I woke up from a horrible nightmare of insane small town locals kidnapping me. It was like being in the middle of a Children of the Corn movie.
At least with the children of the corn nightmare I could wake. These footsteps and whispers all around me at five in the morning, I cannot wake from this. There are people out there. I wish it were I bear. I wish it were coyotes.
I lay in my sleeping bag, sweating buckets despite the near freezing temperature around me. What are these whispers? Who are these people? How many are there? Too many to count. Did I sleep to close to the road? Do they know I am in here? Do I get my knife out? Maybe they don’t even know I am here. Maybe there is nothing to be scared of. Do I get my knife out? Do I hide?
I want to fall back asleep! Bring me children of the corn!
Do I call my mom? Should I call out “Who’s there?” Should I pack my stuff up and leave quickly? Should I leave my stuff and run? I don’t want to be here! Try to fall asleep. I can’t sleep! It may not be safe to sleep!
I finally muster the courage to check outside. I peek around a corner of the shelter. A man is walking in the fog. There are other behind me. I quickly turn around and see other shadows near silently lurking in the winter fog. The first man sees me.
“Bill?” he whispers.
Do I respond? Is he safe? Do I run back in the shelter and grab my knife before he realizes his target is awake. “No,” my trembling voice responds.
He walks up to me abruptly with no words exchanged, then looks at me firmly and says “Where are you headed?”
“Georgia,” I say as I stumble back. “Um. What are you doing? I mean, when did you get here?”
“We got here last night around ten. We’re headed north and we’ll be out of here about nine.”
“How many of you are there?” Hearing that they were hikers made me feel safe. The nightmare was over.
“About twenty. We’re a boy scout troop from Pine Grove.”
Today marks the first time in my life I was happy to see boy scouts.