Hoping to re-set their circadian rhythms, a group of strangers enters the woods on a week-long camping trip away from technology.
Victor is the guide on the expedition, and he has only one goal: to use his years of experience to get everyone in and out safely. Eighteen-year-old Taylor, and his mother, Leah, are only joining the trip after a judge ordered Taylor, who caused a car wreck while texting, to go. Odette is hoping to shed a few pounds while treating herself to a relaxing week in the woods after a long, hard year. Tech-addicted Brent is always looking for a challenge, and burnt out with mud runs, thinks this week-long hike is just the thing. Chelsea read in her favorite blog that this was the new thing to do, so she’s doing it. Merle used to always camp with his wife before she died, and he thinks camping with a group is the best way to try again.
But the first night they are awakened by the sound of an animal outside their tents. When Victor investigates, something tackles him to the ground. Suddenly, the camp erupts into chaos, and the campers scatter, only to be hunted down, and watch in horror, as their numbers dwindle.
And, the trek meant to relax them has them fighting for their lives as they flee a blood-thirsty werewolf.
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“This short story reads like a perfect b-movie flick, complete with a handful of archetypes including the rebellious teen (nice nod with the name) , the horny campers, and the cowardly muscle-bound egoist. Perfect ending and “Bruce Campbell great” lines earn it a top rating from me! ”
“It’s a fun, frantic, bloody story, with the monster fiercely front-and-center. There’s no doubt or mystery here, just a desperate attempt at survival. What ultimately makes it stand out, however, is the entirely surprising series of twists in the final pages.”
Taylor didn’t care how good this trip was supposed to be for him. It was too damn early to sleep. Not that his mom noticed, since she was sound asleep in the tent next to his. He could hear her snoring.
As he fumed, he stared up at the stars through the open dome of his tent. A smile slowly crept across his face despite himself as he connected the dots of the stars, trying to form constellations. His mind reeled with flashes from the accident he had caused, like it did most nights. The flashes were like from a movie or someone else’s life, because he remembered so little. He shivered and turned his attention back to the stars.
As he lay there, he heard twigs snap on the ground. His body stiffened as he wondered what it was, and then he told himself it was someone sneaking out for a piss. More twigs snapped nearby. And he heard the distinct sounds of labored, animal breathing.
Bear. The word shot through his brain and ricocheted off each edge of his skull. He clutched the fabric of his sleeping bag. As the moment of panic passed, a grin split his face. He totally wanted a selfie with a bear…and then he remembered he didn’t have his phone. He slunk back into the fabric, defeated. He tossed the sleeping bag back, deciding he could check it out anyway. He could always tell people about his encounter with a bear.
He crawled toward the door to his tent. He began to unzip, and then he heard someone call, “Does anyone else hear that?” He thought maybe it was Chelsea.
“Stay in your tents. I’ll check it out,” a voice boomed.
That was Victor, Taylor thought. He unzipped his tent to sneak a peek. The last of the fire flickered in the ring in the center of the tents. Taylor watched as Victor emerged from his tent. The light cast a dull glow on his face, which was half-shadowed.
Victor turned and looked at him. “I said stay in your tent.”
“I’m in my tent,” Taylor said.
Victor shook his head dismissively, but didn’t push it any further. He looked toward the food bags dangling from the trees, and they were undisturbed. He scanned the tree line for movement. The firelight and shadows danced, but he could discern nothing else moving. He craned his neck to listen for the sounds of steps.
The fire crackled, and he jumped, eyes darting toward the sound. He heard Taylor stifle a laugh. Beyond the light of the fire, he could hear scurrying, but it sounded like a small animal. An owl hooted nearby. He turned to Taylor and shrugged. “Guess it’s gone.”
“Bet it was big,” Taylor said.
“Nah. Black bears aren’t that—” His words broke off as he was tackled by something large and furry. Taylor saw the animal as only a blur that lunged from the darkness, across the camp light, and disappeared with Victor into the dark woods.
The camp suddenly burst into activity as tents shook with those who were startled awake. Taylor climbed from his tent in only his underwear and tee shirt as he pulled his shoes on bare feet. “Help him!” He screamed to no one in particular and pointed toward the bushes where Victor had been dragged.
Victor’s cries continued to pierce the night and the brush shook with a violence so fierce that leaves fell off like water from a wet, shaking dog.
“What’s going on?” Merle asked as he emerged from his tent.
“Something tackled him!” Taylor yelled.
“What?” Chelsea asked. It seemed everyone was out of their tents.
“That,” Taylor replied.
Frothy blood soaked the muzzle of the animal that rose above the bushes at the edge of the campsite. Its eyes glowed as the firelight flicked across its face. It opened its mouth and a strand of bloody saliva trailed down, breaking off, and falling to the ground.
“What is it?” Leah croaked, clutching her son’s shoulder, her yes never leaving the beast only 30 feet away.
“It’s a fucking werewolf,” Brent hissed. “Haven’t you ever seen a fucking movie?”