Intercosmic - Chapter 48 - Chasing Ghosts

For the life of me, I can’t tell why Martin would pick this place as one of his favorites. The fog makes it difficult to see, it’s damp but it hasn’t rained, and it doesn’t seem to able to house any lifeforms. There’s not a single leaf remaining on any of these trees and he can’t be happier. I can’t manage to sleep out here, I’m sure something is watching me. Ever since we entered this area, I can feel the eyes on me, but I can’t see anything through all the fog. Even now, I’m staring at the top of my tent, because I don’t want to go outside. I can’t exactly pee on myself either. I slip on my shoes and unzip my tent and head towards the edge of camp.

Phillip is standing on the edge of our camping area, looking out between the trees and into the dense fog. He turns to me when he hears me approaching, I half expect him to say something rude again, but he doesn’t say anything. He just looks at me, fearfully as if I’m going to do something to him.

“What do you want,” I ask him.

“You going to the bathroom?”

“Yeah.”

“Can I come with you?”

“Why?”

“I have to go to too.”

“Then why didn’t you just go?”

“It’s, scary out there.”

“Wow, you must really be scared to count on a man with one arm.”

“Are you going to take me or not?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

Phillip sticks close to me as we leave camp, not too far, just far enough that it isn’t rude to use the bathroom. 80 paces in a straight line is enough. The fog keeps getting thicker out here, and I don’t want to lose camp. All the trees out here look the same and there aren’t any real landmarks to find my way back to camp from here.

“I’m going over there, you go over there,” I say to Phillip.

“Why are we splitting up?”

“Because I don’t plan on exposing myself to a teenager.”

“Yeah, but what if something happens?”

“There’s nothing out here.”

“It could be an animal or something.”

“Well, scream.”

“What if we just go back to back.”

“Are you joking?”

“Not at all.”

“Just yell if you need me. You don’t seem too smart, but I think you can figure it out without my help,” I walk off to the side.

It’s hard to pee out here, it is spooky. It doesn’t take long before I hear Phillip scream. I call out to let him know everything is fine, but he keeps screaming. I guess I should go check on him. Shit, I got some pee on my pants. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad letting him get lost out here.

“Where did you go,” I ask as I return to where we split.

“Over here,” I hear him call out.

As I walk towards him it looks like he’s snatched deeper into the fog. I take off running without thinking. I’m unarmed but I could never forgive myself for letting a kid go missing on my watch. I chase after the rough outline in the fog, unsure if I’ll find a monster or another prank for the kids. For a moment my fingertips meet those of Phillip’s before he’s yanked further into the fog. The creature makes a sharp turn and I slip on leaves trying to make a leap towards them. I get back on my feet and keep giving chase. I snatch at Phillips arm and yank him back to my side.

The creature stops and turns to me. A blob of a creature featuring only a mouth where the torso should be stared back at me, one massive eye for a face, and eyes covering each of the tentacles. I lose balance as the creature rips through my chest with claws I could not see. I panic as blood begins to pour from the wound. I scream but not a sound comes through, only Philips laughs. I stagger away from the creature. I fall and a sense of dread overtakes my body as the ground doesn’t seem to come closer only to realize I had fallen from a cliff. Every inch of my body rattles with pain radiating from my spine.

Everything in my world fades to black. For an eternity I stare into the darkness. A bright light unzips around me and the ability to rise returns to me.

“Hey, breakfast is ready,” I’m staring into Phillip’s face.

“Yeah,” is all I can say.

“And thanks for last night,” I really think it’s him, “the whole pee thing.”

“Yeah, no problem.”

I step out into the camp, and everything is different, the same but different. The fog is still here, but now bright sunlight shines through it as the fog drifts away. The dark and dirty leaves below us are showing all kinds of magnificent colors and even the dilapidated trees show flowers beginning to bloom along their branches.

“This place is beautiful in the mornings,” Martin says handing me a cup of coffee.

“Yeah, it is.”

I can only wonder how much of last night was real, how much was a dream. On some level it feels like I’m still dreaming but I know that isn’t the case. If I was dreaming Martin’s coffee wouldn’t be sliding down my throat like hot sludge. He makes the worst coffee I’ve ever had, and making over a campfire doesn’t help the issue.

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