A Camping Trip Goes Awry
The tall grass didn’t hamper the twelve foot long creature’s advance. On the contrary; not only was the grass wet and cool from the day’s earlier shower, but it felt sensuous against its gray, slimy skin. And being almost completely blind, it relied on its sense of smell to navigate, so the height of the grass was no obstacle. And it also provided excellent cover to sneak up on its prey.
Having not eaten for four days, hunger pangs were setting in, and the creature stopped. Slowly it raised its blunt snout to the light breeze and inhaled deeply while waggling a long, pink forked tongue from its mouth.
It knew. Oh yes, it definitely knew where its prey was now. It was just a matter of time getting to it on its six stubby legs.
- - - - -
The red August sun was just dipping below the horizon when Dale Conner stoked the fire, while his wife, Judy, started getting the condiments out of their cooler. Hot dogs weren’t exactly a gourmet meal, but under the circumstances they seemed perfect.
The two of them had been married three years, and they had a lot of things in common. They were each self-employed; Dale being a thirty year old, brown haired, blue eyed self-taught computer programmer, Judy being a twenty-nine year old, curvaceous, well known romance novelist. Both lovers of the outdoors and nature in general, this was their fourth camping trip up in these woods this year. For them, camping was a great escape from their lives in the city, and the idea of building a cabin up here had been bounced between them on more than one occasion.
Tonight would be their last night up here ‘roughing it’. Then it was back to the concrete jungle and banging on their computers.
“It’s so beautiful up here,” Judy said as she loaded the paper plates with three buns for him, two for herself. “I hate it when we have to leave.”
Dale started filling the buns with dogs. “I know, babe, but we do have jobs. And don’t forget how lucky we are to be able to take the time off to do this in the first place.”
“I know, but it still sucks.” She tossed her long blonde hair back over her shoulder with a wave of her hand. “I mean, do you think we’ll really ever have a cabin up here?”
“That’s our dream, isn’t it? It may not come true in the near future, but we both always go after our dreams, don’t we?” He reached over, took the ketchup, and began liberally covering his foot longs.
“I guess so.”
“Hey, kiddo. Cheer up.” He leaned over and kissed her on her forehead. “We’re both young. We have all the time in the world.”
Judy looked up from her hot dog. She smiled, but it didn’t look very convincing.
- - - - -
Fifty yards away something rustled through the grass, pausing every twenty feet or so to get its bearings and be sure it was still headed in the right direction. Progress was slow but true. Six hundred pounds, a hundred of that in its six foot long tail, didn’t move very fast, at least when it came to traveling. But attacking? That was a different matter altogether.
Its bestial instincts were as keen as ever, but it still didn’t hear its stomach complain with a rumble.
It did, however, feel it.
With another flick of its tongue, the creature tried to quicken its clumsy pace.
- - - - -
Twenty minutes later Dale had finished his dogs and was putting the condiments back in the cooler. Judy was just starting her second one.
“Know what, Jude? I think we should sleep outside of the tent tonight. We can leave the fire burning and just stare up at the stars. Is that romantic or what? What d’ya think?”
“I guess so,” she said gloomily.
Dale sat down beside her on the log. “C’mon, Judy. Please cheer up. I promise we’ll be back up here before the snow falls.”
Judy looked him in the eyes. “Promise?”
“Cross my heart.”
This time when Judy smiled it almost did look convincing.
- - - - -
The creature didn’t know how lucky it was. Being practically blind, it could have come upon its prey face to face, or even from the side. Instead, it approached the couple from behind. It could sense that there were at least two meals there from their different scents; he could taste them, and though it still wasn’t sure just how close they were, its natural instinct was to attack now. Their smells were growing way too strong.
- - - - -
Dale heard it before he saw it, but it didn’t matter. He was too late, and before he knew what was happening, Judy’s right shoulder had disappeared into the creature’s huge jaws. What looked like a gallon of blood sprayed all over the cooler. But even worse were Judy’s ear-piercing screams as the creature began tossing her entire body violently from side to side.
Dale was on his feet before he knew it. He kept a loaded .44 Magnum in the tent for an unlikely occasion such as this, and he quickly ran for it. By the time he got to the tent Judy’s screams had abruptly came to a halt, and as he emerged he noticed the beast had dragged her lifeless body around the log to where it was facing away from him. Thinking he had a shot at the back of its head, he cautiously approached it. He took aim and was about to pull the trigger when the creature’s enormous tail swept his feet out from under him. The gun went flying, and the last thing he saw were the huge serrated teeth in its mouth bearing down on his face.
A half hour later something rustled through the tall grass, a few strands of long, blonde hair dangling from its jaws.
And this time there were no complaints from its stomach.