Cody stared out across the water of the lake, lost in thought. The setting sun had turned the blue water pale pink and the seemingly invisible crickets were too loud. Distant voices called to each other, their words fading amongst the trees.
Cody looked down at the stones under his feet and felt his cousin, Luke’s words coming back to him, ‘they say Rose drowned hundreds of years ago. Her mother did it and she claimed the Devil told her to do it. Rose haunts the lake now.’
Cody shivered and muttered, ‘it’s just a story.’
He kicked the pebbles and walked back to the cabin’s porch. Two small tents were set close by and he could see the beam of a torch waving against the roof of one of them. As he got closer, he heard whispering voices.
‘Rose appears as a shadow next to the lake and makes strange demands to the people she stops,’ Luke’s voice drifted out of the unzipped tent flaps.
‘What’s she say?’ squeaked Cody’s little sister.
‘No!’ Cody yelled and threw open the flaps.
Luke and Connie stared up at him, shock and puzzlement on both their faces. Luke dropped the torch, the beam flashing around a mess of sleeping bags and pillows. Connie buried her face in her toy rabbit’s ears and sniffed.
‘Why? You scared, baby?’ Luke cooed.
Cody shook his head and grabbed his little sister. He yanked her out of the tent and shoved her into the one next to it. They both tripped over the curled up form of small girl, hiding in a pink sleeping bag.
‘Is the story over?’ Luna, Luke’s younger sister, asked, peeping out at them.
‘Cody didn’t let him finish!’ Connie explained, pointing a finger at her brother.
‘It’s not real,’ Cody uttered to himself.
He sit in the far corner of the tent, seeming to have forgotten about the two girls.
‘It’s a scary story,’ Luna said, ‘I don’t like it.’
‘How does it end?’ Connie wailed.
Luna shook her head and pulled the edge sleeping bag into her face.
The tent flaps moved slowly and they all heard a low moaning sound. Cody raised his head and opened his mouth to declare that it was only the wind, but nothing came out.
‘It’s me, Rose,’ a low, but still child male voice hissed, ‘you must do as I say or you’ll end up like me…woo.’
Luna screamed and Connie joined in. Cody put his hands over his ears and shouted at them to stop.
‘What is going on? Girls? Stop screaming. Luke, did you scare them?’
Cody dropped his hands and crawled out of the tent. The girls screams fading into soft crying. He got out and stopped up to see his mother before Luke, who was staring at his feet. On the porch his father stood, holding open the door and looking slightly worried.
‘We were just telling camp fire stories,’ Luke responded, ‘it’s not my fault they got scared.’
‘No more stories. Bed now.’
Nodding, Luke turned and walked back to his tent. Cody hugged his mum then trailed after his cousin. Behind him, Cody heard his mum comforting the girls and settling them down again. Feeling a little better, Cody got into his sleeping bag and turned away from Luke, who all ready his back to Cody. Rubbing the edge of the pillow between his fingers, he listened to his parents talking then the door shutting.
Crickets and the lapping water of the lake filled the air once more. Cody felt Luke shift slightly and heard him mumble something. Deciding not to ask, Cody shut his eyes and thought about the promised boat trip tomorrow.
Darkness pressed against the tents. The crickets had long been silent and now the gentle waves of the lake against the pebble shore and wooden jetties were all that could be heard. Cody’s eyes fluttered and opened. He could see nothing but blackness. He wiggled in his sleeping bag, wondering what had woken him up.
He eyed the side of the tent and saw what seemed to be a fleeting shadow moving around outside.
‘Connie? Luna?’ he whispered.
No voice replied, but he thought he heard a small crying.
Wondering if his sister or Luke’s sister had gotten up, Cody got out of his warm sleeping bag and unzipped the tent. He called their names again and stepped out. A cool breeze wrapped around his bare arms. Cody shuffled over to the girl’s tent, blinded by the darkness and after feeling around, found their tent still zipped.
Shrugging and deciding it was nothing, he went back into his tent again.
To Be Continued…