He drifted into camp one night about 3 years ago; easily the tallest man we had ever seen. Standing well over 7 feet, his gaunt form was quite a frightening vision in the flickering firelight. None of us would ever forget the sobering experience of an unexpected giant wandering into our midst. When his massive palms extended beyond his black cloak in an apparent goodwill gesture; we were relieved, slightly.
Despite an emaciated appearance, his immense frame was still larger than any of ours. The tallest ranch-hand among us only came up to his shoulders! The looming, distorted figure teetered over to our fire with an awkward, unsteady gait. Understandably, we gave the ominious stranger a wide berth. He remained by the fire for quite some time as we continued our nightly campfire conversation. I think everyone was too distracted by his presence to pay much attention to the lackluster yarns being spun.
I watched the dark stranger suspiciously from the corner of my eye, and I wasn’t alone. We all needed to make sure he remained where we could see him. There was no shortage of rustlers and cutthroats on the range. It was just smart to practice an abundance of caution under the circumstances. I think we had decided he was a mute until the intimidating titan proved us wrong. He slowly addressed the camp with a deep, resonate voice.
His unnaturally low, baritone statement caused our horses in the corral to whinny in nervousness. Those first thunderous words will remain burned in my mind forever. “I wish to warm myself by your flame and get something to eat.”; He explained.
It was easy to understand why the behemoth invading our sanctuary was hungry. He was painfully thin, but it didn’t make sense that he was cold on such a warm summer night. The rest of us had beads of sweat pouring down our foreheads from the sweltering July heat. We only kept a fire for cooking and to keep wild animals away. Meanwhile our peculiar, uninvited guest professed to be chilly in the stifling southwestern air! It didn’t make sense but none of us were in the mood to disagree with him.
Instead, we fixed him an extremely generous meal plate of rations. Curiously, he accepted it with noticeable hesitation. It was as if he was uncertain of what to do with it! His reaction was very odd, considering he asked for the food in the first place. I assumed he wasn’t sure if we really wanted him to have it. Also very strange was his facial expression; or rather the lack of any. It was as if human emotions were completely alien to him.
After finally eating the food we gave him, he retreated to the very edge of the campfire and fashioned a bed from his cloak. Even if the heat hadn’t been unbearable by the campfire, the spitting embers were still very dangerous. Any one of those sparks could have caught his clothes on fire but none of us were about to get involved. If he wasn’t afraid, who were we to worry about him?
Everyone slept uneasy that night with the wandering soul only a few feet from our circle of tents. Mine happened to be the closest to the fire so I probably slept the least. I heard him stir before sunrise and I clutched my pistol nervously. At dawn I arose and was surprised to see that he was already gone. It was as if he had never even been at our camp.
There was an unspoken sigh of relief among the men when they realized our eerie visitor had left. At the breakfast table, everyone was curious about who he was and where he came from but we had more important things to concentrate on. We had our work cut out for us. In addition to our regular duties, two calves were missing from the herd and there were troublesome wolf tracks nearby. It didn’t take a detective to realize those two things were probably related. It¹s of little wonder that we put the previous night’s encounter out of our minds.
That night Ross and Mark played their flat tops while the rest of us sang along to the old favorites. Occasionally we’d switch who sang the chorus or harmony parts but it was basically the same half dozen songs we knew by heart. Our ‘gourmet chef’ Jim finally announced that it was ‘bean time’. The chow wasn’t anything to write home about but after a full day of herding cattle, none of us had to be told twice.
As the plates were being filled with ‘pot luck stew’, the menacing stranger reappeared at the edge of camp. It was as if he had been waiting in the darkness for us to serve the grub. This time Jim politely fixed him a plate without waiting to be asked. Ordinarily we live by the simple creed that ‘only those who work hard and earn their keep, deserve the right to eat.’ but no one dared to protest, under the circumstances.
He accepted the food with an unspoken hint of appreciation; and then sat down by the fire to paw at it with his massive fingers. This time he did so without any of the previous night’s hesitation. Curious glances were exchanged between all of us for a moment; before we went back to filling our bellies. I suppose we wondered if his stealthy campfire visits were going to become a regular thing.
We didn’t mind sharing our food since Jim made enough to feed an army but we didn’t actually know anything about him. Nor had the oddly dressed giant volunteered anything either, for that matter. Worse still; there was a subconscious desire among the ranch hands to just avoid communication with him. As suspicious and unsocial as we could all be to any stranger, a complete avoidance of conversation seemed like a perfectly acceptable plan of inaction.
I tried to reason that he already had ample opportunity to kill us the night before as we slept. As shut-eye time rapidly approached again, that wasn’t very comforting.
When supper was over, it was our custom to gather around the firelight and take turns telling stories. Most, if not all of them had been told dozens of times before. In order to make them more interesting the storyteller would try to add something new each time. ‘Spicing up’ the old tales was our way of compensating for the limited imaginations we possessed. Eventually these yarns became quite elaborate. The fun part, (if you could call it that), was trying to figure out where the new parts would lead the next time it was told. Besides playing music and singing old folk standards, this was the only real pastime we had on the range.
There was no better spinner of yarns in the group than Sammy; and it was his turn to speak. I was so deeply lost in thought about the aloof stranger that Sammy was nearly finished with his tale before I realized it was actually one I had told before. His version was so vastly superior to my own that it only bore a slight resemblance to what I had told.
While he delivered his enhanced rendition with expertise, I absently watched the firelight dance on the nearby giant’s massive features. Despite his blank expression, he genuinely seemed interested in our storytelling session. Once Sammy finished recycling and improving my bare bones story, there was unanimous applause. The general consensus among those present seemed to be that originality was less important than creative delivery.
With mock disgust, I told Sammy I was happy to have inspired ‘his’ story idea. My playful little jab brought a round of laughter from everyone except the lurking stranger. Oddly, he didn’t seem to understand basic sarcasm; or the appropriate response to it. Reflecting on the previous nights exposure to him, he appeared to be oblivious to other emotions too. I assumed his intimidating stature had made him a societal outcast. He had probably lived a very sheltered existence with limited human interaction. It was the only explanation I could surmise.
When the laughter died down, Sammy deadpanned: “By the way Jimmy, I think the stew was a little bland tonight.” All the other men cringed at the sour note his complaint was sure to strike with Jim.
Sammy was the only one who ever called him ‘Jimmy’ because we knew that Jim hated it. Sammy realized it too but he would do it just to aggravate him.
“So you’re telling me how to do my job now, are ya? Well, perhaps the ’master story teller’ would like me to step aside so he can do the cooking from now on!”; Declared Jim angrily. He always had a very hot temper and any form of criticism ignited him like dynamite. Fortunately his proverbial bark was worse than his bite.
“It might be nice to see how the other half lives.”; Sammy sneered. The unspoken implication was that Jim ‘had it easy’ because he (only) prepared meals while the rest of us did the ‘real’ work. That retort didn’t sit well with Jim, to say the least.
“You’re welcome to my ‘easy’ job any time you want it but don’t expect me to eat anything you fix, you son of a…” Sammy stopped Jim before he said something he would regret later.
“I was just pullin’ your leg, you ol’ cuss! I didn’t really mean it, Jim. I think the stew was just fine; …really.”; Sammy apologized sincerely.
Jim’s face lost most of it’s anger but in an attempt to restore his pride he shot back; “It was never my intention to fix stew that was ONLY ‘fine!’” His tone changed mid-sentence from rage to embarrassment when he realized Sammy’s complaints were only a joke to get a rise out of him.
Another round of chuckles filled the air when his facial expression finally softened. Jim was still slightly distracted from the ribbing and a little insecure of his cooking abilities. He turned to the quiet stranger observing our internal squabble and blurted out; “What did you think of the stew? Was it to good to your tastin’?” All of us gasped perceptibly at Jim’s spontaneous questions to the stranger in black.
After a long, awkward silence the stranger finally spoke. “Yes, I enjoyed consuming it, … very much.” There was little emotion in his odd, monotone answer. The rest of us were still too startled to address him but that wasn’t about to stop ‘the straight shooter’. In another example of the mouth working faster than the mind, Jim blurted out even more cringe-worthy questions. He seized the brief moment of mutual communication to quench his burning curiosity. Admittedly the rest of us were just as anxious to find out about the enigma in our midst, but only Jim dared to pursue the matter.
“By the way, what did you say your name was again?” Of course Jim knew fully well (as did the rest of us), that he had never introduced himself! I’m sure you could’ve heard a pin drop as we nervously anticipated his terse response. An involuntary shudder passed through everyone as an unexpected breeze bristled against the back of our necks.
“I …am the one …called …Anak.”
A deafening silence followed. It was only the third time we had heard his voice, and it was just as chilling as before. Now, at least we had a name to associate with the looming visitor to our camp. I breathed a sigh of relief after the tension of those uncomfortable questions dissipated slightly. Only then did Jim seem to realize the magnitude of his interrogative meddling.
His social awkwardness was responsible for revealing ten times more than we knew before, but we still didn’t really know anything about ‘Anak’. Secretly we were grateful that Jim broke the ice, however. We kidded him occasionally about being short-changed in the common sense department but maybe being direct was not a curse. His blind boldness and absent ‘filter’ accomplished what our polite tact and cowardly ‘respect for privacy’ could not. One thing was for sure, Jim was genuine and that wasn’t about to change. Meanwhile, ‘Anak the lurking giant’ (as we referred to him when he wasn’t around), made his makeshift bed beside the fire again. As before, he was gone shortly before sunrise the next morning.
For over two weeks he continued to appear each night around supper time. We came to expect his silent presence beside the campfire, and then his pre-dawn departure. Everyone was too distracted to pay his imposing presence any mind. The ranch hands were all exhausted from long hours of tracking the wolf that was stalking and killing our livestock. We had placed several traps in the valley to catch the illusive beast but it appeared to be too cunning to be caught. Eventually it’s luck would run out and we could get back to our regular routine. Once we settled in each evening, there was always supper and story time to look forward to.
Mark told a spook story his Granddad told him when he was still a little cowpoke; complete with rattlin’ chains and creakin’ doors. Then Sammy described a 2 headed snake that couldn’t decide which direction to crawl in. The entire time, I observed that Anak appeared to be completely mesmerized by our assorted campfire tales. It was by far the most animated I had ever witnessed him.
After Sammy’s snake story (and to everyone’s great surprise); the silent giant announced that he had a story to tell! You could have knocked us over with a feather! We were very eager to learn more about him and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Every wrangler and ranch hand within earshot blurted out in unison; “Sure, go ahead!”
In all the time he had been coming to our camp, Anak had probably spoken less than fifty words; and even those were simple responses. Now he was going to open up to us. We were all ears!
With a terrifying gleam in his eyes, he proceeded to relay a spellbinding tale that surpassed anything we had ever heard. According to him, a long time ago there were restless spirits from another world that decided to live in disguise among mankind. These celestial beings were so smitten with human females that they took them as wives. The hybrid offspring of these fallen creatures were abnormally large and dominated the world for centuries. A cataclysmic natural disaster ended their reign of terror but according to Anak (with a ghoulish grin on his face), a few of these merciless tyrants survived, and planned to rise again very soon.
The story was simple enough in approach and delivery, yet extremely effective in conveying an eerie mood. Anak surveyed our individual expressions in the firelight to determine if we were impressed. Considering the ominous presence of the narrator himself, it wouldn’t have required much more to captivate us. We remained wide eyed and speechless for several moments while absorbing his terrifying yarn. He had cleverly used our own subconscious fears about him to weave a masterful tale. Truthfully, we would have enjoyed it a bit more if the subject matter and unspoken implications were less disturbing. Still, it was good that he was finally opening up to us.
It was only fitting that ‘the reigning king of story telling’ was the first to praise Anak’s maiden entry. The rest of us ‘amateurs’ were quick to follow Sammy as well; with our own appreciation. Those sincere accolades gave him a great sense of satisfaction, judging from the faint smile on his otherwise, nondescript face. That Anak was certainly an enigma.
Once again, Jim exercised his tendency to speak before thinking. “How come you decided to join us tonight in telling a story?”; He inquired innocently.
Without changing his blank expression Anak deadpanned; “I wanted to see how the other half lives.”
It took us a brief moment to recognize his subtle attempt at humor. Clearly he had been paying attention a couple weeks earlier when the guys were arguing. The emotionless expression on his face caught us off guard and made the joke even funnier. I nervously joined the others in laughter while appraising the others for reassurance. Jim’s bluntness had again cut through the tension. We were thankful.
We had an early morning ahead of us counting heads of cattle and checking traps, so we bid Anak good night and retired to our tents.
The first rays of sunlight filtered through my tent and woke me up sooner than I would have preferred. I glanced at the smoldering embers and saw that Anak was already gone. Although we never discussed it among ourselves, I’m sure we all wondered where the wandering giant went during the heat of the day. As curious as I was, it was a mystery I was perfectly content to wait for ‘bigmouth’ to bring it up. It was certain to occur to him at some point. Then we would find out without having to pry, ourselves.
After a breakfast of bacon, eggs and coffee; several of us rode out to check the predator traps. Nearly all of them had been robbed of their bait without capturing any of the animals responsible. One did have dried blood on it so we knew we’d been partially successful. At least one of them had ran out of luck. Incredibly, the anchoring mechanism to tether it to the ground had been ripped all the way out. The trap’s jaws were twisted open until the steel teeth no longer touched!
Someone whistled a low note after seeing how mangled it was. We knew that any animal that could bend open a steel spring trap, was of great strength and intelligence. It would take a lot more than simple baited traps to solve the considerable problem. There was no other choice but to take turns on a night watch to protect the herd. We had already lost nine head of cattle and that would come out of our pay. A few collateral losses were allowed due to unforeseen circumstances but nine would certainly be inexcusable.
After supper, we drew straws for night watch duty and Mack drew the shortest one. He grabbed his trusty rifle and a pot of coffee; and headed over to the corral. About the usual time, Anak’s shadowy figure drifted in from the darkness. After wolfing down his plate of food, he noticed that Mack was absent from the festivities. “Where is the one called Mack?”; He inquired in a resonate tone.
When we explained that he was on watch for predators attacking our livestock, a very peculiar thing happened. At first Anak appeared nervous and concerned. Then he smiled in an eerie way that sent a shiver down my spine! I won’t ever forget that sinister smile.
A few songs and stories later, he motioned that he wanted to take another turn sharing with the camp. Surprisingly, he decided to use Sammy’s method of building upon a earlier tale; over delivering an original one. It seemed odd for Anak to recycle the only one he had told before, but we realized he was still new to the game. Obviously he had very little human contact or exposure in the past.
In his newly enhanced revision, he added that the ruthless giants could change shape at will, and could walk among mortal man undetected. He also added that this hybrid race of creatures would soon enslave humanity. Most of the inspirations for his new additions were transparently obvious but we pretended to be unaware he was trying to scare us. I’m sure our faces betrayed what we were thinking because he broke out in cackles of spine chilling laughter.
It was the first time any of us had ever heard him laugh. Frankly, I was amazed at his rapidly developing sense of humor. Even though we knew it was just a big set-up to create more mystique, we still didn’t know much about him. Curiosity had eaten at us long enough. Jim blurted out what the rest of us were thinking.
“But seriously Anak, tell us about yourself!”
“I just did.”; He replied while warming himself by the fire. “I enjoy walking among you humans since I am actually the ‘short’ one of my own people.”
This time the laughter didn’t die down for at least three minutes. He was becoming quite a comedian! After I retired to my tent, I was puzzled by the feeling that I had heard his supernatural story somewhere else before.
As Jim handed out lunch plates to the men, his eyes lit up when he came to Mack. “Which way did Anak go when he left camp this morning? Did he head toward the mountains, or back in the general direction of town?” His answer was eagerly awaited by everyone else in the chow line but Mack was clearly confused by the question.
“Huh? I was going to ask why he didn’t show up for supper last night like he always does.”; He replied. The mystified expression on his face began to deepen.
“But he did come, Mack! Anak visited again last night and occupied his usual spot by the fire. As a matter of fact he even asked where you were. He got the strangest look on his face when we told him you were guarding the cattle. He even retold his creepy story from the other night with some new parts added in. After that, we all ‘hit the hay’. He was gone when I got up to fix breakfast a dawn.”
Jim grew more agitated by the minute as he reflected upon the events of the previous night. “Surely you must have seen Anak when he left this morning! He would have walked right past you at the lookout station, no matter which way he went after that!”
“Well how could that be?”; Mack exclaimed defensively. “I didn’t see him walk by either time. We all know there isn’t any other way in or out of camp except by the corrals! Don’t you think I would have noticed a lumbering giant strolling by?”; He snorted.
“Maybe you didn’t see him walk past you because your eyelids were closed!”; Ross quipped sarcastically. The brash insinuation by the camp blacksmith (that Mack fell asleep at his post) didn’t sit too well with him. He was very quick to let his two ‘night watch critics’ know. The whole thing might have become a knock-down drag-out, if I hadn’t stepped in to intervene.
“Just hold on there, fellas! Did any of our livestock disappear last night while he was on watch?”; I pointed out. I hoped reason would deescalate the rising tension.
“That doesn’t prove a thing.”; Ross scoffed. “You could have propped up a scarecrow by the gate and got the same result!”
“Is that so?”; I challenged. Well, Let’s see if you do as well tonight then.” The rest of the guys laughed at my clever comeback. It seemed like Ross was trapped but he wasn’t one to give up easily.
“Well I would but uh, I uh, didn’t get very much sleep last night so I wouldn’t be able to keep awake like I usually would.”
“Suuuurrrre you didn’t!”; I mocked. “Otherwise you would love to back up your boasting, wouldn’t you, Ross?”
“I haven’t heard you volunteer for a shift yet either!”; He fired back.
I knew it would be my turn eventually so I might as well get it over with. I had put my foot in my mouth and got involved in their petty squabble. It was time to pay the piper.
“Alright, fair is fair.” I agreed. “I’ll take tonight’s watch so you can get you precious ‘shut eye’. Then you’ll be all rested up for tomorrow night.” I certainly wasn’t going to let him off the hook since he dragged me in the whole mess!
After supper, I took everything I needed and prepared for my stint as night watchman. I had my rifle, twenty extra rounds of ammo, coffee, firewood and some matches. I also brought along a couple books to help pass the time between security patrols. I’d never been a religious man but was reading the Old Testament out of curiosity. I had just settled down to read a few pages from Genesis, when the passages in chapter six struck me as being very familiar! It was without a doubt the inspiration for the story that Anak told us. Fascinated, I read the first four verses over several times.
They told how the ‘Son’s of God’ came down from the heavens and took the ‘Daughter’s of men’ as their wives. Their offspring were domineering tyrants called ‘Nephilim’ who were said to have perished during the great flood in Noah’s day.
Reading it in the Bible added a great deal to my understanding of Anak. Frankly I was impressed that he was familiar with the story. He often seemed unaware of much more common things. I concluded that he must have led an unusual life.
The hour of twilight approached and my eyes grew very heavy. They ached from continuously squinting at the small text in the flickering light. I decided to walk around the corral again to inspect the fence and cattle. When I approached the nearest vantage point to our camp, I witnessed Anak gathering up his things to leave. Just as it happened to Mack the night before, I never saw him pass, and yet there he was beside the smoldering embers! Somehow he was slithering past our lookout station undetected!
In what could only be called irresponsible spontaneity, I decided to follow him to see where he went. Occasionally he would turn around nervously and look, but I know he never saw me. I kept back a very discreet distance to avoid any chance of detection. If he had known I was trailing him, he certainly wouldn’t have led me to his hidden lair.
He headed straight for a nearby mountain behind our camp. We previously used it to contain the herd since it formed a perfect box canyon. There was only a small opening to be fenced off but we had to stop using it until the wolves were caught. it was there where most of our cattle had disappeared.
My suspicions were growing stronger by the minute that our ‘wolf’ was actually a cattle rustler named Anak! I couldn’t think of another reason why he was so preoccupied with making sure no one followed him. He climbed steadily up the canyon for two hundred yards until he reached a thick clump of underbrush. At that point he disappeared into the foliage. I cautiously waited a few moments and then followed.
Even before I entered the mouth of the hidden cave, I could feel the radiating heat of a fire within. Outside the opening, it looked just like a viper’s den. I was about to find out that assessment wasn’t far from the truth! I slipped inside and allowed my eyes to adjust to the enveloping darkness. A minute passed and I could faintly see an outline of the cavern floor and walls. When I was sure Anak wasn’t still at the entrance, I continued down the treacherous path in pursuit of him.
The subterranean passage spiraled and descended steeply; with uneven areas and loose ground. I didn’t want to lose my footing in the pitch blackness so I crept along slowly, one feeble step at a time. By testing each new foothold before bearing weight on it, I hoped to avoid falling into a vertical pit or sliding into a ravine. I also waved my hands blindly and crouched down to avoid any overhead obstructions in the cave ceiling. Despite the risks of being seen, on a couple occasions I had no choice but to strike a match to determine the uncertain route ahead. Fortunately; a dim light below began to illuminate my way. A light that grew more radiant with each step.
Unlike the cool and damp atmosphere of every cavern I have ever been in, the intense heat in this one was nearly unbearable. I finally understood why Anak preferred to be so close to our fire; he was used to it from being immersed in the fierce inferno I was trespassing in.
As quietly as possible, I crept around a curved corridor to the area where the glowing light and immense heat were concentrated. Instead of the billowy fire I expected to see inflaming the air around me, there was a molten lake of flaming magma; straight from the Earth’s very core. Far worse than that was what I saw within the heat.
Several large, humanoid-like creatures were standing there; half-submerged in the lava! The sight of such fearful nightmares made me gasp out loud. I’m sure I would have been detected by these glowing Denizen’s of Hell, had it not been for the continual hissing of escaping gasses in the magma. From deep within the molten lava came the sinister voice of evil incarnate. “Anak, have you taught your sons the ways of the humans?”
“Yes Lord Nergal; I have taught them all they need to know to carry out their mission to destroy humanity.” I recognized Anak’s emaciated form among the dozen or so other demons, despite the fact that none had any flesh on their bodies.
“Have you secured enough human sacrifices to supply us with skins?”; The master demanded.
“Yes Lord, there are fourteen humans I have been observing at their camp. We will have to stretch them to fit because humans are small in stature, but I foresee no further complications.” I lost control of my bladder when I heard their diabolical plans for us. Sweat was running down my body and my breath came in painful gasps.
“Are you certain they suspect nothing?”
“They believe the cattle offerings we’ve been sacrificing on your altar were devoured by wild, canine beasts.” Anak sneered with his newfound human characteristics.
“Very well then. The rapture begins at darkness tomorrow.” With that infernal decree, the glowing titans bowed toward their master’s voice and waded into the lava until they were gone.
I quickly turned to backtrack my way through the darkness before the evil Nephilim had a chance to discover me. In my blind haste, I tripped over something thin and wet which tangled around my trembling legs. I scrambled frantically to free myself from the clutches of the unknown but my level of panic necessitated the risk of lighting another match. I fumbled in my pocket until I found them and somehow managed to strike the side of the box. When I adjusted to the blinding light, I had to stifle a scream. Twisted around my ankles was the stolen flesh which Anak had stripped from his unknown victim.
I untangled the disembodied skin and placed it next to his cloak and blanket. That grotesque human mockery reminded me that the lives of the others, as well as possibly the entire world depended on my escape. At last I came to the mouth of the cave where the first rays of glorious sunlight were fettering through the dense foliage.
Tattered and bruised from half a dozen slips and falls, I raced all the way back to camp. Realizing how crazy the truth would sound to anyone who hadn’t witnessed it with their own eyes, I had to avoid them questing my sanity. Instead I convinced Jim that I had found the ‘wolves den’. There simply wasn’t time left to convince him or anyone else, of the horror awaiting us down below. The Nephilim attack was only twelve hours away!
“Smells like they marked you as their territory.”; He grinned from ear to ear.
“That’s not far from the truth.”; I evaded. “…and they plan on leaving an ugly mark on all of us.” Without waiting for Jim to hit me with more difficult to answer questions, I rushed over to the supply tent for dynamite.
The others heard our animated conversation and demanded to know what was going on. I told them the same half truth that I passed along to Jim. Naturally they wanted to know how I had found the wolves’ den. “I followed a huge wolf right to it.”; I explained with a straight face. It was difficult not to grin at my own inside joke and double meaning.
I carried all of the dynamite we had and placed it strategically throughout the mouth of the cave. This time I was armed with a lantern and my rifle. I doubt it would have done any good but it was comforting to have with me, just the same. I ran the detonation wire all the way out down the side of the mountain to what I felt was a safe distance from the blast zone. I raised the detonator’s handle and braced for the explosion.
It sounded like a thousand cannons firing at once when the seven sticks of T.N.T. went off! They told me later that it was heard in town thirty five miles away. The results were even more effective than I could have hoped for though. The detonation nearly leveled the entire mountain and buried all evidence of Anak’s lair. My ears rang for a week and I was hit with rocks and falling debris but I wasn’t hurt in any significant way.
The men met me half way back to camp, with eyes as wide as saucers. I think they expected me to be under ten tons of rubble. “Are you allright?”; they asked incredulously. I assured them I was fine.
“Do you think you used enough dynamite to destroy that den?”; Ross smirked sarcastically.
“Yeah, I think so.”; I answered with mock uncertainty.
“I don’t know whether I should call you a hero, or a greenhorn idiot”; He exclaimed angrily. “That was every stick of dynamite we had! One or two would have been plenty.”
I told him that ‘hero’ was preferable and that no thanks was necessary for me letting him off the hook for his scheduled watch the following night. Everyone but him enjoyed a good laugh at that.
“Ok kids. That concludes OUR ‘story time’. I suppose I could have called my story: “Lair of the Nephilim”, “Demon In Training” or “How I Saved The World All By Myself” but I didn’t want to give too much away. A revealing title can do that, you know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my days as a ranch hand telling stories around the campfire, it’s the importance of keeping the audience guessing. Judging from your expressions, I’m pretty sure I did that tonight, right?
I hope all of you enjoyed your first day here at Camp Wachi but now it’s time for everyone to go to bed. We will rise and shine at seven AM. No exceptions! Tomorrow’s activities are swimming, basketball, fellowship workshop and of course: ‘Story time’. Finally, let me introduce you to your basketball instructor: Coach Anak Gath.”
“Thank you Coach Broadrick! You’re too kind with your ‘warm words of praise’ and that very creative introduction. I hope I can live up to the monstrous legacy you just created for me with these youngsters. However, I want everyone to know that Coach Broadrick’s story isn’t completely true. I’M OOONNNLY SEVENNN FEEEET, TWOOO INNCHESSS TALLLLL.”; He stated with a deep voice and sinister grin. “The rest is completely accurate though.”
It would be a VERY interesting summer for the kids at Camp Wachi.