Deep Dark Woods — An Excerpt

      After scurrying about to set up the tents and gear the rain suddenly subsided. A light mist was all that was left of the downpour. It was light enough that no extra protection from the elements was needed. A few rays of sunshine shone through the grey clouds and reached the forest floor.

      The first order of business after securing shelter, as any good outdoorsman would know, was to search for wood to build a fire. The fire ring had already been generously left by the last inhabitants of the campsite, so they wouldn’t need to worry about searching for rocks. They would need a supply of firewood and plenty of it. This might have posed a problem for some that weren’t schooled in the ways of the outdoors, but not for Jake. He had been a Boy Scout for many years when he was younger. During his time in the scouts, Jake even advanced to become the Scout’s highest honor, an Eagle Scout. He knew how to survive off the elements if needed and sure as hell knew where to find dry wood even after it rained. Even though he hadn’t been camping since college, he had no doubt that he still remembered all the skills and possessed the aptitude it took to survive and take care of his family out in ‘the wild’. Though, the idea of having the family truck nearby didn’t hurt his confidence any.

      Grabbing his trusty bowie knife (the same one he had had since high school and the one he used to fend off the attacking pigs from his and his wife’s camping trip back in college) from a backpack, he made sure the girls were comfortable at the campsite, kissed each on the forehead, sheathed the knife on his hip, and headed into the trees. Right before he turned behind a cluster of trees and went out of sight, he peered over his shoulder, saw the girls watching him, and gave them a big wave. Even from the distance he could tell that both had worried looks on their faces, but they were smiling anyway, and waving back.

      “So, what do you want to do?” Sam asked.

      “Heck if I know, Mom. You’re the one that has been camping before, not me. How should I know what to do? I mean, do we paint our faces with mud and run around the fire once it’s built or what?”

      Sam laughed. “I don’t think that is quite what your Dad had in mind. You’re making it sound like Lord of the Flies or something.”

      Sam wished she hadn’t used that book reference. It made her think about the last time she was in the woods…the boars, the blood, the first time she and Jake had ever…

      “Anyway,” Sam continued, “I think it was awfully nice of your dad to plan a family getaway, even if it is in the woods.”

      “What do you mean, ‘even if it is in the woods’, Mom?”

      Sam really didn’t want to tell her daughter what had happened her first and only time camping, but figured she’d better. It might help save her life one day, Sam thought to herself, as she began the story.

      Once the story was finished, Alexis replied with “oh, my God” and looked behind her. She didn’t want any wild animals sneaking up on her, especially nothing that could stick and then slice her into a hundred pieces. She knew she could handle a squirrel, a deer, maybe even baiting a worm on a hook to go fishing in the stream that her father said was close by, but nothing that looked mean and could cause her any real harm. Sure, she knew that if she accidently stuck herself with an old, rusty fishing hook that was dried with worm and fish guts she might catch something, but a shot in the arm could cure that. It would be nothing close to having a wild pig chasing her, rearing its head back, plunging its horns into her…

      “Sweetie…are you ok?” Sam asked, shaking the girl’s leg.

      “Huh, what? Oh, sure, Mom…I’m just peachy.”

      The rest of the time Jake was away, the girls made themselves useful by setting up some equipment and goods: cooking pots and pans, eating utensils, jugs of drinking water, citronella candles and a few other odds and ends. Sam lit the candles when they were finished. The last thing she needed, besides another little piggy showing up, was to be eaten alive by mosquitoes. After they were finished, they sat down on a few upturned logs surrounding the cold fire ring and stared at each other.

      Sam finally broke the silence.

      “So, sweetie. Tell me more about Greg.”

      “Geez, Mom. Do I really have to?” Alexis muttered.

      “Well, of course you don’t have to. But, believe it or not, I remember how it was to be twelve and have a boyfriend for the first time and think he is the love of your life. I know you think I’m old and all, but even I remember who my first kiss was with…it was your father, of course,” Sam said, giving her daughter a quick wink.

      “Yeah, sure, Mom. Like I really believe that it was Dad. Especially since I know you didn’t meet him till you two were in college. So it must have been someone else that you had your first kiss with.”

      “Hey, now. Didn’t your teachers ever tell you to never answer a question with a question? I’m here to talk to you openly and honestly but…”

      “I know, I know…”

      “Okay, so?”

      “Greg, yeah, okay…sure, he’s okay. He’s cute and all but I’m not so sure about the whole kissing thing, though,” Alexis lied.

      “You have never thought about what it would be like to kiss him?” Sam asked.

      “Well…I don’t know…geez, Mom.”

      “Okay, okay…you don’t have to tell me. But, let me just say, that all guys are after one thing and one thing only…and that thing is–”

      “Okay, Mom, geez…I gotcha…I know. I know you don’t have to say IT.”

      Grinning at her daughter, Sam said to herself, I really hope she waits till she is ready…girls today

      She looked past Alexis and into the woods where Jake had vanished some time ago. She was starting to get worried about him but didn’t want to let on to Alexis that her father might be in trouble.

      I’m sure he is fine. I hope. He’s either having trouble carrying back all the firewood he found or can’t find any. Shit. If he doesn’t find any dry wood what will we do? It will be pitch black at night without a fire burning; we won’t be able to see if some animal wanders into the campsite. Hell, the thing would be able to…

      Sam didn’t want to think about the consequences.

      She got up from the log she had been sitting on, strolled past her daughter and looked into the deep woods. She hoped that Jake would walk out of the trees at any moment, carrying a night’s supply of firewood, but for some reason didn’t think it would happen.

      Something was wrong.

      She could feel it.


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