Summer of Screams: Wolves of Camp River Swamp by Danielle McKinney
Wolves of Camp River Swamp
by Danielle McKinney
It was the worst summer camp on the face of the planet but Alec’s parents insisted that he had to go. They didn’t want him to waste his summer days playing video games. It wasn’t their summer, but still Alec was forced to attend Swamp River Camp for Teens.
“Alec, you might like it. You won’t know unless you give it a chance,” his mom said, trying to sell him on the idea. She had no clue about what he liked. Staying inside was more his forte, not running in the woods with a bunch of idiots trying to bond while singing campfire songs.
Despite his pleas and his attempts to try to get his dad to stop these shenanigans, Alec was going to summer camp. He packed up everything, including his Beats headphones and his tricked out alien laptop. Maybe I could just stay in the cabin and game the whole summer without having to take a step-in nature, he thought to himself.
His mom popped her head in the door as he was trying to shut his duffel bag. “You’re not taking all that stuff, are you?”
“Mom, you’re sticking me in the wilderness already. Can’t you at least allow me to enjoy it in style?”
Resigned, she said, “Just don’t lose it. Your father and I are not replacing it.”
“And I wouldn’t ask you to, because I am going to guard this stuff with my life. Plus, I don’t think I’ll be leaving the cabin much anyways.”
“I think that they might have a no electronics rule at the camp, but if you want to take that risk, that is up to you.”
“The risk is worth it. I still think you’re wrong. Summer camp sucks and this is going to be a crappy summer if I’m stuck in the woods.”
“You might be surprised, though.”
“Yeah, right,” he grumbled. She wouldn’t budge.
Twenty minutes later, Alec boarded a bus with 20 other teens to go to summer camp. This was going to be social hell. Plus, they were singing. Hopefully I wouldn’t be bleeding from my ears anytime soon, he thought. He kept looking out the window, hoping that this torture would be over soon.
Two hours after he climbed on board, the bus pulled onto a bumpy, dirt road. They passed a worn, wooden sign that read “Welcome to Swamp River Camp for Teens!” The bus stopped in front of the camp mess hall. Further down the road, he could see tiny log cabins. Alec was praying for wi-fi service out here, but he seriously doubted it.
Before they could even stand up from their seats, a portly man launched himself onto the bus, clipboard in hand. He wore a baseball cap that covered his unruly, black hair.
“Good Morning campers!” he yelled with way too much enthusiasm. Some of the other kids mumbled good mornings at him, but apparently, that wasn’t good enough. “Campers, I said ‘Good Morning!’ Let me hear ya!” This time, the response was louder, and this seemed to satisfy him.
“I’m Camp Director Dave, and before we get to the cabins, I have some rules to go over. Number One rule is to have fun, but also be safe. No venturing off into the woods by yourself. Always bring a buddy! Number two is, if you need to use the bathrooms after dark, remember to grab your buddy. Now, I don’t want to drag on and on, so I’ll go over more rules when we’re at dinner tonight in the mess hall. But remember to have fun!”
As he bounded off the bus, the others started to gather their belongings and step cautiously out into the sunshine. Once everything was sorted out, the camp counselors grouped the kids up by name and took them to the cabin where they would be spending the rest of the summer. Alec grabbed the first empty bottom bunk and started to unpack all his tech. He was approached by a chubby guy he recognized from the bus, a kid who resembled a pig, if a pig had blonde hair and wore tiny, round glasses.
“Hey, I’m Simon. This is the last bunk. Would it be cool if I grabbed the bottom?” he said.
Alec looked around the cabin and every bed seemed to be full. He begrudgingly started moving his stuff up to the top bunk. “Do you mind if I sit on the bottom, just until I get my tech up?”
“Is that a gaming computer?” Simon said.
“I don’t think we’re allowed to have electronics here. My parents made me keep all my computer stuff home. They said that it would just get confiscated by Camp Director Dave.”
“Well, I’m willing to take that risk.” Alec stowed his duffel bag under the bunk while Simon dropped his bag on the side of the bunk bed by the ladder, leaving enough room for him to climb up.
“Hello, campers!” Camp Director Dave bellowed as he burst into the cabin. “Just wanted to check up on you all and see how much unpacking you’ve got left.” The counselor’s eyes fell on Alec and his barely hidden laptop. He shook his head, disappointed, although he knew that there was always one kid in the group who insisted on bringing in some sort of electronics.
“Hey, son. I’m afraid I am going to have to confiscate your laptop there. Camp River Swamp does not allow computers, tablets, phones, mp3 players… any of that stuff.”
Sighing, Alec packed up all his gaming equipment and handed it all over to the camp director. And this is how I know this summer is going to suck, Alec thought to himself.
Dave patted the teen on the shoulder. “Sorry I’ve got to do this to you, bud. I know that you might think you’re not going to like it here, but that is going to change.”
“Whatever,” Alec grumbled, rolling his eyes at the now laptop-less bunk.
“What was that?” the camp director asked.
“Nothing,” Alec answered.
That night, Alec woke up to complete darkness, his skin clammy with sweat. The first day of camp was over with; just 20 more days to go. His gaming gear confiscated, he had no choice but to participate in the camp activities. It’s not like they can force me to do all of their stupid activities. I should just park myself right here for the next three weeks, Alec thought. Thinking he was the only one awake, he climbed down the wooden ladder to the floor to go take a leak.
“Hey, you’re supposed to have a buddy if you go out,” Simon said, sitting up in the lower bunk.
Without a pause, Alec exited the cabin. “Go ahead, tell on me, dude. Maybe I’ll get kicked out and get go home.”
As he made his way to the boys’ bathroom – more like glorified outhouse – Alec hoped Simon would tell on him. Maybe if he broke enough rules, then he would get sent home. Alec hated hanging out with people. He had gamed and talked with others online, but never met them in real life. He kept to himself, and because of that, his mom banished him to summer camp.
“He’ll make friends there,” she told his father. “This teen camp will be good for him.” She had started to sound like a broken record by the time the day finally came for him to leave.
In the dingy bathroom, he splashed cold water onto his face, hoping that would cool him down. As he looked up in the mirror above the sink. a dark shape passed behind him, reflected in the glass. Whipping around, but he saw nothing but empty bathroom stalls. He turned back to the sink, where the water had stopped flowing.
“What the hell?” he said to his reflection, “God, get a grip, man. It probably shut off automatically and you just didn’t notice it.” Taking a deep, trembling breath and gripping the edges of the sink, Alec focused on his own face in the cloudy mirror, trying not to freak out.
A high-pitched, rending screech rattled the air behind him. Alec whipped around, and in the pale-yellow light, his eyes found four long, ragged scratches in the thin metal stall door. The teen bolted from building, slamming into the swinging door and stumbling out into the night. He never saw the girl – one second he was running for his life, and the next, he was flat on his back in the dirt. Standing before him, looking nonplussed, was a pale, dark-haired girl dressed in the white shorts and a pink polo shirt that the counsellors wore.
“Shit, sorry,” he mumbled as he fumbled his way to his feet.
“It’s fine. I bet you run into girls in the dark all the time.” She smiled and her eyes gleamed in the moonlight.
“Only the pretty ones,” he replied, mesmerized.
Concern flooded her face. “Are you okay? You look terrified.”
“Something, a bear or some kind of animal, clawed through one of the stalls in the boys’ bathroom. I thought I was next.” He laughed half-heartedly, trying to sound like he was joking but making a bad job of it.
Her hands on her hips, she admonished him, her eyes sparkling. “Well, you shouldn’t have gone off by yourself. The camp director is strict when it comes to kids running around the camp unsupervised.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t.”
“We should get back. You don’t want to get caught outside at night,” she said. In the woods, right behind the bathroom building, something – or somethings – began to howl like a pack of hungry wolves.
“Yup, I agree. Time to get back to bed.”
“It’s like you think I’m kidding. I told you that it’s best not to go cavorting alone at night. The woods hide many wild animals.” She turned and started to jog back to the girls’ cabins.
“Hey, I didn’t get your name!” Alec called out to her.
“It’s Cat,” she yelled back over her shoulder.
He hurried back to his own cabin and the safety of his bunk. Simon was asleep by the time he got back. How could he sleep through that eerie howling? Then another thought struck him. What kind of summer camp had wolves, anyway? It’s probably not the best place to build a camp for kids in woods with wolves lurking around. He planned to ask the camp director first thing in the morning. He fell asleep as exhaustion took him, the wolves howling through the night.
The next day, Alec never got a chance to talk to the camp director. Every time that Alex got remotely close to him, he was always busy. If there were wolves in the woods that were savage enough to claw through a metal bathroom door, then the campers were not safe. Yet the guy couldn’t spare even one second to talk to Alec. What kind of leader was this guy, anyway?
Although he was still freaked out from the attack last night, meeting Cat seemed to calm him down. Throughout the day, he tried to find the girl, even asked the other camp counselors where she would be, but none of them knew who he was talking about.
Maybe she was just a camper and not an actual counselor, Alec thought to himself. During dinner, he made the rounds at the girls’ tables, but he got some strange looks when he tried to ask the other girls about her. He made his way back to his own table in defeat as the camp director stood up in front of the entire mess hall.
“Campers, I am pleased to announce the first camp activity. After dinner, we will all be taking a hike to the highest point of the camp to watch the stars,” he announced, his round face glowing in the bright fluorescent lights.
Over the sound of a few cheers from the other campers, Alec called out, “But Camp Director Dave, the woods are full with wolves.” The entire room fell silent as the other teens comprehended what Alec was saying. “It’s not safe.”
“Come here, son,” Dave waved the boy over into a corner of the room as the rest of the kids began talking at once. Alec stepped up from his table and followed the director. In a hushed voice, Dave said, “Listen, there are no wolves in this camp. It’s perfectly safe. There aren’t even wolves in this entire state, not for hundreds of years, anyway. Maybe some raccoons, deer, elk, and possum, but there are no wolves. Got it?”
“But, sir,” Alec tried to say but he was interrupted by the camp director.
“I promise that everyone is going to be perfectly safe and the camp counselors will be spread throughout the group to make sure that everyone is secure and protected and that there are no injuries of any kind.”
Alec tried to tell the director about the bathroom stall door, but the man wouldn’t listen.
The rest of the campers started filing out of the mess hall to head back to their cabins to get ready for the hike.
How could he not listen to me? All he had to do was go to the bathrooms and see the door, Alec thought. He felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Are you telling the truth? Is there a wolf in the woods?” Simon asked, pushing his glasses up his nose. The two boys left the mess hall and made their way to their cabin.
“Yeah. I can show you the claw marks on the bathroom door if you want. Plus, I heard them howling all night. Dude, this hike is dangerous. These wolves are savage. Letting people out into the woods is a nightmare waiting to happen.”
“You’re safe if you have your buddy, though, right?” Simon smiled half-heartedly at his joke.
“Dude,” Alec sighed.
“But you’re still going on the hike, aren’t you?”
“There’s this girl… I met her last night. I couldn’t find her anywhere today. I need to talk to her again.”
“You like her,” Simon said, raising his eyebrow knowingly.
“That’s none of your business. I don’t even know why I told you.” Alec started walking toward the cabin door. “Let’s go or that idiot camp director will hunt us down.”
The two boys met with the rest of the teens, and as soon as each counsellor took a head count, the group started off into the woods. Alec made his way through the group to find Cat. Suddenly, he was yanked into the bushes by a force he did not see. He started to fight back, but he realized that it was Cat.
“It’s just me,” she whispered.
“I couldn’t find you. I looked all day. Where have you been?”
“I was helping the nurse. There are always many injuries on the first day. She needed the extra help.”
“We should catch up to the others.”
“Don’t you want to have some fun in the woods?” she asked, her eyes gleaming. She grabbed his hand and pulled him slightly towards her.
“But the wolves…”
“Will not be a problem. I know where there’s an abandoned cabin. We can get better acquainted.”
She pulled him aside as they went further into the woods, away from the path. The deeper they went, the darker it got. Alec could barely see his hand in front of his face. Cat didn’t seem to have a problem, and she just kept pulling Alec deeper and deeper in the woods. Every so often, she said that they were getting closer, but it didn’t seem like it. Then the howls began.
“We should get back.” Alec said, yanking his hand back and turning around.
“We’ll be fine.”
Cat grabbed his hand again and pulled him along, but as she did, he stepped on something that crunched beneath his feet. Alec stooped down to pick up what he stepped on. “These are Simon’s glasses.” He held the smashed and bloody glasses up for Cat to see. “Simon… he must have followed us. He could be hurt. We need to go find him.”
Alec yanked Cat in a different direction. He started to run and the girl followed closely behind him. Suddenly, he tripped, bringing her down with him. He turned back to look at what he had tripped over. Alec gasped. Before him, his chubby friend lay in the dirt and leaves, his face and neck torn open. There were long, deep tears ripped through his body, all the way down to his now deflated stomach. His throat had been completely torn out, the pink tube of his esophagus hanging from the hole gored in his neck.
“We have to take cover. There’s a ranger station just over there,” Cat said, pulling Alec to his feet.
Cat and Alec ran through the woods. Behind them, they could hear the pounding of paws against the ground. The wolves would be on them at any moment. Alec could feel the hot breath of the beasts on the back of his neck, mere inches away from doing to him what had been done to Simon. He prayed that they could get to the ranger station before the wolves could catch them.
“This way,” Cat said pulling him to the side. He saw the dark silhouette of the cabin with bright squares of light shining through the windows, encouraging the couple on. Cat got to the door first and threw it open. The sight that they saw was one that they would never forget. Before them, a ranger was mangled and torn, his upper body hanging from a deer rack. His lower half was dumped on the floor with loops of intestines trailing out of his pants.
“We’re done for,” Alec said.
“There has to be some kind of weapon… or a gun!” Cat cried. She fumbled through doors and drawers of the station, hoping to find something. The cabin was already a mess. There was broken furniture everywhere, shredded by huge claws. Inside a tall cabinet, Cat yanked out a long rifle.
“Here,” she said, digging through the floor of the cabinet for bullets. “This will work. It’s probably our only chance.”
“Do you even know how to fire a gun?” Alec asked. The only time he had fired anything was a plastic arcade gun.
“Don’t you?” she asked back, her voice rising in panic.
“No, but it can’t be that hard. Just point and shoot, right?” She passed the rifle to him. He looked the gun in his hands. Alec knew that he would have to make sure the safety was off. He had watched a ton of movies where guns didn’t work if the safety was still on. He found a little lever on the stock and slid it back. Outside, the wolves howled, the entire cabin now surrounded Cat and Alec barricaded the door with pieces of broken chairs and half a coffee table.
“That should hold,” Alec said. Just then, a huge, gray wolf jumped through a window, sending shattered glass flying in all directions. The thing was as big as a bear; this was no ordinary wolf.
“Shoot it!” Cat screamed. Alec lifted the gun up as the wolf launched itself at Cat, teeth bared and going in for the kill. He pulled the trigger, the bullet aimed perfectly. The wolf landed on the floor beside Cat in a heap of blood and fur. But once it slid to a stop, the teens realized that it wasn’t a wolf that was dead on the floor. It was a girl. Alec ran to her side. The bullet had caught in her in the stomach. She was bleeding profusely.
“Why did you shoot me? I was protecting you.” the wolf girl asked, blood leaking from the corner of her mouth.
“What?” Alec gasped. He looked back to Cat, but something had changed. She wasn’t the pretty girl that he had met the other night. Fangs protruded from her mouth and her eyes were jet black.
“From me,” Cat hissed as she pounced on Alec. The boy picked up the rifle but the vampire plucked it from his hands and threw it to the side. The wolf girl had enough life in her to shift back into her wolf form. The werewolf caught the vampire in the throat and ripped the creature’s head from its body. Alec could only watch in horror. Just then, more wolves jumped through the window to aid the hurt werewolf. Before his eyes, one of the wolves shifted into his human form. It was his Camp Director Dave.
“Alec, we need to get you back to the pack. You need to complete your shift,” he said.
“Shift…” Alec said, and the word hung in the air.
“This camp is for young werewolves. We had hoped to catch the bloodsucker before the young wolves, came but we were too late,” the boy said. As the man’s words hung in the air, Alec felt his body begin to shift into a wolf.
About the Author
Dani loves horror movies ever since she saw Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers with Danielle Harris. She loves vampires, her favorite movie is Interview with a Vampire. She reads constantly and mostly books about the supernatural and is also a paranormal investigator. She currently works at a call center for a life insurance company but is pursuing her master’s in library science to become a librarian. She currently writes for pophorror.com.