Steve opened his eyes and found himself lying on his sleeping bag next to the campfire rejuvenated by the newly added firewood. Then he saw Ian and Dave, seated by the fire and roasting marshmallows while engaged in a lively conversation.
“Oh, man, we got him good!” Ian laughed.
“I know,” Dave chuckled, “you should’ve seen the look on his face!”
Ian nearly doubled over with laughter. “With eyeballs bigger than bowling balls!”
“What’s up, guys?” Steve asked.
“Oh good, he’s awake,” Ian rushed over to Steve’s side. “You all right, dude?”
“What happened?” Steve sat up. “I thought there was someone out there in the woods.”
Ian laughed. “There’s no one out here but us.”
“We thought we’d have some fun with you with that ghost story,” Dave added. “So we decided to give you a good scare.”
“See, what I did was set up my wireless speaker behind the bushes and played the whistling sound from my iPod,” Ian explained as he held up the speaker and his iPod. “I pretended to go investigate and later let out a scream just to set the mood.”
“Then I pretended to also go investigate and joined Ian behind the bushes to dress up as our hero, Frank Barrow,” Dave chuckled as he held up a black outfit along with a mask of a badly burned face. “Oh, we also brought along a bicycle inner tube so we could burn to create that awful smell.”
“All just to scare you, dude!” Ian beamed.
“All just to scare me,” Steve repeated with his voice rising with anger, “God damn it, why did you DO that? You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
“Lighten up, man!” Dave said. “This is what campouts are all about! They’re supposed to be fun!”
“Fun,” Steve snapped, “at my expense!”
“I got it!” Ian exclaimed. “How about we let Steve return the favor?”
“What do you mean?” Dave asked.
“We’ll let Steve scare us, just like we scared him.”
Steve’s face suddenly lit up. “I like that idea.”
“Just go out there in the woods and do something scary.” Dave suggested.
By now Steve was on his feet. “Okay, I’ll do it.”
“Go for it, Steve!” Ian cheered. “Scare the shit out of us!”
“Yeah, really,” Dave laughed, “scare the shit out of us.”
Steve confidently strode into the woods until he disappeared in the darkness. Then there was silence. Ian and Dave both watched where Steve was last seen, nervously awaiting the big surprise.
“What do you think he’s up to?” Dave whispered.
“No idea,” Ian replied. “Maybe he’s-”
Ian was interrupted by a weak moaning sound coming from the woods. It was Steve, trying his luck at creating a fearful atmosphere but clearly not having much luck, judging from Ian and Dave’s laughter.
“Is that the best you can do, Steve?” Ian panted between fits of laughter.
Steve continued his weak moaning until he was interrupted by sudden a flash of lightning and a thunderous boom. Then the air turned cold as a thick fog rolled out of the woods. Ian and Dave had to move closer to the campfire for warmth.
Suddenly a sinister voice from nowhere cried, “What do you fools think you’re doing?”
Ian and Dave both stood dumbfounded. That wasn’t Steve’s voice.
“I believe I asked you a question,” said the voice. “and I believe I’m entitled to an answer.”
“Sorry,” Ian replied. “We’re just camping here.”
“But do you know where is ‘here’?” demanded the voice.
“No,” Ian muttered.
“This happens to be ancient Indian burial grounds, undisturbed for thousands of years, until you FOOLS decided to DESECRATE it with your CAMPING TRIP!”
“Sorry, we didn’t know,” Ian said.
“Aww, ignorance,” said the voice, “It has been many a man’s downfall, and it shall be yours too.”
Dave stood silently, trying to see the connection between Steve’s disappearance in the woods and the strange events now unfolding. How could Steve be doing all this? Where’s he at now? This is getting more confusing by the minute.
“You stand there silently like fools,” observed the voice, “Or would you prefer I summon the Great Warrior able to skewer your heart with his bow and arrow?”
Suddenly, off in the distance, Ian and Dave could hear a man’s scream that resembled an Indian war cry. They both shuddered.
“You shudder, yet you do not speak.” said the voice.
“Well, what do you want us to say?” Dave spoke up.
“Apologize to the Great Chief and he just might lift the curse that’s making you and your friend targets for his warriors.”
Ian and Dave stood silently, unsure of what to make of their situation.
“Dave,” Ian said in a low voice, “I don’t know how he’s doing it, but this is all Steve. This is his doing!”
“Really,” countered Dave. “So Steve can produce lightning and thunder at will? What about the fog? The cold air? The voices?”
“All Steve,” Ian insisted. Raising his voice, he yelled, “Game over, Steve! I know it’s you!”
Suddenly there was another flash of lightning followed by thunder.
“MORTAL FOOLS!” yelled the voice. “You doubt my words while I have the power to raise the Army of the Dead from the very ground on which you stand?”
“I don’t see how Steve’s doing this,” Dave sighed. “Since when was he able to control nature?”
Ian thought this revelation over before nodding in agreement. “You’re right. Maybe this is just a coincidence.”
“But where’s Steve?” Dave asked.
“Or would you two prefer two arrows through the heart?” boomed the voice. Then the distant war cries from two men resonated throughout the woods.
Terrified, Ian spoke up. “All right, Mr. Voice! You win. What do we do now?”
“I knew I could change your ways,” said the voice. “In order to win the Great Chief’s forgiveness, you must first visit his grave.”
“Where’s that?” Dave asked.
The clouds overhead parted ways to allow the moon to shine on a mound decorated with arrows and spears at the other side of the clearing where Ian and Dave stood.
“Right over there,” said the voice.
To be continued…