by Henrick Glutonlumps
forum: Storytellers
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

......... ....... ..... ..



            The six adolescents huddled in closer around the camp fire. It was just 8:15 on that July night but darkness had begun to envelope the life long friends. It had been Gary's idea that the six of them spent a week camping in Yosemite; It was after-all the last time they would be at school together, as after finishing this summer, in a few weeks the friends were all going to differing Colleges throughout the Country.

            Gary surveyed the shadowed faces around the blaze that was gallantly warming the chilly evening giving them haunting glow.

            First, Julie…

            He was going to miss her most of all, he gazed at her with the glow of the fire illuminating her raven hair, freckled fair complexion, and hazel eyes. He could not help but chuckle to himself for they had dated for almost a year-memories he would treasure for eternity. He shall never forget that night he picked her up for the junior prom, It seemed as if it was years ago…

            Next to Julie sat Booker-or Matt as he had actually been christened.

            Everyone had dubbed him Booker since he was eight because he was an absolute reading fanatic…His nose was continually always found within the pages of a best seller; typically horror and suspense…Although slightly eccentric, he had proven himself as a loyal friend and they had shared much success on the chess team during their freshman year.

            Next along the fire sat Alex- Booker's kid sister who was red haired, freckled and full of innocence. She was just eleven months her brother's junior, but appeared much younger….

            Bobby was next in the circle. A 'Straight A' student destined for greatness and medical school. He was always the voice of reason within the troupe constantly having a logical response for everything…

            Lastly was Billy, Gary's closest and oldest of friends. They had been buddies since Gary had moved into the neighborhood at age five. He discovered Billy lived just three houses down and had quickly become friends and had been ever since…

            Gary sipped on his can of beer as he spoke.

            "Who knows when we shall all be together like this again?"

            There were nods of agreement around the fire. The mood was fast becoming mellow and solemn

            It was Booker who chirped in with a wry grin planted on his face.

            "Hey, we are six teenagers sitting about the campfire…Surely something bad is going to happen, doesn't it always in these situations?"

            Julie shuddered.

            She was experiencing Déjà vu and seemed to know exactly what was about to happen.

            "Shut up," she said angrily "you are giving me the creeps!"

            Booker didn't shut up; in fact he was just getting started…

            "Did I ever tell you about what happened to my mom in her college dorm?" He added jubilantly, his excitement becoming all the time more evident.

            The others moaned as they knew precisely what was coming.

            Booker stared at each one in turn solemnly in the eye.

            "My mom swears this to be true." He continued in a hushed whisper.

            "It was during final exams in the mid 1970's. She was attending a small College in Kansas as a history major. Her room mate was a quiet shy type as my mother tells it."

            The friends clustered closer to the fire and Billy added another log to the blaze, which eagerly begins gobbling it up, the flames dance a little higher.

            "Now it was on a Sunday night if I recall correctly….My mom was going to a late night study group and her room mate apparently wanted an early night. So My mom left their dorm early then at about midnight-It always seems to be midnight -She realized that she needed an additional book, so she headed back to her room."

            "I don't like this story" Alex cried, "And besides this is a famous urban legend, I think I have heard it before."

            The others quietly hush her.

            Booker took a deep breath and continued on with his tale.

            "As I was saying, my mom headed back to the room, now as it was late and she did not want to disturb her roommate, She was aware that she would be sleeping. My mom is always thoughtful about things like that. As she opened the door she sensed that something was wrong right away, but she shrugged off the feeling as nerves, she quickly retrieved what she needed and headed back to the study group…..After several more hours she fell asleep at the group …It wasn't till morning daylight that she returned to her room…."

            He paused for affect….Taking a swig from his canned beer and examined the spellbound faces in front of him and smiled.

            "Well?" Julie cried "What did she see?"

            Booker looked directly into her eyes.

            "She found her room mate in bed with her boyfriend!" He grinned cheekily "What did you all think she was going to be dead or something?"

            Julie suddenly piped up, her hazel eyes sparkling.

            Gary's heart skipped a little.

            "You never really get over your first love," he mused.

            "I have a real story to tell…" She cooed almost seductively as she winked at Gary.

            "This is what happened to one of our neighbors, he swears it's true."

            The young faces all glare at her.

            "You see, he went to a small out of the way College in West Virginia. He claimed that he didn't have much money and he needed to get a job and fast."

            Alex nodded encouraging, "Go on" she murmured, "tell us more."

            "Well…Turns out that the only job he could find that fit his school schedule was on an old Toll booth at a bridge covering a river. His shift was 10:00P.M. till 6:00 in the morning. As he tells it these hours worked well for him as it gave him an opportunity to catch up on his studying, then he would go to morning class then sleep in the afternoon. It was decent money he told us, and an easy gig as not too many folks even crossed the bridge at night."

            She drained the last of her can of beer, and threw it into the fire.

            "Get me another brew Booker or I won't continue my story."

            Booker sighed as he reluctantly obeyed her. He was always being bossed about by the others.

            She opened the fresh frosty can and took a generous gulp.

            "Now where was I?" She whispered."Ah yes, I remember…I was telling you all about the toll booth, Apparently the first few weeks went very smoothly….No trouble what so ever…The job was so easy in fact that he had questioned the supervisor as to why his predecessor would have given it up. He had apparently noted that he hadn't even taken his personal possessions. The scowl on his bosses face made him reluctant to press the issue. Now if I remember how he told it correctly it was a cold and chilly night in west Virginia….He had gotten into the habit of not even looking up as the cars pulled up to pay the toll. The fee was a dollar and folks simply placed it into his ready out stretched hand. Now…This one night he was absorbed in his reading when he heard a screech of tires. Next he felt a claw on his hand, and he looked up and straight into the eyes of a vampire…"

            Alex gulped. "Vampires don't exist!" she protested as if trying to convince her self.

            Julie Smiled as she continued.

            "After he had panicked for a moment he studied the face in more detail. He realized that it is merely a few kids from the local medical school, going to a Halloween party and he waved as the werewolf, the mummy and Dracula drive on into the night."

            Bobby laughed out loud.

            "And that's it is it? That is your tale?"

            Julie cut him off.

            "Oh no! There is more. Much, much more..."

            Her solemn tone made Bobby wish he had kept quiet.

            "This had him more aware and in due course several additional vehicles went by with more students dressed in costume. Finally he had thought that all the cars that were going to travel through the toll had passed as it had been apparently almost an hour since the last one-When he spied an old black hearse fast approaching. I remember my neighbor's face clearly as he told this bit. His eyes were filled with dread at the memory. The hearse sped towards the toll and as always he had his hand outstretched waiting for the money. The car flew by him too fast for him to turn off the alarm, and sped into the darkness. As he looked down at his hand he saw the dollar bill and screamed…"

            The faces around the fire were captured by Julie's account.

            "Go on, go on finish," encouraged Gary. "I can't take the suspense."

            Julie cocked her head.

            "Attached to the dollar bill was a severed human hand. Sinews dangled from the wound. He threw it onto the ground and promptly called the sheriff. He was surprised at the police officer's flippant response as he showed him the hand lying in the grass.

            'It is pickled…' the officer explained. 'It's those bloody medical students playing a prank again.' My neighbor kept that job for a further three years. But every October about a certain date was always very, very wary about cars traveling in the middle of the night."

            The others just stared not quite sure just what to make of the odd story they had just heard. It was eleven now and the forest they had pitched their tent in earlier was completely quiet other than the period cracking of the roaring fire….

            Gary broke the silence.

            "I have got one." His voice was commanding…"But first let's break out the tequila." A few minutes later the quickly depleting bottle is passed about the circle three or four times before the bottle gives is finally empty. The amber liquid has the required affect on the campers as there rational becomes cloudy and they began to let go of there insecurities.

            "So Gary…" Julie remembered "You told us you had a story also."

            Gary smiled.

            "Indeed I did," he answered, "indeed I did."

            His grin broadened as he continued…

            "Do you believe in ghosts? I didn't…Not until my grand-dad shared with me this story when I was ten years old."

            There is hush amongst the friends.

            "It was in the 1920's. My grand dad was born in Yorkshire, which is in the north of England…I have never myself, been but I hear it is truly beautiful. His folks had been servants in a grand house in the middle of the moors-miles from the nearest neighbor, despite being in the recession times were relatively good for my grand-dad and his folks. They in fact they even had their own guest quarters within the main house, and plenty of heat and fuel, which was very important as the winters were apparently very harsh.

            One December evening, it was getting late when he heard the lady of the house sobbing out of control. He told me how he sneaked downstairs to see what all the commotion was. They saw the son of the house, who was the same age as himself, just ten years old. He discovered he was very, very sick and they needed a doctor and urgently. Now the only doctor in the town was nearly twenty miles away. His father had been sent in the motor car to collect him, but the roads were icy and the driving treacherous and the lady of the house suddenly recalled there was a visiting doctor from London staying at a neighboring farm house for the winter, doing some study or other. It was decided that it would be far more prudent to send someone to fetch him. As my grandfather hid crouched in the stairwell they heard him call his name…"

            Gary paused. Despite the warmth of the fire he tightened his jacket about him…

            "Don't stop," came Alex's voice.

            Gary's face took on a grim appearance as he continued.

            "Well, they called for my grand dad they did….They gave him a note and told him to cut along the moors as they knew some sort of a short cut-an old foot path. He had no choice but to obey as he was only the son of a servant. He told me he put on his on his best boots and his warmest coat and set of into the night…He looks at the old clock in the foyer, it was 6:30. Darkness was already beginning to loom wearily over the day. It took my grand dad two long hours to reach his destination. He finally arrived half frozen and banged on the door and was soon was greeted warmly. They gave him hot milk and some fresh scones with butter, yet they had bad news, his treacherous journey had been in vain. It was true that yes there had been a doctor staying with them, but he had resumed his travels, and moved further North to Scotland….My grandfather then told me, that despite being advised to spend the night there, that he realized that he had to make it back home, so they could find another means of contacting a doctor. He shuddered as he told me how his tired chilled young muscles were daunted at the prospect. Yet, he had to set off once more into the night. By now it was 8:30 and my grand dad told me it was colder than he had ever known it, but at least a full moon offered some form of light. It wasn't long however before he was back on the same path he had taken there. It was then he heard it-a faint whistling and gentle foot steps behind him. He stopped and crouched behind a tree with every story of dread and horror he had ever heard about the moors racing and playing within his imagination.

            Eventually he spied a tall crouched figure dressed entirely in black emerge from the haunting shadows. He is at first terrified, but as the figure loomed closer and clearer, he could just about makes out a white collar about his neck, shining in the moonlight. A simple man of the cloth, he realized, who better as a walking companion in such a desolate of places. He informed me how he had made his presence known to the vicar…Who was also apparently rather startled to encounter anyone. Pretty soon the two of them continued walking along, the shortcut path, and side by side.

            My grand dad was naturally curious as to why a vicar would be walking along this deserted path alone. The vicar nodded at the question and solemnly replied. My grandfather discovered that he had gotten word the day before of a tragic death in a house just two mile beyond the main house, and that he had been summoned at his earliest convenience to help the family deal with their tragic loss…

            My grand dad was surprised by this, as he had been born and raised in that big house, and never knew of the house that the vicar had spoke of never Yet, he reasoned to himself, he was merely a child and what did he know. The vicar continued his peculiar tale. He spoke of his experience the last time he had made this very walk…He told him that he too had seen a stranger in the shadows….That he too had gained unexpected company along the bleak walk across the moors. The man had informed the vicar that at first he had wanted nothing more than company…..But soon in to the journey the stranger had begun to beg for money.

            Just then my grandfather told me that they noticed the lights to the manor house, and he realized that he was almost home.

            The vicar had apparently smiled and told him that it was just long enough to finish his tale.

            The stranger got distraught at the vicars denial as the vicar was only prepared to offer spiritual support to the poor, not financial. The stranger had then pulled a knife from under his cloak and the vicar explained how he was stabbed in the chest several times …He then told my grand dad how he had taken his wallet and his pocket watch and he explained how is watch was chiming exactly eleven o clock as the stranger ran off into the night.

            The vicar advised my grand dad to run the rest of the way home which he understandably did, despite his tiredness and aching legs. He told me he had found it remarkably curious as to how on earth the vicar had survived such a gruesome attack, then as he reached the property he looked behind him meaning to wave the kind man good bye-but he was gone was gone….As my grand dad reached the house panting and exhausted. The front door opened just as the Grand father's clock in the entranceway was chiming…Eleven times.

            It turned out that the neighbor's house had burned down over thirty years previous…"

            Gary looked at the startled faces around the camp fire.

            Alex is the one who breaks the silence this time…..

            "Ghosts, only a fool would believe in them." She then paused, as if trying to collect her thoughts together.

            "My turn for a story…" She added

            Her face looked almost translucent as she recounted her story…

            "This is a tale you should all have heard as it involves six teenage campers in the woods. It was on a night very much like this one that the incident happened; an occurrence so grisly and so utterly brutal that it was destined to become folklore and part of the annuals of urban legends. The culprits have yet to be incarcerated. The teens had been absent a week before the grim discovery was made-the bones of six bodies. On a pot on the fire was the remains of a sweet smelling stew and after much examination the worst was declared that the stew was actually the remains of the six teenagers flesh. Other gruesome evidence revealed that it had been some bizarre witch craft sacrament. It is often told that their method of agonizing demise never allowed the spirits to be released and that they are trapped eternally at the very spot of there mutilation.

            The names of the victims were…Julie Simpson, Gary Wall, Robert Hadley, William Dillon, Matt Brown and his sister Alex.

            A knowing petrified expression fell grimly over their young faces just as an ominous cackle is heard deep in the woods. It seemed that yet again they were about to re-live there eternal fate…


The end.




copyright 2005 Henrick Glutonlumps.

Henrick Glutonlumps:
I am an aspirnig writer based in California. This particular story I wrote a few years back.