Haunted MTL is continuing the tradition of telling spooky stories for summer… Here are some new twisted tales to tell around the campfire… Kicking it off is Campfire Stories by Jennifer Weigel.

Ed, Dirk, Kaya and Jean warmed themselves around the campfire, telling spooky stories.  The start to their camping excursion was unmemorable.  It had rained all week and pitching the tents was a challenge with all the mud, but it was the weekend now.  There was plenty of beer and hot dogs and S’Mores and so on, and they’d managed to get a campfire going with dry wood, old newspaper, and those chunky not-chicken nugget firestarters they had purchased at the gas station convenience mart on the way.  So all was as it should be.  There they were, just hanging out, sitting around the campfire and shooting the shit with their best buds.

The full moon hung heavy in the sky, wispy tendrils of clouds occasionally obscuring the rust orange hues that flickered about its lower bulge in the atmospheric dust.  Dirk had just finished telling a werewolf story as the faint baying of a hound echoed in the distance.  He took a long drag off of the joint he held aloft in his right hand and took in his surroundings. The grounds were pretty much empty after all of the rain and there were no other camping parties to speak of.  Someone was set up three or four sites down the river, but he more or less appeared to be a transient minding his own business just trying to get by and stay dry, not out partying for the weekend.

Ed popped another marshmallow on a silver spear and plunged it into the fire to set ablaze.  It crackled and popped as the outside charred to black soot.  He turned it to sear the surface evenly, black ash giving way to molten white lava blistering forth from within.  Ed sandwiched the burnt husk oozing white between two squares, one graham cracker and one cheap chocolate, and tossed it in his mouth to consume in a sloppy sticky gulp.

“This is the life,” he quipped, mumbling while half-chewing, a satisfied smile creeping across his lips as he speared another marshmallow to start the process anew.

“For sure,” Jean agreed, snuggling closer to Kaya under the wool blanket that they shared, their hands delicately and discreetly darting about some rather provocative personal locales out of sight of prying eyes.  Not that Ed or Dirk cared, the girls could do whatever they liked.  Ed found it kind of a turn on for all that he would never so boldly admit it as to insult his friends – he knew full well he wasn’t their type and they were both already spoken for, each to their own, anyway.

Dirk’s left hand poked at the smoldering fire with a stick to enliven it a little and embarked on telling a new narrative of suspense, of a group of lost campers who were picked off one by one by a serial killer who stalked the woods with hook.  Or was it a machete? Or a large axe?  He eyed the lone camper several sites away trying to discern if he had any such belongings to build a story upon.  It made no difference anyway; Dirk had spun a similar yarn three narratives before while they sat around the fire skewering marshmallows in essentially the exact same fashion as they were now.  His words all spilled into one another like a hodgepodge of harrowing horror from one twisted tale to another.  Between fables, he would pause for a long toke before continuing to the next.

The boundless bag of marshmallows continued to be speared one at a time and flash fried in the fire only to find themselves one by one making their final journey down Ed’s cavernous gullet.  Dirk told story after story as werewolves, ghosts, serial killers, supernatural phenomena and other horrors wove in and out of the smoke filled air.  The girls continued to cuddle together under the blanket, wrapped up in their own little world.  The fire blazed on into the night.

Dirk paused for a moment as if crafting further suspenseful lulls in his myth-mongering while taking in something close by to work with.  He took another hit and looked around.  Everything was still exactly as it should be.  It was the picture perfect camping trip.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, had changed.  He poked at the fire quizzically.  It burned on as it had been, smoldering without extinguishing itself or burning too hot and blazing out.  Ed popped another S’More in his mouth, still clutching the nearly full bag of marshmallows.

“What’s happening?” Dirk asked.

“What do you mean?” Ed responded   He speared another marshmallow and set it into the fire, turning it to be equally ravaged by flame, before drawing two and two together, “Oh wait, is this the start of another tale of supernatural suspense?”  He threw his chest out a bit and boomed in that old-school voiceover narrative, “What you are about to see and hear defies explanation, for mankind cannot comprehend the truly terrible, the uncanny unknown, the rare ramifications of…”

“No,” Dirk replied.  “Something’s… well… not quite right.  It’s, it’s like we’re on pause.”

“Pause?” Jean quipped.

“Yeah,” Dirk answered.  “Like everything is just staying the same.  You two… Ed… me… the campfire story… the fire.”  He looked around.  “It’s all just so… consistent.”  Dirk’s gaze came to rest on Ed, “How many marshmallows have you eaten?”

Ed glanced at the bag and spoke through a glob of sugary gooeyness, “I dunno.  Three or four.”

“Dude, you’ve been eating those things all night one after another like they’re going out of style,” Dirk looked taken aback.  “You’re going to turn into Stay-Puff at that rate.  Like seriously.”

“Well, I’m sorry Mr. Who’s-Keepin-Track-Anyway…” Ed rebuffed  “What’s it matter?  You want one?  Well, you can totally have one.  I’m not stopping you.”  He held the bag aloft.

“No, it’s not that,” Dirk said.  “It’s just… that bag should be gone by now.  And the fire and…  It’s all just so static.”

Jean thought a moment and said, “Maybe we were all killed by that mass murderer at Campsite Whatever-the-Hell.”  She gestured towards the transient loner before continuing, “And this is what Heaven is, just sitting here around the campfire with our best buds.”

“There’s no place I’d rather be,” interjected Kaya as she nuzzled up to Jean.

“Heaven…  Hell…  Whatever…” Ed said as he popped another burnt marshmallow S’More in his mouth.  “I think the difference between the two is just in what you make of it.”

“Maybe,” Dirk said, still eyeing the surrounding woods suspiciously.  He studied the roll of gently smoking pot-filled paper in his hand.  It hadn’t changed either.   He continued pensively, “Even a good trip’ll turn bad if you’re on it too long.” 

“I don’t think it makes any difference,” Jean exclaimed.  “I’m here.  I’m happy.  That’s all that matters right now.”

“Amen, Sister,” Kaya giggled.

The group sat in silence for awhile.  They seemed to gain a little more clarity of their circumstances as they studied their surroundings.  The full rust-tinged moon continued to hang heavy in the sky, slightly obscured by very occasional wispy clouds.  Their far neighbor continued to mind his own business.  The fire continued to blaze along.  The bag of marshmallows continued to remain mostly full despite Ed’s ravenous attack upon it. Nothing really changed. Everything just kept going.

Dirk looked again at his joint, snubbed it out, and put it in his pocket for later.  “Guess we best just make the most of it, then,” he said as he grabbed a marshmallow and skewered it to plunge into the fire.

“That’s the spirit,” Ed smiled, teeth white and black with marshmallow goo.

Dirk started in on another twisted tale, of a group of friends finding themselves in limbo, forever lost to the flickering light of a smoldering campfire, roasting S’Mores and telling scary stories…

If you are enjoying these campfire stories, light up your own campfire and be sure to check out our Summer Slaughter Series story from last year, an exquisite corpse with each of us building upon the writer(s) who came before us.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
About the Author

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

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