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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Stories - The Campers

It was a lovely late summerís day. The trees were filled with thick, green leaves.Acorns were growing on the oaks. Ants were busily working, gathering food for winter, as were the squirrels. They could be seen digging holes and hiding seeds and pine nuts in them, then quickly covering them up. Ian and Mac were high in their tree, looking down at the woods below. "What a lovely day, isnít it, Mac?" Ian said, taking in a deep breath of fresh highland air.

"Aye, itís grand," Mac answered. He turned his head when he heard sounds of people laughing. "Whatís this?" he said, looking down.

A group of six young women and two adult women dropped bags, boxes and packages at the bottom of Ian and Macís tree. "Who are they?" Ian whispered. "What are they doing at our tree?"

"I donít know. Letís listen," Mac said.

"Weíll set up our tents here," one of the women, Lindsay, ordered. "I want Megan and Moira to go and look for some firewood. Shannon and Lisa, I need you to help me with the tents and Lauren and Mary to help Helen unload boxes. All right, you heard me. Letís get this campsite set up." The girls ran about and began their jobs.

"Theyíre camping at the bottom of our tree. Now what will we do?" Ian asked. "Whatís all this about a campfire?"

"Iím sure theyíll be safe. Theyíll make one with rocks around it and the leaders will make sure it is out. Donít worry. I think as soon as we can, we need to sneak down and get some food, enough to last for a few days," Mac suggested. When all the girls were busy, the raccoons snuck down the other side of the tree, ran into the woods, gathered nuts, berries and a few grubs, and then climbed back up the tree.

It wasnít long before the sun began to set. "What are they cooking?" Ian asked. He smelled the aroma of sizzling fish. "I smell fish and beans. I love beans. Do you think theyíll have any leftovers?"

"If they do, theyíll just dump them into the fire. There are no refrigerators around here," Mac said.

The girls ate the fish as the sun set and darkness filled the woods. The campfire was glowing and the wood was popping and sending little sparks up towards the two raccoons. "Itís almost like a fireworks display, isnít it?" Ian laughed.

"Letís go snipe hunting," shouted Megan.

Giggles and cheers rang out. Helen and Lindsay grabbed the flashlights and the girls followed them.

"Whatís a snipe?" Ian asked.

"I donít know. Letís follow them and see," Mac said.

They climbed down the tree and caught up with the girls, staying well behind. "Girls, look behind the trees. Snipes like to hide there. Youíve all got your paper bags. Have them ready," Lindsay said.

"We donít have paper bags," Ian gulped. "What do we need them for? Have you seen a snipe behind the tree before?" He was scared.

"I might have seen one the other night," Mac said, not really knowing what a snipe was.

Suddenly the girls stopped. "Shhh, girls, I just saw a snipe," Helen said, putting her arm out to stop the girls. "I saw its eyes. They were glowing, red."

The girls screamed. Ian and Mac screamed. "I donít want to catch a snipe, Mac. I donít want to see it. Itís got red eyes," he gulped again, "that glow."

Helen headed for the tree. "Stay there girls and Iíll see if I can catch it." She opened her paper bag and moved closer. "I see it," she whispered.

The girls were huddled together, all afraid and Ian and Mac held onto each other. "We donít have paper bags, Mac. What if it runs towards us? What should we do?" Ian was nearly crying with terror.

"If it comes, run," Mac said.

"Iíve got it! Iíve got the snipe!" Helen shouted and held up the bag. Suddenly she shook the bag and then dropped it. "Oh no! It got away. Look out!" she shouted. The girls ran screaming towards their tents. Mac and Ian ran screaming, heading for the tree.

"Yikes! The snipeís on the loose," Ian shouted.

Helen and Lindsay started laughing. "It works every time, doesnít it?" Helen said. "They really believe thereís such a thing as a snipe."

Lindsay laughed, "You fooled them good this time. Did you see the look of horror on their faces?"

The leaders walked slowly back to the camp. Ian and Mac were in the tree, holding onto each other and shaking in fright. The girls were in their tents, which were zipped up and closed tightly. "Good night, girls," Lindsay said. "Sleep well."

"Iím not going to sleep tonight, not while thereís a snipe running around," Ian sighed.

"I donít think snipes can climb trees," Mac said, trying to calm Ian down. "I think weíre safe for tonight. Watch your legs though. I think snipes like to eat toes," he teased. Ian pulled his feet up and tucked them underneath his body.

It was a restless night for the raccoons. While Mac wasnít nearly as frightened as Ian, he jumped up whenever he heard a sound. Finally, they dozed off. They woke up to the smell of bacon frying in a big black pan. They looked down. The girls were sitting around the campfire eating bacon and eggs. "That smells good," Ian said. "I want some bacon too," he pleaded.

The raccoons were pleased when the campers went to look for insects to make a bug collection and left a few slices of bacon in the pan. "Quick. Theyíre gone. Letís grab that bacon," Mac said. The two ran down the tree and took the bacon out of the pan. "Och, thatís just too delicious. Letís have a wee look and see what else theyíve got to eat."

They rummaged through all the girls things and found several bags of sweets, some potato crisps, a bag of nuts and some fresh apples. "Letís take these up the tree, before the girls come back," Ian said. It was difficult for them to carry the food up, but they eventually lifted the stash on their branch.

When the girls came back to camp with their bugs, Shannon shouted, "Hey, someoneís been into my sweets!" The other girls started checking and most of them had missing food.

"It was probably the snipe," Mary said.

Ian and Mac laughed. "It wasnít the snipe. Not this time," Ian said.

As night fell, the girls gathered around the campfire. It was a big one, with lots of orange flames. The smell of burning wood floated into the air. "Letís tell scary stories," Lauren suggested.

"Yeah. I know a good one," Lisa said. "Do you want to hear it?"

The girls all shouted yes. "I donít want to," Ian whined.

"A long time ago, in a forest, just like this one, lived a wee lass and her mum. One night, after her mum tucked her into bed, the lass, Amy, started hearing noises outside. She called for her mum to come through but her mum didnít. Amy got up and searched the whole house. Her mum was not there. She called her name but she never answered," Lisa said.

"This is scary. What happened to Lisaís mum?" Ian said.

"Shhhh. Letís listen," Mac said.

"Well, Amy put on her slippers and picked up a candle from the table. She used a match and lit it and carried it outside. She called for her mum, but there was no answer. Just then she heard a noise behind her. It sounded like someone had stepped on a branch. Amy turned around. There stood a huge monster. It had ten eyes and a huge nose and four ears."

"Yikes! A monster?" Ian cried, burying his head in his lap.

"The monster had blood on its mouth and parts of Amyís mumís dress too. It moved closer and closer to Amy. She could see its eyes glowing," Lisa said.

"Were they glowing red?" Mac asked.

"They glowed green and purple. It reached out its arms to grab Amy and thenÖ..AHHHHHHHHH!" Lisa screamed at the top of her lungs. The girls jumped and screamed and Megan nearly fainted. Ian started to fall backwards and Mac jumped so high that he hit his head on the branch above him. "I got you. I got you," Lisa laughed. She was delighted to have scared them all.

"Time for bed," Helen said. The girls went to their tents and Lindsay put the fire out.

Ian and Mac were terrified. "Do you think the monster will come tonight?" Ian asked.

"Itís not real. It was just a story. The girls have gone to bed. Letís go down to the camp. There are still some embers glowing in the fire. Maybe thereís some food," Mac said.

Ian, more hungry than afraid, climbed down the tree behind Mac. They went over to the campfire. It was still warm. "Whatís this?" Ian asked, picking up a bag of marshmallows.

"I donít know, but the girls put them on sticks and held them over the fire. Letís give it a try," Mac whispered. They each found a stick and put a marshmallow on the end and held it over the glowing embers.

"Itís turning black. I donít want my to be burned," Ian complained. He lifted his stick and slipped the marshmallow into his mouth. "Thatís good. Iíll have another," he said, putting another white puffy marshmallow onto his stick. Mac let his get a little burnt and then ate it.

The two raccoons ate the whole bag of marshmallows. They heard someone move in the tent. "I think thereís something out there," Lindsay said. "Iím going to check." She started to unzip the tent.

"It might be a snipe," Helen laughed.

Ian and Mac darted up the tree as Lindsay came out and went toward the fire. "Something ate all our marshmallows. Looks like they roasted them," she said to Helen. "It was probably just one of the girls. Oh well. Good night," she said, climbing back into the tent.

Morning came quickly. Ian and Mac watched them pack everything up and soon they were gone. The raccoons climbed down and searched the ground for leftover food but there wasnít even a sign of the fire left. "I guess theyíre not coming back," Ian sighed. "Iíll miss them. It was sort of fun having them there."

"Iíll miss them too, but we did learn a few things; marshmallows are good, bacon is delicious, and weíd better not come down from the tree at night or the snipe will get us," Mac said.

Ian nodded his head and they headed into the woods to look for more nuts and berries.

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