I don’t often do this…. attempt to write short stories. I know there are plenty more experienced writers out there doing just this, and probably far better than I.
Thought I’d give it a go though. Why not?
A familiar nagging teased her from a restless sleep.
The icy bite of the night air on her cheeks tempted her to simply roll back over in the sleeping bag and put off the inevitable, but there was simply no ignoring the call of nature any longer.
Feeling along the edge of the mattress in the dark she located the small torch and began the process of dragging herself from the warmth of her cozy bed out into the elements.
A full moon flooded the campsite with a gentle blue/grey light, so once out of the tent she flipped the torch off and slipped it into her pocket.
The grass was drenched with dew, so much so that she hurried across to the dirt path not wanting her sneakers to get wet.
In the stillness of the dead of night the campground had fallen eerily silent, unlike hours before when dozens of campfires blazed and crackled as rosy cheeked children and their parents sat laughing while toasting marshmallows on green sticks.
The only sound was the crunch of her shoes on the dirt and even that was muffled by the hoodie pulled snugly over her ears.
She slipped it off, wanting to hear the silence better.
It was always a long walk to the amenities block in the middle of the night, but a walk she made often.
Years before it was the small children rousing her in the middle of the night to take this same walk.
Now it was just a whining bladder.
Her not fully awake imagination mumbled to her as she made her way up the path.
Just how many creatures were there, awake, right then, fixing their eyes on her as she walked….?
As if to answer her thoughts a black cat suddenly slunk from behind a clump of bushes and froze as it caught sight of her.
At exactly the same moment a strange sound, or sounds, as it were, came from the tree’s beyond the campground. Not quite human, not quite animal, she registered, but with no alarm, something else she registered….She was just too half asleep to be bothered trying to figure it out.
It had stopped once she reached the amenities block anyway.
The cat scooted off into the bush once she’d passed. Probably belonged to the people that ran the campground she decided.
“It didn’t exactly CROSS my path” she thought.
And that somehow made it alright.
Nobody else was ever in the toilet block and that’s a creepy thing, she decided.
Too many horror movies have scenes involving empty toilet blocks in the middle of dark nights.
There are too many unseen things, too many doors, too many maniacal men threatening to jump from behind them wielding axes.
She hurried into a stall, the same stall she’d used all weekend, the one right at the end, and locked the door.
When she was done there was the momentary decision….to wash ones hands or not.
It was bloody cold, but force of habit had her reaching for the tap before she could choose to be lazy.
Moths danced around the light as she dried her hand on shreds of paper towel.
Somebody had left their toothbrush in a suction holder, with a smiley face on it, stuck to the mirror.
One annoyed mother would be searching for that in the morning.
She began the walk back to the tent, more awake now and vastly more comfortable.
The moon had moved from beyond the canopy of tree’s at the top of the valley right across almost to the other side of the sky.
Probably close to 4am she calculated.
In a few hours the dratted Kookaburra’s would start their raucous clowning wake up call.
Who wants to be woken by such outrageous laughter?
Then the Kurrawongs would start, and the crows…
Morning was always such a noisy affair.
She much preferred the hushed silence of 4 am.
A low light fog shrouded the campground. Was it fog, or the settling of smouldering campfire smoke down in the basin of the valley?
She hadn’t noticed it before, but then again, her eyes had been barely open.
Checking her pocket for the torch she walked around the bend in the path, past the garbage bins neatly lined up to one side, towards the direction of her tent.
Suddenly the scene before her looked disturbingly unfamiliar.
Cars, tents, caravans, camper trailers seemed to swim in front of her eyes.
They all looked strange and unrecognisable.
A pang of anxiety flooded her belly.
Where was the tent?
She’d walked back exactly the same way, she was sure of it, why wouldn’t she have?
It was not THAT far, just follow the path round the bend….past the bins….around the corner, cross the grass and it should be there…
But it wasn’t!
That was somebody else’s car! Not theirs.
None of the tents had the right shape….the right angles…
Her mouth went dry.
“How the hell could I get lost?” she thought, alarmed.
“Am I having a stroke, a funny turn?
Am I dreaming?”
Her pace quickened even though she was now walking around blindly from one tent to another, searching for some familiar landmark but everything remained foreign, as though she’d landed in a totally different campground!
“There was a tap wasn’t there?
A caravan with a big awning close to where our tent was set up…..?”
Panic was now fluttering like a trapped moth in her mind and her feet were quickly becoming damp from circling around in the dew soaked grass.
“Shit! What the hell is wrong with me!” What’s happening! Where is the tent! How could I possibly be lost?”
Her heart pounded in her chest as she frantically moved from one row of tents and vans to the next.
A lump in her throat began to well up constricting her breath….tears pricked at her eyes and suddenly she felt as though she was five years old again….lost….unable to find the safety of her parents….
The blue/grey light of the moon, the shroud of smoke lingering low in the valley seemed to thicken, blurring her vision.
The silhouetted tree’s appeared to bend towards her at crazy angles.
The stars swirled in the sky above, as though the universe had suddenly been set in greasy motion.
Everything was just wrong. Very very wrong!
She whirled around and around, on the spot… turning this way, then that, but everything just became crazier…
Suddenly there was the cat.
The same black cat she’d seen on her way to the amenities block.
It sat perched on a large tree stump watching, with eyes fixed upon her like emerald saucers, and seemed to be smiling.
From behind it, deep within the shadows of the tree’s there came the same half human,half animal sounds she’d heard before, but this time she WAS afraid.
And then the screaming began….
Pulling the sleeping bag tight around her chin, back in the comfort of the tent, she settled down, closing her eyes as the echo of screams faded in her brain.
“I must remember, at some point, to write that down.” she thought idly to herself, allowing her thoughts to drift…
“Yes you must.” answered the ever present company in her mind.
“We will walk again together soon.” it smiled.