First Night in the Woods
As Levi pitched his tent in the woods, he felt a wonderful excitement in braving the unknown. He didn’t expect to encounter the supernatural, but he knew others feared the woods or at least steered clear of them and though the kids might zoom past them for a late-night thrill, none considered sleeping amongst its trees. Yes, he secured a sense of pleasure in being more daring than others. His wife’s broad smile as he walked out the door indicated her admiration. Such a smile could fuel him for days.
The light among the trees waned but Levi had no problems throwing up the tent as he had done many times before. He pitched it not far from the road to ensure a quick escape to familiar surroundings if required and he felt the mosquitoes would be too fearsome the closer he moved to the pond.
In the distance, through the trees, he saw a faint glow coming from the old woman’s home and the knowledge she somehow afforded electricity comforted him.
He considered making a fire to both pass the time and provide light but he decided not to risk it without available means to extinguish it and he had promised Maxine he wouldn’t.
He sat outside his tent for a few hours listening to the sounds of the insects and peering through the darkness in all directions before turning in. He considered using his flashlight to walk through the woods but he didn’t see the point. He experienced the creepiness of the woods to full effect sitting next to his tent. He didn’t feel it would be any creepier or less creepy if he walked to a different area.
He lied on his side and read a book with his flashlight. The walls of his tent billowed with a rising wind and the tall slender pines swayed and crack their tops against one another. The outside noise soon drowned out all other sounds and he feared someone could sneak up on him if in fact ghosts even made sounds.
Every few minutes he peered through the screen door of his tent and shined his light through the trees. He worried he might glimpse the gloomy apparition of an old pirate or Spaniard staring at him but to his shameful relief, he saw nothing. Again, he wrestled with whether he did wish to see a ghost.
In no time he drifted into sleep, rolling and turning with his flash light and Bible in hand.
He shot upright, cocked his ear but heard no sound. He tried to listen over the pounding heartbeat in his ears. The wind had decreased but the trees still groaned as they swayed in the gentle breeze. He considered shining his light into the woods to investigate but revealing his position concerned him.
He heard the loud snap of a breaking branch and then another. Whoever approached had no concern for stealth. Another branch broke and within a minute Levi surmised they would discover him. His breathing quickened and his eyes darted in all directions. He thought about the validity of the old woman’s words concerning the frightfulness of the woods at night.
He scrambled out of his tent, deftly broke down the poles supporting, dropped it flat then dragged it through the pine straw until he and it rested behind the overturned roots of a fallen tree.
Mere seconds passed when several men appeared out of the darkness at the spot where Levi once camped. Levi listened for voices but heard from their rapid gasping they had not the breath to speak. He rolled out from behind the fallen tree and tried to make out the three figures standing doubled over with their hands on their hips. They knew exactly where Levi had slept and had ran with haste to his location. Huffing and puffing they paused to catch their breath.
“I swear I thought I saw his tent over here,” said one, a voice familiar to Levi.
“I did too,” said the other and he leaned back to inhale a gulp of oxygen.
“He was definitely here,” the third said, a voice Levi knew all too well, “but he probably ran when he heard us coming. I figured he’d do that,” he grumbled.
Levi wanted to emerge from his hiding spot to confront his father but he chose to remain still and not allow him and his friends to have their laugh.
One pulled out a flashlight and shined it around and Levi ducked as the beam grazed over his spot.
“You think he’s still about?”
“No,” his father answered, “he probably took off and never looked back at the first sound he heard. He’s driving home like a bat out of hell I guarantee.”
The other two chuckled and once again Levi wanted to emerge from his hiding spot to prove he had not run off, but the fact he hid in the first place helped his case little.
He remained motionless for several minutes as the mosquitoes’ terrible hum and biting maddened him. Levi’s father and his friends, bothered in the same fashion, left in as noisy a manner as they had appeared.
“Let’s go get drunk!” one said.
Levi, hiding there in the dark, felt ashamed of his cowardice. So much for my daring he thought. I hope they choke on their beer.