I have one memory of a “summer camp” experience many years ago. For a time I was a part of a Christian boys group at the church we attended which functioned much like the Cub Scouts but had more of a religious slant. One fall we had the opportunity to go on a weekend overnight camping trip to a summer camp up north. We stayed in cabins, ate in a mess hall, had the opportunity to do a lot of “summer camp”-type stuff. I recall catching salamanders, midnight raids on other cabins (we would sneak up with big sticks & rocks and bang on the wooden shutters, hopefully scaring the crap out of the inhabitants), other goofy things that you would expect summer campers to experience.
Every night while we were there, we gathered around a huge bonfire and roasted marshmallows while the leaders told spooky stories. The old chestnut of the “hook-handed maniac” was shared, as well as the “group of escaped patients from the local mental hospital” story. But the one that got me more than the others is one that I want to share today:
Bill & Joe had broken into the old mansion on a dare. Their friends told stories of the old place, the owner who had made his fortune as a doctor overseas and came to America when he retired so he could focus on his life’s work – genetic manipulation. They said that he committed atrocious experiments in the basement and that many of the “creatures” he created were still there waiting for the day they could escape. The boys crept through the cobweb strewn foyer, the smell of dust & decay was heavy in the air.
They could heard skittering in the walls & ceiling as they made their way to the basement door. “What a load, I’m not going down there,” Joe said to Bill. “This is just stupid, they can call me chicken for all I care,” Joe began to turn around. “I’m going to check it out, you never know the old man might have left some good stuff behind!” Bill shined his flashlight down the creepy staircase that lead to the basement. “Crea-a-a-a-a-k! Cre-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-k!” the rickety stairs moaned as Bill stepped on them.
Finally he had made it to the basement. Shining his light around, he noticed a large iron door with a huge bolt holding it closed. Pulling the rusty bolt aside with a “Thud!”, he opened the heavy iron door. “Screeeeeeeeech!”, the hinges screamed. The next room contained the old man’s lab, test tubes & other equipment was littered around the room. At the far end of the room was another door, like a cell door from the old prison movies Bill had seen on television.
Opening the cell door, he saw there was nothing inside but a huge fur pillow and as Bill got closer he noticed the pillow was moving. Against his better judgment, Bill reached out to touch the pillow. He was surprised to find that the fur was warm to the touch for being in a dark & dank basement. All of a sudden the pillow moved and Bill screamed. A large creature with huge fangs and claws towered over him.
Bill dropped his flashlight and ran to the staircase, he could hear the creature lumbering after him. Making his way to the top of the staircase, Bill shut and bolted the door behind him. Catching his breath, he slumped against the door. “Bang! Bang! Crack!”, the creature’s long arm had punched through the door and was groping around. Bill screamed again and ran out of the mansion. He could hear the door splinter behind him and the footfalls of the creature coming up behind him.
Bill ran as fast as he could through the woods, narrowly missing low-hanging tree branches in the darkness. He could hear his own heavy breathing mixing in with the rustling of the fall leaves. Making it to the edge of the woods, Bill ran down the hill towards town. Now the footsteps were getting louder, he could hear the monster snorting behind him. As he got closer to town he began to slow down, all of his muscles ached with fatigue. Tripping over a tree root, Bill tumbled forward onto the ground. With the lights of the town in view, he curled up into a ball waiting for the monster to overtake him.
Closing his eyes tightly, he could sense the creature above him. His hot breath cascading down as drops of saliva dripped onto Bill’s face. Bill waited for death to come, but after a minute or two he felt a tap on his forehead. “You’re it!”
Of course I told the story a bit differently than the leader had, but it is one of those stories you have to “experience” through hearing the storyteller. When the leader spoke the last sentence, we all jumped as he screamed “You’re it!” Good times…