The Campgrounds A novel

Frances Gorman enjoys the outdoors. When she, and her friends, head to Moose Woods, they expect a lot of wildlife in the area. But, as they make camp, a killer in on the loose intent on mayhem, and placing the teenagers in grave peril.

The new Young Adult horror novel by Robert Helliger.

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4. The other campers

________~~~~________

​Jennifer Locke, fifteen,  ​saw the police officers surrounding Moose Woods. Her long, black hair fell down her back; her hazel eyes focused on the tent that the other campers were using. She was thinking of her ex-boyfriend Chad Mark Ives, the head of Phi Kappa Phi fraternity. He had dumped her for Kendra Lowenstein, a popularity ruler form Delta Phi Delta sorority house. ​I don't need him​, she thought to herself. She had enough of his pleas to combat his growing attraction to Kendra; she was a user of people. ​And Chad didn't care​. Jennifer, who was best friends with Frances, looked out of the window of the red 2004 van that was parked near Moose Woods. Jennifer headed towards the passenger-side door. To her shock, a young woman was handcuffed.

"Help me! He'll come back! He'll come back!​". She looked around. She grabbed the silvery grey keys that was in the mud.

"What happened? What's your name?", she asked her.

"Anne Freed. I'm a cheerleader from Montana High School. It's John Marks. We dated a year ago. But he was a creep. You know the type". Jennifer nodded. John Marks was a psychotic who dropped out of college...and disappeared back in the cold winter of 2011 when he was allegedly attacked other cheerleaders over the last two or three years.  "He was like a ghost. No one knew where he lived. He told me I'd die if I said anything. That was hours ago...Five, I think. Oh, God!  What do we do now?", Anne asked her.

"We can go to the campground. Frances and her friends are there", Jennifer said. And, as she freed her new friend, they headed to Moose Wood, where the campers were in their tents.

______~~~______

John Marks was itching to kill again. He remembered the first time he attacked someone. It was in the summer of 1999 when he was fifteen. He was on-line shopping on his computer searching for a book on Montana. The rural mountains was something that was thrilling; the connection to the lands opened up new kind of electrical pulse in his brain. And, as he ignored his alcoholic father and mother, he had an awareness that became disconcerting; he was thinking of the thrill of doing anything he could do. By 2000, Mark was sixteen. When April Kendall Pryce, a cheerleader, disappeared from her Montana home, John used yellow rope to wrap around her hands.

"​Don't move, or die​", he warned her. She gazed at him with horror.

"Why?", she asked him. John smiled by an answer. He took a long time to think about the next person to die. He figured that the time was right to kill again. April stared at him with horror. Then she screamed until John left her alone to focus on other victims.

_____~~~~__________

Anne and Jennifer arrived at the campgrounds. They screamed: "Help us! Help us!", Jennifer yelled. Frances, Tracie, Mark, Mavis, and Bryan, all stopped talking.

"Jennifer! Is that you?", Frances asked her.

"Yes, I was going camping as well at Moose Woods. This is Anne. She escaped from her boyfriend John Marks. He's a killer". Frances's face was pale.

"Is he dangerous?", she asked her.

"Yes, he likes knives, and using rope". Frances gasped.

"Moose Woods is full of police because another killer attacked us. I hurt him. This was supposed to be a fun vacation". Anne stared at the group.

"I'm sorry". Bryan spoke. "No, it's not your fault, Anne. We're here for a week", he said. Anne walked towards the tents. "I'm tired. Can I sleep?". Bryan nodded.

"Sure. You can sleep in my tent if you like". Anne smiled.

"Thank you". As she slept, Bryan shook his head.

"Another madman on the loose", he said. Tracie shivered.

"We're all safe, Bryan". He was cold now. "I have to go to the toilet". He walked a short time to the Men's Restrooms that were to the left of Moose Woods. He went inside. Five minutes' later, he flushed, then washed his hands. After he did so, he watched the dark, threatening, clouds hovering about the campgrounds; the tents were open, as if waiting for the campers to fall asleep in the waiting hour.

"Bryan, there has to be more campers", Tracie said. He nodded. More campers​, he thought to himself. And there's a killer who is coming for them. ​He gazed out of the sharp mountains; he waited for the loud growls of the huge black bears who roamed the wilderness of Montana. By ten-thirty pm, the campers headed into their tents to sleep. Anne awoke.

"Don't worry about me, I'm keeping watch", Bryan told her.

"You can sleep with me", Anne said. And he blushed. And he kept her warm as thunder boomed in the late night sky.

______~~~~________

Carol Roberts smoked a cigarette. She stared at the window, as she saw the eerie campgrounds. It was a Saturday night in Montana; it was a freezing 71 degrees...and dropping. She was thinking that the night noises in Moose Woods were from black bears. Her mom, Rita Roberts, was sleeping in her bed in the far left of the dim hallway; her husband, Bob Roberts, was sleeping soundly. Carol saw dark clouds hovering above the house. She was about to sleep once more when she heard the tapping of the black tree branches. She opened her brown eyes; she wore her red pyjamas. By eleven o'clock pm, the shadows drifted across the bedroom. She saw the lamps illuminated Archer Road, which led to the campgrounds; she saw teenagers in cars zooming towards the tents, drinking beer and kissing each other with a passion of youth. Carol didn't have a boyfriend. She was ignored by the popular teenagers because she immersed herself with hardcover thriller books that put her on edge; she wasn't going to be the one who died at the hands of a psychotic killer. She gazed at the lamps. It cast an hypnotic effect on her; it glowed towards the tents. Suddenly she noticed a tall man holding a butcher knife in his left hand; she saw his dark black coat was keeping him warm. Carol had known everyone in Montana. And, as she felt her heart beating fast, she relaxed as best she could. The killer looked around the campgrounds. He gripped the black gloves, and put it on his hands. Carol shuddered with fear. ​Maybe I'm next; maybe....,​she thought to herself. Her best friend, Amy Moore, was a cheerleader. She had died at the hands of Paul Aaron Craig, a fraternity brother after she rejected her. He had taken a hammer and brought it downward as she was kissing her new boyfriend, Arthur Rice Gordon, a fraternity member of Phi Kappa Phi. After the death, Paul was sentenced to death for murder for life at Montana Prison until he died. Carol knew the risks that came with being a teenager in 2017. She was on Facebook all of the time; she didn't care about the 'likes' that she had to see whether she was known on the Internet; she was sixteen. She wasn't on Tinder; she wasn't flaunting herself on-line. She was a moral girl who was nervous about dating boys. Some of them showed her a good time by going to the movies; some took her to restaurants to eat fancy food and expensive drinks. Sometimes she wanted Iced Coffee with ice cream; sometimes she would celebrate her birthday with her parents...and friends; sometimes she would have a pyjama party, and everyone would listen to The Foo Fighters, Metallica, or the Internet radio app on her computer. And, as they enjoyed themselves, they would imagine a stranger coming to her house. Someone who was intent on mayhem...and murder. The television news about crime in Montana was full of killers on the loose. Carol knew that the evening was full of mysterious psychotics who held different kinds of weapons. ​"And tonight, grave fears is for Paula Grayson, a fourteen year old camper at Moose Woods. She was last seen last June of 2016, while she explored the woods...and she went hunting with her boyfriend David Ryan Kane...​". Carol had heard a lot of sinister stories about teenagers missing, or presumed dead; she had read about bad people. She was about to sleep again when there was a smashing of glass. She pulled the warm covers away with her hands; she spoke in a loud voice: "Mom! Dad!​". She opened the bedroom door handle. Then she noticed a shadow of a killer turning towards her. The lamps were turned off. The killer turned around. She screamed. Suddenly the killer's knife gleamed in the shadows; the sharp blade gleamed. Then, as her parents'  bedroom door opened, the killer aimed it high in the air...and brought it downward. Carol screamed. Bob Roberts, who was dressed in his favourite black pyjamas, died from his wounds. "Bob! Bob!", she yelled. She wore a white nightgown. "Mom! He's dead!", Carol shouted. She kicked the killer in the right leg with her left foot; she heard the loud thudding noise, as the killer's knife fell next to his boots. Carol picked it up with her right hand. Then she slashed across his right hand. 

"Ouch! Damn!", the killer shouted in pain. He dropped it on the red carpet. Then he fled the hallway...and headed out of the lounge room window...then  she fled the house. He saw the campgrounds before he collapsed onto the muddy ground in the pouring rain that had descended on the city of Montana.

____~~~~______

Carol headed toward her mother. Rita cried. "I'll call 9-1-1", And, as she called for the police, thunder boomed in the night sky, and the terror of the evening continued.

Page 4.

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