“Marie Jane, your marshmallow is on fire,” Lia told me.
Brittany grabbed my stick and pulled my black marsmallow out of the flames.
Cathy shook her head. “You’re still thinking about that ghost, aren’t you?” she whispered. “You’re missing all the fun of the cookout.”
She was right. I was thinking about the ghost. I couldn’t help it. What if what Keisha said was true? What if there really was a ghost in cabin 7? And what if it was really mad at me and Cathy? What if…
“Attention, campers,” Sandy called. “It’s time for a Camp Big Bear first night tradition.” She grinned.
“Ghost stories!” Lia and all the other returning campers shouted.
Keisha poked me in the arm. “Now you’re going to hear the truth about cabin seven,” she whispered.
“Everybody, listen,” Sandy continued. “I’m going to tell you about the ghost in cabin seven. But I’m warning you. It’s a pretty scary story.”
I scooted a little closer to Cathy. I was glad all the other campers were sitting around me. I was especially glad Ellie, our counselor, was close by.
Sandy’s voice was low and spooky as she began her tale. “One summer, many years ago,” she said, “a girl named Shinta came to Camp Big Bear. She loved it here. She loved swimming, and hiking, and singing around the campfire. She loved the trees and the mountains and the lake. She especially loved swinging on the fire swing in the playground. It was Shinta’s favorite thing to do.”
I grabbed Cathy’s arm and held on tigh.
“Come on, Marie Jane. It’s just a story,” Cathy whispered.
“That’s not what Keisha said!” I whispered back.
“One noght,” Sandy continued, “Shinta left her bunk in cabin seven late. Her bunk mates tried to stop her. ‘It’s too late to go outside,’ they warned her. ‘Strange creatures live in the mountains around the camp creatures who are half wolf and half bear. They might come after you. Don’t go out!’ they told Shinta.”
I shivered as I imagined an animal with long, razor-sharp claws and huge teeth dripping with saliva. I pictured it as big as a bear but as fast as a wolf.
“’I’m not afraid,’ Shinta replied. ‘I’ll be fine.’ She ran out the door of her cabin. When her bunk mates heard the tire swing begin to creak, they felt better. As long as they could hear the swing creaking, they knew Shinta was okay. Creeeak. Creeeak. Creeeak.
“Shinta’s bunk mates turned out the lights in their cabin and went back to bed. Creeeak. Creeeak. Creeeak.
“Then Shinta’s bunk mates heard something that sent shills through them. ‘Helllp meee!’ Shinta screamed a long, shrill scream of pure terror. Her bunk mates leaped out of bed and raced to the playground.”
Sandy paused. “It was too late. The swing was empty. Shinta was gome. And she was never seen again.”
“To this day, some people claim that they hear the sound of the tire swing creaking late, late at night. When they look outside no one is there!”
My gooey marsmallow slipped out of my fingers and fell into the dirt.
“Now, some of you might be curious about Cabin Seven. You might want to go inside and see for yourself where Shinta lived, Sandy said. “But going into cabin seven would be a bad idea a very bad idea.”
Sandy leaned closer to the fire. The flames threw spooky shadows on her face.
“You see, Shinta likes to be alone, and she gets very angry wen anyone enters her cabin,” Sandy said.
“A few years ago one of our campers who didn’t believe in ghost broke into cabin seven.”
Sandy shook her head. “That was a bad summer. Shinta was very upset. All our canoes were set adrift in the lake. The volleyball net was torn down and ripped to shreds. Campers found bugs and leaves and dirt stuffed into their sleeping bags.”
“See, I told you,” Keisha whispered into my ear.
“It’s late,” Sandy said. “This isn’t a story I should be telling you right before you go to sleep. “Let’s turn in.”
“Finish the story!” Lia cried.
“Yes, the other campers called. “Finish the story. Tell us what happened to the girl who broke into cabin seven.”
“No one relly knows what happened to her,” Sandy admitted. “One morning, the camper was gone. On her pillow was a pink hair ribbon the same kind of pink hair ribbon that Shinta always used to wear.”
I wrapped my arms around myself. I felt cold all over.
“We searched everywhere,” Sandy told us. “But we never found her.”
“That’s going to happen to you and your sister,” Keisha whispered to me. “One night Shinta is going to come for you and you’ll never be seen again.”