Danny Hirsh hated camping ever since his first camping trip. It was just one of those things that Danny didn't like, for some unknown reason, but that didn't mean no one dragged him along when they went camping. His girlfriend, Amy Persins, however, loved camping. So, Danny went on every camping trip that she went on. He didn’t enjoy it, though. His friend Blake Anderson always had to make Danny more miserable than he already was when they went camping.
So, Danny, Blake, Amy, and Larry Randall went camping for the fourth time in the summer of 2014. They always went to the same woods in Vermont, even though it was illegal to camp there. No one really caught them, and the place was right next to a small lake that no one really knew about except them. Blake liked it that way. Blake believed that other campers nearby ruined the experience, but Danny felt safe around other people. Blake always thought that was stupid, but Danny knew that Blake took the thought of being killed in the woods into consideration. So, he always brought a 9 mm pistol along with him. Though Amy told him that that was a little much, Blake dismissed the input.
It was August 21st, 2014. The group of four was in the middle of the woods, about eleven miles from their car. Danny put up the large green tent and set up a small campfire in about ten minutes, and we were roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories by nine o’ clock. At about 9:30, we called it a night and went to sleep. I blew out my lantern, and crawled into my bright orange sleeping bag. I drifted off into sleep, soon enough, despite the rain that pattered onto the canvass on top of the tent.
Danny awoke to the sound of something scratching. It was a very distinct sound. It sounded like metal scratching metal, yet it also didn't sound like that. No one else was awake, so Danny tried his best not to wake everyone when he crawled outside of the tent. The campfire was out, and the rain was still pouring down. He heard the sound coming from the lake about 30 feet away, so he trudged in the mud towards it. He saw an empty boat in the middle of the lake.
“Hello? Anyone there?” Danny asked. There was a thick fog that shrouded the lake, but he could still see the silhouette of the boat in the middle of the water. Danny climbed into a nearby row boat, and rowed towards the boat. He couldn't see the shore when he reached the boat, so Danny tried to remember where he came from. The boat was empty, except for a small leather-bound book. He picked it up. It was entirely empty, but Danny felt like there were words in it. He kept flipping through the pages multiple times, and every time Danny flipped through the book, Danny felt like there was something more to it. Then Danny noticed some text at the back of one of the pages. Danny squinted his eyes to see the small, hastily written words. “Help me,” the text read. Danny then felt something grab his jacket, and pull him backwards from the boat. He was pulled underneath the water, and saw the surface get farther and farther from him, as he was pulled into the deep. He tried to get a good look at his captor, and his jaw dropped when he saw who it was. It was him.
Amy woke to Danny shaking her. He was soaking wet, and looked terrified.
“We have to go, now!” he said frantically. Amy rubbed her eyes, and yawned. She wondered why Danny was in such a rush to leave.
“There’s something out there. Something in that lake.” Danny pointed towards the lake that was partly covered by pine trees. Amy got dressed, and everyone else did the same.
“Do you have any proof of this?” Larry asked Danny tiredly. Danny then showed them the body of a large wolf that was completely torn up. It laid outside of their tent, and it was cut up in multiple places. Its head was nearly disconnected from its body. Everyone was silent. They simply stared at the gruesome site.
“Something is out there. We need to find shelter!” Danny urged Blake.
“Fine, we’ll leave,” Blake said submissively. Blake was still a little bummed that their camping trip ended so early, but he didn't want to end up like that wolf. Everyone packed up, and followed Blake through the woods.
They couldn't tell if it was getting lighter or darker as the hours passed.
“Hey, look! A cabin!” Amy said excitedly, as she pointed to a log cabin in the distance.
“Finally, some shelter from this rain,” Larry said frustratingly. They entered the cabin, and found that no one occupied it. Amy found a single book on the bookshelf. It was a spiral bound notebook, and most of the writing was illegible. She could only make out a couple sentences on the first page, which was the only page that was written on.
“It’s watching me. It wants me. It likes to trick me into thinking that it’s my wife, Anna. She went missing, and instantly she comes back. She’s not acting like herself. She keeps trying to lead me places. I can’t trust her. She may be ‘it’. It is going to kill me. It wants my skin, so that it can trick even more people. It likes to kill. Wait, there’s something at the door. I’m getting my rifle ready. The real Anna is here next to me. She wants me to shoot it-”
The writing abruptly ended there.
“What are you reading?” Danny asked Amy. She instantly turned towards him.
“Don’t scare me like that! It’s nothing, really…” Danny still grabbed it from her hands.
“Just give it to me,” he said angrily, grabbing the notebook.
“Man, you’re angry today,” Amy joked. Danny didn't answer. He just threw the notebook into the fireplace. Amy was about to ask him why he burned the strange book, but then everyone heard a loud banging on the door.
“What the hell is that?” Blake asked frightfully. The banging continued.
“Just shoot it!” Danny said instantly. Blake aimed his pistol at the door.
“Go away! I will shoot you!” Blake yelled fearfully. The banging continued. Blake fired, and the banging stopped. He slowly opened the door.
“Oh shit…” he said in an astonished and fearful tone. Danny’s corpse stood at the front of the door. Everyone turned to the Danny in the cabin with them. The Danny in the cabin merely laughed, and everyone screamed.
Danny shot up in his sleeping bag. He felt weird, and his hair was wet. He had a huge pain in his heart. He then saw the scene around him. Everyone was dead. Torn to pieces, with their flesh ripped off their bodies. There was no skin on the corpses. They were just muscle and bone. He saw writing on the tent wall near him. "YOU DID THIS" it said in blood. Danny then saw a picture taped to the wall. It was him tearing everyone to pieces, and tearing their flesh off. Danny's heart raced, and he knew that he'd never get away with it. He still turned himself in, and he was always sure that he never killed those people. He was always sure that something else did it. He never found out, and he was sentenced to death. His final words were, "I swear to you that I am innocent. That something else committed those murders. All the evidence stacks against me, but I never recall ever committing the actions that you accuse me of."