Dinner was pure heaven. Enough food for everyone to have thirds – and we did. Momma’s cannoli, Mrs Abernathy’s coconut cake and a mountain of wonderful food in between – bliss.
Well, as ‘bliss’ as you get with a huge crowd and younger siblings.
I had to convince Tina that frogs were not carnivorous and couldn’t eat her toes. I threatened Mike with sleeping outside in a wet sleeping bag to get him to stop telling her that nonsense. Crystal’s cousin Clifton was gracious enough to explain the difference between insectivore and carnivore when my nitwit little brother Mike brought it up. I meant it when I told him one more word and I’d let him explain this mess to Momma.
Really should have sent him to sleep in the girl’s cabin at that point. I let him sulk off instead. I had my mind on Crystal and not Mike’s penchant for sister torment.
The dishes were all done and I was looking for Crystal to suggest a visit to the pier when the screaming began. Counting Momma, three slayers were present along with a total of six men, and yes, we’d come armed. Clifton and Tim both had rifles, Poppa had his handgun and Mr Abernathy had a baseball bat. I grabbed a stick – being an eclectic slayer means I don’t have to worry about carrying a weapon, whatever is at hand will do just fine.
But I was the only one to grab anything – girl screams at night with Mike and Marty around were not likely to require weapons. I knew that as well as the others – I just wanted something to poke my idiot brother with.
This time Jane was in hysterics because something had been scratching at the window and jumped out at her when she’d tried to see what it was. I did actually make it to Eagle scout, even if I can’t tell a acorn from a sapling. The soft ground under the window and the hastily discarded ape mask told the tale. The trail was all of fifteen feet – Mike was still hiding behind a shrub when I poked him.
It was his turn to let out a blood curdling scream. That only annoyed me more – Momma was gonna think I’d hit him. Then I noticed he wasn’t moving – he just sat there, staring into the woods.
The others were running up as I knelt beside him, “Mike?” It took four tries and a good shake to get him to look at me. For the first time since he was six, he threw himself into my arms and started crying.
I carried him back to our cabin. I didn’t know what this was, but he was gonna be embarrassed enough when he came out of it. Poppa got Momma and sent her in. I left Mike to her – he wasn’t talking yet and when he did, it would be better if Momma took care of it.
The whole thing ruined the mood for the night. And it meant that I ended up on the pier with Crystal, her cousin and three of my brothers. Crystal caught me up on the girls’ side. Jane and Tina were now sleeping in the same room with her. Tina is only scared of things that don’t have fur. Jane isn’t easily frightened, either. But they’d already had enough.
Kevin made a couple stupid wise cracks about not telling ghost stories around the fire tomorrow night. Not that that was a possibility – half of us don’t scare and the other half end up waking Momma in the middle of the night if we spook them, which has gotten our backsides tanned more than once.
Slayers make the worst ghost story tellers anyway. Ghost shows itself, gets slain, the end.
A good horror tale should leave you wondering what’s in the dark at night. Ours leave no room for doubt – then it dies. The end. Yeah, pretty poor stories if you’re trying to scare someone.
Crystal asked me about Mike and I told her what had happened. I didn’t have to ask – she hadn’t sensed anything any more than I had. If she had, she’d have hunted it down and killed it already.
Of course, there are a lot of things in the woods that aren’t creatures – at least not the kind we hunt. I figured he’d seen a raccoon or something staring at him and freaked out from the eye shine. The first time I went camping in the Scouts, I woke up late that first night and came face to face with the biggest rabbit on the planet as I tried to find a place to relieve myself. None of the guys ever knew but I had been spooked for a moment with the light first hit it. Glowing eyes just look wrong.
We did have a nice time looking at the moon and stars over the lake. But it was way too short – and had far too many people for my taste. I like my family – but I also want time with my girlfriend. A lot of time with my girlfriend that involves moonlight, stars, soft music and nothing trying to kill us. I usually only get the first and the opposite of the last.
I ended up bunking with Mike and Marty. Clifton and I switched after Momma promised Mike I’d be close. I didn’t razz him about it – he was already looking like he couldn’t decide which was worse, the fear or the embarrassment.
But I really should have made him sleep with the girls.