writer / horror enthusiast

Like many kids who grew up in the ’80s, I attended a summer camp pretty much every year of my childhood. I remember a lot of things about that time in my life – the sunny afternoons of summer spent running through clearings or splashing in the lake’s cool, clear water. I remember the light rains which would fall on the corrugated steel roof of our cabins, and the smell of bacon waking us up early in the morning, just after sunrise.

Those years of my life should have been the best, and in many ways they were. However, it all came to an end when I turned 15, and now the memories of the time I spent at Camp Greenwood remind me only of the horrible agony I caused to so many. It’s a story which I’ve done my best to forget, but now, as I get older and I have kids of my own, I feel that it’s my responsibility to put it down in ink, so to speak, at last. Then maybe I’ll finally be free of it.

Let’s start at the beginning. School had just let out for the summer, and as a newly minted 15 year old, I felt like the world was mine. I remember coming out through the double doors of my high school’s front entrance and standing there, staring up at the flag as the breeze pulled it away from the pole, and just feeling an undeniable sense of freedom. Real freedom – like time was infinite and I was indestructible. When I felt the rush of the other kids pressing into my back, I surged forward with them – forward into a world which I felt was mine to shape. At long last, summer had begun.

I raced home on my bright-red Schwinn road bike, hair fluttering back and tears streaming in my eyes from the sheer speed with which my legs pumped me forward. Tomorrow marked the beginning of a week where I didn’t have any responsibility at all – nothing to do but sit back and relax, play tabletop games with my friends, and maybe try to hook up with a girl I’d had my eye on. After those seven days were over, the fun would really begin. I’d go off to Camp Greenwood for six weeks of pure bliss.

That intervening week passed by uneventfully, and before I knew it I was standing at the designated spot outside our local grocery store, waiting for the big yellow bus to arrive and take me away to camp.
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Greenwood meant a whole different set of friends for me. None of my buds from school attended the camp, but I’d grown close to boys from neighboring towns who attended every year just like me, and seeing them was always something to look forward to. It’s funny how quickly you slip back into those kinds of friendships, and before long it’s like you haven’t spent any time apart at all. Sam and Ben were already on the bus, and they’d saved me a seat with them near the back. I threw my duffel under the bench and sat down, a big grin splitting my face from ear to ear.

“How’s it hanging, Jimmy?” Ben said, slapping me a low five as I sat down. Those old leather seats were always the first real indicator that I was truly on my way back to where I felt I belonged – running my hands over their cracked and peeling surfaces evoked memories of the years before and sent a tingle down my spine.

“Long and strong, Benny boy!” I remarked, and we all laughed. I gave Sam some skin too, and just like that we were back in it. Back in that groove you get in when you’re a kid, even though this year Sam was almost a foot taller than he’d been the year before, and Ben’s voice would crack every few sentences. The differences between us didn’t matter – we were on our way at last.

We arrived some five or six hours later, and as we finally rounded that last corner I saw the huge wooden archway which marked the camp’s entrance at last. It was old – really old. Of the couple who owned the place, the husband claimed that the camp had been in his family for four generations, and that the archway and its accompanying CAMP GREENWOOD sign had stood that entire time. No one doubted him on that score – the positively massive trunks which made up either side, topped with rusty metal beams which met at nearly right angles at the apex – looked to be about as old as the world itself.

As always, he stood at the camp’s flagpole with his wife at his side, waiting for us to arrive. Mr. and Mrs Greenwood was what we called them, though even then I doubted that those were their real names, were one of those perennially old couples who never seemed to change at all, despite the fact that you’d seen them once a year for almost as long as you could remember. Mr. Greenwood was a big man; probably somewhere on the order of 6 feet 4 inches tall and what must have been all of 260 pounds. On the other hand, Mrs. Greenwood was a tiny old woman who couldn’t have been more than 5 feet tall and probably weighed no more than 100 pounds soaking wet. It had been a long-running joke among the vastly immature minds of the boys who attended Greenwood that they must have needed a step-stool to conceive the two children whose pictures hung in the camp’s main office.

We unloaded ourselves and our possessions from the bus and Mr. Greenwood took a step forward, clasping his arms behind his back. I knew what was coming, as did Ben, Sam, and all of the other frequent attendees, but there were a handful of first-timers who looked on in apprehension – even fear – as the big man began to speak.

“Welcome, children! Welcome to Camp Greenwood. Here in our camp, you will become hardworking, responsible people who will go on to do great things. I see some new faces in the crowd. That’s wonderful! We’re very pleased to see you.” He took a moment to look at each of the newcomers in turn, and I saw by their shifting expressions that his warm smile struck them as genuine. He continued.

“Likewise, I see many faces I’ve seen before. We’re very pleased to have you back. Alright folks, we’ve got a great summer ahead of us. Please form lines to my left and right to get your cabin assignments – boys on my right, girls on my left. These assignments will be yours for the remainder of your stay. Let’s get this show on the road!”

With that, he stepped back and his staff began ushering us into our lines. I looked over the group of girls and was happy to see that Susie was back this year. Susie was something of a legend for all the boys who attended Greenwood. She was gorgeous; tall, lean, and now starting to fill in with curves. She was equal parts an object of lust and a feared relic to the boys of our camp.

I got put with Ben and Sam as well as two other boys, as was usual. Mr. and Mrs. Greenwood knew that we’d become friends, and since we’d never been in trouble, they let us stay together. Susie was put with Mary and Jessica, her own friends formed at Greenwood, and their cabin assignment was 5. I tucked that information away, swearing to myself that this was the year I’d make something happen between the two of us.

We were in 12, and we hefted our bags and set off, wanting to get settled in before it was time to start working on dinner with the rest of the campers.
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Afterward we ate, as was tradition, we all filed out of the dining hall and made our way to the fire pit. It was a huge semicircular area with a massive bonfire trench in the middle, and we sat around it while we ate s’mores and told scary stories. It was the picture-perfect Camp Greenwood night, and as kids started wandering back to their cabins one by one, I managed to catch Susie’s eye. She was sitting most of the way on the other side of the pit, and the only reason we could see each other was because the fire was just starting to fade to embers.

She looked at me, and at first I shifted my gaze away. Butterflies erupted in my stomach, but I forced myself to look back. I’d made a promise to myself, and I intended to keep it. Her gaze was still on me, and she smiled just a bit when our eyes met again. Beside her, Mary and Jessica were chatting on about whatever teenage girls chat about, and behind me Sam and Ben were arguing about which X-Man was the best. Susie leaned over and whispered something to Mary, who then looked over at me. A smile spread across her lips, and she quickly turned back to talk to Jessica. Susie looked back at me, raised her eyebrows just slightly, and then got up. As she started heading back to her cabin, I turned to my friends.

“Hey guys, I’ll catch up with you later.” I said, getting up and hurrying off.

“Where you goin, Jimmy boy?” Sam said, and I could hear Ben reply to him even as his voice faded away in the distance behind me. “He’s chasing tail, Sammy. Leave him alone.”

I caught up to Susie just as she turned into the narrow alley between cabins 5 and 6. A moment later and she would have been through the door, and everything in my life might have turned out differently. A lot of people would certainly still be alive if I’d been just a little slower.
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“Susie, wait!” I called after her. She turned, the smile still on her lips.

“What do you want, James?” She asked, looking at me in a coy sort of way.

“Just to talk to you for a minute”, I said, stopping just a few steps from her. Around us were the sounds of forest life, and I felt like all those crickets out there in the woods were actually hopping around inside my stomach. Her eyes, even in the darkness, were a heart-stopping shade of blue.

“Well you got me, what do you want to talk about?” She asked, and took a step closer to me. I gulped, trying to think of something funny or clever to say.

“How uh…how was your school year?” was all I could manage. She didn’t give me a break though.

“Is that really what you chased me over here for? To ask about school?” She said, the little laugh in her voice making my ears turn red.

“Well no…it’s just…I just wanted to” I stammered, putting my hands in my pockets and screaming at myself inside to say something which would give me the edge in the conversation.

“Wanted to what? To kiss me?” Susie said, stepping even closer. She was now just inches from me, and I actually almost took a step back.

“No! I mean, not unless you want to.” I said, eyes wide. I truly had no idea how to handle the situation.

“Have you ever kissed a girl?” Susie asked, leaning in and putting her hand on my arm. She smelled like honey, daisies, and heaven.

“Uh…no. No I haven’t.” I said, not much able to hide the fear in my voice.

“Well James, tonight’s your lucky night. Lean in and close your eyes.” She nearly whispered the last part, and the feeling of her breath on my cheek sent tingles down my spine. Without hesitation, I did as I was told. I closed my eyes and leaned forward, puckering my lips just slightly. I waited in sheer agony, not believing what was happening.

Then, quite suddenly, I felt an explosion of pain on my right cheek, followed by the sound of uproarious laughter. More than one voice. I snapped my eyes open, and Susie was shaking her palm, which clearly stung from the blow she’d delivered, and tears of laughter were streaming down her cheeks. Mary and Jessica were behind me, apparently having crept up without my notice, and were laughing just as hard.

“What…I don’t…” I began, shocked and completely dumbfounded by the situation.

“You…” Susie said, gasping for breath and nearly doubled over with her laughter. “You thought…you thought I was gonna kiss you? You?” She stammered, and pointed at me. Behind me, Mary and Jessica laughed all the harder. My face turned as red as the hand print I could feel burned into it on the right side as I realized what had happened. I turned and started to walk away, shoving my way between her two friends.

I don’t remember much about the walk back to my cabin, but I have, to this day, never been more embarrassed by anything in my entire life. The laughter of those three girls haunts me still; I hear it in my dreams. In my nightmares. I hear their laughing voices, taunting me, as I stand in the middle of Camp Greenwood, surrounded by mutilated corpses.

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Sam and Ben thought it was funny, at first. They laughed when they saw the mark on my face, assuming that I’d gotten a little too fresh with her and she’d paid me back for it. When I explained it to them, though, and they saw how upset I was, they kicked back into friend-mode pretty quickly.

“I can’t believe that conniving little bitch,” Ben said. “I mean really, setting you up like that? What a shitty move.”

Sam had similar sentiments, and the two vowed to console me; to get me back to my good spirits. I thanked them but said I’d rather be alone, then headed off to my bunk.

I didn’t see her for the rest of the first week, and I have to say some of that was intentional on my part. I knew when the girls had their activities and where they were likely to be, and I avoided those areas. Luckily the only co-ed facility at Greenwood was the dining hall, so I didn’t have to worry about running into any of those three girls in the bathrooms or showers.

I pretty much just tried to move past the event and enjoy my time at Greenwood. After all, this experience was something I’d only get to do once a year, and there was no telling what would happen to the camp once Mr. and Mrs. Greenwood kicked the bucket. We’d never seen their kids around the camp, so we all speculated that they weren’t interested, and the camp would shut down after their parents died.

The thoughts of that night and Susie’s mean prank had finally started to take a backseat around the middle of the second week, and I was getting back to being my normal self. That was, until Wednesday evening when I came out of the boys’ shower building. I was in just my shorts and hand a towel slung loosely over my shoulder, water dripping from my body and leaving a little trail in the dirt as I made my way back to our cabin. As I passed the dining hall, I heard a voice over by the dumpsters on the building’s far side.

“Psst! James!” came the harsh whisper. I looked over, and a figure was standing there, waving me over. I looked around, the first thought in my mind that Susie was out for some more fun at my expense. “Come here!” the voice called urgently. I decided to see what it was about.

As I made my way over, the sunlight beginning to fade as the shadows grew long, I saw that the figure was indeed a girl. I hesitated, but then saw that it clearly was not Susie. This girl was a little on the chunky side, and as such I immediately realized who it must be. It was Rebecca, a girl who was just attending Greenwood for the first time this year. She was about two years younger than me.

“What is it?” I said as I reached the place where she stood.

“Look…I think it was really shitty what Susie did to you.” She said, a note of hesitation in her voice. For my part, I was slightly taken aback.

“You…know about that?” I said. I’d assumed that besides Susie and her friends, Sam, Ben, and myself were the only ones who knew.

“Yeah dude, she’s been telling all the girls. It was all they’d talk about for a little while there.”

I felt my ears turn red. Of course. It wasn’t enough that I’d been humiliated like never before; Susie’s real fun was retelling it to all her little friends.

“Fuck…god dammit.” was all I could manage.

“Like I said, pretty shitty.” Rebecca continued. “Anyway…well…I just wanted you to know that I thought it was shitty. I know what it’s like to be the butt of a joke,” she paused, looking down at herself and sounding slightly ashamed. Rebecca wasn’t fat…but I knew firsthand how merciless teenage girls could be.

“Hey, thanks Rebecca,” I said, trying to stop her from going on. I was already embarrassed enough, and I didn’t want her to be putting herself through the same thing. “I really appreciate that. I know it’s hard -”

“I can help you get them back.” She said, interrupting me.

“Wait, what?” I stammered, caught off guard.

“I…I can help you. To get them back, for what they did to you. They deserve it.” She said, looking up at me with a defiant expression on her face.

“What did you have in mind?” I replied after a few seconds, leaning back on my heels. I was a little shocked that Rebecca, who came off as pretty meek and unassuming, would be volunteering for a revenge mission on my behalf.

“Those girls…they’re such bitches, James. All they care about is how they look. They spend every minute they can looking at themselves in the mirror, and they make fun of everyone who isn’t a perfect 10/10. They deserve to have something bad happen to them after what they did to you, and everyone else.” She said the last part quickly, all in one breath, and crossed her arms across her chest. I could see quite clearly that while she was making this offer on my behalf, there was more to it than that. I guessed that maybe Susie had said something about her weight that evening. Something really mean.

“What are you suggesting we -” I started, but was again cut off.

“Did you see the chart they have up in the lobby? The one with all the different kinds of plants on it?” She asked. I knew exactly what she was talking about; the poster had been hanging there as long as I’d been attending Greenwood. It was covered in pictures of the different plant species in the area, and how to recognize them.

“Yeah, what about it?” I asked.

“It tells you how to recognize the dangerous ones. Poison Ivy is really common around here. Go out into the woods – I know you know them, I heard you say you come here every year. Go out into the woods and find me some Poison Ivy. Give it to me, and I’ll put it in their clothes, and in their shampoo, and on their soap, and -” she was starting to raise her voice, and had balled her hands into fists, which she was now pressing firmly into her thighs.

“Whoa, hey now, calm down Rebecca” I said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “We don’t need to -”

“No, James!” she said forcefully, pushing my hand away. “You don’t know what it’s like to be in the same cabin as them. You only got a joke played on you once. They’ve been making my life hell here since day one, and I can’t stand it anymore.” She said, and then it clicked for me. She wasn’t just forced to be around Susie during girls’ activities; she was bunking with her.

“Either you do this, or I will. You know these woods better than me, which is why I came to you. Please James, they deserve it.” She had tears in her eyes, and after she finished that statement, she turned and ran away. I stood there for a long moment, not sure how to respond.
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I could have guessed how Sam and Ben would respond to the situation before I even told them. They both thought it was an excellent idea and insisted that we set out as soon as we could the next day. The two howled with laughter at the thought of Susie, Jessica and Mary lying on the floor, crying desperately as they itched at rashes all over their bodies.

So set out is exactly what we did. As soon as we finished up our morning chores – mostly cleaning up after breakfast – we went out on a “nature hike”. Since we were experienced Greenwood campers, and were older than most of the attendees, we were allowed to take these kinds of excursions on our own, so long as we promised to keep to the well-worn trails in and around the camp. Of course, we rarely did that. What fun would that be?

We headed north, where Sam claimed that he’d seen a patch of Poison Ivy last year. That way led higher up the mountain range, but we’d have to hike quite a while before we came to any significant cliff edges. It was reasonably safe, and we all knew the area pretty well.

After about 20 minutes of walking, with the camp firmly behind us, Sam pointed off-trail. “It’s this way,” he said simply and headed , kicking small rocks out of the way. Ben and I followed.

We’d been walking for at least another fifteen minutes before Sam came to a halt. “Alright guys, this is it. The Poison Ivy is right there.” He said, pointing up ahead. Ben and I, who’d been walking single-file behind Sam, caught up and took a look.

“Uh, that’s not Poison Ivy, dude.” Ben said, gesturing at where Sam was pointing.

Ahead of us and to the right was a fallen log; a massive tree trunk which looked like it might have been a redwood at one time. Wrapped tightly around it were thick, crimson vines. They were each at least the thickness of a thumb, and some looked to be as big around as my wrist. They covered huge swaths of the trunk’s surface, and it looked like they also extended down into where the tree’s roots had been before it fell. Beyond the felled tree, we could see the vines extending outward, and they’d even begun to latch onto another nearby trunk.

“Yeah man, that’s definitely not Poison Ivy” I said, eyes wide.

“You sure?” Sam said, raising an eyebrow.

“Fuck yeah dude, that’s some alien shit”, Ben said, a chuckle in his voice. I laughed too, shaking my head in slight disbelief. I was mostly confused as to how the hell Sam, a seasoned Greenwood camper, didn’t know what Poison Ivy looked like.

“Oh…I thought Ivy was like, a vine. Like this.” Sam pointed at the bright red protrusions.

“It is a vine, man, but it doesn’t look anything like that.” Ben said, putting his hands on his hips. “So we walked all the way out here for nothing?”

“No dude, that shit still looks messed up. Let’s just get it and give it to Rebecca. If nothing happens, we can come back out here and try again. We’ve got like, four more weeks to get those bitches.” Sam said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small bundle which consisted of a pair of gloves and several zip-top plastic bags.

Putting on the gloves, he leaned forward and gripped one of the vines. “Ugh, it feels sticky” he said, ripping off the end of one of the snake-like plants. He put it in the bag, zipped it up, and tossed it back. Ben caught it, turning the bag over and over in his hands, examining the specimen. After Sam filled the other bags, we headed back to camp.
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“This…is not Poison Ivy.” Rebecca said, puzzling over the bags as Sam handed them to her.

“Yeah, we know. But it’s something, and it doesn’t look nice.” he replied, a little defensively. He was obviously a little embarrassed at having misidentified the plant.

“You sure this is poisonous?” Rebecca said skeptically, a quizzical expression on her face.

“No, but if it doesn’t work, we’ll go back and get the real deal.” Ben said, ever the pragmatist.

“Well…alright then.” Rebecca said. “I’ll let you know if it works.” With that, she turned and walked away, stuffing the bags into her pockets.

Rebecca didn’t need to tell us if it worked. We were awoken to shrill screams later that night, and immediately we ran out of our cabin. Already there were several other campers standing outside their doors, looking in various directions to identify the source of the cries. After a few moments, flashlights bobbed and several of the older Greenwood Counselors came running.

It was Jessica, in her bra and underwear, running to the girls’ shower building. She had to go past our cabin to get there, and as she did, I could hear her moans of displeasure. The counselors met her just before the entrance to the showers, and I heard her reply when they asked her what was wrong.

“It itches! It itches! Oh god, it itches so bad!” she sobbed, then ran into the building. Two female counselors followed her in. Beside me, I heard Ben and Sam high-five each other. I laughed a little, shook my head, and walked back into the cabin. Though even then I knew it was cruel, I couldn’t help but to sleep just a little easier.
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I awoke early the next morning, got out of bed, and immediately screamed. Across from my bed was Sam’s, and to his left was Ben’s. The other two beds in the cabin belonged to a couple of first-timers, but they weren’t in their beds. That…wasn’t the case for Sam and Ben. They were in their beds alright, but even then, as I wiped the bleariness of morning out of my eyes, I could see quite plainly that they were dead.

Thick red vines intertwined around their limp bodies, wrapping around the bedposts and disappearing down between the frame and the wall. Sam’s left eye had been gouged out, and a vine was now snaking its way into his skull. Even as I stood there, screaming, I could see it wriggling and pulsing, moving deeper into his head. Ben’s throat was wrapped tightly with vines as thick as garden snakes, and his eyes, still intact, bulged under the pressure. His face had turned a deep shade of purple. I dropped to my knees and threw up.

Hands on the floor and the contents of last night’s meal splattered on the cabin’s wooden planks, I tried to catch my breath. Surely this was as nightmare. I glanced up, and icy fear clawed through me as I saw one of the tendrils actually growing out toward me. I slid back, banging my foot against my bed frame, just as the vine encountered the vomit. Slowly, little offshoots grew from the tip, and it covered the entire puddle. I jumped back up onto my bed and pressed myself against the wall.

I could not bear to look at their corpses, but my gaze was drawn there inevitably as I saw movement. Thinking that maybe I’d been mistaken and Ben was still alive, I was instead horrified to see that the vines were wrapping tighter around his midsection. I could hear bones inside his body creaking and eventually cracking under the strain. His eyes leaked blood, which caused the vines to do what I can only describe as shudder when it dripped onto them. They wriggled and covered the trails.

I was snapped from my reverie when I saw the vine which had been…eating…my puddle of throw-up had snaked its way up my bedpost and was ever so slowly making its way closer and closer to my foot. I screamed again and leaped from my bed, making a run for the door.

“Help!” I yelled as my bare feet made contact with the cold concrete slab outside of the cabin door. “Someone help me!” But the camp was eerily silent. I cast my gaze around, looking for someone – anyone – and I stopped dead when I saw the girls’ shower building.

I could see water streaming out of the doorway – a mini-pond had formed in the grass outside of the entrance. A shower left on, perhaps. That wasn’t what caught my eye, though. No, it was the crimson protuberances of vine which stretched out from deeper inside the building. Inside, where Jessica had run to the night before. My thoughts flashed back to Ben and Sam, lying dead in their bunks. A similar vision of Jessica played itself across my mind’s eye, and if there had been anything left to throw up in my stomach, I would have.

Not knowing what to do, I ran toward the administration building. I’d have to wake up Mr. and Mrs. Greenwood – they’d be able to help. I pounded on the door. After a few minutes, I tried the doorknob. It was unlocked, so I pushed through it and called out.

“Hello? Someone help! There are people hurt!” I cried, pausing inside the doorway.

“In here!” I heard the small voice of a woman calling from the back room, and I recognized it as Mrs. Greenwood. I jogged down the hall to the door which led to their private quarters. I’d never been back there, and even in that time of horror instinct kicked in. I knocked.

“Come in here and help me!” she cried out, her voice much closer this time. I opened the door and entered the room. “Mrs. Green-” my breath caught in my throat.

She was pinned up against the wall, held in place by a tightly woven network of red vines. They extended up from the floor and covered her body, giving her virtually no room to move. Mr. Greenwood lay on the floor before her, and the only way I knew it was him was because of the sheer size of the corpse. It looked as if the vines had been working on him for some time – virtually all of the skin was missing and most of his right arm was now gone. The vines which held him down were the fattest I’d seen yet.

“Oh please, please help me!” Mrs. Greenwood appealed to me. I just stared at the body of her husband, and after a moment I started to slowly back away.

“No! Don’t go, please! Please boy, cut me loose!” She cried.

“I can’t!” I said, beginning to sob. “I can’t, they’ll get me too!” Stammering, I backed further out of the room and nearly tripped over my own feet. Finally, I turned and ran, not able to bring myself to look at her face anymore.

I found myself out by the flagpole, standing there, dumbfounded and unsure what to do. I knew there was a phone back in the administration building, but I didn’t think I could bear to go back and hear her cries for help again. I was in shock, having gone from never even seeing a dead body to seeing mutilated corpses in the span of a few minutes.

At some point I began to move my feet again, and saw that I was heading in the direction of Cabin 5. I knew that Susie and Mary were likely no better off than Sam or Ben or Mr. Greenwood, but it wasn’t them I was looking for.

I found her outside the cabin, sitting on the concrete and leaning against the wall. Her legs were covered in the red plants, and they were now starting to creep up her chest and onto her neck.

“Rebecca…” I said softly, coming down onto my knees in front of her. She was still alive, and she looked at me.

“James…it’s not Poison Ivy.” She said, a little smile actually coming to her lips.

“Be quiet Rebecca, I’ll find something to help you,” I said, but even as I said it I knew it sounded hollow.

“No, don’t. It’s too late, it’s got me already and it’ll get you if you touch it. Just leave me here. I’m happy.” She said, looking into my eyes. “I got them, James. I got those bitches.”

I couldn’t respond to that, and so I just stared at her. The vines crept up higher, growing more quickly in response to what I can only assume was her movement. She began to speak again, and the vine which was moving onto her cheek suddenly darted into her mouth.

I shouted in fright and made a move to grab it, only pulling my hand back at the last second. She was right – there was nothing I could do. I knew that touching it would be death.

Her eyes grew wide with sudden fear and she shuddered. The vine was sliding down into her throat, deeper and deeper, making its way into her body. I reeled back as she began to make gurgling, choking sounds. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and all at once she stopped moving. The vine continued to slide its way down inside of her.
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There were only six untouched survivors besides myself. The others were a group which consisted of two 18 year old counselors and four campers who would have been counselors themselves if they’d returned the next year. They were out on a solo camp several miles away, and when they returned later that afternoon, I was passed out with my back against the flagpole. They found me and managed to get what was happening out of me, and one of them went into the admin building and called for help.

When help arrived in the form of two police officers from a nearby town, they immediately called it in. We waited for nearly the rest of the day, and eventually a huge team of people in Hazmat suits showed up. These turned out to be the CDC, and they quarantined all of Greenwood.

We were held there for nearly two weeks, inside of a hasty tent they’d thrown up, while the observed us for signs of “infection”. They never told us what the vines were, but they were clearly very interested in them.

Finally, after they determined that the remaining seven campers were not touched by the vine, they took us out. As for the camp itself, the CDC determined the risk was too high and they burned it to the ground.

I’ve spent the rest of my life resenting myself for what I caused. I left that part out when I was interviewed by the CDC representatives who spoke to me from the other side of a plastic barrier, but it’s never been far from my thoughts. I got my revenge on Susie for the embarrassment she put me through, but the cost was my soul. I just hope that someday, somehow, I am able to forget Camp Greenwood entirely.

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