Just a Figment (IGGPPC Campfire Tales Contest Entry)

It’s that time of year again! Time for IGGPPC Summer Camp! (Ok, actually now that I’m taking the time to do this, camp is over and out – the sadness has set in, and I miss all the fun activities!) One of the activities for Camp this year was to write a 1K word (or less) Campfire Tale (appropriate for all ages, scary, silly, etc…) So, I threw my hat into the ring and came up with this silly, suspenseful tale of intrigue… enjoy! 🙂

As I walked to my cabin, I noticed it was eerily quiet. I looked around before entering – not a person to be seen. I pushed the heavy door open; it stopped halfway. The opening was just big enough for me to squeeze through – did I really want to do that?! It was a bit dim inside the cabin; the setting sun shone through the grimy window. “Good grief,” I thought, “they could have at least cleaned before we arrived for camp!” Using my shoulder I tried to push the door open all the way, and was met with resistance. Whatever it was blocking my way was soft enough to yield to the pressure…that was what I was afraid of.

Slowly, I backed away from the door. As my foot crossed over the threshold, I heard a low grumbling noise coming from inside the cabin. I paused, not daring to move a muscle. A few seconds had passed (oh how those seconds seemed like hours!) and nothing, so I carried on with my brilliant plan to enter the cabin. I squeezed my way inside and felt the darkness closing in around me. I had an overwhelming urge to scream, but when I opened my mouth, nothing came out. I closed my eyes tightly – mostly because I didn’t want to see what was waiting for me. The silence was deafening.

“Count to three and open your eyes.” I told myself. “Whatever is in here…if there is something in here, is more scared of you…” I clenched my fists, and pried one eye open, then the other. “HA!! I knew it!” I shouted with a celebratory fist pump. Feeling brave, I walked toward the door, and peered behind it. I saw empty pizza boxes on the floor, and nothing else. “Weird. Dirty windows AND left over garbage? What kind of camp is this?!” I sat my backpack on the bunk beside me, and fished out a flashlight. Flicking on the bright white beam revealed a muddy splotch on the cabin floor…and…was that…fur?

I knelt down to the floor to get a closer look – definitely fur. Brown, shaggy, and matted with something red.  “Great. You just had to open the door! You just HAD to come to camp this summer!” I berated myself for this string of brilliant ideas. “It’s fine. I’m sure it was just another camper who was early – we’ll just have a look around the rest of the camp and see who else is here. And I really need to stop talking to myself. Out loud.” I looked around at that last thought…I wonder where everyone could be?

I decided to explore a bit more. Where did these pizza boxes come from? Where are all the other campers? From my backpack I grabbed a notepad and pencil. Holding the flashlight in my teeth, I shoved my supplies into the pockets of my cargo pants and decided to head out. Giving one last look to the muddy spot, I drew it in my notepad – you never know when it may come in handy! It wasn’t a paw, and it wasn’t a footprint…but I couldn’t quite decide to whom or what it belonged. I reached for the patch of fur…and cringed a little as my fingers touched the first few fibers. The red – whatever it was – wasn’t warm, nor was it cold. It was just…red. And a bit damp. This was just…perplexing.  Against my better judgement, I smelled my fingers. “OK – it’s got to be an animal! That is definitely pizza sauce!”

As I walked out of the cabin I looked around – I came from the right, and didn’t notice anything unusual, so I’ll head left. There was a larger building just beyond the pine trees, so I focused my attention on that. Looking down as I walked, I noticed there were more tracks…I pulled my notepad and they were very close, if not identical. “Great,” I thought with a mix of excitement and dread. “Maybe the other campers are inside that building…” As I closed the distance between me and the building, I realized the sign above it said ‘DINING’. “That’s a perfect place for other campers to be!” I picked up my pace to a light jog. As my boots hit the wooden flooring of the porch, I heard that low grumbling again, this time accompanied by snuffling and snorting. “What the…”

With hands shaking I slowly turned the knob on the door. I clicked off the flashlight, thinking maybe it would be better to enter under the cover of darkness. I stepped as lightly as possible – willing myself to weigh no more than a feather; my toes the only part of my foot touching the floor. I paused as I heard the snuffling and shuffling of boxes, and just then the overwhelming scent of pizza sauce hit my nose. I took a delicate step forward, and my stomach growled in protest, giving away my location. I stopped dead in my tracks – the snuffling and grumbling stopped. I held my breath, choking back fear and anxiety. Slowly the doors to the kitchen shifted open…first the right, then the left. I could not believe my eyes. Standing before me was the furriest, fuzziest buffalo I have ever seen. I gulped hoping it wouldn’t sense my fear. I caught a glimpse of its eyes – they were sparkling, and looked warm and friendly.  “Umm…h-h-hi. Hello. Buffalo…” I stammered. The massive creature started toward me…I noticed it was wearing a tiny nurses’ hat. This struck me as so odd, that I started giggling…which turned into fits of hysterical laughter. The buffalo paused, tilted its head slightly, and looked at me with one beady brown eye…then threw its head back and let out the most majestic sound I’ve ever heard.  “You’re real! I knew it! No one believed me, but I just knew it was true!” With a knowing eye, she turned away, and vanished into the darkness.

“Just a figment…” I said with a smile.

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