And The Chairs (a short story)

It was nearing two o’clock in the morning when we finally emerged from the screened-in porch that hung off the front of the cabin like it was a branch of a tree, jutting out of the woods, grabbing as much sunlight as possible when the time of day was right for it. It being the middle of the night, we began the long traverse down the narrow pathway that cut through behind the Rec Hall and up toward the smoking section we were intent to get to. The darkness enveloped us as we made our way; the only light from a full moon and the glow from our two Bic lighters, colored black and blue, each, and dying of fluid.

As we neared the Rec Hall, there seemed a strange energy in the air. We thought little of it, I suppose, but sitting here now I’m sure we both felt it. I know because of what happened over the next fifteen or so minutes.

First, it was our glance into the Rec Hall: Pitch black inside, we could see the circle of metal folding chairs in the middle of the great room. We looked at each other- had they been like that before, we wondered. “It’s been raining,” I said.

We got to the front steps of the cabin behind which we were allowed to smoke cigarettes, and we sat down amidst the pines and maples, tulips and birch trees. We each lit our own.

Moments later, it seemed an odd wind took control of our cigarette smoke, and they each burned a little faster. “An odd wind,” I said. “No question,” he said, looking around for a glimpse at how strong it really was. No trees were moving, except when we looked up at the sky; there were stars twinkling in the blackness that laid just beyond the reach of the light of the moon which shown heavy on the tops of the trees which surrounded us. And it became clear that the wind we felt was taking only the very tops of the trees with it; the bottom 4/5ths of each a complete standstill.

We finished smoking a bit more quickly than maybe we would have. I can only speak for myself, but I was shook. But we walked the length of the Dining Hall parking lot, through the muddy clearing, and back onto the path which had lead us passed the Rec Hall.

As our walk narrowed, we reached the concrete building, with its wall of windows allowing us another look inside. As I turned my head, I saw a shape leap forward out of the bushes, but there were no bustling of leaves or snaps of twigs, or anything. We reached the windows, and we turned our heads to look inside. The light closest to the door on the opposite side was on and the chairs had, seemingly, been moved to line the far wall where the church pews sat huddled. I looked to him and he stood still, a feeling forming around us as quickly as it passed. Our gate suddenly emerged and we turned to walk the low road back the way we came.

“That isn’t right, man. Not right at all. Who else is in Camp?” he said. “Nobody,” I said. A shallow breath reached my chest and I turned to catch it before yawning and throwing open my pack of cigarettes. We reached the screened-in porch and I lit one, and handed it to him. I lit another, and we smoked them in silence, until I was out with it. “I have to go back. I have to see if those chairs are different again. I have to know what happened.”

“You’re right,” he said. And so we left with our cigarette butts still burning; the filters nearly caught themselves.

We reached the Rec Hall again, and everything seemed settled. We threw upon the doors and then the lights inside. A great wave of panic came over the two of us; our eyes widening when we realized…The chairs were gone.

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