Chapter 10:

The Smell


You and a group of 7 kids had signed up to attend a field trip into the thick mountains. Accompanied by no parents except one adult, this man was a brilliant storyteller.

The kids had fun, and you laughed your ass off over a few jokes he shared. Be it puns, or perhaps genuine comedy, the man just had a level of charisma the kids couldn't hate.

And whenever someone grew tired of walking, he'd spoil them with a break. You and the kids would sit on large logs by the river, listening with focus as he'd share a story about his journey traveling across many wonders of the world.

Underground caves, abandoned theme parks, canyons, and monuments of all kinds. 

"What about space!" A boy yelled.

"All except space," the man laughed. 

Then everyone continued their hikes.

By nighttime, the tents were up, and everyone settled around a glorious campfire. 

"Is it storytime again?" one of the kids asked, "This is the perfect time for a..."

Everyone held their breath.

"A scary story."

"Oooo," said another, "I want to be scared badly. Please, mister, tell us a good story!"

The storyteller shook his head. 

"I can't do that. I don't have any scary stories."

"You're lying," giggled your friend, "You're telling me you've traveled to all these places and never once had you encountered a ghost or something!"

"Yes," the storyteller gazed at all the children seriously, "I don't have any scary stories. Well, actually I have one, but that one can't be shared."

"What!" the class roared, "Why not! You can tell us!"

"No, no I mustn't."

"Please, mister, we won't tell anyone else!"

"Sorry kids, but I can't. It is too scary for anyone to handle."

You groaned. You hate it when people think you'd be afraid of horror stories. 

"We won't be scared," said a girl, "I think most of us would be fine with whatever story you have. Besides! We want a scary story, so since you have one, share it!"

The crackles of the campfire occupied the awkward silence between the storyteller and his group of kids. Then, with a sigh of defeat, he smiled.

"Ok, let's gather around, and listen carefully," the storyteller leaned in, "Here's a story of how 8 kids went missing."

You raised an eyebrow and crossed your arms. The storyteller glanced at you and winked. 

"It was a quiet night, just like this one," began the storyteller, his hands danced along, "8 kids decided to hike up a path deep in the mountains. To see beautiful flowers, they'd say, or maybe study up some plants they've never seen before."

"This story's totally fake," whispered your friend, "I don't think anyone at school would actually go into the mountains to study some stupid plants."

You rolled your eyes and smirked, before glancing back at the storyteller, who briefly gazed at you with a grin.

"The kids had fun," the storyteller stood up, "They laughed, they sang...they splashed cold water from the river to wash their faces. Then, when evening came, the group decided to hike down a trail that wasn't part of their map. Intrigued and excited for what's to come, one of the girls started running down the trail, forcing her friends to follow her into the woods."

You casually scooted away from the campfire. You wanted to grab something from inside the tent, so with the storyteller focused on one of the kids, you hurriedly ran back inside your tent and unzipped your bag.

"Her friends soon caught up, but to their horror, they only found a bracelet she had been wearing on the ground."

You searched through the pockets of your bag. 

"As her friends were speculating on where she'd gone, they were soon approached by a very friendly person."

Your hand began to shake as you continued to search through your bag. 

"That friendly person waved and smiled, beckoning them to come closer. As naive teenagers, they thought they could ask him where their friend went. When suddenly..."

A pause. You paused as well, afraid that if you continued to shuffle through the contents of your bag it might make the storyteller realize you were missing. 

"Do you smell that?" the storyteller asked. Everyone started sniffing the air.

"Smell what?" the kids asked.

"That smell!" the man insisted. He started walking around the kids as each of them held their heads high into the darkness and inhaled the icy air.

"I don't smell anything," said one kid.

"Me neither," your friend chimed. 

"T-that smell! Sniff harder! You must be able to smell that!" 

The sense of panic in the storyteller's voice started to worry the kids. A few of them raised their voice, asking in unison what smell was the man talking about.

You finally found what you needed. You tossed your bag aside and escaped the tent on the opposite end, away from the crowd of helpless children who screamed before their voices were abruptly replaced with the sound of gurgles and ripped flesh. 

You ran as fast as you could into the trees, with nothing but a knife clenched into your hand. 

Soon, the stench of fresh bodies filled the forest.