A Campfire… with Death!

No matter how much we tried to explain the idea, the personified concept wasn’t quite getting it.

“No, the point is that it’s a scary story!  See, the hook on the car door means that the hook-handed killer was there all along!”

YES, BUT THE GIRL DOES NOT DIE.  WOULD THE STORY NOT BE SCARIER IF THEY ALL DIED?

“But then there’d be no one left to tell the story!”

HERE, HOW ABOUT THIS.  A THOUSAND PEOPLE DIE EACH DAY FROM BEING HIT BY TRAINS.

“Well, I guess that’s kind of depressing, but I don’t know if it’s really scary…”

I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND.  THIS IS A THING?  SITTING AROUND BURNING BRANCHES AND ATTEMPTING TO INDUCE FEAR?

“Yeah, it’s called camping!  We’re out experiencing nature!”

SO WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FEAR TALES?

“No, man.  Scary stories.  Not ‘fear tales.’  And I guess it’s because we’re out here in the darkness, not knowing what’s out there – so telling scary stories that aren’t true makes us feel better in comparison to what’s really there.”

BUT THERE ARE MANY THINGS HERE THAT CAN KILL YOU TOO.  FOREST FIRES.  BEARS.  MALARIA.

“Well, yeah, but those aren’t as bad as the stories we tell!  See?”

I DO NOT SEE, IT IS VERY DARK.  IT IS BETTER TO BE MAULED BY A BEAR THAN STABBED BY A MAN WITH A HOOK ON HIS HAND?  YOU ARE DEAD IN BOTH CASES.

“Ugh.  Look, I can’t explain this.  Do you have a story or are we going to skip you?”

YES, I WANT TO TRY.

“Okay.  Let’s hear the scariest thing you’ve got.”

ONE DAY, ALL OF THE ENERGY IN THE UNIVERSE WILL BE EQUALLY DISTRIBUTED AND THERE WILL BE NO MORE MOVEMENT.  ALL WILL BE STILL AND DISTURBED ONLY BY BROWNIAN PERTURBATIONS.

“Dude, that’s not scary!”

“Well, it kind of is.  More depressing, I guess…”

“But we won’t be around for it!  So it isn’t scary.”

AH.  IT MUST PERTAIN TO YOU SPECIFICALLY?  YOU HAVE FOUGHT A MAN WITH A HOOK FOR A HAND?

“No!  But we could, you know?  We won’t live to see the heat death of the universe.”

OKAY, OKAY.  LET ME TRY AGAIN.

“You would have thought that the personification of death itself would be better at scary stories, man.”

“Dude, shut it.  At least he’s killing all the mosquitoes.”

OKAY, HOW ABOUT THIS.  JACK THE RIPPER!

“What about him?”

HE USED TO KILL MANY PROSTITUTES.  OFTEN VERY VIOLENTLY.

“Well, you can’t just say that!  You have to make it into a story!  Like, maybe the ghost of Jack the Ripper haunts these woods, and he kills any woman who enters the woods and isn’t a virgin because he believes her to be a whore…”

BUT THERE ARE NO GHOSTS.  AFTER ME, THERE IS NOTHING.

“Now, that’s scary.”

IS IT?

“Yes, but not in the right way, man!  Look, you have to tell a story!  Give us a, what’s the word?”

“Narrative.”

“Yeah, one of those!  Make it personal!”

I AM NOT A PERSON.  I AM AN INFINITE CONCEPT, TEMPORARILY INTERSECTING THIS PLANE IN AN ASSUMED SHAPE TO INTERACT WITH YOU.

“Well, we can’t relate to that.  So it doesn’t work for telling scary stories.”

“Look, the marshmallows are almost gone.  Maybe we should just turn in for the night.”

NO, NO, GIVE ME ONE MORE TRY.

“Ugh.  Fine.  Last one, though!”

OKAY.  THE NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBE THAT ONCE LIVED IN THIS GEOGRAPHICAL AREA USED TO REQUIRE THAT ITS BRAVES GO OUT INTO THE WOODS FOR A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IN ORDER TO BECOME TRUE MEN.

“Okay, good start so far!”

THESE BRAVES WOULD INDULGE IN A VARIETY OF HALLUCINOGENS TO AID IN VIEWING THEIR SPIRITS.  SOME EVEN INTERACTED WITH ME, WHICH WAS UNUSUAL.  BUT ONE BRAVE, VERY CONFUSED, FELL DOWN A HILL AND BROKE HIS LEG WHEN HE HIT A ROCK.

“Ugh.  In the woods?  That would suck.”

“Shut up, dude!  Let Death keep on telling his story.”

AFTER THREE DAYS, WHEN THE BRAVE HAD NOT RETURNED, THE REST OF THE TRIBE SENT OUT THE BEST TRACKERS IN THEIR GROUP.  ONE OF THESE WAS THE BRAVE’S OLDER BROTHER.  THE OLDER BROTHER QUICKLY FOUND HIS YOUNGER BROTHER’S TRACKS AND FOLLOWED THEM TO THE RAVINE.

UNFORTUNATELY, IN THE MIST RISING UP FROM THE RAVINE, THE YOUNGER BRAVE SAW NOTHING BUT A SHADOW LOOMING IN THE MIST.  HE GRABBED HIS SPEAR AND ATTACKED.  IT WAS NOT UNTIL HIS BROTHER WAS SLAIN THAT HE REALIZED WHAT HE HAD DONE.

“Oh god, that’s chilling.”

YES, THE COLD ONLY ADDED TO HIS CONFUSION.  THE BRAVE’S MENTAL STATE WAS FURTHER DETERIORATED BY THE REALIZATION OF WHAT HE HAD JUST DONE.  HE STRAPPED HIS LEG AND MOVED THROUGH THE FOREST, KILLING EVERY OTHER TRACKER HE CAME ACROSS.  HE THOUGHT THEM TO BE MALEVOLENT SPIRITS PURSUING HIM.

“Oh man, this is good.”

“Yeah, keep going!”

DESPITE HIS DELIRIUM, THE BRAVE EVENTUALLY RETURNED TO THE REST OF THE TRIBE.  HE CHARGED OUT OF THE WOODS, HIS BLOODY SPEAR HELD ALOFT AS HE HOWLED.  IT WAS NIGHT, AND WITH THE WARRIORS OUT SEARCHING THE FOREST, THERE WAS LITTLE RESISTANCE.  HE KILLED MANY OF THE TRIBE’S WOMEN AND CHILDREN BEFORE HE WAS FINALLY SLAIN.

“Holy shit, man.  That would be so scary!  A crazy Indian just charging out of the woods at us…”

“Native American, dude.  It’s more PC.”

“Screw PC, this is a scary story!  Is there more?”

YES.  THE ELDERS OF THE TRIBE BELIEVED THIS TO BE A TERRIBLE OMEN, A SIGN THAT THEY WERE CURSED.  THEY PREPARED A POISONOUS DRAUGHT FOR THE REMAINING MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE, SO THAT THEY MIGHT JOIN THEIR GODS.  THEY ALL CONSUMED THE DRAUGHT AND DIED.

EVENTUALLY, THE BRAVES THAT HAD BEEN SEARCHING IN THE WOODS AND HAD EVADED THEIR CRAZY TRIBE MEMBER RETURNED.  THEY FOUND THE REST OF THEIR TRIBE DEAD, SOME SLAIN BY SPEAR, OTHERS BY POISON.

“Now that would drive me crazy.”

“Sssh.  Keep going!”

THERE IS LITTLE ELSE TO TELL.  THE LAST BRAVES WERE LOST AND WITHOUT GUIDANCE.  THEY HID IN THE WOODS, LIVING SOLITARY AND CONFUSED LIVES UNTIL THEY DIED AS WELL.

“Geez.  A whole Indian tribe, all wiped out.”

IT WAS A SCARY STORY?

“Hell yeah, dude!  God, it’s gonna be hard to fall asleep tonight.”

ALL OF THE BRAVES ARE LONG SINCE DEAD.

“Yeah, but that’s not the point.  Just imagine a crazy Indian running out of the woods at us.”

“Native American.”

“Shut up.”

“Look, it was a good story, and the fire is dying down.  We should probably turn in.”

AH YES, YOU HUMANS AND YOUR SLEEP.  DO NOT WORRY.  I HAVE KILLED THE BEAR THAT WAS IN THE AREA ALREADY.

“Wait, what?  There was a bear?”

YES, HE WAS CIRCLING THE CAMP.  I STOPPED HIS HEART, AS HE WOULD HAVE INTERRUPTED MY STORY.

“Holy shit, Death.  You should have just said that!”

BUT HE HAS NOT KILLED ANYONE.  IS HE SCARY?

“Ugh.  Look, I’ll try and explain this more in the morning.”

GOOD NIGHT, MORTALS.

“Night, Death.”

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