True Tall Tales from Camp Kranky Musky Part 4
So, there we were, 5 campers splitting half a bag of chips and 3 burger buns over a newly constructed campfire. Fortunately, Conner has some training as a Boy Scout and made quick work of the embers from an earlier fire. Around the circle, during this quiet moment, various levels of fear, confusion, and anticipation emanated from all of the campers. Faces would change, tears would flow, and hands would rub uncontrollably on pants. It was like we were all attached to the same buzzing electric cord. None of us wanted to be in our shoes, but here we were.
At this point, the sun was officially setting and we had some decisions to make. Not only, where and how we were going to make it through the night, but we were going to have to figure out what was out there taunting and taking us away. We all saw the flashes of colors breeze through the deep woods, but none of us knew who or what was doing the deed. Becky, being the elder of the group spoke first. “Ok guys, we need to figure out where we are going to stay tonight. We are all in different cabins, so we gotta figure out which one is the safest to stay in.” My first thought was that my cabin, A2, was on the very edge of camp and not convenient. I burst out, “Is anyone staying in a cabin NOT surrounded by trees and close to the middle of camp?” Richy piped up, “muh..muh..muh…my cabin is in the middle, I think.” That was when Jeff lectured that yes, this would be our best bet under the circumstances.
We debated on retrieving any personal belongings, but the thought of traveling from cabin to cabin seemed like more trouble than it was worth. However, right next door to Ricky’s cabin was the camp kitchen, which everyone agreed visiting was a must. We couldn’t survive very long on a bit of bread and chips. We would have to make that part of our trek to our sanctuary for the evening. By this time all 5 faces including my own were so close to our campfire desperate for a feeling of safety that we were soot-covered and thoroughly smelling of burnt cedar. And because we felt like we had somewhat of a plan, all in the group were starting to calm down, but just a little.
I was the first to initiate some movement. I stretched my hands to the dirt, pushed myself onto two very wobbly legs, and turned to face Richy. “Richy, which cabin is yours? Can we see it from here?” “Uh yeah,” Richy said, “it’s that one with the green hose hanging on the side,” as he pointed ahead in the dusk. I made note of the cabin and the others all nodded in their observance of Richy’s directions. “Next door is the kitchen. The one with the 2 big windows,” added Conner. Conner was right. It was out of that building that the counselors served us lunch just this afternoon.
Ok, plans were starting to take shape now with our backs to the fire, we gathered on one side in a straight line and came up with a quick plan. Without disagreement, we decided to stay banded together. We had seen plenty of scary movies go horribly wrong when parties split up, so sticking together was our only option. We would make our way to the kitchen, grab as much grub as possible, and then make a break for the nearby cabin assigned to Richy. Like me, all of the other campers were terrified, exhausted, and understandably goof-eyed, but we had to make our move, darkness was descending fast.
Jeff announced, “OK gang, on the count of three we make a break for the kitchen.” “Catch you on the flip side,” Connor said. The rest of us simply nodded. “One….two…three.” And we were off. All of us stayed equal in distance. No one was looking to win this race under any circumstances, but we were all breathing heavily by the time we arrived. It was no great distance, but fear had taken our strength long ago and left us all with wobbly knees. When we got to the kitchen, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The padlock that hung on the loop was unlocked, so we were able to lift it and wander on in.
To our surprise, but I guess it shouldn’t have been, all of the pantry shelves but one were empty. “What in the world?” exclaimed Becky, “we were supposed to have enough food for the weekend? This isn’t enough for tomorrow morning.” And Becky was right. There was one loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, an extra bag of the same chips from lunch, and a box of saltine crackers. Had we misinterpreted this use of this building? The answer was simply, no. And it dawned on all of us at once. None of the campers had been expected to need food for more than this afternoon. To stop the rest from catching my panic, I grabbed the food, threw the chips to Jeff and the peanut butter to Conner, and turned on my heel to leave. No use panicking, this was what we had to work with. “Let’s go!” I yelled back over my shoulder as I hit the door.
We made it to the next cabin in much the same formation as we had left the kitchen. No one was talking, and speed was crucial now. The sun was descending past the horizon. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in the woods at night, but darkness is not your friend. We all filed inside Richy’s cabin and locked the door behind us. All we had was a door knob lock, so that would have to be addressed. Richy’s cabin was cozy like the rest but with only one window facing a singular direction. We would be blind all night when it came to what was outside of the 3 other walls. Richy’s previous, but now missing roomies, had sorted out their bedding situation and left their belongings in piles nearby.
Connor pointed out a kerosene lamplight in the corner and brought it to the middle of the room. And without a thought, we all began to rifle through each of the missing campers' belongings for useful items. When the inspection was complete, we were left with the kerosene lamplight, a pack of matches, a Marathon Bar, 2 packages of Bottle Caps, a pocket knife, and an orange King Seely Thermos full of red Kool-Aid. Everything else proved useless unless you needed to make an emergency bandage from an old pair of whitey-tighties.
As we only had enough food to carry us through the evening and maybe a heavily rationed morning, we were all feeling pretty low. As I looked around the room, it was written on everyone's face. This was going to be a long and harrowing night with barely anything but a pocket knife for defense and crackers to keep us alive. It was up to us to stick together to keep whatever was lurking in the woods out and keep ourselves safely locked inside. The morning would bring an opportunity for escape, but for now, we were served a devastating fate: wait it out.
Jeff shook his head hard and fast like he was shaking loose some mental cobwebs, which forced the rest of us to take note. He sharply stated, “We need to block the door, I guess. The window too if we plan on using the lamp.” Conner, Jeff, and I started to move one log bed toward the door, while Richy and Becky made quick work of draping a thick quilt doubled up over the small window. We all worked to move all 4 mattresses to the middle of the floor in a long row. There’s something about being low that makes one feel unseen and much safer, though it’s probably no safer than resting on a bed.
After setting up the room, we put together a sad-looking meal of the previously mentioned table fare and settled in for a long and torturous night. We would continue to make sleep plans and go back and forth on what we thought our enemies looked like, but honestly, the whole situation was as confusing as it was frightening, and as is typical in every scary movie, things were about to get even worse.
(To be Continued)