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The morning woods or forest that is the setting for the Campfire Horror Stories short story "Change"

My body aches, this is how I know I’ve changed. It certainly isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, but it feels different. As I start to become aware of my surroundings it makes me panic. . .

The light streaming in from the mouth of the cave stings my eyes. As I push myself up off the warm earth, I feel the breeze wash over my naked body. I begin to shiver. I am vulnerable. Have I come here before? The salty scent of my body filled my nostrils. Running my hand through my saturated hair, I draw in a deep breath and close my eyes. Remember goddammit. What. Did. You. Do?

Usually when I change, I still wake in my bed. At first, I was unsure if they were any more than mere nightmares. But I always woke the same: naked, sweating and with an unwelcome sense of violation. You know that feeling when you wake abruptly from an unusually vivid dream? But when you try to make sense of it, the memory falls just out of grasp before dissolving entirely? That has been my life for the past month. The dreams felt so real. Always so damn real. Without any tangible proof, however, I remained skeptical. Until one morning, while I showered, I noticed the dirt under my fingernails. So much dirt. There certainly wasn’t any dirt in my bed for me to claw at, nor in my dorm for that matter.

As it continued, I began waking with aching joints. I felt old, but not. I felt weak, but strong. I know that doesn’t make any sense. Heck, none of it makes any sense. My muscles constantly felt like they were surging with electricity. Despite my growing fatigue from seemingly sleepless nights, I had been feeling invigorated. Everything I knew about the world was beginning to slip away from me. Is it the stress of my assignments that I keep putting off? Is this my mental breakdown?

Just last week, I woke with sore fingers. God, they were so fucken sore. It felt like they were on fire. Some of my nails were cracked, and there was a piece of bark from a tree embedded underneath my left index fingernail. I had been bleeding, too. The skin on my fingertips was raw. I hadn’t been biting them, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s what I thought. But that would be so out of character of me. Did I really get naked and leave my dorm to scratch at the trees on campus? It’s absurd, right? Try living this. I’m never going to get these assignments done. And do you really think Prof. Mrsir will believe me? You don’t even believe me.

But this time, I’m not in bed. I’m not in my dorm. Where the fuck am I? I didn’t know there were caves near the campus. I am faced with the lovely prospect of finding my way back to my dorm buck fucking naked. And I don’t even know what day it is. Or what time it is. I’m doomed. Everyone is going to see me, and I’ll be arrested for sure.

Was I running last night?  I recall panting. Heavy panting. The trees were rushing past me in a blur. I could smell the entire forest, but one scent was in my mind. One scent. I could feel it. I can feel it. She’s still here.

I begin to pant heavily as I exit the cave, one shy step at a time. I can smell the entire forest. The trees, the moss, the wet earth. Even the ducks and pukekos. If I had a map, I could likely tell you exactly where they are. But most prominently, I can smell Kelly. Not fifty meters from the cave lies her body. Well, half of it. My heart is stuck in my throat. Filled with the weight of my circumstance, my stomach drops to my abdomen.

As I lick the blood from my lips, I remember: it was a full moon last night.



Prompt written by James McInroy for a creative writing exercise.

My body aches, this is how I know I’ve changed. It certainly isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, but it feels different. As I start to become aware of my surroundings it makes me panic. . .

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The Thing That Went Bump In The Night

I was startled by the sound of a bumping through the wall. The kind of startled where your whole body jolts you awake. It was very jarring, and as you can imagine, I was instantly as wide awake as I would have been after a triple-shot cappuccino.

I could hear my daughter whimpering from down the hall. In the 3a.m. darkness, I walked softly up the corridor. The wooden floor was cold on my bare feet, and a breeze swept passed me, sending a tingle up my naked spine. I peeked into my daughter’s room and saw her figure shivering against the wall, in the corner of her bed. Her knees concealing her chin and mouth. Shivering, but not the kind of shiver you get from the cold. The kind of shiver you get from overwhelming anxiety. That unwelcome adrenaline-shiver. As I sat on the bed with my arms open, she leapt into my chest and clung to me. She looked up with a face that screamed for solace. I wiped her moist eyes with my thumb, “did you have another nightmare, Darling? Tell me what it was about.”

“It was about the monster, again,” she spoke in a whisper, and rather slowly. Almost cautiously. As if she was weary of who might still lurk in the shadows. I couldn’t see them clearly enough, but I imagined her eyes darting around the room as the words escaped her lips.

“Look, I’ll show you: there’s no monster in your closet. Just your coats and shoes and the dirty socks you threw in the back. Which is also why you haven’t been able to find any socks this week.” I made a point of standing to the side of the door so she could see the inside of the closet. Despite the darkness, this gesture usually seemed to render reassurance.

“It’s not in my closet, Daddy,” she said so mater-of-factly, shaking her head from side to side. “The monster is in your closet.”

“Darling, there are no monsters in any closets. Don’t worry your sweet little munchkin head about it, okay? I will be just fine.”

“. . . okay, Daddy.”

“Now go back to sleep, okay? Goodnight, princess. And how about we dream of unicorns this time, hmm?” I kissed her firmly on the forehead as I pulled the blanket up under her chin.

After returning to my own room, I let out a sigh of relief. Relief that my daughter once again felt safe and secure, but also relief that I could get back to my own slumber. I fell backwards onto my bed. It was now cold. It felt silly, but I briefly scanned the dark recesses of my room and glanced at my closed closet door. A smirk flashed across my face and I quietly chuckled at myself as I wriggled under the blanket, pulled it up under my chin, and shut my eyes.


I opened my eyes and there in my closet stood my daughter. She had no eyes, no mouth and no ears. But she could smell my fear.