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Campfire Monsters (WORKING TITLE) (3,146 Words)

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Old 08-30-2012, 10:17 PM
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Default Campfire Monsters (WORKING TITLE) (3,146 Words)


1
The truth was, he didn’t know who to believe anymore.
There was Craig Holland, a kid who looked like a middle-aged banker only with a lot more hair. Craig claimed that monsters stank of “rotten potatoes, garbage too.” He told his friends that one day he was cleaning out the basement with his dad and he saw something move in the corner. It was tall, sort of human-like, and it “stank like shit and rotten potatoes”.
There was Andy Murray, who shot down Craig’s theory about the potatoes before Craig was even finished talking. Andy knew what monsters looked like. They looked like clowns, they looked like animals; but they never, ever, looked like humans. “That’d be pointless, wouldn’t it? Why not just call it a human then, if it looks like a human.”
And then there was Ryder McNulty. This kid was the self-proclaimed monster expert. He had read dozens of books on monsters and watched hundreds of movies. He researched shit on the internet, sometimes staying up past midnight, his eyes bloodshot and stinging.
Ryder had no patience for potatoes or clowns or anything like that. He knew that monsters had fur, scales, or slimy skin. He knew that monsters had fangs, always, and that they were shaped specifically for crunching human bones.
“They eat animals too. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s humans they’re after. Humans and human blood and guts.”
Tristen Harver sat on a log that was chapping his ass, listening to Craig and Andy and Ryder debate over monsters, all the while wishing he had stayed home with a good comic book instead of agreeing to come along on this stupid camping trip. He hated the outdoors, but he hated having to rough out the arguments between Ryder and the rest of them even more. At home, he’d only have to rough out the arguments his parents had with his grandpa. Those were somehow easier to tolerate…
Now Ryder was trying to explain to Andy and Craig that monsters were incapable of speaking English. “There’s no way they’d talk like that,” he said. “Go ahead and call them humans then, if that’s true. Monsters are a whole different species.”
Tristen got up to fix himself a fresh hotdog. He picked out a wiener with a cooking fork that was just a little rusty around the prongs. When he carried it to the crackling fire Craig was designated to feed, Ryder was standing high on his goddamned soap box, preaching the good word about monsters. Hallelujah!
The sun was crawling downwards, inching closer to the mountains that made up most of Greenwood Fall’s horizon. The guys had a large blanket spread out on the damp grass. They had moved it as close to Craig’s fire as possible. Now Tristen was tip toeing over the backpacks and canteens peppered across the blanket’s silky surface. His wiener was ready for eating, and his mouth was watering.
“What do you think, Trist?” Craig asked.
Ryder broke in, “Yeah, Trist. What do you think?”
Tellme you believe me and think monsters don’t look like humans.”
Tristen made it over the slippery surface of the blanket and collapsed on a log next to Ryan. The kid stank of sweat and excitement, those two fragrances struggling out of his pores all at once.
“Um,” Tristen said, biting through his wiener to buy time. “I really don’t know. I think monsters could be anything you wanted them to be.”
No one liked this response. Craig and Andy shook their heads at each other, as if they were expecting that sort of response all along.
“I mean, I don’t know,” Tristen defended himself. “You guys know more about that stuff than I do.”
No one liked that response either. It was way too clean and way too safe. They wanted Tristen to argue, to climb on his own soapbox. They did know more than Tristen; how the hell could you argue that?
“Alright, so what do you think one would look like.” Craig tossed three or four twigs into the fire. “If you had to guess from shit you’ve seen.”
Tristen thought. Chewed his food. A million images flashed before his eyes. Most of them were blurry, like most memories are if they’re 7 or 8 years old.
He thought of rainy Saturday afternoons with his dad. The TV turned up as loud as Tristen’s mom could stand from the kitchen. A giant bowl of popcorn sitting in Tristen’s lap, and Mr. Harver periodically scooping up handfuls of the stuff.
Tristen thought. His wiener was nearly done by the time a monster finally popped up in front of his mind’s eye. It was a big, hairy monster with dripping claws and crazy eyes. “It scared me so bad, my dad had to turn the movie off and put me to bed,” Tristen said through a mouthful of chewed up wiener and bread.
Craig, Andy, and Ryder all broke out in identical smiles. The greasy bag of hot dogs traveled around the half-circle of excited teenagers.
“Now that’s more like it,” Ryder said.

2

Two hours later, Tristen lay in his green sleeping bag, his stomach still digesting all the ingredients that made up Smokey Joe’s All Beef hot dogs. Everyone else was asleep – even Ryder, who sometimes stayed up past three in the morning chatting about Frankenstein and Dracula.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t sleep. He probably could’ve conked out if he had tried. But Tristen didn’t want to turn in just yet. He had a lot of thinking to do, even if most of the thinking caused him pain.
The memories about his dad were particularly painful. The small details drew blood; the smell of popcorn on dad’s breath, the stench of eggs coming from the kitchen whenever mom made deviled eggs…
And then the day came when Mr. Harver just .. left. Just packed up all his stuff (he only had some clothing and a paperback novel), hailed a cab, and pulled away from Tristen forever after. The end.
Tristen covered the lower half of his face with the green sleeping bag. He turned to look at Ryder lying beside him in the dark, in his own sleeping bag.
“Ryder? Ryder .. “
Nothing from Ryder, the kid was down for the count.
Tristen shifted inside his sleeping bag and searched for Craig’s limp body in the darkness. Craig usually snored during the night, but that night was different. The only sounds coming from Craig Holland’s body were low moans and crackling farts.
“Craig?” Tristen whispered. “Hey, man, Craig ..”
Same thing from Craig. Silence.
The only person left on the list was Andy. Tristen didn’t even bother moving around to see if he could make out the outline of Andy’s body. The kid slept like a fucking rock. So Tristen settled into a comfortable dip in the grass beneath his sleeping bag and accepted his fate for that night.
He was going to have to deal with all those nasty, buzzing, painful memories himself.
That’s when the first noise reached Tristen.
---
The sound of a deer putting a hoof down on a thin twig and snapping it cleanly in half. The sound of leaves rustling on an October night. The leaves tumble around in a forest not that far away from a campsite that’s a little too far away from forest rangers – from safety. They brush up (the leaves, mind you) against everything you’d expect them to; trees, grass, fellow leaves. And then the leaves hit something you’d never expect to see in a forest..a tall, hairy, ungodly thing that’s insanity incarnate. A nightmare on two, three, four feet. A lover down in the pits of Lucifer’s stomping grounds.
Not even Lucifer himself could stare this thing straight in the bloodshot eye.
---
Tristen was frozen in place. His fists hovered above his face. They clutched a green sleeping bag that had seemed so safe and cozy three seconds ago.
Snap! And Tristen threw the blanket across his face. Crack! And Tristen’s mouth hung open, puffing out hot, smelly breath that shot right back into his nostrils. He was cocooned in hazy emerald and brick red. Still, the sounds reached his ears louder than ever. The thing making those noises was getting closer to the campsite.
There was nothing Tristen could do.
---
Tristen had no idea what time it was. The whole concept of time was lost to him while he was frozen in that emerald cocoon. He focused on little else except those noises, that irregular forest music.
Tristen had gone hunting with Mr. Harver a couple of times. He knew what normal forest music sounded like. On some days, the music never seemed to stop; the birds and frogs chirped all day long. Mr. Harver, a long-time believer in the Songs of Mother Nature, would cock his ears to the side and just take in everything there was to take in about the forest. And Tristen would cock his ears right along with him, to show him what a good hunter’s apprentice he was.
But the sounds Tristen heard that night at the campsite…
Those irregular notes in a twisted woodland tune Mr. Harver could only dream about in a cold sweat..
Tristen’s paralysis broke only because Ryder got up to take a leak. Tristen heard a zipper open, followed by footsteps in grass, followed by the sound of another zipper opening. He listened so hard it almost hurt. He listened for Ryder to scream, to shout. The only thing he heard come from Ryder was the unmistakable sound of piss hitting grass.
Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, Tristen’s mind blurted out. Shake it off, hurry up, get out of there.
Tristen peeked out from the top of his sleeping bag to see Ryder stumbling back to his own sleeping bag. No screaming, no shouting.
“Ryder?”
Ryder peeled back the edges of his sleeping bag and crawled inside. His eyelids hung like crooked curtain shades.
Ryder!
Again, Ryder heard nothing other than the frisk frisk of rough denim on sleeping bag fabric. He let out a chest-deep grunt for good measure.
Tristen’s head was all the way out of his bag now. The late-night breeze chilled his warm cheeks and turned them pink.
He half-whispered, half-shouted: “Ryder! Man, wake up!”
Ryder awoke as if stung on the ass by a bug. His head shot up, carrying with it one half of his sleeping bag. Under the white light offered up by the moon, Ryder McNulty looked like a confused dog.
“Umghash?” Ryder mumbled.
“Ryder, it’s me. Tristen. Over here.”
Ryder shook off his sleeping bag and squinted in Tristen’s direction. He was wide-awake; both of them were.
Ryder squinted harder at Tristen. He said, pretty slowly: “Tristen? What the hell..why’d you wake me up? What’s up?”
Tristen held a stiff finger up to his lips. He motioned for Ryder to listen to the night sounds.
“What, what?” Ryder asked, not even whispering anymore. He was getting pissy. “What’s so important?”
Shut up and listen!” Tristen said, talking from behind his finger.
At first, Ryder heard silence. Pure silence, the kind of silence you’d expect to hear at night in a forest. He cocked his head to the side (reminding Tristen of his dad) and gave Tristen a confused, rather angry look. There was approximately two minutes of that angry silence. Until…
Snap! Crack! The sounds were louder than before, and they each carried something different this time around. Tristen sprang up, as if propelled by the beating of his own heart.
“Just a..bear, or something,” Ryder said. He hurried over to where Tristen stood swaying, his green sleeping bag bunched up around his legs. “What do you think it..it was, man?”
Shh!
Tristen tip-toed over to Craig and Andy – if you could call it “tip-toed”. His entire body shook with fear. Even his teeth were beginning to shatter, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the breeze.
“Tristen!” Ryder again, sounding half-crazy. “Tristen, come back here!”
“Shh!” Tristen whispered to Ryder. Then, to Craig and Andy, he whispered: “Guys! Wake up, guys! We gotta get out of here!”
Two human-shaped sacks of fabric squirmed on the forest floor between Tristen’s feet.
“Maybe it was a bear, or something. It could be anything, man. Really. Why do you think it’s somethin’..something else? You’re jumping to…to conclusions.”
“Ryder..” Tristen squeezed his temples with the tips of each pointer finger. It was the gesture of a frustrated teacher on a busy day of Kindergarten; the gesture of a terrified kid trying to explain to his friend that the sound of a twig snapping in the woods wasn’t always a bear..
CRACK! SNAP!
Now those sounds could’ve been coming from behind Ryder. They could’ve been inches away from the two boys and their sleeping buddies.
“Guys!” Tristen said, on the verge of shouting, “Guys! Get up, this is serious!”
Craig was the first one. He unzipped himself from his sleeping bag and rubbed his eye sockets. He stared up at Tristen with a half-cognizant smile. “Hey, what-what’s for..”
Tristen cut him off by kicking Andy awake. And Andy didn’t flash a goofy smile up at him, either. He yelped and sat up on his knees, saying, “Ouch! What the hell –
“We gotta go!” Tristen was saying. He raced to his own sleeping bag and started rolling it up. He found the thick rubber band that came packaged with it and stretched it across the rolled up bag; an emerald burrito. “We gotta go, we gotta go now.”
“What’s wrong with him, Ryder?” Craig said, finally noticing Ryder standing in the dim light of the moon with his mouth hung open.
“It’s gotta be a bear,” Ryder said.
3
So they were running in the dim light of the moon. Running from..what? Neither of them knew except maybe Tristen. Tristen at least knew that the thing making those cracking, snapping noises was most certainly not a bear.
He had gone on too many hunting trips with Mr. Harver to know that.
Craig, Andy, and Ryder barely kept up. Their rolled up sleeping bags tucked under their arms, it was a miracle none of them tripped and went face first in the gravel.
“Slow down, man! I’m still waking up!” Craig shouted once. No one answered him.
“Jesus, Tristen, will you tell us what’s up?” That was Andy, and no one answered him, either.
There was no time for explanations. Those sounds were getting closer - Tristen felt them in his stomach.
Ryder clicked on his flashlight. A single beam of cheesy yellow light sliced through the night ahead of the boys. Tristen ran smack in the middle of the beam. His eyes scanned the ground. His lungs felt stretched out and sore.
“Keep going! Follow me!”
That’s when he stopped. Cold. He twisted his body around to face his friends. Ryder, Craig, Andy ..
Where was Andy?
“Where’s Andy?” Tristen said to the remaining sweaty faces of Craig and Ryder.
They looked at each other and shrugged in unison. They were struggling for breath, swollen tendons rising and falling in their necks.
“He was..” Craig began.
“Andy!” Tristen called to the forest. He titled back and called out Andy’s name to the birds flapping in the night sky and the rest of the forest, whoever was listening. “Andy!” Andy!”
Snap.
“Guys! I’m over here!”
Crack.
“It’s me, it’s Andy!”
Tristen jerked back and forth like a compass needle. Wherever the voice came from, that’s where his body turned. “Andy! Where are you? Are you okay?!”
Andy responded, “I was right! You fucks, I was right all along!” Andy’s voice sounded far away and very close, simultaneously. It echoed in the bushes by your feet and near your ear. It didn’t sound desperate, or scared, or even mildly amused. To Tristen (and to Craig and Ryder) that voice sounded .. serene. Almost neutral and robotic.
“I was right!” A robot-version of Andy spoke. “Monster’s don’t look like people!”
And then Andy was silent for the rest of that night, and for the rest of anything.
Craig began to cry. “Oh, no. Oh, no. Tristen, keep me out of here!”
Something rushed past Tristen and Ryder. Craig’s crying stopped on cue, and when he spoke seconds later, his voice lost all of its terror, anxiety; you heard that voice and it was hard to believe that it had been sad only seconds prior.
“Andy’s wrong, guys!” Craig said, sounding like a bad actor doing an awful impersonation of Craig Holland. “He’s wrong, I’m right! I smell potatoes, rotten potatoes. I was right all along, guys!”
Tristen did get a whiff of something foul in the air, but it lasted as long as any fart does, or any passing stench does when it’s radiating off a garbage truck.
Ryder was the last to go, carried off by another powerful gust that blew the bangs off Tristen’s brow and brought tears to his eyes. Within seconds, he was standing alone in the forest, the only light coming from the bone moon above and Ryder’s abandoned flashlight below.
But he wasn’t alone for long. Soon, Ryder’s voice came to him, echoing in his head and rattling his brain, shaking leafs off trees.
“They’re all wrong! They’re all so freaking wrong! All those books had everything right! Scales, fangs! The fur! I was right, I was right, I was .. “
Right.
The last word dissolved in a warm gust of wind. Tristen stood in the forest, his legs highlighted by the beam of the fallen flashlight. Andy’s, Craig’s, Ryder’s voice bouncing inside his skull, making the backs of his eyes throb.
Andy proven right, Craig proven right, Ryder proven right..
Tristen wondered when he’d be proven right. When that blast of wind carried him away and proved to him that monsters did exist. Monsters are anything you want them to be. If they have fangs, they have fangs – as long as you say that have fangs. Andy wanted monsters to not look like humans, they didn’t. Ryder wanted monsters to have fur or scales, they did. Craig wanted them to stink of potatoes and fear and crawlspaces and insanity, they sure did.
You want some scales with a side of fangs? No problem, pal. That’ll just cost you your life.
Tristen thought back to what he had said at the campsite the day before. It was a big, hairy monster with dripping claws and crazy eyes. Soon, he’d be proven right. Soon, he’d be looking at his own half-baked idea, his own theory, in its crazy eyes. He’d be bleeding, and his blood would collect in the monster’s hair and stain its dripping claws.
So in a way, they all killed themselves. Suicide by imagination.
Snap. Crackle.












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Old 08-31-2012, 10:18 AM
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Hey, if you increase the font size and add spacing I will be more than happy to go through and critique this piece. I was only able to get through the first couple sentences but it had me intrigued right off the bat!
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Old 09-01-2012, 01:48 PM
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And then there was Ryder McNulty. This kid was the self-proclaimed monster expert. He had read dozens of books on monsters and watched hundreds of movies. He researched shit on the internet, sometimes staying up past midnight, his eyes bloodshot and stinging.

at this point, I'm loving the narration. Love the way he talks.


Now Ryder was trying to explain to Andy and Craig that monsters were incapable of speaking English. “There’s no way they’d talk like that,” he said. “Go ahead and call them humans then, if that’s true. Monsters are a whole different species.”
Tristen got up to fix himself a fresh hotdog. He picked out a wiener with a cooking fork that was just a little rusty around the prongs. Dude, that really grosses me out ... Rust isn't something you mess around with ... When he carried it to the crackling fire Craig was designated to feed, Ryder was standing high on his goddamned soap box, preaching the good word about monsters. Hallelujah!
The sun was crawling downwards, inching closer to the mountains that made up most of Greenwood Fall’s horizon. The guys had a large blanket spread out on the damp grass. They had moved it as close to Craig’s fire as possible. Now Tristen was tip toeing over the backpacks and canteens peppered across the blanket’s silky surface. His wiener was ready for eating, and his mouth was watering.

I would break up that last paragraph. Looks like there should be at least 3 paragraphs in there. Also, double space between diaglouge. makes it easier to read.

“What do you think, Trist?” Craig asked.

Ryder broke in, “Yeah, Trist. What do you think?”

Tellme you believe me and think monsters don’t look like humans.”


easier to read right?

Tristen made it over the slippery surface of the blanket and collapsed on a log next to Ryan. The kid stank of sweat and excitement, those two fragrances struggling out of his pores all at once. I don't know about this sentence, what does excitment smell like?
“Um,” Tristen said, biting through his wiener to buy time. “I really don’t know. I think monsters could be anything you wanted them to be.”
No one liked this response. Craig and Andy shook their heads at each other, as if they were expecting that sort of response all along.
“I mean, I don’t know,” Tristen defended himself. “You guys know more about that stuff than I do.”
No one liked that response either. It was way too clean and way too safe. They wanted Tristen to argue, to climb on his own soapbox. They did know more than Tristen; how the hell could you argue that?
“Alright, so what do you think one would look like.” Craig tossed three or four twigs into the fire. “If you had to guess from shit you’ve seen.”
Tristen thought. Chewed his food. A million images flashed before his eyes. Most of them were blurry, like most memories are if they’re 7 or 8 years old.
He thought of rainy Saturday afternoons with his dad. The TV turned up as loud as Tristen’s mom could stand from the kitchen. A giant bowl of popcorn sitting in Tristen’s lap, and Mr. Harver periodically scooping up handfuls of the stuff.
Tristen thought. His wiener was nearly done by the time a monster finally popped up in front of his mind’s eye. It was a big, hairy monster with dripping claws and crazy eyes. “It scared me so bad, my dad had to turn the movie off and put me to bed,” Tristen said through a mouthful of chewed up wiener and bread.
Craig, Andy, and Ryder all broke out in identical smiles. The greasy bag of hot dogs traveled around the half-circle of excited teenagers. they're teenagers? Sounds more like they're 12 year olds ...

“Now that’s more like it,” Ryder said.

gotta do a better job here of breaking up your chapters. I didn't even notice the 1 above. I'd center it. And maybe write Part2 or chapter 2. 2


The memories about his dad were particularly painful. The small details drew blood; the smell of popcorn on dad’s breath, the stench of eggs coming from the kitchen whenever mom made deviled eggs…
drawing blood doesn't work. I like the idea. But I'd just write stung, or hurt ...

He was going to have to deal with all those nasty, buzzing, painful memories himself.
That’s when the first noise reached Tristen.

--- Much better transition here.

The sound of a deer putting a hoof down on a thin twig and snapping it cleanly in half. The sound of leaves rustling on an October night. The leaves tumble around in a forest not that far away from a campsite that’s a little too far away from forest rangers – from safety. They brush up (the leaves, mind you) against everything you’d expect them to; trees, grass, fellow leaves. And then the leaves hit something you’d never expect to see in a forest..a tall, hairy, ungodly thing that’s I wouldn't use the word that's. I'd just put in a comma, insanity incarnate. insanity incarnate. A nightmare on two, three, four feet. A lover down in the pits of Lucifer’s stomping grounds.
Not even Lucifer himself could stare this thing straight in the bloodshot eye.

Why would he be a lover in pits of lucifer's stomping ground? that doesn't make any sense.

---


Tristen’s paralysis broke only because Ryder got up to take a leak. Tristen heard a zipper open, followed by footsteps in grass, followed by the sound of another zipper opening. He listened so hard it almost hurt. He listened for Ryder to scream, to shout. The only thing he heard come from Ryder was the unmistakable sound of piss hitting grass.
Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up, Tristen’s mind blurted out. Shake it off, hurry up, get out of there.

shake it off?


Tristen peeked out from the top of his sleeping bag to see Ryder stumbling back to his own sleeping bag. No screaming, no shouting.
“Ryder?”
Ryder peeled back the edges of his sleeping bag and crawled inside. His eyelids hung like crooked curtain shades.
Ryder!
Again, Ryder heard nothing other than the frisk frisk of rough denim on sleeping bag fabric. He let out a chest-deep grunt for good measure.

Ha! He was sleep pissing!
Tristen’s head was all the way out of his bag now. The late-night breeze chilled his warm cheeks and turned them pink.
He half-whispered, half-shouted: “Ryder! Man, wake up!”
Ryder awoke as if stung on the ass by a bug. that's the best thing I've ever heard. Right there. What do you call as if's. They have a word but I can't remember it.

“I was right!” A robot-version of Andy spoke. “Monster’s don’t look like people!”
And then Andy was silent for the rest of that night, and for the rest of anything.
Craig began to cry. “Oh, no. Oh, no. Tristen, keep me out of here!”
Something rushed past Tristen and Ryder. Craig’s crying stopped on cue, and when he spoke seconds later, his voice lost all of its terror, anxiety; you heard that voice and it was hard to believe that it had been sad use scared instead of sad. only seconds prior.
.

Andy proven right, Craig proven right, Ryder proven right...

this sentence shows off your writing ability. I think it's very good. but look how much better it looks when you space things out. Also, you missed a period I think. Ryder proven right ...




















Alright man, very good. I like your style. My biggest complaints are your production.

I know a lot of people have issues when they copy and paste to this site but in my opinion, you gotta make it easy for people to read your work. Make sure there is space between your dialouge ...

the actual story itself was a fun read. I'm looking foward to more stuff. Not big on this perticular monster tale because I don't think there was a payoff. monsters look like we want them to? Meh ...

But the big positive here was the dynamic between your characters! Really good!

However, they sounded like children, you wrote them as teenagers. A little odd there but didn't ruin it for me. 4 stars. can't wait for your next work.
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Last edited by Rooster Smith; 09-01-2012 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:08 PM
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I think Rooster did a pretty good job of proofing this piece. I agree with his comments. I would add only that if these characters ARE supposed to be 12, and if that's the age group that you plan to market this to, I would get rid of the profanities. Such as "smelled like shit and rotten potatos" and "he researched shit on the internet."

You will run into problems trying to publish this for such a young age, even for mid-teens.

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