The Shattering – Friday Fiction

With a deadline for a column looming, Samantha had writer’s block.

“See you tomorrow.” she said to her roommate Jack. Grabbing her loaded framepack, she pulled her blonde ponytail through the back of her ball cap.

“Have fun and be careful.” Jack tossed her cell phone to her.

“Don’t worry!” She slipped the phone into her jacket pocket and left the apartment.

She threw her pack in the back of her black Toyota and started the hour-long trip into the mountains. As she drove higher in elevation, the road narrowed. After a series of hairpin turns it ended altogether.

Samantha pulled over next to a grove of Aspens. She closed her eyes and inhaled the fresh pine fragrance.

Throwing the bulging pack over her shoulders, she started up the trail. Shadows crept across the path.

Halfway to her destination, something streaked through the understory. Knowing that mountain lions stalked this area, she continued on edge.

After a steep incline, she found herself overlooking a placid mountain lake fed by the glaciers farther up the mountain pass.

She unstrapped the tent and she assembled it in the fading light. Thunderclouds gathered in the distance.

As she scouted around for kindling,   an animal broke out into the open. Samantha breathed a sigh of relief. It was a mutt.

“Here boy!” It came closer, but shied away from her outstretched hand.

She gave up with the dog and continued to search for dry wood. After amassing a pile, she lit the leaves and twigs. At first the fire sputtered, then it crackled, warming her cold fingers.

After filtering water from the icy lake, she boiled it over the fire. Then she poured it into her dehydrated dinner and made green tea. As lightning flashed in the distance, she swung around and scanned her surroundings now engulfed in darkness. Samantha heard rustling in the underbrush, but there was no sign of the dog.

Lightning flickered across the sky followed by a low rumble. A few rain drops fell. She gathered up her pack and entered the tent as the sky opened up. Samantha peeked out and saw her fire extinguished and smoldering.

She snuggled down into her sleeping bag and was almost asleep when a twig snapped. Samantha pulled on her jacket and hiking boots and turned on her flashlight. She ducked out of the tent and stood up in the swirling drizzle.

While walking away from the tent, she heard something behind her. She spun on her heels and the beacon from her flashlight showed pine branches swaying in the breeze.

The wind picked up and began to howl. She headed towards the lake.

Then she heard the crunching of rocks on the path. She never had time to turn around.

“Gotcha!”

Samantha screamed as she was thrown to the ground.

“Hey pretty girl. Let’s have some fun!” the man whispered in her ear.

“No!”

Samantha kicked, clawed, and finally twisted away from him, but slipped in the mud and fell. He pounced on top of her. She could smell the alcohol on his breath and the stench of an unbathed body.

He struggled to flip her over.

She felt around for a weapon. Her fingers clawed the ground, breaking nails and ripping her flesh.  She found a rock, spun around and smacked him in the head.

“You bitch!”

She struggled to her feet. While navigating the rugged terrain in pitch darkness, she stumbled back towards the trail.

He grabbed her ponytail and pitched her to the ground again.

Samantha hit her head against a boulder. She felt searing pain and the warmth of blood as it trickled down her forehead. Trembling, she turned towards her attacker. A fair-skinned man with blood-shot eyes laughed with a mouth full of rotting teeth.

“No!” she moaned. Tears slid down Samantha’s cheeks.

He reached out and touched her face with a grimy finger.

“Be a good little girl.” The man straddled her, when out of nowhere the mutt jumped through the air and knocked him over.

Without looking back, Samantha forced herself to get up and run. She heard the vagrant scream and the dog growl behind her. Woozy and with wobbly legs, she plowed ahead and found the trail.

She ran as far as she could and then slowed. While shivering, she pulled her cell phone out of her zipper pocket and dialed. No signal.

Her head throbbed. She reached up and felt the gaping wound. My wallet and keys are still in the backpack.

After what felt like hours, she made out the familiar lines of her truck. She kept a spare key under the carriage. While feeling around for the metal case, she heard the sound of footsteps on the path.

She found it and pulled out the key.

Her heart banged away while fumbling with the lock. She finally slid it in, opened the truck door, and slammed it. Samantha hit the door locks just as the vagrant tried the door.

His face was inches from hers through the glass.

She screamed.

She turned on the engine, jammed the truck into drive, and careened away.

Samantha began the first hairpin turn. With blurry eyes, she struggled to keep the car on the road.

As she approached the straight-away, the vagrant ran out in front of her. She screamed and hit him head on. He rolled off the hood. In her rear view mirror, she saw him get back on his feet and limp off into the forest.

Samantha shook while driving back to her apartment. She dragged herself out of the truck and climbed the stairs with the rhythm of her heart clanging in her ears. She knocked on the door.

Jack answered and said, “Sam! What happened?”

“I got my story.” She collapsed into his arms and passed out.

~*~*~

In the post Striking Gold - A Photo Essay, I mentioned that I’d experiencing deja-vu. I wrote The Shattering before knowing a place like it existed. Talk about shivers!

Do you like to camp?

Photos by S. Lindau

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77 Comments

Filed under Fiction

77 responses to “The Shattering – Friday Fiction

  1. Haha! Excellent ending! Is this the lengths we have to got to? I hope not… :) But I do love camping. When I was younger and less bothered about sickos in the bush, I hitch-hiked to a remote beach and camped there overnight – alone. And another time, to a national park. I still can’t believe I lived to tell the story :)

  2. oh my god that was brilliant and scary and then you ask if we like camping…no mam not going there atleast lol
    loved it Susie :)

  3. It feels odd to ask if we like to camp after you just finished telling that story. I’m not sure I want to go camping ever again.

  4. That’s crazy! Camping out in the wilderness by one’s self. *shakes head* This piece is a nice argument for safety in camping. And like Tameri, I worry about her keys and address. How does the “ever after” go?

  5. Wow!!! That was wild!! You had me on edge and scanning fast to get to the end and see what happened!! Excellent story today!! I’m glad she ran the b*stard down!! I was all peaceful and enjoying the green tea when that guy showed up!! xx

    • Hahaha! Sorry I messed up your tranquil moment! You know me and my twisted tales. Yep. She bumped him pretty good, but like so many predators, he survived….
      Thanks so much for reading Barbara!

  6. Very very creepy stuff Susie. I WAS contemplating a camping trip, but I’m thinking a hotel and a nice hike might be a better idea now.

  7. Whoa. Probably should have read this right before bed. I am officially creeped out. Great storytelling, Susie.

  8. Really good, though I have to question Samantha’s sanity at going camping in an isolated area all by herself.

    • I know women like that here in Boulder. They grew up with it. In fact one of my friends grew up in Aspen where they had each kid winter camp by themselves for a night! She treks all over the world now! I like to have my husband with me and my mighty dog (15 lb.) Roxy! Hahaha!
      Thanks Emma!

  9. Dang, that really creeped me out! Don’t think I’ll be camping (alone anyway) any time soon! Yikes! Go mutt!

  10. Great job, Susan… so captivating!

  11. Great building of suspense! And the attack scene had be on the edge of my seat, heart pounding!

    I love camping, but I will never go alone. Your cautionary tale paints an all too-vivid picture of what can happen.

    Thanks for the ‘scare’, Susie… very well done!

    • Thanks so much Veronica! And thanks for reading it!
      It played on one of my greatest fears and have gone camping a lot! I will be on edge if we ever camp at that spot I found, but I won’t be alone! That would be crazy!

  12. I look foward to your Friday Fiction in my reader every week– and you never disappoint!

  13. My husband and I have a prenuptial agreement–our definition of camping is a 5 star hotel or bed and breakfast where they turn down your sheets and leave a European chocolate on your pillow. BTW – our two shit zues now have walking shoes but one refuses to wear them!

  14. All I can think is, the vagrant has her address! Her keys! She’s not safe. She needs to go back with the police and get her stuff, look for him, kick him in the junk sack.

    Great story, Susie! I love that the mutt saved her.

  15. Loving the story – had me on the edge of my seat:) Love to camp and be outdoors! Have a Great Weekend – Happy Friday:)

  16. Creepy.

    What happened to the dog?

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  17. I felt my heart scaling the walls of my esophogus. What a story! I agree with Lame. Put me up at Motel 6.

  18. A riveting tale through and through! Writing inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources at times!

  19. The lengths people will go to for a story. Ugh, as for me, this is just another reason I Love NOT Camping.

  20. JWo

    Very well written…. I can’t let Tammy read this if I ever want her to go camping with me. hahaha…

  21. Woah! Scared the crap out of me.
    Great story!

  22. That vagrant certainly was hardy taking all those knocks. You’re really good at suspense that was scary.

  23. Freakin’ awesome. Now I know why I follow.

  24. Egad, that was spine-tingling. Really good, but the animal lover in me wants to know what happened to the mutt? I thought for sure it would be near the truck and she’d pick it up and take it home with her and live happily ever after. The end. :)

    But your story is still good the way it is. :)

  25. Dude writer’s block sucks. It’s a good thing I don’t need to go walking in the woods or camping to clear my head. But do I like to camp? Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude not after hearing that story. :)

    • Hahaha! I scared myself with this one! It is one thing to get creeped out when camping, but another to bring it all to life in a story. It will be interesting to go camping up there! I won’t be alone that is for sure! :)
      Thanks Guat!

  26. “Do you like to camp?” …well not anymore!

  27. Wow… wow wow… Do you know how many times I worried about things like that… well done my friend putting fears to words.
    HUGGGGGGGGGGGG

  28. Scary! Especially if you’ve been in the mts in the dark….and there are some of those reclusive rough Mt. guys around….
    Great job

  29. Well, I thought, perhaps, the mutt would sacrifice itself for you and tackle the mountain lion, but yours works better!
    Scott

  30. Had she simply stayed in a Motel 6 i suppose a malfuctioning ice machine would have made a far less harrowing story.

  31. When I heard something streaking thru the understory, I knew it was… Roxy!

    • Thanks for reading this longish tale Ted!
      Roxy is right! Oh my gosh! Last night the doorbell rang and a neighbor was at the door with her on a leash. She had blown through the dogwatch system and had been in the middle of an intersection. She hopped into the car full of strangers and licked everyone. How terrifying is that??? I cinched up her collar and turned up the system….

  32. Wow, that was gripping! Glad she got away from that freak of nature. Great writing Susie! I camp every night in my house… ;)

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