House Across the Lake 3

by Paul G. Jutras

     A freshly painted bus roared over the old dirt read. The words - CAMP THUNDERCRACK - written across the side road up through the woods with fresh batch of camper kids inside.

     Pushing the blonde hair out of her face, Lesley and the other campers all sung '100 bottles of beer on the wall' as they clapped their hands together. A boy named Jason was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when he dripped jelly onto his camp T-shirt.

    "Have you heard the stories?" Jason asked between bites. "That the camp closed ten years ago when the campers and counselors all disappeared?"

    "I know your name is Jason," Ann said as she polished her nails. "But the last thing we need is you to pretend that  you're acting in a new Friday The 13th movie."

    Lesley thought of what camp would be like. She was determine to have the most fun she ever had, unafraid to try any activity the camp offered. She recalled from the camp brochure mentioned swimming, archery, and horseback riding. She only hoped it would be as good as the old brochure claimed.

     The driver sped up on the down slope. In the far distance, Lesley could finally see the totem entrance of the camp's main gate above the trees.  Suddenly the driver slammed his foot on the brake. The tires squealed to a halt in front of the camp, sending all of us flying against the seat in front of us.  She had wished that the camp had invested in seat belts like school bus I rode on.

     As the driver pulled open the door, we stepped out in a large open area. The bus was parked beside the totem poles, which held up the camp sign. The woods that surrounded the camp were green and cheerful.

     "Here." The driver grumbled , taking our stuff from the luggage compartment. His strength hardly seemed human as he piled the bags on top of one another. Lesley watched as kids smaller than she looked buried in their bags as they carried their stuff away from the bus.

     "That's strange." Ann said as she put her cell phone down while Lesley struggled to get her bag out of the bottom of the pile while other campers rushed over to meet with their counselors. "My portable phone doesn't seem to work here."

     "Hello." A young man said in a creepy voice. "I'm counselor John and this is counselor Mary. Welcome to camp."

     The two stood with clipboards in one hand and pencils behind one ear. They had a whistle around their necks and wore T-shirts with the camp name on it. Pointing with one finger they took a silent head count of the new arrivals. "Okay listen up! When we call out your name you'll be assigned to a cabin."

     "Okay, I can do this." Lesley muttered as she struggled to pull her duffle bag out from beneath the pile while the counselor began calling out names as assigning cabins to the new campers.

     "Let me help." The driver said, as he strength had no trouble sliding out the bag from the pile. "Where you from?"

   "Beverly Hills." Lesley replied.


    "I'm glad you all choose to join our group," John spoke loudly. "First we'll drop you boys off at your cabins. Once everyone is settled in, you can join the others at the lake. They'll be more to do here than you can possibly imagine."

     As John raised his clipboard, he looked over at a cabin and made two check marks with his pencil. The cabin sat upon a hill and looked haunted. I couldn't help but notice the odd smile that formed on my counselor's face as he turned toward us.

      "Lesley Warren?"

     Lesley grabbed her stuff and stepped out of line when she heard her name. Mary pointed to the cabin on top of the hill. "You and Ann will be sharing that cabin." She bellowed. She then made another mark and headed for the next cabin. "Rest of you follow me."

    Soon the screams of joy echoed in the tall ceiling of the mess hall. Many of the kids sat elbow to elbow trying to make room for one another while the rest ran about screaming at that the joys of freedom from a year of High School.

     "Mom, Mom are you there." Ann said into her cell phone without an answer. "I promise mom I'd call as soon as I got to camp. I hope she isn't worried when she doesn't hear from me."

    "Can't you use the camp phone?" Lesley asked.

    "I read the camp phone are for counselors only," Ann replied. "They only use it in an emergency like a bear attack." 

     After a hardy lunch, the sound of fencing swords clanged against one another near the dark lake water. While Jason and a boy named Steve went at it,  Lesley  paused briefly on the small green dock at the edge of the lake, rowboats tied to its supports.

     As Steve pinned Jason to the ground, the shook hands and Lesley walked over just when Jason turned about and asked: "Who's next?"

      Before Lesley knew what was going on, Steve and Ann was helping her suit up in the fencing mask and pads. No sooner than the foil was in her hand, than Steve started to take a whack at her. 

     Lesley ducked and jumped the sword several times to avoid being hit. Never having fenced before, it was only a matter of time before she tripped over a log and was pinned by the blade to the ground. After she was helped up, She walked up to her friends and put an arm on their shoulders. They then went off together.

     That  was when Lesley noticed the old house. "What's the big deal about an old abandoned house? The bus driver told us when we started out to stay away from Sensational Swimwear. I wonder what he meant?"

     The wind started to pick up in her face.

     "I'll look in on the boys later." A lifeguard said, returning to his station while the Lesley and the others returned to their cabin. Inside Lesley saw that they weren't the only ones in the cabin. They saw a girl in a gray satin dress, suntan nylons and a pair of Mary Jane shoes putting on her lipstick with the help of a mirror held by green finger nails. Standing behind her in a baseball cap was a real tomboy type.

     "I'm Hallie, cabin 7." She said.

     "I'm Lesley and this is Ann. We're your new bunkmates." Lesley explained, but couldn't help but stare out the window at the house across the lake. Hallie started for the cabin and then stopped and turned toward us. "You know the rules? They won't let you go across the lake. And they won't let you phone home. The only phone's in the nurse's office."

     "So, is there anything else we should be aware of?" Ann asked, walking back toward the cabin with Amy.  "Lights out is up to us," Hallie replied as she gathered some fashion magazines. "Just think of it as a never ending slumber party."

      "You can do you nails if you wish." Amy muttered. "I hear that a poker game is going on over with the boys."

     At the same time in one of the boys cabins, Jason and Steve were playing some poker with their new roommates. Jason proved that while Steve was better with the blade, he was best with a deck of cards.  "That's it."

    The girls walked through the woods. Reaching the cabin, they noticed the light inside was moving about. The cheers of the crowd inside made Amy sure she had the right place.

     "Oh, man." Complained a new boy in the cabin. He set his cards aside and looked over  from the his bed. "What do you girls want here?"

      "To beat you at your own name." Amy smirked. "Go ahead and shuffle."

       "Knew it." He grumbled as he dealt her in. When the game was down to just the two of them, he looked up and smiled. "I tell you what. Loser jumped into the lake after the game...naked."

     Before anyone could say anything, Amy spoke up. "Hope you like your baths cold. "A royal flush!"

     "Real impressive." Steve joked.

     Everyone soon went down to the docks where Jason began unzipping. Just as he was ready to step off into the water, he spun around and grabbed Amy's arm. He then stepped backwards and pulled her in with him. Together they made a tremendous splash.

     The two started laughing as she stripped off her own clothes to join him in a little kissing and skinny dipping. The cold lake water aroused Amy's nipples and proved her to be more of a girl than her friends first thought.

          "C'mon you two," Lesley started. "If you two get caught out there like that you'll be booted out before camp even begins. Besides we have to get to the campfire. Maybe we can learn the secret of that house."

      "Probably nothing to learn," said Steve.

     "Whoa! You don't know that!" Lesley said as she walked Amy to the cabin to change. "There just might be a connection between what happened ten years ago and that house. I'm pretty sure something is going on at this camp."

     Lesley suddenly ducked as a bat flew in the cabin. Steve had grabbed a tennis rack and tried to swat the flying rodent. Almost hitting me in the process. She think that everyone from the lake was outside the screen windows and laughing Hallie and Amy just took a seat on their bunks with amused looks on their faces. Amy started stuffing his face with potato chips and Adam was holding a bottle water in one hand. Lesley had a feeling that CAMP THUNDERCRACK wasn't like any summer camp that she had been.

   Then the bat swooped down without warning and nearly landed on top of my head. She couldn't help panicking. "Hey!"

      "Hold still." Amy said, taking careful aim and swinging the tennis racket. As the bat flew off of me, the racket hit Lesley on top of the head. "I got it!"

    "Oww!" She rubbed the top of her head. "Get it...not me."

     "Open the window while I try to scare the bat out!" Lesley cried. Rolling up a magazine she tried to swat the bat better than Steve. The two of us only ended up swatting each other as Adam opened a window. The rolled up paper swished the air as I chased the bat outside. "I have a feeling that it's going to be a long summer."

     Amy just flashed a really weird smile and grabbed a bag of marshmallows as she walked out the door. She stopped as he passed us and said: "Too bad." The smile left her lips. "Best not be late." she added. "Counselor Mary doesn't like campers who show up late for the nightly camp fire."

   Hallie started off and Ann quickly joined her. "If this wasn't so creepy it'd almost be funny." Lesley thought to herself. "Where do you think that bat came from?" 

    Ducking there heads, the girls tried to keep the low branches from smacking them in the face. "Don't worry," Lesley said. "I'm sure that they're a logical explanation to what's going on."

    Finally we reached the evening camp fire. The groups were sitting in a circle on logs, separated by their counselors.  John started the campers off with a camp song - Michael Row His Boat Ashore," but I had other things on my mind. I could see Susan sitting in the group across from me.

     Then John gave us one creepy look. "How would you like to hear a scary camp story?" he asked in a weird voice.

     The silence was broken with the chirping of crickets.

      John just kept starring with his eyes darting from one group to another. "Does anyone know why you're not allowed across the lake?"

      All the campers started to look at each other in complete silence. I just stared at John with intense interest. Gathering important information was what any good detective would do. Counselor John was telling the one camp puzzle story Lesley wanted to hear.

     John took a bite of his roasted marshmallow, keeping everyone in suspense. "The people who died in that house own the property the camp was built on. Rumors have it, they're buried in the cemetery on the other side of the lake."

    "So what?" Steve said.

    "The camp reminds them that they are no longer alive," John said. "That's why it is said that their ghosts haunt that house across the lake every summer. They watch over the camp like they did when they were alive."

    "Ghosts?" The word made Steve burst into laughter. "No kid in their right mind would believe such a  story."  He whispered to me.

      "That's why nobody is allowed to hike anywhere near that house during the course of their stay." John said, keeping his weird smile plastered on his face. While I knew Steve was right about ghosts not existing, I also knew John was hiding something.

     "The first counselor to go near that house was never the same again." John went on. "He was by hiking by himself when he found himself near the house. When the camp employees found him the next morning, he couldn't even speak. He was rushed to the camp nurse as fast as possible, but she couldn't find a pulse when he arrived. "

     "How did he die?" I asked.

    "That's the mysterious part." John said. "Nobody knows if he died or not. When the nurse when to examine his body... it was missing."

     "Yeah, right," muttered Lesley.

     "How do you know this?" Ann asked.

     "The counselor who vanished," remarked John. His skin started to melt off his face. "Was me."

     Ann jumped up from the log - and backed away from John.

    Everyone laughed.

     Lesley glanced over at John. He was removing his actors make-up and laughing his head off. "Sucker! We really had you going, didn't we?"

     Lesley couldn't help but laugh at herself. They all had fallen for one of the oldest camp jokes around. I was sure that all the campers that arrived the week before was in on it.

     John took a bit out of one final marshmallow and then stood up. "Everyone fall out to their bunks," he grinned his weird grin. "While this camp doesn't have an official lights out, I suggest you get ready for a big day ahead."

      "It's something we do to a chosen first timer." Explained counselor Mary.

     "Right." John said. Giving Ann a pat on the shoulder, he smiled at both Hallie and Amy. "None of the past late arrivals were more fun to fool than you. Boy, were you an easy target. Looks like your bunkmates were a real help putting you in the correct frame of mind."

      The next day at the lake shore, Lesley stared at the house across the lake. She was impressed with the great joke that counselor John and the others played on me. She didn't see the shadows of one of the camp's lifeguards fall over me. "In the water, kid."

     "Here I go." Lesley said as she jumped off the dock and swam through the dark water. It didn't take long for goosebumps to appear on her arms. She felt the familiar feeling of being watched as she moved away from the shore. She had to remind herself that the near drowning was all part of the joke. The picture of the lifeguard pulling the camper from the lake filled my head. I remembered John's face melting and how scared I felt. More scared than I ever had in my life.

     "Could John of gotten this lake any more frigid?" Jason joked. He looked around only to see Lesley way out in the middle of the lake. She didn't have any idea just how far out I had gone.

      Steve peered behind me.

     A green slime was oozing on the surface of the lake, started to come up behind me. Doing the back float, it was about to take me unaware.

      "Hey!" Steve cried out as he tried to stay afloat and pointed at the slime at the same time. His voice echoed in my ears. As Steve got my attention, I sat up and glanced over my shoulder. Panicking, I tried to swim for the dock. Not knowing what it was, I could only think of getting away from it. Each time I opened my mouth to scream, I swallowed water. My blurry vision saw Steve heading toward me.

    "What, what's going on?" Lesley gasped for air.

    "Swim," Steve cried, trying to reach me.

   "I can't believe this is happening."

   "C- C- Cold." Lesley said, feeling the green slime sticking to my feet. It felt like the bottom of her bare feet was becoming hard plastic. Just when she started to go under, She spotted Ann up on the dock.

   "Got you!" Ann said, dropping to her knees and reaching an arm out to me. She had finished climbing on the dock and Lesley felt herself being pulled free of the slime. When she looked back she saw the slime was retreating in the direction of the house.

     "No way," Lesley said with a look of fear in my eyes.

     "Check it out." Steve said, climbing ashore. He jogged along the beach and over to us. "It's heading toward that old house."

     "Weird." A previous camper name Susan muttered. "This can't be another camp tradition, can it? Part of another practical joke?"

     "Perhaps there is a mystery to be solved after all." Lesley said. "I think we'd better change and get over to that house."

     "Count... me .. out." Susan suddenly spoke as if she was in a trance. I heard a hum that sounded like a bee hive, but couldn't see one if the nearby trees. "I...have...better."

     When Ann and Lesley returned to their cabin, they really wondered if the lake was a joke. For their cabin had been Toilet papered like some sick Halloween practical joke. It wasn't even the right time of year for such a prank.

      After cleaning the cabin, Lesley  selected a pair of fine stallions from the stables and rode off to the far side of the lake. We were surprise to see the camp being parked in front of it. "Did John spot us riding off and come to get us back?"

     The ground began to shake around the cemetery, causing some of the gravestones to fall over. Caskets were thrust to the surface. We watched a man get up from his grave and shuffle toward the cemetery entrance. It was a wonder that such a bag of bones could even stand.

    Its sunken, leathery head had skin peeling off its skull. The jaw bone appeared ready to fall off and its eyes gave an eerie glow. Pieces of flesh stuck loosely to its bony body as it moved stiffly forward. All around him rose up from their graves. I noticed the dead look in their eyes and the fact that; except for one, all the bodies were female. It looked like Ann and Lesley was about to live the camp fire story's final chapter.

      They felt a sense of relief when they notice a sign on the side of the road.

                                     SENSATIONAL SWIMWEAR

                                                         1 MILE

     Terrified, the two of us scrambled toward the house's open doors. They were moving at such a speed and such panic, that we were tripping over their own feet. Running inside, Lesley crashed into a pile of junk. A photo album dropped onto my head and opened to a picture that read:  CAMP THUNDERCRACK'S SUMMERCAMP FOR GIRLS.

     "What the?" Lesley muttered as her eyes shifted from the photo to the shadow that had fallen over me. She was surprised to see it was Counselor John. "Sir, I know we weren't suppose to come here, but after than lake monster, I had to see for myself."

     "I see you found out about the part of the story I left out last night." John gave one of his weird smiles as he reached up to his neck. He then started to pull his own skin off  as easy as the zombies I saw outside could.  It was then that I realized that John was wearing a mask.

     "Call me Counselor Janet now." My former counselor said with her typically weird smile. "I didn't die or really disappear. The owner of Sensational Swimwear also owned the land that the camp is built on. The owners didn't like the idea of the camp going co-ed one bit. Since the owner made a deal with the devil after his wife died, it doesn't really have to."

     Lesley and Ann just stared in horror as Counselor Janet pulled out a medallion and touched it to our camp uniforms. Jason and Steve instantly could feel their hair growing down about our shoulders. The hair on their bodies dropped off on to the dusty floor.

     Jason just put his hand to my chest and felt the start of growing breasts any graduating high school girl would have, when the beehive hum filled both their ears. We fell into a trance, our minds forgetting who we once were. The worst thing was watching as our skins changed to a shiny plastic sheen.

    "Did I forget to mention that the house owner tried to double cross the devil and suffered for it." Janet grinned. "You'll find your new lives shipped to some department store as display mannequins to be a sensual experience."

     "That is so true." Josie smiled as she stepped out of the shadows. As her glowing eyes looked at Ann, the young camper soon lost her ability to see. With her life force removed from her head and arms, Josie quickly destroyed those pieces of plastic. She then stripped Ann down and put a bikini top on her upper torso and a pair of pantyhose on her lower one. "She will make a good bikini and hose form." Josie smiled as the feelings of the items being placed on her now plastic body sent surges of pleasure through her. Pleasure she'd forever feel whenever her clothes were changed.

The same would be said for the others that she and her lover, Janet would ship off to Apollo, Durasheer and other department stores.




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