School, as they say, is out for summer. The days have grown long and the nights are warm. It’s time for some good ol’ camping! Now you’ll need to back all of the essentials: sleeping bags, fixings for s’mores, a metric ton of bug spray—oh, and unspeakable horror.
Whether you’re headed out to Camp Crystal Lake or the Wamapoke County Forest, no campfire is complete without the telltale scent of crapped pants mingling with burnt wood. This year we thought we’d do our part in honoring that tradition by digging up ten lesser-known stories from the spookiest corners of the web. Well, from the spookier corners of Reddit, anyway. That’s where the Internet keeps all its horrors, right? I’m pretty sure I’m right.
1. The Rake — author unknown
Nearly as popular as The Slender Man, this one’s a modern classic. Don’t let its popularity lull you into a false sense of security, though. There’s a reason so many people feel a connection to this story. It may not be specifically about camping or being outdoors, but it’s terrifying no matter where you tell it.
2. The Black Lagoon — by graduallyaghost
To celebrate their first year in university, six friends went camping in the wilderness. After driving for several hours from the nearest town, they discovered a lagoon, nestled beside a cliff ideal for diving. They set up camp in the woods nearby and spent the evening swimming in the warm, clear water. As the sun sunk below the trees, one of the friends went up to the highest point on the cliff and jumped off, while the other five watched. Their laughter slowly subsided as they waited for him to surface. It only took half a minute for them to dive in after their friend. Struggling and sputtering among the reeds in the lagoon, they searched hopelessly for him. Finally they disentangled themselves and came up, but they never saw their friend again. Heartbroken they returned to the city and passed a strange and lonely year in which their only solace was the knowledge that they would return to the lagoon to honor the anniversary of their friend’s death.
A year passed and they returned to the lagoon as a memorial, but as they approached they saw their friend standing there, head bowed. Excitedly they called to him and began running towards him, but he didn’t turn. As they got closer they called him more desperately, but still to no avail. With joy they ran towards him, but stopped dead when they saw not one but five crosses on the waterside.
3. Why You Can’t Talk To The Dead — by daydalia
4. The Dead Will Think You’re Calling For Them — by thethingthatwill
As the weather gets warmer, I usually find myself spending more evenings out on my porch, relaxing with a glass of red wine, gazing out at the wooded area across the street from my house. A couple of weeks ago, I sat on my porch as usual, whistling a tune that had been stuck in my head all day.
My neighbor, from her own porch, turned to me and said “You shouldn’t whistle at night. The dead will think you’re calling for them.”
“They’re closer than you think.” she said.
I suddenly felt the urge to go back inside. The woods started to look a little too dark, concealing what almost looked like blurry shapes that swayed behind the trees.
I don’t whistle at night anymore.
But they do.
5. Tip: If you move into a new house, check every room — by Grace_Omega
6. The Pond — by Mara
There’s nothing scary about a placid little pond in the woods, right? Right??
My wife was shaking me quietly. I looked around the cabin. The girls must have gone to bed. The fire had burned down to embers. My glass of scotch was still in my hand.
“Something is tapping on the porch.” Then I heard it too. I grabbed my ax and lit the lantern. I opened the door expecting a racoon or a skunk, but instead found a boy of about 10 years old.
He stared at me petrified for a moment, then bolted down the path through the woods. I gave chase. He was losing me but I heard him tumble to the ground. I leapt on top of him in a rage.
“Why were you knocking on my porch?” I screamed. “My uncles told me to.” He stammered.
I was no longer angry, but confused. “But why?” I asked. “To get you out of the cabin.”
The shortcut through the Corn field
tempts you as you’re walking home
the clouds above keep the moon concealed
As you enter the swaying corn, alone.
The corn grows tall and thick, my friend,
the path you chose is muddy
it grows in rows without scope or end
and in the dark, you hurry
You don’t see the standing forms
As you pass them on your way
they stand still amongst the swaying corn
which hides their pallor, and decay
hundreds gather in this field tonight
though you see none at all
yet still you look around in fright
but the corn grows too thick, too tall
You tell yourself as you continue through
“Its merely the rustling of the leaves,”
But they see you, and they hear you,
And they might not let you leave.
The narrative of this tale is so specific, so detailed that you’ll swear you’re right alongside its author as she hops on her beat up Yamaha and heads off on her very first vacation. Not that you’ll want to be.
There are plenty of other terrifying campfire stories out there, so if we left you favorite off this list, share it with us in the comments. We’ll be awake for a while anyway.