Campfire Songs

a short horror story

The campfire crackled gently behind Rayna as she rooted around the picnic table for something to eat. "Hey, grab me that hunting jacket of yours. I want to wear it," called her friend Skylar from her seat on a lawn chair.

"I can't let you wear it. It was my mother's," murmured Rayna, brushing a lock of fox colored hair out of her face. Memories threatened to swamp forth from their forgotten crevice in her mind, but she stifled them swiftly. The dull glow of the lantern illuminated water bottles, potato chips, Skylar's stupid chia seed granola bars... Finally, she struck gold- the double stuffed Oreos.

An incoming text caused Rayna's cell phone to vibrate loudly in her pocket. It was from her friend Lena, who had walked to the general store for last minute supplies. Rayna slid out the keyboard on the phone.

Lena- 'Toothbrush, whole grain graham crackers for Skylar, a new lighter. Anything else?'

Rayna replied, 'Nope. Hurry back. There's no one at the campsites around us, so it's really quiet.'

She set down her phone and tore open the package of Oreos. Popping one into her mouth, she let the chocolate cookie flavor onslaught her taste buds. A crunch, and the sweet filling was revealed. She swallowed, smiling.

Rayna returned to the campfire with the package and sat down. Skylar was gathering her wavy brown hair into a ponytail. She recoiled at the sight of Rayna's snack.

"Really? How can you eat something so unnatural and processed? Do you have any idea what they put in those?"

Rayna laughed. "I don't care what's in Oreos. But they were made in heaven."

Out of the three of them, Skylar was the most posh, whereas Rayna had grown up in a family of avid outdoorsmen. But Lena balanced them out- she could go either way. Shopping, hiking, sightseeing in New York City or white water rafting in the Grand Canyon during their adventurous college years... Lena was coordinated in both high heels and snowshoes.

"I'm gonna grab my acoustic bass." Rayna stood up and headed for the car, her hiking boots crushing twigs.

She opened the trunk. The light didn't blink on like usual. Shrugging, Rayna unzipped the guitar case and pulled out her beloved instrument.

A rough hand wrapped around her ankle.

Rayna screamed, fumbling for the knife in her pocket. The hand was thin but strong, squeezing tighter and tighter. She kicked, wild with fear.

"Skylar, help me!" she screeched, yanking her foot back. The hand retreated back under the car. Rayna backed away, panting.

Still clutching her bass by the neck, Rayna whirled around, heart racing.

About seven men sat around the fire. Skylar was nowhere to be seen. They were gray and shriveled, some even had burnt patches scattered across their skin. Blood dripped from their mouths. They were eyeless. One clutched a polished acoustic guitar.

Rayna was frozen, trembling. Terror pounded in her throat.

One of them said in a raspy voice without turning around, "Come here, Rayna. Bring your bass guitar. I want to play a duet."

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