My family always forced me to go on these stupid vacations, but luckily I got to bring one of my best friends with me this time. He and I sat in the back of the car while my siblings were starting WW3. One of my brothers had taken my sister’s phone and she was freaking out and the other one was trying to take her purse. My buddy, Brodie, and I just sat back and let it unfold. Then we both decided to put on our headphones and sleep, knowing we had another 8 hours before we even got into the same state as the place we were staying in. I woke up to him nudging me and I took off my headphones.
“Yeah? What do you want?” I groaned.
“We’re here and we have to unload the car,” Brodie mumbled.
We crawled out of the car and after stretching, we started taking out the tents.
“Can you guys pitch the tents?” my dad asked.
“Yeah, we got it,” we said.
Brodie and I started pitching the tents while my parents made dinner and the young ones chased each other. We walked over to the picnic table just as dinner was being set. We had all started eating when my mom looked at me.
“Tom, are you and Brodie going to go for a hike tomorrow?” she asked.
I swallowed my food and said, “I was actually thinking of going for one tonight.”
Brodie nodded and said, “Yeah, so we can get a lay of the land.”
“Alright, just remember to keep your knives and two-way radios on you at all times,” my parents said to us.
We finished eating and started walking away from the camp. The sun was starting to fall on the horizon and the winds gently whispered through the trees. We got about ten feet from the camp before Brodie stopped and looked at me.
“Crap, I forgot my pack with our gear in it, I’ll be right back,” he said as he turned and jogs to our tent.
He came back a few minutes later, handed me my gear, and started putting his on. I was finishing up getting ready, turned around, and look at Brodie. He looked at me, grins, then reaches in his pocket and pulls out his pack of smokes.
“Want one?” He holds out the open pack.
“Of course, thanks,” I said as I took one and pulled out my Zippo and brought the end of it to a fiery glow.
He does the same then he puts them away.
“Let’s go,” he said as he blew a smoke ring in my direction.
I nodded and took a deep drag as we moved through the forest like ghosts.
We reached a cliff, found a sturdy tree for each of us, tied ropes around them, and then we started rappelling down the cliff. Brodie looked over at me, grinned, and jumped for a more rapid descent, being chased by a cloud of smoke. I laughed and jumped after him getting high off of the surge of adrenaline. We landed with a soft thud, and I started untying myself. I glanced at the bushes near my feet and I saw something.
I kneeled down to pick it up as I whispered, “hey come over here, I found something,” I looked at him and said, “a test tube. Here, help me look through these bushes.”
We looked through the bushes and found what looked to be a steel grate.
“Let’s open it!” Brodie said with an enraptured tone.
He grabbed the grate and moved it away. When we looked inside, a white light that engrossed us. It glowed, like a full moon on a clear night. Brodie reached in his pack and grabbed another rope, tying it to a nearby tree and walking over.
“Do you want to go-,” He began to ask, but was interrupted by our radios.
“This is Mike, calling Brodie and Tom, time to come home boys. Over,” My father said, his voice having a strange crackling quality over the radio.
“This is Tom, on our way, over,” I said.
We both groaned and agreed to come back the next day. Then we hurried back to camp, as the last few rays of sunlight danced around us soon being consumed by the creeping darkness. We returned to a camp made warm and inviting by the gentle flicker of the fire and the loving smiles of family members.
“Hey boys, wanna make some s’mores with us?” my mom asked.
“Sure,” we said.
I walked over to the fire, sitting down, as Brodie threw the bag in our tent and sat next to me. We roasted marshmallows for a while, my siblings eventually ambling back to their respective tents. I laid back and watched the smoldering embers float into the sky, appearing to join the glittering stars in the brilliant firmament.
“Alright Brodie, ready to sleep?” I asked, regarding him with a leary gaze. He looked up from the fire and yawns, nodded weakly with an exhaustion that might have rivaled mine. He stood up and held out a hand, and hoisted me up.
“Good night boys,” my parents said.
“Good night,” we said as we crawled into our tent.
We slid into our sleeping bags, heads filled with curious visions of what could be in the tunnel. I heard Brodie snoring after a while, shortly thereafter drifting into restful and pleasant sleep.
I woke up to Brodie shaking me. I opened my mouth to say something and he covered my mouth, handing me my knife.
He leans in, whispering so softly I almost didn’t hear. “Listen.”
I paused and listened. It sounded like someone, or something, was walking around our camp. I slowly unzipped the window on the door of the tent and looked around. I saw a silhouette shuffling back toward the direction of where we saw the tunnel and all I could hear was a ghastly, low pitched moan coming from it. I looked at Brodie and he was crouched, ready to pounce.
I put my hand on his shoulder and said as quietly as possible, “Brodie, snap out of it. If you try to attack him, you’ll get us all hurt.”
He became less tense as the creature moved away from the camp and sat back. I slowly zipped the window back up and quietly sighed. When we could no longer hear the blood curdling moans of whatever that thing was, I looked at Brodie.
“Hey, are you alright man?” I said quietly.
As he put our knives away, he let out a deep breath and nodded.
“Want to not tell anyone what we saw until we get to the bottom of it?” he eventually asked.
I said yes and we both laid back and made a plan because it was obvious we weren’t going to go back to sleep. He grabbed a notebook from his backpack, we started drafting a plan, and taking note of stuff we would need before we went to the tunnel. When the sun started to rise, we crawled out of our tent and kept the bag with the notebook in it. Brodie started a fire and then made coffee before my parents got up. We sat there drinking our coffee waiting for everyone to get up.
When they finally got up, I started making breakfast while everyone had something drink to help wake them up. When breakfast was finally done cooking and everyone was done eating, I looked over at my parents.
“Do you need anything from town, because Brodie and I needed to grab some stuff for the hike today,” I said to my parents casually.
They said no and tossed me the keys. We grabbed the trash threw in the back of the car, and hopped in.
“Be careful, boys,” My dad calls as we back out of the camp to drive to town.
On our way driving to town we see a hitchhiker and decided to pick him up because he just needed a lift to town. When we reached the military surplus store the hitchhiker parked ways with us, he waved and thanked us as we walked into the store. We got our supplies and the store owner asked us where we were staying and we told him. His face turned into marble and he looked around and slid us each a gun and a box of rounds.
“Be careful boys, it’s very dangerous,” he said as we thanked him.
We packed all our gear in the bag we brought. We were sure to hide the guns in the bottom of our bag. We got back in the car. We started back up the hill, Brodie turned on the radio and we started jamming but when we got to the top of the hill the radio started tweaking out and like jump through stations and it stopped.
The gravelly voice that came from the radio said “BEWARE, TURN AROUND OR SOMETHING FAR WORSE THAN YOU COULD IMAGINE WILL HAPPEN TO YOU!” over and over again.
We pulled over and turn off the car and it kept playing. We sat there for about 20 minutes with it playing over and over again. When it finally stopped we turned the car back on and drove back to the camp and unloaded our supplies and food.
“So, how was your trip, boys?” my mom asked.
“Pretty good, did you miss us?” I said quickly as we grabbed our gear and ran into the woods.
We got to the edge of the cliff and tied our ropes back around the trees. As we started our descent, we heard something above us and we started rappelling down at a quicker pace. When we landed, we both in a fluid motion untied the ropes from our harnesses. Brodie grabbed a spare rope and tied it around a nearby tree. He looked at me.
“Are you ready,” He said to me quietly.
I looked at him and nodded and slid into the tunnel and held out my hand for the rope. He handed it to me, I slid down about ten feet and waited for him to climb into the tunnel. We had finally started our descent into the unknown.