A Campfire Nightmare
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Stagg Literature, LLC
Date of Publication: March 1, 2016
ISBN: 978-1517744441 ASIN: B01CRQKFZO
Number of pages: 344 Word Count: 117,824
When I was a youngster, I always wanted to go to summer camp. Never did get to go. After reading this tale, perhaps that’s a good thing.
Jimmy and Michael are best friends. They’ve always looked out for each other. In school they were the target of bullies. When they are given the opportunity to go to CAMP, Colman’s Amateur Music Program, they are so excited.
Located on the shores of Flathead Lake, the camp is quite isolated. After the boys settle into their cabin, it’s time for the meet and greet. It takes two shakes to see they’ll not be escaping the bullying. One of the rich kids soon has his little gang of entitled brats looking down their noses at the poor kids. Thus the bullying and harassment begins and camp becomes a nightmare.
At first, this story is mostly about the two friends, their troubles with the bullies and their enthusiasm for learning from some of their favorite famous musicians. It’s only after the director has all of the kids gathered around a campfire and tells them of the Flathead Native Americans and their legendary battle with monsters, that you get the first hint of the horrors to come.
There were two things I found implausible in this story. Had me questioning why the characters did what they did. I’d share them with you but they’re both spoilers. And perhaps it’s just me. This is a camp of young kids after all.
Once the strange noises and nightly visits from something in the woods start happening, it’s like the story starts steamrolling down the hill. One thing after another happens, and what the kids thought was a legend becomes real, and very frightening.
There’s a mythical element here that I really enjoyed. It was unexpected and helped clarify a few things for me. I thought something was a bit odd in the beginning and this cleared that up also.
I liked most of the characters too. They had depth. The ones I didn’t like, I don’t think I was supposed to. And how they all interacted felt genuine.
A scary good campfire story that all can enjoy. The creatures are scary enough to satisfy the more mature reader, while not too scary for the younger readers. It’ll have you looking into the deep dark woods and huddling closer to the fire. Did anyone bring the fixins for S’mores?
IN AGES PAST, the Flathead Native Americans fought a war against a monstrous force that stalks the woods surrounding Flathead Lake. So says William Rox, legendary musician and director of the prestigious Colman’s Amateur Music Program, known as CAMP.
Jimmy Downs is thrilled to be attending CAMP—or he would be, if he weren’t being bullied by campers who seem to think wealth can buy talent. Jimmy doesn’t have money, but he can drum like no one else. As for the bullies, at least his best friend, Michael Munday, is with him. The two have had each other’s backs all of their lives.
But bullies are about to become the least of Jimmy’s worries. Dark, hulking figures begin surrounding the woods around camp…figures that bear more than a passing resemblance to Rox’s campfire stories.
Jimmy and Michael are about to become players in a very old war—assuming they survive.
The black-cloaked figure knelt by the lake, examining the muddy soil. A great northern storm had rolled through hours ago, but the air was still frigid. Waves crashed against the stony shore, waterdrops splashing up against his waterproof black covering.
His fingers traced along the print clearly pressed into the mud. It was a large paw print, something like the shape of a wolf’s but the size of a bear’s. He examined the mark on the ground and then moved to where he should have found the creature’s front paws, but not surprisingly, he instead found what appeared to be humanlike handprints, with long, triangular fingernails jutting out from the tip of each finger. The cloaked man placed his own right hand within the print, knowing that the muddy outline was easily twice the size of his own pale hand.
His left hand tightened around the shaft of his bow as he stood up.
Even though it was nearing one in the morning, his eyes clearly made out the many prints that had been made throughout this particular clearing.
He had warned the other guardian that something was going on.
“Why so many?” the man asked aloud as he pulled down the hood of his cloak. “There shouldn’t be this many here anymore.”
“What’s that?” a British man’s voice called from the darkness.
A flashlight’s beam bobbed through the trees, weaving back and forth until it fell upon the pale man’s form. The man lifted one of his hands to block his sensitive eyes from the somewhat dim beam. He indicated the soil in front of him that marked the passing of their quarries.
“A pack,” the pale man told his companion, moving the tip of his weapon to indicate how many individual creatures had passed through there. “You should keep the camp closed this year.”
“No,” the huge British man answered, snapping his response a little more testily than he had wanted. “It needs to be open. You know just as well as I do that we need to stay open.”
“Even at the risk of the lives of hundreds of people?”
His companion stepped forward and jammed a double-edged longsword into the ground as he examined the pathway. The flashlight was a head lamp, mounted with a pair of bands that wrapped around his head. As his head shifted from one set of prints to another, a feeling of anger began flooding into his soul.
“I need you to thin out this pack. You can shoot the sods from afar, and with that horse of yours, you’ll be able to stay ahead of them.”
“I can do that,” the pale man agreed, pulling his hood back up, still watching the back of the big man.
“There’s something going on this year that we don’t understand quite yet,” the British man told his friend, standing up and pulling the sword from the moistened ground. “Something feels different. It feels wrong…and right at the same time.”
“Maybe the legends are true, and the natives’ stories are coming to pass,” the archer suggested, beginning to stroll into a particularly dark portion of the forest, his fingers tightening on the dark wood of his bow as he disappeared into the night.
Finding himself alone, the swordsman stood and peered up into the sky at the bright round moon hanging in the air, twinkling stars engulfing the night. This was Big Sky Country, and it was true to its name. His eyes searched the heavens, hoping that an answer would reveal itself.
He let out a huff of hot breath, and the air clouded before his flashlight dimming the light slightly.
Shaking his head and turning to stare at the spot where his companion had disappeared, he whispered to himself, “I hope not. We’re not ready for them yet.”
As his words disappeared into the night like his breath, a clear rumbling sound thundered through the night on his left. Reaching down slowly, he drew his sword once more, its silver blade sparkling with the light of the moon.
“God above, keep me safe that I might be able to open the camp.”
The rocky growl turned into a mix of a scream and a roar as the furry eight-foot monstrosity leaped at the man, humanlike hands reaching out with razor claws. Swinging the sword out wide, the man pivoted to meet the demon in the darkness.
Author Jeffrey Stagg
Jeffrey was born in Ogden, Utah in 1989.
Born to a podiatrist from Utah and a rancher’s daughter from Montana. Stagg was able travel throughout his childhood finding solace and inspiration in the wild.
His interest in nature has made Stagg realize that the melding of natural world with magic was where he could excel. To keep ideas alive, Stagg is an avid nature photographer, imagining book scenes wherever he travels.
While attending Weber State University, Stagg was able to work as an artisan cheese maker for the award winning Beehive Cheese Co. in Ogden, Utah. It was there that the details of A Campfire Nightmare came together. During the 5 years he was employed at Beehive, Stagg has created story lines for many series he is in the process of writing.
Now, Stagg works as an educator and works with students in reading and writing. Encouraging those around him to spend more time in books.