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.


1. Frances Gorman


Frances Gorman​ yawned. She sensed that the time was right to go to the outdoors during the hot summer. She remembered her parents were overly cautious when it came to the local wildlife, especially the bears, coyotes, and dogs. "Moose Woods is full of beer drinking teenagers", Frank Gorman said. He gazed at the high-definition cable television show he was watching in the spacious hallway of their Montana house in the rugged mountains. Frances shook her head, as she stared at the framed picture of her dead mother, Anna. "Mom would've told me to go Dad". She was insistent on going; she was waiting for the nod to go. "​Fine! For the week​", Frank smiled. He finished drinking coffee, and placed it into the silver trash bin in the medium-sized kitchen. Once he did that, he checked the Montana app on his I-phone. "It's freezing out there at night time, Frances. You know that it drops down to 66 degrees...or less...overnight". She kissed her father on the right cheek. "​I know that, Dad​". She glanced at her own I-phone; she picked it up. "Mavis, it's me...Frances. Dad can drive us to Moose Woods. I'll see you there in two hours or so. Good bye!". And she pressed the END CALL button...and started to pack her bags for the adventure of a lifetime.


Mavis Farrow stared at the map.

"It's over there, Bryan. See!​", she said. Bryan Fisher, her boyfriend, wasn't used to technology failures. "I saw​ it, Mavis", he said. Suddenly there was a large sign in bold letters: ​MOOSE WOODS-FIVE MILES TO THE RIGHT​; Mavis smiled. "There it is...the campgrounds". And she looked around, as Bryan stopped driving their red 2007 van towards the middle of the place where they would set up their tents in.


"I've finished, Dad", Frances said. She wore a  black Metallica T-shirt, blue jeans, a black belt, brown socks, and brown boots on her feet; she wore a silver watch on her right hand. "That's good. I'll open the front door, and drive the car around the house". He shaved his growing beard in the bathroom upstairs. By one o'clock pm, he was ready to drive his fifteen year old daughter to Moose Woods. Frank grabbed his wallet with him. Then the keys. When he opened the door, Frances walked towards the blue 2009 Mazda. She opened the passenger-side door, hopped in, and put her seatbelt on. Frank locked up the house. After he was done, he got into the driver's-side door, and put his seatbelt on. Then he closed the door, and drove towards Moose Woods by three o'clock pm in the hot, summer's afternoon in June.


"I can't believe that Frances is going", Tracie Anderson said. She saw Mike Dole shake his head. "It's not like she's popular, you know. Besides, the campgrounds is for strong people like us". Mike, who was a senior at Montana High School, was eighteen. "Look, you're the hottest camper in the state, Tracie. You know that she's young. You're eighteen. ​And a senior​", he said. He sensed the idea of trouble didn't bother him. "It'll be fine, Mike. Really", Tracie stated. He nodded. The Montana air was freezing. "It's supposed to be 90 degrees", Tracie complained. "Don't worry", Mike said. He saw the entrance to Moose Woods. He drove towards the campgrounds, as they prepared to meet their friends there.


Frances saw the sign to Moose Woods. "Go there!​", she said. She saw a large moose walking towards them. She ignored it. "Mavis, Bryan, Tracie, and Mike, will be coming too". Frank nodded. "I'm glad that you will have friends at Moose Woods", he said. He stopped driving. Frances had a wide-eyed look on her young face. "Okay, Frances. I'll see you in a week or so". And, as her father gripped her luggage out of the boot, and placed it downward onto the grey path. Nearby there were ten yellow and orange coloured tents. Brown pieces of firewood were lying on the harsh, black, ground; the firewood was burning slowly from other campers in the past. "It looks we're not alone here", Frances said. "Yeah, I guess you've got to get fresh wood in the woods", Frank said. He stared at the campgrounds; he shivered. "Good bye, Frances. See you soon". And she kissed him for the final, (but not last) time, and he drove back home from the idyllic campgrounds.


Tracie smiled at Mike. "We're here!", she said. Mike smiled. He saw Mavis and Bryan. And Frances. "It's going to be a fun trip in the woods", Frances smiled. And she put her luggage in the tent, and let the other campers settle in for the night.


Frances put her sleeping bag on the hard ground. She peered outward, as she saw her friends were doing the same thing; she focused her attention to Moose Woods. The wildlife was full of Montana's old beasts. She gathered all of her strength, then she walked inside to collect the wood. Once she picked up them with her hands, Frances spoke. "I'll fix a fire tonight at 6:00 pm. Then we'll cook hamburgers tonight". Tracie smiled. "That's great!", she said. Mike spoke. "When everyone's got some food for the camp, we'll enjoy dinner together". Frances nodded, then she decided to look around the campgrounds alone.


Moose Woods was a vast expanse of trees in the area. Trees swayed in the southerly wind. Frances heard that hunters were shooting game in Montana with their rifles. She'd read that the moose population were three hundred in Montana; the rest of the animals were elks, and black bears. Frances was prepared to deal with adversity. As she reached the entrance to the old woods, she heard the sound of the warm wind. She had put on sunscreen on her face and arms. Suddenly she grabbed some fresh firewood in her hands. When she did so, she heard the sound of footsteps. She turned around. But, when she saw no one, she shivered. She rushed to the campgrounds; she focused on her friends, then she smiled. "I have some firewood". Mike nodded. "That's great, Frances". He was glad that she was willing to put in the work; Frances stared at Tracie. The older teenager was cold to her for one reason. ​I'm not stealing your boyfriend​, she thought to herself. Tracie was one of the popular rulers at school; she had to have everything​. "Mike, can you talk to Tracie that I'm not that bad", she said. Mike nodded. He gazed at Tracie. She was too concerned about her own looks and image to believe in marriage in the near future. ​It's the campgrounds that will make or break us​, he thought to himself. "Tracie, Frances isn't the problem. If you go on this path, we're over". And Tracie sighed, then walked away in frustration.


Tracie knew that Mike was right. She was eager to have a good time with Mike at the campgrounds. Frances, Mavis, and Bryan, were here to have a good time. Suddenly she saw the glistening lake near the dim woods. She saw a hunter's cabin. It was a century old. She looked around. Smoke came out of the red chimney. ​The owner's not here​, she thought to herself. Before she could do anything, she saw a man. He wore a fur hat on his head. He was dressed like a lumberjack. His black, unpolished, boots were full of mud. "Who are you?", he asked her. "Tracie. My friends are here for the week at Moose Woods", she answered him. His brown eyes focused on the lake; his face was unreadable. "Be careful of The Hunter. He stalks people at night time. Consider yourself warned". Tracie shivered. "Who are you?", she asked him. "Old Peter. I hate the city, you know. The rugged mountains of Montana is good to retire when you turn sixty", he answered. He gripped some firewood in his scarred hands. "Can you open the front door, Tracie? The keys are under the black mat". Tracie followed his orders. She grabbed the keys, then opened the door. Once she did that, she flicked on the bright light. Old Peter grinned. "Good. Now, would you like some coffee? My wife Deanne, died last year from cancer". Tracie nodded. She wasn't used to meet strangers; she was used to the warnings from her parents in town. ​Don't talk to strangers; don't let them hurt you​, they said when she turned eight. That was ten years' ago, in the summer of 2007. She gazed at the thin hallway. "To the left is the lounge room. I'll put the firewood in the black grille. Then we'll have that coffee". Tracie nodded, then she knew one thing was certain. Old Peter was a harmless old man. A framed old picture of his Deanne dressed in a white wedding gown made Tracie feel that she wasn't going to die. The date was: Saturday, 12 June, 1979.


Tracie sipped her coffee. "I have to go back soon", she said. Old Peter nodded. "A lot of people feel that their life has no meaning as they get older. There's no sense of purpose...and direction. The modern, 21st century is too rushed; too choking in the acrid fumes of cars on the highways, and cities, across America. You can't breathe in the mountain air; you can't breathe in the fumes...until you die young. Montana has the mountains, and Moose Woods. And the campgrounds are for young people who want to experience the outdoors. But not for ​me​". Tracie listened. Then, as she finished her coffee, she spoke. "I'm sure nothing bad will happen. Good bye!". And she walked towards the front door. "Good bye!", she said. "Good bye!", Old Peter said. Then, as she opened the door, she walked through Moose Woods, and headed towards the warm campgrounds.


"Where were you?", Mike asked Tracie. 

"I saw Old Peter. He is a old lumberjack who lives in a house in Moose Woods. His wife died. They were married for almost four decades", Tracie answered him. "Okay, it's good not all people in the campgrounds are psychotic; not all people want you dead", Mike said. He kissed her. "Let's not fight; let's heal ourselves. And have lunch". Tracie nodded, and they kissed for a second time for reassurance that nothing evil would harm them. Then they walked hand-in-hand together, the sound of heavy boots thudded near the muddy campgrounds.


The killer, who was armed with a sharp knife in his right hand, gazed at the intruders. He saw Old Peter. He ignored the old man; he was interested in the youth. Especially the blood of the youth. He knew, deep down, that the Montana air was good for his lungs; the air was good for his soul. He had caused deaths two years' ago at Delta Phi Delta sorority; he had attacked Eve Jones, a seventeen year old Montana-born teenager with a knife in her boyfriend Hal Lowe's blue 2011 van when they were on a date. He had smashed the windows with a hammer. He ignored Eve's screams; he dropped the hammer, as the glass fell onto the muddy ground. "​Don't move! Or you're dead!​". He raised the knife to her throat; he brought it downward. Hal reached for the driver's-side door. When he opened the door, the killer raised the knife again...and Hal died like his girlfriend. After their deaths, the killer disappeared. He still remained in Montana until the thrill of more deaths entered his mind. He reached the marble house that was two miles away from the campgrounds. He ran fast. Then, as he headed inside, he knew that he would hunt for more victims.


Frances looked at the gleaming water. "Does anyone want to swim?", she asked them. "Maybe", Bryan answered her. "Wait until we have something to eat...and drink", Mavis stated. She saw Tracie was behaving better than before. At least she hoped so. They placed plates on the table. Frances cooked some hamburgers on the stove; she heard the sound of sizzling, as the other teenagers poured Pepsi into glasses. By one o'clock pm, they did the dishes. Once they were finished, they got changed. And they swam in the cold water.



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