The Dancing Bag Thriller
By Jeffrey Bishop
Some troop traditions are silly. Others can be a little sickening …
Tell Time: 3 minutes
Scare Rating: 1/5 Ghosts
It was the first meeting for Troop 55 — an all-zombie troop — since summer camp. It was a great get-together; the boys spent some time cleaning up open merit badge requirements from camp before they were released to play capture the flag — zombie style, which featured removing a body part from someone on the opposing team and safely returning to base without losing a limb of your own.
As twilight approached, the leaders called the boys back in to hand out awards and achievements earned over the summer. Following this formal part of the event, there was only one thing left on the agenda.
“Now it’s time to conduct our last post-camp tradition!” Mr. Granger announced. “We have to return lost property to its rightful owner!”
There were groans and giggles from the assembled boys — they were quite familiar with the tradition, which went like this: Boys being boys, oftentimes items were lost, forgotten or left during a camp-out — typically a mess kit, a flashlight or a sock. And in a zombie troop, sometimes there were items of even greater value left behind. To encourage greater responsibility at future camp outs, the group long ago established the practice of calling the offending boy before his peers to sing and dance for his property — a mild and fun “punishment” for all involved.
The first item drawn from Mr. Granger’s olive drab duffel bag was a hand crank-powered LED flashlight. A number of the boys coveted such an item, but only its owner, Michael, was allowed to dance for it. With his hands stuffed in his jeans pockets, he did a modest little backwards shuffle with just his feet — a move that had just enough style to earn a pass from Mr. Granger and the return of the flashlight.
The next few items went quickly, with ham-bones among the boys eagerly coming forward to do hip-hop versions of nursery favorites like “I’m a Little Teapot” — and at the same time raising suspicions among the adult leaders that they’d left their items behind on purpose just so they’d have for a venue for their showboating a few weeks later.
Eventually they managed to work to the bottom of the big green bag.
“Now our last item’s a real doozy!” said Mr. Granger, relishing the suspense he was creating. Reaching into the bag once more, he slowly drew out the item. Holding it at its top end, he set down — of all things — a disembodied leg before the gathered ghouls.
“Now who does this belong to?” he asked. The question wasn’t as absurd as it sounded: looking around, there was more than one or two zombie boys who were missing a leg. Sheepishly, one of them hopped forward to reclaim the limb.
“It’s mine, Mr. Granger.” said Scott, a Star Scout. “I knocked it off with an axe while working on my make-shift shelter at camp. It must have rolled down the hill. We looked and looked, but we couldn’t find it.”
“That’s ok Scott,” said Mr. Granger. “Wilderness Survival is a tough badge to earn — and it’s even more difficult without both of these. You can have it back … but you’ve still got to dance for it!”
Scott stepped forward to retrieve his lost limb and shoved it back on its stump, causing a squishy, wet sound as rotting flesh met rotting flesh. With a heavy sigh, he picked his head off his chest (not literally, this time) and started dancing, stamping his feet and clapping his hands in some sort of zombie rhythm.
Feeling the groove deep within his soul-less form, Scott headed for the door. Clearly a natural leader, it wasn’t long before all the boys got into the spirit of the moment and lined up behind him. Together, to the beat of an unnamed ’80s pop song running through Scott’s head, they all shuffled out of the school and into the street to dance until dawn.