The ghost story.

On a clear, dark night, deep in the middle of the woods, three friends sat around a small campfire, happy that their schedules were finally in alignment to make their camping trip possible. They had been driven to near insanity by their hectic lives and needed to escape to nature, even if it was for only one weekend.

“We got it made,” Ian proclaimed, as his two friends Steve and Dave nodded in agreement. “A peaceful night, a nice campfire and a bag of marshmallows each. But there’s something missing, though.” He feigned a face of deep thought. “I got it! How about a ghost story?”

“Oh no,” Steve gasped.

“What?” Ian shot back. “You can’t have a campout without a ghost story!”

“Agreed,” Dave nodded. “I’m all for it!”

Ian began his narrative in a soft but menacing tone.

“Remember that prison we drove by to get here? That reminded me of Frank Barrow, a cold-blooded killer who struck time and time again, committing his brutal crimes not far from where we’re sitting right now.”

Steve whimpered. Ian ignored him.

“Finally, years later, the law caught up with him and Barrow was arrested. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. After several years on Death Row, he was executed in the electric chair. But during the night, Barrow escaped.”

What?” Steve interrupted. “I thought you said he was executed!”

“He was,” Ian continued, “but he somehow survived his own execution. Off he ran into these woods, free to commit even more brutal murders. Six feet, four inches tall, two hundred thirty three pounds with his skin blackened and burned by the execution, still alive and still on the loose today.”

Ian paused for dramatic effect while subtly amused at the look of fear on Dave and Steve’s faces.

“By the way,” Ian asked, “do you know what reminded me of all this?”

Another dramatic pause as the tension rose even higher.

“I see him…”

Ian took his eyes off his terrified audience and looked in the distance behind Steve and Dave and quickly rose to his feet while pointing.

RIGHT OVER THERE!

Ian began screaming as Steve and Dave jumped up to look behind them as they too began screaming. The commotion continued for a few more minutes until Ian started laughing. Dave was shaking with fear while Steve was hyperventilating.

“How’s that for a ghost story?” Ian asked.

“Oh man,” Dave panted as he put his hand on his chest to feel his quickened pulse, “that was GREAT!”

“Glad to hear it,” Ian smiled. “How did you like it, Steve?”

“God damn it, you asshole!” Steve yelled. “Why did you DO that?”

Ian and Dave laughed as Ian reached for his guitar.

“Well, I think it’s time for some relaxing music to put us all at ease in anticipation of our looming slumber.”

Ian began to play a soothing melody that slowed down rapid heartbeats and cooled vicious tempers.

Suddenly there was a whistling sound coming from the bushes behind where the three friends were seated.

“What was that?” Dave asked.

“I don’t know,” Ian replied.

There was another whistling sound from behind the bushes. It became clear that the three friends were no longer alone.

Steve was trembling. “Can you go see what that is, PLEASE?”

“You guys stay here,” Ian rose to his feet. “I’ll be right back.”

Cautiously Ian began walking towards the bushes as Steve and Dave watched with fear.

“Hello?” Ian called out. “Anyone there?”

Steve was whimpering and Dave was terrified as they both watched Ian venture farther into the darkness away from the light of the campfire. Ian finally reached the bushes and disappeared as he stepped behind them for a look at their unseen and uninvited guest. Then there was silence.

“Yo, Ian!” Dave shouted. “What’s going on over there?”

There was no response except for more silence. Steve and Dave sat riveted to their chairs, too afraid to move while fearing for the safety of their friend.

Suddenly the silence was shattered by a piercing scream from behind the bushes.

“IAN!” Dave yelled.

To be continued…

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