by C. O. Davidson
Camp Rockaway Christian Camp. The horse barn. I check my watch, and according to Mickey, it’s now more than three hours after lights-out. The horses shift in their stalls, tails swatting flies, they chuff in their sleep. I’m squatting behind this mound of hay, waiting for you. You think you’re coming here to meet Missy again, our cabin counselor, and I bet you’re ready to say anything to get her top up and panties down. But tonight she’s fast asleep, easy as five Benadryl in her Diet Coke.
When I first noticed you, I’d been here a week, would be here the rest of July, my parents both working, and church camp being cheaper than a baby-sitter. The first week, I mouthed the words to “Amazing Grace” and bowed my head at prayers, thinking about my books in my room at home. The next Friday came and with it the new campers for the new week. Standing in the shade of the portico at the rear of the kitchen, hidden, eating a stolen Twinkie, I watched the bus roll into camp. That’s when you and two other boys’ counselors came around the corner, talking about naming the “freshest meat” when the girls stepped off the bus.
I mean, really, I wasn’t surprised. Just like home, all the kids and counselors here are like that: Christiany at the Public Times, the only times that seem to count. But when they think Jesus isn’t watching, they probably make Him want to puke in His name.
So I started following you, at first out of boredom. I spied on you spying on the girls taking showers, laughing at the kids you called queer, drinking your smuggled beers after leading evening prayers. No one was watching me, not the other campers, not our cabin counselor, not the youth minister or lifeguard or arts-and-crafts teacher, canoe instructor, no one ever missed me, this pudgy girl, covered in bug bites and acne, pealing sunburned skin. And you never saw me.
But I saw you. Who you really were when no one was watching your white smile and tan muscles at the lake or listening to your earnest testimony at chapel or you strumming “How Great Thou Art” around the campfire.
But then I really saw you.
The morning after a storm, I was on my way to the showers, early. I had to get there before any other girl might see me naked.
I saw you standing by the path, your back to me, looking down at a small, gray squirrel. The storm must’ve blown her from her nest. She was turning in a circle, blind, until she finally curled up like a fern. You squatted by her. I thought to help. But then you stood, and as I was about to call out, to ask if I could help, you smashed your boot down. Bones cracked. And I froze. Only the tail left intact. Terrified, I couldn’t move. But you never looked around, never checked to see if anyone saw you. You just walked away, pausing only to scrape the sole of your boot along the gravel path. You left a horrible smear of blood and fur behind.
I buried her and prayed. But never told.
Because everyone loves you. And you’re in college.
And I’m just a kid. An ugly, weird girl no one likes.
But tonight you’ll finally see me, and I’ll be a terrible cipher.
I sneeze. For the twelfth time in, like, two minutes. And my nose, it drips and itches. I rub it though my mask, actually more of a hood, made from a feedbag, cinched at my neck with a bit of knotted rope. Soon, you’ll see me. As stars collapse behind your eyes and pull you down into the hell you deserve, you’ll stare up at me in pain and wonder, and see only my blood-slicked bailing hook, swinging down, again and again and again, splitting you open.
I’m thirsty. And hot. And my left butt cheek is cramping from squatting so long.
And you’re late.
C. O. Davidson is a founding member of the Atlanta Chapter of the Horror Writers Association. She co-edited the book Monsters of Film, Fiction, and Fables (2018), and her writing has appeared in Dark Moon Digest and is forthcoming in Dark Ink’s collection Generation X-ed. She is on Twitter as @colearydavidson.