Filson Community: Campfire Ghost Stories

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CHEERS TO EVERYONE WHO WROTE IN WITH THEIR SCARIEST CAMPFIRE GHOST STORIES. READ ON FOR OUR FAVORITE SUBMISSIONS, AND BE SURE TO COMMIT ONE TO MEMORY FOR YOUR NEXT NIGHT AROUND THE CAMPFIRE…

JACK, COME TO ME

Thomas Nilsen

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He had worked hard getting the fire going while the sun was setting in the west. The wood was damp, and his matches just would not cooperate this late in the evening. But finally, as the sun crept down behind the hills, a small flame came to life in the kindling. Soon the smell of smoke and the warmth of the fire enveloped the small clearing in the woods. But most welcoming was the light the flames gave to the surroundings. The dusk had started to embrace the vast wooded land. Soon it would be pitch black outside the dome of light. The young, inexperienced trapper gazed nervously out toward the tree line. Was it a movement he saw? This was his first night out in the woods, and the native guide who had brought him here had been very clear before he left in a hurry: “Get a fire going before it gets dark, stay in the light, and keep it burning till the sun comes up in the east.”

“Get a fire going before it gets dark, stay in the light, and keep it burning till the sun comes up in the east.”

When the young trapper asked why this was so important, the old man looked at him and shook his head.
“To keep warm, dummy.”
But something in the man’s eyes and the way he quickly moved back towards the river and his canoe scared the young trapper.

Now, late in the evening, he finally had the fire going, with a good stack of firewood and all his gear close by. As he made his dinner, he did not notice how dark it had gotten around him.

He had just taken his last bite of pork and beans when he looked up and saw the flames dancing in front of him.
The flickering light made it look like spirit dancers were moving around on the black wall that was the tree line.
It was hypnotizing, beautiful, but also frightening to see how the light played tricks on his eyes as it moved in the forest clearing.
As he sat watching, he suddenly heard a faint whisper. A soft, familiar voice coming from the flames.
“Come to me.”

He could swear it was Evelyn, his sweetheart back in Whitehorse.
“Come to me.”
The spirit dancers in the light were still doing their playful serenade across the dark trees, as Evelyn’s soft whispers came closer and closer.
“Come to me.”
The young trapper started to drift into an almost trance-like state of mind, his gaze blurry and his eyes tired after the hard work of the day.
As his eyes almost closed, he could feel the dancers in the light coming closer. Soon they would be close enough to touch.
The time went by as the young trapper slowly drifted to sleep, still sitting next to his dying fire. The dome of light grew smaller and smaller, and the dancers were now really struggling with their show on the trees.
“JACK, COME TO ME.”

With tears in his eyes, he pointed the barrel towards the tree line.
“Hello? Is someone there?”

The young trapper jumped to his feet as Evelyn’s voice screamed in his ears.
The fire was out. The playful flames and the spirit dancers within them had all died. The forest and the clearing were pitch black. Never had Jack, the young, unexperienced trapper, been enveloped in such overwhelming darkness.
A rustle in the trees to his right made him toss around, fumbling in his gear to find his rifle.
With tears in his eyes, he pointed the barrel towards the tree line.
“Hello? Is someone there?”

Not a sound. Not one single tiny sound came from the forest around him.
Even the river in the distance had gone quiet. Gone was the faint, happy sound of flowing water.
“Come to me.”
Evelyn’s whispering voice once again reached him, but this time it came from the darkness.
Jack shook his head, pinching his skin trying to awake from this terrible dream.
“Come to me.”
The voice was all around him. Still whispering, still soft, but now also with a strange hissing tone in it. Almost like a snake.
As the voice shifted into an almost chanting state, still urging him to come to her, Jack got to his feet.
With his eyes still fixed on the tree line, he dropped the gun.
He had to find Evelyn. She was somewhere out here in the wilderness and maybe in danger.
He put one leather boot in front of the other and started walking towards the trees.
As he approached the wall that surrounded the clearing, he could almost feel welcoming arms stretching out towards him.
He took one final deep breath and headed into the dark mass of trees to find his love.

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A week later, the old native man entered the clearing to see how the young trapper was doing.
As he saw the old burnt out fire pit, the stocked pile of wood, and scattered equipment, he started getting a bad feeling. Jack was nowhere to be seen and his rifle had been left in the yellow grass.
As a cold autumn wind rolled through the forest clearing, the old man spit on the ground and rushed toward his canoe.
He had to get back before the sun once again went down behind the western hills of this cursed land.

THE GHOST OF ELBOW LAKE

Andrew McIlraith

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We had a long day canoeing up the Bird River, getting some 80 klicks and half a dozen portages away from civilization. We were relieved to find a cabin on an island with enough of a roof that we wouldn’t have to pitch our tent. We had a shore meal of tinned sardines and watched in awe as the loons came in close at sunset. The water was so clear, we could see the loons diving 15 feet below the surface.
When the sun hit the tree line, we hit the sack, and we were both out in seconds.
A few hours must have passed, as moonlight was slanting through the half-glazed window.
“Tim! Did you hear that?”
“Yeah.” came the whispered response.

We’d been out for days, seeing no one and hearing only nature sounds, but this was different.

Both of us had sprung awake at the noise, but without moving. We had a sense of someone nearby. We’d been out for days, seeing no one and hearing only nature sounds, but this was different. Without saying anything else, I slowly reached for my machete, and Tim for his hatchet, not knowing what to expect. I have never been so aware of my heart racing or struggled so hard to hear the next noise. Slowly, the sky lightened, and we could make out more shapes in the gloom. Finally, the noise came again, a noise like a footstep on the decrepit boards of the shack….

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but in reality, it was a squirrel poking his head out of the flue on the battered wood stove in the corner. The island on Elbow Lake probably shaved a year off our lives that night!

THE GREY GHOST

Evan Larson

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My great-grandfather and great-grandmother immigrated to the United States from Sweden in the early 1900’s. They settled in the plains of southern Illinois, where they were able to purchase a small farm and a rickety, run-down farmhouse. The house was rumored to be haunted, which was part of the reason it sold for so little and they were able to afford it.

There were little signs here and there that something might be off in the house. A creaking floorboard here and there, a mysterious sound. A cold breeze that had no clear origin.

But, one night, my great-grandfather saw something he would never forget. He had to make a run into town and was coming home on a horse-drawn carriage. A storm had blown in and there was a thick layer of fresh snow on the ground and more was falling fast. He squinted his eyes and gripped the reigns as he drove his horse home. As he pulled onto the drive to come to the farmhouse, in the failing light, he saw something.

There were little signs here and there that something might be off in the house. A creaking floorboard here and there, a mysterious sound. A cold breeze that had no clear origin.

He saw a woman wearing an old prairie dress, something far too light for the cold weather, standing by the side of the drive. She was pouring water, between two buckets, sitting on the snow. She would bend, pick up one bucket, and then pour it into the other. The water steamed in the cold air. My great-grandfather watched for a moment and then rode as fast as he could.

He couldn’t talk about what he saw the first night. The next day, hesitatingly, he told my great-grandmother. They left the farm not long after, never to return.