The Campsite

By: Martin Linson

            It was spring and all was still green and flourishing, just before everything died and turned brown in the heat of summer. The surrounding Amador and Calaveras lake campsites full with campers, Hogan, Camanche and Pardee; all except one campsite that is.

            Deputy Darren an older man in his late-fifties, balding top of his head, with full graying hair on his sides and back and bit of the typical belly as he pulled up to the empty site in his cruiser, placing it in park and exiting the vehicle with a rather audible sigh as he put his hat on almost all in one motion.

            “Excuse me? Kids?” Darren said as he walked up to the tent. Not that they were kids, but much younger than he was by far. He was expecting to find them in the tent and becoming visibly more irritated as he continued towards the tent. Sighing again, “alright guys, I’m here, please don’t make me open your tent.” After waiting a minute with no response, he begrudgingly opened the tent; slowly unzipping, to reveal, nothing.

            “What the fuck?!” He said as he stepped backwards, almost startled at the sight of nothing. He spun around on his heel to look back at the distance to the lake, keeping close attention for signs of a struggle. There was nothing.

            Going back into the tent, he knelt and searched. Finding only what he expected originally, booze, condoms, and some weed. Sighing again as he moved frustrated from the tent. “What the hell, did they just run?” Glancing up he saw the car that was described as the one they were driving when last seen.

            Using his slim jim tool to open the driver side door, he knelt down and searched the entire driver side. Hitting the door locks open on all doors as he moved to the back and completely around the entire vehicle from top to bottom and nothing once again.

            Darren was standing near the water front as he was looking up into the clear blue sky. Lost, frustrated as there was no clue to where these two have gone. He let out a groan as he curled down into a squatting position. Opening his eyes he starred at the ground for a minute, and then his eyes focused, and focused again. “What the…”

            There were two foot print indentations on the ground right in front of him in the mud. He quickly stood and spun away from the area to see what else he could find. Squatting down near the prints and looking through the grassy mud. What he could make out was four sets going into two at the end. “Hmm these last two prints are deeper than these… did he pick her up then?”

            “Dispatch for Deputy Darren” His radio squawked loudly startling him.

            “Shit…” he depressed his mic button, “Darren here, what’s up?”

            “Darren, are you out at Pardee for that missing person report?”

            “Yeah, why?” Darren replied confused.

            “Naw, come on back Darren. Cancel that call; we’ll take care of it.” The voice of the Sheriff came over.”

            Darren’s brow raised, “What? Why? I think I might have found something here.”

            “Disregard and come back, that’s it Darren.” And with that he and dispatch were gone.

            “What the fuck is that all about?” He asked to the lake in front of him. He was new to this area and fresh on this post but had been a deputy for six years down south. Sighing he gathered what evidence he could, taking notes on his observations in a little notepad. Once done he slipped it into his back pocket, sighed once more and finally left.

            The phone rang, and rang, and rang to voicemail, every time. “Damnit! What the hell Erica?! You never ignore my calls…” Melissa cursed aloud in frustration. Turning to her phone once more and calling again, only to hear yet again voicemail. “UGHGHG! We’re going to miss the movie at this rate.”

            Melissa put her phone down and stepped away, walking to the living room and pulling her smoke box out. Opening it up to reveal some weed and zig zags, as she pulled them all out and rolled herself a joint. Walking past her phone she snagged, lighting the joint as she stepped out onto her back porch in her flip flops, yoga pants and halter top, her brown cascading hair flowing with the breeze as her deep brown eyes focused on the joint.

            “Erica, its meeeee Melissaaaaa caaaaaallll meeeee” She hung up as she hit the joint. Sitting down she hit it again as she got comfy and started surfing through her phone. Glancing at Amazon, through Facebook, her photos, and finished her joint.

            Putting out the tiny butt in the ash tray she glanced at the time on her phone, “what the hell. Erica wouldn’t have not gotten back to me by now… the movie is starting now… what the fuck is going on?”

            Darren walked into the Sheriff’s office, closed the door and turned to face him. “What the hell Ethan?”

            “First off, yes I know you’re seasoned, the lake is off limits, I have it handled, now back off.” He went back down to his paperwork

            “No, that’s not…”

            “Enough Darren, or I’ll suspend you. It’s handled, end of story, now leave. In fact, take the rest of the day off, that’s an order.” Once again going back to his paperwork.

            Darren stood there a moment with his mouth agape, then finally scoffing as he walked away, slamming the door closed as he left the office. Continuing out of the department and straight out to his car. Opening the door as he Frisbeed his hat hard into the passenger seat and landed in the driver seat with a thud, the shocks of the car creaking slightly from the impact.  

            “What the hell? What do I do now?” He sat there thinking, “There’s got to be something back at that site I missed… Fuck it.” He started his car, and took off.

            Several hours had passed since the movie outing was supposed to happen and still Melissa hadn’t heard a word from Erica. This wasn’t like her one bit, and it was starting to creep her out. “Something seems fucky here… I can’t explain it but…” she grabbed her phone and dialed Erica’s mom.      

            “Hey Cindy, yes it’s Melissa, I was wondering if you’d heard from Erica, or knew where she was?” She nodded and gave brief audible “uhhuh” every few moments until finally “ok so she was going camping with Brian? Ok at Pardee, thank you Cindy, I’ll call you as soon as I hear or find anything out.”

            She grabbed a few things, pepper spray, and folding baton, stowing them away in her small bag that she threw over her shoulder walking out the door. She slide down into her car seat, letting her bag plop into the seat beside her, as her other hand slid the seatbelt over clicking it closed. “I hope you’re ok Erica… I really hope so…” starting the car she drove off.

            Darren pulled up to the site once again and upon first glance saw no one there. Sighing with relief as he climbed out of his car and instead of going towards the campsite he headed back to the abandoned car, figuring if he missed anything it would be there.

            He hounded out every inch of the car inside and out. Finally he looked around spying no one around popped his knife, and poking around in some usual hiding spots for anything. He was completely lost in his search not hearing Melissa’s car pull up and park.

            Melissa saw him over at the car and his uniform so she made her way to him, “excuse me officer” calling over to him.

            He stopped, froze thinking he heard someone, whispering to himself, “shit” as he turned around to see if someone was there, and smiled with a big fake smile upon realizing there was someone there. “Hello there miss, what can I do for you?”

            “Hi, I’m Melissa, I was a friend of Erica’s. Do you know what happened? Can I help? I mean I know you’re gonna say…”

            He cut her off, “actually, I’m being told not to investigate this, so… if you want to check out the site again. I’ve been over it once, but you could give it another once over.

            She nodded in response, “oh hell yeah! Alright, I’ll see what I can find.” She spun around and darted off to the campsite. Pulling out her phone and using the light on it in some areas as dusk was approaching. The bright LED light was better than one would think to look around with.

            Darren got out of the car, pulling out his flashlight he looked about the trunk, tracing every inch of it, pulling out the random items stashed back there; folding chair, grocery bags, car jack, tire iron, as well as flares.

            Not finding anything in the dying light outside Melissa moved to the tent, climbing in as she went through the bags left inside. “Oh shit!” She exclaimed upon finding Erica’s now dead phone hidden in the bottom of a bag she dumped in the middle of the tent. She sighed, picking up the dark phone with a pout as she tossed it back on the pile. “Well fuck.”

            Darren was lying on his back looking up at the top of the trunk as he found a hidden pocket that was taped closed. The area covered was oddly large, roughly eleven inches by seventeen. Cutting along the edge of the tape, in hopes to not harm anything under, the top of the trunk fell away with ease. Hiding away was some sort of odd type of page. It had a slight firmness to it almost like a cardstock but was homemade by whoever made it. The flashlight revealing the lettering being done in red ink, and it seemed like some sort of calligraphy unknown to him. A language he’d never seen in anywhere.

            Climbing out of the trunk as he closed it and placed the page down to get a better look, the page was old, very old from what it would seem to be honest, and he feared this ink might be blood. He’d seen it used in some killings down south, but this was much older. Turning towards the tent to alert Melissa to his find to stop, confronted by a hooded figure. Going completely from head to the ground, in some alien fabric was the only way he could describe it. It appeared to crawl all over the wearer in a horrific dance of some paralyzing macabre stare.

            The figure chuckled, moving to Darren as he cradled him up into his arms. Walking out towards the water, as he stood up the frozen Darren at the shoreline then backing away himself but never breaking its gaze at Darren.

            The water began to ripple and shift as waves began forming along the small shoreline where they stood. Melissa caught the sound and turned to see the two at the shore. Covering her mouth instantly before letting out a gasp as she melted down into the sleeping bags; however keeping watch on the scene before her.

            There were tears of fear in Darren’s eyes as all he could do was stand there, unable to move. He could feel the crashing of the rough water, getting worse, something was coming. Water randomly caving and popping in a crash in odd ways that weren’t logical; feeling the tugs of sanity pull as it was slipping rapidly from him.

            Fleshly tendrils with spikey bone like protrusions and blistery boils exploded out of the water, four to be exact, as each took a limb of Darren’s and lifted him handily into the air. The hooded figure began laughing, out of the water under Darren slid a fifteen foot diameter neck matching that of the tendrils holding Darren. At the end was a sickly looking maw with sharp jagged teeth, undulating as they spiral towards the center teeth filled hole.

            The tendrils dropped Darren as he fell screaming into the horrid mouth. His screams sickening to hear as it distorted the further into the maw he fell. As his screams fell silent all that could be heard besides the waves was the laughter of the figure.

            The figure’s laughter is abruptly cut off as he feels the hard impact of a shoulder in his mid-back. Flinging out toward the water, as the tendrils without hesitation snatch him up and dropping him in the nightmarish mess as well.

            Melissa fell to the ground from the impact, slipping backwards in the mud trying to escape as the tendrils turned their attention to her flailing. Rolling left fast as two dart past her missing, her hand pulling out the baton as she swings it from her bag and it extends to full length. “Fuck OFF!” She slammed the other two quickly in opposing directions, and reverse summersaulting to her feet again. There was a brief moment of shock at getting to her feet so quickly, then running.

            She bolted without looking back. Her eyes locked onto her car and her legs pumped under her. Her vision widening as the adrenaline shot through her veins. Her speed picked up as she slid across the hood of her car, and swinging around the door as she opened it. She turned it on, as one hand kicked it into gear as soon as the engine started, the tires peeling out as she left dust behind her.

            The screams faded, the horrific display sunk below the level of the water. The quiet of the empty campsite once again as the water settled completely, and the single strange blood inked page floated to the ground.

The End?

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