By Jeffrey Bishop
Although this is not our first story written, that it’s eponymous with the blog, and that it’s relatively accessible (length, subject, low Scare Rating, etc.), compelled us to publish it first. We hope you enjoy it — but let us know your thoughts!
Tell Time: 5 minutes 40 seconds
Scare Rating: 1/5 Ghosts
Jenny was off to summer camp, for her first time. She was looking forward to a week of fun and activities with her fellow Sunshine Girl Scouts, and a week away from her older brother, Ben, who always seemed to work hard to tease and annoy her. But her excitement was tempered a bit by worry, because of what Ben had warned her about from his recent summer camp experience with the Wilderness Boy Scouts.
“Have fun, sis. Just watch out for the scurry tails,” he warned ominously, in the southern drawl that everyone in those parts was known for.
“‘Scary tales?'” she asked, repeating what she thought she heard him say. “What scary tales?”
“You’ll find out!” he replied, with a mischievous grin on his face. And with that, their mom whisked her into the car and off to the campsite, a couple of hours away from the city.
When she arrived, Jenny quickly forgot about her worries as she met up with the other girls from her den and they got into their activities. That afternoon, she and her friend Brandi took a swim in the lake before the group hike and tour through the camp grounds.
“Are you scared?” Brandi asked Jenny as they walked along a path winding uphill through the woods. “Are you scared to sleep out in the woods? Are you scared … of the scurry tails?”
Jenny hadn’t thought about being afraid — and hadn’t thought about the scary tales — all afternoon. But all at once, her anxiety crept up on her again. “I guess a little,” she replied, trying to keep a brave front up. “My brother warned me about them, but I’m pretty sure he was just teasing me.”
“I don’t known” Brandi replied. “My big sister warned me about them too! I’m not looking forward to the campfire. Or lights out!”
Neither was Jenny, but she kept that to herself. As the afternoon gave way to evening, and the dinner dishes were all washed up and set out to dry, the sense of dread among the girls kept growing and growing.
“Time for campfire stories!” called out Becky, their youth leader. At that, all the girls gathered around the campfire, sitting on logs spaced out in a ring around the central fire pit. Jenny dragged herself there slowly, fearing the stories she’d hear — fearing the tales she thought her brother had warned her about.
But the stories that the leaders and some of the other girls told ended up being just fine — even wonderful! Some were funny, others had a bit of mystery to them. A couple of them were mildly scary, but nothing at all like what Jenny had worked up in her mind to be afraid of!
After a while, as a full moon topped the tree line behind them and the camp fire died down to a low pile of red embers, story time ended. In good cheer again and tired from their full day of fun, the two girls headed to their tent to turn in.
But no sooner had they settled into their sleeping bags, when a wind seemed to rush up on their campsite, whooshing loudly among the tents. The tents themselves started to shake violently, and both girls sat up and looked at each other in the dark, scared all over again.
Then there came a scream from another tent nearby. With that, Jenny grabbed her flashlight and turned it on. As the light hit the wall of the tent, she could see the silhouette of some small creature hanging on the outside wall. Both she and Brandi screamed, and soon the entire campsite was awake and screaming along with them, as dozens of little creatures ran from tent to tent, banging on the nylon walls, running up one side and down the other, snapping the guy lines, and otherwise finding ways to be obnoxious.
Jenny waved her flashlight around, trying to get a glimpse of the creatures that had invaded their pop-up neighborhood. Seeing a shadow at the nylon screen door, she shined her flashlight straight ahead and saw the critter.
She got a good look at the thing that was clinging to the door and shaking it back and forth. Jenny’s scream, high in her throat, melted into nervous laughter as she fully realized the situation. Before her was a furry animal about the size of a young cat, with a flat, comical face that held a toothsome smile. It’s tail was long like a monkey’s, but thicker, with a big furry bulb on the end of it. It used the tail to beat on the tent wall like a drum.
She didn’t recognize the creature, but upon seeing such an amusing looking animal, Jenny — and Brandi too — couldn’t be scared anymore. The critter’s comedic antics were rather cute. Cuter still was the quizzical look on its face, as the girls reacted with amusement instead of fear. Perplexed — but still smiling mischievously with the toothy look pasted to its face, the creature redoubled its efforts, banging the tent even harder and faster than before and scurrying back and forth across the mesh window. The girls doubled over, laughing and giggling at the silly sight before them.
Now angry — but still smiling — the creature hopped off the girls tent. Looking back, it stuck a long pink tongue out in their direction and gave a loud razzie, then bounded away, chattering loudly to its fellow monsters as it slinked away into the night.
The girls looked at each other again, still giggling at what they’d just seen. All around them, they could hear wild laughter erupting from other tents, as the girls around them also discovered the humor in the antics of the creatures that had invaded their tent city.
“Alright girls, you can go back to sleep now,” came the voice of their leader, out of her tent and patrolling the area now. “They’re all gone now. And I don’t expect they’ll be back again tonight!”
“What were those things?” asked Jenny when Becky came by to check on their tent.
“Why, those were just scurry tails!” she replied. “Ornery little devils, aren’t they?”
A wide smile of understanding spread across Jenny’s face as her brother’s warning finally clicked. “Scurry tails, huh?” Not scary tales, she thought. “Why, they’re nothing to be afraid of at all!”
With that, she once again snuggled down into her sleeping bag and fell fast asleep.