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6:00 PM, Florida National Forest
Deren walked into the forest, he had prepared and planned his trip for weeks. He had planned it down to the smallest detail, he even knew what trails led where so he wouldn't get lost. Deren decided to go alone since he didn't have many friends who seemed willing to go with him. When he had asked them, they suddenly had a dark look on their faces, and they thought he was crazy.
“I-I think I'm good,” they all had said, in hushed and startled tones. It was as though they knew a dark secret about that forest that he didn't. Snapping back to the present, Deren stepped into the forest, already thinking about where he would set up camp.
Deren dropped his pack on the leafy fall ground and pulled out the tent bag. He happily cleared enough leaves to set up his tent. He used a rubber mallet to hammer the stakes into the soft earth until he was sure that the tarp wasn't going anywhere. Then he pitched the tent, making sure the correct poles went to the correct places.
When he was done, the sun was setting on the horizon. Deren stepped back to admire his work. Since he had finished the tent, Deren decided that he should set up a fire while he had some light left. While he was digging out his supplies, he heard a rustle from the bushes behind him.
“Hello?” Deren called. There was no reply. Thinking it was the wind he returned to his bag and found his lighter and some lighter fluid. He made his fire pit and lit the fire, sitting down after a long day of hiking, to relax and unwind. Another rustle echoed across the campsite, this time Deren pulled out the Beretta he had packed for protection, checking the chamber for bullets. He had three left. The rustling got more intense and he still couldn't hear where it was coming from.
“Who's out there?” Deren yelled, “Is this a joke?”
Deren, out of fear, shot at a bush. The rustling stopped, Deren looked around, he saw nothing. He went back to his fire and began cooking his canned food.
Deren slid into his tent, stomach full, and climbed into his sleeping bag. Even in the comfort of his tent, shielded from the wind, he was freezing. Deren thought the cold was odd. It was still summer, why was it so cold? Deren shrugged off the thought and curled into a ball. It did little to warm him up, but it was better than nothing. He eventually fell into a somewhat peaceful sleep.
Deren was jolted awake by a sudden crashing and animalistic snarls, from what he knew of the area there shouldn't have been any bears, he quietly slid out of his sleeping bag and approached the tent door. The moment Deren's hand touched the zipper things went dead quiet. The crashing and snarling stopped and all was quiet.
Deren was fed up with this crap, and he was ready to take a stand. He threw open the tent flap with the pistol at his side and sprung from the tent, everything around him looked completely normal except for the camping bag. It had been zipped open and the contents were strung about along the ground, supplies like food, water and his lighter were missing. Along with the missing items, he was also missing his camera he had brought to record the beautiful forest.
Deren searched his campsite, but found nothing. There were no footprints, no fur, and no evidence that anything had been there except the camping bag. Deren gathered the strewn supplies and put them neatly back into the bag. He decided he would sit outside his tent and wait for the intruder to come back. He settled against a log and waited.
Once again, Deren was jolted awake by crashing and snarling, but this time it was inside his tent. Deren ran towards the tent and shot at it. The noises immediately stopped but the growling got louder and closer. Deren backed away from the tent, he tried to shoot another few rounds at the tent but he was out of ammo. A flash came from his tent, and the growling stopped.
Cautiously, Deren approached the tent. Nothing seemed to be in it. He opened the flap and found the only thing there was the camera. It was sitting in the middle of the tent and was the only thing out of place. He walked over to it and turned it on, flipping through his camera roll he found nothing out of the ordinary until he got to the end.
On the final picture, there was nothing but darkness and a face. But the face would be the one that would haunt Deren forever. It was his own.