camping – Short Horror Story

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Framed against bare-barked trees, on knurled, fir carpet ground the tarp rippled, crinkling like crisp packets.
Grit in his eye. Smoke flitting through the corpses of the branches, dancing in twists.

The little kettle coughed out its watery lungs and graciously spluttered a little into the flames. He filled the enamel mug to below the brim, listening to the gurgling stream increase its pitch and feverishly try to level itself again. He sat the kettle hissing as it kissed the undergrowth.

Light spattered between the trees, crashing through naked canopy to touch his back and raise a wiry steam. Lingers. Lingers.

Gone. Tucked behind a flattened cloud of rolled iron, limping through a monochrome sky. Sheaves of sunrays worked their way up and down the valley as searchlights in a warzone.

He built the fire bigger.

The undergrowth skittered behind him, snipping and snapping as usual. Ordinary, he felt. A light breeze, with warmth and scent to it. He swivelled in place, checked behind the tarp. A slip of light between the buttress roots.

The sky drew its curtains.

And he saw.

Beneath an evergreen with bowed, weary limbs.

A shape, with deep set coals for eyes strewn with green flashes like an old radar screen. An animal skull, bleach white puckered bone and cracks that spidered into the eye sockets.

He saw.

And no more.

The fire died to white ashes, tarp buckled as it snaked in the wind, and the clouds knit shut.

Hidden, this strange scene, under a blanket of grey.

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