The Friendly Campers

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https://darknessprevails.org/the-friendly-campers/

So, this happened about a year ago, and I only witnessed about a portion of what occurred. The rest is from accounts by my friends. The asinine and illegal things we did in this story, I will not take accountability for. God, I love anonymity. Anyway, we’re a bunch of college students that have always had an affinity for road-trips. I like to think it’s a mode of escapism. As college goes, our bank accounts stopped accommodating trips around the east coast, so we took up camping instead. My best friend owns this land a few hours east of Scranton, Pennsylvania. We all elected to take this big camping trip by the end of the summer, and spent it preparing. We divided ourselves into two cars, split tents, food, drinks, ect among us. As we neared the spot, our GPS went out, so we relied on physical maps we brought with us. After an hour, we arrived at the site just about at dusk. We all unloaded our stuff, set up our tents, and built a nice bonfire: we delegated bonfire duty to one person and by God, he kept it lit the whole stay. The first night was fun. I got over the creepy ambiance of being in the middle of nowhere after 5 or 6 beers. We exchanged stories, pranked each other, and went to sleep. The second day, a group of my friends decided they were going to make the two hour drive to some hick town in order to get more firewood and snacks. I was in the group that stayed behind. According to them, they got lost in the morning fog, and ended up at the local store sometime after sunrise. After purchasing their stuff, they encountered a raggedy old man in the parking lot. Archetypal hillbilly: as hick as you can get on the eastern seaboard. He asks for a cigarette, they oblige, and then begins to berate them with questions. Stuff like, “What’s your name,” “Where are you from,” “What’re you doing here?” To the latter question, he is very interested. He asks where we’re camping and if he can stop by. They laugh it off, but he continues pushing. He says he’ll “hang out” with us, and doesn’t drop the subject, even as they’re reentering the car. By this point, they’re all too high to notice the guy hopping into his beaten-up, white pickup. In fact, they don’t think they’re being followed until they leave the paved roads and see him follow them onto the dirt trails leading back to the campsite. I attribute this to the drugs they were on, but they kept going back to the campsite. They said that they had no room to turn around and nowhere to go, but hey. Leading this guy back wasn’t good. Anyway, this whole time, I’m sitting at the fire, smoking, and have no idea what’s going on because of the absence of cell service. So, I see them rush back, hours late, and I say, “Where are the snacks, man? C’mon, where’s my breakfast?” They make a jumbled recounting of this guy that followed them miles back. At first, I think it’s another prank, but the fear plastered on their faces is palpable. They say he parked the car about forty feet behind theirs and watched them get out. I get the rest of us together, and we all decide to confront this guy. So, it turns out, he was coming first. We’re walking the twenty minute walk to the cars, and we see this dirty, old man in the clearing: holding a hunting rifle. We weren’t going to try and make a break for it or see what the guy wanted, so we decided to loop back around to the camp, and then try and make a wide arc to avoid him. So, we get back to the camp in half the time it took us to walk to the clearing and begin frantically packing our essentials in a high stupor. As we’re about to turn around and go, my friend points at that the bonfire is giving off a lot of smoke on account of all the leaves we used for kindling. So, it’s assumed that the guy can figure out exactly where we are. We stop our packing process immediately, and dip into the trees, running with reckless abandon to cover as much ground as possible. As we’re reaching the car, we hear gunshots in the direction of the camp. We get into our cars and floor it out of there. We reach a police station in the same town after making the same 2 hour drive to that town. We submit our report, even though we were clearly under the influence. They hold us at the station and send a car out to investigate. We’re sitting around, freaking out – more over the consequences of going to the cops high than the maniac, honestly. It’s late in the afternoon before the car returns and tell us what they found. The tents were both torn down and had shell casings and bullet holes in them. Aside from the food wrappers, they said barely anything was left behind. From our own accounting, the guy took our weed, our keg of beer, but also my friend’s wallet. We tell the police the latter, and he says they’ll continue to search around, but they didn’t find any cars around. We end up going home early, and my friend cancels his debit, gets a new ID, and we all haven’t heard anything since. Of course, the knowledge is still haunting that this psychopath knows who he is and, roughly, where he lives. I’m sure nothing will come of it. Nothing has, and it’s been a year. But I have no idea what this guy’s intentions with us were. What if he did catch us out there in the woods? What would he have done? We haven’t been back to that camping site since, but we do plan on returning this summer. It’s June, we’re going back in August: no drugs this time. We’re going to see what came of this, if the case is even still open. Regardless, I’ll update this as soon as we do.

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