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It was a beautiful, clear, cloudless night in Canon City. The sky was as black as a room with no windows or doors, but through the heavy darkness was the gentile twinkle of the millions of stars that fill the never - ending countryside sky. The night had an eerie feel to it as it was a full moon that night, and a group of boisterous campers sat around a fire telling spooky stories, singing silly songs, and laughing with one another as the night wore on. The group of campers was a family, a family that sticks together through everything, laughs together, cries together, and loves nothing more than to go camping on the rugged, quiet peak of the Sangre De Cristos. The family was quite large including Erica, Kinzie, Austin, Daniel, Matthew, Scott, and Emily (the grandkids) as well as Lorie, Loren, Tammy, Scott Ford, Melinda, Jessica, Jenna, and Jared (the adults), and Linda, and Russ (the grandparents) who own the property and enjoy so much sharing it with the ones they love. All of the grandchildren sat on one of two old orange, wooden benches. The orange paint was peeling in spots and exposing layers of green, yellow, and white paint from the many times they had been repainted over the years. On the other side of the small, square, orange table sat all the adults on the other old, orange bench. Across from the kids on the opposite side of the fire sat Linda and Russ at a long, rectangular shaped, white table with long white benches on either side.
Sitting around the fire was their favorite thing to do when camping. It was getting very late, and everyone started to get sleepy as they watched the fire sizzle, crackle, and pop shooting glowing, orange pieces of ash into the air. All of the sudden Kinzie asked, “Grandpa, will you tell us a story?”
Russ walked over to the fire, stirred it with the long stick, blackened from long use, and got the smoldering coals burning again. Then he looked and Kinzie and answered in a sly and teasing tone, “Oh sure!”
Kinzie got a big smile on her face and settled in to listen.
“When your grandma and I first got this property and decided to camp on it, we took Loren and Lorie” (their kids) “up here for a couple days. One night we all decided to go snipe hunting. You have to go in the dead of night with no lights, and be far away from any kind of noise or disruptions. Being away from light and noise are key, because snipes are big, and ferocious rodent- like creatures with razor sharp teeth, and sharp claws as long as your pinky!”
Matthew went pale and shuddered, frightened at the image.
“Catching a snipe is tricky business,” Russ continued. “You must take a big cloth bag and put a piece of cheese in it. Snipes lo-ve cheese, and will become even more defensive when they find it. And let me tell you, that is a scary thing! They are irritable anyway, and don’t care for humans at all, so imagine them when a human is standing between them and a piece of cheese!
“Anyway Loren, Lorie, and I got out into the forest and set up the trap. Before we knew it, all we could hear were tree branches snapping, and something growling nearby. “We knew it was a snipe, and were prepared to stand our ground and catch it. But then here came this huge - and I mean huge - rodent - like thing from behind the tree. I got so scared my britches just about fell off! We ran so fast back to camp we were like bullets from a gun. There are still snipes here today, and rumor has it that they are bigger than ever before, so be sure to be careful when you’re hiding during kick the can!”
Across the fire Matthew looked as white as a sheet, a scared and horrified look on his face. A few minutes later he said goodnight and went to bed. Everyone else was soon there to follow.
The next morning Matthew woke up early from a restless night of sleep no doubt bursting with nightmares of snipes. In fact, he was scared so terribly that he didn’t even join in the hiking trips the rest went on, but stayed at camp never moving to far from the fire.
The sun had set again, and it was time to play kick the can. Daniel was it first and had caught only Austin. Austin had counted, and was searching behind the campers when from behind the shed came Daniel, Kinzie, and Emily dashing to safety. Scott Ford and Russ tried to sneak past Austin, but got caught in the act. Erica ran past Austin, and beat him to the old paint can just before he could catch her, and Loren jogged in quietly a few minutes later. Jared jumped out from the shadow of a tree scaring the snot out of Austin, and bursting into laughter as he made a break for freedom.
The only ones left were Scott and Matthew. Matthew had hidden just beyond the campers in a thicket of bushes. He was nearly invisible in his all black sweatshirt and sweatpants. He was just patiently waiting for Austin to give up when he heard a growl erupt from a few feet away, and tree branches squash beneath something’s feet. He thought of the snipe story from the night before and went cold as he had a flashback of what Russ had said: “We heard growling nearby, and tree branches snapping…”. Matthew jumped up, and sprinted through the trees yelling in a frantic voice. “Snipe! There’s a snipe out in the trees, run!”
Off in the distance everyone could hear the roar of laughter from Scott as he made his way from the trees. “Oh my gosh! Matthew, you should have seen the look on your face! That was priceless!”
Fury flashed across Matthew’s face as he realized what Scott had done to him, “Scott!” he bellowed angrily, “I hate you! You know that story freaked me out, and you still had the nerve to do that! I can’t believe you!”
“Sorry little brother. That was just too tempting, I couldn’t resist.”
“I’m never forgiving you for this.” Matthew exclaimed as he stalked off toward the camper, embarrassed that he had fallen for it.
Matthew went to bed that night feeling relieved, knowing snipes weren’t real. And still furious with Scott for tricking him. He knew in the morning he would forgive Scott, but for now, Scott deserved to sleep out in the tent with the lions, and the bears, and best of all, the little trick Matthew had set up to torment Scott throughout the night. Justice would soon be served!