The camp counselors had packed up the days activities and were starting to build a camp fire for the traditional Camp Thunder Rain cookout. S'mores combined with a weenie roast and lots of terrifying ghost stories were on the agenda for that evening.
“Hurry up and get that fire lit,” came a booming voice from the main cabin. The counselors turned to see Buck Forest, head counselor leaning against the door frame, his legs crossed at the ankles. “The troops are tired and the sooner we get our traditional cookout started, the sooner it becomes lights out.”
The counselors groaned. Buck Forest wasn't the nicest of camp leaders. In fact, he down right detested children. The only reason he was the leader of Camp Thunder Rain was because his grandfather owned the land that the camp was on.
“Someone should really put Buck in his place,” one of the counselors said. The others nodded in agreement but picked up the pace in which they set the camp fire.
Twenty minutes later, the sun had completely set and the fire was crackling loudly. The thirty campers sat upon logs, melting marshmallows over the open flame. One of the counselors, Devon, was finishing a story about a swamp monster that lived in the lake at a rival camp.
As his story came to an end, the campers looked at each other, wide-eyed, their mouths hanging open. The woods were quiet, the only sound was that of crickets and the fire crackling as the flames licked the starry sky. Devon had a way of telling stories that terrified every camper and counselor. He was one of the favorite counselors at the camp that often saw campers fighting to be a part of his troop.
“Is that true?” asked one of the campers, quietly. Devon nodded, his dark eyes dancing with delight as the campers looked at each other with fear.
“Yes, it's true. The campers that attend Camp Wherearewe say that whenever they're swimming, they can feel the eyes of the lakeside monster staring up at them from the depths of its watery grave. And if you listen carefully in the dead of the night, you can hear the lakeside monster's anguished cry.”
A loud, terrifying moan ripped through the woods as if on cue. The campers screamed, some falling off their logs while others huddled together in packs.
Devon laughed. Each year it got easier to scare the kids. He held out his hand as Benny, another one of the counselors burst through the shrubby. Benny let out his wailing moan in front of the campers, his arms flailing about in a dramatic fashion.
One by one, the campers realized that Benny was the one behind the spooky sound. Their horrified looks turned to amusement and they began to giggle, none of them wanting to admit that they were scared.
Devon grinned, slapping Benny a high-five. Both counselors were still grinning stupidly when the eldest camper asked if they could hear another story.
Devon and Benny shared a look. “Sure,” they replied. Devon sat back down while Benny stoked the fire, watching the red embers float into the night sky.
“About ten years ago, here at Camp Thunder Rain, there was a camper by the name of Bonnie Rockwater. Bonnie was a snobby girl. You know the kind. The pretty girl that wouldn't give anyone the time of day. She wouldn't participate in any of the activities that the counselors had planned. She wouldn't go swimming, canoeing, she wouldn't even attempt arts and crafts. All she wanted to do was talk to her friends on her cell phone.”
“What a brat!” cried one of the campers.
“Sounds like my sister,” another one chimed in, which caused the other campers to laugh.
Devon smiled. “Bonnie was a brat,” he said, the flames flickering across his face to create an eerie feel. Benny sat next to him, slapping his arm where a mosquito had landed. “But she didn't deserve what happened to her.
“Bonnie found that the cell phone reception here sucked like Monday's meatloaf, so she went walking, without a counselor, up to Shadow Ridge. I doubt she went up there just for phone reception, but that's what the campers at the time said. She walked the trails that lead up to the top of Shadow Ridge.
“The view from the top of Shadow Ridge is spectacular. You can see for miles. Bonnie was in awe. She could see the whole camp and even the town of Timber Falls.
“But that's when things turned nasty. The weather suddenly changed as dark storm clouds rolled in. Rain pelted down, soaking Bonnie. There was no trees or cover to protect her from the violent storm. So, making the decision to brave the storm, Bonnie sealed her fate.
“Bracing the pouring rain, the thunder and lightning, Bonnie set out, following the path that she had taken to the top. But she had taken a wrong turn. She suddenly found herself facing a rickety old bridge. She had to cross a wooden bridge that was suspended over the river which feeds into Camp Thunder Rain lake. The wind was howling and the bridge was swinging violently. There was nothing Bonnie could do. She had to walk across it.
“She stepped onto the first plank. The bridge continued to sway in the wind, but Bonnie had to make it across. Her hands gripped the ropes as she made her way to the middle of the bridge. That's when she slipped, her foot becoming caught in between the planks. She fell, her hands clutching the planks with such force that her knuckles turned white.
“The wind picked up, howling through the canyon. The thunder rumbled. Bonnie tried to pull herself up, but she couldn't. She was trapped in the middle of a suspended rope bridge that was over a hundred feet in the air.
"She screamed for help, but because she was alone and due to the howling winds and crashing thunder, her cries went unheard. Bonnie shook her leg in an attempt to free her trapped foot. Her shoe loosened as she thrashed about on the bridge, trying to free herself.
“Her shoe eventually fell from her foot, allowing Bonnie to pull it free from between the planks. Scrambling to her feet, Bonnie made a mad dash for the other side of the bridge. She wasn't holding onto the ropes that helped to suspend the bridge. Instead, her focus was only on reaching the other side.
“A freak bolt of lightning shot out of the clouds, hitting the end of the bridge that Bonnie was running to. She was temporarily blinded as the lightning severed the ropes, causing the end of the bridge to catch fire.
“Bonnie's scream of terror could be heard over the howling winds and thunder rumbles as the ropes of the bridge snapped because of the fire, causing the unstable bridge to fall into the crystal blue waters of the river rushing below.
“Bonnie Rockwater's body was never found. But there are stories that she still haunts Shadow Ridge. Some say her final moments are replayed over and over again. Others say that it's the bridge that haunts Shadow Ridge. That it's a phantom bridge, just waiting to claim another victim. But they're wrong.
“If you're walking along Shadow Ridge and come to where the bridge once stood, you'll see a ghostly apparition that belongs to Bonnie Rockwater. Just don't let her see you. For if she lays her fiery eyes upon you, she'll wail and scream before pushing you over the side of the ridge, laughing hysterically as your body joins her in a watery grave.”
The campers looked at each other in silence. Even Benny was staring at Devon in total shock. Devon stood up, stretching. “That's why they call her The Specter Of Shadow Ridge,” he concluded, smiling at the campers.
The fire was dwindling down, the embers fading. Not one of the campers wanted to return to their cabins. But Buck was instant. “Get some sleep,” he ordered. “Got a long day of hiking ahead of you.”
The campers grumbled a little but eventually got up and returned to their cabins. Buck stood up, ordering Benny, Devon and the other counselors to put out the fire, pack everything up and get some rest. “Tomorrow is a big day,” he said with a chuckle as he walked off, whistling, towards his cabin.
Benny stood next to Devon. “Was that last story true?” he asked. He had never heard it before and he had been coming to Camp Thunder Rain for the last seven years.
Devon grinned. “There's only one way to find out.”
Later that night, after everyone was asleep, Devon and Benny crept out of the camp and began their journey towards Shadow Ridge. Their flashlight beams bounced off the red rocks as they arrived at the path leading up to the peak of the ridge.
Single file, they marched onward, climbing the path as it winded upwards, around the ridge. Benny could see the rushing water of the river below get fainter as they climbed. The clear blue water at night was black and there was no doubt in Benny's mind that it was cold as ice as well.
When they arrived at the top of Shadow Ridge, both men sighed at the amazing view. Though it was late at night, they could see the camp through the clearing in the trees. Devon pointed towards something on the horizon. It was the outskirts of the local town, Timber Falls.
They started back down the ridge, sticking as close as they could to the rock walls. Soon they found where the path divided. A sign post with faded lettering stood before them. “Angel's Flight” pointed to the path that they should take to get back to camp while “Devil Falls” pointed onto the path that Bonnie Rockwater had taken in Devon's story.
After sharing a look between them, Benny and Devon set off along Devil Falls path.
They arrived at the bridge. The ropes were frayed, the planks rotten. It looked like it was about to collapse at any moment. Devon looked at Benny. “After you,” he insisted, giving Benny a friendly nudge. Benny shook his head. “No way, dude. It was your story. You go first.”
Devon sucked in a deep breath and stepped onto the first plank. It creaked, groaning under his weight. The beam from his flashlight bounced over the canyon walls as he held onto the bridge, fearing that it was break in half before he got across.
The sound of a hooting owl startled him as the bridge began to sway with the increasing wind. Devon cried out, dropping his flashlight. He watched as the beam of light spun around in circles before falling into the icy current below.
Gripping the bridge with white knuckles, Devon turned back to face Benny. They had found the bridge. Devon had step foot on it. Now it was time to leave.
He opened his mouth to say that when a shadowy figure appeared behind Benny. Devon's face twisted into a horrid scream as the figure placed a hand on Benny's shoulder.
Benny screamed before rushing to join Devon on the rickety bridge.
Laughter flooded their ears. Both men turned to see Buck Forest standing at the bridge's edge. “You boys should have seen the look on your faces,” he cried, wheezing as he laughed. His face was pink and the sweat poured from underneath his hat.
“What the fuck, man?!” Benny cried, his fear turning to anger when he realized they had been tricked. Buck just laughed. “I knew you boys would be stupid enough to come up here to see if that Bonnie Rockwater story is true,” he said, leaning against the bridge entrance. “I'll save you the trouble, boy. It is.”
Neither Benny nor Devon moved. The bridge violently shook as a distant rumble of thunder filled the night sky. A storm was fast approaching.
Buck moved onto the bridge, not caring that it began to sway more than before. “But you didn't tell the story right. You see, you left out the part that Bonnie's death wasn't an accident due to a rickety bridge, or the sudden storm. She was murdered. Her prissiness finally got the better of a counselor who worked at the camp that year and he followed her. While she was taking in the view from the top of Shadow Ridge, he had placed a boulder on the Angel's Flight path and had already crossed this bridge.
“The fire wasn't the reason why the ropes on the bridge frayed. He had cut them, knowing that she would fall to her doom.”
Devon's eyes grew wide. “You killed her?” he said, his voice shaking, his knees knocking.
Buck's slow smile gave him away. His gray eyes danced with delight as the two men backed up, the planks under their feet creaking with each step.
“Why?” Benny asked. “Why did you follow us?”
Buck's smile broadened. “Because, like Bonnie, you two are a pain in my ass. Camp isn't about fun. It's about building character and learning skills. You two are the reason why Camp Thunder Rain is still going strong.”
Devon gulped, the wind whipping his face. His shaggy brown hair flew in front of his eyes as Buck advanced. He felt Benny grab his hand. “Nice knowing you, Dev,” he said, his pale blue eyes brimming with tears.
Devon opened his mouth to say something reassuring when a silvery figure caught his attention. It fluttered in the wind before coming to rest on the rocky ledge. The figure began to morph before taking form of a young woman. Devon rubbed his eyes, nudging Benny. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.
The figure stepped forward onto the bridge. Her long black hair was tied into a ponytail and she wore an old campers uniform. Devon's eyes traveled south. She was only wearing one shoe. He felt his breath hitch in his throat. He was staring at the ghost of Bonnie Rockwater.
She stared at him, her fiery red eyes glowing ominously. She opened her mouth, showing jagged teeth as she screamed. Buck turned around just as she advanced on him. He cried out, falling to his knees as she clawed at him, her nails leaving angry wounds upon his skin.
She was crazed as she ripped into him, taking chucks on flesh from his bones. Her shrieking was animal-like as the storm brewed around them. The rain began to fall. Devon brushed his hand over his face, clearing the droplets away as he stared with sheer horror at the bloody mess before him.
Buck was bleeding, part of his arm bone visible, chunks of flesh hanging from his face and torso. His uniform was shredded and his foot had become lodged in between two planks of the bridge. Bonnie advanced again, rocking the bridge more violently than any storm could.
Devon and Benny held on for their lives, wrapping their arms around the ropes suspending the bridge high in the air. Devon closed his eyes as Buck's shoe came loose, falling into the icy water below.
Buck let out a bloodcurdling scream as he lost his grip on the bridge, falling into the canyon. Benny winced as Buck's body hit the water. He glanced up at the apparition. Bonnie smiled, her jagged teeth digging into her chapped lips.
Benny turned his head, disgusted by the site of her rotting corpse. When he turned back, she was gone.
Devon opened his eyes. The rain had stopped. Bonnie Rockwater was no where to be seen.
After gathering their small ounce of courage to leave the bridge, both men followed the path back down from the ridge. They had faced The Specter Of Shadow Ridge and survived.
Devon looked over at Benny as they approached the entrance to Camp Thunder Rain. “I guess that story will have a different ending now,” he said.
Underneath the glow of the full moon, Benny could make out the expression on Devon's face.
A sinister smirk was etched on his features and in place of his dark brown eyes were smoldering red fireballs.