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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Dan Dodge

I’m writing this for fear I won’t survive the night. Well, really more for fear that without an outlet for these feelings I’m going to have a panic attack and that the noise will give me away.

Let me explain. I am currently laying on the thin, fabric floor of a small tent in the middle of the woods. I estimate the time to be around eleven. The dark surrounds my tiny cocoon of safety along with a relentless chill.

The more pressing matter is that there are little clawed hands pawing at the outside of the tent. The moon’s glow makes them appear as exaggerated shadows, cast along the cloth walls. The thin, fragile, cloth walls which act as the sole barrier between me and those clawed, probing limbs.

I know that logically, it’s probably just raccoons. Small raccoons that can easily be punted into the river that runs in front of the campsite.

However, the less logical, more anxiety fueled part of my brain won’t stop whispering incessantly about dolls, witches, wendigos, zombies, ghosts, escaped prisoners, and all manner of faceless monsters with horrifying hands that wait impatiently to grab you by the ankle and drag you away to a gruesome fate.

No. Stop it. You’re scaring yourself.

They’re just raccoons. Just raccoons grabbing bugs off the tent with their hands. Their hands could easily reach up and unzip the tent’s door.

Stop it. Even if they do unzip the door, it doesn’t matter because they are small and small things can be punted across the river. Unless, when I kick them, they grab my leg and hang on by sinking their claws into the flesh of my calf and then they start biting-no.

I’m not going to finish that sentence or even that thought.

Why are they still here? Why won’t they stop grabbing at the tent walls? Why aren’t I brave enough to kick the side or yell and scare them away? Why did I let my own pride drag me into this situation?

I should have just let my brother win. Admitted I didn’t want to go camping by myself. Sure, he would’ve made fun of me, but what does that matter as long as I got to sleep in my own bed. My own bed that’s soft and warm, and has strong, thick walls that would’ve kept me safe from the dark’s clawed hands.

Is that what I was supposed to learn from this? Just give into fear and don’t try anything new. That can’t be it.

Or maybe it can?

All the books tell you to go out and try new things. But how am I to know that the people who wrote those stories know what they’re talking about. Maybe they just wrote those lessons because they sounded good. They probably don’t even believe in the morals they’re teaching.

And if they do believe, they probably have never been sitting in a cold tent, on uncomfortable ground, in the pitch black, scribbling in a journal to fight off a panic attack, while little claws scrape at the only thing protecting them from the things in the night.

If I get out of here alive, I’m going to write a story that has a real lesson. That trying new things and facing your fears doesn’t always lead to a happy ending.

Sometimes you face your fears and, big surprise, you find out exactly why you were afraid. Sometimes when you face your fears you end up cold, and alone in the dark, surrounded by raccoons.

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