It was a couple of weeks ago that I saw it where they stopped work on the new road branching off from Highway 55, red spruce swallowing the unfinished asphalt. I was wandering between the branches to try to figure out why the project stopped there when a shrill cry penetrated the trees.
You were surveying roadwork at night? That’s weird.
I like hanging out in the forest at night. Don’t judge me. I heard the cry of something and went further in to investigate. I couldn’t see any footprints nor anything else that marked a creature or thing like the one that had made that sound. Little did I know that the best evidence of a presence was just waiting in the underbrush, covered in a thicket.
I followed the sound as best as I could, crossing a fair distance in when I started to hear something like chatter. It was a bit higher pitched than an average human voice and had two tones to it--whatever it was didn’t travel the woods alone. I could hear the snap of twigs as I approached, like the creatures were still moving, but then that noise abruptly stopped. With the full moon in my face, I approached.
The full moon was last Saturday, but you said this was two weeks ago.
Fine. It was waxing then. Waxing gibbous. It was really bright, and I blindly came next to the bodies of some things that were muttering softly into the dirt. On the ground, a halo of light shined on a flat board that was covered in letters. I startled and accidentally brushed up against a tree, revealing myself. The next thing I knew, my eyes were on fire. I started to howl with pain, and the creatures shined their light directly into my eyes. It was like being swallowed by the sun. And then the shrillest scream I’d ever heard in my life left me, paralyzed and hanging there long before I’d realized the creatures were gone.
That would be scary. Wow. Coming across a couple of them unawares, I would wet myself.
I think my heart almost stopped beating, yeah. I only figured out just what was going on when I went to the main road and saw a car pulling out of the underbrush and quickly driving away. I’m still finding salt in my eyes and hair.
Good one. Have a marshmallow. Is it my turn?
I’d like to hear your story.
Excellent. Well, as you know, I’ve had some trespassers on my property in recent weeks. I was hoping they’d be more forthcoming because I like guests.
It hasn’t worked out that way. These people had been blundering about my property for two weeks now. I had thought they were operating alone until I followed after them one night. Someone made tiny graves on my property next to their campsite and littered the earth with these little figurines made of popsicle sticks.
That sounds like something you would do though. I mean, you say like guests but you never invite us to your place.
He’s far too hairy--
--it’s fine, and it wouldn’t be good luck to have you there. Trust me, I know these things. At any rate, someone must have been stirring them up. When they woke, the three trespassers lost their shit. They were crying and started to talk about going back to the car, which would have been fine except that someone had moved the flag posts they were using to keep track of their path. When they had walked in a loop around ten times, probably about seven miles, they started to figure it out. By the time they settled in for the night, they were pretty rough with each other too.
And you just watched them the whole time? So mean.
What else was I going to do? It was pretty funny, after all. I decided to do them a favor and rerouted the flags to my house. If they were willing to meet me, I might be willing to let them off easy. Just a little hex for my trouble, nothing life changing.
Turns out that they were idiots all along. They walked into my house without turning the lights on, and they had apparently been trying to walk with cameras held to their faces the entire time. So a couple of the kids were unconscious in the basement with their cameras next to their bruised faces pressed against my floor, and the third was sitting upstairs waiting for his director or whatever that is to show up. I was so mad.
That is wild. Why are kids so stupid?
It’s been awhile since you passed away, so you might not really realize that they’ve escalated so much in their blithering idiocy. I knew there was a reason I moved to the country.
Want a s’more now?
Don’t mind if I do. But you might as well just give me yours since you’re burning it.
I crushed my throat when I died, so I really only can inhale the fumes. I know it’s weird, but it still tastes pretty good.
I wondered if being ethereal would hinder your ability to eat s’mores. Sorry. I guess I’ll suggest a chili cook-off next time and bring a candle for you instead of food, or something.
Don’t mind me. What about you, do you have a story?
Of course. I’m new to these parts, but I had a run-in about five weeks ago.
Oh! Do tell!
I heard the highest pitched sound I’ve ever heard in my life, late one night. I don’t think you’d even be able to hear it. I ran after the racket, thinking that it might be some kind of owl I hadn’t seen before. I like birds, after all, on a full moon when I can see them especially well. We could learn a thing or two by watching owls.
The sound stopped when I got close, just like in your story. But a moment later, I was being stabbed on all sides. It was actually nice, like finding a really rough piece of bark and rubbing your entire body on it. Such a good feeling.
When they realized I was enjoying a good scratching, someone screamed "pewter!" and someone else started firing a gun. I started running, because I don’t like bullets. They fired about six times before they evidently ran out of ammunition, but they didn’t stop chasing me.
An angry mob had come for me. They were blaming me for eating a flock of chickens, which I probably did, but I don’t always like raw chicken. They didn’t take me by surprise, but they nearly chased me into an abandoned windmill with their pitchforks and torches. That would have been obnoxious.
Ugh, yeah, good thinking.
Eventually I managed to retreat to my den before a cloud blocked the moonlight, transforming me again. Even in numbers, they were too hesitant to follow me in there. It’s not like I would’ve hurt them, it’s simply hard to find your way in a cave in the dark. I would hate to go spelunking in my own home just to rescue some poor guy who didn’t watch his footing.
So that’s when you decided to come out here, eh?
That’s right. It feels a lot more cozy out here. Even I get lost in the forest sometimes, and I have a great sense of direction.
I’ll help you out if you need it. Just say my name five times, and I’ll be there.
Well, it seems like you have the best one this week. I can’t really compete against having an angry mob try to kill me. I guess you could say that this round of stories has gone to the wolves.
I thought it was pretty good. May I have a s’more?
Normally chocolate is poison for dogs, right?
My tolerance changes based on the time of the month. And really, who doesn’t like chocolate and marshmallow and graham cracker smashed together?
No one. Trust me, I know these things.