The Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side

Here is a creepy campfire story for Halloween I wrote.

The moon shone upon the campsite like a giant eye. A gust of wind rustled the dry leaves. The fire crackled and popped. Eddie gazed at the other boys and rubbed his hands together.  This was his third year at Camp Crockett. His mother worked long hours as a nurse and Eddie found himself alone more times than any ten year old he knew. At least here, he found companionship.

He knew the other boys looked up at him. Eddie’s long legs beat half the kids in races. He climbed a rope with ease and excelled in the premium of sports. Camp Crockett felt like home to Eddie. He heard a commotion behind him and whirled around. Some older boys shoved a short, butterball of a kid down. He skinned his knees.

“Are you gonna cry, baby? Boo-hoo,” Mulligan teased. He stood taller than the others and bobbed his head like a rooster.

Eddie stood and strode over to Mulligan. “Leave the kid alone. Remember you were new last year.” Eddie leaned in and whispered, “Or do you want me to tell everyone you peed your pants during last year’s story time?”

Mulligan snorted and fluffed his Mohawk. “Funny one.”

Eddie wrapped his arm over the new kid’s shoulder. “Come sit up front with me. What’s your name?”

“Bobby. Thanks for saving my hide.”

“No problem-o.”

They strolled close to the campfire and sat cross-legged on the ground. Eddie listened as some of the older boys bragged about a camp across the lake. Curiosity got the best of him. “Hey, does the other place really have a swimming pool and bowling alley?”

“It’s not for little kids,” Mulligan sneered. “Quit listening on my friend’s conversation.”

The counselor shushed the boys. “Some of you know the story of the green man in the woods. Please refrain from stealing the punch line for the new-bees.”

Bobby chewed his lower lip and kneaded his thighs as the counselor rambled on about the man in the woods.

Eddie elbowed Bobby. “Hey, you want to have some real fun?”

“Sure.”

“Is the story too scary for you, Eddie?” Mulligan laughed like an inner tube leaking air. He high-fived a ruddy-cheeked boy next to him.

“Check your pants, Mulligan. I saw a snake crawl inside.”

“What?” Mulligan jumped up and spun around.

Everyone pointed and laughed at him.

“You got him good, Eddie.” Bobby beamed through his mass of freckles. “Where we headed?” A gap between his front teeth made him sound like a snake.

“Can you swim?” Eddie asked.

Bobby patted his belly. “This blubber makes me float.” He snickered. “Actually, I’m on the swim team at school. I’m quite good.”

“Excellent! I bet that camp across the lake is a girl’s campsite. Why else would the older guys talk about it? I heard there’s a pool. Care for an adventure?”

“I don’t know that’s a long way to swim. Won’t we get in trouble?” Bobby asked.

“We’ll take one of the boats. They won’t miss us. The counselors are busy telling ghost stories, remember?” Eddie draped his arm over Bobby. “Come on.”

They walked through the acre of trees which lined the dirt path. The trees thinned out as they drew close to the lake. The full moon shone bright and its reflection rippled the water. The lake lapped the sides of the rowboats perched along the dock’s edge.

Eddie removed the slip knot from one boat. “Get in.”

Bobby climbed inside and Eddie shoved the boat out. The lake felt cool to his legs. Water dribbled from his cut-offs as he pulled himself inside the boat. Eddie handed an oar to Bobby. They paddled to the other side of the lake. By the time they reached the other shore, their arms ached. They set the oars inside and hauled the boat across the gravel.

A pale girl, around twelve in a white tennis dress, emerged from the bushes. “What are you doing here?”

Her voice sounded hollow to Eddie’s ears. Did he get water in them? He slapped the side of his head. He licked his fingers and smoothed his copper hair. “We’re curious about your camp. Is it true? Do you have a bowling alley and swimming pool?”

“Yes and other things. My name is Diane. Would you care to go in?”

“I’m Eddie and this here is Bobby. We’d love to go in.”

Diane produced a key and unlocked the padlock to the gate. She pushed it open and the hinges squealed. They wandered inside. Eddie frowned. Garbage littered the grounds, broken windows looked like jagged teeth of a pumpkin, and the cabin porches slumped to one side. They strolled by the pool and held their noses. It smelled foul and green slime floated on top. Where were the kids and the counselors? Something didn’t feel right. Eddie ran over to a building. He stood on a wooden box and peered through a window. He didn’t see a bowling alley or any video games. Something caught his eye. He gasped and stepped back.

“What did you see?” Bobby asked.

Eddie raced back to the gate.

“Wait!” Bobby ran behind Eddie.

The gate slammed shut before them. Eddie pivoted around. His eyes widened. Why hadn’t he listened to his gut feelings? Diane’s arms and legs changed into vines that rolled and entwined over each other as she approached the boys. Eddie and Bobby scrambled up the gate. Diane caught one of Bobby’s legs and dragged him back.

“Don’t leave me, Eddie!” Bobby screeched.

Fear made Eddie crawl over the fence. His jacket sleeve snagged on a wire and he couldn’t budge. The vine slithered up the fence. Eddie yanked his arm out of the sleeve and jumped down. He rushed to the boat. The ground rumbled under his feet. Eddie leapt and landed inside the boat. The vines tunneled under the boat and lifted him up. Eddie grabbed a paddle and smacked it across the vines. A shrill rent the air and Eddie covered his ears. The vine shrunk back. Eddie took the opportunity and rowed to the middle of the lake. He felt bad. He hadn’t wanted to leave Bobby there, but what else could he have done? He hoped Bobby escaped.

Eddie drifted on the water for hours until the sun rose again. He decided to head back to Camp Crockett and relay the bad news. Something stopped him. Eddie thought he heard Bobby calling him. He rowed back. Bobby stood by the gate and waved. Eddie felt relieved his little buddy had made it.

“Diane’s sleeping. Please get me out of here. “My legs hurt, Can you carry me?” Bobby pleaded.

“Sure.” Eddie climbed out of the boat and strode over. He picked Bobby up and carried him to the boat. He placed Bobby on the seat. Eddie pushed the boat out and jumped in. As Eddie paddled, he noticed Bobby’s eyes seemed a brilliant green instead of blue and his skin had an olive-green sheen. Before Eddie could question him, Bobby’s arms and legs changed into vines. Eddie screamed and the vines entered his mouth.

Hours later, the camp leaders found Eddie’s boat circling in the middle of the lake. Green slime covered him and his eyes were hollowed. Bobby wasn’t anywhere in sight.

That night the counselor told the story again of the green man in the woods.

Mulligan exclaimed, “What a bunch of hogwash! You think it was him that killed Eddie?”

Before his eyes, the counselor changed into an alien of mossy vines and snapped Mulligan’s tongue. “My name is Bobby. Anyone else care to deny my claim?”spooky hat

 

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