Hello everyone! I just watched Olivia's latest scary video yesterday, and it inspired me to share a short horror story I had written a while ago. Constructive criticism is welcome!
WARNING: The following story contains graphic depictions of violence and gore.
CAMP WILLOWDALE HAD ALWAYS BEEN A POPULAR SUMMER ATTRACTION.
Every year, throngs of high schoolers fresh out for summer poured into the camp for two months of mandated activities in the humid, oppressive, north Michigan air. Normally, because the spot was so isolated, the counselors would radio the local ranger’s station with a weekly report. The counselors were hounded about it by senior staff, so the calls always came in. The reliability of the camp’s reports had never once wavered in three years.
May 26th, 1979.
The call had been due promptly at six p.m., like always. It didn’t come. In fact, there was total radio silence from Camp Willowdale for a full three hours. While certainly not an emergency, this did raise a few eyebrows. So, when the question was raised if anyone wanted to drive out to the campgrounds to check and see if everything was alright, two officers agreed to the notion.
Officer Hawkins was a rookie ranger. Despite this, she had served with the Detroit Police Department, and had seen about every kind of freak and junkie a city could cough up. Her partner, Officer Wheeler, however, was a veteran ranger and knew the woods and the campgrounds better than most. They figured that it was just a simple malfunction with the radio, but if it was something more serious, they had the necessary skills to assist.
The truck’s headlights cut thin streaks through the forest. There was little talk between the two. That was their partnership. All business, yet they trusted each other and would often share a cup of coffee in the early morning at the station.
“How many kids did they say are at the camp?” Wheeler asked. He had the roster open on his lap, but the forest was so dark that he couldn’t see. Hawkins thought for a moment before answering.
“Twenty-three,” she responded. “Twenty-three campers and six counselors.” Wheeler nodded and closed the roster. “Well then, let’s hope one of them broke the radio by accident. I don’t want to have to call an ambulance out here.” Wheeler said gravely.
Eventually, the darkness broke. The truck had rounded the corner and come into the cone of the streetlight that illuminated the camp sign. They crossed the threshold, and immediately noticed something strange.
“Where’s the lights?” Hawkins asked. Wheeler gave her a skeptical look. “I know it’s nighttime, but shouldn’t the lights be on at the office?” Wheeler leaned forward and peered out the windshield. Hawkins could see the confusion dawn on his face.
“I’ve known these people for years,” Wheeler said, leaning back. “The office is usually open until eleven thirty.” He called it in on the radio. Dispatch told them to go ahead and investigate further. Obediently, the officers left their truck, flashlights in hand.
The camp was quiet. There were no campers about, nor any counselors. Hawkins and Wheeler approached the office.
Immediately, both officers became very unsettled.
The office door had been broken inward. It was barely holding on by its bottom hinges, and large chunks had been taken out of it. Both officers drew their pistols and stepped inside.
“Hello?” Wheeler called out. “Michigan Forest Rangers!” Nothing. No response. They stepped inside. Wheeler tried the switch on the wall. There was a sharp flash from the broken bulb on the ceiling. Hawkins cursed under her breath. In the short flash, she had noticed a dark stain on the back wall.
Hawkins strode over and peered behind the desk. “Oh, shit...” Her flashlight had illuminated a large bloodstain. It still looked decently fresh.
“Jesus...” Wheeler muttered. The stain was still damp and at its large, central splatter, Hawkins could see what looked like chunks of stuck-on flesh. After taking a breath, Hawkins followed the streak down the wall. What she saw nauseated her.
There, crumpled in a heap, was a counselor. The entire back half of his skull had been obliterated, presumably slammed violently against the wall. There was no brain inside the cavern, just red, gooey mush. His eyes had been gouged out and his lower jaw torn off. He was disemboweled, and from the looks of it, whatever had done this had done it out of hunger. Huge, deep bite marks peppered his skin. From the marks, the teeth that had done him in must have been thicker than an adult grizzly bear’s.
“We need to find the campers,” Hawkins said in a horrified whisper. Without waiting for a response, Hawkins rushed outside and into the cluster of cabins. They combed each of them. Not a soul was inside. The only signs of life were bloodstains, and, in one cabin, a set of nail marks in the floor with the set of broken pink acrylics that made them.
Hawkins was in a frenzy. She had seen plenty of murders back in Detroit, but this was Jeffrey-Dahmer-level horrific. Wheeler could barely keep her together. After the cabins, they scoured the archery range, the mess hall, and even the outskirts of the forest. Nothing. It wasn’t until they ventured back to the cabins that they found another clue.
Due to the officers coming and going out of the front doors of the cabins, they hadn’t noticed it before. But as they crossed behind Cabin 10, Officer Hawkins’ shoe made an ominous squelch. She looked down, to see her boot drenched in red. Stumbling back in surprise, she realized that there was a huge set of bloody drag marks leading away from the back door of the cabin.
The two officers swung their flashlights around. Just as they suspected, similar bloody trails led from the back of each of the cabins. And all of them were headed in the same direction: towards the shore of the lake.
Snuffing out their flashlights, the officers crept through the night, following the bloody path through the lessening trees. As they drew nearer to the lake’s shore, they noticed something.
All they could hear was the lapping of the lake water.
That was it. No crickets, no night birds, hell, not even a fish! The camp was completely and utterly silent. And anybody with wilderness survival training knew what it meant if animals, all the animals, were being quiet.
There was a predator nearby, and whatever it was, it had a taste for human flesh.
The pair finally stopped behind the boathouse. Listening intently, they could hear something moving on the beach. The blood trail wound around the side of the house, and, as quietly as they could, they crept along the boathouse wall until they reached the corner. They listened again.
All they could hear was the lapping of the lake water.
The lapping of the lake water, and the wet, savage sound of flesh being torn from bone.
Hawkins and Wheeler froze. Hawkins, who was leading, took the safety off of her pistol and peeked around the wall. What she saw made her turn white with fear.
On the shore of the lake were the bodies of the twenty-three campers. Some had been torn in half. Others were missing their heads. She saw the body of a blonde. Hawkins cringed. Annette Johnson. Her pink nails were broken and bloody. Their other halves, of course, were on the floor of the cabin she had been dragged out of.
Oh, God, Hawkins thought, was she alive when it happened? She could imagine it now: Annette’s large brown eyes agape in fear, desperately trying to claw her way away from the thing, pink nails digging into the rough wooden floor of the cabin. It must have seized her by the ankles and yanked her back roughly. How much did she weigh to it? It must have been like lifting a rag doll, even in spite of Annette’s efforts to save herself. After all, if this thing could haul entire cabins out to the beach so effortlessly...
A sound snapped Hawkins out of her thoughts. A grunt, like the hungry, sloppy sounds one makes when tearing into a particularly good steak. Her heart pounding out of her chest, Hawkins shifted her gaze from the mass of carnage towards the direction of the sound.
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Tonight had been like Hell had opened up and decided to take a few innocent souls. Honestly, Officer Hawkins had hoped it was some sort of rabid, territorial bear. That would have been comprehensible. It would have made some sort of sick sense to her. But what sat before her absolutely boggled her mind.
There weren’t twenty-three bodies. There were twenty-two.
As for the twenty-third camper, he was preoccupied with devouring the intestines of one of his fellows.
Hawkins staggered back, gasping like a dying fish. Like a nightmare vision, the young man—no, the creature—stood up and turned its face towards her. Its eyes were black pits, with tiny pinpricks of icy blue in the center. It had sickly, grey skin that clung to its emaciated form. Huge, glinting fangs bristled red from its dripping maw. It had spindly, thin arms, and hands the size of hubcaps, with long, bloodstained claws. What baffled her most were the antlers. Long, twisting black spires that jutted out from the side of its head like dead, thorny tree branches.
Frozen in place, Hawkins couldn’t do anything but stare in horror. Her blood ran cold as the thing jeered at her. It began to stalk toward her on spindly legs and cloven hooves, its long, tufted tail lashing in excitement.
“HAWKINS! GET DOWN!”
Officer Wheeler’s voice broke the monster’s hold on her. In an instant, Hawkins dropped to ground, covering her head. A gunshot ripped through the night and was followed by a hellish screech. She looker up to see the beast being blasted with gunfire by Wheeler. To her horror, Hawkins could see a gaping hole in the center of the thing’s forehead and out the other side.
And the thing kept coming.
Hawkins barely had time to scramble away as the monster walked through the rain of bullets. With a furious roar, it wrenched the pistol from Wheeler’s hand and crushed it, as if it was made of clay. The creature then grabbed Wheeler by the collar and forcefully took hold of his upper and lower jaw, pulling by the teeth. Wheeler began screaming in agony as the flesh of his cheeks began to split open, blood pouring from his mouth and nose. The creature only growled deeply. And then, with a cruel jerk and a vile, wet, ripping noise, the monster tore Wheeler in two at the mouth.
Hawkins vomited at the sight. The creature tossed the upper half of Wheeler’s head into the lake, where it bobbed almost comically in the water. As for his lower jaw and body, it tossed them unceremoniously onto its hoard of flesh. The thing then turned its attention on Hawkins.
The beast let out a low growl.
"That was forty years ago," The counselor finished. His campers, middle-school age, didn't seem impressed. Their apathetic gazes glinted in the light of the campfire.
"Bullshit," one of them, a girl, said. "We all know the Camp Willowdale Wendigo isn't real." She rolled her eyes. Her friends giggled.
"The monster is real!" A boy said nervously. He was sitting next to the counselor, large eyes shining in the glare of his owl's-eyes glasses. "My Auntie told me stories. She said her sister Annette was killed at Camp Willowdale before they tore it down."
The rest of the kids laughed. "Yeah, right, Adam," the girl from before, Jenny, sneered. "We all know your Auntie Margo's batshit." The kids erupted into gales of laughter, jeering at him. Adam sank down into his hoodie.
"That's enough, Jenny!" the counselor barked, standing up. The laughs turned to poorly-hidden snickers. "It's late, kids; we should get to bed." The campers groaned, but after a sharp glare, plodded back to their cabins.
Adam lingered at the fire for a moment, watching the dancing flames. "Jason?" he said softly. His voice quivered a bit.
"Yes, Adam?" he asked.
"The Wendigo should be dead by now, right?" Adam said nervously. "It's just a ghost story."
Something glinted in Jason's eyes. He joined Adam by the fire, and put a hand on his shoulder. Even through the hoodie, Adam noticed how cold it was. The fire began to die.
The hairs on the back of Adam's neck raised, and he suddenly didn't want his counselor's comfort anymore. He eventually wrenched away, but not before hearing Jason murmur something in a gruff tone. It sent chills down his spine.
"We don't die."