Years ago my brother and I went for a hike out at the Delaware Water Gap. If you don’t know where that is, just take 80 out of NYC and drive a couple of hours. When you are almost in Pennsylvania you’ll notice that the terrain has become pretty rugged. Soon steep hills seem to enclose the highway. Just before you reach the bridge across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania there is some nice hiking with parking not too far off of the highway. It is pretty country, as rough as you get that close to the city.
We had only been hiking for a short time when we came upon an improvised camp site. This was one of the first flat areas that we had come to and, despite the fact that you weren’t supposed to camp, there was a tent. A man and a woman, appearing to be in their early twenties, emerged from the tent. They looked a little worse for wear and I doubt if they had a decent shower or change of clothes in days. Something about them didn’t look like outdoorsy type people.
Dirty, outdoorsy or not, they were friendly. Almost overly friendly, they seemed starved for human contact, as if they had been lost in the middle of the Amazon rain forest for months. Near the end of their stream of constant babble the guy said something about being careful about the bears. Bears?
“Yeah, last night a couple of bears entered the camp site. They were a lot smaller than expected.” The guy held out his hands showing something closer to rabbit size than bear size.
After a little more small talk we finally made our escape.
“So, do you have pygmy bears around here?” I asked my brother once we were out of earshot.
He laughed. “No, but there are a lot of raccoons. I bet that’s what they saw. I’m sure they’ve never been out of the city in their lives.”
I nodded. Something about the campsite looked like city kids trying to rough it without any idea of what they were getting into.
“My guess?” my brother continued. “They’re hiding out, fugitives. They did something and are hiding from the cops or their parents or someone. If it’s the law, they won’t be here much longer, not with how they act. It’s like they want to be found. If it’s someone else, they’ll soon admit defeat and return. Can’t see them out here much longer.”
I had to agree. Half of what they were doing seemed to say “on the run” while the other half seemed to scream “but I want to be found”. We never discovered the truth behind their story.
When I saw the prompt for this week’s Friday Fictioneers, I thought of this story. Yeah, I changed it a little, but I’m sure you can see the roots. Here is my story.
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Note – I don’t have any photos of that area so you’ll have to make do with this old drawing made for a horror story….