by Pam Sears
Is there truth in Urban Legends?
|“I’m telling you, they aren’t real!” Exasperation colored Jason’s voice as his two best friends, Gina and Lily, pled with him.
“You say that but you know there’s a grain of truth in every Urban Legend.” Lily smirked, odd grey eyes gleaming. “C’mon, if nothing else it’s a night in the woods, no parents breathing down our necks. Who knows, you might even record something for your Video Class.”
Gina nodded, pushing her glasses up her nose, excitement nearly making her quiver. “It’d make a great paper for my Creative Writing class, too. I’ve never been on a hunting trip.” Her nose scrunched in distaste. “Not that I want to shoot anything, mind.”
Jason glanced from one to the other, ready to use a two-by-four on the both of them. “Gee, it’s not a hunting trip. It’s a prank. A joke. One that’s so old it’s whiskers have whiskers. There’s no such thing as a Snipe.”
Gina managed to look both hurt and expectant at the same time. “But you can’t know for sure, Jase. And what if they’re real? What if they’re more like Big Foot, just really elusive and you have to be extra sneaky to see them?”
Lily hid a grin by turning her head and Jason realized she was trying to put one over on their naïve and trusting cohort. He narrowed his gaze at her, brown eyes snapping with irritation.
“It’s not a bad thought, Jase.” Lily urged, still trying to hide her grin. “It could be Snipes are simply as elusive as Big Foot.”
“That’s not funny, Lil.” He started but Gina interrupted, bumping his shoulder with hers, eyes big as she tried to hide how much she wanted to go searching for Snipes.
“Please, Jason? You know my parents won’t mind if I’m with you both.”
He looked into her amber gaze and gave in with a sigh, tossing a glare at Lily. “Fine. We’ll meet at Winder’s Park after dinner.”
Gina clapped her hands excitedly. “Yay! Okay, I’ve got to get to class. See you both at six!” As she scampered down the hall to her next class she called out to Jason. “And don’t forget your video camera!”
Jason turned to Lily, one eyebrow raised. “What are you up to?”
She gave him her best innocent look. “Not a thing. I swear.” She added on a laugh at his snort of disbelief. “Gee heard some Seniors talking about Snipe hunting and asked me about it. I really did try to explain it was just a joke but you know how she gets. She believes Big Foot is real, for criminitly. There was no stopping her so I figured it would be best to humor her and go with. Y’never know what trouble she’ll land in otherwise.”
“You’re not wrong.” He sighed. “How many scraps have we pulled her out of since kindergarten? Fine. But no helping the “joke” along, Lil. Let her figure it out but don’t encourage the belief.”
“Swear to Buddha, I’ll behave.” She grinned.
Jason wasn’t sure he believed her.
The three friends picked their way through the dark woods, Gina carrying a flashlight, Jason his video camera and Lily using the flashlight on her phone.
“It –it’s a little creepier than I thought it would be.” Gina whispered.
“It’s October, Gee.” Jason refused to whisper but he, too, kept his voice low. “Everything seems creepier at this time of the year.”
“Or you two are just wusses.” Lily declared in her normal tones.
The other two jumped and turned to glare at her.
“What? You are.” She reiterated. “I mean, why are you whispering? There’s nothing here in the dark that isn’t here in the daylight.” She laughed.
“Sez you.” Jason muttered softly, turning to follow Gina once more.
Gina, eyes huge behind her glasses, picked her way carefully over the leaf-covered ground. Her gaze bounced constantly from tree to bush to rock, checking every dark and indistinct shape they neared. Her heart thundered so hard she was amazed the other two couldn’t hear it.
“S… so, guys?” She squeaked, then cleared her throat. “Ah, do you… do you think we’ve come far enough into the woods to be in Snipe territory?”
“Snipe territory?” Jason repeated. “Gee,” He began, paused, then rephrased what he wanted to say. “Where did you hear a phrase like that?”
“Well, the Seniors I heard talking earlier today were chatting again and talking about how Snipes have a large territory, usually a couple miles, per mated pair. I don’t know how to tell if we’re in their territory, though. They didn’t mention that.” She was still moving forward, albeit slowly, as she spoke, her head on a constant swivel as she tried to see everywhere at once.
Jason glanced back at Lily who was starting to get an annoyed look on her face. Gina was fairly gullible and the two of them watched out for her, trying to protect her physically as well as emotionally. Bullies didn’t just hit you with their fists. The two friends nodded in accord. Seemed a couple of Seniors needed a lesson.
“Gee, really,” Jason tried again. “Snipes aren’t real. They’re just a j-“ He broke off as Gina gasped and pointed.
Caught in the circle of her flashlight, squatting under a bush and staring back at them was the strangest critter Jason had ever seen. It had brownish … fur? Feathers? It was hard to tell but they had strange streaks of dark purple that gleamed in the light. Button black eyes stared back at them, apparently as fascinated with them as they were with it.
“What is that?” Lily finally joined the whisper brigade. Here eyes were as huge as the others.
“I don’t…” Jason frowned, puzzled. “I really don’t know. I’ve never seen anything like it. It looks like it might be a bird. Maybe. But only owls are nocturnal around here and that’s no owl. I don’t think.”
“It has to be a Snipe!” Gina whisper-yelled in excitement.
As if Gina had startled it the critter suddenly puffed itself up to four times it’s size and made an ear-splitting blast of noise at them. It sounded similar to an air-horn and the three friends all took a startled step back, stumbling over each other and going down in a tangle of arms, legs and back-packs.
By the time they untangled themselves the critter was gone.
“What was that!” Lily demanded, pushing to her knees and sitting back on her heels to look at the other two.
“It was a Snipe!” Gina declared.
“I have no idea. But I doubt it was a Snipe.” Jason shook his head, then glanced ruefully at his camera. “And I was so startled I forgot to start recording. So we have nothing except our eye witness accounts. Which aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.”
“I knew Snipes were real!” Gina stood and moved toward the bush where they’d seen the thing, flashing her light around hopefully. She refused to believe it was anything else.
“Snipes aren’t real, Gee!” Lily called.
“Then tell me what it was.” Gina dared, crouching low to see under the bush.
“Someone’s idea of a joke.” Lily shot back, pushing herself up and going to help Gina search.
Jason sat where he was, carefully looking around while the girls continued to argue over what they’d seen and the reality of Snipes. Something wasn’t right, he felt it.
Pulling up his camera he brought it to his eye, glad he’d saved up the money to get the top-of-the-line model. With a flick of his thumb he flipped it to infrared and slowly panned around the area.
He paused and backed up. Yes, just as he suspected. There were two human-shaped heat signatures hiding behind some nearby trees. They seemed to be either rocking slightly back and forth or bouncing up, then down quickly. Probably laughing and trying to see what was going on.
“Girls. I may have managed to get some evidence after all.” Jason called as if excited. He kept the camera fixed where he’d spotted the heat signatures.
“What?” Lily spun, surprise on her face.
“Alright! Let’s see!” Gina was thrilled.
“Not here. I think it’ll be easier to see on my computer. Let’s go back and we’ll see what I got.” He gave the two their something’s-wrong-here signal and both girls sobered but didn’t give anything away. Gina even managed to sound as excited as before.
“Sure. Let’s move, then. I’m so excited I can’t stand it!” And she urged the other two back toward their car.
“I can’t stand it. Those rats!” Gina exclaimed, glaring at the two Senior boys who’d pranked her with the Snipe joke.
The three friends had gone straight back to Jason’s house and he’d plugged his camera into the computer. The girls saw where he’d found the heat signatures and then flipped to night vision mode, making the two Seniors Gina had overheard fully visible to the camera even though they thought they were far enough away in the dark night.
“Now, now, Gee. You know how I feel about pranks.” Lily soothed.
Gina turned away from glaring to face her friends, glee slowly lighting her face. “That if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. What did you do? Please tell me it’ll be painful.”
“Oh, there’s a li’l sum’in-sum’in in their lockers.” Lily shrugged, radiating pure innocence.
Jason coughed. “Ah, well, there might be a couple of “sum’in-sum’ins” in their lockers.” A mild smile tilted his lips as he glanced at his co-conspirator.
“What –“ Gina started only to be interrupted by a deafening, air-horn variety blast of sound quickly followed by twin screams of sheer terror.
She spun around in time to see the two Seniors high-tail it past them, still screaming like cheerleaders on helium, never even pausing to look around. Laughter erupted up and down the hallway as she focused on their lockers and almost choked on her own laughter.
“Oh, you two are so bad! I love you both!” She declared.
Winding their arms around each other they stood and laughed at the sight of two giant Snipes, with bloody teeth and clawed wings, lunging from the boys’ lockers. On the school monitors was a live-stream of the two Senior pranksters as they ran screaming for their lives while everyone else laughed at them.