The wily crew of campers' ears perked up as they swirled their first-night meal of spaghetti onto their forks. They overheard their counselors whispering about the reappearance of the skeletal beast in the forest - murmured words that he was resting just off the path in the nettles, halfway down the trail to the creek. The campers heard stories last year that a beast may have once lived in the forest. Curiosity crept into their bones at the prospect of being the ones to discover the fabled beast.
As the campers nibbled the last bites of their brownies, the counselors announced that a hike was next. Bug spray was a necessity but the campers decided they'd better collect sticks on the way, too. They needed to arm themselves in case the beast decided to emerge from the forest during the hike.
The counselors explained that this was to be a silent hike so that they could all enjoy the sounds of nature - but as they walked, the campers were more listening for sound signs that the beast was coming. Perhaps he snacked on small bunnies, maybe nettles and poison ivy, or worse yet — camper-sized humans.
As they hiked, the wily crew sneakily scooped up sticks from the forest floor. Their fearless camp counselors led them down the trail towards the creak, towards the supposed location of the skeletal beast. The campers' eyes were peeled, scanning the forest for the beast with sticks at the ready for defense.
A gust of wind came as they sensed something among the nettles. Without pause, they forged ahead with their sticks to proactively fend off what they knew was the beast.
As the wind moved through the foliage and sticks barreled through the air, the beast came into line of sight — but he was still. Preserved in time.
He was truly just a skeleton, once living but now left behind to become a part of the forest as nettles creeped among him. The fabled tale was true — a beast once roamed Camp Fontanelle and he remains to stand in the trees as a guardian of the forest, for the sake of wily campers to discover him.
The lovely Lydia Daigle and I teamed up for the @artstew52 Week 22 Diptych prompt collaboration! Oh what fun it was for both of us to take a photograph of foliage that seem to mirror each other (Lydia's is on the left, mine's the right) and write short stories of the seasons. Click her name above to read a winter tale about sledding and a grumpy old man! It's golden.
My story was inspired by a metal skeletal beast sculpture I welded together and hid in the forest at Camp Fontanelle. A little girl from my church was a camper several weeks ago and she came back to tell me how they found the beast in the forest and threw sticks at him. I told her he didn’t eat humans -- rather he was on a nettles diet ;)