The Mysterious Figure

            A shiver of fear skittered down my spine.  My heart began to pound, and my mouth became as dry as sawdust.  A ghostly figure lurked menacingly near the edge of the dark woods.  I couldn’t see its face, but it was green and appeared to have a green cloak.  My legs turned to jelly.  I didn’t know what it was– it might be human… or not– I couldn’t tell.  I watched in horror as it whirled around, and the cloak—or whatever it was—billowed out behind it as it disappeared into the darkness of the woods. 

            I finally found my voice, and let out an ear-splitting shriek, fleeing back to the pavilion.  I was trembling like a leaf.  My friends wanted to know why I was shrieking, and my voice trembled as I gasped out my story.  The team leaders, after hearing the story, walked out to the edge of the darkness, with some of the teens trailing behind.  I pointed to where I had seen the mysterious figure. 

            We stood tensely, waiting and watching as their flashlights danced eerily along the edge of the dark woods.  When they came back, Mark, my team leader, said, “You guys, there is nothing there.” 

            “But there was something there!”  I gasped out.

             “It was probably a bush,” he replied, rolling his eyes. 

            I burst out, “Bushes aren’t that color of green, and they definitely don’t move!” 

            “Well, we’ve looked all around, and we didn’t see anything!” one of the other team leaders replied. 

            Just then, something caught my eye right behind them. 

            “There it is again!  It’s behind you by the woods!” I screeched, pointing at the ghostly figure. 

            Almost all of the team leaders whirled around, while Mark stood still, looking unconvinced. 

            “Turn around!  He is right there!” we yelled.

             This time the others had seen the ghostly object, as well. By the time Mark turned around, the figure was gone. 

            “There is nothing there.  Are you pulling our legs?” Mark retorted.

             I shot back, “If you had turned around when we had first said something, you would have seen it!”

             We felt terrified—our game of glow-in-the-dark capture-the-flag was ruined.  Some of the girls were even crying.  I felt a mixture of excitement and fear.  Some of the teens who had not seen the ghostly apparition continued to play, but the thought of a mysterious figure lurking in the woods, made the thought of going out into the darkness terrifying. I sat in the pavilion with the other girls who didn’t want to play either.  We talked in anxious whispers, about the possibilities.  Was it a kidnapper? A homeless person lurking in the woods?  Or what if wasn’t human at all?

            After everyone finished with their capture-the-flag game, someone suggested we play another game inside the pavilion. Everyone agreed that staying inside the pavilion, in the light, was a good idea, figuring that we’d be safer there. Soon I was in the heat of the game, sweat pouring from every pore, my heart racing, enjoying every moment. 

            Suddenly, we were engulfed in blackness as the lights flipped off.  We all shrieked in surprise and terror.  Was the mysterious figure the one who had turned off the lights? After a few seconds, the lights came back on, blinding us temporarily. When our eyes got used to the lights, there, standing outside the pavilion, was a creepy-looking figure wearing a green sleeping bag over its head.  We all shrieked again in terror, and everyone took off for their cabins, slamming and locking the doors.  We discussed in terrified whispers whether we should call the police.  What could we use for a weapon if the creep tried to break into our cabin? One of the girls had a pocket knife, and we all decided we would throw our suitcases at the intruder.

            We didn’t sleep much that night, and every little noise made us jump. When morning came, we were all exhausted.  We dragged ourselves to the cafeteria to get some coffee and breakfast, then back to the cabins to pack our suitcases to go home that afternoon.  As we were heading back to our cabin, one of our team leaders came out of his cabin, carrying a green sleeping bag.  All the pieces clicked into place, and we realized we were the victims of a huge practical joke! We all felt stupid and quite irritated as we had been awake most of the night. 

            While we were angry then, we now look back on that night and laugh.  We chuckle at our gullibility, and talk excitedly about this year’s youth retreat, hoping to come up with an even better prank to get them back. I can’t wait to see what will happen at this next youth retreat!

Thanks to my friends for giving me the idea for the story and to my mom for helping me to edit it.

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