The Fog Cemetery
Matthew C. Nelson
The fire was the first thing built when the Tallow's finished setting up camp. Having heard about the campfires that got out of hand several years back encouraged them to even take a class the week prior instructed by one of the rangers. Before the class ended, Mr. and Mrs. Herb and Willow Tallow, along with their daughter, Jasmin, all knew the proper ways of fire construction, as well as the proper way to put it out.
The Tallow's had been looking forward to this weekend camping outing for about three months. The plan had been originally to go during the summer, but rethought that after they factored in mosquitoes and erratic weather fronts. After one night's discussion around dinner, they all agreed to go the first weekend in Autumn. They had originally planned on camping down by the river, but were told about a campsite through a friend of theirs. The campsite, called Fort of the Forest, lay about a day's journey up the side of Blackburn Mountain, one of the smaller peaks found within the Rockies.
With the fire made, the tents were set, and dinner eaten, they all decided to go on a small nature hike around the area, to familiarize themselves with the terrain. They'd heard that in the late 1800's, the area had been frequented by man a person hoping to strike it rich on gold. In fact, the ranger told them that quite a few gold mining shacks dotted the park, all of which, sadly enough, were off limits mainly due to the fact that they were probably no longer structurally sound.
As they made their way though the wooded path, they came across a small brook that grew deeper as they followed the trail. By the time they'd come across one of the gold-mining shacks, the river was about waist deep. They were a bit startled when they came up to a burly-looking man crouching over the ground with his back to new-comers. "I can hear you behind me. If you knew what's best for you, you will leave this mountain," the old man hoarsely called over his shoulder. "We appreciate the warning", Herb offered up hesitantly, "but my family and I are camping up here. We don't mean any harm." "You may not 'mean any harm', I don't care...leave now or suffer the consequences!" the man snapped. Quickly gathering his family together, they pushed onward down the trail. At the slightest word from either his wife or daughter, he hushed them.
About an hour later, the incident had been forgotten as the family began to see more and more signs of animal life. It was especially beautiful, definitely the kind of place they were looking to find. Time passed quickly by and daylight began to slowly descend over the trees, with the setting sun steeping the land in a golden glow. As they began to make their way back to their camp, a thick fog had rolled in from out of nowhere. As the fog thickened, everything became covered in dew. As it grew darker, it got increasingly cold, so cold they could begin to make out the outlines of their breath. Realizing that up ahead is where they'd ran into that rude man, they all stuck together.
Coming into the clearing, the man wasn't there. "So much the better" was the general consensus by the family as they pressed on. All of a sudden, some of the fog revealed grave stones all around them. There must have been well-over fifty of them. "Daddy", Jasmin whimpered, "I'm scared. I want to go back to camp...now." "We are honey. Daddy won't let anything happen to you. We're not that far. One we get there, we'll make some popcorn and play some games. Isn't that right?" She turned to look at her husband, but he had vanished.
Welling up with a tightness in her chest, Willow cried out,"Herb? Where are you?" She and Jasmin screamed this as they scanned the area. Stepping out of a tree, one hand behind his back and displaying an odd smile, Herb spoke," Dear....you really should have listened to the man." He pulled a hand axe from behind his back.
"Now relax, this will be painless. The both of you should be feeling quite sleepy right...about...."
Mother and daughter dropped to the forest floor.