Peyton Colston (she/her) about 1300 words
4433 Morgan Ford Rd. Apt. 2-S
St. Louis, MO 63116
“I think this place could get a little squatchie.” I remember looking around and saying that while Liz and I were setting up our tent. I looked at Liz. “Has Alix or her friends ever seen anything out here?” I asked. Alix, our friend whose other friends owned the land on which we were camping, had a last minute thing come up with her dog grooming business and was planning to join us the next morning.
Liz didn’t say anything. She just frowned at me and shook her head “no.”
I looked around again. The place sure seemed remote enough for something like that. It was just the tiniest clearing near an amazing rock bottomed stream a two-plus hour hike off of the main trail, following a trail blazed only on the sides of trees, into the middle of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. How could a place like that not put me in a cryptid kind of mood.
“Really I guess the Missouri one was called Momo, wasn’t it? Back in the day I mean. I’ve heard they still see ‘em but they just don’t call ‘em that anymore. And a lot of times don’t even report it. You ever see that show ‘These Woods Are Haunted?’ I saw one once that happened in the Ozarks, I’m pretty sure it was farther south than we are though, in Arkansas, where this family claimed they were chased out of this sort of remote campsite by they thought two or three sasquatches. I don’t know, do you think Alix would tell anybody even if something did happen?”
Liz stopped working on the tent and stood with her hands on her hips. She stared at me for a second or two and then said, “Look stop running off at the mouth about Bigfoot and haunted woods stuff and get your side of the tent up.”
It’s hard to argue with Liz when she gets all practical like that so I shut my mouth and we got the tent and everything else all set up. After that we stripped and had a dip in the stream and then watched darkness fall while we enjoyed a light dinner of dried fruit and veggie wraps with about half a bottle of chenin blanc. It was the middle of July so there was really no need for a fire, besides, it would have ruined the light show the fireflies were putting on. I had brought a small bag of mushrooms for the occasion so we shared that and laid on a blanket to stare at the sky.
Looking back, perhaps poor Miz Liz hadn’t been properly prepared for the full-on, one-on-one Rachel on psychedelics experience. We had tripped with each other before but not by ourselves. It was our first time by ourselves anywhere. Really the first time we had ever seen each other anywhere besides the goth club downtown where we had met a few years ago. When we were there Kenzie or maybe Ros was always around to help absorb the onslaught. By that I mean, basically, there are two versions of Rachel when she’s hangin’ with Lucy. There’s the one where I can’t stop laughing myself to near hyperventilation at absolutely nothing and then there’s the one where I go into a sort of verbal hyper-drive and start making up the most absurd, convoluted stuff that could only ever make sense if you also happen to have a head full of acid. But this was hardly a head full of acid. We just split an eighth of ‘shrooms. So we weren’t even really booming or anything. The stars were just extra sparkly and the fireflies were leaving groovy little trails of colored light in the air. Liz put on a field recording of some aboriginal didgeridu stuff and we both laid back to look at the constellations.
It was the perfect music in the perfect place at the perfect time and I was just the perfect amount of almost tripping and it wasn’t long before I felt like I was floating in space. It was such a wondrous little glow that Liz had to try three times to get my attention. She finally grabbed my shoulder and shook me hard. I started to sit up but she pushed me back down and whispered.
“Do you hear that?”
“Hear what?” I whispered back.
She pointed toward the edge of the clearing maybe about thirty feet away. “That noise over there.”
I cocked my ear in the direction she was pointing and listened for several seconds. I didn’t hear anything so I shrugged my shoulders and shook my head “no.”
She shook her head too. “I don’t hear it anymore either but I swear it sounded like someone was over there clacking a couple sticks together in time to the music.” I gave her a skeptical look and this time it was her turn to shrug.
We both sat in silence for awhile and just listened. I still didn’t hear anything and was about to lay back down when Liz hissed and pointed again. “There. It’s back.”
I listened a bit longer and finally thought I might have heard something but I couldn’t be sure. “I think its just an echo,” I said. I laid back down and was almost back to my peaceful and spacey spot when Liz jumped to her feet and grabbed the lantern and turned it onto its brightest setting.
“Damn it, Alix, cut that stupid crap out!” She shouted into the darkness. “It’s not funny! You know how freaked out I get!”
I guess I have to admit that, looking back, what I did next wasn’t really funny either, but, I just couldn’t help myself. “I don’t think it’s Alix,” I said. “I think this place could get a little squatchie.” Liz glared at me. “I think it’s Bigfoot and he thinks that’s us.” I pointed at Liz’s portable speakers. “I think Bigfoot wants to jam with us. He probably thinks it’s...” I had been going to say “squatch rock” but Liz held up her hand to stop me and her eyes were so wide and white I immediately shut up. She listened a few more seconds and then turned off the music and bolted for the tent. She finally stopped when she got right up to the tent flap and shouted back at me.
“Well come on, bitch, you can’t scare the hell out of me like that and then make me sit in here by myself!”
“God what a buzz-kill,” I remember thinking. All I did, though, was hurry obediently over to the tent.
Liz just sat there and stared at the closed tent flap for a long time. I sat down with my back propped against a pile of blankets and pillows and smoked a couple bowls. Liz finally slid over and snuggled up next to me.
I looked down at her and stroked her hair. “What was it, Liz?” I asked. “What was that last thing you heard?” She looked up at me and started to speak but then just closed her eyes. We must have both fallen asleep not too long after that because the next thing I remember is Alix waking us up the following morning.
“Wake up you two losers!” she shouted. “What a pair of reprobates. I’ve already hiked three miles and seen two deer and a bald eagle this morning and you two aren’t even awake yet! You’re probably hung over too.” She waddled on her knees across the tent towards us. “Oh, and by the way, were you two rocking out ‘Willie and the Poor Boys’ style last night?” She held up something small and made of wood. When I looked more closely I saw it was a crudely carved wooden kazoo. I don’t know how long I stared at it but I looked up just in time to see Liz look away from it too.
“I think this place could get a little squatchie,” she said.