As the kids all filed out of the school, the major talk was what the big plans were for Halloween night. Nardell and Gary were headed for Mr. Ball’s car when they noticed Billy just slightly ahead of them.
“Hey Billy, do you want to come over and go trick or treating with us tonight?” Gary yelled.
“Sure, I’ll stop over after I get a bite to eat.” Billy replied.
The two boys hopped in Mr. Ball’s truck.
“Okay boys, lets get the rules of the car out into the open. If either one of you let out one of those stinky farts like this morning, you will be walking home.”
“HaHa, yes sir.” The two said.
On the way home, Gary told his Dad about the amazing coincidence how his dream and Braxton’s story were very similar. Mr. Ball didn’t seem too concerned about it. Since he wasn’t concerned, Gary felt better and began to get excited for the night’s events.
After Nardell was dropped off, Gary and his father hurried home. Gary had an hour to eat, shower, and redo his face paint.
“How was your day?” Mrs. Ball asked as Gary pushed open the front door and plopped down at the kitchen table.
“It was fun!” Gary muttered as he bit into the juicy peanut butter and jelly sandwich his mother put in front of him.
“I can’t wait until tonight. I figure if Nardell and I run from house to house, we can each get a garbage bag full of candy.”
“That reminds me, Nardell’s mother called and said that he will be a little late getting here, but she wanted you to wait for him.” Gary’s mother said.
Gary quickly ate his sandwich and decided to take a quick break and rest in his father’s recliner. He couldn’t remember the last time that he had been so exhausted. He felt his eyes getting heavy and started to doze off. What seemed like seconds later, he heard someone burst through the door.
“Gary, I have the greatest idea.” Nardell said with great excitement. “Instead of going out trick or treating tonight, let’s sleep out at Dead Lake!”
Gary was shocked. “What!? Are you crazy? After all the stories that we have heard about that place, you would want to go out there and spend the night? What is wrong with you?”
“Come on man! It would be epic?” Nardell beamed.
“Epic? Since when do you say epic? What is going on here?” Gary questioned.
Suddenly Billy and Braxton came through Gary’s front door.
“Well what do you say Gary? Do you want to see if what they say about Dead Lake is true?” Braxton asked.
Gary thought for a moment. Going to Dead Lake would be quite an adventure. He had spent several nights outdoors camping with his family at various campsites, but he had never done this without an adult. It sounded exciting, but the thought of missing out on trick-or-treating was killing him. Plus, he knew that his parents would never let him go alone.
“Go for it!” his father said.
“What? You allow me to go out all night to a place that rumored to be haunted?” Gary said puzzled.
“Ohh, you’ll be fine. Dead Lake is only 3 miles away from the house. If you have any problems, just come home and you guys can sleep here.”
“Alright” Gary said in disbelief as he headed towards the garage. “Let’s go out in the garage and begin to pack. I still can’t believe you guys want to miss out on trick-or-treating. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
“Gary, chances like this don’t come very often. We can all agree that we are going to the scariest place that we can think of. It is also Halloween night. If something creepy is going to happen. It’s going to happen tonight.” Braxton spoke with encouragement.
Things seemed really weird to Gary. He was normally the brave one of the bunch. He didn’t understand why his friends didn’t seem the least bit nervous. They seemed rather excited for the opportunity to see something scary.
“Nardell, why aren’t you scared. I remember last year when you cried on Santa’s lap. How are you going to handle this trip?” Gary asked.
“That was a long time ago.” Nardell replied.
“It was 10 months ago. You were almost eight years old!” Gary piped back.
“Whatever man. I’m grown now. Nothing can stop me from sleeping out there tonight. This is going to be epic!”
“Do you know what would be even more epic? If you would stop saying epic!” Gary yelled. “Now act normal and grab the two blue bags with the rest of the camping supplies in it.”
At that moment, Gary’s mother came out with a cooler full of things. Hotdogs, water, chips, fruit punch, and cheese sticks were just a few of the many goodies that were packed.
“This should be everything that you guys need. Now you better hurry and get out there and set up your tent before the sun goes down. You all have fun and I’ll see you in the morning.” Gary’s mother said as she shut the door with an unusual smile on her face.
The four boys all grabbed the gear and headed out through the back door of the garage. When they stepped outside Gary began to get nervous. The wall of dense trees began about 100 feet from his house. The bare branches pointed carelessly into the gray sky. As he looked at his friends, he didn’t see any worry on their faces. They seemed very determined to take this voyage and there was no turning back now, even though Gary was extremely scared for one of the few times in his life.
When they wiggled through the tree barrier, the forest floor seemed open. It was just covered with what seemed to be billions of colorful leaves. The light gray trees seemed endless. There was an unusual silence in this forest, an eerie silence. The only sounds that were heard was the crackling of leaves under the kids feet as they walked.
“Maybe they should call this Dead Forest. Have you guys seen any animals in here yet? This place is CREEPY!” Billy said.
“How much further till we get there?” Nardell asked.
“I’ve never been here before, but my dad says that if we go straight, we can’t miss it.” Gary replied.
The boys continued to walk. It seemed that they were going nowhere because everything looked so much alike. Just endless trees.
After about 45 minutes, the boys noticed a clearing in the distance.
“Is that it?” Nardell asked.
“I think so.” Gary added
As the group got closer, Gary felt his heart begin to get heavy. Everything that he remembered from his dream was similar to what he was seeing now. The only thing that was different was that the path he was driving on in his dream contained a great deal of overgrown bushes and plants. The path and the placement of the trees seemed nearly identical.
“Guys, this place looks just like my dream.” Gary stated.
The four went over to the shoreline and looked out over the large lake. It appeared to be nearly a quarter of a mile long and about 100 feet wide. It had a towering 75 foot bank on the one side. On the opposite side of the lake, the embankment was about 15 feet high.
“Why are the sides so high over there?” Billy asked.
“My dad says that this used to be an old quarry years ago. People used to mine for coal. To find coal, you need to dig deep into the earth. One night we had a terrible rain and when the workers returned all of their machinery was under several feet of water. Instead of trying to save it, they just left it and the lake has been gradually been filling up ever since.” Gary said.
“That’s not what my brother said.” Braxton added. “One night a group of men were working late and decided to camp out rather than going all the way home. Late at night when the men were sleeping, they heard one of the bulldozers start up and then quickly turn off. The men came out of their tents and began to investigate. The men went straight to the one that was started and saw nothing in the cab, but noticed that the keys were swaying back and forth in the ignition. The men were puzzled and began to scour the area to find an answer to what started the bulldozer. They all agreed it was just kids messing around with the equipment and grabbed the keys out of the vehicles. They returned to their sleeping bags and attempted to go back to sleep. Several minutes later a man was awoken to the jingling sound of keys that was right outside of his tent. The moon was bright that night and he was able to make out a silhouette of a figure holding out all of the keys that the men just collected. He quietly listened as the being seemed to walk away. Suddenly he heard the Machine start up and go toward the tent. All of the men narrowly escaped before the tent was crushed by the dozer. They all dashed through the forest to their homes. That night, there was a heavy downpour and when people returned to recover the machinery, nothing was left but a giant lake. The mystery of what happened to the men has never been solved.”
“That’s some scary stuff” Nardell chimed. “Maybe we will see something tonight!”
The boys continued to stand at the shoreline and look out across the lake. It looked like a solid piece of green glass. There wasn’t a ripple in the water.
“Hey look at our reflections!” Billy yelled.
The boys looked down into the water and saw a perfect image of themselves reflecting off of the water. Gary was intrigued by this. He could even spot his freckles in the reflection.
“Well, it will be getting dark soon. We better set up our tents. I think it would be cool to set up on the low embankment nearest to the lake.” Braxton suggested.
The three boys picked up the equipment and headed towards the lower embankment. Gary continued to stare at his reflection while thinking about the night ahead. His heart began to beat faster and he felt something was looking at him once again. He suddenly looked up and scanned the area, but saw nothing.
“I’m scaring myself out here. Everything will be fine.” He whispered to himself.
He looked back down and looked closely at his reflection. His image seemed to be a little distorted. He bent down to get a closer look. Suddenly the image changed into the monster from the dream! Gary fell back into the leaf covered ground and quickly came to his feet.
“Guys! I saw it! I saw the monster!” Gary yelled as he ran to catch up with the others.
“What happened Gary?” Nardell asked as he rushed towards Gary.
“The monster, the monster from my dreams……” Gary mumbled as he tried to catch his breath.
“Slow down and take a deep breath. What monster? I don’t see a thing.” Braxton added.
“You guys have to believe me. I was staring at my reflection, when suddenly it became fuzzy. As I looked closer my hair began to grow and turn gray. Then all of the sudden, it immediately changed into the monster from my dreams. We need to go back to my house! This was a horrible idea.” Gary pleaded.
“I think we can all agree that it is pretty creepy out here, but Gary I think your just imagining things. It is impossible for something like that to happen. Let’s go back and set up our campground. It will be getting dark soon.” Nardell suggested.
The boys began to walk to the lower embankment with their camping supplies. It seemed like the perfect place to camp. There was about a 20 foot area that was cleared out right near the water. The boys decided to set their tent about 10 feet away from the water. When they had set the tent up, it looked better than they had thought. Sitting inside the tent looking out the front door you could look out and see the water. On the opposite side of the lake stood the highwall that looked like layers of cake. It was actually the layers of rock and clay the mining company had carved years ago. At the top of you highwall was enormous pine trees growing. It was just a very pleasant scene which made the boys feel comfortable.
“Let’s hurry up and get this fire going. We only have about 30 minutes of daylight left. Let’s all go fetch some firewood.” Billy suggested.
The boys headed into the woods away from the lake in search of dead dry wood. Surprisingly they had trouble finding some, but what they didn’t have trouble finding was mosquitoes.
“Man these things are awful! Mosquitoes aren’t supposed to be out this late in the year are they? Billy complained.
“They aren’t that bad. I’ve only been bit once.” Gary added.
“Go after the chubby one with the big butt.” An unusual voice came from above.
“Hey did you guys hear that?” Billy said
The three boys shook their heads “no” but stopped to listen.
“Yeah, go after the curly haired big butt kid. He tastes so juicy!” another high pitch voice came from above.
“Guys! The mosquitoes are talking! And they want to eat me! Run!” Billy squealed.
All the boys flew like the wind back toward the tent. When they arrived they dropped the wood and rushed into the tent quickly zipping it up behind them.
“Okay this is crazy! I know that you all heard the mosquitoes talking! You all heard the mosquitoes talking right?” Gary screamed.
The boys all looked at one another and shook their heads. For the first time it seemed like they were all in agreement that this place was not normal and whatever questions they had about this place were answered. Dead Lake was haunted. Then they heard more voices from outside the tent.
“Big Butt! Big Butt! Big Butt!”
“Are the mosquitoes chanting for Billy?” Nardell said chuckling.
“How are you laughing at a time like this. There a talking mosquitoes out there calling me “BIG BUTT” and they want to eat me! This is no time to be laughing.” Billy yelled.
Nardell and Gary looked at one another and began to bust out laughing.
“Oh my gosh, now you Gary? Braxton is this funny to you too?” Billy asked.
“Well, it is kinda funny, I mean the bugs are calling you, “Big butt”. Braxton said.
Suddenly there was a knocking at the door of the tent and the chanting had stopped. The boys looked at one another with concern.
“Um, hello?” Nardell answered
“Yes this is Sergeant Stinger. I am requesting that you send out big butt and we will let the rest of you go in peace, but if you don’t, then we will be forced to attack all of you.”
To be continued.....