This horror story is based on many truths. Happy Halloween :)
The sun slipped into a final, waning flame into the darkness that night brought forth. The leaves were just dressing into their autumn reds, oranges, yellows and the grass was beginning to stiffen for winter’s impending embrace. This was the last weekend of the year that welcomed campers. ...before the frosts, snows and heartaches came.
The camping gear seemed unusually heavy. I hefted the tent out of the back of my jeep and let it drop at my feet. It always seemed unfair that I had to unload the truck while he picked the “perfect” spot. Matt was always funny about things like that. He always wanted to make sure that the ground was perfectly level and that there were no twigs, or even bugs, that would cause a single bump in the floor. Sometimes I thought that he was just afraid of getting dirt beneath his fingernails.
When the first star burned into the sky, we were sitting before a small campfire. Smell of burning leaves wafted around us as we struggled with the wrapping of the hotdogs. Those things were always hard to open. Taking a knife, I was finally able to slice of a corner of the plastic just in time for the juice to ooze out. Great, my hand stinks like hotdogs now.
Matt poked the fire with a small stick hoping to provoke the embers to live moments longer. The graying ash of the small log that we had used proved that it was destined for death. The fire faded into the darkness.
I’ve never been comfortable in the woods alone at night. Even with a group of people, I never liked the woods. When I was very young, my brothers and sisters abandoned me in the middle of winter in the middle of a woods my eyes had never seen before. They wanted to know if I could find my way home. Standing knee-deep in snow in a darkening woods was frightening. Strangers came from the hills above me. One nearly struck me with an ATV. I can’t stand the woods.
Here I am, back in a nightly woods. The trees seem to hulk in the darkness. The usual creatures have fallen asleep only to leave the stage open for strange things. Nothing to be afraid of. Sure.
I brought out a flashlight and let its beam light the trees around me. Suddenly, two small eyes reflected the light back to me. It startled me at first, but I recognized them as belonging to a cat. I called for it, but it would not come. I got up and walked over to it. The beam of light turned to red. The cat had been mutilated and laying on its side facing us. It was a fresh kill. Fresh enough for the life in its eyes to reflect my light clearly. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and began to protest my existence in the woods.
Walking back to camp, I noticed that Matt was gone. That creep. He knew that I have a great phobia in play right now. Why would he want to be so cruel to me? I walked silently around the tent hoping to jump out at him before he could jump out at me. I was certain that I would scare the piss out of him. Nothing. No one there. Not even a shadow that claimed the form of a man. I sulked back toward the dead, but still popping fire... no one. I peered inside the tent. Empty.
I walked over to the jeep and peered inside with the flashlight. Only vacant, gaudy cloth seats looked back at me. Hell, I even dropped down and lit the shadows beneath the vehicle. I immediately jump back at the site that greeted me... those same two glowing eyes... That same dead cat was lying beneath the jeep staring at me. OK, that was beginning to creep me out more than I already am.
I decided to go inside the tent and wrap myself beneath the heavy sleeping bag. One of those “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me” instinctive maneuvers. Matt will be back.
The wind sounded strange against the cheap canvas sides of the tent. It sounded alive as though God’s breath was beating down... or perhaps, the devil’s breath escaping from below. The creatures suddenly silenced themselves as though a great hunter was present. Not even the annoying locusts buzzed one note. Beneath my cotton shield, my heart was pounding faster and faster. I was certain that it would awaken even the sun in its fierceness.
Crick, crick, crick... the zipper to the tent began to unzip itself slowly. I couldn’t even gasp. Just as I was about to catapult into insanity, something entered the tent. Silence.
Minutes passed by... or perhaps it was mere seconds. I decided to peak out from underneath the sleeping bag to view the intruder. I silently grabbed the flashlight near my head and aimed it upward. The beam of light hit against something and reflected the image back to my brain. I kicked the sleeping bag off of my body and fought to exit the tent where there is no door. I knocked the tent over - the force of my body had knocked the pegs from the ground. My screams ripped through my throat. I couldn’t get out. I was trapped. I threw the flashlight. That was my only means of defense. Fingernails ripped into the tent’s side, some broke off (the pain was excruciating), some clawed at the other hand’s flesh. Had to get out.
“Stop it!” yelled the object that the flashlight revealed. “It’s all right.” The voice sounded familiar to me. I didn’t recognize the man through the ski mask. I recognized the bloody head that he was holding. It was Matt’s. My hair instantly grayed. When the ski mask came off, there was a second face of the same man... it was Matt. He had planned to scare me out of my phobia. How stupid was that idea. He rigged a rubber Halloween mask to look like himself and poured fake blood all over it. Well, he scared me alright; however, now I’m even more afraid of the woods.
I wanted to go home. It wasn’t fun for me anymore; however, it wasn’t fun for me to begin with. The sun was just beginning to peer through the basement of night. Nature returned to its normal self. The daylight revealed the many claw marks on my hands and the gray hairs still on my head.
Matt convinced me, more like forced me, to spend that second nights in the woods. The tent was set up again in the morning. I had definitely done damage to it.
The day was beautiful and my nerves calmed. The sky was sapphire blue and the air was cool and crisp. We took a long walk and enjoyed the fireworks in the trees. My heart was still pounding itself to death within my chest. It was begging to get out of its cage and leave. It knew that it was afraid and scorned my body for staying.
The day was short and darkness soon swung around. The moon was jealous of the sun and captured it again, casting it down into its dark place.
I won the argument for keeping the campfire lit. There was no way that I was going to let that light die out. This was the last night. This was going to be the last time that I sleep outside until I meet my grave.
Matt stayed close to my side. He knew that he frightened me beyond a woman’s forgiveness. Our nightly meal was eaten in silence. When it was time to go to sleep, the campfire remained and we slipped quietly into our sleeping bags. I made sure that I kept a flashlight near my reach. We both closed our eyes and waited for sleep.
When I awoke, nature was silent again. I grabbed the cool metal flashlight in preparation. Crick, crick, crick - the tent’s zipper began to unzip again. I can’t believe him. I can’t believe that he’d go out of his way again to scare me. That’s it, we’re through. The person entered the tent and I grabbed the flashlight and flipped the switch, jumping up at the same time screaming. I figured that I would be the first to draw and try to make him crap his pants. My scream stopped. For a split second, it felt like I was facing forward and running in the other direction at the same time. This man had no ski mask on. This man was not Matt. In fact, it was a young boy. He was shaking. He was holding that same dead cat. This time, its eyes were dark. Death had staked its claim.
“This cat saw me kill my parents” the boy said. “They wouldn’t let me stay up late. I killed them.” He held no remorse. His hands, face and clothes covered with blood.
“Matt, wake up!” I yelled. He remained wrapped up in his sleeping bag. I reached over and gave his side a shove. “Get up!” Still, he would not wake up.
“This cat saw me kill my parents” the boy repeated.
I looked over with the flashlight near Matt and realized that there was a hole in the tent. Entering through this hole, was a knife piercing his heart. He was dead.
“This cat saw me kill my parents and you are in their woods” said the boy. In his rage, he had unnatural strength.
My lungs heaved and my heart fought for life. As the last mist of life escape from the cuts in my body, I thought, “He knew I was afraid of the woods, why did he make me go camping?”
When the sun rose, Matt and I were both dead. Our lives joined the embracing sun beams. The police found the young boy in his house where he had shot himself with his father’s gun. They found the parents both dead in the living room. The boy became another headline with the other children across the nation who’ve turned to murder.
School murders, family murders and random murders... this child’s fate will fade when another of America’s children goes ballistic.
Sleep with one eye open.
©October 11, 2003 Lori S. Maynard
Site: The Poetry Carnival
Reader Reviews for
"Sleep with one eye Open"
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Membership?
Click here to Join!
|Reviewed by Liz Cosline
|Wanted the story to go on. Nicely done.|
|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|You should write more in the horror genre, because you really can write these kind of horror tales -- impressive write just the same, masterfully wrought.|
|Reviewed by Cynthia Borris
|Great title and spooky twist! Happy Halloween!
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|yikes! chilling write, just the ticket for this spooky time of year! well done, lori! *shivering* (((HUGS))) and much love, your (freaked out) texas friend, karen lynn. :0 (screamin' like a fool, here...)|