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It was a chilly October morning when they set out on their way. Fred Williams, his girlfriend Melanie, best friend Pete, and Pete's girlfriend Jacqueline.
Fred was a quiet loner type who was never very popular in high school. Melanie was a sweet and charming girl who had quite a few friends in her social circle. Pete was the kind of guy who thought he was God's gift to mankind, though he did care for his friends very deeply. Jacqueline liked to gossip and spread rumors more than anyone else they knew.
This unlikely group of friends had become closer in their college years, as none of them went out of state while many of their other friends did. On the first weekend of the month, they had planned a camping trip to the woods near their hometown. Fred was the most familiar with the area as he had been there several times as a Boy Scout on other camping trips. Pete and Jacqueline weren't thrilled about being away from modern conveniences, but spending time with Fred and Melanie was more important.
When they arrived, they chose an open area surrounded by trees. It was serene and nearly silent as they began setting up their tents and the rest of their gear. They could hear birds chirping in the distance and occasionally the rustling of the falling leaves.
They worked well as a team. Fred was reading the instructions for the tents, Pete hammered in the stakes for them, Melanie started gathering nearby wood for a fire, and Jacqueline searched the area for cell phone reception. She lamented that all the trees must have been blocking the signal.
Once the tents had been all set up, the sun was beginning to set. They made a fire within a circle of rocks, as per Fred's suggestion, in order to keep it contained. Melanie produced marshmallows from her bag along with graham crackers and chocolate bars. Before long, the marshmallows were impaled by skewers and roasting for s'mores and the entire group's enjoyment.
Pete stated that he was bored and Jacqueline suggested that they play campfire games. They started with Truth or Dare, but quickly found that it was too childish, even for the gossip queen herself.
Pete then suggested that they all tell each other ghost stories in an effort to frighten one another. He also added a drinking game component which involved visible flinching becoming grounds for one to down a bottle of beer from the cooler. They agreed, and each of them began thinking of what story they would tell as they finished their s'mores.
Pete decided he wanted to go first since he was convinced his story would be the scariest. He told a modified version of the Hook Man legend which ended in the story's male protagonist punching the killer in the mouth and saving the day.
Understandably, this scared no one and as per another rule that he had set, Pete had to drink a beer because of it. He was mad, but only because of the fact that his story failed to frighten. He was certainly no stranger to drinking beer and it was all in good fun anyway.
Melanie told the tale of a college girl who had gone to stay at her roommate's house in the country over the holiday break. The weather was bad, the house was old, and there wasn't much to do. One night, the girls were in the house alone and a monstrous storm hit. The power went out and they decided to go to bed. They heard the door crash open and the girl whose family owned the house went to close it.
After a few tense minutes, she came back. Her frightened roommate reached out to touch her and soon found her to be decapitated.
The boys laughed it off as being ridiculous. Jacqueline jumped a bit at the ending reveal, so she started drinking her beer as she began to relate her story. She shared a story about a teenage babysitter asked to look after a pair of children while their parents were at a social gathering. The children had gone to bed early and she was up watching television when she began to receive strange hang-up calls from a blocked number.
After a few times, a whispering voice on the other end asked "Have you checked on the children?" The girl began to feel threatened, so she called the police and asked them to trace the number the next time a call came.
A more demanding voice accompanied the next call, ordering her to see what had happened to the children and claiming she would be next. At first, they seemed to be sleeping safe and sound in their beds. But when she turned on the light, their throats had been slit and they were dead. At that moment, the police called back and informed her that the calls were coming from inside the house. She dropped the phone in terror, and felt cold metal pressed against her throat.
Pete flinched, causing him to have to drink another beer. Melanie and Fred both said they had seen that in a recent movie that wasn't very well made. Finally, it was Fred's turn and his expression turned very stern and serious. He spoke of a demon that likes to roam forests and wooded areas like the one they were camping in.
"The demon preys on the souls of the weak." He said, looking around at each of his friends. "He once possessed a man in a car with his son, and forced him to crash into a brick wall, killing him. The little boy watched his father die before his eyes and could do nothing about it."
Fred claimed that the demon was responsible for a variety of unexplained deaths and disappearances, including another boy who went missing from Pennsylvania and the brutal murders of a group of office employees on a camping trip of their own. He said it resembles a collection of animals molded together as one being. It has hooves for feet, a tall ape-like body, spade-shaped tail, claws like a rodent, bat-like wings, the head of a goat, and eyes like that of a snake. He concluded by saying that you can summon the demon by saying its name, and then he shouted "TSORAK!!!"
Everyone jumped and subsequently had to drink a beer. They went to bed shortly thereafter and all was quiet. Pete got up late at night because all the beer he drank required him to relieve his bladder frequently.
He went into the trees and was quickly breathing a sigh of relief. Several minutes went by and he didn't return to his tent. Jacqueline had woken up and was still shaken from all the scary stories. She waited for him to come back and comfort her. When he didn't, she knew that something was wrong.
She went over to Fred and Melanie's tent to see if they were still awake. She didn't want to disturb anyone if they were sleeping, but she was concerned about her boyfriend's safety. She took a flashlight with her and roamed the nearby woods, calling his name at about average speaking volume.
Off into the trees she went, until something startled her. She screamed for only a second or two before her flashlight fell to the ground and silence enveloped the night once more. Melanie heard the scream, though. She asked Fred if he'd heard it too.
He said it was probably just Pete playing a joke on her to make up for not scaring anyone before. Melanie was still concerned and wanted Fred to check on them. He did, and quickly reported back that they weren't in their tent or in the immediate area.
She insisted that they had to go look for their missing friends, because she was too scared to be left alone and they couldn't wait until morning. They grabbed their flashlights and started combing the area just beyond the fire's light. They moved out further and further, finding only more trees.
They were within shouting distance of each other, but separated to cover more ground. Suddenly, Pete's mutilated body fell from a tree in front of Melanie and she screamed in terror. Fred ran to her, but it was too late. She had disappeared into the darkness, leaving only her flashlight behind.
He picked it up and saw Pete's body on the ground. Hanging from a nearby tree was Jacqueline's body with her throat ripped out. He stumbled back to retreat to the campsite and fell to the ground. He reached for his flashlight and quickly discovered that he had tripped over the dead body of Melanie.
Having no time to mourn the loss of his closest friends, he scurried back to his feet and made a beeline for the dim light of the campfire. A dark figure followed him there. He could hear the footsteps in the leaves behind him.
He turned around and saw that it was the very creature he was describing to his friends earlier in the evening. It closed in on him, breathing deeply through its snout. He knew the beast was about to do the same thing to him as it had done to his friends. He closed his eyes, swallowed the saliva in his mouth, and braced for it.
The creature swung at Fred with its claws, and he ducked out of the way, surprising it. He grabbed a pocket knife from the back of his pants and slashed the thing's arm open. He took the blood from it with his finger and applied it to his tongue. Smiling, he said "This is for my father, you son of a bitch." He then said indistinguishable words from some ancient language and both beings blacked out.
Fred awoke, staring at his frightened body from above. He heard his own voice pleading for mercy, but he showed none. He reached down and ripped his own throat out. His arm was still cut, but it was healing quickly. As he walked away from the campsite, he remembered the words that came from his father's mouth just before the crash.
"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."