, Percy, and the other employees at the camp.
“Welcome back, Harrison,” Amy said. “So glad you could join us for this special event.”
“Fuck you,” I spat.
“We understand you’re in denial right now,” Julio said. “But in just a few moments, you will be our hero. Because of you, we will finally obtain world peace for everyone to experience. Well, except for you.”
“You probably don’t understand what’s going on right now,” Carson said. “I’ll quickly explain. We are…”
“Horace’s Harmony,” I interrupted him. “I know everything. Doug told me.”
I expected mild confusion or something to that effect, but instead, Carson gave out a laugh and smiled at me.
“Oh, Doug, my good ol’ outside guy,” Carson said. “He’s actually here with us right now, you know?”
“Where?” I asked him.
“Oh, right,” Carson said. “Just give me a second.”
I expected Doug to be dragged in or something, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I saw something that had I not seen with my own two eyes, I would have never believed.
Carson’s body began twitching, and then it started to change shape. His skinny body grew larger in size, his bald head began growing hair, and his wrinkles began fading from his face. After about twenty seconds, his body stopped morphing.
Now standing where Carson was once was Doug.
“Remember how I said that if a person was possessed by Horace that they would have the ability to change physically into him?” Doug asked me.
“Yeah?” I said, still stunned by what I just witnessed.
“Well, ta-da!” he exclaimed. “By the way, I would rather you now call me Horace, since that’s who I am right now. You will see Carson soon.”
I was too stunned and too confused to understand what he just said.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Horace spoke out to the crowd. “If you haven’t guessed by now, Carson successfully conjured me by yelling out my famous sermon from 1892, and then stabbing himself in the stomach to form a crescent-shaped wound. After all of this time, someone finally discovered it. I’m disappointed, but at the same time, proud as well.”
Everyone either murmured in excitement or didn’t react. Julio and Amy didn’t even flinch. They must have known all along.
“So, unless Horace, or who you liked to call Doug, hadn’t explained to you what is going on yet,” Julio began to say, “we will be performing a ritual on you. As just mentioned, Carson successfully conjured Horace and is currently possessed by him, so he completed the first possible ritualistic process. Now, you might think that since Carson currently has Horace within him, we would just kill Carson and be done with it. However, Carson doesn’t want to die, and I don’t blame him. So instead, we will now perform the second ritual, which is to have Horace possess another person. Meeting in the middle, so to speak.”
“But there’s another reason, of course,” Amy said. “Horace told you himself that we also want to get our revenge.”
“But I didn’t fucking do anything,” I said. “My dad was the one that fucked you guys up.”
“Oh, your dad Curtis,” she said. “Also known as…”
“Ferris Kert,” I said. “I know. “He came up with a way to conjure Horace, but it was incorrect, and it caused many people to die or leave the cult, and he was forced to go into hiding. No need to explain to me. I don’t give a shit about him anymore; I mean, he’s the one who let me go here so that he could save his own ass.”
“But, as you also probably know already, this isn’t the first time we’ve tried to hurt you,” she said.
“Yeah, one of you crazy fucks stabbed me as a child. In fact, I’m positive it was my dad’s ex-girlfriend who did it, that psycho bitch.”
“Well, I don’t think I’m psycho, or a bitch,” she said before smiling.
It took me a few seconds to understand what she said, but when I did, I actually felt my jaw drop. Never at all did I consider that Amy could have been the one who stabbed me, let alone also be my dad’s ex-girlfriend.
“You’re the one who stabbed me?!” I screamed at her, my words almost echoing in the chapel.
“Guilty as charged,” she said. “Though, of course, I had a different hair color at the time.”
“Jesus Christ,” I said under my breath. “But why me? Why not go after my dad?”
“Well,” she began, “what better way to torture someone than by torturing their loved ones? Having his son become a new victim would be the ultimate punishment. Harrison, ever since you were born, we’ve been watching you. You never suspected a thing, and never once saw us. Well, except for once.”
“When?” I asked.
“When you discovered this job,” she answered.
My mind immediately flashed back to the day I discovered that “Help Wanted” ad at the coffee shop. When I walked out, I noticed a blonde woman staring at me. I never considered it important, but now…
“You motherfucker,” I said angrily.
“I knew you had flunked out of school and you were currently stuck at your folk’s place. I also knew you liked to view that wall to see if there were any appealing jobs on there. Well, I made an ad, waited until you noticed it, and, to my utter joy, watched you take it down to bring it home. When you saw me, I got a little nervous, but you walked off without batting an eye. I quickly made it back to the camp and waited for your phone call. When you called, I was so excited that I completely forgot to ask you for your name to confirm that it was you. Thank goodness you remembered for me, and when you said your name, I accidentally hit my desk in excitement.”
I wasn’t even scared anymore. I was seething with rage. I couldn’t believe that this was so meticulously planned out. It seemed so stage, yet I knew it wasn’t. I didn’t say a word as Amy continued.
“And so, we’ve come full circle. Soon, not only will you die, but we will also live in a peaceful world that we’ve all wanted for so long. It is unfortunate that your dad won’t be here to watch us finally avenge all of our fallen brothers and sisters, but he’ll probably find out eventually.”
Not even three seconds after she said that, the doors to the chapel opened, and two large men came in dragging somebody behind him.
“Hey, Amy, we found this guy snooping outside,” one of them said. “You won’t believe who it is.”
They threw the man forward, and a grim but recognizable face became visible to me.
“Dad!” I yelled. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” Julio said.
“If it isn’t Ferris Kert himself,” Amy said, as if she was finishing Julio’s sentence.
“That’s not my name anymore,” my dad said.
“Right, because Curtis Tracy is such a better name,” Amy said, the sarcastically. “I’m so glad that I get to see you again. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I don’t give two shits about you,” my dad said. “Leaving this lunatic society was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
“Why the hell did you come here?” I yelled at him.
“I’m sorry Harrison,” he said.
“Don’t give me that bullshit,” I yelled back. “You knew full well what I was walking into, and you let me go so that you would be left alone.”
“I know, and I am sorry,” he said. “You will probably never forgive me, but that’s why I’m here.”
He then turned to Amy began speaking to her. “Amy, you have wanted me dead for so long. If you want to kill me, now’s your chance. Just perform the ritual on me, and you guys can finally have world peace. Please just leave my son alone.”
I looked at Amy, who was quiet for about ten seconds before she made a decision.
“You know what? I think that’s a great idea,” she said.
Julio and Carson, who I hadn’t noticed until then had morphed back into himself, just stared at her in disbelief. I tensed up, knowing what was about to happen. Amy walked up to my dad, and he closed his eyes and bowed his head.
“You ready to die?” she asked.
“Yes,” my dad said quietly.
“Wait, don’t you need the Bible to perform the ritual?” Carson asked.
“Oh, we’re not performing the ritual on Ferris,” she said.
Before anyone could react, she pulled out a knife and stabbed my dad in the neck.
“DAD!!!” I screamed. My dad grabbed his neck and collapsed on the floor.
“Oh Ferris, you little fool,” she said. “You really think I was gonna let it be that easy?”
“You piece of shit!” I screamed at her.
“I’m surprised you care,” she said to me without a single ounce of emotion in her voice. “He did let you come here.”
“He’s still my father!” I said, the tears rushing down my face.
My dad wasn’t moving anymore, his body now lying in a pool of his own blood. I knew he was dead.
“Alright, well now that we got that over with, can we please continue?” Carson asked.
“Yeah,” Amy said, her smile returning. “Let’s get started.”
“What if you guys fail?” I asked them, all the while still crying. “Horace told me that if you mess up this ritual when he’s already conjured, then he will disappear. What are you gonna do, keep trying until I’m dead?”
“That’s the plan,” Amy said.
“Besides, I’m absolutely positive we have the right sermon,” Carson said. “Alright, let’s get started!”
Carson grabbed a stepladder and walked up it to reach the area I was hung up at.
“I just want to thank you for what you’re about to do for us,” Carson said, a small smile forming on his face.
“Go fuck yourself,” I said before spitting in his face. “I guess your stab wound isn’t that serious, huh?”
“We’ve have the best nurses a person could ask for,” he said.
He then revealed two things from his robe. In one hand was the Bible; in the other, a large carving knife.
He opened the book to a page, and began to read. And once he finished, he plunged the knife into my gut. I screamed from the pain as he meticulous carved a new wound into my body.
I closed my eyes, anticipating my death. This is it, I thought to myself. This is how I die. Mercilessly executed by a fucking cult.
I thought my body would begin to morph into Horace or something, but about twenty seconds passed, and nothing happened. I opened my eyes, and Carson was just staring at me, a terrified look on his face.
“What happened?” Julio asked.
“I messed up,” Carson said quietly.
“What?!” Amy yelled.
“I messed up,” Carson said. He closed his eyes, and then opened them again quickly.
“Horace is gone,” he said. “He’s gone. I messed up. Fuck!”
He threw the knife onto the ground in rage.
“Good job, asshole,” I said, the pain from the wound making it hard to speak.
“Shut up, Harrison!” Amy yelled. “Just because we messed up doesn’t mean you’re getting out of this alive! I don’t care if your dad is now dead, I haven’t fulfilled my desire for revenge yet. Carson, perform the ritual on yourself again.”
Carson grabbed the knife and began saying the sermon.
But while Carson was conjuring Horace again, an idea popped into my head. Amy had just said that she hasn’t fulfilled her desire for revenge, but not their desire for revenge. It may have meant nothing at all, but she was also the one who explained the entirety of why she wanted revenge on my dad. With no other options, I decided to test that notion. It was a longshot, but I hoped it would work.
“I like how you seem to be the only person who wants revenge,” I spoke as loud as I could. “Everyone has been waiting for years to obtain world peace, and instead of killing the one who is currently possessed by Horace, you want to make them wait even more just because you want me to be the sacrifice.”
“I don’t care,” she said. “Most of them don’t even want revenge; they just want to have world peace. I’m made it so that they get both for the price of one.”
“But the ‘plan’ just failed,” I said. “Now, they have to wait until you guys find the right sermon in order to fulfill their religious duty. You’re making them wait just because of you.”
“That’s been the plan all along!” she yelled at me. “I promised myself that I wouldn’t stop until Ferris paid the price for what he did to me and my friends.”
“My dad just did pay the price!” I screamed, my stomach hurting more from me projecting my voice. “But now, you don’t even seem to care about the mission anymore; you just want to fill your need for vengeance, but it will never be satisfied. You’re punishing these guys just as much as you are punishing me.”
“I don’t care!” she screamed back. “I will never be satisfied until you are dead. I don’t care what everyone else wants. I don’t care about world peace, I don’t care about my religious duty. I only care about me getting my revenge!”
Her scream practically echoed in the room. I couldn’t believe she fell for my bluff. Because of me, she just admitted that she only cared about revenge.
You could hear a pin drop in the chapel. Everyone, except for Julio and Carson, was stunned by what Amy just said. Despite the predicament, I was still stuck in combined with the pain in my gut, I smiled wildly.
“Well, you guys just heard the truth,” I said. “She doesn’t care about what you guys want or seek. She just cares about herself. How selfish of her. Well, I’ll tell you this. They haven’t figured out the right sermon yet, and even if I died before they discover it, and Amy’s true desire would be satisfied, you guys would have to wait until someone else was captured and tortured, just to get world peace. Unless, of course, you just kill the person who already has Horace possessed inside of them right now.”
Almost all of them turned their heads towards Carson, who was sitting on the floor, his blooding pooling beneath him. Carson looked up, and his face was as white as a ghost. He definitely heard what I said.
“So I give you guys a choice: we can wait here for them to keep trying to solve the second ritual, or you can finally obtain the world peace you have forever wanted. All you have to do is kill Carson. He’s already weak from the stab wound, so it should be easy. What will it be?”
I prayed this would work in my favor. All I needed was one person to see the sense I was spewing and I could be spared. This was my only shot, and I hoped someone sided with me.
After about ten seconds, someone came from the crowd and started walking toward the altar.
“Rafael, don’t you even think about coming up here,” Amy yelled at him.
“Fuck you, Amy,” he said. “Harrison’s right. You killed Ferris, and he’s the one who wronged you. You got your revenge on him. But I’ve waited my entire life to fulfill my religious obligation, and I won’t force you to make me and my friends wait any longer.”
Before anyone could react, he charged the altar. Julio tried to grab him, but Rafael barged right through him. Once he took lead, several others began charging the altar as well, some screaming that it was finally going to happen.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
Carson tried to limp away but he was caught almost immediately. Amy got bone-rushed as well and was knocked back against the wall, seemingly unconscious. Julio managed to get out of the way and was pushing his body against the wall next to where Amy was. People began jumping onto Carson, punching and kicking him. I didn’t feel bad one bit; he did stab me, after all.
I then felt my board begin to move, and before I knew it, I began falling back to earth. I hit the floor hard, the impact momentarily dazing me. I then saw someone standing over and heard a voice that I didn’t expect to hear.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get you out of here,” Percy yelled.
Percy began untying my arms and legs, but just as he was beginning to untie my last leg, he was pulled from behind and thrown to the ground.
“What do you think you’re doing?!” Amy yelled at him, a bloody knife in her hand.
She cornered Percy against the wall. After seeing this I managed to untie the last knot and charged at her as fast as I could. I knocked her down just as she raised the knife in the air.
Amy and I began wrestling on the ground. Under normal circumstances, I would have been much stronger than her, but my stab wound had severely weakened by strength, and she was gaining the upper hand fast. She managed to get on top of me, the knife still in her hand.
“I don’t care if I die here today, you will at least be joining me!” she snarled at me.
Just when I thought I was done for, I heard a smacking sound, and Amy fell limp onto me.
Standing behind her was Percy, holding what looked like a baton. I have no idea where he got it, but I could have cared less at the moment.
“C’mon, we need to get out of here,” he said.
He picked me up and starting leading me over to the back of the chapel. As we were making our way to the back, I found Julio on the ground. He also appeared to be unconscious.
“Quincy, throw one into the crowd!” he yelled. “We need a diversion!”
I turned to see someone I didn’t recognize throwing Molotov cocktails into the crowd. It exploded, and people began screaming. He then raced back to where we were, and Percy found a small window in the back room of the chapel.
Percy began slamming the baton against the window in order to break it. After a few more swings, Percy broke through the window, and we made it outside.
Percy then pulled out a walkie and radioed to someone on the other line.
“Bring it around! Hurry!” he yelled into the walkie.
Not even five seconds, a white truck came barreling down the road of the camp. A familiar face was behind the steering wheel.
“Get in!” Graham yelled. “We need to get out of here!”
We all piled in, and Graham accelerated out of Camp Oakwood.
* * * * * *
We stopped at a house about forty minutes from Camp Oakwood. While driving there, Percy used his shirt to put pressure on my wound. When we eventually reached the house, the three of them brought me inside the house, where I was introduced to a woman named Bea, who turned out to be Graham’s ex-wife.
Bea was apparently a nurse, and she helped disinfect and bandage my wound. She was happy to report that none of my organs seemed to be damaged by the stab wound, and that I would more than likely be okay.
Percy and Quincy were both bruised, but nothing too severe. While being patched up, I talked with Percy for a while, and he explained quite a bit to me.
As it turned out, Percy had been forced by Amy to go into my apartment and take a picture of my scar, so that she could prove that it was definitely me. He didn’t want to do it, but she threatened him, and eventually he relented.
He managed to take a photo. However, not only was my towel obscuring my scar, but the photo also came out blurry. Despite him failing, they stuck with the plan of Percy being “arrested” by Officer Marino. I asked Percy if he was just a cult member dressed as a police officer, and he confirmed it. Not that I was surprised to hear that.
Anyway, Percy was never taken away, and would remain at the camp out of view. Well, that was the plan until Carson successfully conjured Horace, and Amy had to hasten her plans. When they met around the campfire the night I escaped, it was so that Amy could explain what would be happening. To my shock, they were also waiting to see when I would wake up, and once someone noticed I was up and moving, Amy alerted Carson to text me the message I received, and waited until I was recaptured.
“The plan was for you to make it to that location, only to find Carson, or Horace I should call him, and Officer Marino waiting there for you. It was just a trick to get your hopes up on you possibly escaping.”
“Well, Officer Marino wasn’t there,” I said.
He seemed perplexed by that.
“Well, Amy never told us that,” he said.
“Then again, it appeared that Amy hid quite a bit from you guys,” I said before we both laughed.
Percy then began explaining that he had come up with a plan to get me out of there. He knew what was going to happen to me, so he, Graham, and Quincy (who I later found out wasn’t even an employee at the camp, but Percy’s best friend back home) came up with a way to get me out. The plan was for Quincy to make homemade Molotov cocktails and throw several of them into the church to act as a diversion so that they could quickly get me down and carry me out.
However, they didn’t plan on two things: One, my dad showing up unexpectedly, and two, me getting Amy to say that she didn’t care about everyone else’s desire for world peace. When several of the people in the crowd stormed the altar, they took their chance and proceeded with the plan as best as they could.
However, he explained to me that they did have to wait until they tried the ritual on me, because if they tried it before the ritual attempt, it would have been harder to get out, because everyone would have been pissed at them and they too would have been attacked. It was a shitty move to do, but I told him it was okay. I got out with my life; that’s all that mattered.
He also explained to me that many of the counselors were beyond pissed off when Amy proclaimed that they would have to wait until they got the ritual right on me before they could all complete their mission. She said that would be the plan and anyone who disagreed with her would have to deal with it, so many of her employees were angered by her actions. The only people who sided with her were Julio and Carson. Carson, I understood, because he didn’t want to die, but I wonder why Julio agreed with her.
“I wonder if they got world peace finally,” Percy joked.
“Well, if their definition of world peace is a fight in a chapel, then they did,” I said. “Congratulations to them.”
“Still dude, you really saved yourself when you managed to break Amy,” he told me. “If it wasn’t for that alone, you would have been a goner.”
“I mean, she did it to herself,” I said. “She gave it away right before that when she said that she didn’t care how long it took them to get it right, but as long as I would die as a result of it, it didn’t matter to her. Plus, she also killed my dad, which basically was her revenge.”
“The desire could never be satisfied,” he said. “I’m just thankful you, me, Quincy, and my dad all made it out alive.”
“Your dad?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, you didn’t know that either,” he said. “Graham is my dad.”
Honestly, I always suspected that was a possibility. Horace did say an older worker at the camp didn’t believe in this stuff, and the worker also had a son who apparently didn’t either. After thinking over a little bit, I actually suspected Percy and Graham were related, especially considering how concerned Graham was for Percy’s safety when Amy planned to talk to Percy about why he “broke into” my apartment.
I ended up resting for the night, and the next day, Graham gave me the keys to the truck and told me to get out of town. I asked him what he, Percy, Quincy, and Bea would do, and he said to not worry about them. I didn’t know if I could trust them at this point, but I had no other options.
Just as I started the car, I asked Graham and Percy why they would work at a summer camp when they knew it was run by a cult. They just looked at each other, and Graham replied, “We’re free now. It doesn’t matter anymore.”
I wanted to ask them what that meant, but I decided to just get out of there. I drove off the property and away from the city, promising myself to never return.
* * * * * *
Once I got out of the city, I ditched the truck and went into hiding. That is where I am now. I have already changed my appearance, and I’m currently in the process of changing my name.
I ended up reading in the news that about 20 people died in the chapel, and many others were injured and/or arrested. I don’t how the police found out, but they did. A list of the people who died was published as well. I saw Julio, Carson, Rafael, and my dad’s names on the list. One name I didn’t see, though, was Amy. That means she’s still alive, and possibly looking for me.
Even though I have since escaped and am trying to move on with my life, I still have so many unanswered questions about what happened. My biggest question is this: why did my dad let me go?
I mean, I just don’t get it. Why would he let me go when he knew who was there and that they were dangerous people? I just can’t understand why. But then he came back and tried to sacrifice himself so that I could possibly live. He died trying to save me in a way. Regarding his death, I feel…well, in the middle. I’m devastated that my dad is dead, but I am still angry at him for letting me walk into a trap that should have killed me.
And I also don’t understand my mom. She must have known about my dad’s previous life, yet she also let me go. She even said I’ve dealt with it before. I don’t know what she meant, but my only logical conclusion was that she was referring to when Amy stabbed me in my childhood. I don’t know, and I don’t plan on trying to find out soon. Ever since I escaped, I haven’t contacted anyone in my family. I can’t trust them anymore. My mom must be heartbroken that she practically lost both her husband and son. Maybe one day I will reach out to her, but right now, I just can’t.
Another problem is I don’t understand why Carson, disguised as Horace, gave me all of that information, and then let me try to escape. Percy told me that wasn’t part of the plan, so Carson must have had something else in mind. I don’t know what, but if the end goal was for me to get captured, then I guess it doesn’t matter now.
Also, I did never get the answer as to why Graham and Percy would work at the summer camp. All they said was that they were free now. I guess they must have been held captive or something, but they never told me, even when Percy and I talked just before I left to go into hiding.
And lastly, though it isn’t that important, what happened to the campers? I didn’t see a single kid in the crowd while I was tied up. Honestly, I don’t care enough to want to know the answer to that question, but it was just another mystery to this whole saga.
I am just so fucking frustrated that I will never get these answers. I haven’t spoken to Graham or Percy or anyone involved since I’ve escaped, and I plan on keeping that way. I just can’t risk it.
This happened a while ago, and I’ve never been able to get full closure on all of this. However, typing it here has really helped me. I will say that I have read the comments you guys have been sending me. First off, thank you guys for y’all’s concern for my well-being. I appreciate it greatly. Secondly, for those who said I was too naïve and trustworthy, you’re right. I was indeed. But now, I’m not. In fact, I can’t trust anyone. That’s why I’m hiding alone.
All I know is that I will always have a target on my back. Horace himself said that these guys are all around the globe, and they are probably still looking for me as I type this. After all, I practically destroyed one of their bases of operation.
A summer camp known as Camp Oakwood.
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