Don’t camp overnight by yourself they say. It’s dangerous they say.
I trek through the green forest, branches smack me in the face but it doesn’t bother me. This is why I’m out here; to experience nature, to be free, to getaway.
Although the mosquitoes are a pain, even after using a can of bug spray they keep buzzing around. I smack one on my arm and the guts spread then wipe it on my pants.
It’s only a two-night trip, many women camp alone, right? Well, I am. I will dominate nature and make it my bitch. I have all the right gear, skills and attitude for this, at least I keep telling myself. Besides, the photographs I take will be amazing for the photography contest. My next months rent check depends on winning.
Sure, I could have picked a less scary place to camp; they don’t call it the Dark Trail for nothing. There are stories of people disappearing or seeing things that couldn’t exist, like ghosts. The stories are by loonies anyway.
The Dark Trail isn’t so dark. It leads to the most beautiful waterfall in the area. Pictures of it are non-existent since the area is apparently haunted. Most people get so frightened they don’t stay the night, or don’t return at all.
I hike ten miles to my destination by the lake, using the GPS. Sweat has saturated my clothes leaving them damp. I peel them off and hang them from a tree to air out. After I set up my tent and build a fire, the sun is setting.
It’d be a good time to grab photos before it gets dark. I pull out my Canon and snap a few. First of the lake, trees and then someone next to a tree.
A figure, standing is all black with nothing to show. I jump up and gasp, moving away from the lens. My eyes wide open but there’s nothing there. It’s gone. I peer back through the lens, nothing, just a bird taking a crap on a rock.
I shake off the jitters and try to focus. I saw someone, I swear.
I call out across the lake. No answer and the air is stale and humid.
Darkness is near and I don’t feel like having a S’mores anymore. I crawl in the safety of the tent and grip the sleeping bag close. The woods aren’t haunted and it’s in my mind. I’m asleep within minutes.
The next morning dawn breaks and I crawl out of the tent. A few scattered clouds create a dark cast. I don’t hear any birds chirping, it’s silent like nothing is alive. After stretching out, my eyes gaze forward and stop.
My camera, it’s in the middle of my campsite. How did it get out here?
I pick it up and look around. There are no animal tracks. Did I sleep walk and drop it in the middle of the night? No, I didn’t even wake up to pee. I woke up still clutching the sleeping bag. A chill crawls up my spine.
I turn the camera on and scroll through the photos. My heart stops and fear enters my veins like an IV. No matter what explanation I come up with it’s not rational, there’s no way I took these photos. They are pictures of me asleep in the tent.
Thank you for reading! All feedback is welcome! Pictures taken from https://pixabay.com/
I will be posting more short stories soon!