*A small disclaimer*
This story was written for my creative writing class in less than two hours, so if it's not "literary enough" for you or any of that crap, don't read it. It's meant to be a sort of nonsensical essay in the spirit of Halloween, so don't take it too seriously.
Our Jetta pulled into the empty gift shop parking lot in a series of sharp screeches and engine bursts. A nice weekend hunting trip would be just the thing to take our minds off the stress of school and work, not to mention give our family some quality time to spend hiking and hunting together. As we came to a stop, my dad swiveled in his chair excitedly.
“Who wants souvenirs?” he asked.
Janice excitedly raised her hand and exclaimed “Me, me! Oh, pick me!”
Our dad laughed and beckoned for both of us to follow him inside. As we perused
the racks of animal skins and outdoor equipment, I settled on a long, jagged hunting knife and a leather pouch to carry it in. Janice came skipping eagerly around the corner and looked down at my knife curiously.
“What’s that?” she asked.
I revealed the blade from its pouch and displayed it to Janice. “This is a hunting knife,” I said.
“You only use it for skinning animals.”
“What’s skinning animals?” she asked.
“Well first you take the knife and you stab it into the animal like this,” I said, motioning in the air, “and then you drag the knife across the stomach really quickly. You then can use that opening to cut all the animal’s skin off.”
“What happens to the skin?” Janice asked, her eyes wide with fascination. “You make it into pillows and put it on your couches,” I replied.
“Cool!” she exclaimed as she ran off animatedly.
We bought our souvenirs and climbed back in the car. “How much longer?” Janice asked as we pulled out of the parking lot.
“Longer,” dad replied. “We have to drive up a dirt road for a while and then we’ll be there.”
Our jetta creeped up the long winding dirt road and the engine roared in protest as we came to a lurching stop in front of an enormous cabin dwarfed only by the enormous pine trees reaching towards the starry night sky. Janice jumped out of the car and ran towards the front door.
“Slow down, Janice!” dad shouted. “The ground here’s rocky and uneven. You could fall!”
Janice turned around giggling, the moonlight casting an eerie halo around her black hair. Dad popped the car trunk open. I heaved my sleeping bag and pillow out of the trunk and dad pulled out his hunting rifle. “You girls go straight to bed,” he said. “We’re gonna have an early start tomorrow if we wanna catch those deer.”
“Are we gonna skin them?” Janice asked as she twirled and skipped around the front porch.
“I’ll take care of that,” dad replied. “Little girls shouldn’t be skinning animals at your age. You could easily lose a finger.”
A defeated look crossed Janice’s face, but soon got pushed aside. Dad unlocked the cabin’s front door and light leaked out onto the porch. “That’s weird,” dad said. “The lights are already on.”
But none of us noticed. The drive to the cabin had exhausted all of us, and Janice and I gratefully piled in the queen size bed tucked away in a roomy bedroom at the end of a dark hallway. We fell asleep to the sound of trees in the wind and branches scratching softly against our window.
When morning arrived, dad ran into our room and yanked the sheets off the bed. “Rise and shine!” he exclaimed as we hopped out of bed eagerly. “It’s hunting time.”
We walked for a few minutes and arrived at the edge of a dense forest. “Everyone have their things?” dad asked. Janice and I nodded simultaneously as I readjusted my backpack stuffed with blankets, trail mix, and my beloved hunting knife. Dad led the way as we walked through the forest on a well-worn path up hills, beside streams, and through meadows.
Janice glanced around anxiously. “Are we gonna see any bears here?” she asked.
Dad shook his head, dismissing the idea. “No honey, bears aren’t found in this part of the Wyoming.”
Janice turned towards me with desperate eyes. “Sis, are we gonna see any bears today?”
I shook my head and closed my eyes “No, we’re not. Relax Janice,” I laughed as we continued up the trail. The path began to slope and the trees started thinning out as we climbed up the trail.
“I learned a song in school last week,” Janice declared. Dad nodded. “That’s nice, honey, how does it go?”
“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night.” she sang.
“That’s not much of a song,” I retorted.
“It’s for a game,” she replied. “It’s really fun. Everyone goes and hides, and the
seeker sings that song, and then looks for them. Once they’re found, they chase the seeker back to base.”
“Mmhmm,” I muttered as we continued up the trail.
“I’m tired,” Janice sighed as she sat down on the ground decisively. We had been walking for a little over an hour, so we stopped for a short snack break. As soon as we started walking again Janice insisted on carrying my backpack for me because hers was “too heavy,” but soon after we switched bags again.
As the day came to a close, and the sun cast a red glow over the whole forest, dad rolled out our sleeping bags next to each other and proudly hung our prizes from a nearby tree; two ducks and a full-grown deer.
“Daddy can I please help skin the deer?” Janice implored.
“Absolutely not,” he replied. “A seven year old shouldn’t be handling knives. It’s extremely dangerous.”
I rolled my eyes. If dad didn’t want Janice to be in any “dangerous situations,” why’d he invite her to come along on our hunting trip in the first place? I curled up in my sleeping bag and watched as my dad skinned the deer in the distance, Janice skipping around and picking up branches.
“Alright, time for all of us to go to bed,” dad announced. The forest was a deep, rich black now, and there were no stars in the sky. Wolves cried in the distance and the constant chirp of crickets surrounded us on all sides.
“But daddy,” Janice complained.
“Now,” he said pointing to her sleeping bag. I pulled my backpack to my chest, trying to ignore the sound of the distant animals, but eventually drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.
I awoke with a start. I had grown used to the distant sound of animals, but the laughing and singing of what sounded like a child was a different story. The voice was far off, and if you weren’t listening for it, you may not have heard it at all. The voice was playful and high-pitched, a little too familiar for comfort.
“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night,” it sang. I shot out of my sleeping bag and knelt next to my dad’s sleeping bag. It was completely still and smelled like dead animals.
“Daddy,” I pleaded. “Did you hear that?” No answer. I shook his shoulders quickly. My heartbeat felt louder than a gunshot. “Daddy,” I whispered as I rolled him over. His eyes were glued shut, his cold hands frozen and still. “Wake up!” I exclaimed desperately.
“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night,” the voice teased, but this time, a little louder.
I swore under my breath and ran back to my sleeping bag. Janice was gone. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I ripped open my backpack searching frantically for my hunting knife. “Where is it?” I exclaimed.
“No bears are out tonight, daddy shot them all last night.”
The knife was gone.
I tossed my backpack aside and stumbled behind a tree hidden in the shadows.
My sobs were barely heard over the sound of leaves brushing against each other and the distant giggles.
“Where are you?” it exclaimed mockingly.
I covered my mouth and curled up in a ball. What happened to Janice? What would happen to my dad? What would happen to me?
I heard the sound of twigs snap in back of me and I slowly turned my head. Janice stood before me clutching my hunting knife, giggling inhumanly. “Found you,” she said.
It took dad many years to get over the death of his daughter, and although her murder was anything but natural, her death was dismissed by policemen as a casualty of the hunting in
Wyoming, a victim to the sparsely situated grizzly bears in the area. The police officers never found Janice’s bloody hunting knife, or the broken twigs around the crime scene. They also never noticed the caucasian colored pillows sitting in Janice’s house for the many years to come.