Scoutmaster Tom sat with his troop around the campfire. It was their first overnight trip and the five boys were all giddy with excitement. All around them the woods echoed with the song of chirping crickets and gentle breezes. The boys roasted their smores well chatting about girls using a vocabulary that Tom deemed not suitable for 10 year old’s. “Hey watch the language boys. We may be in the woods but we are not animals.” The scouts laughed and shook their heads. “I’m sorry I thought this was supposed to be the big make men out of us trip.” Johnny said with a smile. “Yes it is but we are scouts not sailors. So I suggest you take things down a couple of notches or you will be sleeping out here all night. Find something else to talk about.”
“How about a ghost story?” Mark asked. This seemed to excite the boys and they turned towards their elder with wide eyes. Tom chuckled and shook his head. “Oh come on you said you have been in the scouts since you were our age. You must have heard some great stories around your campfires growing up.” Frank encouraged. Tom sighed, he wasn’t sure if the boys were ready for this story but he knew they wouldn’t leave him alone without hearing one. “Ok boys I do have one but I did not hear this around a campfire. This story was something that happened to me.” The boys became more interested and an ominous wind blew through the camp making the fire dance making for perfect ambiance.
“It was during my first overnight camping trip on a night just like tonight.” Tom said in his best creepy voice. Justin laughed. “Let me guess it was in this very woods.” Tom looked at him with dead seriousness. “Yes.” The boys looked shocked and leaned in closer. “It was the night of a full moon and the forest was brimming with a sinister energy. We talked about what we would do if werewolves or vampires stormed our camp. We laughed about it then but we were unaware about the very real monster lurking just beyond the trees.” The wind picked up again shaking the trees around them and sending a shiver down all the boys backs.
“I awoke in the middle of the night feeling my own call of nature. I left the tent to relieve myself and when I came back I noticed something incredible. On the ground in our camp was a very clear and equally fresh set of deer tracks. I was excited because in all of our nature walks we had never encountered an actual deer. My mind drifted to my bag where I had a particular item stored. It is an unwritten boy scout rule that a camper would bring at least one banned item with them. Most bought things like game boys or an adult magazine. For me though I bought my polaroid camera. I wanted a picture of that deer and rules about venturing alone at night be damned I was going to get it. Now all I wish was that I had gone to bed and shut my eyes tight.”
The boys around the fire were speechless, this was the most quiet Tom had ever seen them. Even the woods seemed to quiet down as if nature wanted to listen in. “I quietly grabbed my camera from my pack and then ran out into the night following the tracks of the deer. I was initially worried about venturing through the darkness however the shining full moon above provided the perfect lighting. I was very thankful for that because a sprained ankle from stepping in a hole would have ruined the trip for everyone and my fellow scouts would never let me hear the end of it. As I walked through the shadowy trees I could feel the eyes of the animals in the forest glued to me, tracking my every step. I began to feel afraid and considered turning around but I knew that the deer could not have gotten far. I followed the tracks intently but that was when I noticed something strange was happening to them.”
“What was it?” Mitchell asked with a genuine tone of fear in his voice. “I noticed that they were getting bigger.” Tom said sending a quiet gasp through the boys. “The tracks seemed to increase in size with every step. First I thought maybe the deer was increasing speed and therefore pressure but they were getting far to big for any deer on record. Then something far stranger happened, the tracks began to change shape. The hoof print grew longer and narrower. The foot had begun to grow toes and each one was tipped with an increasingly long claw. A single word flashed in my mind, wolf. My heart beat in my chest and I considered turning around but I took a closer look instead. It didn’t take me long to figure out that whatever these tracks were, they were not wolf tracks. Wolves had more rounded feet but this was long and damn it almost human in nature. My mind swirled with the stories of werewolves we were telling earlier but I shook my head in denial. Nothing about the nature of these tracks made sense. I had to follow them further. I continued my journey watching the tracks morph in front of me. They became more skeletal and yet each track sunk deeper into the ground indicating a great change in weight. They started looking less humanish and more….monstrous.”
At the mention of monsters a strange sound emitted from the bush just beyond the camp. Tom wasted no time in shining his emergency light at the brush but found no sign of what made the noise. He sat down and continued the tale for his captive audience. “The tracks took me deeper into the woods where even the light of the moon struggled to pierce. With every step I could feel the beat in my chest grow louder and louder. Finally the trail led to what I could only assume was the lair of the beast. There was a small cave with moss hanging down in front of it’s mouth. I began to shake and slowly back away. It wasn’t the darkness of the cave or what lay within it’s depths that frightened me but the smell. The cave radiated with a smell that was horrible beyond measure. I wouldn’t understand the smell till years later when I found a dead gopher under my house. It was the smell of decay, the smell of death. I feared whatever made that smell and was about to turn around. That was when I heard a sound come from in the cave.”
All 12 eyes around the campfire were glued to the scoutmaster. The boys were completly enthralled and Tom knew it was time to finish his tale. “The sound was a strange one that I still can’t completly identify. On the surface it sounded like a growl but there was the slightest hint of something behind it, something human. It was then that the forest truly came alive. As if summoned by the creature’s growl every animal, every insect in the forest erupted into their own cries. The sound was completly deafening to the point where I thought my ears would burst. I didn’t understand how the others at camp didn’t hear it. Suddenly I felt a tap at my shoulder and I swear I could feel my soul leaving my body.
I jolted up and there was my fellow scout Donny staring at me. Relief burst through me and I noticed that the animal calls had stopped as if they never existed. Donny asked me what I was doing out of bed and I told him of the tracks. I was about to say that we should head back when I saw something that made my blood freeze despite the summer heat. Behind Donny I could see his tracks in the dirt and they did not come from the direction of camp. The tracks came directly from the cave. I shook in fear and Donny stared at me with a smile that bordered on macabre. I looked into my friends green eyes that were almost glowing in the moonlight. “Were his eyes always green?” I asked myself. Donny’s smile grew and maybe it was the trick of the light but I thought I saw pointed fangs in his mouth. “Come on Tommy there is something I want to show you. Trust me you will remember it forever.”
“I followed his finger and he was pointing into the cave. I shook my head and took a step back but he continued to point. “Come my friend join me. I can show you such wonders.” His eyes grew brighter and shone almost like a cats eyes. He began to inch towards me with his hand outstretched and I noticed that his fingers were clawed. That was enough for me and I ran towards our camp. I didn’t dare turn back for the life of me but I could hear him following. Every step the thing took caused a louder boom and each one was closer to me. There was no way I could outrun this beast. Then inspiration struck me like a bolt of lightning. I grabbed my polaroid camera, aimed it behind me and snapped a picture. The intense flash of the camera had it’s desired effect and blinded the beast. I could hear a mighty roar from behind me and I finally made it to camp. I ran straight into my tent and to my surprise Donny was in his sleeping bag. I almost ran back out again but he lay snoring away and I knew this was the real Donny. I got in my sleeping bag and stared at the tent flap just waiting for a claw to swipe down it.
I don’t know how long I stared at the door but I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew it was morning. I couldn’t believe that I had survived the night. In the light of day realism began to wash over me and I figured that I must have dreamed the whole encounter. We packed up and I was relieved to be leaving. However as we were marching down the trail I noticed something laying on the ground. The unmistakable back of a polaroid picture. I trembled as I picked it up and when I turned it over I almost screamed. The picture was extremely blurry but I thought I could make out two glowing green eyes and what looked like a set of razor sharp teeth.”
The boys all let out a sigh. “Why didn’t you tell anyone about the picture?” Justin asked. Tom shrugged. “To this day I maintain that I must have been sleepwalking and took a picture.” Frank shook his head. “But the eyes!” Tom laughed. “Most likely just fireflies but who knows. The picture was too blurry to tell anything.” The boys continued to argue about wither or not it was a dream. They argued about what type of creature it might have been. Tom simply smiled to himself. He had chosen a good story and everyone was enthralled by it. In fact they were all so enthralled that no one, not even the scoutmaster, noticed that there were now six boys instead of five. No one noticed, until it was too late.
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