“This is going to be the best summer ever! Boohoo!” Kyle Dawson screamed loudly as we swerved round the turnpike on Salmon’s Groove, we had been travelling for almost four hours to the outskirts of New Jersey headed straight for Southside Valley which was reputed for its extensive woodlands, probably the most largest in the state.
“Quit being a loudmouth Kyle, there’s nothing overly intriguing about a stupid camping trip” I said spitefully, I can’t be blamed; I had to be very spiteful because Kyle had brought along Jenny his rather good-looking and hot brunette girlfriend while I was stuck at the back of the truck alone on my own.
“Oh… someone’s a bit jealous” Kyle winked at me while simultaneously dropping a kiss on his girlfriend’s cheek; she giggled and wiggled her body seductively which just made me roll my eyes.
“Really Jeremy, you should get a girlfriend, it’s actually easier than calculus if you come down to it” Jenny said turning to me, “Right, you can’t… you’re a frigging nerdy wimp” and both she and Kyle laughed loudly at that.
“Very funny, remind me to laugh later” I said and proceeded to take out my PlayStation Portable which I turned on and was banging away at trying my best to ignore Kyle and his dumb girlfriend. In a rather awkward way I was actually starting to regret why I had agreed to go camping with them, we had only just closed school for the summer when Kyle approached me and told me about the whole camping trip.
“It would be fun Jeremy, c’mon just loosen up a bit and enjoy life” he said trying to convince me, well Kyle’s like that, I don’t actually keep many friends but Kyle and I go way back and that’s probably because he just sort of compliments me –to be actually honest I live a very boring life and Kyle helped lighten it up a bit (well I guess I could be quite grateful to him for that).
I checked the GPS reading on my phone, we were just past Carlton Heights and headed for Southside Valley which was definitely about five miles away now. Kyle was playing Johnny Jansen’s latest album Catastrophic on the Ford’s music player, the sound of heavy metal rock music soon drowned out the open racing air as the Ford sped through the vast cornfields which characterized Carlton Heights.
I brushed my rather long red hair aside and gazed at the darkening sky, there seemed to be a cloud gathering up ahead; I could only hope it wasn’t going to rain on the very first day of our so-called camping trip, this was really starting to be most craziest thing I had ever done, considering the fact that I could I have just turned down Kyle’s offer and stayed back at home working on the Internet.
“Hey Jeremy, you seem so quiet back there, cat got your tongue?” Kyle joked and Jenny simply burst into another fit of laughter.
Dumb bitch I thought vindictively, always laughing at whatever good old Kyle says, I rested my back backwards and tried to think of some of the things I could during the duration of the camping.
“How much longer before we get there Kyle?” Jenny whined, “It’s getting quite late you know, wouldn’t want to be sleeping at the side of the road”.
“Just a little bit longer babe, hang on tight” Kyle replied not taking his eyes off the road which had darkened considerably, we were presently now in the outskirts of the Southside Valley; at least that was what my GPS indicated.
“Actually, we’re already in Southside but do we really have to go deep into the woods?” I asked doubtfully, I really was not scared of the woods but I figured that since it was already dark, we should have perhaps considered other options.
“Yeah man, I mean what’s the fun in camping if you’re just gonna stay outside the woods, don’t be a scare cat. I have actually scouted the area where we’ll be setting up the tents and it’s sort of like a clearing, so we’ll be fine, besides you’ll enjoy the view anyway, there’s a small lake overlooking the clearing not too far off” Kyle said swerving into a large pathway that was definitely cleared out for cars, which meant that people had actually camped out here before.
Kyle drove the Ford slowly through woods which marked off the main entrance of Southside; there was a signpost up ahead which read: WELCOME TO SOUTHSIDE FOREST RESERVES in big bold red letters which had faded with age, Jenny was already dozing off but Kyle was still driving when I also felt myself drifting away.
I must have been asleep for maybe about five minutes or so when someone suddenly grabbed my arm and yanked at it, like –yanked at it pretty hard, the silent scream caught in my throat jutted out like a squeak.
“What the hell Kyle! You frigging scared me” I groaned angrily rubbing at my eyes as I stared up at Kyle’s face which had a mischievous grin splayed out on it, I punched at him angrily but he ducked away laughing.
“That was for sleeping on me. Guess what? we’re there already” he said winking at me, I alighted from the Ford hastily, the night air welcomed me with its chilly embrace and I could actually smell the lake not too far off, out of the corner of my eye I could see that Kyle had also woken up Jenny and she was hobbling about groggily.
I glanced around at the clearing that Kyle had talked about, it actually wasn’t even bad for a campsite but I had a rather queasy feeling about it anyway. Kyle had opened the truck and was taking out the tents and our supplies so I went over to lend him a hand.
“So what do you think?” he asked smiling, “Nice place huh?” he heaved a heavy backpack on his shoulder.
“Well, it’s not too bad; I bet Mum’s actually going to be pleased that you’re giving me my very first outdoor experience” I said, “I hope I don’t regret this”.
“C’mon Jeremy, you need this and you know it, I almost thought you were a vampire or some kind of screwed up hermit when I first met you, you hardly go out, and your morbid idea of fun is typing codes on your computer” Kyle chuckled at that.
“That’s called hacking and it’s a rather useful skill” I shot back angrily, I really hated to be reminded of the fact that I was a nerd, how was that even supposed to be my own fault I wondered.
“Hey boys, did you notice that there’s no signal down here?” Jenny called; she was holding her phone in her right hand and waving it at us.
“No signal?” I asked wide-eyed digging my hand hurriedly into my coat, but she was quite right, there was not a single network bar on my phone. I groaned loudly and glared at Kyle who just shrugged.
“Don’t stare at me that way, I never knew this place had no signal, I scouted it hastily” he said dropping the backpack on his shoulder on the ground in the clearing.
“How am I even supposed to inform Mum that I actually got to this place safely? darn it Kyle” I muttered angrily dragging out the inflatable tents we had brought along.
“Relax Jeremy, it’s not that bad, we can simply look for another clearing like this one up ahead by morning” Jenny chipped in, “Right Kyle?” she added turning to Kyle who was rummaging through the backpack.
“Yeah I guess we could just find another clearing where there’s network tomorrow, so quit blowing hot man and let’s set up camp for tonight” Kyle said.
I heaved a sigh of relief and fell on my knees to help him with the tents, we worked at it for about thirty minutes and the tents were soon up, Kyle had one to himself and Jenny while I set up mine quite close to theirs.
After the tents were ready, we put in our sleeping bags and some of our supplies but we figured we didn’t need to put out all our supplies since we were going to decamp and find a better clearing later the following day.
Kyle gathered some sticks and we formed a fire just outside our tents which we sat around having our repast which was cold pizza and sodas which we had purchased at Bells when we first moved, the pizza still tasted great and Kyle was busy telling his silly campfire stories which were making Jenny giggle like a hobo clown, then something suddenly popped into my head.
“Do you think there could be animals out here?” I asked almost immediately halfway through my soda.
“Well, I can’t really say that for a fact but I guess there could be chipmunks, squirrels and woodchucks, I honestly doubt if there are coyotes here or any sort of wild animals” Kyle replied.
“And you’re absolutely sure?” I furthered.
“Certainly man, stop freaking out, and enjoy the outdoors” Kyle replied pointing at the sky which was blanketed with lots of stars, to be quite honest; it was actually a beauty to behold, Kyle and Jenny stood up and strolled off to the lake while I just sat still staring up at the stars.
By the time they came back, time was far spent and it was almost about 1:00am, we put out the fire and headed to the tents. Hardly had I laid my head on my sleeping bag when I heard the voracious sound of their lovemaking which was coming at me in a very lucid way, I turned around and blotted my ears out with my headphones and as the country music which I was listening to sailed into my ears I thought to myself: perhaps it wasn’t going to be so bad camping out after all, but by Jove – I was so wrong.
We had been walking around the woods for almost thirty minutes when we finally found another clearing. I took out my phone almost immediately and saw that there was a rather good signal on it.
“Told you we would eventually find the goddamned network, so are you a bit happy now?” Kyle asked grinning.
“You bet that I’m” I smiled as I put a call across to my mum, who was more than pleased to hear my voice, I could see that Kyle and Jenny were moving up ahead towards some kind of cave which was quite proximal to the clearing.
After I had assured Mum of my safety I cut the call, and hurried to catch up with them, they were headed towards the cave which was seemed like a chiselled out hole in the wall, I was starting to honestly wonder why a cave was actually in the woods but I guess I simply dismissed it from my mind.
Jenny and Kyle were already at the mouth of the cave when I eventually caught up with them; they gazing at some sort of engraved inscriptions on the walls of the cave.
“Wow, I never even knew something like this was out here” Kyle said in caught in abject wonder.
“These drawings look ancient” Jenny added running her fingers through the hieroglyphs, I was already behind them now and staring at the markings curiously.
“Jeremy check this out – what do you make of it?” Kyle said pointing at the hieroglyphs; he flicked on his flashlight because inside the cave was quite dim in spite of the large amounts of sunlight which were streaming outside.
“Those – are hieroglyphs” I said calmly, I was actually excited that I was even getting to see something which I had read so much about first hand.
“Hiero-what?” Jenny asked quite confounded, “break it down in layman terms”.
“Hieroglyphs are pictorial writing patterns used to pass across messages in the ancient times, they were commonly used by old civilizations like the Egyptians and Aztecs but what I don’t really comprehend is what an hieroglyph is doing in a cave like this in New Jersey” I concluded.
“Right, same here… can you tell what this one’s saying?” Kyle narrowed his eyes curiously at me.
“Not really, it’s not like I’m an archaeologist or something, I only just read about these things some time back but I think I can decipher the civilization if I get a closer look” I said stepping forward.
“Alright Einstein, knock yourself out” Jenny said grinning wildly.
“Right…” I muttered and stepped closer to the wall of the cave and held the light towards the hieroglyphics pattern on the wall, “It appears to be ancient Aztec, it’s definitely not Egyptian though, and it looks like some kind of ritual or warning”
“Be specific man, this could even lead to treasure! Just imagine the headlines: HIGHSCHOOL KIDS FIND HIVE OF TREASURE IN STRANGE CAVE, we could be famous baby!” Kyle shouted hugging Jenny.
I shook my head in a pathetic manner, “From what I can tell so far, this is most definitely not some map to a treasure, it’s a warning… this particular drawing here shows this cave and these tiny little figures here depict people closing it up”
“Closing up what?” Jenny asked squinting her eyes to see what I was talking about, she was wearing one of those tight tank tops over her denim jeans, I could even smell the fragrance of her hair as she moved closer to me.
“This –” I said tapping on a figure which looked like a man but had the head of a deer, “I think I know what drawing might depict, some kind of ancient creature or something”
“Really…? You mean to tell me that this cave is some kind of prison that was used to seal up a creature or demon, sounds spooky” Kyle laughed.
“I can’t say for sure Kyle, I don’t know anything about ancient pictograms but I think what I just said is quite logical, this place is most definitely not where we should be” I said.
“Jenny? Do you agree with Jeremy?” Kyle asked.
“I think I do… this place is starting to give me the creeps though” she replied, “I think something is crawling up my leg!” she gave out such a loud shriek that I staggered backwards clutching at my chest; my heart was racing.
Both Kyle and Jenny burst out laughing when they saw my reaction, “You should have seen your face man, you were all white with fear” Kyle chuckled hard.
“Very funny…” I muttered and turned to gaze at the hieroglyphs while Kyle and Jenny were still laughing their heads off, I know I had seen that particular drawing before but I didn’t know where.
Then something snapped up in my head, “I think I know the creature these ancient guys kept locked in here somehow! It’s a Wendigo; the God of the Lost, the evil demon of the woodlands, you guys still there?” I asked not turning around, “I guess these guys must have cast some sort of spell on this cave to keep the creature hidden and secure” I continued.
But at that very moment I heard a deep guttural growl behind me. Every hair on my body stood on end as I turned around slowly, and what I saw still haunts my dreams till this day.
For there stood the Wendigo holding the severed heads of Kyle and Jenny in its hands, its eyes were bloodshot and red, its deer head had curved horns, it must have reached out and wrenched off their heads while they were laughing at me, they wouldn’t have heard it coming.
I stood looking at the Wendigo too frozen to the spot to even run or scream, the severed heads of my friends were still in its hands, by either chance or fate I gaped at Kyle’s head and could tell that he had died laughing because he still had an awkward grin on his face.
The Wendigo lunged at me and that was when my body just responded, I bolted out of the cave and ran screaming until I fell on my face, then I started up looking back at the cave with fear, there stood the Wendigo staring at me; it couldn’t go after me because it couldn’t leave the cave, I had guessed right; the Aztecs had casted a spell on the cave.
It growled and bellowed at me, but I staggered to my feet and ran without looking back.