Every year my family and I go to Firefly Campgrounds, outside our small hometown. It always feels haunted to me, as I’m being watched. I tell my parents time and time again but they don’t seem to listen. So here we are in the car with my two younger siblings, Derek, and Dakota, listening to Old Rock 5 minutes out. The trees are always green during this time of year, the air is moist, the animals and birds seem to be alive and singing. Our road has gone from pavement to dirt, as I stare out the window taking it all in. I don’t mind being in nature but I mind being in this part of nature. My brother Derek is now jumping with joy as we pull up into our camp spot and my sister rolls her eyes and pulls your black hoodie over her head and sinks back into her seat. She’s never liked the outdoors. “Come on, pile out, grab your things, we do this every year, you guys know the drill,” Dad shouts. He does say this to us year after year. I just giggled and opened the door, helping out my sister who had been wedged between Derek and I. The sun is shining, the ground is cool, and the trees look like they are dancing in the wind. It’s a great day.
I went around to help mom with the stuff in the trunk, and out of the corner of my eye I could have sworn I saw someone or something move. I looked over again and nothing. “You okay honey? You look concerned,” Mom asks me. I just wrinkled my nose and replied, “Yeah.” As much as my family wanted to think we were a close-knit family, we aren’t. My parents were on the right side of the campsite putting up their blue tent and bickering, I laughed. I looked at my sister and she shrugged her shoulders. We looked at the tent bag and we grabbed our three person tent and took it to the left side of the camp spot. We set up our tent in the quiet. It's huge, gray with blue trim, has a little porch, and a zipper to put a wall up between the rooms for privacy. I decided to throw off my leggings and sweater and I put on some shorts, a black tee, and some sneakers.
By the time I came out my parents had set up the picnic table with food, snacks, and our favorite drinks. The fire was going in the middle of our spot between the tents, and I couldn’t help but stare and watch the embers be taken a short way with the wind. Somewhere on my right I heard a crack of a branch, so I turned to look as fast as I could, and I saw something lurk in the shadows for a brief second and it was gone. Back to feeling uneasy. Mom waved me over and I came to the table, grabbed my sandwich, drank, and found my way over to a chair by the fire. It is my favorite time of the night, telling scary stories, with my family. Everyone has finally gathered around and pops looked like he wanted to explode and tell his story. On que, Derek, Dakota, and I start chanting, “story! Story! Story!” My dad chuckled, acting like he wasn’t waiting for that. He sat back, sighed, and looked up at the sky. So he begins, “One night a family of five sit around a fire. One of the family notices the lurkers in the shadows, while no one else seems to notice. She stays quiet and they all go to bed. She jumps awake as something swipes her tent, and she looks around watching a shadow circle her tent, and… We all leaned in for dad to tell us the rest. Out of nowhere my mom shouts boo from behind us and we all scream and laugh. It was good to be here with them. Maybe dad's stories are why I feel so on edge. Silly me.
We decided to go on a night walk with some walkie talkies and flashlights. The sky was pitch black painted with stars, it seems like you can see every one of them out tonight. The trees looked huge and black swaying in the wind. Five minutes into our walk and I feel as if I’m being watched. So I keep looking around and catching my sister glancing at me. So I stared at her, and she finally said, “Do you see it too?” My eyes widened and I turned my head a little to the right and there was a huge shadow coming out of the woods towards us. I yelled for everyone to run back to the car and no one seemed to notice but my sister and I. We took off running so fast I felt my lunges wanting to collapse, my feet hitting the dirt and kicking up dust as I went. Thank God I put on sneakers. The two of us reached the car , pulled open the door, slammed it shut, and locked the doors. We laid on the ground. Our chest moving at a rapid pace, our breathing heavy. We didn’t speak. Just stayed still in the silence. Nothing seemed to be happening as the hours went by, but we didn’t hear from our family either. It seems as if they didn’t come back last night. I drifted off into sleep.
Not long after I felt the car getting warm and the sun was up, birds were chirping. I slowly opened my eyes starting at the ceiling of the car. I looked at my sister and shook her awake. We lifted our heads and slowly peeked out, everything seemed to be in place. We got out, went to our tent, no Derek. I ran to my parents tent, no parents. I looked to my sister and she turned pale as if she saw a ghost and started screaming. I followed her gaze to the front of our camp spot and our family was laying on the ground with their limbs missing…. I stood there and stared while my sister dropped to the ground screaming. Out of nowhere a park ranger showed up in a golf cart, noticed the bodies, and called it in. The cops and detectives got here within 10 minutes, taping things off, putting us in the back of ambulances, and talking but I couldn’t hear. I was in shock. My worst fear has come alive.