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Mountain Monsters

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So, I’m back from outer space. Well, not the alien abduction, big foil cap or the “Beam me up, Scotty,” kind of space, but the wide open spaces that are the plains of Montana. There is a certain beauty in those plains, the biggest sky ever, but after a three-year hiatus, I am happily back in Clark Fork. 

My first order of business? A trip to the mountains, ASAP. Stacey, my navigator, was more than happy to accompany me, as I knew she would be. So we left my granddaughter, Billie, with Banjo and off we sped to hunt wildlife, track them down and shoot them with my camera. We took my gun though—it’s hunting season and I wanted to get a little target practice in, just in case someone was crazy enough to let me hunt with them. Most people know that a day with a weapon that includes me will never turn out well. (Case in point, trying to cross Lightning Creek with a gun strapped to my waist… bad plan!) Stacey is my daughter though and has no choice.

It was a beautiful day in the mountains and I was super excited to get some shots off, with my camera and my gun. I could hear the occasional gun fire, but didn’t think hunters would be so close to the road that I could possibly be a danger to them. That is, until I stopped to go to the bathroom—then I seriously wondered if any binoculars were trained my way! That didn’t give me pause for long though. The drive was so pretty, seeing again all the places that I had missed so much, I stopped and snapped pictures the whole way to the spot I had chosen for us to spend the night. We were in my little truck so we were just going to sleep in the camper, underneath the stars.

We arrived in the afternoon, set up camp, filled the fire pit with wood and we were ready. Aspen was safely placed in the camper—she hates gunfire and if she bolted, I would never catch her! I attached a big target to a nearby tree, one of the normal ones, with the big red rings, placed strategically to attract my bullets, right? Then we both began to shoot at it. 

This is when I learned that Stacey is a better shot than I am. Not just a LITTLE bit better either. I am talking Annie Oakley better! I blame Banjo for that! To say I missed the target would be a serious understatement and trust me, I tried! First I killed a nearby tree branch, then a clump of bushes fell victim to my misfired bullets. No matter how hard I tried, my bullets were repulsed by the target. I didn’t care though; we were in the mountains and trees where I love to be. 

From our campsite I could see clear into Montana or Canada from there. Our fire sat between the line of trees and our view. Stacey and I sat, catching up on mom/daughter stuff, giggling, reminiscing and watching the stars slowly begin to show their faces. The forest noises lulled our senses until we were ready to let the fire burn down and climb into the camper. I love the quietness of being in the woods, and I lay there grinning with excitement at the very idea of camping, until Aspen began her low growling. 

I looked at Stacey peacefully sleeping and didn’t quite know what to do. I sat up and tried to hush Aspen; looking through the windows in the dark all I could see was the moon. I opened the camper’s back window to see if I could see or hear anything. Aspen barreled through the window growling and, in spite of my calling her back, she ran to the edge of the woods yipping. Great, I thought, every hunter within a 10 mile radius was going to come to our campsite pissed off in the morning, because my dog had scared off all the game!  

I wondered just for one second if we had coffee. Coffee heals everything. The hunters couldn’t stay angry at Aspen if I offered them a piping hot cup of joe, fresh off the campfire. Then I realized I had Stacey with me, who could not function in the morning without coffee, so of course we had coffee.  I was looking out at the trees, through the darkness, trying to see or hear Aspen, when I saw it. It was tall, with a pasty, white face, blood dripping from fangs that I couldn’t quite make out, but I somehow knew they were there. Its hair was tousled and it wore a dark cape that flowed behind it in the breeze. A vampire. A real live/unlive vampire! 

My heart practically stopped in my chest and I knew the hungry monster could smell my blood pumping wildly in my veins. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t close to the fire so I couldn’t wield a long, fiery log as a weapon. I couldn’t exactly leave Stacey’s side and let her get butchered before me. I did the only thing I could think of, I closed my eyes and counted to ten. When I opened them, he was still there! 

DRAT!! Quickly thinking, I grabbed two flashlights and made a cross out of them! Vampires hate crosses, right? As I was making that cross, one of the flashlight beams swept across the horrid, white face of the vampire. I was stunned. My vampire was a tree, the same tree that some idiot’s target was hung on. (Oops!) The target’s red circles glowed under tree limbs that hung down behind it, causing the branches to look like a cape and the tousled hair. I was really glad I hadn’t woken Stacey up. She would never let me live that down! 

I went ahead and put another piece of wood on the fire though, just to add more light. I sat there, the wind blowing softly, laughing at myself. My imagination is just over the top sometimes. Suddenly I saw a large set of eyes glaring at me across the fire. I could hear guttural sounds that I was pretty sure weren’t coming from me and I could just make out a set of claws, pawing at the leaves not 20 feet in front of me! I knew in that moment that werewolves were real. All this time I had doubted yet there it was, hunched low to the ground ready for its attack. I was going to get dragged off by a beast from hell and Stacey wouldn’t even know why my blood was splattered across our campsite! I stopped breathing for a moment because I could see steaming, hot breath coming from the foul mouth of the beast. Chills ran up and down my spine and I was unable to move. My feet had failed me just as my heart was sure to do shortly. My stomach lurched as the beast lunged for me. Just before I passed out, I realized it was Aspen, jumping into my lap, back from her little outing. Relief filled me and Aspen and I quickly climbed back into the safety of the camper, Stacey still gently snoring, none the wiser. 

Sleep was a long time coming and I woke up again just before the sun was up. The fire’s embers glowed brightly, just enough light to be able to see the edges of our campsite. I giggled and shook my head as I glanced over at my vampire. My own personal werewolf jumped out of the camper with me. I froze in my steps as I came around the back of the truck. There, at the front of the truck, peering through the mist that had not yet burned off for the day, was a shimmering, specter of a ghost. It was white and not quite fully formed and was waving wildly in the wind, bending, shaping itself and flapping and  it seemed to be groaning at me. My breath came faster, I didn’t understand why Aspen wasn’t barking. Don’t animals sense the paranormal? Shouldn’t Aspen be barking like a lunatic, informing me of my impending doom? My brain couldn’t function, I stared at the ghost as if... I was seeing... a towel.  Ha! We had draped a wet towel over the antenna of the truck, which became my ghost.

I let out a big breath, rolled my eyes at myself, grateful that it was almost light. I began gathering twigs and branches to build the fire up, but then, at the very point of relief, something that wasn’t Aspen came crashing out of the woods, dirt and leaves thrown into the air. I was pretty sure it was a Zombie, determined to take a bite out of my own brains that I am very partial to! I mean, that was pretty much the only thing I hadn’t seen yet. To my credit, my adrenaline had never completely left my body, so my nerves were just a little jumpy as they had been all night. I was rendered motionless as the biggest squirrel I have ever seen came speeding through the trees. It had big, buggy eyes and a tail that could whip a cougar. I was pretty sure it was on steroids. Gimme a break, it was scary! 

I think the squeaking that came from my vocal chords is what finally woke Stacey up. Rubbing her eyes she innocently asked how I had SLEPT! I made coffee, just in case that stray hunter DID find our camp and as much as I love camping, I packed up in record time and proceeded back down the mountain. It was cold and Stacey chattered the whole way about how we should do it again real soon, her coffee mug bouncing in sync with the road and pot holes, she unaware that my eyes were bloodshot and I was glaring at her, jealous of her morning zeal. 

But I was back, I would live to camp again and I watched WAY too many movies while I was away!

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Author info

Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

Tagged as:

ghosts, humor, fear, camping, Jinxed, vampires, werewolves

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